How To Dine Italian and Still Be Gluten-Free

How To Dine Italian and Still Be Gluten-Free

Throughout my life, I am sure I ate more gluten than is healthy. The words “gluten-free” were not in my vocabulary. I remember those peanut butter and Fluff sandwiches every day of my college years. Some Marshmallow Fluff is probably still sticking to my ribs.

I had never heard of celiac disease and could never imagine going through life without pasta, bread, and other foods containing wheat, not to mention a lemon filled donut every now and then.

Now we are in another century where eating gluten-free has become a lifestyle or a necessity.  There is no treatment for celiac disease other than a specific diet. Those who are choosing it as a lifestyle have some healthy guidelines to observe.  Folks who follow the diet claim weight loss, extra energy, and overall well-being.

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is found in grains specifically wheat, barley, rye, and triticale (somewhere between wheat and rye).

By the Way: Pure chocolate is gluten-free. Read the label for any chocolate product less than pure. Recall our previous post on chocolate. Read now.

Diseases Associated with Gluten

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. Gluten is the villain because its presence in the body triggers a reaction from the immune system that irritates the lining of the small intestine. After a while, the system becomes unable to absorb nutrients.

Gluten sensitivity causes uncomfortable symptoms (abdominal pain, headache, bloating, diarrhea, foggy brain, rash) but does not damage the tissues of the small intestines.

Gluten ataxia is an autoimmune disorder that causes problems with muscle control.

Wheat allergy prompts the immune system to react to gluten as if it were a disease-causing factor, for example, bacteria or a virus.

How To Tell If a Product Is Gluten Free

Look at the label. The FDA commands labeling products, so if you see the FDA label, it is gluten-free.

Important: If a product has a “Wheat Free” label, that does not mean it is gluten-free.

Check for ingredients like:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Malt
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Oats (unless specifically labeled gluten-free)

These ingredients means the product is NOT gluten-free

Note: Those on a gluten-free diet can have alcohol. Remember to carefully read the labels. These safe alcohol products must carry the gluten-free label. The alcohol products include:

  • Wines fermented from grapes or other fruit
  • Distilled spirits distilled from materials other than gluten

Recipes

The following recipes are completely gluten-free and, I might add, very delicious.

Print

Chicken with Zoodles - gluten-free

In this versatile recipe, cook the chicken on a grill or sear it in a pan.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword chicken, main dish, zoodles
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 300kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts pound them down.
  • ¼ cup extra virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 12-ounce package gluten-free spaghetti
  • 3 medium-size zucchini or 1 package zoodles (produce department)
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 dollop honey
  • 1 tsp prepared mustard
  • 2 tbsp. pesto
  • 2 tbsp. sun- dried tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup Pitted Calamata olives halved
  • Chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  • Place chicken in sealable bag. Make a marinade by combining ¼ cup olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, 1 tsp. prepared mustard, a dollop of honey, juice of 2 lemons in a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine and pour marinade over chicken. Squish it around in the bag every now and then. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour or overnight.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil in the water. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain pasta, reserving some of the pasta water and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, remove chicken from the marinade.
    If you are grilling, heat grill on high. Place chicken on grill and cook for 7-8 minutes. Flip chicken and cook for another 7-8 minutes, or until completely cooked through.
    OR (I do not own a grill.)
    Cook the chicken breasts in a frying pan (about 6 minutes). It is better if you pound the chicken before you marinate it.
  • Trim the ends of the zucchini and use a spiralizer to create noodles. If you don’t have a spiralizer, use a vegetable peeler to create long ribbons or buy premade zoodles.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a high-rimmed skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini noodles and sauté while stirring for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add drained pasta to the skillet and combine. Then add sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and pesto, and stir to combine.
  • Slice chicken into strips and add to the noodles and zoodles mixture. Toss to combine and serve. Garnish with basil leaves.

Notes

As the owner of this website I’ve tracked down some special deals for some of the products mentioned here. When you use the link on this page to make a purchase, I may get a small commission, and you may get a great bargain. It is a win-win all around. Full disclosure.
This dish pairs nicely with Sauvignon Blanc. Best choice - Napa Valley Fume Blanc. 

 

avocado and chickpea salad
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Avocado and Chickpea Salad with Spring Greens and Fresh Mozzarella

The ingredients in this summer salad taste fresh for a lunch or a dinner on a hot day.
Course Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword glutin-free
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces Romaine lettuce
  • 1 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 avocados diced
  • 1 English cucumber sliced
  • 1/4 cup red onion thinly sliced
  • 4 Roma tomatoes diced
  • 1 cup mozzarella balls
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a large serving bowl, combine greens, chickpeas, avocado, cucumber, onion, tomatoes and mozzarella.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, create the dressing. Whisk together the oil, lemon juice and oregano.
  • Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

 

gluten-free biscotti
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Gluten-free Italian Biscotti

This recipe is gluten free and yummy.
Calories 140kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups organic gluten free flour blend
  • 1 1/2 tsp double acting baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp extra fine pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 cup unrefined coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup roasted & chopped nuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 3 large pasture raised eggs
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil or oil of choice
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract; Omit and use extract of choice or 2 tsp of vanilla
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp zest of lemon or orange

Instructions

  • Bring eggs to room temperature
  • Toast nuts & cool. Bake in a single layer on a baking sheet at 325 F 10-15 minutes.
  • Roughly chop nuts to desired size.
  • Zest a lemon
  • Move oven rack to center
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Place unbleached parchment on baking sheet and grease/spray lightly.
  • Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.
  • Whisk in nuts and dried cranberries . Set aside.
  • In a separate large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, extracts and zest.
  • Add flour mixture to wet mixture and thoroughly combine with a heavy spoon.
  • Scoop out the dough into two even logs on a parchment lined baking sheet. Shape dough with wet hands into two smooth logs. Leave about 4 inches between each log, and keep the height of each log at about 1.5″.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool the entire pan on a cooling rack for 30 min to 1 hour.
  • Move logs, one at a time, to a cutting board. Cut cookies at an angle or straight, 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick.
    Note: Take care to use a side to side rocking motion with the knife to make the job easier with less crumbling.
  • Remove from oven and cool on the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack until fully cooled. Cookies stay delicious when stored for several days on the counter or frozen for up to a month.

Final Thought

I did live gluten-free for a while. It is a commitment because you must stock your pantry with gluten-free ingredients.

If it is a necessity due to health concerns, gluten-free is a great eating plan. The food is tasty and the sacrifices are minimal. Here is a list of naturally gluten-free foods. Read now.

Garlic: Why Do We Love You?

Garlic: Why Do We Love You?

Sicilians love garlic; I love garlic; the world loves it but WHY?  You make our breath questionable. Sometimes you give us indigestion, but we simply adore you. And we should.

The magic cloves add a distinct flavor to Sicilian cooking, but it also has medical uses. It can prevent or treat many diseases.

Ancient Egyptians used it for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Doesn’t it amaze you how smart the Ancients were?

Garlic’s relatives are the onion, scallion, chive, leek, and shallot all in the allium family. Both raw and cooked, it can have antibiotic attributes. Its cousins also provide some amazing health benefits.

Sicilian Garlic

Do you realize that there is a variety labeled Sicilian? It is a soft-neck variety. I did not perceive the neck of the garlic to be particularly important, but it is.

The hard-neck variety does not have a long shelf life. Soft neck garlic can actually keep for one year.  This variety grows in California.

Garlic Through the Ages

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, prescribed garlic as a treatment for respiratory issues, parasites, bad digestion, and fatigue. Yikes, did the ancients get parasites? Oh yes, and garlic repelled vampires too, according to legend.

Hippocrates

It was eye-opening to read that garlic was one of the first performance-enhancing substances used by the ancient Greek Olympians.

The magic of garlic spread through Middle East Asia, and Nepal. These ancients used it for any of the following reasons: fevers, diabetes, bronchitis, high blood pressure, TB, liver problems, dysentery, flatulence, intestinal worms, and rheumatism. Then the French, Spanish, and Portuguese explorers introduced it to the New World.

Current Uses of Garlic

Did you know that garlic is a treatment for hardening of the arteries? It has a positive effect on the heart and blood and helps in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Prevention is the name of garlic’s game.

It also has a role in preventing many cancers: lung, prostate, rectal, colon, breast, and stomach. Not all of these facts are backed by research, but the research has been promising.

Scientifically Proven Benefits of Garlic

Scientific journals found the following facts about:

Malignant brain tumors

Studies at the Medical University of South Carolina suggested that garlic and its cousins show great promise in controlling malignant brain tumor cells. More studies are necessary, but this is an encouraging step in the right direction.

Hip osteoarthritis

A group at King’s College and the University or East Anglia, both in England, discovered that women with diets plentiful in allium vegetables, (garlic, leeks, shallot, and onions) had fewer occurrences of hip osteoarthritis. Why? It contains allicin, a compound in garlic that holds amazing medicinal characteristics.

Bacteria

Campylobacter bacterium is a bacteria that causes intestinal infections. A compound in garlic was 100 times more successful than two popular antibiotics for fighting this bacterial.

Dr. Xiaonan Lu from Washington State University states, “This work is very exciting to me because it shows that this compound has the potential to reduce disease-causing bacteria in the environment and in our food supply.”

I think this is huge.

Heart protection

Diallyl trisulfide is a compound in garlic oil. This oil is an excellent way to deliver the benefits of hydrogen sulfide to the heart. Hydrogen sulfide protects the heart from damage. I like the idea of my heart being protected, and I like garlic!

 

High cholesterol and high blood pressure

23 volunteers participated in a study. These people all suffered from high cholesterol, and 13 of them had high blood pressure also. The subjects were divided into two groups.

  • High cholesterol with normal blood pressure
  • High cholesterol with high blood pressure

They all ingested garlic supplements for four months. After the four months in both groups:

  • Cholesterol was much improved
  • Systolic and diastolic blood pressure was extremely improved

Fun fact: Extract from the bulbs might protect the liver against alcohol-induced liver disease. Wow!!

For drug interactions and possible side effects, here is an important article. Read more.

Ridding the World of Garlic

If you think you have heard ridiculous arguments, listen to this one. One chef in a Roman restaurant specializing in Sicilian food recommended banning garlic. Seriously. I read it on a printed page. He and other critics complained that it is too smelly.

The logic is that Italians no longer need this food because they now can afford less smelly alternatives to spice up meals (citrus, herbs). They no longer rely on cheap choices to give food flavor. They can now use the good stuff.

It never dawned on me that this food was a poor man’s food.

This debate happened in 2007 and of course, it never came to a conclusion. Can you even imagine an Italian restaurant in Italy not including garlic in dishes? Who bans food anyhow?

How Is This For a Stereotype?

“  A 1939 Life magazine feature about Joe DiMaggio – the first issue to feature an Italian American on the cover – lauded him for ‘not reeking of garlic‘ in spite of his background.” Snobby Life magazine. Hmph!

This wounds me. Mommy save me from this discrimination! Call the IGNORANCE police!!!

Anyway, in spite of all objections, the world still loves garlic. A thump on the head to LIFE magazine.

Can It Help with Weight?

Do you want to lose weight? Who doesn’t?

According to recent studies, the magic bulb could be part of an effective strategy to avoid weight gain and discard unwanted fat.

Case Study:

Laboratory mice consumed an extremely caloric diet for eight weeks. All mice ate the same diet, but garlic was mixed into it. The researchers discovered that adding garlic actually reduced the mice’s ability to store fat, so they lost weight.

This study suggests that humans could also succeed in losing weight by eating more of it.

Final Thought

Now that I know how garlic can help me with cholesterol and blood pressure, I am going to investigate some supplements for myself. I always enjoy my food when it is enhanced by the tasty cloves of heaven.

There are some wonderful and easy Sicilian recipes in this post. The mystery of the Sicilian dish is simplicity. AND garlic is king.

Sicilian Style Sauce Get Recipe

Sicilian Style Broccoli Get Recipe

Sicilian Style Cod with Parsley and Garlic Potatoes Get Recipe

Lactose Free versus Dairy free

Lactose Free versus Dairy free

Dairy-free versus lactose-free, I never knew there was a difference, but there is. People allergic to lactose are lactose intolerant. Those allergic to the proteins in milk (casein and whey) are allergic to dairy. It is essential to understand how lactose and dairy affect the allergic person.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance, also known as lactose deficiency, is very common in adults. The National Library of Medicine tells us that approximately 30 million Americans suffer from some kind of lactose intolerance by the age of 20. That is rather surprising. As a kid, the general rule was “three glasses of milk each day”. How things have changed!

Lactose is a sugar detected in milk products. When a person’s body stops producing enough of an enzyme called lactase, the person becomes lactose intolerant.

If a lactose-intolerant individual ingests a milk product, the symptoms are ungodly (bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea, and nausea.) Some people can get away with a little bit but should not push it.

Over-the-counter tablets are available to relieve or avoid symptoms. There are always lactose-free products to squash the urge for milk.

Allergy to Dairy

An allergy to dairy has a far greater effect on the victim of the allergy.

It is crucial that those with a dairy allergy avoid products with casein and whey. Mostly seen in children, the symptoms are far more severe. They include hives, wheezing and vomiting. In extreme cases symptoms even anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. Some children get lucky and grow out of a dairy allergy. That is certainly good news.

If you have a dairy allergy, it is imperative to check the food labels. Remember to avoid products with whey and casein. These can turn up in unexpected places, for example, some varieties of canned tuna and a few protein powders.

Some good brands of dairy-free cheeses are:

  • Daiya Mozzarella
  • Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cheddar
  • Teese cheddar vegan cheese
  • Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
  • Follow Your Heart Shredded Parmesan
  • Teenut Treenut Cheeses
  • Home Made Dairy-Free Queso Cheese Dip

Important: Dairy-free and nondairy are different. Products marked nondairy can contain a caseinate milk derivative. An example would be a nondairy coffee creamer.

Lactose-free Products

Nowadays, consumers need not fear because there is a product for everyone out there. The merchants have ears for every consumer problem.

Important: A lactose-free product might contain other dairy products, so it is not safe for those allergic to dairy. Read food labels because some common foods contain lactose.

This list surprises me: bread, breakfast cereals, soups, margarine, deli meat, salad dressing, candy, cookies, and pancake mixes.  Holy deception Batman!!!

The good news is that if a product is labeled “lactose-free”, it is actually free of lactose. This article is excellent for someone who is on a lactose-free diet. Read more.

Any product that contains whey, galactose, casein, nougat, lactulose, or rennet contains dairy. It’s also possible that dairy is lurking in labels such as “natural flavoring” or “artificial flavoring.”

Dairy-free Products

Dairy is any product made from cow’s milk (and other mammals), as well as products made from milk (cream, cheese, and butter).

If any of these words are included in the ingredients, it is not safe for those with dairy allergies (caseinate, chocolate, cream, condensed milk, curds, dried milk, evaporated milk, a milk derivative, milk powder, milk solids, sodium caseinate or whey).

Are you thinking, “Are eggs okay if I am allergic to dairy?” This is a common question. The answer is that eggs are perfectly fine. If they bother you, you are allergic to eggs not to dairy.

Be Cautious

If you are on a dairy-free diet, be mindful that you get everything that you need in terms of nutrition.

Calcium

Calcium is an essential mineral for bones and teeth. Adults need around 1,000 mg of calcium each day.  Children and individuals over 50 years old need slightly more.

If you eliminate dairy, you will be at risk of being calcium deficient. Fortunately, you can still get calcium from other sources. Vegetables like kale and broccoli, legumes, dried fruit, tofu, and other foods fortified with calcium are good choices. There are calcium supplements as well.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is extremely important for absorbing calcium. Unfortunately, most foods do not contain large amounts of vitamin D. If you need dairy-free alternatives, try fortified soymilk and almond milk. They can be just as nutritious and fortified with vitamin D as a bonus.

Protein

There is plenty of protein in milk. Men need 56 grams of protein per day and women need 46 grams, according to the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies.

It is important to get enough protein throughout the day. There are plenty of nondairy protein sources. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, and several dairy-free alternative milk products.  Soy milk can have up to 9 grams of protein per cup. Refer to 10 Unexpected Sources of Protein for more detailed information.

This is a good article comparing the varieties of dairy-free milk. Read article.

The following video gives 7 reasons to adopt a dairy-free diet. Watch video.

 

Final Thought

Ice cream is my favorite treat. I do not eat it often, but I am so thankful that I can when I want to. There are lactose-free and dairy-free ice cream alternatives to enjoy.

Recipes

Toasted Muesli

Vegan Breakfast Quinoa

 

Zucchini: 4 Creative Ways to Make It

Zucchini: 4 Creative Ways to Make It

Sicilians have never met a zucchini they did not like. It is a magical vegetable. As a matter of fact, growing it is the best way to get children excited about gardening because this veggie grows so quickly. Before you know it, the flowers pop out and, here comes a baby zucchini. The child gardener will experience watching the vegetable mature. It might be a good lesson in pollination as well.

Uncle Vincenzo’s Garden

I remember the zucchini patches from my great uncle Vincenzo’s garden. The old Italian had a large patch of land secluded by the growing vines and plants. I loved going into that garden. It felt like a silent, green wonderland. My secret obsession was picking the grapes one by one and savoring them as I ate them right off of the vine. (early detection of a wino).

Throughout the summer, there would be a constant stream of zucchini reaching our home for Dot to cook. Imagination was Dot’s middle name, so we had some wonderful dishes thanks to Uncle Vincenzo’s garden and Dot’s culinary genius.

Health Benefits

There are 5 secret health benefits to our rewarding produce.

Heart

Potassium aids in reducing blood pressure. Folate reduces the risk of stroke and heart attacks. Magnesium regulates the heartbeat. Do you want to guess which food contains all of these things? If you guessed zucchini, you win.

Weight Loss

This is my favorite. Zucchini aids in weight loss. If you substitute this vegetable for calorie-rich food, you will be taking in fewer calories. The vegetable of the day has very few calories. It also contains fiber which helps in reducing (are you ready?) BELLY FAT. You will lose weight.

Eye Health

Cut a couple of slices from the zucchini and put them on your eyes. They reduce swelling and puffiness. A natural beauty product. If ingested, your eyes will benefit due to beta carotene (converts to vitamin A) which enhances vision and minimizes the possibility of diseases like macular degeneration.

Asthma, Teeth, and Bones

It is full of vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant) which helps strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation. The calcium in it helps teeth and bones remain strong.

Cholesterol

High fiber helps to lower cholesterol and high levels of vitamin A and vitamin C keeps cholesterol from invading the body’s blood vessels.

Recipes

Stuffed zucchini. Get Recipe

Grilled Bell Pepper and Zucchini Get Recipe.

Zucchini Bread Get Recipe.

Fiori di zucchine (flowers of the zucchini) Get Recipe.

Final Thought

Once I met a man who told me he hated zucchini. In spite of that confession, I agreed to go out with him. After a while in our relationship, Kim asked us to dinner. She served zucchini with tomatoes and pasta sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. On the way home, the gentleman in question said, “Hey Princess, why don’t you ever make that pasta dish for me?” I guess he did like zucchini after all.

Here is a video perhaps you can share with your child, grandchild, or a child in your life.

Food and Mood: Does Food Affect Emotions?

Food and Mood: Does Food Affect Emotions?

Food affects mood and your mood affects the food you choose. Have you ever been “down in the dumps” after splurging on cake and ice cream? Do you feel depressed after drinking too much alcohol? Are you suddenly elated after you eat chocolate?

Worry not!!! Most likely you do not have a mood disorder.

The food we consume can in fact affect our dispositions. Meal choice selections can change mood, influence brain activity, and ease anxiety. So good eating makes for a happy brain and a happy you.

The Pesky Brain

The brain is so complicated and has so much influence on everything we do. If food powers the brain, then it stands to reason that what we eat affects how we feel and how well we think. Vitamins, protein, minerals, and carbohydrates fuel brainpower, and these are found in good food.

Brain Chemistry

 These brain chemicals are critical to the well-being we all pursue. ­­­­

  • A sense of calm comes from Serotonin. It decreases cravings too.
  • Sharp attention and uplifted motivation come from Dopamine.
  • Increased awareness and improved memory come from nor-epinephrine.

 We want these chemicals in our body in good working order, right?

Nutrients: The building block of good body chemistry

This table represents the nutrients we need, the effect each has on our mood, and the food sources that supply these nutrients.

Nutrient Mood Impact Food Source
Carbohydrate Sense of calmness 100% whole grain bread and cereal, sweet potatoes, peas, beans, and corn.
Protein Alertness and motivation Lean meat, fish, poultry, low-fat dairy (no fat too), eggs, beans, and nuts.
Omega-3 fatty acid Less craving and a sense of calmness
Salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, flaxseed, and walnuts.
Vitamin A Learning and memory development
Sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, and fortified cereals.
Vitamin B 6 Memory and concentration
Fortified cereal, chickpeas, soy products, and potatoes.
Vitamin B 12 Mood, emotions, and sleep Clams, oysters, fish, lean meat, poultry, low fat or fat-free dairy, and fortified cereal.
Folate Prevents depression Broccoli, spinach, collard, 100% whole grains, and fortified cereal.
Vitamin C Mood changes and energy Oranges, kiwi, strawberries

Good Mood Food

Berries of all kinds. I love these for breakfast with wheat toast.

Berries are high in vitamin C which helps during times of stress.

Black beans, lentils, lima beans. Yummy in  chili or by themselves.

Beans supply magnesium which triggers calmness.

Dark chocolate (72% cocoa recommended).  This one is good on any level.

Chocolate is comfort food.

chocolate

Fish. Some can take or leave this one. Personally, I love it all.

Salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout are part of a healthy meal. High amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids quell anxiety.

fish

Herbal teas. My favorite is lemon ginger.

Herbal tea at any time of day is calming.

cup of tea

Leafy greens. Ah, yes, salads and side dishes (spinach).

Eat leafy greens as a side dish. Spinach and kale are particularly good for mood.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, studies have connected plant-based foods with a higher level of optimism. Is kale the new anti-depressant?

leafy greens

Whole fruits. Great for snacks and the hungry horrors.

I keep a bowl of whole fruit on my counter for quick snacks and some vitamin C.

Melons work well as a snack or in a fruit salad.

Watermelon is especially good for your nerves because of its high content of vitamin B6.

Worst Mood Foods

 It is unrealistic to eliminate all of these from your diet. Eat these foods in sparse amounts or eliminate altogether:

Caffeine. Personally, I have coffee once each day. I have found that in moderation it is fine. Remember, everyone is different, so listen to your body.

Some people are infatuated with coffee and will only buy the best. 

 

Alcohol. Again self-restraint is the key.

One drink is harmless. Over-indulgence wreaks havoc on mood.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 3 drinks in any one day is okay. You must curb the weekly amount of drinks to 7 to maintain good health.

alcohol

 

Sugar. I find that I have more energy when I stay away from sugar and processed food.

Use sugar in extreme moderation. Try to rely on natural sugar (for example, honey and maple syrup) rather than white sugar.

sugar

Bread – I limit myself to pita and whole grain bread. Confession: I occasionally buy a loaf of raisin bread. I tell myself “Everything in moderation.”

Processed white bread is highly processed and nowhere near its natural state.

Pasta – I eat pasta very rarely, and in very small quantities.

Pasta is difficult for me to limit, so I stay away.

White rice – Quinoa is better, and it has protein. Cauliflower rice is a good substitute.

Brown rice or quinoa is better for your body and mind.

white rice

Potatoes. White potatoes are starchy. Although they are both a healthy carbohydrate, I stick to sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes have more fiber and are lower on the glycemic index.

 

potatoes

I would never suggest giving up your wine. I know my friends are wine lovers. Of course, too much will increase depression and anxiety.

wine

 

I think this video is worth watching.

Final Thought

Recent university studies found that diets that ban carbs can cause fatigue and sadness.

More studies suggest that skipping breakfast leads to anxiety and depression, where regularly eating a balanced breakfast lightens your mood.

Finally, when dieting, lose weight slowly. Dropping weight too fast does impact your brain chemistry. Losing weight slowly can improve your mood.

The recommended lifestyle is the Mediterranean diet: fruits, nuts, vegetables, cereals, fish, and legumes. This recipe Herb Roasted Chicken with Potatoes, Olives and Feta is based on the Mediterranean methods of cooking. Get Recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butter: Should We Love It or Leave It?

Butter: Should We Love It or Leave It?

I remember the days when toast tasted sweet and buttery. Then butter substitutes like margarine arrived on the scene. I had to believe margarine was the answer to my butter health woes. After all, butter has saturated fats which is bad for heart health. What happened to my sweet, creamy reason to eat toast? Americans have had a complicate relationship with butter for as long as I can remember.

Margarine for Butter?

Margarine contains unsaturated fat, so eating margarine is better than the saturated fat of butter? Not necessarily. In 2014, the Annals of Internal Medicine published an article that stated that eating less saturated fat (butter) does NOT lower a person’s risk for heart disease. Happy day! Of course, we cannot ignore that if eaten in large quantities, butter will contribute to obesity. That is not good.

The fact is that butter is natural, made from milk, whereas margarine is chemically altered. Margarine might be low in saturated fat, but what about trans fat?

Nutrition labels, according to the FDA, must list both saturated fats and trans fats. What you are looking for is LIMITED saturated fats and NO trans fats.

Beware

Wow, are you confused yet? I am. One of the most famous butter substitutes claims to have no trans fat. Well, that is good, right? Contrary to belief, the famous label does include palm kernel and palm oil, both tropical oils heavy with saturated fat.

Back to the Drawing Board

I personally feel that whatever choice I make is the wrong one. This is my conclusion. I will use butter on my toast and perhaps a pat on my potato. For all other cooking adventures, I am using a substitute that is a natural good fat. To be honest, in cooking and in baking, I do not miss butter at all. I discovered olive oil. You can find other natural substitutes for butter in this article. Read more.

Olive oil

Olive oil is my favorite fat. In cooking I never use a lot. The pure flavor is easy on the palate and in small quantities good for your health. Here is a recipe that is light and flavorful. My mom served this at least once a week with the Sicilian salad.

Spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes (Spaghetti aglio e olio)

  • 1 lb dried spaghetti (I like thin)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
  1. Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions.
  2. Drain pasta in a colander. Reserve 2 tbsp to use later. Refrain from rinsing the pasta.
  3. Heat EVOO in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  4. Add the garlic and saute until light brown. DO NOT BURN. Garlic becomes bitter if overcooked.
  5. Remove garlic from the oil and dispose of it.
  6. Add the red pepper and saute for 1 minute.
  7. Add the pasta and toss until completely coated in oil mixture.
  8. Add the reserved pasta water and cook for 1 minute.­­­­
  9. Remove the pan from the heat and toss in the herbs.

Wine: Chianti, Sauvignon Blanc, or Chardonnay

Final Thought

When I am using an original recipe from Dot or Uncle Tony, I don’t mess with the ingredients. I just remember “Everything in Moderation”.