Sleep to Lose

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“According to Wake Forest researchers, dieters who sleep five hours or less put on 2½ times more belly fat, while those who sleep more than eight hours pack on only slightly less than that. Shoot for an average of six to seven hours of sleep per night—the optimal amount for weight control.”

http://eatthis.menshealth.com/slideshow/print-list/186453

Sugar Blues

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Refined sugar has been called poi­son, toxic, and the “anti-nutrient”. It’s said to be more addic­tive than cocaine. Is it real­ly that bad? How much does sugar real­ly affect your brain? Let’s take a look at the some­what com­plex rela­tion­ship between sugar and your brain.

Your Brain Needs Glu­cose, Not Fruc­tose

Brain cells need twice as much ener­gy as other cells. After all, there’s a lot going on up there! Your brain cells can’t store ener­gy, so they need a steady stream of glu­cose from your blood­stream. Your brain cells can live only a few min­utes with­out ener­gy sup­ply – it’s that crit­i­cal! The health­i­est sources of glu­cose are from the com­plex car­bo­hy­drates found in whole grains, legumes, fruits, and veg­eta­bles. Glu­cose is also a build­ing block of the lac­tose found in dairy prod­ucts. Unhealthy sources of glu­cose are sugar and high fruc­tose corn syrup (HFCS) which are all are rough­ly half glu­cose and half fruc­tose.

Vir­tu­al­ly every cell in the body can metab­o­lize glu­cose for ener­gy, but only your liver cells metab­o­lize fruc­tose. While honey and maple syrup do con­tain some nutri­ents, they are still the same basic com­po­si­tion as refined sugar – half glu­cose, half fruc­tose. All Fruc­tose Is Not Cre­at­ed Equal A healthy diet con­tains lots of fruits and veg­eta­bles which are sources of dietary fruc­tose. But a diet high in these sources of nat­u­ral­ly occur­ring fruc­tose is not the same as a diet high in fruc­tose from refined sweet­en­ers. Don’t make the mis­take of think­ing you should skip eat­ing car­rots or apples because they con­tain fruc­tose. It’s the added fruc­tose from refined sweet­en­ers you should be con­cerned about. So there’s no need to pick car­rots out of your salad. :)

Dan­gers of a High Fruc­tose Diet

Fruc­tose has wrong­ly been pro­mot­ed as a healthy sweet­en­er because it doesn’t raise blood sugar lev­els or spike insulin. Instead it rais­es blood fruc­tose lev­els, which is arguably even worse. Here are some of the prob­lems with high fruc­tose diets:

Increas­es triglyc­erides, blood pres­sure, and LDL (bad cho­les­terol), all mark­ers for car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

Increas­es lev­els of uric acid which can lead to gout and kid­ney dis­ease.

Increas­es risk for dia­betes. Fruc­tose intake and dia­betes rates are direct­ly pro­por­tion­al world­wide.

Caus­es sys­temic inflam­ma­tion.

Con­tributes to obe­si­ty by lead­ing to lep­tin resis­tance. Lep­tin is a “sati­ety hor­mone” that lets you reg­is­ter feel­ings of full­ness.

Read the rest here: http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/stop-giving-your-brain-the-sugar-blues/

Steaming Vegetables Recipe

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May 14, 2013|4 Comments
Simple steamed vegetables are one of the reasons I love eating in Japan. I mean, let’s be honest, I probably like steamed vegetables more than most, but I enjoy them exponentially more in Japan. Somehow, many of the things I love about traveling there are summed up in this simple preparation. I’d often receive a sampling of seasonal produce as part of a combination lunch, the vegetables arriving at the table beautifully arranged in the bamboo basket they were steamed in. I’d work my way through a rainbow of vibrant, tender potatoes, squash, mushrooms, broccoli rabe, and the like, sometimes adding a pinch of zesty shichimi togarashi, but more often than not, a casual toss of a few grains of salt would be all. Each time, a vibrant, satisfying reminder of just how good vegetables can be when prepared simply with care and intent. After this past trip, my cheap, tri-level bamboo steamer was promptly dusted upon my arrival home, and put into proper rotation. The thing that never ceases to surprise me is the speed even the most hearty chunks of root vegetables or squash become tender – ten minutes, often less.

Bamboo steamers are easy to come by, and relatively inexpensive. The one downside is they take up a good amount of storage space, not much more than a big pot, but still. The steamers are available in a range of diameters, and are made of interlocking trays intended for stacking on atop of the other. Placed above simmering water, the steam from the water rises through the trays and cooks the food. It’s a simple premise that works astoundingly well. I use three trays, but you can certainly go up or down a level.

A few things I’ve learned:

- While steaming with water is most common, I’ve also played around using miso broth, vegetable broth, vegetable dashi, or tea in place of water. Each imparts a different scent and flavor to the vegetables. More times than not though, I use water.

- Arrange your slowest cooking vegetables in the bottom basket, working up to the quickest. Another time saver is to get your densest, slowest cooking vegetables started in in the bottom tray, while you prep the quicker cooking vegetables for the mid and top baskets. Place the lid on whatever basket is on top at the time.

- Some people line their steamers with cabbage leaves or parchment. I don’t bother, placing the vegetables directly on the steamer instead. I like how it seems to keep the steam circulating. A quick scrub with hot water and the rough side of a sponge makes clean-up simple.

So, less of a recipe, and more of a reminder today of how good the most basic preparations can be. -h

Steaming Vegetables
HS: This is how I put together a sample of steamed vegetables. I use a three-tiered bamboo steamer, the sort that is available in most culinary shops.

a sampling of seasonal vegetables
flaky sea salt

to finish: good olive oil, a few drops of toasted sesame oil, or shallot oil

equipment: a bamboo basket steamer, preferably three levels. And, your steamer needs to fit inside your cooking skillet.

Wash your vegetables well, and cut them into bite-sized pieces. I tend to leave peels on, but it is a personal preference. Arrange them, in a single layer, in steamer trays according to needed cooking time. For example:

Bottom tray: equal-sized chunks of slower-cooking vegetables. For example: sweet potato, potato, winter squash, beets. These usually cook through in about ten minutes.

Middle-tray: equal sized pieces of broccoli, cauliflower

Top-tray/last minute: asparagus, fava beans (inner pods), snap peas

Bring an inch of water to a simmer in a skillet large enough to accommodate the diameter of your steamer. The water should not be so high that it makes contact with the vegetables when the steamer is placed in the skillet – do a quick test if needed, and remove some water if needed.

The goal here is to have your vegetables perfectly cooked and ready to serve just before you sit down. And, ideally, all of the vegetables finish cooking at the same time. Here’s how you do it. Roughly ten minutes before you’re ready to serve, place the slow-cooking, bottom tray vegetables over the simmering water, covered. Let them steam there until they’re about 2/3 cooked, about 6-7 minutes. Test, and cut into any root vegetables toward the end to make sure they’re going to be cooked through. The mid tray only needs 3-4 minutes, so add that next, moving the lid up a level. And the top tray vegetables, like snap peas and asparagus, just need a kiss of steam to brighten, barely a minute. Add that last. Or if you only have two baskets, add these to the broccoli/cauliflower basket to finish. You’ll have to make slight adjustments based on the sizes of your vegetables, but this is the general idea. Cook them until they’re bright, just tender, and taste good to you.

I like to quickly arrange the steamed vegetable, nested, in one basket to serve along with a drizzle of good oil – toasted sesame, shallot, olive oil, herb, etc. With a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.

Serves 4.

Prep time: 5 min – Cook time: 10 min

http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/steaming-vegetables-recipe.html

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