Thank God Wine is Gluten-Free!

For someone with multi-generational winemakers in the family abstaining from wine does not seem like a viable option. But what if this certain someone is also a Nutritionist? As you might have guessed, it is bound to cause some tension in the family. This is not to say I do not drink wine anymore. I simply stick to a glass of red wine a day.

The rule of thumb is a glass for women and two glasses for men a day. One of the reasons men are allowed to drink more is they have more water in their bodies. Water dilutes alcohol in the bloodstream, resulting in a lower blood-alcohol level for the same amount of wine consumed.

Although this rule is true for all alcohol beverages, so far only red wine has been found to be beneficial to our health. According to Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, red wine has been known to decrease blood pressure and prevent blood clotting and a heart attack.

More recent data suggests that consuming fewer than two servings of red wine daily may also help reduce the risk of breast cancer. The good guys responsible for this anticarcinogenic action are phytochemicals found in red grape skins. Of course, you could just eat grapes – but where is the fun in that?

With its many curative powers, is red wine the new drink of the gods? After all, it has been hailed for its anti-aging and health preserving properties. Who has not heard about resveratrol? This powerful compound naturally found in red grapes releases antioxidant agents to fight the good fight in our bodies. But there are many more anti-inflammatory components in red wine that are waiting to be discovered that could potentially lower the risk of other types of cancer.

Do you really need more convincing to drink red wine? Next time you go out with your girlfriends, make it a red wine night. Just remember: red wine can be beneficial to health only if consumed in moderation and combined with a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise.

Gluten-Free Kitchen: Cooking with Greek yogurt

I have never been a big fan of protein powders. And if you have read some of my previous posts, you know I believe in getting all the nutrients your body needs – including protein – from food (with a few exceptions: Read More).

But, how much protein do you need? There are many different formulas to calculate your daily protein requirements. The quickest way is to multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.8; to convert pounds to kilograms, divide your weight by 2.2 (e.g. 125lbs/2.2=57kg, 57kgx0.8=45.5g of protein a day). Keep in mind that this formula applies to healthy adults only. For more accurate estimation of your protein needs, schedule an appointment with a Nutrition Professional.

Protein powder is what many people turn to to supplement their daily protein needs. Although having one or two protein smoothies a day for snack can help you meet your requirements, I do not recommend it as a meal replacement. A healthy person’s GI tract needs solid foods to function properly. Liquid diets can contribute to many health problems, including gallstones.

Fortunately, there is a way to get close to 20g of lean protein without resorting to protein powder. Plain Greek yogurt may have as much protein and as little calories as two scoops of protein powder, but without all the unnecessary additives and preservatives. Yogurt is also a great source of calcium and vitamins, and healthy bacteria.

You can eat it on its own as a snack. You can have it for breakfast with oats, nuts, seeds, fruit, and honey. You can use it as a substitute for mayo through out the day. Finally, you can add it to your smoothies instead of protein powder. Just add some water or milk (either cow or plant-based), ice, and anything else you usually put into your smoothie: fruit, veggies, PB, seeds, honey etc.

For those who are lactose intolerant, try mixing Lactaid or other lactase enzyme substitute into your smoothie. But if you simply don’t like dairy, be picky with your choice of protein powder. A good rule of thumb is: if you don’t understand the ingredient list, don’t buy it. Whole Foods carries a wide selection of stripped-down animal- and plant-based protein powders.

So if you do decide to substitute plain Greek yogurt for protein powder to meet your daily protein requirement, here is a yummy tip: turn your smoothie recipe into delicious frozen yogurt – no ice cream maker necessary – by skipping water or milk and adding extra ice. Enjoy!

Image: Chobani.

Gluten sensitivity symptoms

Have you been experiencing chronic bloating, constipation, flatulence, diarrhea, lack of energy, stomach ache, lactose intolerance, anemia, arthritis or other pains?

If so, you are not alone. Millions of Americans suffer from gluten sensitivity. Gluten is a protein duo found naturally in wheat, rye, and barley. Women of European descent are at highest risk. Although many people have the symptoms, for some reason they remain undiagnosed.

If you suffer from any of the gluten-sensitivity symptoms, ask your doctor for a blood test. You can also see a Dietitian who may be better trained to diagnose and treat this food-related illness. There is no known cure but to eliminate gluten from your diet.

The good news is a gluten-free diet will contribute to reduction in your symptoms.

Image: Wheat, almost done | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

Not all gluten-free grains are created equal

Not all gluten-free grains are created equal. Whole grains are a better choice. Gluten-free or not. Remember whole grains are not the same as multigrains. “Multigrain” means that the food labeled as such is made from many different types of grains. It does not necessarily mean these grains are whole. Grains are considered whole only when the entire grain has been preserved, including the outside shell (the bran), the inner seed (the germ), and the starchy part (the endosperm). Refined grain products, like white rice, contain mostly the starchy part. Most of the fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals are removed from the grain.

The USDA provides a list of whole versus refined grains on its website. Gluten-free whole grains include:

Amaranth, buckwheat, millet, sorghum, teff, quinoa, brown rice, certified gluten-free oatmeal and rolled oats, popcorn, whole-grain cornmeal, and wild rice. These are the grains that should be found in the ingredient list of gluten-free whole-grain products.

Keep this in mind when shopping for gluten-free whole-grain products. And always read food labels.

Source: choosemyplate.gov. Image: udisglutenfree.com.

Can a gluten-free diet be harmful?

Every day more people learn about the benefits of eating gluten-free for weight loss or general health. But is a diet devoid of gluten really beneficial to those who do not have to follow it for health reasons? The jury is still out on that one, as gluten-related research is still relatively new. But can a gluten-free diet be downright detrimental to your health?

It is not a lack of gluten, which is simply a combination of two proteins, in your diet that gives cause for concern. It is a lack of fortification of certain gluten-free products with folic acid (folate). In 1996, the FDA made it mandatory for many grain products to be fortified with this vitamin B to prevent serious birth defects caused by folate deficiency in pregnancy. The same requirement does not apply to gluten-free foods at this time.

Whether you have to or want to be gluten-free, I recommend asking your doctor to test your vitamin levels at least annually. I am a strong believer in getting all your nutrients from a varied and balanced diet. Good food sources of folic acid are leafy green vegetables, black-eyed and green peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, avocado, broccoli, kidney beans, and peanuts. However, if you are clinically deficient in this or any other nutrient or you are a woman of a child-bearing age, consult your doctor about taking the necessary supplements.

For more information on folate, visit: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/.

Image: Gluten Free tag at New World | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

On a quest for the best gluten-free brownie

The W9 Market

One of my favorite places to eat and just simply hang out at is the Market on Route 9W in Palisades, NY. If you live in North New Jersey or NYC, you can take the scenic route along the Hudson River. If the drive doesn’t work up your appetite, there is an easy hiking trail right next to the Market. Go for a walk in the woods, and then finish the day off with a wide selection of Mediterranean-inspired gourmet food made of locally sourced ingredients and delicious home-baked goods, including gluten-free! I recommend their gluten-free brownie. It’s fluffy and big enough to share. For a complete menu, visit the9wmarket.com.

The Market and its sister grill bar, the Filling Station, are both located at the site of an old-time gas station. At the market, you can share a large table with other patrons or retreat to one of the smaller tables strategically tucked away around this cozy little shack. Whenever the weather permits, you are welcome to take your food outside. The outdoors dining is comprised of three distinct areas. There are picnic tables behind the Filling Station, where I spotted Scarlett Johansson in a sleeveless flannel shirt wolfing down a mean burger one summer. The rumor has it that Baryshnikov, the Russian ballet dancer, and the actor, Aidan Quinn, live in the neighborhood and frequent the place. There is also an outdoor café-style area. And my favorite, a relaxing space with comfy beach chairs looking out on the surrounding woods. There you can find me with a good book, enjoying a gluten-free meal always followed by a dessert. So next time you are driving down Route 9W, check out this little gastronomic gem. And who knows? You may get lucky and share a table with a celebrity.

Image: the9wmarket.com.

A gluten-free diet for the general population?

A gluten-free diet for the general population?

Strom (2014) wrote on NYTimes.com:

Never mind that a Mayo Clinic survey in 2012 concluded that only 1.8 million Americans have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack the small intestine when gluten is ingested and can lead to other debilitating medical problems if not diagnosed.

An additional 18 million people, or about 6 percent of the population, is believed to have gluten sensitivity, a less severe problem with the protein in wheat, barley and rye and their relatives that gives elasticity to dough and stability to the shape of baked goods.

According to Hajarnavis, the chief executive of Popcorn Indiana (as cited in Strom, 2014): 

But there is a growing population of people who have somehow heard that gluten-free is healthier or think of it as fashionable, and when they remove gluten from their diet, they’re inadvertently taking out a lot of [unhealthy] processed foods and are really feeling the benefits of eating healthier foods.

Via: A Big Bet on Gluten-Free – NYTimes.com. Image: Gluten free Gasoline | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.