Mar 03, 01:00 AM
March is National Nutrition Month! This is the time of year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics conducts a rigorous public education campaign to bring attention to the importance of making informed food choices, encouraging a lifestyle of healthy eating, and being physically fit. This year’s theme is titled “Enjoy the taste of eating right.”
Did you know that the average person has about 10,000 taste buds which in turn help drive decisions toward what one typically eats? Clearly it is important to find foods that you enjoy eating; however, it is equally important that those foods are nutrient dense in order to provide the needed vitamins, minerals, fiber and nutrition necessary to sustain a healthy body. So to help trigger those taste buds in the right directions, consider adding spices when you prepare foods, rather than the more common and unhealthy additives such as fat and salt. Incorporating even a pinch of new or unusual spice can drastically transform a common everyday recipe into an exotic and exciting flavorful meal. An important tip to remember: Before adding spices to the dish, heat them in a small dry skillet – just until they become aromatic, as this releases their natural oils and enhances their flavors significantly.
Here are some spices you may want to try:
Turmeric: Is a root that can be purchased fresh although more commonly dried. It is related to the ginger family and often used in spice blends such as curry. Tumeric is most noted for its bright yellow color and in non-professional kitchens is frequently substituted for the more expensive spice, Saffron. It is pungent in flavor providing a peppery/ginger taste and is commonly used in foods such as chutney, butter, cheese and spicy meat dishes originating in the Caribbean, India, North Africa, the Middle East and Indonesia.
Red Chili Flakes: Also known as crushed Red Peppers; are made from an assortment of dried red peppers which are then crushed. Many people believe most of the heat comes from the seeds, when in fact, the pith (vein) of the pepper is where most of the heat is stored. This spice is most commonly used in Italian foods; however it makes a great addition to many foods such as stir-fries, salads and oil infusions. Personally, this has become an ingredient that I use daily in almost all of my cooking as it can quickly transform any humdrum meal into a very flavorful and spicy taste of heaven.
Cumin: Is a member of the parsley family. Cumin seeds are dried and can be purchased whole or ground. This spice adds an earthy taste and is used in many cultures, particularly South Asia, Northern Africa and Latin America. Cumin is also found in many spice blends such as chili/curry powders, garam masala and adobos. It contributes great flavor to soups, stews and chili.
Coriander: These are the seeds produced from the herb cilantro. They are dried and can be purchased whole or ground. Coriander is another subtle, earthy-tasting spice that includes a bit of lemon flavor and is extensively used in Asian, Indian and Southwestern cuisines. Like cumin, it too is often included in blended spices and complements well with legumes, chili, stews, enchiladas, potatoes, fish and chicken.
Cardamom: Cardamom is related to the ginger family and is a seedpod that can be purchased whole or ground. It is very fragrant and combines well with cinnamon, cloves , nutmeg and garam masala. Cardamom is commonly used in Indian, Middle Eastern and Scandinavian cuisines.
Fennel Seeds: Dried fennel seeds are another aromatic spice that tastes similar to anise. The seeds can be purchased whole or ground and are frequently used in Indian, Asian and Middle Eastern foods. It is one of the five ingredients found in Chinese five spice.
Cinnamon: This is actually the inner bark of tropical trees. It is the workhorse spice during holiday baking, but also complements well with chocolate, apples, pears, coffee and custards, as well as savory dishes such as chicken and lamb.
Paprika: This is another spice that originates from peppers. There are many different varieties which offer a wide arrange of flavors; mild and sweet, smoky, to fiery hot. Paprika adds a beautiful red color often seen sprinkled onto deviled eggs and potatoes salads and is heavily used in Hungarian cuisine.
These are only a few suggestions of the spices found in today’s supermarkets and specialty stores. Adding spices to your meals is a great way to enhance flavor and in turn help reduce fat and salt that typically flavors American cuisine. Creating new dishes can be fun for the whole family, gets us out of our seasonal ruts, and brings variety back to the table. So the next time you are preparing a meal, think ethnic and experiment with some new or underused spices that will help you “Enjoy The Taste of Eating Right!”
Click here to view two National Nutrition Month videos (bottom of page) and here for recipes from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Until next time, here’s to healthy eating!
Lori Dodds, RD, LD, is a Registered Dietitian at The Corvallis Clinic Nutrition Services Department.
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Feb 25, 12:54 PM
The average person knows more about clinical trials today than was common at the beginning of my research career in the mid-1980s. I find that patient volunteers today are asking great questions when they come in for initial study appointments, perhaps as the result of the internet age. Twenty or thirty years ago I usually had to explain the meaning of the term “placebo,” but nowadays it seems that placebo has become incorporated into our everyday vernacular. (Just in case you don’t know, a placebo is a sham treatment that looks exactly like the active treatment).
Most of the studies we participate in at The Research Center randomly assign qualifying volunteers to a treatment “arm.” For example, a typical study will assign half of the volunteers to receive active treatment and the other half to receive the placebo treatment. The true nature of the treatment, active vs. placebo, is not known by anyone involved in the study until the study ends or unless medically required during the study.
You might be wondering why anyone would participate in a study offering a 50-percent chance of a placebo treatment. The answer is that at The Research Center we won’t participate in a study unless it’s designed to first and foremost take care of the patient. When we participate in a study with a placebo treatment arm, it’s because there is a benefit to the patient. For example, many studies we participate in are designed such that the investigational treatment is in addition to the current standard of care for the medical condition. In other words, every volunteer is receiving the usual treatment and half of them might be receiving additional effective treatment.
So, what’s the downside to “getting the placebo”? There really isn’t any. The volunteers who got the placebo still received the active treatment they would have received if they weren’t in the study. The volunteers who “get the placebo” aren’t giving up anything except their time to be part of a clinical study that someday might help them and other patients.
- Julie Carrico is Associate Coordinator of The Corvallis Clinic Clinical Research Center
Jan 30, 10:25 AM
By Deborah Bella, PhD
If you’ve ever become frustrated with your efforts to lose weight and keep it off, there’s a good chance that some lifestyle patterns are getting in your way. If you’ve ever said to yourself, “I know what to do, but just can’t seem to make it happen,” then recognizing and overcoming your troublesome patterns will create a lifestyle that’s conducive for a healthy weight.
Here are some typical patterns that may limit successful weight loss from the Personality Type Diet by Robert Kuschner, M.D.
Are you a Nighttime Nibbler?
Nighttime Nibblers tend to eat little during the day and typically eat most of their daily calories in the evening. This pattern can set people up for overeating in the evening and consuming even more calories than if they had eaten throughout the day. In addition, Nighttime Nibblers may not be hungry when they wake up, eat less during the day, and have a ravenous appetite again in the evening.
How can Nighttime Nibblers succeed at weight loss?
Distribute calories evenly throughout the day to decrease hunger in the evening.
Remove unhealthy snacks from home. The chance of consuming high calorie snacks is greater if they are available.
Reset your nighttime routine by changing the way you use your time in the evening. Unhealthy eating is often paired with certain activities, such as watching TV. Changing your evening routine can help you change your eating habits.
Are you an Uneasy Exerciser?
Uneasy exercisers are not comfortable exercising around others, which keeps them from going to a gym or pool. They may be embarrassed about their body size and how out of shape they are. They are concerned that people will stare at them and make judgements about their weight or fitness level.
How can an Uneasy Exerciser succeed at weight loss?
No spandex required! Wear loose fitting clothing that feels comfortable to you.
Sneak in exercise. Take a walk. Take the stairs. Wash your car.
Work out at home with an exercise DVD or home aerobic/strength-training equipment.
Are you a Fast Pacer?
Fast Pacers are known for their multitasking and juggling skills. Their pace is so fast that they don’t have time to make a plan for weight loss or if they do have a plan, they don’t have the time to follow through with it. A hectic schedule leaves a person frazzled and they often seek energy boosts through food and beverages. Inadequate sleep has also been associated with weight gain and obesity.
How can a Fast Pacer succeed at weight loss?
Stay aware in the present. Mindfulness is hard to accomplish in our world of “time-saving” technology. If your pace is so fast and your habits are unconscious, awareness will help you make the needed changes.
Slow down! Take stock of your life choices. What activities/situations trigger unhealthy eating or interfere with exercise? Which ones encourage you to make healthier choices?
Get a good night of sleep. People make better lifestyle choices when they are well rested.
Keys to Successful Weight Loss
Interested in learning more about weight loss? The Corvallis Clinic Nutrition Services Department is gathering feedback about upcoming weight loss education opportunities. Take our short online survey to let us know what type of class works best for you or call 541-754-1370.
Kushner, Robert and Nancy Kushner. Dr. Kushner’s Personality Type Diet. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2003.