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Posts from the ‘Food For Thought’ Category

It’s Never Too Late to Eat Right!

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Photo is Courtesy of NPR News

I specialize (that is I am board certified) in Internal Medicine. Internal Medicine is a real specialty, though I am not usually referred to as a specialist. Sometimes as a primary care doctor I’m called a GP (General Practitioner), an old term that applies to doctors 1 year out of medical school with a state medical license and no board certification.

I’m also called an internist (though I take care of more than people’s insides!). I’ve also been referred to as an “adult medicine physician” and sometimes for a laugh, I call  myself an “Adult-atrician” – since everyone seems to know what a pedi-atrician is!

As a practicing internist, I have to know great deal about many aspects of our bodies and minds – and keeping current is hard work. One way I like to keep up with modern medicine is by reading journal articles. Every week I get several journals in the mail such as the New England Journal of Medicine, The American Journal of Medicine and my specialty journal, Annals of Internal Medicine – as well as several others on dermatology and more. I probably read dozens of these publications a week! So here’s a shout out to all the primary care doctors out there who are spending their precious free time striving to stay smart and informed for their patients!

Here’s some fun and interesting stuff I read this week on food and health:

As you know, my philosophy on food and wellness is that no matter what way you choose to eat, whether it be a plant-based diet, Mediterranean, Paleo or otherwise –  I believe firmly that your everyday diet should be composed of real food. This means no harmful chemicals, processed foods, dyes, flavor substitutes or fat-reducers – to name just a few of the culprits. I was amused and also a little shocked to read “The Autopsy of Chicken Nuggets Reads Chicken Little” in the American Journal of Medicine.

This particular study detailed an account of doctors from the University of Mississippi Medical Center (the state that tops the list at #1 in America’s obesity epidemic ) cutting open chicken nuggets from two national fast food chains and examining them as though they were pathology specimens to see what types of tissue they contained.

**** WARNING: THIS IS GROSS!!  Keep in mind that meat is muscle (a reason why some people are vegetarians). In these chicken nuggets, doctors from the University of Mississippi found only 40-50% muscle –  the rest was fat, skin, blood vessels, nerves, viscera – a.k.a. GUTS (sorry again) and BONES! Add to that the fat and carb crust found on a chicken nugget and you have a pretty useless non-food “chicken product” not too much different from the nefarious pig-snout-containing hot dog. It is extremely important that over time consumers around the world become increasingly aware and weary of these kinds of processed foods – becoming informed and educated is the very first step to living a clean, happy and healthy lifestyle! And certainly, this is not the sort of “food” we want to be putting into our bodies.

OK, on to a less gross article.

In the Annals of Internal Medicine there was an article that noted that people with an exceptional diet in their midlife (defined as late 50s early and 60s!) significantly decreased their risk of encountering major physical or mental limitations in later life.

What does this mean?

1) It’s never too late to eat better!

2) If you don’t want to just live longer but live longer and better, drop the nugget and pick up a real food. Eat more things with fewer than 6 ingredients on the label! Eat more fruits, veggies and fiber.

From time to time as I read up in these journals, I will pass along more interesting tidbits. Hopefully you found this stuff as interesting as I did!

Have a great weekend as always,

Emily A. Nolfo……..Doctor of Internal Medicine

GUILTLESS PALEO PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS! (+ more superfood fall recipes!)

GUILTLESS PALEO PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS! (+ more fall recipes)

As the Fall season kicks in, it’s easy to focus on the shorter days and look ahead with dread to the impending arrival of winter.

But let’s live in the moment, shall we?

Here in Connecticut we’ve had a run of beautiful dry days with crisp nights perfect for sleeping. After two less-than-spectacular leaf seasons due to the hurricanes, this year there’s an ever-changing visual cacophony of scarlet, yellow and orange trees, bushes and vines out there to enjoy. This show is totally free!

And speaking of orange, one of the best things about this time of year is the fabulous PUMPKIN.

The pumpkin is a real North American food, introduced to newbies to these shores by the Native Americans. I found some fascinating information about pumpkins on the web site of a small farm in California. If you like to do sustainable gardening, read the information on how they used to grow the “three sisters” together: corn, pumpkin and beans.

Every year my older daughter Lauren and I anxiously await the arrival of all the pumpkin products at Trader Joe’s: pumpkin butter, pumpkin chai, granola bars, biscotti and more! I can’t think of anything that doesn’t taste better with pumpkin added, sweet or savory.

Throw some in your morning smoothie and your body will thank you – check out the nutritional punch this stuff packs:

1 cup of cooked pumpkin yields:
Calories 49
Protein 2 grams (not too shabby)
Carbohydrate 12 grams
Dietary Fiber 3 grams
Calcium 37 mg
Iron 1.4 mg
Magnesium 22 mg
Potassium 564 mg
Zinc 1 mg
Selenium .50 mg
Vitamin C 12 mg
Niacin 1 mg
Folate 21 mcg
Vitamin A 2650 IU (wow!)
Vitamin E 3 mg

Traditional Chinese Medicine sees winter as the Yin time of year: cold and damp. Traditional Chinese doctors prescribe warming strategies, including warming herbs & spices. I think there’s a natural tendency to crave the warming spices come autumn: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves, for example. These all naturally complement pumpkin. But often a lot of sugar and fat is added to the pumpkin + spice combo for baked goods and desserts. Here are some healthier variations on pumpkin classics:

#1 – PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS

Around our house, a fall favorite recipe is pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. I created this paleo version of an old recipe I used to make for my kids which is lower in fat and sugar, higher in fiber, healthy fats and protein and adapted for gluten free and Paleo type diets. As before, if you are vegan, substitute 1/4 cup chia seeds you’ve soaked in hot water for 10 minutes per egg/egg white.

   Ingredients:

1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 coconut flour
1/4 arrowroot flour
Heaping Tablespoon of Flaxseed Meal (Omega-3)
1 TSP Baking Powder
1 TSP Baking Soda
1/2 TSP Salt
1/2 TSP Vietnamese Cinnamon
1 Cup Pecans Toasted in Oven for 10 mins
2 Eggs
3/4 Cup Coconut Sugar
1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
1/4 Cup Pumpkin Butter or Apple Butter
1 Cup High Quality Dark Chocolate Chips or Chunks
1 Cup Pumpkin Puree

Directions:

Preheat oven at 375º. Toast pecans for 10 mins in the oven. Leave oven on for baking. Take all dry ingredients besides coconut sugar in a mixing bowl, use wire whisk to stir thoroughly. In a mixer, cream together coconut oil and eggs then add coconut sugar and beat until fully mixed. Next, add your fruit butter and pumpkin puree and continue to mix. Add dry ingredients 1/3 at a time and beat just until mixed – do not overbeat. Finally, add chocolate chips and pecans and blend briefly til mixed with the rest of the ingredients. Place mixture into a mini muffin tin and bake in oven for 20-30 minutes. Tops should be dry and toothpick come out clean.
Remove from oven, try to let them cool a bit and enjoy!!! See our picture above for our results!

#2 – PUMPKIN PIE
Want to up the health factor of your pumpkin pie? Here’s an Paleo version courtesy of one of my favorite bloggers, The Paleo Mom:
http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/10/the-best-paleo-pumpkin-pie.html
You can also just cook the pumpkin filling in a ramekin placed in an inch of hot water.

#3 – HEALTHY HOT CIDER
Teapot
3 white tea bags
a handful of dried apples
a large apple slice with 6 cloves pressed in
a cinnamon stick
a star anise
Steep for 5 minutes. Add optional sweetener (I use a couple of drops of Sweet Leaf liquid stevia) and/or a couple of drops of natural caramel flavor.
Put some in a mug and go see some leaves!

Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions and feedback on these! I’d love to hear how these are working out for everyone. Have a great week!

Dr. Nolfo

Coping With Our Cravings

Junk-food

Craving:

Noun 1. an intense desire for some particular thing. desire – the feeling that accompanies an unsatisfied state.

We all get them!

Maybe you are trying to move toward vegetarianism, but your neighbor’s barbecue smell wafts towards you house and you crave STEAK.

Maybe you are trying to follow the Paleo diet and you just want some potatoes!. My advice is to surrender–on occasion. When it comes to eating, you can do anything occasionally unless you are truly allergic. Think of the craving as a temporary priority! It will feel good to give in.

Enjoy it, savor it, then go back to your long-term goals. It’s important to know you can be flexible. NEVER beat yourself up for giving in. Everyone needs a little pleasure now and then. Another strategy is to figure out just how much you want to give in to your craving. Get a kitchen timer. When you get a craving for something you know will not align with your long-term goals, set the timer for 5 minutes and start it. If you still want to give in after 5 minutes…DO IT! Enjoy fully. Then move on and never think about it again. It was your choice.

Here at Stony Creek Wellness, when one of our patients is on our Ideal Protein diet program and  needs a temporary break, we cycle them through phases so they can go on a cruise, take part of summer off, etc. That’s a longer version of the same principle!

So remember: Be consistent, but do not beat yourself up when you hit a road block or feel the need to enjoy yourself.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Dr. Emily Nolfo

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