Risotto with Pumpkin and Spinach


Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 onion, sliced
1 cup short-grain brown rice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup water
1 cup pumpkin, cooked and pureed, or canned
1 cup canned no-salt-added white beans, drained and rinsed, and pureed in a food processor for 1 minute
1 tsp finely chopped fresh sage
2 cups spinach, well washed
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp grated Parmesan


  1. Heat a medium pot over medium heat. Coat with cooking spray and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the rice and oil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
  2. Add the wine and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the pumpkin, beans, and sage and cook for 20 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the spinach and salt. Garnish with the Parmesan and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: The Best Life Diet Cook Book

How to Keep Avocados From Turning Brown

Avocados are an absolute treat, but it can be tricky finding ways to use them up once they reach that narrow window of ripeness. No one likes to throw away a beautiful avocado or delicious batch of guacamole simply because it has lost it’s emerald green glow and turned brown. Use these easy tricks to keep your avocados and avocado products as appealing to the eye as they are to your taste buds.

What Makes an Avocado Turn Brown?

To prevent the browning, it’s important to understand what causes it in the first place.

Some fruits and vegetables (apples, potatoes, avocados, and more) contain contain phenolic compounds and enzymes that, when exposed to oxygen, will produce a brown-black pigment. The cell surface usually acts as a barrier between these compounds and oxygen, but when the produce is cut or bruised this barrier is broken, the compounds are oxygenated, and a color producing chemical reaction occurs. Not all produce contain these compounds, and therefore not all produce will turn dark when cut open.Since oxygen is the catalyst in this reaction, it makes sense that preventing oxygen exposure would prevent the browning. There are several methods for preventing oxygen exposure or simply preventing the oxygenating reaction.

Lemon or Lime Juice

Citric acid in lemon and lime juice is a strong antioxidant that will dramatically slow the browning process. Simply squeezing a small amount of fresh citrus juice over your avocado or guacamole will keep the avocado from browning for at least a day. Many guacamole recipes include a small amount of lime juice, which will also help slow browning once mixed in.


Oil is an excellent barrier to oxygen. Brushing a thin layer of oil (olive or vegetable) onto the surface of a cut avocado will prevent browning. While this method is great for whole fruit, it isn’t ideal for guacamole since the surface is uneven and difficult to brush.

Plastic Wrap

Plastic wrap is often used in food preparation and storage to prevent oxygen exposure. To protect an avocado that has been cut open, simply wrap the avocado as tightly as possible, making sure the exposed surface comes into full contact with the plastic, leaving no air gaps. For guacamole, plastic wrap can be pressed down onto the surface of the dip instead of stretched out over the top of the bowl. Plastic wrap also helps prevent moisture loss during refrigeration, which can leave avocados tough or rubbery in texture.

Red Onion

If you have extra red onion, it can be used to keep your avocado or guacamole from browning. Simply cut the onion into large chunks and place it in the same container or sprinkled over your guacamole during storage. The gasses released from the red onion (the same gasses that make your eyes burn) prevent oxidation. As long as you make sure the red onion only contacts the skin of the avocado, there should be no noticeable flavor from storing the avocado along side the onion.

Extra Tips

Some say that leaving the pit in an avocado or even pressing a pit into a bowl of guacamole will also delay the browning process.Regardless of the method used to prevent browning, always store the avocado in an air-tight container to prevent the avocado from drying out or absorbing rogue flavors.

Source: About.com

Watch video of the results using the above methods at You Tube (3:55 minutes) . . . . .

Can I Get Enough Calcium If I Don’t Eat Dairy?

Leslie Beck, a Registered Dietitian wrote . . . . .

Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the body, is vital for building strong bones and teeth, but it’s also needed for muscle contraction, nerve function and the release of hormones and enzymes that affect several body processes. Research suggests that getting enough calcium may guard against premenstrual syndrome, high blood pressure, colorectal cancer and calcium oxalate kidney stones.

It’s true that dairy is an exceptional source of calcium. But it’s not the only source. Far from it. Other excellent sources of calcium make it entirely possible to meet daily calcium needs from a dairy-free diet. And many of these foods are also brimming with other beneficial nutrients and phytochemicals.

Adults, aged 19 to 50, need 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. After age 50, calcium requirements increase to 1,200 mg a day for women. For men, daily calcium needs increase to 1,200 mg after the age of 70. Children and teenagers, 9 to 18, require 1,300 mg of the nutrient each day. Younger children (4 to 8 years) need 1,000 mg and one- to three-year-olds need 700 mg daily.

If you substitute cow’s milk with a fortified non-dairy beverage (e.g. soy, almond, rice, coconut) in smoothies and on breakfast cereal, you’ll get just as much calcium as you would if you used milk.

As with milk, they also provide 100 IU of vitamin D per one cup. (Check the nutrition label: fortified plant beverages provide 25 to 30 per cent of the daily value (DV) for calcium and 25 to 45 per cent of the DV for vitamin D.)

Cultured coconut milk, a dairy-free alternative to yogurt, is also fortified with calcium.

Canned salmon (with bones) and sardines are also calcium-rich foods. Here’s a bonus: salmon is among the very few foods that contain vitamin D, a nutrient that works with calcium to boost bone health. Add one-half of a tin of salmon to your green salad and you’ll get as much as 880 IU of vitamin D, the amount found in nearly nine cups of milk.

Including green vegetables, such as kale, bok choy, spinach, broccoli and rapini, in your daily diet will also help increase your calcium intake. You’ll get more calcium if you eat your vegetables cooked rather than raw. That’s because some plant foods contain oxalates, natural compounds that bind to calcium causing it to be poorly absorbed. Cooking vegetables increases the amount of calcium that’s available for absorption by releasing what’s bound to oxalates.

Leafy green vegetables are also high in vitamin K, a nutrient that large studies have linked to better bone health.

Beans, nuts and seeds can supply considerable calcium to your diet, too. So does firm tofu that’s been processed with calcium (look for calcium sulfate on the ingredients list).

While I advise meeting calcium requirements from foods first, some people with higher calcium requirements, such as adolescents and older adults, may need to take a calcium supplement to bridge the gap in their diet. As always, speak to your health-care provider about the supplementing safely.

For many people, getting a day’s worth of calcium from a dairy-free diet means eating more plant-foods, foods that provide calcium as well as plenty of fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. That’s hardly a tradeoff.

Looking for calcium beyond the dairy case

Use the following chart to help you add calcium-rich foods to a dairy-free diet. (Calcium in milligrams for stated quantity)

Calcium fortified plant & fruit beverages

  • Almond milk, 1 cup 300 to 330
  • Coconut milk, 1 cup 300 to 330
  • Cultured coconut milk, 3/4 cup 165 to 385
  • Hemp milk, 1 cup 300 to 330
  • Oat milk, 1 cup 300 to 350
  • Rice milk, 1 cup 300 to 330
  • Soy milk, 1 cup 300 to 330
  • Orange juice, 1 cup 300 to 360


  • Salmon, canned, with bones, 1/2 can (106 g) 220
  • Sardines, 1 can (80 g) 275

Beans & Soy

  • Baked beans, 1 cup 154
  • Black beans, 1 cup 84
  • Garbanzo beans (chickpeas), 1 cup 65
  • Kidney beans, cooked 1 cup 92
  • Navy beans, cooked, 1 cup 123
  • Pinto beans, cooked, 1 cup 175
  • Soybeans, cooked, 1 cup 261
  • Soy nuts, roasted, 1/4 cup 60
  • Tofu, raw, firm, with calcium sulfate, 1/2 cup 253

Nuts, Seeds & Nut butters

  • Almonds, whole, 1/4 cup 94
  • Almond butter, 2 tbsp 112
  • Brazil nuts, 1/4 cup 53
  • Tahini, 2 tbsp 128


  • Cabbage, cooked, 1 cup 72
  • Beet greens, cooked 1 cup 164
  • Bok choy, cooked, 1 cup 158
  • Broccoli, cooked, 1 cup 62
  • Collard greens, cooked, 1 cup 266
  • Kale, cooked, 1 cup 94
  • Okra, cooked, 1 cup 124
  • Rapini (Broccoli raab), cooked, 1 cup 200
  • Spinach, cooked, 1 cup 245
  • Swiss chard, cooked, 1 cup 102
  • Turnip greens, cooked, 1 cup 197

Other foods

  • Figs, dried, 5 68
  • Orange, 1 medium 52
  • Blackstrap molasses, 1 tbsp 180

Source: The Globe and Mail

Foods That Help Keep the Pounds Off as You Age

Study found it’s not just about calories; some foods not as bad for waistline as thought.

A new look at what kinds of foods might help people keep their weight in check as they age found that not all calories are created equal and some foods are not as bad for the middle-aged waistline as many believe.

While men and women who ate lots of nuts, peanut butter, fish, yogurt and low-fat cheese tended to lose weight, other foods commonly seen as “unhealthy” — such as eggs, full-fat cheese and whole milk — did not seem to make a difference in weight.

On the other hand, sugary drinks and refined or starchy carbohydrates — including white bread, potatoes and white rice — had the opposite effect.

“The idea that the human body is just a bucket for calories is too simplistic. It’s not just a matter of thinking about calories, or fat. What’s the quality of the foods we are eating? And how do we define quality?” said senior researcher Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, of Tufts University and the Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston.

In general, the researchers reported, adults gained more weight as the “glycemic load” in their diets rose.

Glycemic load measures both the amount of carbohydrates in the diet, and the quality of those carbohydrates, said Mozaffarian.

A white-flour bagel, for instance, has a glycemic load (GL) of about 25 units, he noted; in contrast, a serving of quinoa — a whole grain — has a GL of around 13 units, and a serving of chickpeas has a GL of only 3.

In this study, every 50-unit increase in a person’s daily glycemic load — the equivalent of two bagels — was tied to an extra pound gained over four years.

What’s more, certain foods — like eggs and cheese — were connected to weight gain only if people also boosted their intake of refined or starchy carbs.

Red and processed meats, meanwhile, were also tied to weight gain. Again, though, some of the harm was reduced if a person’s glycemic load was kept in check.

So, Mozaffarian said, eating that burger with a salad, rather than fries, could be a smarter move. Better yet, he added, eat it without the bun.

The findings, reported online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, are based on 24 years of diet information from nearly 121,000 U.S. health professionals. At the outset, all were healthy and normal-weight, on average.

Over time, the study found, people’s weight crept up — as it tends to with age — but the odds differed depending on the typical quality of their protein and carbs. That was the case even when the researchers accounted for other lifestyle factors, including overall calorie intake.

To Mozaffarian, that means counting calories is not enough to maintain a healthy weight in the long run.

Dietary fat was once demonized, Mozaffarian said, and that only led to people eating more refined carbs. “A lot of people still think you need to avoid fat to lose weight,” he said.

Now, Mozaffarian worries that “count calories” is the new “low fat.”

Putting calorie counts on menus, he said, could send consumers the wrong message: If that deli sandwich has a relatively low calorie count, people may assume it’s a good choice — even if it’s mainly processed meat and refined carbs.

A spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics agreed that the quality of protein, carbs and fat is vital.

“This study really brings that to light,” said Lauri Wright, an assistant professor of community and family health at the University of South Florida, in Tampa.

“But I don’t want people to think calories don’t matter,” Wright stressed.

There are also no “magic bullet” foods that will melt off the pounds, she said. Nor can people avoid weight gain, and stay healthy, simply by avoiding a few “bad” foods.

Instead, Wright advised, choose healthy carbs, including vegetables, fruits and fiber-rich grains; proteins like fish, chicken and nuts; and “good” fats such as those in vegetable oils and fatty fish.

“You could have chicken breast on whole-grain bread, plus a salad, for lunch,” she said. “For a snack, have almonds, or hummus and vegetables. Then for dinner, have salmon and vegetables.”

But, she added, “calorie balance” — including the calories burned through exercise — is still important.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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