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Stress Might Undercut Benefits of Healthy Diet for Women

Stress could undo some of your healthy food choices, a new study suggests.

Stressful events from the day before appear to eradicate any health benefits a person might have gained from choosing a breakfast rich in “good” monounsaturated fats, as opposed to a breakfast loaded with “bad” saturated fats, Ohio State University researchers found.

“They physiologically looked like they’d eaten the high saturated fat meal,” lead researcher Janice Kiecolt-Glaser said of stressed-out healthy eaters in the study. “Their advantage in eating the healthier meal disappeared.”

Previous research has shown that saturated fats increase inflammation in the body, which has been linked with heart disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and a host of other health problems, said Kiecolt-Glaser. She’s director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.

“Inflammation is now looking like it’s associated with a lot of the nasty diseases of aging,” she said. “It’s like a catalog of what you don’t want in your life.”

Saturated fats mainly come from animal sources, including meat and dairy products. They tend to be solid at room temperature; for example, the white fat found on a steak or pork chop is saturated fat, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

On the other hand, diets rich in unsaturated fats — such as the Mediterranean diet — have been shown to help heart health. Unsaturated fats generally come from plants, and are liquid at room temperature, the AHA says.

It seems straightforward, but stress complicates the way the body processes food, Kiecolt-Glaser said. Other studies have shown that a person’s metabolic rate is lower and insulin levels are higher following a stressful day.

To see how stress might affect dietary fat, Kiecolt-Glaser and her colleagues recruited 58 healthy women to eat two separate but nearly identical breakfasts on two different days in their clinic. Their average age was 53 years.

Both breakfasts consisted of biscuits and gravy, and each contained 930 calories and 60 grams of fat, almost identical to the composition of a Big Mac and medium fries or a Burger King Double Whopper with cheese, the study authors said.

“They were modeled after fast-food meals,” Kiecolt-Glaser said.

There was one important difference. One breakfast was made mostly with saturated fat, while the other primarily contained a monounsaturated sunflower oil, the study said.

The women also completed a standardized interview about events that had stressed them out the previous day. “It’s an interview that separates out minor frustrations from events that are more meaningful and more likely to produce physiological changes related to stress,” Kiecolt-Glaser said.

Women free from stress tended to have better blood test results after they ate the monounsaturated fat biscuits and gravy, compared with when they ate the saturated fat-laden alternative, the research showed.

These women had lower levels of inflammatory markers, and they also tested lower for cell adhesion molecules — a substance that increases the likelihood of plaques forming on blood vessel walls, causing hardening of the arteries, the study reported.

But when women in the study had a stressful event before the breakfast test, the hardships of the previous day appeared to erase any benefits linked to the healthy fat choice.

“If they were stressed, it wiped out all the good stuff,” Kiecolt-Glaser said.

Even though the study focused on women, Kiecolt-Glaser said there’s no reason to think men would react differently to stress.

These findings jibe with others regarding the link between stress and diet, said Penny Kris-Etherton, a distinguished professor of nutrition at Penn State College of Health and Human Development.

“There is a growing literature that stress blunts good diet responses,” Kris-Etherton said.

It could be that a bad reaction to stress overwhelms the potential benefits of a healthy meal, or it could be that the stress itself alters the body’s processing of the meal, she said.

Interestingly, Kiecolt-Glaser and her colleagues found that stress did not make the body’s response to a high-saturated fat breakfast even worse, as they had anticipated.

“We expected we might see even greater adverse responses to the saturated fat meal, but we may have already maxed out,” she said. “It may be when you overload the system that much, you may have a hard time seeing the real effects of stress.”

In short, people who follow a heart-healthy diet also need to manage their stress, Kiecolt-Glaser and Kris-Etherton said.

That could mean sharing your problems with a friend or family member, exercising regularly, getting lots of good sleep, trying meditation or yoga, or simply doing something pleasurable like taking a warm bath or lighting a scented candle, they suggested.

This doesn’t mean that you get a free pass to eat an unhealthy meal following a rotten day, however, another expert noted.

“As a registered dietitian, this study would not change my recommendations in regards to a healthy diet or one rich in monounsaturated fat compared to saturated fats,” said Jennifer Kartashevsky. She is a certified diabetes educator with the Diabetes Alliance Program at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.

“We do know that both stress and diet can have an effect on inflammation in our bodies,” Kartashevsky continued. “The take away is to continuing to follow a diet rich in non-starchy vegetables, lean proteins, fresh fruits, whole grains and monounsaturated [fats] to give yourself a better base if stress does come your way.”

The research was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

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

Upscale Veggie Burgers: On Trend for Meatless Monday

Meatless Mondays Staff wrote . . . . .

When Adam Platt, restaurant critic of New York magazine, recently dubbed chefs “philosopher kings,” he was referring to the industry’s power to propel forward the most cutting-edge, socially engaged “ideas of our times” through the vehicle of food. Specifically, he was referring to the recent catapult to star status of the formerly humble “veggie burger,” a trend that’s been equally driven by customers concerned about their health as well as the environmental impacts of eating meat.

Trend-setting chefs, not only feature veggie burgers, but imaginatively ‘curate’ their ingredients—everything from fillings to sauces, toppings and sides.

This move toward veggie burgers neatly dovetails with the agenda of Meatless Monday, a nonprofit public health initiative created in 2003 by former ad exec Sid Lerner in cooperation with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The simple principle—choosing to forgo meat one day a week— is a tactic that may reduce your risk for chronic disease as well as lower your carbon footprint. Today, food influencers including Mario Batali, Marcus Samuelsson and Dos Caminos’s Ivy Stark along with restaurants, schools, organizations, individuals and groups in over 40 countries (count those cuisines!) participate in Meatless Monday week after week. Even Oprah endorses going meatless on Mondays.

But back to that humble veggie burger. It’s the perfect dish to promote on Meatless Monday, not the least because it’s inspiring awesome culinary statements from chefs of all kinds. Recently, the New York Times spotlighted an array of trend-setting chefs, such as Daniel Humm, of Eleven Madison Park and NoMad Bar, Dan Barber, of Blue Hill, and April Bloomfield, of Salvation Burger, who not only feature veggie burgers, but imaginatively “curate” their ingredients—everything from fillings to sauces, toppings and sides. Momofuku Nishi in Manhattan is even experimenting with a Silicon-Valley-engineered patty from Impossible Foods, famous for its near-realistic blood-like juices.

The Impossible Burger, pictured above, looks, cooks, smells, sizzles, and tastes like conventional ground beef but is made entirely from plants. A molecule called “heme” is the magic ingredient that makes meat look, cook and taste gloriously meaty. While heme is exceptionally abundant in meat, it is a basic molecular building block of life on Earth, including plants. Producing the Impossible Burger requires approximately a quarter of the water used to produce the same burger from a cow, a twentieth of the land, and only an eighth of the greenhouse gas emissions, according to a lifecycle analysis conducted by Impossible Foods. The Impossible Burger’s key ingredients are water, wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein and leghemoglobin (i.e., heme) plus natural flavors and micronutrients. The Impossible Burger delivers comparable protein and iron to conventional beef but contains no cholesterol, hormones or antibiotics.

“I was genuinely blown away when I tasted the burger,” said chef and founder of Momofuku, David Chang. “The Impossible Foods team has discovered how to re-engineer what makes beef taste like beef. First and foremost, we think this makes a delicious burger.”

But veg-inventiveness isn’t limited to the East Coast.

For example, in San Francisco, Mission Bowling Club has mastered what SF Weekly calls the “destination burger”— a square, deep-fried panisse patty of chickpea flour, sautéed kale, edamame, green onion, and roasted shiitake mushrooms, topped with guacamole, fennel, and house-made sambal chile sauce. Chicago’s Chicago Diner goes even further with its “Buddha’s Karma Burger,” a curried sweet potato tofu patty, sprinkled with grilled pineapple, sprouts, onion, and chimichurri sauce. In contrast, at Austin’s Hopdaddy, the laid-back “La Bandita” has been engineered to be the perfect companion to a couple of beers: a black bean-corn patty, topped with goat cheese, avocado, arugula, cilantro pesto, and chipotle mayo—a true Texas blend of savory and spicy.

Source: Modern Restaurant Management

Healthy Bowl with Tofu and Quinoa


1 – 12 oz package extra-firm tofu. drained, pressed and cut into cubes
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp gluten-free low-sodium tamari
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
2 cups cooked, hot quinoa
1 head broccoli, cut into florets and steamed until tender-crisp
sunflower seed sprouts or alfalfa sprouts, for garnish


1/2 cup very hot water
1/3 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
1 tsp gluten-free low-sodium tamari
1 garlic clove, peeled


  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Line large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Add hot water and sunflower seeds to blender. Let sit for 1 hour. Add remaining dressing ingredients and blend on high until smooth and creamy. If not using immediately store in glass jar in refrigerator for up to 1 week, stirring before use.
  3. On prepared baking sheet, coat tofu in oil and tamari, followed by poppy seeds. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until tofu has puffed and seeds have adhered to surface.
  4. To assemble bowls, add cooked quinoa, broccoli and tofu to 4 bowls. Drizzle generously with dressing and garnish with sprouts.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Sage magazine

How to Get Enough Protein in Meatless Meals

Leslie Beck wrote . . . . .

If you’ve given up meat for health reasons (or ethical considerations), you need to stay focused on nutrition. Simply cutting out beef – and, for some people, chicken too – doesn’t guarantee that your diet will be nutritionally complete or healthy.

Depending on which foods you replace meat with (or don’t), you could be shortchanging your diet – and your body – essential protein, not to mention other much-needed nutrients (see sidebar).

Protein is the building block of muscles, bone, cartilage, skin, hormones and enzymes. Getting enough protein helps to repair muscles after a workout, supports a strong immune system and maintains healthy hair and nails.

Including protein in meals also helps to suppress your appetite and, as such, may help you lose weight.

How much protein you need each day depends on your body weight and how active you are. The official RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for sedentary people is 0.8 grams of protein every kilogram of body weight. If you weigh, say, 170 pounds (77 kg), you need 62 g of protein a day, an amount found in 7.5 ounces of steak or chicken.

Older adults likely need more protein to preserve muscle mass and muscle function, about 1 to 1.2 g every kilogram a day.

No matter what your age, though, if you work out regularly (strength and/or cardio exercises), you have higher protein needs to replace muscle breakdown during exercise, about 1.2 to 1.7 g ever kg of body weight each day.

While meat is an exceptional source of protein – three ounces of cooked beef delivers roughly 25 g of protein (ditto for pork, lamb, chicken and turkey) – it’s not the only source.

Many meatless foods are packed with protein, some animal-based and others vegan-friendly. To help meet your daily protein quota, include a protein-rich food at each meal and snack.

Here are seven meat-free protein foods to help keep your body strong.

Cottage cheese

One cup of cottage cheese delivers an impressive 30 to 32 g of protein. Plus, one cup offers 150 milligrams of calcium, plenty of B vitamin and one-third of a day’s worth of selenium, an antioxidant mineral needed for thyroid function and DNA production.

Watch sodium, though. Some brands contain as much as 800 mg a cup. Look for lower-sodium brands and avoid high-sodium foods at other meals.

Mix cottage cheese with berries or chopped fruit (add a dash of cinnamon and shredded unsweetened coconut), toss it with chopped cherry tomatoes and bell peppers, or sub it for sour cream in recipes.


One large egg contains 6 g of protein, 60 per cent of it found in the white. Seven egg whites (slightly less than one cup of liquid egg whites), for example, serves up as much protein as three ounces of meat.

There’s no need to throw away the yolk, though. As well as some protein, one egg yolk supplies a generous amount of choline, a B-like vitamin that is used to transmit nerve impulses and make acetylcholine, a memory neurotransmitter.

Enjoy an omelette for dinner, toss an egg or two into a vegetable stir fry, or snack on a hard-boiled egg or a muffin-sized frittata.


All pulses are excellent sources of vegetarian protein, but lentils lead the pack, providing 18 g a cup. They are also an outstanding source of fibre (15 g a cup) and supply 90 per cent of a day’s worth of folate, a B vitamin needed to make and repair DNA.

Toss cooked lentils into salads or stir them into soups, pasta sauces and roasted vegetables. Or replace ground meat with lentils when making stuffed peppers.


These fresh green soybeans, found in the freezer section of the grocery store, deliver 16 grams of protein every ¾ cup (shelled). But that’s not all. You also get 8 g of fibre and a decent amount of calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Add frozen shelled edamame to a vegetable stir-fry or soup near the end of cooking. Toss edamame into a green salad or quinoa bowl. Or steam or boil edamame in their pods and enjoy as a snack.

Extra-firm tofu

With 16 g each one cup (3 ounces), extra-firm tofu is also a fair source of calcium, B vitamins and iron. Whether it’s baked, grilled or stir-fried, tofu takes on the flavour of what it’s cooked with.

Marinate slices of firm tofu for 30 minutes, then grill or bake it. Add chopped tofu to soups and stir fries. Or crumble firm tofu and scramble it with chopped vegetables, tomato, baby spinach and curry powder.

Hemp seeds

Three tablespoons of these crunchy seeds offer a surprising 10 g of plant protein, not to mention plenty of calcium, magnesium and more than a day’s worth of ALA (an omega-3 fatty acid).

Sprinkle them over oatmeal, yogurt, green salad and roasted vegetables. Or blend into smoothies and soups.

Soy milk

If you don’t do cow’s milk, soy milk is your best replacement since it, too, is a good source of protein. One cup of unsweetened soy milk, for instance, has 8 g of protein, the same amount in one cup of cow’s milk. (Almond, cashew, rice and coconut beverages have only 1 g of protein in a cup.)

Going meatless? Don’t miss out on these key nutrients

Whether you’re a vegetarian or simply someone who wants to eat more meat-free meals, it’s important to replace key nutrients that meat and poultry offer (besides protein, of course).

Meat is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals – especially the four below – that support growth, metabolism and a healthy immune system. Here’s how to get them from a meatless diet.

Vitamin B12

Needed to make red blood cells, keep nerves healthy and make DNA, B12 is found naturally only in animal foods. And beef is an outstanding source, providing a full day’s worth per 3.5 ounces (adults need 2.4 micrograms each day).

You’ll also find B12 in fish, chicken, eggs (1 mcg every large egg), yogurt and milk (1.2 mcg a cup). The vitamin is also added to plant-based milks (e.g. soy, almond, rice, coconut) and many soy burgers and vegetarian chicken products. Nutritional yeast is also an excellent source.


Also known as vitamin B3, niacin is used to make stress hormones and convert carbohydrates into fuel for the body. It has also been shown to suppress inflammation.

While chicken is one of the top food sources (3.5 ounces supply more than a day’s worth), other good sources include salmon, tuna, beets, sunflower seeds and peanuts.


This mineral is needed for growth and development, to make hormones and connective tissue and to transport oxygen to the body’s tissues.

Good sources, other than red meat, include baked beans, black beans, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, firm tofu, pumpkin seeds, fortified breakfast cereals, prunes, raisins and blackstrap molasses.

The body has a harder time absorbing iron from plant foods than it does from meat. To enhance iron absorption, include a source of vitamin C in plant-based meals (e.g. bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, citrus, tomato sauce).


It’s critical for healing wounds, fighting off invading bacteria and viruses and making proteins in the body. Zinc also helps children grow and develop properly.

Meatless food sources include fortified breakfast cereal, lentils, black beans, chickpeas, yogurt, milk, cashews and oysters. Two medium oysters, for example, deliver 8 to 12 mg (women need 8 mg daily and men require 11 mg; children need 3 to 5 mg and teenagers should get 9 to 11 mg a day).

Source: The Globe and Mail

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