Chickpea Caesar Salad

This superpower salad takes the classic Caesar and turns it into a celebration! For a crunch without standard croutons, this recipe uses delicious and protein-packed crispy chickpeas. And this homemade Caesar dressing will blow the store-bought stuff away!

Recipe from the Blue Zones Meal Planner. [Read more…]

SESAME BUDDHA BOWL

From Blue Zones: This Buddha bowl from Sharon Palmer, RDN, the Plant-Powered Dietitian, is inspired by tempeh—the traditional fermented Indonesian soy and grain cake. It’s filled to the brim with brown rice, crunchy radishes, baby kale, asparagus, mushrooms, and peppers. And topped with a tahini ginger dressing for bold flavor. [Read more…]

Fiber: Follow the 5-to-1 Rule for Packaged Foods

 

When people think fiber, they think constipation. And it’s true: If we could get Americans to eat just the minimum recommended daily intake of fiber-containing foods, we could save our country $80 billion—and that’s just from the effects on constipation alone. But that’s not all. “Accumulating evidence indicates that greater dietary fiber intakes reduce risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, weight gain, obesity, and diverticular disease, as well as functional constipation.” So, we need to eat more fiber-rich foods, which means eating more whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes (beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils).

As fiber intake goes up, the risk of metabolic syndrome appears to go down, with less inflammation and an apparent step-wise drop in obesity risk. It’s therefore no surprise that greater dietary fiber intake is associated with a lower risk of heart disease: There is a 9 percent lower risk for every additional 7 grams a day of total fiber consumed, which is just some rice and beans or a few servings of fruits and veggies.

How does fiber do its magic? What are the mechanisms by which dietary fiber may extend our lifespan? It helps get rid of excess bile, feeds our good bacteria, and changes our gut hormones, which collectively helps control our cholesterol, body weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease. Reducing inflammation is a whole other mechanism by which fiber may help prevent chronic disease.

An accompanying editorial to a fiber and heart disease meta-analysis implored doctors to “enthusiastically and skil[l]fully recommend that patients consume more dietary fibre”––which means a lot of whole plant foods. If we do buy something packaged, however, the first word in the ingredients list should be “whole.” But, even if it is, the rest of the ingredients could be junk. A second strategy is to look at the ratio of grams of carbohydrates to grams of dietary fiber. We’re looking for about 5 to 1 or less. For example, whole-wheat Wonder Bread passes the first test: The first word in its ingredients list is “whole.” However, it then includes corn syrup and the contents of a chemistry set. So, let’s see if it passes the 5-to-1 rule.

In my video The 5-to-1 Fiber Rule. I show examples of some Nutrition Facts labels. The whole-wheat Wonder Bread lists 20 grams of carbs and 2.7 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Dividing the carbohydrates by the dietary fiber, 20 divided by 2.7, is about 7, which is obviously more than 5, so back it goes onto the shelf. It’s better than white Wonder Bread, though, which comes in at over 18. Ezekiel sprouted grain bread, however, makes the cut: 15 divided by 3 equals 5.

You can do the same thing with breakfast cereal. Multi-Grain Cheerios sounds healthy but has a ratio over 7. Uncle Sam original cereal is an example of one that makes the cut, sliding in under 4.

The editorial concluded that the “recommendation to consume diets with adequate amounts of dietary fibre may turn out to be the most important nutritional recommendation of all.”


I love producing videos about practical, day-to-day decision-making. Next time you go to the grocery store, look for products that fit the 5-to-1 ratio rule. They aren’t easy to find!

Eating fiber-rich foods is more than just a way to avoid constipation. For example, watch my videos Fiber vs. Breast Cancer and How to Prevent a Stroke.

There’s a misconception that we can’t digest fiber. We can’t do it alone, but we can with a little help from our gut flora friends. See Prebiotics: Tending Our Inner Garden and Gut Microbiome: Strike It Rich with Whole Grains.

This isn’t to downplay all the suffering caused by constipation. Check out How Many Bowel Movements Should You Have Every Day? and Should You Sit, Squat, or Lean During a Bowel Movement? to learn more.

Isn’t this talk of fiber reductionist? Good question! So good, in fact, that I created an entire video about it. See Is the Fiber Theory Wrong?.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

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Hopkins Students Encourage Classmates to Skip Meat for a Day

Hopkins School freshman Sophie Sonnenfeld, 15, had an awakening over chicken fingers.

Sophie, a Branford resident, said shebegan to reevaluate her diet when, in the third-grade, she realized chicken fingers weren’t actually chicken’s fingers. It spurred her interest in evaluating what she eats more closely, and now she does not eat red meat.

At her school, Sophie is an ambassador for Meatless Mondays, a campaign run by The Monday Campaigns, a nonprofit initiative associated with Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Syracuse universities that encourages people to commit to making healthier choices on Mondays. In addition to going meatless, the initiative runs campaigns for doing things on Mondays such as exercise, quitting smoking and promoting sexual health. [Read more…]

The Kids Cook Monday: Mini Mushroom Burgers

When grilling season hits one of life’s simple pleasures is to throw a portabella mushroom on the grill and let it absorb those delicious smoky flavors. These mushroom sliders are so cute they use a dinner roll for a bun! This recipe comes to us from our friends at The Mushroom Council.

Food For Thought: Is it portabella, portabello, or portobello? All are correct! It might be confusing, but sometimes words have different spellings and pronunciations depending on where you’re from or who you ask. The Mushroom Council uses the “two a” spelling, so we’re following their lead. [Read more…]

Spring Oatmeal & Veggie Reboot

Only about 3% of Americans meet the daily recommended requirement for fiber. So this little mix we conjured up should set you straight. Plus it will increase your vitamin and mineral intake. Join us starting Monday, April 2nd for 7 days of purity. However, the reboot can be repeated any given week.

Oatmeal and fruit (mostly berries) for morning meals, raw veggies for lunch such as a leafy green salad (no creamy dressings) and steamed veggies for dinner (or raw again if you choose). Only water and decaf herbal teas for liquids. No fruit juices please.

Choose cinnamon, almond milk or bananas to enhance your oatmeal. No raisins, whole nuts or sugars please. Enjoy!

Visit Gracias Madre in West Hollywood, California

After a cadre of recommendations from business associates while visiting LA it was a must that we visit Gracias Madre in West Hollywood for some delicious Mexican vegan food. The jackfruit tacos were our main choice and came with barbecue jackfruit, cashew cream, pickled cabbage, crispy onions, and black beans. They were absolutely amazing. Additionally, the crowd was eclectic, the vibe super chill, and the music trendy. Enjoy!

 

Moderation Kills

Image Credit: Pixabay

However, as Dr. Esselstyn wrote in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, in regard to cholesterol lowering, moderation kills. “Even if all Americans kept their total cholesterol below 200 mg/dL, as recommended by the American Heart Association, millions would develop coronary artery disease.” Strong evidence shows we need to keep our total cholesterol under 150 mg/dL in order to stem the American epidemic of coronary artery disease, our number-one killer. What kind of evidence? In many cultures, coronary artery disease is practically unheard of when total serum cholesterol levels are under 150 mg/dL. In the United States, the famous Framingham Heart Study demonstrated that few of those with levels below 150 mg/dL developed heart disease, and none died from it.

What if we don’t want just low risk for a heart attack, but no risk? One great stumbling block has been that government and national health organizations appear to have taken the patronizing view that the public can’t handle the truth and would rather the science be watered down.

[Read more…]

Vegan Buffalo Wings Recipe


Ingredients

1 12-ounce bag cauliflower florets
1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill gluten free baking blend or AP four
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer + 6 tablespoons water
4 cups crushed corn flakes (for breading)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder [Read more…]

Kids Cook Monday: Curried Quinoa Cakes with Minty Pea Dipping Sauce

These fun, dippable cakes feature not only the protein-packed super grain quinoa, but also nutritious chickpeas and flavorful curry powder. This recipe comes to us from our friend Chef Hollie of JoyFoodly.

Serves 4

Cooking Tip of the Week: Fresh peas are usually only available in the spring, but frozen peas are a fine substitute. Just let them come to room temperature before blending them in this recipe. [Read more…]