UNDERSTANDING CARBS SO THEY DON’T GO TO WAIST
For the past few weeks, I’ve been talking about eating healthier while adjusting to the changes in our country’s food supply. For years, nutritionists have been advising to eat less meat, and that movement has been given impetus by the Millennial’s interest in sustainable food sources. The focus is on fresh with clean, straightforward preparation, preferably ‘from scratch’ with no mixes or prepared products.
This is not a budget movement. Though the drill is to eat less meat, it’s also to eat better meat, grass fed beef, heritage pork and to include a variety of more sustainable meats such as goat and even game. The loss of protein from the meat quantity is compensated by the addition of protein rich carbohydrates, nuts, cheese, seeds, grains and beans, which also up the fiber content, all healthy improvements.
So it’s important to understand carbs and how to use them. That’s right USE them. Protein builds muscle, and fiber keeps the body functioning, but carbs give us energy for everything from lifting a hand to running a race. This is done by converting carbohydrates into glucose, which is then released in the bloodstream. The body considers this so valuable, that it creates cells to store what we don’t use. We call layers of these cells ‘fat’. It’s therefore necessary to have an idea of how much energy we need to avoid consuming excess carbohydrates which, converted into glucose, has to be stored resulting in a weight gain.
All foods, with the exception of pure fats, oils and meats, contain carbohydrates. Sugar and items made of sugar, like candy, are called ‘simple’ carbohydrates. They convert and enter the bloodstream quickly giving us short spurts of energy or ‘sugar highs’ but the unused glucose from simple carbs converts to cells just as fast, mainly because these carbs contain little or no fiber.
‘Complex’ carbohydrates are foods with fiber content which slow down the digestive process allowing the glucose to enter the bloodstream gradually, giving us sustainable energy to get through the day. This is why fruits with lots of natural sugars are still considered complex carbs and healthier than candy. A medium banana has 105 calories and 27 grams of carbohydrates while 2 Tablespoons of sugar are 100 calories with 26 grams of carbs, but the banana has 3 grams of fiber while the sugar has none. Consequently, the sugar can be absorbed in a short time, whereas the banana will take several hours, allowing time for us to use more of the energy it provides.
Packaged foods cause confusion about carbs because processing ingredients can change the value of the result. Refining removes much of the fiber in an item by stripping the hulls or skins and grinding the meat into a fine powder. As a result, the finished product is digested much faster more like a simple carbohydrate and can be blamed for weight gain. This is why so many processed foods have bad reps, white flour, cornstarch, white rice and of course sugar.
I remember a woman in my gym gloating that she had devised the perfect diet and lost 5 lbs. by eating nothing white. When reminded of skim milk, egg whites and cauliflower, she simply shrugged that some things were always sacrificed. The woman was confusing foods containing processed ingredients like white bread and sauces, with whole foods. She didn’t understand that what we refer to as ‘starchy,’ fattening foods are the processed ones. A plain baked potato is an excellent, filling snack, corn and beans are universally recognized as healthy food, but process them to a powder and they lose value.
The amount of energy we consume is calculated in units called calories, based on the body’s basil metabolic rate, or the essential amounts needed to perform the vital functions. Carbohydrates and protein both contain 4 calories per gram, so to figure out the calorie content of a food from carbs alone, simply multiply the grams of carbs by 4. If an item has 12 carbs, it has 48 calories from carbs. Fiber doesn’t contribute to calories.
According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, between 45 and 65 percent of the calories in your daily diet should come from carbohydrates. So if you know your caloric requirement, you can roughly calculate your carbohydrate one by dividing by 2 and again by 4. Remember though, all carbs are not of equal use to your body. Stay with the complex ones, especially if your diet is medically advised or cosmetic.
To read a food label, grams of carbohydrates are listed in the left-hand column and the math is done for you based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet. The carbohydrate percent daily value is calculated at 300 grams. This is called the DV, and is based on a standard recommendation according to the Food and Drug Administration. You’ll have to adjust it to comply with your personal requirements.
I find keeping track of the smaller numbers of carbs easier than thousands of calories and I can focus on choosing the right ones, especially when watching my weight. Moreover, I’ve learned from experience, that supervising carbohydrates rather than calories is more important to some medical diets, for example, diabetes.
I’m listing a few recipes below that show how satisfying dinners can be created using less meat and healthy, fresh alternatives to balance the meal. Nutritional values quoted are for a single serving but recipes serve 4. For more recipes, see post of Jan.19,2017.
Basil Pork Wafers with Spinach-Fennel Fruit Salad: Serves 4( Photo on post for Jan, 26, 2017)
1 lb. thin pork cutlets or wafers
(1) 2.5 oz. bag spinach leaves
1 medium fennel bulb
4 Tbs. Chopped toasted walnuts
2 Tbs. dried basil
2 tsp. garlic powder
½ Tbs. oil
1 Tbs. poppy seeds –optional
Slivers of cheddar cheese
1 cup brown rice cooked to 2 cups total
If using pork cutlets, pound them thin. Sprinkle ½ the basil and ½ the garlic in a pan to hold the meat without crowding, put the meat in the pan and sprinkle with the rest of the garlic and herbs. Cover the pan with foil and bake in a 250 deg. oven for an hour. This can be done ahead and kept in the refrigerator or frozen. Bring to room temperature and gently reheat before plating. Remove the meat from the pan. Stir the rice in the pan drippings smooth it out and broil until slightly dry
While meat cooks, remove fennel fronds and cut the bulb in quarters, then in thin slices. Halve the fruits and remove the meat to a plate, juice fruit. Place the juice in a bowl with the poppy seeds if using, then add fennel and microwave for 1 ½ min. Allow mixture to cool and remove fennel with a slotted spoon.
To plate: divide all the dinner elements in 4 parts. Fan pork slices on one side of each plate, and using a spatula, place about ½ cup of rice in 2 portions at right angles on the opposite side. Fill the center with spinach, topped with fennel slices, then fruit. Drizzle the dressing over and garnish with nuts and cheese. Reserved fennel fronds make an elegant topping.
Cal. 500, Carb.40 gr, Protein 37 gr. Fiber 14 gr., Fat17 gr
Pepper-Olive Chicken Bundles: Serves 4
4 chicken thighs-bone removed, skin left on-pounded thin
6 pitted green olives- roughly chopped
6 pitted ripe olives-roughly chopped OR (1) 2.5 oz. can sliced
4 fire roasted red peppers—jarred is O.K.
1 jarred pepperoncini in fine dice OR dash of cayenne pepper
1 tsp. dried basil OR 16 fresh leaves
1 cloves garlic minced OR equivalent amount jarred or garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)
1 ½ cups chicken broth, white wine or water ( broth recommended)
STEP 1) Flatten the chicken thighs, meat side up, between pieces of plastic until uniform thickness.
STEP 2) Cover each thigh with a red pepper, opened to lay flat
STEP 3) Combine the olives, garlic, pepperoncini and basil, and spoon equally over red peppers
STEP 4) If thighs are large enough roll them over the stuffing and secure them with toothpicks or
skewers, if not simply fold them over and secure them to close.
STEP 5) Lightly spray a non-stick pan with cooking oil. Add chicken and cook until brown on all
sides. Use a spatula to prevent sticking.
STEP 6) Add liquid to skillet and deglaze. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 min. or until meat is done.
Serve with pan juices.
**** If serving later; Simmer only 8 to 10 min. Cool to room temperature, remove to a roasting
pan, cover with foil and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature and pre-heat oven to 350 deg.
Cook covered 10 min. uncover, baste and cook 5 min. Serve as above.
Optional Fillings 1) Use green onions and ½ cup softened diced onions (2 min. with ¼ tsp. oil in a
microwave will soften them)
2) Use just black olives with 1/3 cup drained capers.
Cal. 228, Carb. 5 gr. Protein 24 gr. Fiber .8 gr. Fat 53.4 gr
Italian Braciuolini: Serves 4
8 slices beef braciuolini or sandwich steaks – @ 1 lb. = Thin slices of lean beef
4 plum tomatoes – skinned, seeded, julienne
2 large ribs celery in thin diagonal slices
1 green bell pepper julienne
1 large onion thinly sliced lengthwise
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. lemon pepper
4 oz. fresh sliced mushrooms
1 can Madrilène (usually sold to be jellied—a form of consume) or 1 ½ cups beef broth +1/4 cup sherry
2 Tbs. butter – divided
½ cup white wine
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. mustard
Lay the slices of meat on a board, and divide the vegetables except mushrooms, equally between them, placing them in a pile parallel the long side of the braciole or steaks. Sprinkle the herbs and seasonings evenly over all. Fold the shorter sides over the filling, and roll the longer sides around it. Secure the seams with toothpicks. Preheat broiler. Melt 1 Tbs. butter in the ovenproof pan, carefully roll the topside of each braciuolini in the butter, rest it seam side down in the pan. This will be a close fit toward the end, so temporarily move one out to make room for another, if need be, but make sure all have a coating of butter. Broil until nicely brown, @ 3-5 min. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees, add madrilène, cover and bake for 30 min. When meat is almost done, melt the other 1 Tbs. butter in the skillet, and brown mushrooms, deglaze pan with wine, stir in Worcestershire sauce and mustard until well incorporated. Remove pan from oven, plate braciuolini, stir skillet contents into pan drippings and mix well. Pour over meat.
Nutritional value not calculated
Cal Car P Fi Fa