Easy Peanut Butter Honey Granola Bars

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3 Ingredients. Way tastier and healthier than Chewy Bars.

This is a quick and delicious recipe can be used to kill your midday craving or as a quick pre-workout meal. These bars are an easy way to boost your fiber intake with the oats and peanut butter. You also get some healthy mono-saturated/saturated fats from the peanut butter, and vitamins and minerals from the honey. I really believe in the health properties of RAW honey. For more information on the health benefits of raw honey check out this article: https://authoritynutrition.com/10-benefits-of-honey/

 

 

That being said for this recipe you do have to heat the honey into its liquid if is not already in liquid form. The boiling point of honey is between 105-120 degrees F meaning it boils under relativity low heat, therefore its best to use a double boiler type method to heat the honey to preserve its anti-bacterial/fungal properties, see directions below. Feel free to add whatever other add ins to this recipe that you like, chocolate chips, cocoa, dried fruit, nuts, etc. You can also makes these protein bars by adding 1-2 scoops of protein powder!

 

Recipe: Makes approx 10 Bars

Ingredients:

1 cup of rolled oats

1 cup of quick oats
1/2 cup crunchy natural peanut butter* (unsalted)
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (optional but suggested )
Cookie sheet and parchment paper
** Feel free to use any other nut butter (or sunflower seed butter for nut-free) to replace the peanut butter.

** Also feel free to add whatever other extras you you desire

** To make protein bars add two scoops of your favorite protein powder and 2 tablespoons of milk or milk subsitute.

Directions:

1.  Line a standard cook sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a deep saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the some water to  a boil. Using a small metal mixing bowl add your honey and place the bowl into the boiling water. This is known as creating a double boiler. A more gentle way to heat certain foods.

2. While the honey heats up, place the oats and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

3. Once your honey is liquefied remove from the double boiler add in the peanut butter and salt. Pour the warm mixture over the oats, and using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir the mixture well, coating the oats evenly. As the mixture cools, it will become sticky and difficult to mix, so move quickly.

 

4. Transfer the mixture to the lined cookie sheet, and press HARD to pack it into the pan. They should be about 1/2 inch thick deep. Pressing firmly will ensure that the bars stick together after you refrigerate them, this is crucial. Place the pan in the fridge (or freezer depending on how patient you are) to cool, then use a chef’s large knife to cut the bars.

Nutrition:

Per bar

Calories: 117 cal

Protein: 4 grams

Carbs: 18 grams

Fat: 4 grams

Fiber: 2

 

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The Fastest Bolognese Sauce

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Bolognese is one of my favorite dishes , and arguably one of the best sauces of any cuisine.I have been making Bolognese since I was a teenager, working on perfecting a recipe. There are a few things required for a good sauce, fresh tomatoes, alot of garlic, grass fed beef, and Parmesan cheese (ideally an old rind..yes an old rind). This recipe combines all those things with a whole lot less calories than your typically meat sauce.

Recipe: Makes 8, 4ounce Servings or about 4, 8 ounce Servings (depending on caloric and macronutrient needs)

 

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large onion, coarsely chopped
2 Garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
4-6 Plum Tomatoes cubed
2lb Pound ground Grass Fed Beef ***

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes  ( I prefer Muir Glen fire roasted **)

1/2 Tablespoon of thyme

2 Tablespoons of Italian seasoning

1 Small bunch of fresh basil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Crushed Red Peppers to taste

Parmesan Cheese to taste

Basil or Italian Parsley to Garnish

 

*** You can buy either lean ground beef like 90/10 or you can buy 80/20 and simply drain the fat. This accomplishes two things: one, you can save money by buying cheaper meat, two you get roughly the same caloric and fat amounts as 90/10 after draining your 80/20. If you want to know more about how cooking ground beef of different fat contents changes the calorie and fat content, check out this chart below.

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As you can see, blotting or draining 80% lean beef, yields the same caloric and fat content as 90% lean beef that has just been pan broiled. Save, yourself some money and just drain the fattier beef.

Directions:

 

1.In a large skillet heat the olive oil. When hot (throw some water in the pan, if it pops its ready) add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onions become very soft, about 5- 8 minutes.

2.In a separate pan saute your beef. You don’t need to add oil because the beef has enough fat on its own, and you will be draining the fat. When the beef is nice and browned, take your top and drain the fat from the beef. Add the onion and garlic mixture to the beef and return to low heat.

3. Next add all your herbs and spices, then add the fresh tomatoes and let the mixture cook on low to medium heat for approximately 5-8 minutes softening the tomatoes.

4. Add the canned tomatoes. Add approximately 1 cup of water and turn the heat all the way down. Lastly, add your grated cheese or Parmesan rind and little sauce simmer for 1-2 hours.

5. Garnish with fresh Italian parsley and serve with zucchini pasta or regular pasta . (Again, depending on your goals and preferences)

 

Nutrition:

Per 115g/ 4 Ounce Serving

Calories: 250cal

Protein: 25 grams

Carbs: 25 grams

Fat: 6 grams

Fiber: 4 grams

 

 

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Stop Dieting: Develop a Dietary Lifestyle

Dieting is not productive. Nearly all who attempt to “diet” will eventually fall off their diet. And while most will loose weight during their dieting period, once they revert back to their old eating habits, they will unfortunately gain back the weight lost during the dieting period they worked so hard to loose. This failure is not due to a lack of effort, or an inability to show self-discipline, the simple fact is, is that diets don’t work. The human body wants to maintain homeostasis at all times, meaning change does not come easy. This is especially important if you are looking to loose weight, specifically excess body fat, and more importantly keep that body fat off. You don’t need a “diet” you need to transform your current dietary habits long term, meaning constantly working at forming and more importantly sustaining a healthy and suitable dietary lifestyle that’s tailored to YOU.

I do not believe in having clients follow specific “diets” (i.e. the Keto diet, the Atkins diet, the Paleo diet, Juicing diets, or bizarre cabbage soup diets) because dieting is a short-term solution to a life long problem. The way you eat, and how you choose to eat is something that you will have to confront until the day you die. What your specific dietary habits look like depend on so many factors including: dietary preferences, fitness goals, health, culture, schedule, and finances. Because of these numerous factors effecting the way one eats, the expectation that people can adhere to diets that are not compatible with the rest of their lifestyle is ridiculous. Therefore, I advise that instead of going on a diet, people work to develop dietary lifestyles that best help them achieve their goals and work best with their lives.

Determining the Appropriate Dietary Lifestyle for You

The following are the questions necessary to figure out how and what you should be eating on a daily basis. The answers to these questions are dependent on you and your individual needs, goals, and preferences. I urge you to actually answer these questions as seriously and thoughtfully as possible to get you started on the right track.

What is the appropriate amount of calories for you and your lifestyle/goals?

This is the most basic information you should be aware of. You can find many calorie calculators out there that can clarify this question. Or you can higher a fitness professional or dietician to help you. Many apps like MyfitnessPal can determine your approximate caloric needs. The amount of calories you should consume will vary depending on your individual biology, your goals, and your activity level.

What are your fitness goals if any? How does this change your dietary needs?

Depending on your fitness goals, your diet must change to help you optimally reach your goals. What does this mean? Refer to the following common examples for general dietary guidelines depending on fitness goal:

  • Fat Loss – To achieve this goal you need to be in a caloric deficit for a prolonged period of time (eat less calories than you burn). You need to keep your protein intake high (around 1.5-2.0 grams/kilogram of bodyweight), keep your carbohydrate intake moderate to low (1.5-2 grams/kilogram of bodyweight) , and your fat intake moderate to high (1.25-1.5 grams/kilogram of bodyweight). You should be aiming to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and should be hitting your daily fiber recommendations. Protein should be included at most if not all meals. Protein and healthy fats should be the main components of this diet.
  • Hypertrophy (Muscle Gain)- To achieve this goal you need to be in a caloric surplus for a prolonged period of time (eat more calories than you burn). You need to keep your protein intake moderate (around 1.2-1.7 grams/kilogram of bodyweight), keep your carbohydrate intake high (3-4 grams/kilogram of bodyweight) and your fat intake moderate (.8-1. gram/kilogram of bodyweight) You should be aiming to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and be hitting your daily fiber recommendations. Carbohydrates and protien are the main component of this diet.

Most peoples’ fitness goals will fit into the above two categories. Figuring out which category you fit in will help you determine what your general diet should look like in terms of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats). ***Remember these are just guidelines (however quite solid guidelines), but you will need to experiment and find the perfect combination of macronutrients for you. Regardless of your dietary habits fruits and vegetables should be included at all times in hefty amounts. This is one commonality that I personally believe should exist between all dietary lifestyles.

What do you like to eat?

Now that you know your caloric and macronutrient needs, you can start the fun process: choosing the foods you enjoy to fit your caloric and macronutrient “budget”! This is where you get to explore your own food preferences. Dieting or eating to reach a fitness goal should not be torture or something that is unsustainable. The only way to achieve success with long-term goals is to find a sustainable dietary lifestyle that you can maintain for life; therefore it has to be somewhat enjoyable.

How much money do you have to spend on food?

This is probably the biggest factor in determining your dietary lifestyle. Regardless of your budget there is a way to work with it to achieve your goals. My biggest piece of advice: buy what is on sale as opposed to just what you want. This means getting your grocery store’s sale paper each week and thinking ahead of time of what you can buy given your budget. This also means learning to cook. I recommend learning to cook 6 dishes you enjoy really well that way you can constantly change up your meals up. This is what I do every Sunday. I take about an hour to look over the sale paper and determine what I will cook for the week based on what is on sale. Granted , I am quite proficient in the kitchen and have been cooking since I was a child, everyone reading this post has access to the internet and can easily look up recipes for ingredients that are on sale. The more creative you are, the more fun this will be. Another tip for saving money on food is buying in bulk or wholesale. Getting a membership to Costco or BJ’s can be very effective especially for someone who needs to eat a lot of food to achieve their goals.

How much time do you have to cook?

Your own personal schedule will determine how much time each day and week you can put aside to cook. This means that meal prep is an attractive method to ensure you have healthy and delicious meals through out the week without spending much time per day cooking. If you don’t want to do meal prep you should at least have some sort of meal plan so you have consistent meals you eat on most days. The amounts of meals you prep or plan will depend on your personal goals. If you can afford it, ordering food from a meal prep company is also an attractive option.

Think of foods that cause allergic or adverse reactions?

Once you have a general idea of what you want to eat on a regular basis, you must take into account whatever allergies you have. This is common sense but must be said. For example, if you need a vast amount of protein in your diet, but are allergic to lactose, whey protein and dairy products are not good choices.

Conclusion

With the answers to these questions you can now begin to start forming a dietary lifestyle that fits your own personal needs and preferences. Hopefully this will become a dietary lifestyle that you can sustain for at least long enough to achieve your goals, but hopefully for the rest of your life. It’s not easy at first but you can do it! Understand that this is just a transition period to a new lifestyle that will be sustainable, healthy, and most important enjoyable, not only for your body, but for your mind and your whole being as well!

 

 

 

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Fitness Friendly Tikka Masala

1So most people think this is an Indian dish, but it’s true origins are unknown. According to folklore Chicken Tikka Masala originated in Indian restaurants run by Bangladeshi chefs in Great Britain. The dish was born when a British gentleman sometime in the 1960s, decided his Chicken Tikka was too dry and demanded something more “saucy”. The chef, to please his British customer tossed in a can of Campbell’s tomato soup, added some spices and added a dollop of yogurt to the dish. So it seems that this version of Tikka Masala that many have come to enjoy in is actually a British dish, in fact its the national dish of Great Britain. Regardless of its geographic origin I ADORE this dish. I have been making this dish for years and I think I’ve got it down. I’ve made some adjustments to this dish to make it a little “healthier” over the years, but I truly don’t think that the flavors are compromised from these changes.

Recipe: Serves 5-6

Ingredients

2lbs of Chicken Breasts

2 cups of Non-Fat Greek Yogurt

1 Lemon

4-6 cloves of Garlic

4 tablespoons of Ginger

For the Sauce

3 cups of 2% Milk

1 Tablespoon of Grassfed Butter or Ghee

2 Cloves of Garlic

1/4 cup of Tomato Paste

3 Fresh Tomatoes

4 teaspoons ground turmeric

2 teaspoons garam masala

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 tablespoons of ground cumin

2 teaspoons of black pepper

Salt to Taste

1 cup of Cilantro

*Optional 4-5 Cups of Frozen Spinach

Directions:

1. Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, black pepper and cumin in a small bowl. Combine Greek yogurt, salt, lemon and half of spice mixture in a medium bowl, add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and chill 6 hours minimum, 24 hrs ideally.

2. Add butter, onion, garlic and tomato to a saucepan. Allow the tomatoes to soften then add tomato paste. Allow the tomato paste to darken and add the remaining spice mixture to the pan. Lastly, add the milk and let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes on low or until it starts to stick . Add salt to taste. Lastly, add the cilantro and turn the heat off.

3.Meanwhile, preheat broiler to high. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and broil the chicken until it starts to blacken. **Note it won’t b completely cooked.

4. Cut chicken into 1×1 inch pieces and add to sauce. Turn heat to low allowing the mixture to simmer. Stir occasionally until chicken is cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Serve with white or brown basmati rice. ** If you want to add a vegetable to the meal, which I recommend you can add several ups of chopped spinach. It pairs very nice with the sauce.

Nutrition:

Per 200g/ 7 Ounce Serving

Calories: 353kcal

Protein: 57 grams

Carbs: 11 grams

Fat: 9 grams

Fiber: 1 gram

 

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How to optimize fat loss according to science part I

Everyone wants to loose body fat. In a country where almost 70% of the population overweight or obese, loosing weight is by far the most popular fitness goal.

Here’s the secret. The truth of the matter is, for the most part there is no secret.  Loosing body fat is a result of utilizing more calories (in the form of stored fat) then you consume (in the form of food and beverages). This is the most important part of fat loss. While exercise is most definitely essential for optimal fat loss (the second most important aspect of fat loss), caloric restriction is still more important. Think of it this way how much time does it take to reduce your caloric intake by 500kcal? Really no time at all. Its more of a decision to be committed and consistent with eating less. Once you decide to do this its an immediate decrease in caloric consumption. On the other hand how long does it take to burn 500kcal with exercise? This truly depends on the individual and the type of exercise, but for most it will take some time. An individual weighing 155 pounds burn 500 calories walking 4 miles per hour for 90 minutes. That’s a huge difference between an immediate decision to rid your diet of 500 excess kcals or an hour and a half on the treadmill each day to burn 500 kcals.

The truth is you do not need the newest diets, you don’t need OTC supplements, and you don’t need to restrict yourself of whichever macronutrients and foods the popular media is telling you are making you gain fat (think carbs, fat, gluten, meat, sugar, dairy, nuts, fruit basically everything but water). What you really need for fat loss is caloric restriction, discipline, and commitment. Fat loss is not an easy or quick process.

One thing many people do not realize is that fat loss and health are not 1:1. Indeed, there are many overweight people who are extremely healthy and many thin and people of healthy weights who have metabolic dysfunctions. Understand this, loosing fat is not about being healthy, at least in a direct way. While I am not and have never advocated eating an unhealthy diet to loose weight (even the word “healthy” is not a concrete and definable term, any educated nutritionist or dietician will tell you this ) the simple truth is you can eat shit and still shed body fat. Anecdotally well all know this. Most of us have encountered the guy who eats whatever he wants and has a 6 pack. Or the girl who could care less about the quality of her food decisions and is thin all year round. Studies have proved this as well. There are many cases of nutritionists eating”unhealthy” foods and loosing large amounts of weight, this professor lost lost 27lbs in 2 months eating Twinkies.  This study found that there was no correlation between junkfood was unrelated to BMI for 95% of individuals. My own personal anecdote supports this as well, I lost close to 50lbs in a matter of 4.5 months all the while eating desert every single day. Yes everyday. ***The silver lining to this is that the rest of my diet was on point. I ate adequate protein, more than enough vegetables and fruit, plenty of water,  appropriate amounts of fiber, and supplemented with Omega 3’s. I went from 265-270lb at around 20% bodyfat, down to 220lb to around 9% bodyfat. The key is actually sticking to the amount of food you need to eat to loose weight.

However, while caloric restriction and exercise are the main pillars of fat loss, there are many tricks and tips to increase your chances for success. Here are 6 ways to optimize fat loss!

1. Eat more fiber, but not too much

As I discuss in my article here most people are not eating enough fiber. Many times this lack of fiber can cause bloating and a distended stomach. A lack of fiber causes slower transit time of food through the intestines, meaning you’ll have food hanging out in your colon for longer periods of time. Many times this bloat can cause the illusion of body fat and simply by increasing your fiber intake will take inches off your waistline. However, on the other hand consuming excessive amounts of fiber can cause also cause bloat! So as with everything, especially with diet,  the key is moderation. For more on fiber recommendations check out my fiber article.

2. Do more Cardio

Not everyone has to do cardio to loose weight. However, if your not one of the blessed few who don’t hold fat around their waist, or just don’t hold much fat at all, you are going to have to do cardio to optimize fat loss around your waistline. Stubborn fat is actually somewhat different from the rest of fat throughout your body. Stubborn fat is typically the fat around most women’s waist and thighs, and most men’s lower stomach and back. Stubborn fat experiences less less blood flow than fat found elsewhere in the body, and is less sensitive to the fat mobilizing effects of the catecholamines (bad for fat loss), and more sensitive to insulin (bad for fat loss) (1). Because of these conditions stubborn fat is generally the last fat to be lost in a fat loss phase.  Men trying to get below 12% and women below 19% will notice these are the areas where fat takes the longest to remove. Doing more aerobic exercise will increase blood flow to these “stubborn” areas and help mobilize triglycerides aka body fat.

3. Increase the amount of water you drink and minimize all other liquid calories 

It’s a fact that most people don’t drink enough water. Drinking water is essential for fat loss. In fact drinking more water than necessary can help you loose more bodyfat. Drinking adequate/excessive water helps burn more calories by increasing resting metabolic rate or RMR (2). This study found that  increasing water intake by 1 liter per day can help burn an extra 23 kcal a day (3). Over the curse of a year that’s roughly  17,000 kcal or almost 5 lb of fat! You should also consider minimizing all other liquid calories. While there is nothing inherently wrong with drinking a cup of juice or having a beer here and there, but the truth is if fat loss is your goal you should really consider minimizing if not completely ridding your diet of liquid calories. Liquid calories are not processed by the brain the same way solid whole foods are (4). Therefore, many people have a tendency to drink too many liquid calories and in turn eat excessive amounts of calories which translate to fat gain (5).

4. Eat More Protein

Protein is one of the most valuable tools you have for fat loss. Protein does two valuable things for fat loss. One, protein increases satiety, meaning you are more satisfied and less likley to overeat when eating higher amounts of protein in your diet. Protein can also reduce cravings and help make you eat less calories overall (6). Two, protein can actually increase the amount of calories you burn each day (7). This is because of what is known as the thermic effect of food. All food you consumed must be “processed” by the body to be utilized, during this “processing” your body actually burns calories. As it turns out protein burns more calories than fat or carbohydrates. For example if you eat 200kcal or protein your body will actually burn 40-70kcal of that 200kcal in digestion.

most importantly

5. Track what you Eat

This is the one thing most people don’t want to do. But its so necessary, because if your not measuring your food how will you know what your actually eating??? Many people make claims about their diet, “I don’t eat that much!”, “I NEVER eat!”, “I eat plenty of protein!”, ” I’m avoiding sugar!”, the list goes on. The fact is, most people aren’t truly consistent with their diet. Unless you’ve got a food scale with you at every meal you really are just guessing. And to a certain degree for most people’s goals estimating is close enough to achieve their goals. However, if you want to OPTIMIZE progress in terms of fat loss, tracking food is key. Because the reality is loosing fat isn’t “eating healthy” for one day, or guessing that you were in a caloric deficit for a day, need to be aware of how much you are eating consistently for period of several months to even years depending on how much fat loss you desire. In fact keeping a food diary is so important that this huge study found that those who kept a food diary lost almost double the amount of weight compared to those who did not (8).  Loosing 20lbs of fat takes more than 2 weeks, I don’t care who says it does. Loosing weight takes time and effort. If you are really serious about loosing weight you will track food This is a foolproof way to loose weight, if you are tracking food and hitting your caloric needs each day you will loose weight. 

 

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At my heaviest 265-270lb “Eating Clean”
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After learning how to apply these tricks at my lightest 215lb. I ate 1 small desert EVERYDAY

6. Reward yourself

Rewarding yourself is necessary for fat loss,especially for sustained long term fat loss. One of the main reasons people give up on their fat loss goals is because compliance to strict diets. While you do need to make sure your on top of your caloric intake as much as possible, diet breaks and cheat meals/days are actually good ways to increase your adherence to a fat loss phase. I personally have found that leaving around 5-10% of my total caloric intake each day for a small reward for doing well on my diet that day (so unfortunately the smaller your caloric intake the smaller the reward, this is where having more lean mass comes in handy). Some days I choose to forgo this and wait until the weekend to have a bigger reward for even longer adherence to my currently dietary goals. Eventually, this can sometimes become a game where you challenge yourself to adhere to you diet for X amount of days to get to a reward. While I don’t recommend all out cheat days that frequently, I do think that weekly cheat meals or daily cheat snacks are a great way to maintain adherence to a diet for much longer than if you set unrealistic standards.

 

Sources:

1. Mcdonald, Lyle.2003. The Ultimate Diet 2.0. 1st Edition. Austin, Texas: Lyle Mcdonald Publishing. 

2.Dennis EA, Dengo AL, Comber DL, Flack KD, Savla J, Davy KP, Davy BM. Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010; 18: 300–307.

3. Stookey JD, Constant F, Popkin BM, Gardner CD. Drinking water is associated with weight loss in overweight dieting women independent of diet and activity. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2008;16:2481–8.

4. Mattes RD, Campbell WW. Effects of food form and timing of ingestion on appetite and energy intake in lean young adults and in young adults with obesity. J Am Diet Assoc 2009;109:430–7.

5. Malik VS, Schulze MB, Hu FB. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review.Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84:274–288.

6. Veldhorst MA, Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Westerterp KR. Gluconeogenesis and energy expenditure after a high-protein, carbohydrate-free diet.Am J Clin Nutr 2009;90: 519–526.

7. Johnston CS, Day CS, Swan PD. Postprandial thermogenesis is increased100%on a high-protein, low-fat diet versus a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet in healthy, young women. J Am Coll Nutr 2002;21:55–61.

8.Hollis JF, Gullion CM, Stevens VJ, Brantley PJ, Appel LJ, Ard JD,Champagne CM, Dalcin A, Erlinger TP, Funk K, Laferriere D, Lin PH,Loria CM, Samuel-Hodge C, Vollmer WM, Svetkey LP; Weight Loss Maintenance Trial Research Group. Weight loss during the intensive intervention phase of the weight-loss maintenance trial.Am J Prev Med. 2008;35:118 –126.

 

 

 

How to Cook Perfect Rice Everytime

Get a Rice Cooker.

Nah, but really if you want to learn how to cook rice perfectly every time with no guess work here is a foolproof method.

For a long time this simple, universally cooked grain was the one thing I could not get right in the kitchen. My rice was always disgusting: either hard and starchy, or gelatinous and lifeless. However, this technique changed my rice game forever.

What You’ll Need:

A Pot with a lid

Some Rice

A Clean Dish Cloth (to be further used as the rice rag)

Water

Butter/Olive Oil and Salt

How To Do it:

1. Rinse your rice. For white rice rinse 3 times, for brown rice 1 time.

2. For white rice use 1 cup of dry rice to 2 cups of water. For long grain brown use 1 cup of dry rice to 1.5 cups of water. For short grain brown rice use 1 cup of dry rice to 1.25 cups of water.

3. Add water and rice to pot. Add one teaspoon of butter/oil and a pinch of salt.

4. Bring Rice to boil, immediately turn the heat down as low as possible.

5. **The Secret Trick*** Take your clean dish rag and wrap it around the top of the pot’s lid folding all the edges inwards toward the handle. Place the lid on the rice and let cook for 15 minutes for white rice and 30 minutes for brown rice. Turn heat off and let steam for an additional 5 minutes.

The reason this method works so well is because wrapping the pot’s lid in a clothe helps eliminate excess moisture from collecting in your rice as is the case with traditional glass or metal lids.This creates mushy soggy rice because the moisture collects on the lid of the pot and falls back into the rice. The clothe simply absorbs condensation creating much more dry and fluffy rice.

Now go make some rice!

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Dietary Fiber Part I: You Aren’t Eating Enough

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Dietary fiber. It’s the least sexy macronutrient especially when compared to fat and protein which are always hot topics in the realm of nutritional and food science. However, while fiber is largely under-discussed it indeed plays a vital role in overall health. Unfortunately, as a result of our current food culture in America less than 3% (1) of Americans consume adequate fiber on a regular basis.

What is fiber?

Simply put dietary fiber is the part of plants or other carbohydrates that resist digestion and absorption in the small intestine.(2) It is important to note that there are two kinds of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is fiber that in the in the presence of water breaks down and forms a gel like substance. Soluble forms of fiber include: pectin, gum and mucilage. Insoluble forms of fiber include: hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin (the materiel that makes wood rigid yet playable). Most foods contain a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber, yet there are exceptions where only form of fiber is found more abundantly in certain foods.

Main benefits of dietary fiber

Both soluble and insoluble fiber play different roles in our health. Soluble fiber is fiber responsible for lowering blood glucose and cholesterol levels.(3) In contrast, insoluble fiber is responsible for increasing the transit time of food through the digestive system as well as decreasing constipation and increasing fecal bulk making passing stool (aka poop) easier.(4) Lastly, while the research is somewhat conflicting insoluble dietary fiber appears to improve satiety.(5) Meaning higher fiber foods are a great way to stay full while trying to loose weight. There are various other health benefits and potential health benefits of dietary fiber including decreased risk of colon cancer, decreased risk of food allergy development, decreasing the risk for coronary heart disease, and longevity) however these will be addressed in a future article.

How much fiber should you eat?

As with just about everything the answer to this question depends context. In this case the context of your diet will determine the appropriate amount of dietary fiber for you. For most, approximately 10-14 grams of fiber per 1000kcal consumed will be appropriate. (6) As you can see the amount of dietary fiber you should consume will vary greatly based on the total amount of food you consume each day. For example, someone consuming 1500kcal a day will need approximately 21 grams of fiber a day. While on the other hand someone like myself eating approximately 4500kcal a day will require closer to 63 grams a day!

Foods High in Fiber

If you find yourself constantly slacking in the fiber department here are some high fiber foods to start eating more of:

 

  • Berries like raspberries and blackberries (7g/per cup)
  • Apples with the skin on (4.4 g)
  • Pears with the skin on (5.5 g)
  • Black beans (15g/cup)
  • Lentils (15g/cup)pexels-photo-176169-large
  • Brown Rice (3.5g/cup)
  • Oats (5g/cup)
  • Pearled barley (6 g per cup)
  • Popcorn ( 3.5 g/ 3 cups)
  • Broccoli  (5 g /cup)
  • Green peas  (9 g/cup)
  • Avocados (9g/cup)
  • Flaxseeds (3.3g/tbsp)
  • Cocoa powder (2g/tbsp)

 

My tips for Increasing Fiber intake:

1. Eat more whole foods. Period. If you eat a diet high in whole foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, whole grains, various forms of plant based starches) then getting adequate fiber should not be a problem. However, the majority of people do not eat a diet rich in whole foods. On the most basic level simply adding more whole foods will instantly increase your fiber intake and do your colon proud. 2. Stop peeling your vegetables and fruit! This is another small dietary adjustment that can make a significant difference in your fiber intake.When you remove the flesh from fruits in vegetables you are basically throwing nutritious fiber away. 3. Eat more COCOA! Yup, this is one of my favorite secret sources of fiber, with a whopping 2 grams/tbsp its a delicious and sneaky way to get more fiber in addition to being high well other healthful nutrients such as minerals, flavanoids, and antioxidants! (7) You can throw cocoa powder in whatever you enjoy the flavor of chocolate in. I personally generally use about 2 tbsp whenever making a protein shake, or mix it into oatmeal in the morning. 4. Start eating beans and legumes weekly. As you can see above beans are basically the one stop shop for fiber. 1 cup of black beans has almost half the daily recommended amount of fiber for someone eating a 2000 kcal diet.

Note that this is just a brief outline of dietary fiber and the role it plays in our health. In the second part of this series I will dive more deeply into the research regarding dietary fiber and the potential negatives of too much fiber.

Citations:

  1. Agricultural Research Service; U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary
    fiber (g): usual intakes from food and water, 2003–2006, compared to
    adequate intakes. What we eat in America, NHANES 2003–2006.
  2. D Mudgil, S Barak.Composition, properties and health benefits of indigestible carbohydrate polymers as dietary fiber: A review. International journal of biological macromolecules 2013;( 66), 2-4
  3. Lisa Brown et al. Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber.American Journal of  Clinical Nutrition 1999; 60(1): 30-42
  4. Yang J, Wang HP, Zhou L, Xu CF. Effect of dietary fiber on constipation: A meta analysis. World Journal of  Gastroenterology 2012; 18(48): 7378-7383
  5. Wanders AJ, van den Borne JJ, de Graaf C, et al. Effects of dietary fiber on subjective appetite, energy intake and body weight: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Obesity Review. 2011;12(9):724-739
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/
  7. Ariefdjohan MW, Savaiano DA.Chocolate and cardiovascular health: is it too good to be true? Nutrition Reviews, 2005;63(12):427-30.