Category Archives: beans

HeyDahls!: Cholesterol and Rewriting Family History

Q: I found out this week that my cholesterol is high. It’s hereditary plus I need more exercise. Nutritionally though, I’d love some guidance. I’ve put together a good grocery list so far but I’m not sure how to handle this on the day to day. I eat at the coffee shop where I work most mornings and afternoons but I need dinner guidance. Help please.


 

A: Heya!  Thank you for your question.  I’m glad you are staying on top of your cholesterol levels- especially with a family history of it.

What’s amazing about family histories, is that we have the stories of our ancestors written into our genes.

Epigenetics is an entire field of medicine and genetic study associated with understanding the expression of those genes.  And that we can alter the expression of those genes, turning certain gene receptors on and and off, simply by lifestyle choices we make in the here and now.

We can rewrite our ancestral stories.

What I’m saying it there’s a path forward in rewriting your story. And you are already stepping into it.  How awesome is that?

Can I catch up other readers on cholesterol?

The American Heart Association explains that:

“Cholesterol is a waxy substance that comes from two sources: your body and food. Your body, and especially your liver, makes all the cholesterol you need and circulates it through the blood. But cholesterol is also found in foods from animal sources, such as meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. Your liver produces more cholesterol when you eat a diet high in saturated and trans fats.

Excess cholesterol can form plaque between layers of artery walls, making it harder for your heart to circulate blood. Plaque can break open and cause blood clots. If a clot blocks an artery that feeds the brain, it causes a stroke. If it blocks an artery that feeds the heart, it causes a heart attack

They continue to explain that eating a healthy diet and getting more healthy movement into your lifestyle, is a great way to support healthy cholesterol levels.

Arterial Plaque (image from American Heart Association)

LDL & Arterial Plaque (image from American Heart Association)

You see LDL – think L for Lousy – is the ‘bad’ cholesterol that contributes to the buildup of plaque in our arteries.

HDL – think H for Happy – is the ‘good’ cholesterol breaking up excess plaque in our arteries and flushing it along its way back to the liver.

Rewriting the Story

So remember what I said our rewriting our family stories?

The choices that we make in the here and now tinker with the balance of LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol.

And healthy eating, the everyday practice of nourishing ourselves, is one of the most effective ways to effect tinker with the balance.

The AHA recommends a diet rich with dark leafy greens and unrefined, nutrient-dense sources of plant-based fiber from whole grains and beans.

Fortunately, and I think you know where this is going… I have a formula designed to help you programs dark leafy greens and grains and beans into your diet! HEY NOW!!!

Magnet (1)

Try once a week going to the farmer’s market or grocery store and buy no more than THREE dark leafy greens. Then find occasions to throw small handfuls of greens into whatever you are eating.

Maybe you even visit the bulk food aisle of health food stores like Mom’s or Whole Foods or Yes! Market and make a whole grain or bean for the week.  I also find the “International” aisles of traditional grocery stores can be a great resources in getting grains and beans in lieu of a bulk section.

Then use the formula to create meals.

What if I challenged you to use the formula to create perhaps just THREE meals this week? Three home cooked dinners?

And even you don’t make a grain or bean this week, try adding dark leafy greens to a pasta.  I’ll even add greens to leftover take out curries, stir-frys, and soups….

OH, and about them fats…

As you get your healthy meal prep rhythm, then maybe it grows into breakfast too..

Because here’s the thing.  I do love a breakfast pastry every now and again from my local coffee shop.  But often there’s no telling what kind of fats and oils they are using in those pastries, shortening or margarine or other sources of trans fats are more dangerous for cholesterol levels than saturated fats and those breakfast pastries can be chock full of them.

Do you know your fats?  Here’s a helpful guide I wrote about healthy fats, and how to use each kind of fat in a healthy cooking practice to reduce inflammation.

The AHA promotes cutting out saturated fats from your diet and doing low-fat dairy.  But saturated fats like coconut oil are heart healthy.

And low-fat, dairy can be chock full of fake sugars that increase insulin resistance, and nobody’s got time for that.

And did you ask about eggs?

Did you know runny egg yoke is quite healthy? By keeping egg yoke as runny as possible, it keeps all the heart healthy long omega-3 fatty acid chains in tact… It’s only when egg yokes over-oxidize and solidify- say in a hard boiled egg, that the cholesterol content becomes problematic.

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Poached eggs have a special place in the LD healthy eating formula. Not only do they remind me of morning playdates, but poaching eggs is hands down the healthiest way to enjoy them.

Lazy Poached Eggs is one of my favorite uses of leftovers. Crack egg over whatever veggies and grains and beans you have on hand and add a *little* water to edges, cover with lid, steam. Voila!

Stay connected with the tribe. Stay inspired.

Love love.

Live Deliciously: A Formula

Greens for the Week: Chard, Kale, Dandelion

Greens for the Week: Chard, Kale, Dandelion

The LD system for healthy eating is an easy, indulgent, & inspired 5 step formula with Mediterranean sensibilities. And it starts with Greens, Beans & Grains.

I always like to start the week purchasing no more than three dark leafy greens that I keep fresh in the fridge – this week I chose Swiss Chard, Dandelion Greens, and Kale.

From there I’ll prep one whole grain and one bean or legume for the week. This week I chose French lentils and Red Himalayan Rice from Bazaar Spices… These are my ingredients for unscripted culinary adventure.

For the lentils, my trifecta of cooling, anti-inflammatory Mediterranean spices I typically use for legumes are: cumin, coriander, and turmeric.

For the red rice, my trifecta of spices I’ll typically use for grains are: cinnamon, allspice, and turmeric.

Find them at Bazaar Spices and build your own blends from there!

Grain and Bean for the Week

Grain and Bean for the Week

LD Formula in Action: Take ONE

Continuing on with LD formula for culinary adventure and super easy meal planning.
I’ll always prepare a bean or legume for the week as I rely on them for chief source of protein and nutrient-dense plant-based fiber to support functional & digestive health.

In this meal, I paired lentils with side salad of shredded Swiss Chard and chopped peaches. Easy peasy.

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Green: Chard – versatile green kept raw in salads or sauteed
Bean: Lentils
Fruit: peaches

Sprinkles of Lavender salt from Bazaar Spices over salad
Squeezes of lemon on everything
Swirls of olive oil

LD Formula: Take TWO

I’ll always prepare one grain for the week because it is a nutrient-dense source of plant-based fiber that is vital for metabolic and functional health. Yes, grains are a carb. And no, not all carbs are bad. Seriously. Get that sensational mid-90s nonsense out of your head.

Our ancestors typically enjoyed diets that were 75% carbohydrate including whole grains and vegetables.

Not all carbs are created equal. And when you think of whole grains think of actual kernels of grain that have the natural bran intact. It is the bran that holds the grain’s nutrients and fiber. This means whole grain breads and other products don’t count.

When a grain has the fiber stripped off… say in the case of white rice, that grain is essentially reduced into a simple carbohydrate that is metabolized in the body in the same way that sugar would be… increasing insulin resistance and fat storage.

Ok… onward. So I took my red rice and tossed it into a simple salad.

Sometimes just toss a grain into a salad... bonafide, hearty meal!

Sometimes just toss a grain into a salad… bonafide, hearty meal!

Green: Kale
Grain: Himalayan Red Rice
Fruit: Medjool Date

Sprinkles of Za’atar and Rosemary Salt from Bazaar Spices
Squeezes of Lemon
Swirls of Black Truffle Olive Oil and Fig Balsamic from The Mediterranean Way

LD Formula: Take THREE

Next up in formula inspiration.. Sometimes there is nothing quite like beans and greens.

Green & Bean

Green & Bean

Meld

Meld

To make magic

To make magic…

Green: Dandelion Greens
Bean: Lentils

Sprinkles of Urfa pepper from Bazaar Spices

LD Formula: Final Take

Alright alright last meal inspiration in this week’s LD series. One of my favorite uses of leftovers… Lazy Poached Eggs.

I went through kale, dandelion greens and chard with all my entertaining this week. A friend left behind collard greens so I used them in the mix.

Crack egg over, add a *little* water to edges, cover with lid, steam. Voila!

Leftovers are always mighty fine for breakfast

Leftovers are always mighty fine for breakfast

Green: Collard Greens
Grain: Red Rice

Sprinkles of Ethiopian Berbere pepper blend from Bazaar Spices.

 

Sumptuous Lentil Soup

Sumptuous Lentil Soup
Lentils are such a staple of the Egyptian diet and lentil soup in particular. This recipe is a twist on my mama’s in which I incorporated turmeric – that magical, cancer-fighting yellow superfood – lots of it. For the full Middle Eastern experience, serve with whole wheat pita bread and be sure to squeeze some lime juice. To your health.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6-8

6-8 cups of water
1 cups of red lentils (rinsed)
1 cup of brown lentils
5-6 carrots peeled and coarsely chopped
5 celery stalks coarsely chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp coriander
salt
olive oil
lime slices

1) In a large pot, heat 4-5 swirls of olive oil over medium high heat. When hot, add carrots, celery and sautee for 3 minutes.
2) Add lentils and spices continue to sautee over medium high for another 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
3) Add water and bring to boil. Allow to boil for about 8 minutes on high.
4) Reduce to low and simmer for another 25-30 minutes.
5) Remove from heat. Serve with lime wedges and enjoy.