This is the only “food” I hate.

I am in Dallas this week attending the 11th Annual Nutrition & Health Conference put on by Dr. Andrew Weil’s Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.  I am learning so much here, my brain is hurting.  But it’s a good kind of hurt!

As a nutrition and health coach, my policy, as a rule, is that of bioindividuality.  One way of eating does not fit all.  One person’s diet will literally kill another, so there is very little I tell my clients they can’t eat.

Except one thing.  Can you guess?

Sugar.

It’s the big baddie.  The one thing that many of these smart people here in Dallas are discussing is all the evidence (from well-researched, well-run scientific studies) that diets high in sugar or processed carbohydrates (same thing metabolically) lead to inflammation.  And inflammation is a major cause of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, some immune disorders – not to mention sugar’s obvious link to the surge in diabetes.  Yeah.  Just those little health issues…

This picture is better:

 

 

And as sugar intake has skyrocketed here in America, guess what else has?  Obesity.  There is a direct link between the amount of sugar consumed and the rates of obesity.  If you want to read more, click here.  It is truly fascinating stuff. So why did our sugar consumption skyrocket?  Well, there’s a couple of reasons.  (excuse me for a moment while I climb up on my soapbox)

Governmental food subsidies and low-fat diet recommendations in the 1980’s.

Let me explain.

Crop subsidies have been around since the Great Depression, but until 1980 when the government began paying up to 1/3 of the farmers’ insurance premiums, few farmers participated.  And not all crops are offered this coverage.  Nope.  Guess which crop receives the MOST money?  King corn.  So what we found ourselves with was a surplus of corn.  And what can corn be made into?  

Sugar.  High-fructose corn syrup, to be specific.  And in the ’80’s fat was the pariah and if it said low-fat or non-fat, we all bought it by the truckloads and thought we were eating “healthy”.  But when they took fat out, what did they replace it with?  Yep.

sugar

I’m going to climb down off of my soapbox for now, but there is A LOT more to be said on this topic.  A lot.  If you take away just one thing from this post, let it be this: sugar is poison and it is in everything.  Read labels and pay attention to what you, and your family, is eating.  It is the most important change you can make to your diet that will dramatically impact your health.

Moving on!


The recipe this week is for a grain I’m willing to bet not many of you have heard of or ever cooked with.  It’s called Teff and comes to us from Ethiopia.

 
It is a tiny whole grain that has a nutty flavor.  The recipe comes from Heidi Swanson’s, Super Natural Cooking,. I highly recommend the cookbook for many reason, one of which is that Heidi and I went to high school together.  Westmont Warriors, baby!  The recipe is easy. very tasty, and pairs with just about anything.  I halved the recipe for my purposes as it makes quite a lot.

Polenta-Style Teff Wedges

  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of fine-grain sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 2 cups of brown teff grains
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons melted clarified butter (Ghee) or extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  •  

    1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan, then stir in the 1 teaspoon of salt and the teff.  Lower the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes, or until the teff is the consistency of a thick, spreadable porridge.  If it is too runny, it will spread right off the baking sheet.  Stir in the Parmesan and more salt to taste.
    3. Spread the teff polenta to a 1-inch thickness on the prepared baking sheet, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and preferably for a few hours.
    4. Prepare a large pan, preferably a cast-iron pan, over medium-hot heat.  As the pan warms, you will need to reduce the heat.  Using a knife or cookie-cutter to cut the chilled polenta into uniform wedges and brush each with a bit of the melted butter.  Grill for a few minutes on each side, then season with salt and pepper.

     

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    Enjoy!

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