The following 5 healthy foods will help you start making some necessary changes in your dietary habits. My patients often tell me that the hardest thing to do is to walk into their kitchen and try to figure out how to fix a meal after finding out they need to stop eating gluten (regular bread and pasta, etc.) and some other foods that are high on the inflammation list and glycemic index. Don't fear, there are replacements for some of the old things, and some great new ones to try!
1. Miracle Noodles
are amazing (and popular) traditional Japanese shirataki noodles made from the konjac plant (an Asian tuber). They are not only very low on the glycemic index and actually carbohydrate free (yes, it's true), they are very good for diabetics (and everyone) as they actually assist in equalizing blood sugar levels. These noodles take on the taste of whatever they are cooked with, provide bulk and soluble fiber (in the form of glucomannan), and are a satisfying alternative to regular noodles. Make sure to follow the instructions on the package. Boil the noodles in water or whichever broth you're using. The reason they smell of fish (a mystery to many) is that there is added seaweed powder to the water in the package. The fishy smell rinses off quickly and easily in a colander. We keep Miracle Noodles in the refrigerator (even prior to opening). These noodles come in the form of spaghetti, fettuccini, angel hair, and even rice! For an easy breakfast recipe using Miracle Noodes, click here
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2. Wild Rice
True wild rice
(not “brown rice”) is the most nutrient-filled kind of rice. It is actually a grass and not a grain. It is gluten-free, highly nutritious, and has a hearty, nutty flavor. Wild rice needs to be cooked as follows: 3 cups of water to 1 cup of wild rice – cook for an hour (or until rice splits open) and drain off excess water.
3. Nuts and Nut Butters
For years people were told that eating fat was “bad” and therefore nuts got a bad rap along with other good fats. The reality is that nuts (walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios and cashews to name a few) are highly nutritious and contain good fats that are not only heart-healthy but brain-healthy as well. Nuts contain unsaturated fats (which help to lower “bad” cholesterol), omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E, plant sterols and L-arginine.1
Don't be afraid to have nuts or nut butters for a healthy snack, or to use them in cooking and baking. Note: if you have a nut allergy or an allergy to a certain type of nut, they/it should be avoided.
4. Organic Maple Syrup
Organic maple syrup
seems to be the unsung plant-based hero of natural sweeteners, and can definitely be added to your list of healthy foods. Real, organic maple syrup is tapped from the sap of maple trees and contains antioxidant compounds which are reported to have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-diabetic properties,2
as well as manganese, riboflavin, zinc, calcium, magnesium and iron.3
Organic maple syrup is only 54 on the glycemic index whereas white sugar is 64. However, make sure to not exceed 1-2 teaspoons of organic maple syrup per day so as not to overindulge in sweetness.
Healthy foods can become not-so-healthy if they are thickened with things that increase the glycemic level or cause inflammation. Use arrowroot
to thicken stews, sauces, gravies, etc., in place of flour or corn starch. Arrowroot is a gluten-free starch which comes from the plant rhizomes of several species of the Marantaceae plant family.4
As you add these healthy foods to your kitchen, make sure to start getting rid of the things they're replacing so that you won't be tempted to go back to old habits. It is said that it takes approximately 21 days to create a new habit. As you start experimenting with the new foods, you'll become more comfortable as time passes and will come up with exciting new recipes of your own. Please keep us posted on your progress!
The Doctor Emi Team
1. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health. Heart Disease. Mayo Clinic. Sept. 15, 2016. Accessed Oct. 6, 2016. (MayoClinic)
2. University of Rhode Island. Pure maple syrup contains medicinally beneficial compounds, pharmacy researcher finds. March 25, 2010. Accessed Oct. 6, 2016. (ScienceDaily)
3. Maple Syrup Nutrition, Maple Syrup Nutritional Value. Accessed Oct. 6, 2016. (PureCanadaMaple)
4. Arrowroot. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. Accessed Oct. 6, 2016. (Britannica)