Friday, November 29, 2013

What the Heck is Detoxing Anyway?

Have you ever been approached by someone advising you to get a detox?  Perhaps your first thought was, What is detoxing?  Before you agree – or disagree – with their assessment and take action, use this detoxification introduction to help you understand and decide if a detox is right for you.

Water with lime

What is a detox?

Detoxing or detoxification can best be understood by looking at its root meaning; it’s about becoming removing toxins – poisonous substances in our bodies that can cause diseaseThe word “detoxing” is popularly used to mean one of three things:
  • Overcoming alcoholism or drug addiction through a treatment program;
  • The human body’s natural and ongoing self-cleansing mechanisms for removal of toxins, also known as metabolic detoxification;
  • The alternative medicine practice of either using (or applying) methods or substances in (or on) the body to eliminate bad stuff and replace it with good stuff, or simply to lose weight.
In this article, we are focusing primarily on the third definition – taking actions to purify your body from the toxic substances of life and diet.

Detox arguments

Detoxing is a hot button in the medical community.   On one side, many medical professionals insist that detox diets and detoxing bowel cleanses are unnecessary, or even quackery – unproven and potentially dangerous.  Their  arguments are usually two-fold: that the human body naturally does its own detoxing, in organs and at the cellular level, and doesn’t need any external assistance.

On the other side, proponents of detoxing methods argue that, while the body is capable of neutralizing or eliminating toxins, some people are inundated with more environmental or dietary toxins than the human body can handle, or that some people’s bodies are less capable of handling toxicity than others.  They argue that the body can benefit from a “leg up” toward getting organs cleaned up and able to function better. 

How does one do a detox?

The answer to that question depends on who is answering and what service or product they are selling.  If you want to try detoxing, the hardest part can be weeding through the jungle of options and claims to find the most reliable, effective, and safe methods.  
The more common methods for detoxing that are most widely accepted as effective and safe include:
  • Changing your diet – reducing the influx of toxins from the foods you consume by switching to a more “pure” diet that emphasizes natural foods and the absence of processed foods and additives.
  • Flushing toxins from your system – eliminating excess toxins from the bowels by performing enemas, colonics, or other bowel elimination methods.
  • Taking dietary supplements – boosting your body’s ability to detoxify by taking herbs or vitamins to support your dietary efforts.
As for dietary changes, proponents contend that many of the foods consumed in the standard American diet stress the body because of the processing methods (such as high-temperature cooking that can destroy phytonutrients or vitamins) or because of unhealthy additives (sugars, artificial flavoring, artificial coloring, chemicals, etc.).  Common dietary detoxification techniques that practitioners may advise include:
  • A juice fast – eliminating all forms of food from your diet except unprocessed, uncooked fruit or vegetable juices
  • A plant-based diet – eliminating all foods that do not come directly from a plant, with an emphasis on foods that are high in fiber
  • A raw food diet – taking the plant-based diet a step further, choosing only those fruits and vegetables that have not been cooked
Many of the dietary recommendations for detoxing are period-based – something you are advised to do for a limited period of time – such as a juice fast. Other diets are encouraged to be a periodic process or even a lifestyle change to reduce the intake of toxins.

Many detox practitioners encourage bowel cleansing based on the theory that our lower intestines are capable of getting clogged up with literally pounds of excess matter, usually from inadequate dietary roughage, that can negatively affect the entire  body’s health.  A bowel “flushing” via enemas or a therapeutic colonic irrigation is therefore advised to aid in the body's ability to absorb nutrients.

For those who may advise you to include supplements for detoxification, the supplements often contain natural substances that promote bowel elimination or organ purification (particular liver and kidney). 

Detoxification side effects and Detox risks

There are many side effects with a detox – many of which are unpleasant but not dangerous – and there are also potential risks with detoxing.
Weight loss and detoxification
While weight loss is almost an inevitable side effect of an effective detox, be cautious of fad detoxes that are designed for weight loss.  Several of them claim extreme weight loss.  But any extreme and sudden weight loss can stress the body beyond that which is safe.  Most of those detox diets are too low in calories to be sustainable, which means that the weight loss will not be sustainable.  Attempting to maintain such extreme detox methods can be downright dangerous, leading to muscle damage and vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
Detox elimination side effects
When you rapidly eliminate toxins from your body, the sudden change can create many uncomfortable side effects.  For example, if you regularly drink coffee, expect a caffeine withdrawal headache until your body adjusts.  Because of the increase in roughage that usually accompanies a detox plan, you may experience diarrhea.  Because diarrhea can cause dehydration and electrolyte loss, you need to be sure to counterbalance those losses with plenty of fluids.  If you don’t increase fluids while increasing fiber, you can suffer from constipation.  Many who do high fiber intake or bowel flushes will also experience hunger, weight loss, irritability, indigestion, nausea, and lethargy.

Do I really need to detox?

If you are unsure if you need to detox, there are some scientific ways to measure the levels of toxicity in your body.  For example, it is possible to get your liver enzymes measured by a doctor to determine if your enzyme levels are elevated, which could indicate that your liver is stressed – having difficulty handling toxicity.
Of course, before undertaking any substantial dietary change or other detoxification method, you should consult with your physician, who can advise you based on your unique physiology.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Buy Nothing Day 2013

Buy Nothing Day is celebrated on an annual basis, both in the United States as well as in the United Kingdom.  Started over 20 years ago, Buy Nothing Day was designed as an organized protest against consumerism. Think you and your family might like to participate? Read on for activities and ideas for celebrating this day.

Holiday piggy bank

When is Buy Nothing Day?

This year it is being observed in the U.S. Friday, November 29. In 1992, Vancouver artist Ted Dave started Buy Nothing Day, which was promoted by the Canada-based magazine Adbusters, a not-for-profit, reader-supported publication concerned about the physical and cultural environment. In 1997, it was moved to Black Friday in America, the 10th busiest shopping day in the U.S.

How is the day observed?

Activists urge consumers to cease making purchases of any kind for 24 hours, but it’s much more than just a day. The hope of those behind this campaign is that individuals who detox from consuming for an entire day will find the exercise freeing, adopting a more frugal, “shop less, live more” attitude in their lives.  Because every purchase we make has an impact on the environment, Buy Nothing Day promotes businesses that are friendly to the environment and also those that treat workers fairly, too.

Why was Buy Nothing Day started?

The overall premise of the day is to consume less and recycle more.  According to the site, the developed counties of the world comprise only 20 percent of the world’s population, yet they are consuming over 80 percent of the earth’s natural resources. The result? An unequal level of environmental damage and an unfair distribution of wealth are obvious. The campaign supports shopping locally and supporting small, usually family-owned, businesses. They are not in favor of businesses that employ cheap labor, those that don’t treat workers fairly or wasteful companies that are not environmentally friendly.

How can you participate in Buy Nothing Day?

1. Plan a swap with friends. Exchange unused or gently used items. Everyone acquires something “new” in a manner that’s environmentally friendly.
2. Have a potluck dinner. Instead of eating out, encourage friends and family to bring a dish of their choice, a less expensive way to enjoy a meal together.
3. Organize a local event.  Interested in spreading the word about Buy Nothing Day to your community? A fun-filled family event can make a great impact.
4. Make a pact to adopt a frugal lifestyle. Use the experience gathered from Buy Nothing Day to find ways to adopt a more frugal, mindful way of life.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the meaning of frugal includes: being careful about spending money and using money and supplies in a very careful way.


Tips for being frugal:

  • Refrain from using shopping and consuming as a hobby.
  • Think through each purchase rather than buying on impulse.
  • Start shopping sales, clearance racks or second-hand stores when purchasing is necessary.
  • Encourage a frugal mindset with your family. Make saving and spending less a practice for everyone to take part in.

Where can you learn more?

Visit for more ideas on observing the day as well as information on how to join the campaign.

Kathy Rembisz 
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Save Those Seeds! The Amazing Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

When you’re making pumpkin pie for the holidays, don’t toss the seeds.  Popping roasted pumpkin seeds in your mouth is not only an irresistible crunchy-munchy treat but will also treat your body with a health boost!

Pumpkin seeds

The health benefits of pumpkin seeds

Packed inside the pumpkin seed, or pepitas, you’ll find a cornucopia of goodness for your health, including:
  • Immune system boosters – pumpkin seeds are a a mega-source of zinc. In the shell and roasted, you’ll get about 10 milligrams in just 3.5 ounces.  Keeping you safe from illnesses, such as colds and flu, is a prime benefit of zinc, along with aiding the growth of cells, and regulates insulin levels. The highly bioavailable forms of Vitamin E in the seeds is also a boon to immunity.
  • Diabetes relief –  Some studies using animals show that several forms of pumpkin seeds, including ground, extracts, and pumpkin seed oil help regulate insulin levels by decreasing oxidative stresses.
  • Improved sleep - Pumpkin seeds do double-duty toward improving your sleep and overall sense of wellbeing.  Not only are pumpkin seeds loading you up on the amino acid tryptophan, which turns into serotonin and then melatonin during digestion, but the zinc content also aids in restfulness and mood.
  • Joint pain relief – If you are one of those who have difficulty trying to reduce joint inflammation with drugs because of their many side effects, try pumpkin seeds, which have been shown in studies to be nearly as effective in arthritis pain relief as common anti-inflammatory drugs, such as indomethacin, but without the side-effects.
  • Heart health boosters – According to World’s Healthiest Foods, just a quarter cup of pumpkin seeds gives you 190.92 mg of magnesium, which puts you half way to your RDA of magnesium.  Magnesium aids in blood pressure regulation by relaxing the blood vessels, as well as reducing the likelihood of a sudden cardiac arrest or stroke.  
  • Relief from male & female issues – There are several pumpkin seed benefits just for men, and others just for women.  For men, the zinc in pumpkin seeds boosts prostate health.  The zinc content also helps men with bone mineral density support. A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition involving 400 men over 44 years old identified a clear connection between zinc intake and hip/spine osteoporosis.  For women, studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil, a good source of natural phytoestrogens, appears to elevate good cholesterol (HDLs) while lowering many common menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women.
Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of healthy Omega 3 fats, fiber, manganese, copper, and phosphorus.

To get the most zinc benefit, eat the whole seed, including the shell.  The endosperm layer between the shell and the seed is high in zinc, but is often compromised when shelling the seeds.

Pumpkin soup with seeds

Pumpkin seed recipes and pumpkin seed preparation

The pumpkin seed can be eaten shelled or unshelled; raw, dehydrated, toasted, or roasted.  If the omega 3 oils are your main reason to eat pumpkin seeds, choose raw, as the heat from roasting can destroy some of the healthy fats.  Your second-best option is the low-temperature cooking of a dehydrator, or low-temperature drying in an oven. 
How to roast pumpkin seeds at home
While you can buy roasted pumpkin seeds in stores, they are easy to prepare yourself, which also lets you choose what does or does not go in the recipe.  Here are the steps for a basic recipe:
  1. Remove seeds from the pumpkin.
  2. Remove any excess pulp by washing them.
  3. Spread the seeds evenly on waxed paper.
  4. Dry the seeds overnight. 
  5. Arrange the dried seeds in a single layer on a baking tray.
  6. Optionally flavor your seeds at this point.  Popular seasoning options for pumpkin seeds include salt and butter,  butter and lemon-pepper seasoning, or butter with garlic salt and Worcester sauce.
  7. Roast the seeds in a preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes using a low oven temperature (~75 degrees C).
After you’ve prepared them, keep your pumpkin seeds freshest by storing them in the fridge in an airtight container. They will be at their peak freshness for about four weeks, but remain edible for several months.
Pumpkin seed recipes
Some wonderful pumpkin seed recipes to try out:
To enjoy the benefits of raw pumpkin seeds in a refreshing beverage, here’s a pumpkin seed milk recipe:
  1. Add one cup of pumpkin seeds and five cups of water in a blender.
  2. Blend on high for one minute.
  3. Strain through cheesecloth.
  4. Flavor with a quarter teaspoon of vanilla extract and a little sweetener (Stevia for a low-carb, low-glycemic option, or a tablespoon of maple syrup, agave, or honey).
If you plan to consume the pumpkin seed milk right away, consider substituting some of the water with ice cubes to get that chilled taste.

To learn more about pumpkin seeds, check out this in-depth nutritional profile for pumpkin seeds. To share your favorite pumpkin seed recipes, or to share your tips on pumpkin seed preparation, please use the comments fields below.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Monday, November 25, 2013

November Is National Adoption Awareness Month

Often, the monthly “awareness” causes pass us by, with barely casual notice. I admit, November had me caught unawares, until I saw Chelsea Clinton’s tag #AdoptionAwareness on Facebook. This had me looking around at the internet, trying to understand what “adoption awareness” means. Don’t most of us understand what adoption is?

Waiting for adoption

Often, we think about adoption as a cute, button-nose baby being delivered to a happy couple, akin to the stork delivering its swaddled bundle. We see it as some incredible expense that we must save up for, for years. But in reality, the term “adoption” covers a host of different scenarios, each with their own complications and rewards.

Intercountry Adoptions. We see this often enough, but we forget at times that adoption doesn’t mean signing up for a waiting list and getting that call. Families that opt for adoptions from overseas wait years before traveling to that country to pick up their child. Often the child is not an infant, but more than 2 years old. It’s an expensive way to start a family, but often very needed in the country of origin, where children are given up due to an inability to afford them just as often as they are removed from bad family situations. Popular countries to adopt from are Africa and China, though there are many, many other opportunities throughout the world. The U.S. government has links for you to learn about the different processes for adoption by country.

Adoption from foster. Many children are consigned to the foster care system and are available for adoption. They are all different ages and come from all backgrounds. There is little to no waiting time, and many families start out as foster parents and then adopt the child in their care. There are many preconceived ideas as to what this process entails and what the long-term results are. But while the fears and concerns are valid, as blogger Rob Watson points out, there is nothing quite like offering a family to a child denied one.

Adoption as an adult. It seems strange to ponder, but many adults choose to adopt other adults. Often the result of a biological parent estrangement, the adoptee establishes new bonds with a stepparent, friends or mentors, and decides to complete a legal adoption process. It creates an emotional bond, as well as a legal one, as now family members can leave their possessions to each other upon their death, without the legal hassle of doing it outside the family. Every state has different rules, but if you are curious or interested yourself, check out the rules in your state and become familiar with the process – it might just change your life.

Adoption isn’t just for newborns. And it is more than just legal guardianship. For many children and families, it has created a new world for them, and allowed them to have the warmth and acceptance they might not have even thought possible before. 

What has been your experience with adoption? When you realized it was National Adoption Awareness month, what images and thoughts popped into your mind? Share them with us in the comments.

Contributing Writer

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tips for Eating Healthy on the Road

We've all been here a time or two: We've just renewed our focus on getting our eating habits back into line, we've joined a gym and started a new routine, and sure enough, our pants are just a tad bit looser. Hallelujah for a new start! Then a vacation/work trip/holiday travel interrupts our progress, and fear attacks. How will we ever manage to get back on track? How can you stay on track, when faced with convenience store nourishment and fast food delectables? How on earth can you maintain your new habits?

Road trip

I'm the first one to tell you, it takes some planning. Healthy eating and traveling do not go together without some forethought. But it can be done, and with less inconvenience than you might think. Here's a few tips for eating healthy while on the road.

Have an itinerary. All trips have some sort of plan. So get with your co-planner(s) and decide what that might look like. It doesn't have to be set in stone, but you need to have some idea what your needs might be. If it is a day trip, you can pack snacks and healthy fare in a cooler. If it is more than that, you'll need to evaluate what’s available at your destination and also what you will need on the way.

Do your research. Again, this doesn't have to be locked down with no wiggle room, but get familiar with the restaurants, fast food options, and grocery stores in the area you are traveling to. Is there a great convenience store chain in the area, like Wawa or Sheetz? What sort of restaurants and fast nibbles do your traveling companions enjoy? If you have children with you, what are their preferences and/or food allergies? Remember that every town has a grocery store, and sandwich meat, salad fixings, and fruit go a long way to creating a meal.

Be flexible. We live in a country with a plethora of food choices. Perhaps you had your heart set on a burrito bowl at Chipotle, but the gang voted for Applebee’s? There are plenty of choices at either for the health conscious, so don't be disheartened. And who knows – maybe you'll discover a new favorite along the way!

Make wise choices. Eating out is rarely the ideal when it comes to food quality and preparation. The exceptions are the rare mom-and-pop restaurants and farm-to-table dining experiences that are becoming popular. If you have food intolerances to contend with, ask for that menu, and let your waiter know what your issues are in clear terms. Ask to speak to the chef, if the restaurant doesn't have an allergen-friendly menu. Look for foods that make sense for your needs: Are you avoiding fried foods? Aiming for more vegetables and less starch? Do you need to be dairy-free? Ask questions of your server or food preparation staff member to be sure you get what you are seeking.

Cafe in the summer

Splurge a little. Remember that your body naturally detoxifies itself. So if you are traveling to the fried chicken capital of the world, it might be a good time to allow some breathing room for your diet restrictions. Eat healthy for breakfast and lunch, and enjoy a special dinner. Give yourself a pass to enjoy time with loved ones, and if food makes that time more pleasurable for you, then perhaps it’s worth the experience to simply sit back and enjoy it, rather than turn it into a minefield of food limitations.

Traveling while eating healthy doesn't have to be a chore! You can have fun with it, enjoy some rare indulgences, and return home and back to your routine in no time.  Routines are mindsets – when you adopt them as part of your lifestyle, taking a day off here and there is no big deal.

Let us know what methods you use to maintain health while you travel. Any favorite tips that have gotten through some odd situations? Share in the comments below!

Contributing Writer

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Caution: Carbohydrates May Be Killing Your Brain

If you think you are doing yourself a favor by consuming a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet (including such things as breads, sugars, pastas, etc.), think again. The latest scientific research suggests that the standard American diet, which is often very high in carbohydrates and low in fat, is apparently increasing your risk of developing  depression, anxiety, ADHD, chronic headaches, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease.

At the end of this article, you'll find links to learn more about these recent studies and what you can do to feed your brain what it needs for optimum health. But first, in light of these reports on the dangers of a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet, it’s time to look at what may be a healthier alternative for you: a low-carbohydrate diet with plenty of healthy fats. 

Low-carb diet fundamentals

To get you up to speed on whether or not you want to consider a low-carbohydrate diet with healthier fats, get started right here:
And if you are ready to get going, let's look at some recipes that will help you increase the healthy fats in your diet while decreasing carbohydrates.

Low-carb Recipes with healthy fats

When people think about the common low-carb breakfast, their mind may go straight for eggs and bacon (skipping the toast and hash browns, of course). True enough, an eggs and bacon breakfast will meet the requirements for a low carbohydrate diet. But if you want a much healthier alternative, and one that adds healthy fats to your diet, take a look at the recipe I've been using 3-to-5 times a week for over a year now with excellent results (lost weight, increased energy, and improved skin tone). 
Ric's low-carb green smoothie for breakfast and lunch

If you don't have time to make two smoothies a day, these portions are enough to fill a large blender, creating enough for two large smoothies (one for breakfast, one for lunch) or three small smoothies (for a healthy mid-morning snack too). To make just one serving, cut the portions in half.
  • Kale or spinach – 2 to 3 big handfuls (depending on the size of your hand)
  • Celery – just one or two stalks
  • Healthy oils – a couple tablespoons of Udo’s oil or virgin cold pressed olive oil, and a tablespoon of coconut oil
  • A half cup berries (any fruit ending in the word "berries," such as blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries, will be low in carbohydrates as long as you do no more than a half cup)
  • Avocado – 1/3 to 1/2 of one, depending on size.
  • A quarter cup of raw almonds, walnuts, or pecans (not only for healthy oils, but makes the smoothie more filling)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 1-2 tablespoons of raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice, adjusted according to your tastes. Lime juice makes a good substitute or alternative.
  • A healthy artificial sweetener to taste.  Healthier and low carbohydrate alternatives include stevia or xylitol (I use some of each)
  • A dash of salt (counteracts any bitterness from the vegetables)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • A few drops of vanilla
  • 4-6 ice cubes – optional (maybe it's just me, but it seems to taste much better when it's cold)
  • Water, enough to let everything blend and reach the desired consistency (the "desired" consistency is a matter of personal choice – start with just a half cup and then add more as needed).
Blend all ingredients in the blender for 30 to 90 seconds, long enough to reach a smooth consistency. How much time this takes depends on how powerful your blender is and your personal definition of "smooth."

This smoothie is loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, as well as a generous dose of healthy fats. To make it a little more filling, optionally add a couple tablespoons of whey powder, plain Greek yogurt, or hemp seed.  For variety and to add extra health benefits, also consider experimenting with a dash of ginger root or mint leaves.
Lunch or dinner low carbohydrate recipes
Some winners, especially if you want healthy fats with your low carbs:
And when you’re ready for desert, try this low-carb pumpkin pie or these Low Carb Brownie Bites!

Get moving!

For best results with any diet, remember that intake is only half the picture. Food is fuel. How much of that fuel you burn influences weight loss. With a low-carb diet, as with any diet, exercise is essential to weight loss.

Research on carbohydrates and brain

Here are some resources to help you learn more about the brain risks with a high carbohydrate and low-fat diet.
A final note – consult with your physician before undergoing any significant dietary change.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Monday, November 18, 2013

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

The statistics are frightening. Nearly 26 million adults and children in the U.S. suffer from diabetes. An additional 79 million individuals have pre-diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Yet, experts argue that with greater awareness about the disease and a proactive approach to lifestyle changes, you can minimize the effect this life-threatening disease has on you and your family.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy. When you have the disease, your body either can’t make its own insulin or use its own insulin as well as it should, according to the Center for Disease Control. Blood glucose levels, which measure the percentage of sugar in the form of glucose in the blood, are the indicator for the disease.

Diabetes definition

What causes diabetes?

In some cases, genetics and unknown factors are to blame for diabetes. In other instances, genetics as well as lifestyle factors are responsible for the disease.

What are the different types of diabetes?

  • Type I—once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, type 1 can also can develop in adults. There is no cure for this type of diabetes, although insulin controls the disease.
  • Type 2—once known as adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes because it was more common in adults, this type of diabetes increasingly affects children as obesity is more prevalent in our society. The initial treatment is diet and exercise; oral medication is sometimes necessary if lifestyle changes don’t control blood glucose levels.
  • Gestational—occurs when a woman is pregnant, but doesn’t necessarily continue after she gives birth.  Following your doctor’s advice during pregnancy is the best prevention against developing this form of diabetes.

What is pre-diabetes?

This condition occurs when an individual’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Those with pre-diabetes are at higher risk of developing Diabetes type 2 and heart disease.

What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive hunger, despite eating
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss
  • Tingling, pain or numbness in hands and feet

Who should be concerned about the disease?

  • Overweight adults 45 years or older
  • Overweight adults under 45 years of age with certain risk factors
  • Members of certain ethnic groups, Asian American, African-Americans, Hispanics or Native Americans
  • Those with a family history of the disease

Cure diabetes bracelet

Why is diabetes occurring more often?

According to a recent study by the ADA, the prevalence of both Diabetes type 1 and type 2 increased in young people substantially over the past decade. Experts reinforce the link between diabetes and lifestyle choices.

  • Diet/food choices
  • Weight
  • Activity level

What are the possible complications of diabetes?

  • Kidney disease
  • Neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • Gum disease
  • High Blood Pressure (hypertension)
  • Eye complications
  • Left untreated, the disease can lead to lower extremity amputations and even blindness

How is diabetes treated?

Depending upon the type, diabetes can be treated in the following ways:

  • Insulin
  • Oral medication
  • Diet and exercise

What’s new in treatment options?

  • Researchers report good findings with an experimental drug, known as LY, which protects against obesity and may boost the action of insulin.
  • New devices for testing blood sugar are on the horizon, including transdermal measurements, an implantable titanium sensor and testing tears.
  • A new study of pancreatic islet cell transplants, which may allow individuals to be insulin free for at least a year, is offering hope for those with insulin-dependent diabetes.

Where can you learn more?

Kathy Rembisz 
Contributing Writer

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Incredible, Edible…Sweet Potato

In case you didn't know that this fabulous tuber has its very own month, November is National Sweet Potato Month! For sweet potato lovers, this is a grand thing. For those of you who may not care for this distant sweet cousin of the potato, fear not! There are many ways to enjoy a sweet potato that do not involve them being candied, under marshmallows, or served plain.

Sack of sweet potatoes

Why should you eat a sweet potato? For one, it’s high in fiber, is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, and high in potassium, vitamin A, and beta-carotene. If that wasn't enough, they make a quick and easy snack right out of the oven or microwave, and an excellent additive to baked goods. Yes, you read that right: Sweet potatoes can be found in some of your favorite desserts. So if you desire to add them to your diet, you can find a way to do so, even if you don't like them.

For those who love them right out of the oven with butter and cinnamon, you already know the value of a good sweet potato. But for those of us with a bit more hesitance to take on this oddly shaped orange starch, let me offer you some suggestions:

They make a great side dish…or main dish. Whether you are making them as French fries, potato wedges, or mashed, sweet potatoes offer a twist on the side dish that will fill up even the biggest appetite. And if you prefer casseroles, this sweet caveman pie makes an amazing star player on your dinner table.

Sweet potatoes rock for breakfast. Sweet potatoes can be substituted for hash browns, added to a breakfast skillet, and can even be stuffed for a filling day-starter. Believe it or not, I use them in my protein pancake recipe as well – simply substitute them for the pumpkin. They offer a lovely texture, and you won't even taste them.

Can we say dessert? Yes, there’s every flavor of ice cream now, from maple-bacon to pumpkin. But you can even make sweet potato ice cream. One of my favorite ways to add sweet potatoes to dessert is when its flavor gets to be on center stage, like in these Sweet Potato Dessert Squares. And my personal vote goes to sweet potato pecan pie.

Pecan pie with sweet potato

So how about it? Are you willing to give the sweet potato another go? What recipes are your favorite to use when tackling the sweet potato? Any that won you over to liking this odd, yet tasty carbohydrate?

Contributing writer

PS. If you get confused as to whether you are buying a sweet potato or a yam, chances are, it’s a sweet potato. See why, here!