1) Quinoa (Keen-wa):
You can't visit a single recipe website without coming across at least one recipe for quinoa. In fact there are some very popular books just dedicated to this food. Quinoa is a seed that acts very similar to grain products like rice or couscous. In fact, you cook it almost exactly the same: twice as much liquid for the amount of dry quinoa, bring it to a boil, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. What's great about quinoa is that it's packed with lots of vitamins and nutrients including protein, iron, magnesium and fibre. It's a great alternative to other grains if you are bored and it can be served hot or cold. I love it because it's so filling!
2) Dairy Alternatives:
Many people are nervous about regular milk because it may not be that healthy. I can assure you from my own knowledge there is no issue with drinking regular milk and the idea that there are growth hormones in it isn't valid. It may be true in other countries but in Canada we regulate our dairy farmers really well and such products are not allowed to be used. This doesn't mean alternatives like rice, soy or almond milk are worse. It's really a personal preference. A couple of things to keep in mind though: Many dairy alternatives need to have extra calcium and vitamin D supplemented into them to make the equivalent so be sure to pick them up and compare. Not all dairy alternatives have calcium or vitamin D added so they might not add up. Also, many alternatives have less protein so they won't be as filling. This isn't as true for soy milk but more for almond and rice milk. That is the one place they are really lacking. The concern with soy milk and breast cancer is also not true. We used to think there was a link, but recent studies are showing otherwise. So overall it's really your decision. Just be sure to choose lower fat choices without a lot of added sugar.
3) Greek Yogurt:
Greek yogurt is essentially a yogurt that has been filtered to increase the protein content. It tends to be much creamier and because of the protein, more filling. There is also Greek Style Yogurt, but that's just yogurt they evaporated down and added skim milk powder to. Overall this can be a healthy choice, I just warn people to watch out for high sugar and high fat Greek yogurts. Some can have as much sugar as a candy bar. The regular fat Greek yogurt will be higher in saturated fat, which is not good for your heart. So just like the dairy products, choose low fat and lower sugar.
I could write a whole post on seeds. There are so many of them. Let's talk about some of the really popular ones: Chia and Flax. Flax seeds are high in omega 3's and soluble fibre: two things that lead to better health. But you can really only get both of these benefits from using the ground flax. The shell of the seed is where the fibre is, so whole seeds will have this, but we have trouble breaking through this shell so the omega 3 is left trapped inside. The flax oil will that the omega 3 oil in it, but the shell is now gone so no fibre. Therefore choose the ground. Chia seeds can also be a good source of vitamins and fibre. Chia was originally made popular by the chia pets (come on we all know the jingle from television). I would suggest getting the seeds from your store rather then eating your chia pet. An important note about seeds. While they contain fibre and lots of healthy nutrients, they can also be high in calories. If you are trying to watch your weight, be sure to limit your portions. It all adds up in the end.
5) Gluten Free Products:
Gluten free products came into existence because of people that have gluten allergies (or Celiac disease). There is really no need to eat gluten free products if you do not have this condition. Some can actually be higher in calories and fat so they are not designed for weight loss. It is not true that gluten sticks to our insides and makes us gain weight. Gluten is not dangerous to our health. Many people mistake having a gluten intolerance with just eating over sized portions of foods that are starchy like pasta or rice. These are filling foods so you might just need to cut back your serving size and your symptoms will go away. If you are having bleeding, dramatic weight loss, chronic fatigue, severe stomach cramps or any combination of these symptoms from eating things like pasta or bread though, you may want to see your family doctor.
If there are any other popular foods you are wondering about, don't hesitate to contact me through the links and contacts page. I always make posts based on questions from readers.