Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Manuka Honey

Last summer my Aunt sent my mom a special honey from New Zealand. It's called Manuka Honey and it is much darker and thicker than most of the honey you are probably familiar with. It also has a very distinct flavor, the best way to describe it is "medicinal." This is very fitting since it seems to be used for more than just adding sweetness to tea. The label on the jar reads, "Our Manuka honey has been tested and found to have an activity rating of up to 10% when tested. The "active" component of this Manuka honey is an antibacterial activity in addition to the hydrogen peroxide found in ordinary honeys." Manuka honey is produced from the Leptospermum scoparium plant which is native to NZ(AKA Melaluca Tree in Australia). It contains the compound methylglyoxal. Methylgloxal, (An Aldehyde and Ketone: think of these as alcohol molecules with a few chemical bond tweekings) is formed in the body through several metabolic pathways the most important being glycolysis; how carbohydrates are broken down for energy. Unfortunately it is highly toxic to the body, so through a slightly long chain of reactions it is converted into D-Lactate(the stuff that makes your muscles sore after a hard work out). I can't quite figure out why we want to eat this, when several studies show that diets high in methylgloxal cause poor wound healing in diabetic mice. ( However, the use of Manuka honey on wounds appears to have antibacterial/anti-inflammatory properties thanks to the hydrogen Peroxide created when the honey mixes with body fluids. To reap these benefits, the honey must have a relatively high UMF or Unique Manuka Factor. These are the compounds found only in this honey which have the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. By ingesting the honey, the person supposedly benefits by getting a boost to their immune system. (
Currently I'm feeling as though I am in way over my head with the biochem associated with this. So lets just keep it simple...Manuka honey has a strong flavor that is good in tea and delicious on plain yogurt. However it is too thick to spread over a PB&Banana sandwich. The next time I burn myself in the kitchen or get a cut, I'll try putting this honey on it and let people know how well it heals. Below is the website for the company from which my Aunt bought her honey. For more research and information I suggest pubmed.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Tonight I made a ginormous batch of chipotle black bean burgers. Unfortunately I pretty much just threw things together till it looked right so there is no official recipe. Luckily, a Google search of 'black bean burgers' will supply anyone with more than enough recipe ideas to get them started. I made these (or similar) burgers a while ago and didn't think Ryan would get overly excited about them. Wrong, He loved them!!! In his words they were like "Chipotle on a bun." For those of you who do not know, chipotle is not only a pepper but also a burrito chain owned by McDonalds. It's similar to Moe's or Qudoba. We decided we should make a big batch and freeze the extras.

On Saturday I soaked and cooked my beans. I started cooking my own beans after spending a week at WIC during my internship and being inspired by the moms who have to do this instead of buying canned beans. Tonight I came home from work and threw a green pepper and part of a large sweet onion in the food processor. I then minced/pureed the black
beans and added them to the pepper
and onion along with panko bread crumbs, 2 eggs, cumin, chili
powder, adobo sauce, black pepper, chopped fresh cilantro, and
pressed several cloves of garlic. After stirring them all up I pressed them into patties and baked them 10 min on each side at 375*F. In a bit I will mince a chipotle pepper(canned in adobo sauce) and mix it with some mayo and plain yogurt as a topping for the burgers.

3 Reasons to eat more beans (Taken from the bean chapter in Super Foods Rx by Steven Pratt, M.D., and Kathy Matthews.)
1)Beans are high in protein, but leaches much less calcium from your bones than meat protein.
2)They are low in fat and good for your heart.
3)They are high in soluble fiber, meaning they help moderate blood sugars and decrease the risks of cancer, especially colon cancer.

Seen here at the right, My burger on a Sandwich thin with chipotle mayo, pickle, blue corn tortilla chips, and salsa. My mouth is very warm, time for a glass of milk.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Super Foods Rx

A few months ago I started reading Super Foods Rx by Steven Prat, M.D., and Kathy Matthews. I normally do not read "diet" books but I picked it up and happened to flip to page 26 where they write, "The best approach to any health change is one that is positive. I believe that "diets" that forbid foods or make eating satisfying meals a challenge are counterproductive." After reading that I was hooked.

What I really like about this book is that while he has picked out 12 'super foods' he also includes other foods that are similar or part of the same family. Unlike many of the magazine articles and books that give a list of foods to avoid or a short list of specific foods you can eat; this one encourages a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but also includes whole grains, and some animal protein. While earning my B.S. and then during my dietetic internship I started to take what I was learning and apply it to my own life. As I think back, my love of nutrition started in Jr. High. Somehow I figured out that what the school was serving for lunch was a pretty poor excuse for a meal. On days when, pepperoni pizza, hamburgers, and french fries were my only options I packed a sandwich, apple, fruit snack, carrot sticks, and bought a milk from the Ala' Cart line. This continued into high school, where bringing my own lunch became a daily routine. I still bought the occasional twix, or peanut butter cup from the school, but we all need a treat now and then.

In college I learned that I greatly disliked the flavor of aspartame(splenda), and that cereal high in fiber kept me 'regular' during times of stress. When dining out or making lunch for my boy friend, now fiance I continued to include fruits and vegetables with the meal. Living with three dietitians last year during my internship inspired me to continue my quest to improve my diet. Granted, some of it was spurred on by a tight budget. Ex: plain oatmeal is cheaper than individual packets of the flavored stuff. We had family dinner nights where one of us would cook a favorite meal from home, or try a new recipe on the rest of us. Through the internship I learned to love sun-butter (made from sunflower seeds), beets, dry beans, and tofu. I also discovered that unless it is fried I do not care for eggplant.

Back to the main focus of this entry...even as a dietitian with a pretty healthy diet; by reading this book I have started to increase certain foods in my diet. Seen here is chili con carne made by Ryan, over brown rice, romaine/spinach salad with carrots and mushrooms, and balsamic vinaigrette. The book is filled with information taken from credible research articles and journals describing why each food is considered "super." Instead of focusing on weight loss, the writers aim to help the reader improve their life by decreasing their chances of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease through nutrition. For people who wonder what to do with some of the foods (soy beans or pumpkin), they include recipes and other simple suggestions on how to get more of them into the diet. A person can even take what they learn and apply it when dining out. Instead of ordering the Cesar salad, a person would know to order the spinach salad with blue cheese and walnuts simply because the spinach and nuts have more vitamins/minerals/and antioxidants than ice-burg lettuce ever will.

Unfortunately portion sizes are not a huge focus. A suggestion of servings per day or week are included for each food, however readers will need to remember that just because pomegranite juice contains polyphenols, does not mean they should drink it buy the gallon.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Step 1

In conjunction with starting my own nutrition consulting business, several people have told me to start a blog. So here I am. I hope to include healthy recipes, nutrition advice, and reviews of the latest and greatest diets on the market.

Now for a little info about me. After finishing my dietetic internship in West Virginia I moved to Albany, GA where I work part time as a clinical dietitian at a 75 bed hospital. Currently on my days off I do laundry, clean the apartment, and am attempting to start my own nutrition consulting business. For the next few months I will also be finishing up the plans for my wedding. In my free time I enjoy running, lifting weights, reading, knitting, playing chess and monopoly(some times I even win), hiking with my fiance, and cooking/baking. I look forward to seeing where this blog takes me and how it evolves.