Week of February 13, 2011

Starting this Monday it’s the first day of the 100 Day Challenge for some of you.  I’m excited that you decided to make this commitment that will change and challenge the way you fuel and move your body, energize yourself and others around you.  That doesn’t mean if you’re not in the Challenge that you can’t form a challenge for yourself.  Fitclick.com is the site that we’re asking the participants to use for documenting food and beverage and exercise. Self-monitoring leads to self-awareness, which leads to success!

See you this Monday and Thursday from 6:30 – 7:30 pm.

Emily, I’m glad to see you back for another week and equally glad that you brought Jen along to experience the fun-torture 🙂 Both of you girls have the determination and humor to stick with it to reap the benefits. Mitch and Kelli are back in the fold and Andrea is back from her trip. Dan tried to join us, but he’s on the Fire Dept and Rescue squad and was out on a call. The girls (Gabby and Megan) crushed their sit-up and push-up #s.  I’ll post those for everyone next week.

We work, sweat and play together.  Here’s a few of us at dinner Saturday night at One Federal in St. Albans.  I’ve always had great food at this place.  Thanks for the picture Paula.

Kelli, Lisa, Paula, Jill & Donna at One Federal Restaurant

Valentine’s: How did this holiday originate?

Who on earth is this St. Valentine guy anyway? The beginnings, according to Belarussian oral tradition, states that the original Saint Valentine was spurned by the female he had chosen to court. Anguished, he cut out his own heart and sent it, still beating to her, as a testimony of his undying love.  Wow, that’s a little over the top, eh?

However, Valentines celebrations started when the early Catholic church celebrated certain days as “Saint Days”, dedicated to one saint of the other. Two saints were honored yearly on February the 14th: Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni.  One thing led to the other over the centuries and it’s become a commercialized holiday (oops, I forgot, aren’t they all commercialized?).

Sugar, Sugar, Sugar:

What sugars are good?  bad?

Sugar has many names: dextrose, glucose, fructose, lactose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maple sugar, honey, invert sugar, maltose, diastase, sorbitol, caramel, date sugar, dextran, fruit juice, fruit juice concentrate, ethyl maltol, maltodextrin, sorghum syrup, and more.

Note: Enjoy your sweets as an occasional treat, rather than something needed daily, and enjoy the natural savor of healthy whole food. You’ll soon lose the sugar craving.

Our society’s collective sweet tooth is an adaptive response. It goes back to caveman days and it’s what encourages us to eat foods that are high in energy and nutrients. The problem is that the refinement of sugar has removed all the beneficial nutrients, enzymes and other plant compounds that give naturally sweet foods their goodness.

White sugar, “brown sugar” and molasses do not differ in health value, only in taste. They all come from the same source, either sugar cane or sugar beet. The two types are used pretty much interchangeably. Though some individuals who are particularly sensitive or allergic to one or the other can tell the difference, most people can’t. White sugar is the final result of processing and is 99.9-per-cent pure sucrose (a chemical).

Raw sugar is often called “unrefined” or “natural” sugar, but that is a misnomer. True “raw” sugar is illegal for sale, since it contains sand, soil, mold, bacteria, yeast, lice and other impurities. Turbinado sugar is raw sugar washed just enough to meet filth tolerances, but might still have impurities. Often what is sold as raw sugar is white sugar with cane or beet pulp or molasses added.

Honey symbolizes natural and healthful foods; people with sensitivities are less likely to react to honey than to sugar. In a raw state it contains some beneficial enzymes and nutrients, but the nutrients left in honey depends greatly on the method of extraction used. Honey from a reputable source can be a healthy replacement for refined sugar.

Maple syrup was highly prized by settlers in North America as a sweetener when refined sugar was hard to come by. The syrup is the concentrated sap of the sugar maple tree. Now that sugar has become hard to avoid rather than to obtain, maple syrup is still prized for its unique flavor. In that respect, it is in the same category as molasses and honey.

The final answer in low-calorie sweeteners just might be the herb stevia. There is not much research done on this herb because of resistance to its marketing by the sugar industry, but it does look promising. Stevia is the powdered leaf of the green plant. The leaf is much sweeter than table sugar, without the bitter aftertaste that chemical artificial sweeteners can have. There is some evidence that stevia can regulate blood sugar, kill mouth bacteria and improve digestion. Because of its scarcity though, caution should be taken that the sweetener is from a reputable company.

Sources: http://www.alive.com/152a1a2.php?text_page=2, http://fooddemocracy.wordpress.com

Next week: The Truth About Artificial Sweeteners

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