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Quinoa breakfast

Quinoa breakfast

This is a great alternative to eating oatmeal in the morning. Also, it’s gluten free and it contains all branch chained amino acids your body needs making quinoa a complete protein. Additionally, quinoa is a good source of fiber and phosphorous and is high in magnesium and iron as well as folate, zinc, copper, manganese and some B1,B2, and B6 vitamin.

Quinoa breakfast has been my new fave now for a little while, and there are many options to how to prepare it. I currently use walnuts, agave sirup and cinnamon on it but you can also do an apple/cinnamon version if you like or anything else you like.

1. Cook quinoa according to the package (I use a little less water than instructed as I think the quinoa gets too watery when finished)

2. When the quinoa is ready it has a translucent ring around it, so pull it off the plate and let it cool down a little

3. While the quinoa is cooling down chop about 2-3 walnuts

4. Take a measuring cup and put the cooked quinoa in it and measure up to 1/2 a cup which seems to be about 4 topped tablespoons (this is equal to one serving)

5. Add the chopped walnuts, a dash of milk if you like (or almond milk), a dash of agave nectar (a teaspoon or less) and sprinkle with cinnamon

 

Grains and seeds

The difference between grains and seeds

The other day the topic of the difference between grains and seeds came up while discussing my fave seed that is considered a grain; quinoa.

So this is the low down on the difference:

Grains: A small edible fruit that is hard on the outside. Stems from the grass family.

Seeds: A small embryonic plant covered in a seed coat with stored food.

The most typical grains are the ones harvested from the grass family: Barley, Bulgur wheat, Corn, Durum wheat, Fonio, Kamut, Millet, Oats, Rice,Rye,Semolina wheat, Sorghum, Spelt, Teff, Triticale, Wheat, and Wild rice.

Out these ones listed there are only a few that do not contain gluten. If you want to be on the safe side stick to teff, wild rice, rice, sorghum, corn, fonio, millet, and rye.

Then there are pseudocereals. These are not really grains but can be used like one. Most likely they come from seeds or a non-grass family. These are: Buckwheat, Amaranth, Quinoa, Chia, and Acacia seed.

However, when it comes to seeds there are many. The most common ones are: Chia seeds, Flaxseed, Hemp seeds, Poppy seed, Pumpkin seeds, Sesame seed, Safflower, and Sunflower.

Although I do not consider beans a seed they are indeed a fruit of its plant, and since legumes are not a part of the grass family you can call them seeds. The same thing goes for nuts as well. From a botanical stand point they are types of seeds, particular chestnuts, hazelnuts and acorns. Also in this category you will find fruits that are considered nuts such as : Almond, Walnut, Brazil nut, Macadamia, Pecan, Cashew and Pistachio among others.

 

Tuna and potato salad

From low carb to moderate carb with “safe starches”

For a period of time I attempted to follow a low carb, high fat diet (aka LCHF) while exercising. LCHF is technically zero carbs (meaning non-starchy foods such as rice, pasta, bread etc) and lots of fat and proteins. Preferably, one should keep the carb count as low as one can go which could mean anything below 20-25g up to about 50-80g depending on your starting point. When you have reached your weight goal you can slowly introduce more starches to see where your set point is.

I’m aware that in the LCHF community starches are looked upon as the evil food that increases insulin and makes your blood sugar into a roller coaster ride. But I believe that there is a distinction between people’s needs and your starting point for a low carb diet. In my case I started at a lower body fat percentage (below 20%) and with very little weight to lose (max 5kg/10lbs) and I consider myself moderately active. I was already at a healthy level with my blood pressure etc under control; I simply wanted to see if LCHF could provide me with a more optimal diet for even better health and better/quicker results for fat loss.

My goal has always been to try to get as lean as possible while keeping muscle and strength. LCHF promise a simple yet effective way of ridding yourself of your excess fat while keeping lean muscle as well as giving optimal health benefits. I didn’t suffer too much from carb withdrawals in the beginning nor being too tired etc, also known as the carb flu. Occasionally, I felt dizzy and I was prepared for not having the greatest energy for workouts. I was probably more ecstatic to be able to eat bacon and chicken wings with blue-cheese dressing among other fatty goodies quite frequently than anything else.

The result of the whole thing was not what I was expecting. Actually, I didn’t see much of a result than some fluctuation in my weight. It wasn’t until I started introducing some fruits that small things started to happen and this sparked it all over to the new buzz word in the low carb world; “safe starches”.

Lately, there has been some “controversy” in the low carb society (particularly within the Paleo supporters) when Paul Jaminet rolled out a twist on the low carb diet allowing what he calls “safe starches”. When I heard about Paul Jaminet, Ph.D. and his Perfect Health Diet I was curious to see what he had to say about it and I was very convinced that his approach was a better one for me. Safe starches include potato, rice, taro, sago, plantain, sweet potato and tapioca. As you can see cereal grains are not on the list. There are several reasons for excluding grains that you can read about here. While dairy, nuts, chocolate berries/fruits and fructose-free sweeteners are considered pleasure foods and should be consumed occasionally and in smaller amounts.

From my personal experience over the last few weeks adding back more of the safe starches have given me better energy than just eating vegetables alone as the only carb intake in a day. I’m no longer suffering from tremendous DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and the recovery is quicker. I have lots of energy to do daily tasks and be quite active otherwise. And not to mention that I sleep so much better! Even more muscle definition is coming along in difficult areas such as thighs.

I do measure out my starches to have somewhat control of the situation and from my calculations I range from around 100g to 130g of carbs on a daily basis (veggies are considered “free” and therefore intake is unlimited). Majority of my starchy carbs are consumed after workout though which is when the body needs the fuel the most and acts like a sponge to absorb and utilize it all but I do have starches for breakfast and lunch as well.