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Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014
Healthy Recipes

Instead of thinking ‘diet,’ focus on real food


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I’ve never like diets. In my 20 years of practice, I can’t say there was ever one I recommended. That’s because diets alone don’t contribute to longevity; it’s about lifestyle, habit, balance, activity (not necessarily heart-pounding exercise), real food and less stress.

Esteemed researcher Dr. David Katz of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center and his colleague, Stephanie Meller, recently published a paper in Annual Reviews titled “Can We Say What Diet Is Best for Health?” In the paper, the team analyzes diets from low-carb and low-fat to paleolithic and vegan.

The conclusion? No diet is best. “Efforts to improve public health through diet are forestalled not for want of knowledge about the optimal feeding of Homo sapiens but for distractions associated with exaggerated claims, and our failure to convert what we reliably know into what we routinely do,” Katz writes.

This is why, given the overwhelming amount of nutrition information we have, Americans are really not much closer to improving their health than they were two decades ago. Frankly, we’d be best served if the media and self-purported “health experts” didn’t cherry-pick scientific findings to sell books, diet programs, pills and potions. Support of sound principles would take us far.

When I read the research paper, the clear take-away is that eating minimally-processed foods, lots of antioxidant- and polyphenol-rich foods, less meat and alcohol and enjoying more whole grains, nuts, seeds and healthy fats is the way to go.

Alas, I don’t see this happening anytime soon. To quote British philosopher Bertrand Russell, “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”

As a result, we’re confronted with the paradox that education has become a barrier to intelligence. It’s ironic, but true. So, my advice to you remains unchanged: Cook more, eat out less, focus on real food, fresh ingredients and enjoy everything in small, tasty portions, including my delicious Quinoa Tabouleh from my new book.

Tina’s Quinoa Tabouleh

Start to finish 40 minutes; yields 5 cups (10 ½-cup servings)

¾ cup quinoa

2 cups water

1 cup cucumber, small dice (½ cucumber)

1 cup roughly chopped parsley

½ cup finely chopped mint

2 plum tomatoes, chopped

¼ cup chopped black olives

1 clove garlic, grated

Zest of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

In a small saucepan, rinse quinoa until the water runs clear. Place the saucepan on high heat until any remaining water has evaporated, and the quinoa begins to pop and crackle, about 3 minutes. Add the water and simmer until the liquid has evaporated and the quinoa is soft, about 20 minutes. Cool completely before adding remaining ingredients to the quinoa. Toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tina’s Tip: Try adding grilled shrimp with or without diced avocado to make this recipe even more delicious!

Nutrition information per serving: 120 calories, 3 grams protein, 7 grams total fat, 12 grams carbohydrates, 65 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber

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