Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dr. Neal Barnard Comes to Cleveland, Part II and a Chef A.j. Inspired Quinoa Salad

Here I am at work today, enjoying my variation on Chef A.j.'s Quinoa Salad with Pistachios and Currants, for BREAKFAST. Not my usual fare, but sometimes I just can't eat the same green smoothie again.

I'm still thinking about some of the things I learned at Dr. Barnard's lecture on Tuesday evening.  Here are a few more of the highlights:

1) Even non vegans should be taking a B12 supplement, especially after age 50. There just isn't enough of it in any food for anyone to get enough of it, whether they eat cow or not.

2) Why a low fat diet works so well for weight loss. There are two components to the lean vegan effect. First, because a low fat vegan diet is so high in fiber (plant roughage, fruit and beans), your appetite never gets out of control and you are so much less likely to overeat, a.k.a. "Volumetrics." I have found this to be miraculously true. And second, the thermic effect of food is at work. Also termed "the after meal calorie burn," the following is an explanation of this mechanism:

"Contrary to many popular diet books, Dr. Barnard says: 'Insulin is your best friend when it is working properly.' What’s more, 'Carbohydrates are not the enemy,' says Dr. Barnard. 'They are, in fact, our natural energy source.' Insulin, made by a gene on chromosome 11, can stimulate calorie burn. The problem is it can also shut down fat burn. The trick of is finding a proper balance between the two functions. Again, according to Dr. Barnard, the key is the type of food you eat.

The job of insulin is to push the proteins and sugars we eat into our cells to build body parts and provide fuel (glycogen) for our movements. 'Insulin travels to your muscles, liver, and fat tissues, where it pushes proteins and sugars into your cells,' says Dr. Barnard. 'As it does so, it temporarily shuts down your fat burning machinery,' he adds. That makes sense, of course, because there’s no need to burn fat when food is being pushed into the cells.

Happily, the building process inside the cells speeds up the metabolism and burns calories. '[It’s] is a big job, causing your cells to actually release calories in the form of heat,' says Dr. Barnard. This after-meal metabolism boost is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). 'It’s a nice way to burn calories,' says Barnard. 'All you do is eat, and your body does the rest. These calories are gone forever – they never even get a chance to turn into fat.'

The foods with the biggest TEF are those containing plenty of complex carbohydrates or a mixture of carbs and protein. 'For example, broccoli and other vegetables are about 50 percent complex carbs and 40 percent protein, a mix for a good burn,' says Dr. Barnard. 'On the other hand, butter, chicken grease, and [egg yoke] are just fat, and deliver a much poorer burn.' Again, plant foods win out over animal foods.

Under normal circumstances, the interruption in fat burning is brief. A problem arises if you become flabby and out of shape, however, because your insulin doesn’t work as well. The extra fat on your body requires more insulin and your calorie-burning system becomes sluggish. 'The body produces more and more insulin, and it shuts off fat burning more effectively than it should,' says Dr. Barnard.

You’re insulin also works overtime if you snack constantly. An endless stream of junk food never gives your insulin a chance to rest. 'If you have a constant supply of snacks, your body has no need to use its fat, and insulin keeps your fat-burning processes slower than they would normally be,' Dr. Barnard writes.

A lack of fiber is also a problem. 'Normally, fiber – plant roughage – helps keep insulin levels in check by slowing the release of sugars from the food you eat,' Dr. Barnard counsels.

To keep your after-meal calorie burn up and minimize fat-burn stoppage Dr. Barnard suggests a diet high in healthy carbohydrates and fiber, and low in fat."

3) It's never too late to undo the damage done by years of poor eating. Have you ever cut your finger? Did it heal? Of course it did! The same goes for your internal parts . . .the human body will heal if given a chance!

Dr. Barnard would love this quinoa salad that I'm eating as I type this. I threw it together last night and didn't have all of the ingredients that Chef A.j. called for, but it was outstanding nonetheless!

Simple Quinoa Salad with Currants and Pistachios
based on a recipe from Unprocessed by Chef A.j.

8 cups cooked quinoa
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (the juice of 3 lemons)
3/4 cup pistachios
1 cup currants
1 cup finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and toss. Enjoy!


Barbara said...

loved hearing about your experience with Dr. Barnard. Hope there comes a day when I can see him in person too!

Would love to try Chef AJ's quinoa salad -- I'm not familiar with currants though. Where can I find them? Do they require any prep prior to using them in the salad?

FYI - I'm getting broken links for the pics posted with this entry

Alipet813 said...

I have broken links too and I really want to see how that quinoa salad looks. It sounds great!
Question - were you a big meat eater before? I grew up on a farm and I am big on meat. However, the more I read the more I know I need to cut it way back. How do I do that without feeling deprived? I would love your advice. Your recipes are always wonderful. Sometimes my busy schedule and the fact that I am new to changing my eating habits means I don't have a lot of the ingredients on hand and makes it a bit expensive or overwhelming. However, I am definitely using your tips for new veggie based meal ideas.
One more question...did you cut out oil? I am confused about this part of the healthy eating beliefs. I would love more info on that or a link to somewhere in your blog that you may have already discussed it.
Thanks so much!!!

twistjill said...

Isnt the body amazing? Like you said, it's never too late to start improve your diet. The cut on the finger image is a perfect example becuase it's something that you can SEE. I think it's easy for people to ignore parts of their body that they can't physically see (like the immune system), while focusing on parts tha they can see (weight loss through unhealthy means).
Thanks for sharing Dr. Bernard's video!

Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) said...

Thanks for letting me know about the links that were not working. Please let me know if they are fixed now!!!!!!!!!!

Alipet813--I am going to answer all of your questions in a seperate blog posting (along with an exciting giveaway) to follow shortly!

Donna said...

I love Dr Barnard and would love to hear him speak. I wonder if he ever gets to the west coast?

I think I'll read some more of his new book, the 21 Day Kickstart this afternoon.

Luscious Verde said...

Barbara-I get currants at Whole Foods in the dried fruit and nut section. They are like tiny raisins. You could substitute any type of raisin or dried cranberry if you've got that in your pantry!

Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) said...

OMG! Barbra-Luscious Verde is me, Healthy Girl . . . I was logged in under my work account!

Jessica said...

Sunmaid has currants too - in an orange box - right near the raisins usually. nice salad - looks great. One of my favorites is with mango chunks, red onions and lime juice.

Sindy said...

Wendy quick question: does snacking all day on healthy foods also screw up the insulin/calorie-burning process?

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