Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wellness Wednesday / "Delia's Dose"

This week is my Birthday Week—yes, I give myself a whole week to celebrate!  I have given myself permission to have a “Birthday Week” for years..perhaps it’s because I love celebrating life..or maybe it’s because my birthday happens to be on a festive day..CINCO DE MAYO!!! Or as I like to say, “CINCO DE DELIA!”

Cinco De Mayo is celebrated in the United States and portions of Mexico, mainly to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the American Civil War.  Let’s face it though…it’s a day when we have a good excuse to make margaritas! Now, I am not going to blog about how good or bad tequila is for you--mainly bad, really bad…remind me to tell you about my 21st birthday…but…follow me here….Cinco de Mayo…Tequila…made from the blue AGAVE plant…..Agave Nectar which is used as an ingredient in food!

So, let’s talk about AGAVE. In Mexico its known as aguamiel or “honey water.”  The Aztecs knew all about this liquid for a long time, but recently it has become quite popular with consumers. It comes from the sap that is extracted from the core of the plant. These plants have to be at least 7-10 yrs old before they can harvest it. It can weigh anywhere between 50 -150 lbs!

Before we talk about how to use this delicious nectar, let’s talk about GLYCEMIC INDEX. It measures the impact of the foods we eat on our blood sugar levels.  When we eat high carbohydrate foods our body quickly converts that to sugar, which makes our blood sugar levels rise. High blood sugar levels can lead to diabetes, higher risk of heart disease or stroke, eye problems, kidney problems, and gum disease! Foods with very low carbs, like meat and cheese, have easily digested sugars and starches and are less likely to create a spike in blood sugar. When you eat a high glycemic load food, like pasta, the only way your digestive system can break down the carbs is to release a high dose of insulin to combat the blood sugar. This spike in both blood sugar and insulin then causes your blood sugar to plunge…that makes you feel lethargic and tired….hmmm…think about how you feel after you eat a heavy bread and pasta meal??

Blood sugar coats our red blood cells which causes them to become stiff. This interferes with blood circulation…and that can cause cholesterol to build up inside your blood vessels. See..this blood sugar stuff is not something to mess with! So, let’s get back to the Agave Nectar—it has a low glycemic index. It is slowly absorbed into our body, preventing  a spike in our blood sugar. Regular granulated sugar has an average glycemic index of 60, while Agave is under 30. Foods with a “GI” of 55 or lower are less likely to make our bodies store fat.

What I love about Agave Nectar is that it is REAL. It is not artificial and does not have harmful chemicals…and you know how I feel about all the FAKE stuff we are putting into our bodies! Our Western diet is now so full of refined, overly processed sweeteners that have a high glycemic index. This causes people to have excessive releases of insulin to deal with the spikes in blood sugar, which is contributing to the epidemic of diabetes and obesity in this country! The cool thing about agave is that it’s sweetness comes from the same substance that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables. Of course with ALL types of sugar, you have to use it in moderation…the good thing though is that this sugar does not cause that horrible “sugar high” and spike in blood sugar!

It is about 40% sweeter than regular granulated white sugar so the amount used in a recipe needs to be reduced. For example, if a recipe calls for one cup of white sugar, use 2/3 cup of agave nectar and reduce other liquids by ¼ to 1/3 cup. If a recipe calls for one cup of honey or one cup of maple syrup, just replace that with one cup of agave nectar/syrup. Another helpful hint is that agave syrup may cause baked goods to brown faster, so just reduce your oven temperature by 25 degrees and increase the baking time a bit.

Here are a couple recipes that I’ve used Agave Nectar in! ENJOY!

*This one is great for a hot summer day…and considering it is currently 87 degrees as I write this in St. Peters Missouri….

5 medium sized peaches, sliced(if you want more peach flavor, leave the skin on)
¼ cup coconut milk(or the milk of your choice)
1 tbsp of agave nectar
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Put all ingredients in a blender/puree until smooth/pour into popsicle molds
Freeze for at least 4-6 hrs

*This combines 2 of my favorite things, Chia and Agave!
1 tbsp ground chia seeds
1.5 cups whole wheat flour(if you are Gluten Free: substitute 1 cup almond flour, ½ cup brown rice flour and 1 tbsp Xanthan gum)
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup sweet potato puree
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 egg whites
½ cup agave nectar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp vanilla extract
½ cup dried cranberries(I’ve used raisins or dried blueberries too!)
Mix together all wet ingredients. In a separate bowl mix all dry ingredients.
Fold the wet ingredients into the dry.
Scoop into muffin tins and bake for 15-20 min at 350

Also try using Agave Nectar to sweeten your coffee or try it when making other drinks, like a Mojito!
Have a Healthy Week!

There is a fine line between blogging and giving medical advice. The content of this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice.  Nothing contained in this blog is intended to replace the medical advice of a trained, licensed physician.
In all matters relating to your health, you are urged to consult a physician. You can contact Advanced Bone & Joint to set up a formal consultation appointment with Dr. W. Anthony Frisella, Dr. Dane Glueck, Dr. Brandon Larkin, Dr. Anthony Lombardo, Dr. John McAllister, II, Dr. Brian Meek, Dr. Paul Spezia, Jennifer Eickhoff, FNP-BC, or Matt Pliske, PA-C.
Delia is not a Doctor, Nutritionist, or Registered Dietitian. She is simply a person dedicated to eating healthy foods and living a healthy lifestyle. She loves to help and inspire others to do the same!

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