We’re almost done with the challenge!! Two more days! woohoo! I hope you’re enjoying the daily tasks and discovering new fruits, new veggies, new ways of enjoying produce! I know I am.
Today’s task is all about enjoying more of these produce and trying to go meatless for the day.
Because all the healthy nations in the world use meat sparingly. Meat does not take center stage in their diets, but is rather used as an “accessory”. Mediterranean, Indian, and Japanese diets are among the healthiest* as they focus on grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and fish and barely use any meat. Now, I’m not saying you should go vegetarian (it’s great if you are), but we can all benefit from eating less meat and including other sources of protein.
An important thing to look out for when buying and consuming beef is whether it has been grass-fed or grain-fed. Grass-fed beef is richer in omega-3 fatty acids and is more nutrient-dense than grain-fed beef. Not to mention that the grains the cattle is fed are most likely genetically modified corn and soy. However, price and availability (in Lebanon) of grass-fed beef may be of concern to many. That’s why, I say, let’s focus more on legumes and fish and use meat sparingly.
Another category of meats we must be careful about is the highly processed kind such as bacon, salami, ham, hot dogs, and cold cuts in general… Research has linked high consumption of processed meats to higher risk of heart disease and cancer (mainly colon and pancreatic cancers).
And since today’s task can also be trying a new grain or a new variety of beans, I am sharing a small excerpt of one of the earlier posts on the blog about various whole grains. Feel free to check it all if you want: Grains of Health.
Amaranth ( Al kuttaifa in Arabic): Ancient grain once grown by the Aztecs for its superior nutrient content. It is made of 13 to 16% protein, a level higher than most other grains. Its protein contains the amino acid lysine which is missing or found in negligible amounts in other grains. Amaranth is gluten-free which makes it suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten-allergy. It can be found in the form of whole grain, flakes, or flour.
Barley (Sha’ir in Arabic): Did you know that barley was at the basis of the English measurement system? Edward II of England standardized the inch as being equal to “three grains of barley, round and dry”! Barley has the highest percentage of fiber (17%) among the other grains. Its high levels of soluble beta-glucan fiber make it a super food for lowering cholesterol and controlling blood sugar. It is also high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Look for hulled barley (where the inedible hull has been removed carefully) or hulless barley (a breed that is originally without the tight hull). Pearled barley misses some or all of its bran layer.
Buckwheat ( Henta sawda in Arabic): Buckwheat is technically not a grain and it is not related to the wheat family. It is the seed of a plant related to rhubarb. Its nutty flavor and appearance have led it to be integrated in the grain family. It is the only grain that contains the antioxidant rutin. Studies have shown that rutin improves circulation and prevents LDL cholesterol from blocking blood vessels. Toasted buckwheat groats are called Kasha. Buckwheat and buckwheat flour are used to make Japanese soba noodles, pancakes, crepes etc.
Millet (dekhen in Arabic): Millet is the world’s sixth most important grain with India being the largest producer where it is used to make roti, a staple flat bread. Millet is gluten-free and is high in magnesium. It is found as a whole grain or in the form of flour.
Oats ( Shoufan in Arabic): Oats are a breakfast favorite.They are either steel-cut oats, or are steamed and flattened into old-fashioned, quick-cooking, or instant cooking oats. Oats in every form are considered a whole grain because their bran and germ do not get removed during processing. However, try to stay clear of the sugar-added instant varieties and fat-laden granola bars. Always check the labels. Like barley, oats contain beta-glucan fiber which help lower bad cholesterol (LDL). Recent studies also show that the antioxidant avenanthramide found in oats has an anti-inflammatory effect and protects the blood vessels from the damaging effects of LDL cholesterol.
Quinoa (same name in Arabic pronounced Keen-wah): Quinoa is an ancient grain once cultivated by Incas in Peru. It is related to spinach rather than being a “true” grain. Quinoa is known for its high protein content. Its protein is complete; that is, it is made of all the essential amino acids that the body cannot make on its own.
So what will it be for today? Are you going meatless? or trying a new grain? a new variety of beans?
Don’t forget to take some pictures and share them.
Have a wonderful week ahead everyone!
*or used to be healthy because the fast food culture is pretty much invading everything and everywhere.