M is for Mighty

What are those letters M. S. about?

Q is for Quinoa

Qui-what!?!?  It is commonly pronounced Kee-nwa. According to the ever trusty Wikipedia, it is a “pseudocereal” rather than a true cereal or grain.  Rather than being a member of the grass family, it is a chenopod.  That makes it more closely related to beetroots, spinach and tumbleweeds.  (Sounds Yummy!)

Quinoa seeds contain essential amino acids like lysine and are a good source for calcium, dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. Many sources claim that Quinoa is a “complete protein” and has an almost perfect balance of amino acids and actually helps boost the protein value of other grains!

Quinoa is gluten-free, easy to digest, versatile, and easy to prepare.  In fact, because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied spaceflights.  Didn’t you always want to be like an astronaut?

Another interesting tidbit, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2013 as the “International Year of Quinoa” in recognition of ancestral practices of the Andean people, who have preserved quinoa as food for present and future generations.

To ease my family into the appearance and texture of this unique morsel, I started with white quinoa and substituted it half and half with rice.  The looked at it a little critically, but ate it up.  (Even my texture detector youngest did okay!)  After I became more bold (and even my pickiest eaters determined it would not kill them), I started substituting it completely and have incorporated the red quinoa as well.  One of the first things they noticed (especially my teens) is how quickly they are full… or “stuffed” would probably be more like it.  They are still working out the serving size.  J

A couple of favorites:

Breakfast burritos with egg substitute, quinoa, green chilies, black beans, and taco seasoning.

We also like to make a casserole similar to Hamburger Helper’s taco version and I started substituting quinoa for the rice.  Yummy!

A work in progress is the red quinoa lasagna.  The flavor was great and it was SUPER filling, but it just kind of went plop on the plate and didn’t look very appetizing.  Perhaps some egg substitute and flax meal to glue it together better?  We shall see!

A future attempt will be a recipe I stumbled across for “Quookies.”  I just really like the name!  J

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“Heart Smart” or “Brain Smart?”

Everyone has heard about cooking “Heart Smart” but what about “Brain Smart?” Here are some tricks to help you navigate the Omega 6 infested kitchen you are probably used to.

First, know what you are looking for.  I have been shocked to find that many food products will label and advertise that they contain Omega 3 but never tell you in what quantity!  (They also neglect to mention their Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio.)  I do not know what the precise recommendation is for that ratio (those darn “experts” never can seem to agree!) but I always aim to make the Omega 3 as high as possible and the Omega 6 as low as possible.

Second, cook at low temperatures. I am not a scientist, so if you want a scientifically accurate explanation as to why, you will need to google a medical journal or something.  I will tell you how it looks in my head: You know those little pop beads that toddlers play with to learn hand-eye coordination and dexterity?  Well in my head Omega 3 chains are like one big long chain of those pop beads right after you get a new package.  When you play too rough with them then they come apart.  Then you have those free radical beads all over the #@*$ house and they are harmful.  If you don’t believe me, just try stepping on one!  So if the Omega 3 chains are over processed, become to hot, or are otherwise played with too hard, then they become damaged and break making harmful free radicles.  Besides, when you kill off the fragile Omega 3, Omega 6 prevails.  It is sturdier and tougher but it is inflammatory and the exact opposite of what you want if you are a knight slaying the dragon of MS!  The point? Oh…be gentle with your Omega 3.  Keep it as unprocessed as possible and cook at low temperatures.

Third, get as much bang for your buck as you can!  Wild salmon has about 3grams of Omega 3 while farm raised tends to be more like 2grams.  Albacore or Blue Fin tuna has about 3 times the Omega 3 as “light” tuna.  Add flax meal and chia seed to anything you can hide it in (it doesn’t change the flavor much).

Here are some ideas to get you started:

I recently made a batch of Omega 3 power breakfast burritos (they freeze and reheat nicely). I started with 5 whole grain tortillas (each with a little bit of skim mozzarella cheese on them).  I then scrambled 10 Omega 3 enriched eggs, 1/4 cup flax meal, 1/4 cup Omega 3 enriched milk, 3 TBS chia seed, 1/4 c chopped onions, 1/2 can diced green chiles, and seasoned it with garlic, salt, and pepper. I then assembled them, wrapped them individually in plastic wrap, and put them in a Ziploc bag. Each burrito contained about 3grams of Omega 3!

Another powerful recipe, also nearing the 3 grams per serving mark, is an MS friendly granola. Mix together 2 oz of pumpkin seeds, 2 oz of sesame seeds, 1/2 c sliced almonds, 1/2 c chia seed, 3/4 c flax meal, 41/2 c oats, 1/3 c honey, 1/3c Agave nectar, and 3-4TBS of Omega 3 enriched cooking oil.  (We added some sunflower seeds too.  They are kind of Omega neutral and we like them!)  Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and bake at 300 for about 25 minutes (stir part way through).  Let it cool and then I like to stir in some dried or dehydrated fruit.  Raspberries and Blueberries are great sources of antioxidants!

NO RED MEAT!?!?  Seriously!?!?  and what are you supposed to eat instead?  WILD GAME!?!?!? Gag!!!  I am seriously NOT a fan. I have, however, developed four recipes for wild game that I can stand to cook, smell, and yes…even eat.  (The kids even like them!)

1. Wild Game Roast:  coat crock pot with olive oil.  Put in a 2-3 lb roast. Cover with onion powder, minced garlic, and apple slices.  Make gravy with beef bullion and 1c water.  Cook on low until tender.

2. Wild Game Roll-Ups:  Marinate meat in a low fat Italian dressing and then cut into 6″ strips.  Layer 1 strip of turkey bacon, 1 strip of meat, a spoonful of fat free cream cheese, and a pickled jalapeño slice.  Roll, skewer, and grill over low heat (10 minutes on each side).  *By the way, for grilling, I LOVE the new pellet smoker grill!*

3. Meat and Potatoes (Or rice, or quinoa, or bulgur….) Start with approximately 3 lbs of meat in the crockpot.  Add soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, yellow or Dijon mustard (good source of turmeric!) a can of cream of something soup (“healthy choice”), a can of water, onion, garlic, and pepper.  Cook on low ALL DAY so it is nice and tender. Serve over mashed potatoes, rice, or quinoa, or some other starchy something.

4. BBQ – 2-3 lbs of meat in the crockpot (are you noticing a theme?) Add chopped turkey bacon, BBQ sauce, liquid smoke, onion soup mix, and water.  Again, you will want to cook it on low for several hours until it is tender. This one is great served on whole grain buns with a side of baked beans!

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The A, B, C Omega 3’s

Reliv Now with lunaRich

Reliv Now with lunaRich (Photo credit: Reliv International)

It is a regular alphabet soup when you start researching nutrition and supplementation for MS!  By no stretch of the imagination do I have it all figured out, but there are definitely some strong trends: consume as much Omega 3 as is humanly possible and eliminate as much saturated fat as humanly possible.  After that it starts to get more convoluted with every “expert” proclaiming their “miracles.”

We chose to believe an “expert” who recommends 9 grams of fish oil per day.  The reason we listened to him is because many sources I found say you should have 3 grams of Omega 3 each day.  Remember, only about 1/3 of the fish oil is actually Omega 3!

Another “expert” we chose to heed the advice of talks about co-factors. He recommends the following per 3 grams of Omega 3:  400 mcg B12, 500mg C, 50mg riboflavin (B2), 50mg B6, 800mcg folic acid (B9), 5mg CoQ10, 5mg Alpha Lipoic Acid, 100mcg Selenium, 150mg Magnesium.  Luckily we happened upon most of these in one place.  It is a cool supplement shake called Reliv.  It is expensive and tastes blechy, but many people with MS swear by it!

Many in the field are finding that there is a correlation between those who are vitamin D deficient and those who have MS. Another interesting link is the higher incidence of MS in the northern climates.  Well, here we are in Idaho, very vitamin D deficient, and Wham! Hello MS. So, added to the fishy cocktail, yep, you guessed it… Vitamin D!  We are supplementing with about 10,000Iu daily.  From what I have read, you have to be hitting 50,000-60,000 before you reach toxic levels.  I hope that we are good at 10,000!

Finally, Turmeric.  If you google it, I am pretty sure you can find a website saying it will cure just about anything!  The fact that it is considered to be both neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory made it a no brainer for us.

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