Sunday, December 18, 2016

Decolonize Your Holiday Menu!

One of the biggest challenges during the holiday season is staying healthy by continuing to eat a balanced diet, one that avoids spikes in glucose levels.  What causes spike levels?  Usually foods that have zero to maybe 1 fiber gram coupled with a high carbohydrate count will cause a "carb jolt" and for those individuals with diabetes (Type II), the extra high carb count becomes difficult for the body to manage.  Usually the glucose will stay in the bloodstream because the normal passage of carbohydrates into the blood cells and on to the muscles just will not happen.  And so the glucose (which should never be in the bloodstream) will cause havoc on the body, leading to serious damage.  One example of a high carbohydrate item that causes spikes in glucose levels is orange juice (or any kind of juice).  All the important fiber has been taken out of the fruit which then causes these high levels of glucose "jolts" in the body. This is why juice for babies or toddlers is not a good idea.  An adult may drink orange juice or some other high carb drink (sodas are definitely culprits here), and will still say they are feeling fine.  But, most often, they are not.  The best way to check what your body is doing and how it is handling the glucose, is to test your blood with a glucose meter. 

A note on glucose meters:  Not all are the same.  The most accurate is Aviva.  Here is the link of an article on glucose meters, by David Mendosa, that is very helpful:  (click here)

Now let's get back to our holiday season and what to eat.  Below are some suggestions of foods that are a combination of our indigenous Mexican heritage and what is available on our twenty-first century grocery shelves.  Last year,  I posted reviews and interviews with Luz Calvo and Catriona Esquibel, on their cookbook, Decolonize Your Diet.  (Click on link to receive info on this cookbook.) Since its publication, it has been doing very well.  I mention this book because, below, I am using one of their recipes.  Here is a link to Luz and Catriona's website:  (click here)

Professor Amelia Montes with Norma Cantú, who is the Norine R. and T. Frank
Murchison Endowed Professor in Humanities at Trinity University--holding the book, Decolonize Your Diet
Before mentioning a specific recipe, I encourage you to think about enjoying your holiday with "Prickly Pears."  Prickly pears or "Tunas," as they are called in Mexico, are the fruit of the cactus.  They contain a potent combination of B-vitamins, magnesium, potassium, calcium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber.  I eat them raw and they can also be cooked or included in smoothies.  Because of their unique combination of vitamins, research has shown that Prickly Pears (Tunas) help keep cholesterol and glucose levels low.  Also, the Tuna also contains flavonoids, polyphenols, and betalains, which are antioxidants. This is key in preventing the mutation of cancer cells.  The Tuna may be small, but it is quite mighty.  See below.  

Tunas are either green in color or red.  If they are green, they will still be edible and you don't have to wait for them to turn red (because they won't).  

Above is a close-up of the Tuna.  You can see where it is marked with tiny 
nodules where cactus spines once were.  It's important when buying Tunas, to make sure that those spines have been removed.  

...about to cut into the Tuna. 

I usually cut both ends off first.  You'll notice that it has seeds.  The seeds can be hard, almost like pomegranate seeds.  It is not harmful to eat these with the seeds.  In fact, it is nutritious and also helps in regularity with all the fiber it contains.  

Here is the Tuna now that I have cut off both ends and cut the skin off as well.  Almost ready to eat!

Here is a good look at the Tuna and the amount of seeds it has.  
It is very refreshing as well as medicinal.  

The Amaranth Chocolate Cake from the cookbook, Decolonize Your Diet
Luz Calvo and Catriona Esquibel (co-authors of Decolonize Your Diet), encourage all of us to take their recipes and experiment with the ingredients.  And that's what I have done with the "Amaranth Chocolate Cake."  Because I have Diabetes, I am constantly seeking substitutes for processed sugar.  This chocolate cake recipe calls for honey. I cannot have honey because honey spikes my glucose levels.  How did I find this out?  IMPORTANT:  75 minutes after the first bite of whatever you ate, test your blood and you should then know how this food (or anything you've eaten) is affecting you.  

Research shows that the sweet potato has manageable carbohydrate counts and the high fiber it contains further helps to prevent further damage from Diabetes.  The sweet potato is also rich in antioxidants and high in Vitamin A. It turns out to be a splendid substitute because the cake ends up having an even stronger taste of the chocolate.  

The yams
The yams, after they've been mashed and put in the freezer, (in case you're not going to use them right away).  You first take the yams and pierce them with a fork, bake them in the oven for about an hour at 400 degrees.  When you take them out of the oven, the skin should easily come off.  Then place the "meat" of the sweet potato in the food processor and mix until it is smooth and creamy.
Another excellent holiday suggestion is serving cashew cheese (non-dairy) for holiday parties.  Below I have photographed two types of cashew cheese that I enjoy eating.  TheTreeline Cheese has a more garlic pepper taste to it-- very smooth, and the second cheese below is from Miyoko's Creamery in San Francisco, California.  The "Sundried Tomato Garlic" is quite tasty.  Although these two foods are "processed," the ingredients are organic and a little goes a long way on crackers.  And speaking of crackers . . .

These two cashew cheese spreads go very well with the crackers I have photographed below.  Flackers (below) come in more than two flavors.  I only had these on hand to photograph -- and, of course, they are my favorites and go well with either of these cheeses.  These are non-gluten crackers made from flax seeds and have a very low carbohydrate count.  

Flackers Crackers in two flavors here:  Savory and Rosemary  
I am wishing all of you an enjoyable and healthy year!  Here's hoping you'll be adventurous in 2017, adventurous enough to try the sweet potatoes in the cake recipe or in other dishes, the Tunas, and these crackers.  Be creative!  Make eating low carbohydrate dishes an exciting adventure.

Here's to balanced glucose levels!!
Sending you all many good wishes for a generous, loving, ethical, and activist holiday and New Year!

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