Monday, May 14, 2018

Why and How to Eat Whole Grains

Grains are kind of a hot topic in the nutrition world - especially when such a large portion of the population has some kind of intolerance to gluten. But for those who don’t have an allergy or intolerance to gluten, whole grains can provide a lot of nutritional benefits. Even people who do need a gluten-free diet can find whole grains that accommodate their dietary requirements.

Many claims against eating grains are simply not true. Some common things you might have heard are “people are not biologically adapted to eat grains,” “whole grains make us fat,” “wheat products aren’t healthy”, and the list goes on.

Grains have been consumed by people for more than 100,000 years - and that’s just according to the earliest record of grain consumption. And anything not consumed in moderation can contribute to weight gain and feeling unhealthy.

So, what are grains and whole grains?
A grain is a food group that covers a wide variety of crops - such as wheat, corn, soybeans, oats, barley, and more. In order to consume grains, these crops are harvested and processed into the common products we pick up in the grocery store, like bread, flour, oatmeal, cornmeal, etc.

A grain kernel consists of three parts: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. Each part carries different nutritional benefits.

A whole grain is a grain that has not been refined - meaning it retains all three parts when it is processed. Refined grains (like all-purpose flour and white breads) don’t have all three parts of the grain, instead they are refined to contain only the endosperm, which significantly reduces the nutritional value of the grain.

Nutritional benefits of whole grains:
- More minerals and vitamins are contained in whole wheat products, such as vitamin E, vitamin B6, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium, iron, and calcium.
- Whole grains contain more protein.
- Whole grains contain more fiber, which helps control blood sugar and contributes to lower cholesterol.
- The fiber in whole grains also helps provide a feeling a fullness which helps the consumer to eat less.
- Whole grains contain essential B vitamins that contribute to a good metabolism - helping the body release energy from protein and fat.

How to incorporate whole grains into your diet
The first thing you’ll need to do to include whole grains into your diet is know what whole grains are and be able to recognize them at the grocery store. Labels on bread products that include “whole grain” or “whole wheat” are a pretty good place to start.

Here are some common whole grains that you can find at the grocery store (some of which you might already be consuming):

- Whole wheat flour
- Popcorn
- Brown rice
- Whole oats/oatmeal
- Millet
- Quinoa
- Sorghum
- Bulgur (cracked wheat)
- Wild rice
- Whole-grain barley

That should be a good little list to get you started on adding whole grains into your diet.

The recommended amount of whole grains to consume per day (if not restricted by health problems) is 3 ounces. One ounce of grain is equivalent to a slice of bread or ½ cup of rice or pasta.

If you plan one serving of a whole grain with each meal, then you can reach that recommendation easily. For example, you could have a piece of whole wheat toast with breakfast, rice with lunch, and a whole wheat roll with dinner. Or maybe you have a small bowl of whole grain cereal for breakfast and a sandwich on whole wheat bread for lunch. The possibilities are endless, you just need to determine what you like.

If you like baking your own bread or making your own pasta, make sure to add whole wheat, or another whole grain, to your grain storage supply.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Necessities for Starting Out On Your Own

Living with your parents or with roommates definitely has its perks, but at some point you learn it’s time to set out on your own. Whether you’re getting married, graduating high school, graduating college, or just starting that next chapter in your life - setting out on your own is something that every person must do at some point in their lives.

But not all of us are very prepared for that moment. There are tons of things that go along with being on your own that might not ever occur to you until you’re in the moment when you desperately need something that you don’t have, like a can opener or a screwdriver.

Well, let me assure you, we are here to help. With partners like The Ivy Apartments, a BYU-I student housing complex, we have compiled a list of some essentials for starting out on your own.

Toolkit
You won’t be able to borrow dad’s toolkit anymore, but unless you plan on doing a lot of building or woodworking projects, you probably don’t need anything too expansive for your toolkit.

Here are some basics that you might find you need at some point:
- Screwdriver. When the shower drain gets clogged with you or your partners’ hair, you’re going to wish you had one of these bad boys to help you open the drain.
- Wrench. A wrench will come in handy with any plumbing issues that you might try to fix on your own.
- Hammer and nails. When it comes time to decorate your new place, you’re going to want these to hang pictures and decorations. Make it feel a little more like home.
- Tape measure. Before purchasing new furniture, you’ll need to measure doorways and room widths to make sure your furniture will even fit.

First Aid Kit
The pharmacy of Mom and Dad is closed for business - at least to you. So it’s time to pick up the essentials in case of any emergencies. You can always pick up a generic first aid kit from a local retailer that will have most of the necessities, but here’s a list of things to keep on hand, just in case:
- Band-aids. You never know when you are going to accidentally nick yourself with a razor or slip while chopping veggies.
- Antibacterial ointment. This will come in hand with any cuts or scrapes you get to help avoid infection.
- Gauze. This is really just a precaution for larger emergencies that might require stitching - you can also use a towel or t-shirt in a cinch.
- Tweezers. If you ever walk outside barefoot or garden, you’ll be appreciative of these later.
- Pain killers. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen (Tylenol) will come in handy after a hard workout, during that time of the month, for headaches, or any other lasting pain that you might endure.
- Cough drops and cold medicine. These are one of those things that you don’t ever have when you need it. So keep some with your first aid items.
- Ice pack. Keep an ice pack in your freezer for sore muscles or bumps on the head. Frozen chopped veggies work too.

Bathroom Items
Living on your own, you’ll realize certain items are better to have on hand than to have to go out and buy them. Some of the items that you’ll want in your bathroom are just such items.
- Toilet plunger. The last thing you want is for your toilet to go unclogged if this issue ever arises.
- Toilet cleaner and scrubber. If you ever plan on having guests over - or just like your home to feel clean - this is a good thing to have.
- Windex. Bathroom mirrors accumulate all kinds of mess, from hairspray to toothpaste to water spots. Keep a window/mirror cleaner in your bathroom to clean up every once in a while.

Kitchen Items
You’re probably aware of most of the basic kitchen items that you will need. But here are some commonly forgotten items to add to your checklist before you move out.
- Pizza cutter. It’s just easier to cut pizza with a rotary cutter than a large knife.
- Can opener. When you have a sudden desire for a tuna sandwich, the last thing you want is to realize you don’t have a way to open your can of tuna.
- Ice cube tray. Odds are, you aren’t moving to a place with a super modern refrigerator that has an ice maker, so this little thing might come in handy.

Make sure you have everything you need before moving out on your own. But don’t fret, even if you do forget an item or two, just make a note of it and plan a trip to the store. You’re going to be just fine.

Monday, April 16, 2018

7 Reasons Potatoes Should Be on the Dinner Menu Tonight

Don’t know what to make for dinner? One word: potatoes.
It can be tough to come up with creative and healthy dinner ideas every day for your family.
It’s equally as hard to find a meal that will also appeal to all tastes; something that everyone will want to eat and enjoy.
As the chef, you want to find a dish that has all these qualities and above all doesn’t take too long to make.
So what’s out there that checks off all the items on your list?
Most would agree that this one thing probably does and that one thing is potatoes.
Here are seven reasons potatoes should be included on your dinner menu tonight.
1. Super simple
There are so many simple healthy potato recipes that will have both you and your family smiling from ear to ear after the first bite.
Most are super easy to throw together, even last minute, and usually require just a few simple ingredients.
Even served with just salt and pepper, potatoes still taste super good and are the best side dish.
2. So many options
The crazy and amazing thing about potatoes is that there are so many different ways to prepare them.
You can have them in a casserole, baked, fried, mashed, you name it and it can probably be done. You can even throw them in the microwave if you are in a bind.
You can have them as a side dish or even the main course.
3. So healthy
As was said earlier, if you need to find simple healthy potato recipes there are so many to choose from.
The great thing about potatoes is that you can usually combine them with other veggies and things that are good for you to ensure that your meals are high in vitamins and minerals but lower in calories.
For example, potatoes are high in vitamin A, vitamin E, and super high in vitamin C. In fact, one potato has up to 70% of your daily vitamin C intake. Also, it's a great source of protein, fiber, and potassium.
4. Many different types
If you are tired of just the same old baked potato, there is good news: there are so many types of potatoes to choose from.
These different types of potatoes mean there are so many different types of tastes and dishes you can make, ensuring a variety of flavors.
If you wanted to, you could never make a potato the same way twice.
5. Long-lasting
Another potato benefit is that they are easy to store and have a long shelf life if you aren't in the mood for potatoes tonight.
All you have to do is make sure you keep them in a cool, dark place and they should be good to go for the next couple of weeks, like when you really need to kick dinner up a notch.
6. Keep you fuller longer
Ever eaten dinner and then a couple hours later find yourself rummaging through the cupboards trying to find something to eat?
With potatoes that shouldn't be an issue. In fact, potatoes are a healthy carb that helps your body to feel full and stay full.  They are high in what is called resistant starch which activates every fullness trigger in your body.
It just goes to show that potatoes are great insurance to prevent midnight snacking.
7. It’s all you need
Technically speaking, one could survive on potatoes alone pretty well, according to Livescience.com. Well, potatoes and milk that is.
We know you and your family probably want a little more variety in dinner, and it’s a good reminder that throwing in a potato dish or two with dinner, or any meal really, is a great idea.