I love chips and dip, but know this snack is fattening. Any suggestions?

Closer!Creative Commons License Nothing is quite as satisfying as a snack you can dip and dunk. That explains why Americans are in love with chips and dip, spending billions a year on chips alone. We all know the chips are loaded with calories, fat, and salt, but even the dip can be deadly. A half cup of regular guacamole has almost 200 calories, 86% of which comes from fat. Add a handful of chips and you are downing the calorie equivalent of a Quarter Pounder. Hey, there’s no law that says a dip-feast has to be unhealthy. In fact,  you can have your dip and eat it too, yet leave the guilt and calories behind. Just substituting fat-free mayo, sour cream, or cottage cheese for those full-fat items in your favorite dip can make a huge dent in the calories and fat.  Replace the chips with healthier dunkables, such as:

1) Cut whole wheat bagels into thin strips and bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, or until crisp.

2) Split whole wheat pitas and cut each half into 8 wedges, place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes or until crisp.

3) Cut corn tortillas into 8 wedges, place on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 9 minutes, or until crisp.

4) Scoop your favorite dip with a platter full of cut up veggies – raw broccoli, cauliflower, baby carrots, jicama, radishes, mushrooms, celery, or lightly steamed asparagus.

5) A perfect way to get your 4+ servings of fruit is to use them as dunkables, such as strawberries, sliced persimmons or apples, watermelon chunks, orange sections, or mango strips.  Photo credit: Marcelo Alves via Compfight

I noticed recently when buying organic milk that it has a really long shelf life and when I looked it up found that this milk undergoes a process called ultra pasteurization. Looking inot this further there is some controversy about the Ultra pasteurization process that makes this milk have such a long shelf life. They said the milk has the same nutrients but it has lost the enzymes that help us digest the proteins, which could be the cause of many having lactose intolerance. How do I choose what is better for me?

milk   Choose organic if you are concerned about the environment, but don’t expect it to be any more nutritious than regular milk. The enzymes that help you digest food are in your body, not in the milk. If there were any enzymes in a food, since they are proteins, they would be denatured and broken into amino acids along with all the proteins in foods by stomach acid, thus entering first the small intestine then the blood stream as their component parts. They do nothing to help with digestion.  Photo credit: Ashley Fisher via Compfight

I recently have been hearing a lot about coconut milk and almond milk, but I noticed on the package that the coconut milk has no protein like regular milk and not sure about the guar gum and other things added to the almond milk. Do you think these should be replacing milk in our diets?

Discovery 13/365Creative Commons License  Unless you have a lactose intolerance and can’t digest milk without adverse GI tract effects, then there is no reason to replace low-fat or nonfat milk with the trendy milk of the day. Cow’s milk not only is a good source of protein, but it also is a good source of vitamins, like vitamins D, B6, B2, and B12. The calcium is much better absorbed from cow’s milk than other milks that must be fortified to reach the levels found naturally in milk. If you still prefer the taste of these trendy milks, check the label and make sure they are fortified to resemble cow’s milk, such as with the above nutrients and choose the low-fat versions.  Photo credit: Benson Kua via Compfight

I know processed foods are bad for us, but can you explain why?

originUse your imagination and picture our ancestors lives thousands of years ago. Day in and day out, generation after generation for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years every single one of our ancestors was a hunter /gatherer. Even if you only go back as far as our own species of Homo sapiens, which appeared on the scene 40,000 years ago, every single one of our ancient grandparents for 30,000 years was a hunter/gatherer. All of our ancient ancestors ate only fruits, roots, legumes, nuts, and other plants with a little lean wild game, honey, and eggs. There was no refined grains, no refined sugar, no processed food, no food additives. Yet the bones of these ancestors reflect a level of fitness similar to today’s well-trained athlete. There is also evidence that those who weren’t killed by saber tooth tigers or who didn’t die of an infection, lived robustly into old age.

Then came farming. About 8,000 to 10,000 years ago, our ancestors discovered agriculture and settled into larger communities. They became less physically active and ate more, but from less-varied diets. The Industrial Revolution hit 200 years ago and further reduced daily activity, while escalating food processing. For 100,000 generations people had been hunters and gatherers. Compare that to the 500 generations people have been farmers, the 10 generations since the Industrial Age, and the one generation since computers and you see that there have been major changes in how we live and eat in a very short period of time.

Therein lies the problem. It takes tens of thousands of years for the body to adapt to even small changes in the environment. Our biochemistry and physiology remain fine-tuned to diets and activity levels that existed before 10,000 years ago. That means diets rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, legumes, extra-lean meats (typically wild game, not domesticated meat), seafood, and other real, unproccessed foods that we now call “healthy.”