Health and Wellness, Nutritionally Speaking

Nutritionally Speaking: Summer Time is Blueberry (picking) Time!

There are many reasons to avoid the empty carbohydrate calories from sweetened foods that are so common in the grocery store; we have an epidemic of diabetes and obesity nationwide. Here are a few dietary tips to improve your health. Instead of high sugar processed treats, enjoy some fresh or frozen blueberries – healthy, delicious and good for you. A favorite snack of mine on these hot summer days is a handful of frozen blueberries. With 15 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of fiber, a cup of these berries is a great choice for an energy packed snack. We have many local farms that sell fresh picked berries – or better yet, get some exercise as a bonus at a U-pick farm, and Organic is always the best option. For a list of farms, including how they grow their berries, pick up a copy of Willamette Farm and Food Coalition guide to farms – Locally Grown, or their website: willamettefarmandfood.org
Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, a board-certified nutrition specialist and nationally known author and expert on weight loss and nutrition, offers the following ten ways we can cut back on our sugar intake (from his book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth):
1.Don’t add it to foods. This is the easiest and most basic way to immediately reduce the amount of sugar you are eating. Biggest targets: cereal, coffee and tea.
2. Don’t be fooled by ”healthy sugar” disguises. Brown sugar, turbinado sugar, raw sugar… it’s all pretty much the same thing far as your body is concerned!
3. Make a real effort to eliminate or reduce processed carbohydrates. Most processed carbs – breads, bagels, most pastas and snacks-are loaded with flour and other ingredients that convert to sugar in the body almost as fast as pure glucose. The sugar gets stored as triglycerides, which is a fancy way of saying fat!
4. Watch out for fat-free snacks. One of the biggest myths is that if a food is fat-free it doesn’t make you fat. Fat-free does not mean calorie-free, and most fat-free snacks are loaded with sugar.
5. Shop for color. The more your grocery basket looks like a cornucopia of color, the better. It usually means you are getting more fresh vegetable and low-glycemic fruits such as berries and cherries.
6. Become a food detective. This tip from author and nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman, who adds, ”To reduce sugar, you have to know where it is first.” Start reading labels.
7. Beware of artificial sweeteners. Unfortunately, they can increase cravings for sugar and carbohydrates. They can deplete the body’s’ stores of chromium, a nutrient crucial for blood-sugar metabolism, and can contribute to insulin spikes.
8. Do the math. Look at the label where it says ”total sugars” and divide the number of grams by four. That is the number of teaspoons of sugar you are ingesting.
9. Limit fruit. (Notice I didn’t say, ”eliminate”). Fruit has sugar, but it also has fiber and good nutrients. Just don’t overdo it. For weight loss purposes, eat two servings a day and try to make most of them low glycemic, such as berries since they are low in sugar.
10. Eliminate fruit juice. It’s a pure sugar hit with none of the fiber and fewer of the nutrients found in the fruit itself.
Researchers have found that freezing blueberries can break up the cell walls and helps us get the full benefits of all of the cell protecting nutrients. At the market or farm, chose blueberries that are deep blue and ripe; they will be at their peak of nutritional benefits. If the berries have a red tinge, put them in the fridge in a paper bag and the natural ethylene gas they produce will help complete the ripening process.
Here is one of our families’ favorite blueberry recipes created by Heather Isely of Natural Grocers and daughter of our company’s founders. Salud!
Blueberry Breakfast Bake
Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked organic gluten-free steel cut oats
1 13oz. can of full fat coconut milk
5 Free-Range or Pasture raised eggs
½ cup maple syrup, divided (ok to use less)
1 tsp. ground coriander

At Natural Grocers in Eugene, where I am the store’s Nutritional Health Coach, we offer free classes that include plenty of information about healthy eating choices, and free one-on-one health coaching sessions (call 541-345-3300). Please “like” our Natural Grocers-Eugene Facebook page. Find our store’s schedule of free classes at: https://www.naturalgrocers.com/store-location/eugene/.
½ tsp. ground ginger
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. vanilla extract
10 oz. butternut squash (frozen ok)
8 oz. Organic blueberries (frozen OK)
1/3 cup Organic golden or Thompson raisins
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1/3 cup slivered almonds or pecan pieces
Coconut oil to grease baking dish
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350° F
Lightly grease a 7-by-11-inch baking dish (an 8-by-8 works too).
Put the can of coconut milk in a blender and mix until well blended.
If you do not have a blender you can mix the coconut milk by hand in a mixing bowl with a whisk.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together one egg, ¼ cup maple syrup, and ¼ cup coconut milk.
In another mixing bowl, mix the uncooked steel cut oats with the coriander, ginger, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Add the egg mixture to the steel cut oat mixture and combine thoroughly.
Add the butternut squash and mix thoroughly.
Spread the combined mixture evenly in the greased baking dish.
Sprinkle the frozen blueberries and raisins on top.
In another mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining 4 eggs, ¼ cup maple syrup, the rest of the coconut milk, 1 tablespoon vanilla, and the nutmeg.
Pour the egg mixture over the top of the fruit. Sprinkle nuts of choice on top (optional). Bake for 1 hour, or until the bake is mostly set with only a small amount of liquid left. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes prior to serving. Enjoy!
At Natural Grocers in Eugene, where I am the store’s Nutritional Health Coach, we offer free classes that include plenty of information about healthy eating choices, and free one-on-one health coaching sessions (call 541-345-3300). Please “like” our Natural Grocers-Eugene Facebook page. Find our store’s schedule of free classes at: https://www.naturalgrocers.com/store-location/eugene/.