What’s Healthy and What’s Not?

I originally posted this on a discussion forum but thought it was a pretty good topic to post here as well.

OK, nutritional wisdom confuses the hell out of me. I’m sure I can’t be the only one.

I’m 40 years old so I was raised in the era of the traditional food pyramid and “3 squares a day”. Beef was good for you, so was Wonder bread and white rice. Anyone else remember the old Schoolhouse Rock cartoon “Beans & Rice is nice.”? Eggs and pork were OK… and milk, lots and lots of milk – it does a body good. And Juice! I just remembered that one, fruit juice was good for you, too. You had to eat breakfast as it was the most important meal of the day. And don’t eat too much sugar or fat.

Then we were told eggs were bad… too much cholesterol. Movie theaters quit using coconut oil in their popcorn because it was deemed too unhealthy. And fruit juice is no better for you than soda. Wonder Bread and white rice are no-no’s, and you have to limit your beef and pork. Eggs are good again, I think so anyhow, not sure the official word this week. And if you ask a Keto fan you can eat all the fat you want. I’m not even sure what the hell the Paleo diet is about but I do know I’m not sure about a diet based on people whose average life expectancy was 33.

Personally I just try to eat a balanced diet with lots of vegetables, lean meats and some healthy carbs. I just can’t get behind a ketogenic diet, it just seems wrong to me, all that fat can’t be good for you – at least not based on everything I was taught for 35 or so years. I’m not trying to argue keto here, I know you people are like a cult when it comes to defending a ketogenic diet. (I kid, I kid… sort of.) I’m just saying to me it doesn’t feel right. My body doesn’t feel right when I eat that much fat and anyone starting a ketogenic diet usually goes through a sickness. I realize a body can get used to a new diet but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you long term. I know reports are mixed, even among the “professionals”, but there are definitely pros and cons to a keto diet that people need to be aware of.   I realize also that for a lot of people it’s helped them find a diet they can stick to and lose weight, I just wish think there should be more consensus on the long-term benefits of the diet before it’s preached as gospel.

However I see where trying to eat healthy can be very confusing for some people because the rules keep changing. Also, you see people losing weight on a diet like keto or Paleo and they start preaching it like gospel, like they are nutritional experts. I saw a post on another forum where someone said they were trying to watch their fat intake and someone replied that they didn’t need to do that because fat was good and they didn’t need to watch it. The original person said, “Oh, OK… I didn’t know that.” They had nowhere near enough information to base their decision on but they just said OK. In another discussion a person was told not to eat breakfast as that wasn’t important but in another discussion someone was told to eat 5X or more a day, even waking up at night to have a shake to keep the metabolism going.

I could go on and on about the points that confuse me, but I’ve pretty much made my point.  I’d love to hear what anyone else thinks about this.

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Spaghetti Squash “Lasagna”

If you follow me on MyFitnessPal or Fitocracy you may have already seen this recipe, it’s one of my favorites.

This dish satisfies the craving for the saucy, meaty, cheesy goodness of lasagna but for far fewer calories.  It also has much lower carbs and overall fat than traditional lasagna.  The recipe makes a large pan and each serving is 1/4 of the recipe, a pretty hearty serving.  Pair this with a nice salad with a vinaigrette and you’ve got an excellent meal under 500 calories.

Spaghetti Squash “Lasagna”
SERVES 4

Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe.

INGREDIENTS

4 cups cooked spaghetti squash
2 links Jennie-O lean Italian turkey sausage (hot or sweet)
1 cup Marinara
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 cup shredded 2% mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic (adjust to taste)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

If you don’t know how to cook a spaghetti squash check out this link – http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/cooking/a/spagsquash.htm

Cook sausage, garlic and onions in a pan and drain any excess fat, if you used lean turkey sausage there probably will be little to none.  Add the peppers and mushrooms and cook until almost soft, pour off any excess water.  Add marinara and heat through then add spaghetti squash, stir to mix and then pour into a casserole dish.   Top with mozzarella and parmesan and chopped oregano then bake in 350F oven for about 15 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbling.  If you choose, and to make this more like a traditional lasagna, you can layer the sauce, squash and cheese in the casserole dish.

BASIC NUTRITION INFO (per serving : ¼ recipe)

Calories: 293 per serving
Carbohydrates: 21 grams
Fat: 15 grams
Protein: 22 grams
I don’t have the exact numbers but this does have a good amount of sodium.

PRO-TIPS

Make sure to get LEAN turkey sausage!  Many people don’t know this but unless the package is marked as lean it probably contains the turkey skin ground up in the sausage.  This really kicks up the fat and calories.  This also applies to ground turkey, ground turkey that is not marked as lean has higher fat and calories than 90/10 ground beef.

If you’re really trying to watch the fat you can use fat-free cheese.  Personally I think you lose too much taste and texture using fat-free and the caloric trade off isn’t worth it.  You can also use soy crumbles if you want to make this vegetarian friendly, just season it with a bit of garlic, oregano and basil.

MMMmmm. Saucy, cheesy Italian goodness.