“I heard cooking quinoa was complicated…”
Actually, quinoa is more forgiving than rice! Start by rinsing the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. This eliminates the saponins found on the outer layer, which cause it to be bitter. Using a 2:1 ratio of liquid to quinoa, combine them in a saucepan (ex: if you are cooking 1 cup of quinoa, use 2 cups of water). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and you’re done! Once you have the basic technique down, experiment with different herbs and spices while the quinoa cooks; Crushed garlic, fresh thyme sprigs or star anise are all great options. Enjoy as a hot breakfast cereal, toss into a salad, or serve with your favorite meat or fish dish.
“Is popcorn too high in fat to have as a snack?”
Popcorn can be a healthy fat that is low in calories and fat, as long as you are mindful of the preparation and toppings. Purchase popcorn kernels and prepare them at home on the stovetop. Pop them without oil or use a small amount of olive oil, coconut oil or ghee. Once popped, toss with fresh or dried herbs, dust with parmesan cheese or sprinkle with nutritional yeast. Or, create a spin on trail mix by adding to nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
“My doctor told me I have weak bones. What foods can I eat to strengthen them?”
Adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D is essential in keeping your bones strong. Calcium is found in milk and milk products, including yogurt and cheese, as well as canned sardines and salmon (with bones!). Milk substitutes that are fortified with calcium are also good options. Other vegetarian sources of calcium include almonds, tofu packed in calcium solution and green leafy vegetables, like kale and broccoli.
Vitamin D can be obtained by going outside in the sunlight without sunscreen for 10-15 minutes, three times a week. If you live in a cloudy area or if it’s wintertime, choose fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, mackerel or sardines, as well as egg yolks and mushrooms.
Other nutrients that are important for bone integrity include vitamin K, found in green leafy vegetables; magnesium, found in almonds, cashews, and oat bran; and phosphorus, which can be obtained from most foods, including dairy and meat.
In addition to eating the above foods, it is recommended to avoid excess intake of protein, salt, caffeine and alcohol. Also, avoid foods high in oxalates, such as spinach, rhubarb, chard and beet greens, as well as phytates, like beans and wheat bran.