We can always depend on December to bring quite a flurry of activity. As we are still digesting our Thanksgiving meal, we are blasted by the holiday sales, shopping excursions, decorating, gatherings, giving opportunities, and travel. December is mostly a wonderful time, but often some anxiety and exhaustion creep their way into our minds, not to mention the eating opportunities that start to creep their way into our waistlines. With the holidays quickly approaching, and the end of 2022 in sight, it is a great time to think about what your health priorities will be in 2023.
As I have been working with people on their weight loss goals for over 30 years now (o.m.g…), I have experienced the intensity of what it takes to lose weight and maintain weight loss. I have also observed the growth in diabetes, including the creation of the term “prediabetes.” Prediabetes was not even a thing way back when, or at least something of which we were scientifically aware. It was not until 2003 that the American Diabetes Association issued guidelines and coined the term “prediabetes” to better motivate doctors and patients to take diabetes risk seriously.
Today’s latest statistics show 38% of US adults have prediabetes, but only 2 out of 10 are even aware that they have the condition. This lack of knowledge is scary, as prediabetes left untreated can begin to do damage to your body. The extra sugar floating around in your bloodstream causes inflammation in your blood vessels, which can lead to damage to your heart, kidneys, and blood vessels. Not pleasant facts, but there is good news!
Prediabetes can be reversed. I will repeat, prediabetes can be reversed. But it takes hard work…weight loss. And as we know, weight loss is no easy or simple accomplishment, but it can be done. As we gain more weight, especially with aging (another fun fact), our cells become more and more resistant to the effects of insulin. Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas, which allows glucose (blood sugar) to enter the body's cells to provide energy. After you eat, carbohydrates break down into glucose, the body's primary source of energy, which then enters the bloodstream. Insulin is the key to opening your cell doors, allowing you to use your glucose for energy. Without insulin or enough insulin, it is like trying to break into your front door without a key. Most likely, not happening. Hence, you start to have higher amounts of blood sugar floating around in your bloodstream. The key for you - know your number and what it means. There are other important numbers to know, but an important one for prediabetes: A normal fasting blood sugar level (mg/dL) is below 100; whereas, the level of a person with prediabetes is between 100 and 126. Greater than 126 is classified as type 2 diabetes. If you do not know your number, I would suggest this as your first goal for 2023. Knowledge is power.
Back to our good news on the reversal of prediabetes - eating healthy foods, making physical activity part of your daily routine, and obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight can help bring your blood sugar level back to normal range. This takes us right back to our ongoing discussions that when it comes to your health, be the best you can be!!! So here’s to breaking into 2023 with knowledge, power, laughter, celebration, and moderation - making this your healthiest year yet!! Wishing you a very happy and very health new year
THAI CURRY SQUASH SOUP
Everyone I speak with lately is busy making soup. Rightfully so with the chilly temps, as well as the delicious flavors a fresh soup can bring to any meal (or be the meal). I lightened this original recipe by cutting out the butter and oil, using light coconut milk, and simplifying some of the ingredients, without changing the delightful flavors.
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons Thai red curry paste
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch pieces
5 cups of water
2-13.5 ounce cans lite coconut milk
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, smashed and cut into quarters
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
Nonstick cooking spray
Garnish suggestions: 2 scallions, thinly sliced plus about a 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
Spray the bottom of a large soup pot with nonstick cooking and place over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger and cook for about 6–7 minutes, or until the onion is softened. Add the curry paste and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the squash and water and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over low heat until soft, about 25 minutes. Add the coconut milk, lime zest, and lemongrass, stirring to combine. Continue to cook with the lid slightly ajar, for another 30 minutes. Discard the lemongrass.
Working in batches, purée the soup in the blender, making sure to remove the center cap from the lid of your blender and cover the top with a towel (*If you have an immersion blender, go for it!) Repeat until all of the soup has been puréed and returned to the soup pot. Stir in the sugar and lime juice. Add freshly ground pepper and salt to taste. If not serving immediately, store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
When ready to serve, reheat and ladle into bowls. Garnish with scallions and cilantro. Makes 12 1-cup servings.
LEMON PISTACHIO PESTO
It is time for another fresh pesto! It is a simple recipe to create, and one that could be used to sauce up your whole grains, veggies, chicken, tofu, or fish. I did not use any cheese here, but it could easily be added to suit your taste and desires. This could also be frozen in an ice cube tray for about a month or in other freezer-safe containers for about 6 months. Use the amount that works best for your taste buds, as the broth versus excess oil keeps this sauce super light and tasty.
4 cups basil leaves
1 1/2 cups flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup roasted pistachios
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable broth, low sodium
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Place all of the ingredients in a blender. Blend for 2–3 minutes, or until well-combined. If you desire a thinner consistency, add more broth and continue to blend. Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups.
FRESH BERRY PARFAIT
Desserts tend to make a way-too-often appearance this time of year. And at times, indulging is exactly what you should do! But to keep it all in balance, often something sweet and refreshing satisfies that desire without the excess calories. This tasty and simple delight can be a quick breakfast, mid-day snack, or dessert.
1/2 cup vanilla nonfat greek yogurt
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup fresh berries (any combination of blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and/or blueberries)
1 teaspoon mini chocolate chips (optional :), but if you want chocolate, a little can go a long way)
Place 1/4 cup of yogurt in the serving dish. Drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon honey and sprinkle with half of the lemon zest. Place 1/2 cup of berries on top and repeat. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips. Makes one serving.
We cannot bring in the new year without a light and tasty cocktail. This is a simple and refreshing recipe, for hopefully a refreshing year ahead. CHEERS!!!
8 teaspoons raspberry liqueur (ie. Chambord)
2 cups unsweetened cranberry juice
1 bottle champagne or sparkling wine
Measure and place one teaspoon of raspberry liqueur into 8 champagne flutes. Place 8 raspberries into a small bowl. Muddle well with a muddler or the bottom of a wooden spoon. Scoop out with a teaspoon, placing one teaspoon of muddled raspberries in each champagne flute. Fill the glass about a third to halfway with unsweetened cranberry juice. Top off with champagne and garnish each glass with a raspberry.
For comments, thoughts, requests, or anything else you feel the need to share, please do!
Zand A, Ibrahim K, Patham B. Prediabetes: Why Should We Care? Methodist Debakey Cardiovasc J. 2018 Oct-Dec;14(4):289-297. doi: 10.14797/mdcj-14-4-289. PMID: 30788015; PMCID: PMC6369626.
Elgart JF, Torrieri R, Ré M, Salazar M, Espeche W, Angelini JM, Martínez C, Martínez J, Giampieri C, Etchegoyen G, Ricart JP, Rodríguez ME, Gagliardino JJ. Prediabetes is more than a pre-disease: additional evidences supporting the importance of its early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Endocrine. 2022 Nov 9. doi: 10.1007/s12020-022-03249-8. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36352336.
The rebellious Rd
As a longtime promoter of healthy cooking and eating, Amy's focus is on plant-based eating, with a rebellious twist - that she and no one, needs to be perfect.