You don’t have to go no-carb; instead, think slow carb

Source: Npr.org   
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It’s trendy to go low-carb these days, even no carb. And, yes, this can lead to quick weight loss.

But ditching carbs is tough to do over the long haul. For starters, you’re swimming upstream. On average, adults in the U.S. get about 50 per cent of their daily calories from carbohydrates. And, if you truly cut out all carbs, you’ll have to give up fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans — which are the building blocks of a healthy diet.

So, why do carbs get such a bad rap? Well, as we discuss in our new Life Kit podcast, a lot of us are choosing the wrong kind of carbs.

“We’ve known for decades that different foods affect the body differently,” says DrDavid Ludwig. He’s a professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and the co-director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children’s Hospital.

“When you eat a whole-kernel, minimally processed grain … they take a while to digest. Blood sugar rises relatively more gently. You produce less insulin calorie for calorie,” Ludwig explains. Think of whole grains as slow carbs because of this slow digestion. (Other slow carbs include fruits, vegetables, beans and grains.)

Whole grains — which include everything from whole wheat to brown rice to steel-cut oats and farro — are also rich in fibre. A new study published in The Lancet finds that people who eat a diet rich in fibre and whole grains have a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, stroke, coronary heart disease and colorectal cancer. (For more, we have this primer on whole grains. )

Here’s what to visualize: When you eat whole grain wheat bread, you’re getting everything that comes in the wheat kernel. This includes the fibre-rich bran. It also includes the germ, which is the embryo of the seed, so it contains everything that’s needed to nurture new life. Think of wheat germ as a little packet of nutrients, including zinc, magnesium and Vitamin E.

And it’s not just white bread. Many of the packaged snacks we eat, such as pretzels and crackers, are often made from refined starch. So when you eat these foods, that starch can “slam into your bloodstream, raising blood sugar and insulin,” Ludwig says. And this can send a signal to the body to store fat and leave you feeling hungry.

I’ve experienced this. I know if I eat a scone or chocolate croissant for breakfast, I’m hungry an hour later. But, if I eat an egg and a piece of whole grain toast, I’m set until lunch. That’s because I’m getting plenty of fibre — which slows down digestion — as well as fat and protein that leave me feeling sated.

David Ludwig says it’s time we “just get off the roller-coaster” — the cycle of spiking blood sugar and hunger that refined carbs can cause. He says aim to replace refined carbs with whole fruits (the fibre in them slows digestion), beans, nuts, a variety of healthy fats and plenty of protein.

So, what does that look like on our dinner plates? David Ludwig has teamed up with his wife, Dawn Ludwig, a professional chef. They’ve collaborated on cookbooks designed to help people eat smarter.

Here’s how she thinks about building a quick and easy dinner meal. Pick a protein, whether it’s plant-based — such as tofu — or meat. Include some healthy fats, such as olive oil. Chop up some vegetables. “Then, have the wholegrain be the side dish,” she says. To tie the meal together, try one of her sauce recipes below. (For an example of a complete meal, check out this recipe for Dawn Ludwig’s Japanese Buddha Bowl.)

“I do a lot of really simple five-minute sauces that I have in my fridge that I can pull out” for dinner, Ludwig says. She tosses all the ingredients for the sauces in Mason jars and mixes them in the jar with one of those stick-like immersion blender, so there’s not much clean-up involved and they store well in the refrigerator.

And, here’s one final tip for all of you who have a hard time turning down a baguette, croissant or warm basket of rolls: Eat them at the end of a meal.

Why? A small study published a few years back found that, compared with eating bread at the beginning of a meal, people who saved the rolls for the end had a 30 per cent lower peak in blood sugar. Now, this may not have the same effect on everyone, but it suggests that timing matters.

Dawn Ludwig’s 5-Minute Sauces

Cashew Balsamic Dressing

Prep time: 5 minutes. Makes about 1 cup.

2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons water

1/2 cup neutral-tasting oil, such as high-oleic safflower or avocado oil

1/4 cup cashews

Place all the ingredients in a wide-mouthed mason jar or cup that will fit an immersion blender without splashing. Pulse a few times to blend until the cashews are in small pieces but still chunky. Place a lid on the jar. For best results, set aside for at least one hour to allow the flavours to develop. The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for one to two weeks.

Ginger Tahini Dressing

Prep time: 5 minutes. Makes about 1 cup.

1/4 cup tahini

2 tablespoons white miso paste

1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 cup warm water

Place all the ingredients in a wide-mouth mason jar or cup that will fit an immersion blender without splashing. Blend, working the blender into the pieces of ginger until smooth. Add additional water as needed to reach the desired consistency. Place a lid on the jar. For best results, set aside for at least one hour to allow the flavours to develop. The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for one to two weeks.

Moroccan Sauce

Prep time: 7 minutes. Makes 2/3 to 3/4 cup.

1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into thin rounds

3 medium cloves garlic

1 3- to 4-inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled, or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

(optional) 2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Dash of freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground white or black pepper

9 or 10 sprigs cilantro, stems and leaves coarsely chopped

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

Dash of cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)

Place all the ingredients in a wide-mouth mason jar or cup that will fit an immersion blender without splashing. Blend, working the blender in the jar until the garlic, ginger and turmeric are smooth. Place a lid on the jar. For best results, set aside for at least one hour to allow the flavours to develop. The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Thai Peanut Sauce

Prep time: 5 minutes. Makes about 1 3/4 cups.

1 large orange, 4 small clementines or 2 large tangerines, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1/2 cup peanut butter (no sugar added)

1 tea spoons unseasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

Place all the ingredients in a wide-mouth mason jar or cup that will fit an immersion blender without splashing. Blend until the orange is fully blended and the sauce is thick and creamy. Adjust seasoning to taste. Place a lid on the jar. Allow the flavours to develop for one hour or more in the refrigerator. The dressing will keep for about a week.

 

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