By Dennis Linden
Over half of those over the age of twenty in this country, some 154 million, qualify as being overweight or obese. Another 29 million of us have Diabetes, many as a result of being overweight. Then there are another 23.9 million overweight children who are following the example of their XL adult role models. Diabetes and the extra pounds that half of the population could stand to lose is costing this country billions in both medical and economic resources, not to mention the collateral damage these maladies cause to a person’s overall health and mental well-being.
The most shocking part of the data just enumerated is that both diabetes and being overweight are very manageable, even preventable, with a few lifestyle tweaks. By maintaining a sensible diet in conjunction with some consistent exercise, no matter how minimal, we are all in total control of our weight. One simple way to take that control is to make diet decisions based on the glycemic index [GI] and glycemic load [GL] of foods.
Emphasizing low-GI foods in the diet definitely goes a long way in helping with weight loss and weight maintenance. Foods that are low on the glycemic index promote a slow to moderate rise in blood sugar and insulin as they are digested; this reduces appetite and actually encourages one’s metabolism to burn body fat. Conversely, for those who are overweight, a diet of foods that score high on the glycemic index and load charts have been proven to actually increase appetite and impede effective fat oxidation.
Quickie Glycemic Primer:
- The glycemic index of a food compares its effect on blood sugar level to that of pure glucose, which has a score of 100. White breads, which are made of processed white flour, are at the top of this scale, scoring a “perfect” 100 on the glycemic index. For perspective, a score of 55 or below denotes a low-glycemic-index food; 70 or above is considered very high. Serving size is not a consideration in arriving at a food’s Glycemic Index number.
- The glycemic load, on the other hand, focuses on how much digestible carbohydrates a food contains in a typical single serving, defined as approximately 3.5 ounces. For glycemic load, a score of 20 or more is high, while 10 or less is low.
Since being diagnosed with Diabetes-2 some twenty years ago, these two scores have become the keel that guides my own meal plans. It is hoped that the dishes that are presented in this feature each month will inspire readers to get into the habit of quickly checking the Glycemic Index and Load scores of a recipe’s main ingredients before starting preparation. A quick Internet search will produce many lists showing the glycemic values of food. Here is one that I use regularly: Low Glycemic Load Glycemic Table. There is nothing wrong with enjoying good food; just be aware, and limit, the carbs in meals to reduce waistlines and control blood sugar levels with each tasty bite!
Cauliflower Hash Browns with Baked Avocado ‘n Egg
Unless your professional day involves a chainsaw and a stand of trees that need felling, then starting it with a carb-heavy breakfast that will never be burned off usually results in a serious energy crash requiring a nap by the noon hour! Try changing this carbs-n-coffee approach to breaking the overnight fast with a meal that will both satisfy and energize, but think short-term. Meaning, breakfast calories should be substantial enough to support just the first half of that day’s activity level. After all, that’s why the mid-day meal was invented--to refuel.
Here’s a carb-lite breakfast that tweaks two of America’s favorite high-caloric morning starters. The unusual combo of an egg baked in an avocado is a healthy version of the iconic Egg-in-a-Hole that replaces the empty calories of bread, and offers a double helping of the only kind of good fats, omega-3 fatty acids. Of course, a half of an avocado and one egg is not enough to satisfy an early morning hunger, so add a cauliflower-based substitute for those deliciously addictive, extremely high-carbed hash brown potatoes. The protein in the egg and sausage links, will provide the necessary “fuel” to the body and mind to perform efficiently throughout the morning hours and neither have a gram of carbohydrates!
Cauliflower Hash Browns
Hash Brown Potatoes = GI 72.5 / GL 29, 1 cup = 470 calories, 53% carbs, 41% fat, 6% protein
Hash Brown Cauliflower = GI 32 / GL 1.2, 1 cup = 62 calories, 71% carb, 26% protein and 3% fat
12 ounces (about ½ head) Fresh Cauliflower, grated [GI 32/GL 4.45]
4 Chicken or Turkey Breakfast Sausage Links, chopped into small pieces
½ cup Sweet Onion, chopped [GI 32/ GL 3.2]
1 tablespoon Butter (melted or softened.) 1 small Red Bell Pepper, diced [32/1.9]
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 Lemon, juiced
2 teaspoon Fresh Italian Parsley, minced
½ teaspoon Smoked Paprika
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Dice onion, bell pepper, parsley.
Brown links in a skillet with a little canola oil on medium-high heat, remove and set aside.
In the same skillet add cauliflower, garlic, onion, red pepper.
Sauté until the onions turn translucent, then add paprika, salt, pepper and water.
Cover the skillet and cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 5 minutes.
Return links to skillet, add lemon juice and cook for another 2 minutes.
Garnish with parsley and serve.
Avocado ‘n Egg
1 ripe Hass Avocado [GI 50/ GL 4.3]
2 Fresh Eggs [GI 50 / GL 0.6]
½ teaspoon Pepper
2 Tablespoons Green Onion Tops, chopped (garnish)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Slice the avocado in half and remove the pit.
If necessary, scoop out just enough of the avocado so the egg will fit snugly in the center.
Place the avocados in a small baking dish that has been covered in foil.
(If necessary form ridges with foil to steady the avocadoes so they are sitting flat, not tilting).
Crack an egg into each avocado half.
(Try to crack the yolk in first, then let the egg white fill the rest of the cavity and spill over).
Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, once the egg whites have enough time to set.
Remove from oven, then season with pepper and chopped green onion tops.