Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Decisions decisions

Following on from yesterday's blog here's some examples on how to make good food choices based on some reader questions. As usual please feel free to send in any questions you want answered on the blog.

At work if I have a choice of white rice or noodles with my stir fry which is better?
It depends if the rice is basmati rice. Quick cook white rice can have a GI of 70+, whereas basmati is 45-55, so if it's not basmati then the egg noodles are a better option, they are processed so not a wholegrain but still an okayish  GI of 57.
See www.glycemicindex.com to check the GI of foods.
Noodles will contain wheat and egg so you'll need to have rice if you have an intolerance to either.
Wheat can make even those not intolerant fairly sleepy so check how you feel.

What are the best carbs to cook with dinner?
When choosing carbs to cook with you want to go with those which have the least processing and the lowest glycemic index. Good choices are new or sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa and bulgar wheat. If you're having pasta go for wholegrain or al dente spaghetti which is also low GI. Couscous is refined wheat so quinoa or brown rice are better options.

What is the healthiest way to cook fish – bake in a foil, or shallow fry in coconut oil?

Baking is better as it won't get to as high temperatures as frying. The higher the temperature the more free radicals will be created and the heat also damages the healthy fats making them harmful, so when cooking foods with fats in be conscious of the temperature.  When you do fry coconut oil is a good option though - as a saturated fat it oxidizes at a higher temperature than olive oil.

What are good breakfast options to bring into work for someone who has to eat at their desk? Is a 0% fat yoghurt with a banana a good choice?

This is a good combo of carbs and protein - natural yoghurt is a good protein choice as it's low in saturated fats and has beneficial bacteria, but not if you have a lactose intolerance. Look for natural unflavoured yoghurts, rather than just low fat, as the flavoured ones always have added sugar. A banana is also a good option, tropical fruit is higher in the glycemic index and therefore best eaten in the morning or before or after exercise.
Eating dairy everyday could lead to an intolerance so it's a good idea to mix up your options. Without a canteen hot options like eggs or porridge aren't available but there are plenty of other portable solutions:

- Keep some muesli (low GI and wholegrain) at work, find one with plenty of nuts and seeds for protein and essential fats, buy gluten free if regular muesli makes you feel tired. Serve with organic soy milk if you aren't intolerant for extra protein. Cereals are another easy option but most contain wheat, added sugar and/or highly refined carbohydrates.

- Make yourself some high protein breakfast bars such as these from Elanas pantry and have with a piece of fruit
- bake some high protein paleo bread and make a jam and nut butter sarni with slices of apple and meridian cashew or almond butter (essential fats).
- Sandwiches are another option - this may seem odd for brekkie but they are highly portable and quick to make at home. Go for low-fat high protein fillings such as tuna, boiled eggs (1 yolk per 2 whites), salmon, mackerel, tofu, hummous and add some raw salad veggies. Make with wholegrain veg (low GI), gluten-free if you're gluten intolerant, even better toast it first to make the bread even lower GI.

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