I’m fascinated by the link between what we eat and our health. Isn’t it amazing that, by eating the right type of food, we can help prevent things like heart disease and diabetes? Lately, I’ve read a lot of articles about ideas for staying healthy when you cook at home. But instead of talking about what you should and shouldn’t eat, I thought I’d look at health in the kitchen a slightly different way.
Here are my top 10 things you can do in the kitchen to be healthy and stay safe!
- Keep your knife sharp. Although it may seem odd, a sharper knife is a safer knife. If you happen to cut yourself with a sharp knife, it heals faster and hurts less. Dull knives are dangerous, so keep your knife sharp. It will make prep time go faster too!
- Avoid the temperature danger zone. Food-borne bacteria—the kind that can be harmful to your health—really like temperatures between 41 and 134 degrees. It takes about four hours in this temperature range for bacteria to multiple to unsafe levels. So, if you’re cooking things like meat, eggs or dairy, leave those in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. If by accident you’ve left something out too long, it’s best to throw it away.
- Use vinegar as a cleaning agent. Vinegar isn’t just for your food, and bacteria hate it! Plus, I’d rather use a nontoxic substance to clean my countertops than something off the grocery store shelf. I put distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle and use it on countertops, handles and stovetops. Wipe it down with a damp cloth and your kitchen is clean. Just avoid using it on granite and marble countertops.
- Avoid high heat with nonstick pans. Nonstick pans are so popular! In fact, I’m willing to bet most of you reading this have a few in your cupboard right now. Most nonstick pans were made to use with medium heat. Try to avoid putting an empty nonstick pan over high heat longer than a minute. There are chemicals in the coating that can give off gasses at high heat that can make you nauseous, dizzy and like you have the flu. So be safe and either put something in the pan or keep the heat on medium.
- Get rid of flare-ups. We love to grill, and now that the weather is heating up, more and more of us are cooking outside. When we cook a piece of meat that is high in fat, the fat melts. When that fat drips onto the coals or the flame, it causes flare-ups. Try to avoid that if possible because when that happens, tiny carcinogenic particles stick to our food. Instead, cook fatty meats over indirect heat. To do this, ignite a burner on the opposite side from the meat or pile coals to one side. As the fat melts, it will drip onto the empty side with no flare-ups. Once the meat is almost cooked, transfer it to the hot side of the grill for finishing.
- Put out a kitchen fire. Because I cook a lot at home, I have a small fire extinguisher under my sink just in case! But if you don’t have space or don’t cook a lot, there’s a simple solution if you have a fire. First, DO NOT use water to put out the fire, especially if there is a lot of greases. It will just make the situation worse. Instead, smother the fire by putting a lid on the pot or using a dry powder such as flour. Yes, it will make a mess but not as much as a fire!
- Wash your produce. These days, most conventionally grown fruits and vegetables found in the grocery store have pesticides. To limit your intake, make sure you wash all fruits and vegetables (even those with skin that you peel off). Personally, I wash everything as I’m unpacking it. The only things I wash just before eating are berries. They are particularly fragile, and it’s best to give them a rinse before consuming.
- Cook foods to proper temperatures. Did you know that the U.S. Government provides suggested cooking temperatures to help prevent foodborne illness? Here’s a quick guide:
- Fish/seafood: 145 degrees
- Pork: 145 degrees
- Beef: 145 degrees
- Poultry: 165 degrees
- Ground meat: 155 degrees
- Fruits/vegetables/grains/legumes: 136 degrees
- Make treats yourself. Who doesn’t love a treat from time to time? But instead of buying something at the grocery store, make it yourself from scratch. It’s rewarding; you’re likely to appreciate it more and eat less of it. Plus, it might be a fun way to get your children involved too!
- Make your plate half colorful veggies. When cooking at home, I try to make sure at least half of my plate contains vegetables. Most Americans aren’t getting enough servings of fruits and vegetables each day, which can make a significant impact on overall health. Also, fruits and vegetables contain fiber, which makes you feel full faster. Plus, there are so many choices to choose from!
Today one of my patients - also a friend - commented that it's been fun for him during our 10 years together to watch my transition from direct patient care towards more of what he describes as "public health." Even though I care for patients as a full-time clinical cardiologist, I'll admit that in my heart, I have begun to think of my patients also as people who are part of a broader community. How we build and feed that community directly impacts their health as individuals.
My patient is a social worker, and we noted that some of what mental health care providers try to accomplish in therapy is helping patients recognize their value, their worth. Once people remember that they have value, they sometimes change the way they behave. Once they realize that they are cared for, they sometimes start caring more for themselves.
This is the bedrock of Basecamp. We harness our values - respect, compassion, justice, excellence, and stewardship - to build communities. And in turn, our communities build value for their members. More value leads to better self-care, which can then be invested back to build an event healthier community. We call it 'healing it forward,' and I'm excited to see it in practice as our Heart to Start community volunteers at the Oregon Food Bank and the Oregon Humane Society, or our Women With Heart community seeks partners to provide free preventive care.
Turns out that public health is personal after all. It can actually be the most direct personal care that we can give. - JGB
By: Chef Tse from the Apple a Day Cafe!
I love pie. Blueberry, peach, lemon, apple, you name it! And what’s not to love about heaps of fresh, sweet fruit between two layers of flakey, buttery crust?
But lately I’ve been wondering… Is it possible to make a pie healthy? Or is that just some kind of mythical dream we’d like to be true? I decided to put on my baking hat and get to work, and here are five things I learned:
Make it yourself
I find that if I take the time to make a pie from scratch, I appreciate it more. There’s a certain sort of satisfaction that comes with mixing together the ingredients, smelling the amazing aroma coming from the oven, and then the anticipation waiting for it to cool. And if you have little ones at home like I do, they might like to participate. My 2-year-old helped by eating most of the blueberries in the last pie I made!
Start with seasonal fruit
The riper your fruit, the less sugar you need. Don’t be tempted by those peaches in the grocery store. Because they’re not in season and have to travel long distances to get here, they’re picked green and ripened during transport. That means they have less naturally occurring sugar, and to get them to taste decent, you’ll need to add a lot of sugar. When using ripe fruit, I’m able to reduce the added sugar by 50 to 75 percent.
Where can you find the best fruit for pie? Try your local farmer’s market. Most markets have a rule that you cannot sell what you did not grow. That means whatever is being sold is being grown close to you. As an added bonus, you’re supporting a local farmer and prices are usually better than at the average grocery store.
This time of year, it’s tricky to find produce that is in season. My suggestion is to go for apples or pears. If you really want that peach or blueberry pie, however, frozen fruit is usually a good option. It’s picked when ripe, frozen quickly and then shipped to your store. If you do opt for frozen fruit for your pie, don’t thaw it. Just add another 20 to 30 minutes to your baking time.
Here are some of my favorite fruit combinations and the best time of year to make them:
Apple-cranberry – fall/winter
Peach-blueberry – summer
Nectarine-raspberry – summer
Pear-walnut – fall/winter
Rhubarb-strawberry – late spring
Apricot-blackberry – summer
Add an acid
Just like salt, sugar enhances the flavor of food. But since I’m trying to be careful about how much sugar I put in the pie, I’m going to add some acid. Acidic foods – think lime and lemon – also enhance food’s flavor, so adding some citrus juice and zest can help cut down on the amount of sugar needed.
Skip a crust – or two
I know crust tastes great, but removing one (or two) makes your pie a lot healthier. Think about this: The average crust has about nine tablespoons of butter. Multiply that by two and a whole pie has 18 tablespoons of butter – that’s over one cup of butter! That means a whole pie has about 126 grams of saturated fat and a single slice contains 60 percent of your daily recommended allowance for saturated fat. That’s a lot in my book!
Instead, try skipping the bottom crust. For the top, cut fun shapes (leaves, hearts or stars) out of a crust and place the shapes on top. That way you’ll still get to enjoy the flakey layers but you won’t be getting all the fat. Or better yet, turn your pie into a crumble instead. I like to top my fruit with a mix of whole grain oats, brown sugar, flour, a little butter and some ground ginger. It gives my “pie” a great crunchy topping that’s packed with flavor but doesn’t have all the fat of a traditional crust.
Savor every bite
Once your masterpiece is cool enough to eat, cut a slice, put it on a plate and sit down at the table. (Keeping the pie in the kitchen won’t tempt you into having another slice!) Take a bite. Enjoy the flavors. Marvel at your handiwork. If we take time to appreciate what we’re eating, we’re more satisfied with a smaller portion.
Any way you slice it, pie is a treat. And that means it should be enjoyed in moderation. So if you’re like me this Pi Day, have your pie and eat it too. Just make some simple modifications so you can you enjoy it and feel good the next day!
Recipe: Peach and Blueberry "Pi"
From the kitchen of Chef Tse
For the filling:
- 4 cups peaches, peeled and sliced
- 4 cups blueberries
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Zest of 1 lime
For the crust:
- ¾ cup rolled oats
- 1/3 cup flour
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together fruits, corn starch, sugar, lime juice and zest. Pour into a 9-inch pie plate.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, flour, sugar and ginger. Using a box grater, grate the butter over the mixture. With your fingertips, gently work the butter into the oat and flour mixture until it looks damp. Sprinkle over the fruit.
- Place your pie on a foil lined baking sheet and bake until fruit is bubbling and crust is brown, about 55 minutes. If using frozen fruit, increase baking time by 30 minutes.
- Let pie cool for two hours until set.
Each serving contains about 272 calories; 7 g total fat (4 g saturated fat), 15 mg cholesterol, 50 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber, 4 g protein and 4 mg sodium.
This is the beginning.
This is where it starts.
It's a chilly night.
I guess it always is during February in Portland, Oregon. Rainy too. But as I walk from my car toward the track, my hand instinctively goes toward the coach's whistle around my neck, which was occupied by a stethoscope only minutes earlier. I see the crowd standing under the lights. I don't feel cold at all.
For the past five years, I have been honored to train hundreds of amazing people in our community to walk or run their first 5K. At its inception, the Heart to Start program was focused on the obvious - get people more active and they will become healthier. But as we have grown, and as we have spread beyond Portland toward Newberg, Oregon and up to Walla Walla and Spokane, Washington, I have been amazed by the impact of creating a community and watching it become healthier before my eyes.
Our athletes come from all walks of life. All ages. All body types. And all health backgrounds. But in spite of their differences, they support each other. They want each other to succeed. And along the way, they have started to move as a community. They have started to act as a community. I see it when we volunteer together at the Oregon Food Bank. I feel it when I watch them dance together as one by one, each one of them crosses the finish line. And I hear it when they tell me their stories of losing weight, of coming off medications, of feeling happier, included, and even loved.
It's the most incredible feeling I have experienced as a doctor. And I want it to grow.
That's why we built Basecamp.
Basecamp is a place where people gather to do something amazing. And the Basecamp Cardiac Prevention + Wellness Center is our place to bring our patients, our heart care providers, and our community together to become the best, healthiest versions of themselves. We have broken down this journey into Tools, Pathfinders, and Peaks.
Our Tools are the small changes we will make to become healthier together. We have outlined five different goals, from finding our best weight to reducing stress to becoming more fit. Our physicians can prescribe these different solutions to our patients, who can take home wellness prescriptions from our Start Small, Finish Remarkable exhibit and put them to practice at home. We plan to provide portable versions of this exhibit to any Providence clinic that wants one.
Our Pathfinders inspire us. Like the heart surgery patient who is now hoping for a spot at the NFL Draft. Like the mother who started with a 5K and now does ultra-marathons. Like the sudden cardiac arrest survivor who now volunteers at Basecamp to develop programs to serve children in our community. We celebrate them and we also learn from them. Our Pathfinders program expands our support group infrastructure to provide solace and friendship to more people in our community, and our new 1:1 peer-support program will match patients with someone who has already been down that road before. Because every climber needs a guide.
Our Peaks are our programs. We passionately teach yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, mindfulness, nutrition, and don't forget about CPR! Our MOViE Series and Basecamp Book Camp will draw our community inward to become inspired by film and text, and our Basecamp Adventure Series will change the way physicians think about Continuing Medical Education. The Apple a Day Cafe serves the tastiest, heart-friendliest meals you will find anywhere, and we'll even give you the recipes.
We are changing the way that we deliver heart care. Because all those steps we have taken together around the windswept track during the past five years taught us something.
Care begins in the community.
And if that community is hard to find, then we are going to create it.
This is the first step that changes everything.
Welcome to Basecamp.
Is your heart ready to exercise again? Jumping back into an exercise routine is never easy, but it should also be safe. Here are some questions you might be asking yourself - and if you have others, please comment below!
Q: I haven’t exercised in ages and I’m overweight. I want to start exercising again. Should I be concerned about my heart?
A: Exercise is generally safe for the vast majority of people. If you have significant, undiagnosed heart disease and want to participate in a rigorous exercise plan right out of the gate, that might not be the best plan. But most everyone should be able to get involved with exercise, such as a walking program using light weights.
If you are concerned about risk factors for heart disease, consult a doctor. Older individuals may also want to check with their primary care physician before beginning a rigorous exercise plan, even if they don’t have risk factors.
Q: What are the common risk factors I should be aware of?
A: Smoking and diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2, are at the top of the list. High blood pressure, family history of heart disease and abnormal cholesterol are also risk factors to consider.
Q: What happens to the heart when someone starts exercising again?
A: Just because you haven’t been exercising doesn’t mean you are at risk. Hearts are designed to pump about 100,000 times a day throughout our lives. Our Paleo ancestors were used to the idea of getting their heart rate up and doing lots of activity. From an evolutionary standpoint, the heart is made to be active.
If you haven’t been as active, your heart might not be as efficient. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t pump well – it’ more about your heart’s ability to accelerate or decelerate. A heart that has been accustomed to exercise pumps more efficiently because it can achieve a higher heart rate, which means the heart is delivering more oxygen to tissues and can recover more quickly as well.
Q: I’m so out of shape and exercise is hard. How do I keep going?
A: Fatigue is not a bad thing. It’s the body’s way of telling you, in an uncomfortable way, that you need to slow down. Training helps push your wall of fatigue. It’s incredible to see how quickly someone training for a 5K or a marathon changes that wall. That’s why it’s so exciting for me to help people train for a 5K.
Part of fitness is your heart’s ability to respond to exercise. With a little time and investment, you can make your heart healthier. You will see that in performance, endurance and enjoyment of physical activity.
Q: Will exercise do any good if I already have heart disease?
A: Even if you have heart disease, regular exercise will reduce the risk of heart attack or death. Studies suggest that even among people with heart disease, exercise reduces the risk of early death by 20 to 25 percent. Other studies indicate that people who are least fit are four times more likely to die of heart disease than the fittest people. Fitness, in this case, was measured by how far people could walk on a treadmill.
Exercise is the best medicine we can prescribe. Being less fit is the biggest factor for heart disease, more than diabetes or family history. Eighty percent of the global risk of heart disease is lifestyle. You have this "80% Opportunity" to reduce your risk of heart disease without any side effects. Exercise also reduces the risk of cancers and other chronic diseases.
The exercise that works best for you may be different for others. I believe all of us are athletes — some of us just don’t know it yet.
See you at Basecamp! Check out our calendar for classes to get you started!
As you enter our space, the first thing you see (beyond our flags!) is our mantra:
This is the beginning. This is where it starts. This is the first step that changes everything. Welcome to Basecamp.
We'd like to share with you the meaning of mantra in this space.
In the Buddhist tradition, words, phrases, or even sounds are repeated over and over again until they create an “emptiness”. This is not “emptiness” in the traditional sense where we imagine an experience of nothing, but rather it is experiencing ourselves in the moment - actually an experience of everything.
In the process of repeating a mantra, you become free.
This freedom, or enlightenment, is believed to give us knowledge to prevent suffering.
The Providence Heart Institute is guided by five core values - compassion, justice, stewardship, excellence and respect.
These values remind me of a very traditional mantra that I was first exposed to sixteen years ago when I worked in Nepal.
It's present everywhere, and it is believed that the more you repeat it, the closer to enlightenment you become.
Om is intended to be the sound of the vibration of the universe. It is intended to reduce attachments to ego and establish generosity - and the core value of compassion.
Ma removes the attachment to jealousy and establishes ethics - or the core value of justice.
Ni removes the attachment to desire and establishes patience, a part of our core value of stewardship.
Pad removes the attachment to prejudice and establishes perseverance.
Me removes the attachment to possessiveness and establishes concentration - leading to the core value of excellence.
Hum removes the attachment to hatred and also establishes wisdom, and the core value of respect.
Compassion, justice, stewardship, excellence, and respect.
In the Buddhist tradition, saying these words oppose our own internal forces that cause suffering, and bring us, as individuals, a bit closer to perfection.
This is the goal. To reduce suffering, and to bring us, as individuals, a bit closer to the perfection we seek, to become our best, healthiest selves.
This is the beginning. This is where it starts. This is the first step that changes everything.
I hope that you will take it with us.
Welcome to Basecamp.
Thank you to the Sivana East Blog for inspiring this post and sharing beautiful descriptions and definitions of mantra that have been paraphrased here.