The morning rush, getting yourself and the kids up, fed and out the door before the sparrows have stirred in the morning is quite a feat for anyone!

The breakfast selection in this morning scurry often falls to convenient sugary cereals and pastries, all of which begin the day with a ‘sugar sabotage’.

These types of sugar laden breakfast foods deliver a sugar overload, spiking the blood sugar providing quick, unsustainable energy. Most likely by mid-morning the ‘sugar crash’ occurs, fluctuating blood sugar levels leaving one reaching out for another snack to get through the day.

Inflammation Nation

Excess sugar now well known to be a major contributor to inflammation in the body; the leading factor in all diseases. When I look out a sea of eager faces at a school presentation, it saddens me that the current statistic is that half of all elementary age student will suffer from one or more totally preventable disease, such as cancer, type 2 diabetes or hypertension!

And that’s the CURRENT fact people…yes it’s probably only going to get worse!

The 2015 USDA government guideline states that the amount of added sugar consumed per capita per year in the USA is 156 Lbs. per year! Wow! and we’re talking here about the sweet stuff that is added to foods, not about naturally occurring sugars in foods such as fruits and vegetables.

Recently I present a health talk and cooking demo centered on healthy breakfast, highlighting a few the worst food offenders in hidden sugars, and demonstrating healthier options. In preparation for this presentation I did a little scouting of typical quick and easy breakfast foods, and what I found was shocking!

Sugar Sabotage

First up, a ‘Spookylicious’ Limited Edition Frosted Chocolate Pop Tart, and when I flipped it over and read the nutrition facts and ingredients (a disaster of damaged fats, high fructose corn syrup and preservatives) oh yes, it was scary!!

poptart

One little 52-gram Pop Tart delivers a whopping 18 grams of sugar! That’ almost four teaspoons of sugar, and I believe most kids would eat at least two of these in one sitting. The 156 Lb. number translates to 50 teaspoons of sugar a day, add a glass of orange juice (10 teaspoons of sugar) with as much sugar as a soda to the meal, well on the way to hitting that high number.

How much added sugar should we be consuming? The current guideline for elementary age children is no more than five teaspoons per day, and eight for middle schoolers, the Pop Tart breakfast took care of that.

So, what are we going to do about it? Save that sugar portion for quality treats, and focus on eating REAL food at meals. Food that is as nature intended, with no unnecessary added sugars, damaged fats and preservatives.

Healthy Breakfast to Go!

I hear you, this can be very time consuming, and so I have created for a breakfast option that you can do ahead, that is portable, and healthy!

Thiss delicious recipe pf overnight Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal with QuinoaI prepared live on WBTV ‘Morning Break’ Show O, prep it ahead of time, and set to simmer slowly overnight in your slow cooker. The key component is assembling your ingredients in a Mason Jar, an inexpensive option these are even available in the freezer safe variety.

Oats in unprocessed form has great healthy benefits such as soluble and insoluble fiber to improve digestion, has been shown to reduce bad LDL cholesterol and curb inflammation. Take away all that good fiber by eating a processed, sugar laden instant oatmeal package, and your breakfast is about on par with the Pop Tart.

instaosts

This recipe calls for steel cut oats, which is the unprocessed, cut raw oats, rolled oats is an option too. Steel cut oats delivers an impressive 5 grams of protein per ¼ cup serving, and in raw form does require a longer cooking time, making it a great slow cooker ingredient.

Protein and healthy fats are key components to slow down the blood sugar spike, I like to add quinoa to this recipe as it adds another 6 grams of protein to the meal. Quick cooking, high in fiber iron and calcium, I keep cooked quinoa in the fridge and add it to salads and meals throughout the week.

To flavor up this power packed breakfast, in time for the Fall I add pumpkin and the healing spices of cinnamon, ginger and turmeric to this recipe, you’re welcome!

The recipe below makes six servings, these can be prepped ahead of time and kept in the fridge, or even frozen (if you’re using the freezer safe Mason jars!!)  Placing the Mason jars in a water bath in the slow cooker is the key to even cooking and not burning the edges. If you don’t have a slow cooker, this could be done in the oven, however you’d need to keep an eye on it and switch the oven off after the cook time is reached.

I hope you enjoy the recipe, post your comments and pictures on the Taste of Healing Facebook page of your breakfast in a jar!

 

Print

Overnight Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal with Quinoa

Healthy overnight oatmeal,  spiced with real pumpkin and healing spices of cinnamon, ginger and turmeric.

  • Author: Carol Green
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6

Ingredients

Ingredients:

2          cups Steel Cut Oats

1          cup Quinoa Cooked

1 ½      cups Pumpkin Puree

8          cups Coconut Milk, or any nut or dairy milk of choice

3          cups Water

1          tablespoon honey or Grade B Maple Syrup, to taste

½         teaspoon Stevia, to taste

½         teaspoon Ginger

½         teaspoon Sea Salt

1          teaspoon Cinnamon

½         teaspoon Turmeric

Optional: Raisins, chopped dried fruit or nuts, coconut flakes, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds.

Instructions

Directions:

  • In a large bowl whisk, together all the ingredients until well blended.
  • Spoon evenly into pint sized Mason Jars, and place lids on.
  • Place the jars in the bowl of the slow cooker, add cold water up until the neck of the jars.
  • Set the slow cooker on medium for six hours.
  • Once the cooker shuts off, it will hold your breakfast warn until serving time.
  • Open carefully and enjoy your portable breakfast!
  • Note: the prepped jars can be kept in the fridge for five days until needed, or frozen.

Notes

This recipe can be prepared stove top, stir on low heat for approximately 10  minutes until done.

Enjoy!

Chef Carol

A multi grain bagel slathered with sweetened fruity cream cheese and coffee for breakfast, sub sandwich with chips and soda for lunch, microwave creamy pasta for dinner; and for snacks, hopefully an apple, but probably a candy bar to deal with the 3.00pm crash…

Sound like the typical ‘healthy’ standard American diet (S.A.D)? The reality of it is just that, with refined carbohydrates making up a large portion of the daily diet, having the most impact on blood sugar as this fuel is converted immediately to glucose or ‘blood sugar’.

Carbohydrates, or ‘carbs’ as they are more commonly referred to are the staple of the American diet and a food group often associated with much misconception and confusion. On the one hand the S.A.D over consumes carbohydrates,  yet on the other extreme they are often avoided completely for weight loss, which long term can lead to a host of health issues.

Let’s take a look at ‘carbs’, the good, bad and the ugly and understand the sources androle of this food group in the body.

Roles of ‘Carbs’

The truth is we really do need carbs in our diet, just not the vast amounts generally consumed. A diet devoid of carbs can be just as detrimental to health as over consumption.

We were designed to run optimally on a balance of unrefined carbs along with good fats and proteins as our primary sources of fuel, the key is all about the balance. Carbohydrates are the ‘kindling’, they provide a quick source of energy for the muscles, where as fats and proteins are the ‘log’ food, slower assimilated, they modulate the entry of glucose into blood stream and keep us satiated for longer.

Carbs also provide fuel for the brain, which requires a constant stream of energy for optimal function, and are the primary source of fiber, so important for good elimination of waste from the body.

Too much of a sweet thing..

Sugar is everywhere, ketchup, store bought pasta sauces, bread and the obvious culprits like sodas and cookies, creating a  sugar addiction that has blunted the palate. According to the USDA the average American consumes anywhere between 170 and 200 pounds of refined sugar, that’s a staggering increase considering in 1821 the average consumption was 10 pounds per year!

The effects on health are devastating, creating an emergency need to lower blood sugar, all this refined sugar causes a cascade of serious health issues and strips the nutrients that regulate blood sugar, especially thiamine (B1).

All in the balance

To really understand the impact on health, lets take a look at the organs that work together to manage blood sugar regulation;  the pancreas, liver and adrenals.

The liver and pancreas work together to manage day to day blood sugar regulation, while the adrenals manage the emergency ‘flight or fight’ response. It is a delicate balancing act, the body’s intelligence constantly monitoring the amount of glucose in the bloodstream to maintain balance.

Carbohydrates are incoming and in response blood sugar elevates, the pancreas secretes insulin, which signals the liver to store glucose as glycogen for later use. In between meals blood sugar dips,  and in response the liver is stimulated to convert glycogen back to glucose to bring back blood sugar back to the mid range.

This is the normal functioning, however the SAD diet eating excess sugars, and then skipping meals cause a yo-yo cycle of extreme high and low blood sugar, putting stress on the body.

The organs take a hit

In an emergency situation created for example by stress or shock, normal blood sugar plummets, the liver will try to keep up and the adrenals will kick in to release hormones, and trigger the release of stored energy. The adrenal medula is signalled to release hormones which reinforce and prolong fight or flight response, all  non essential  functions such as digestion and immunity are put on hold. It takes takes 24 hours for the adrenals to recover from flight or flight situation, chances are with constant stress they do not recover and wear out.

Stress is not the only factor causing long term problems, a diet low in proteins and fats and high in refined carbs impacts blood sugar very quickly and over time overburdens these vital organs. The pancreas eventually wears out, producing insufficient quantities or quality of insulin, the liver can have difficulty converting glycogen to glucose and  the adrenals go into a state of exhaustion.

Wearing out the organs of blood sugar regulation, we also become resistant to our own hormones such as insulin, and soon you have exhausted the capacity to respond to insulin, which leads to type 2 diabetes being clinically diagnosed. The slippery slope is set, hypoglycemia leads to hyperglycemia (insulin resistance) which leads to type 2 diabetes, and all because of poor diet and lifestyle choices.

The good, bad and the ugly 

So what should we be eating? Everyone will have a bio-individual need for the optimal amount of  carbohydrates in the diet, however a good starting point is around 40% of the daily diet. That number further broken down should consist of 25% fruits and vegetables, and 15% starchy carbs, such as grains and starchy vegetables.

The Good Carbs

The good carbs exist in nature in the most pure, unrefined form possible and  that hold key nutrients; these energy providing carbohydrates deliver vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, enzymes, protein, fat, and fiber, all the bodybuilding and digestion regulating components needed in the diet for optimal wellness.  These include whole fruits and vegetables, unrefined legumes, and properly prepared whole grains, un-messed with real food.

Grains are a food largely under fire as gluten allergies and intolerances are so wide spread; very often it is the lack of proper preparation through soaking and fermenting, in order to make them more bio available to the body that exacerbates these problems. (more on this in the post on preparing grains)

The Not so Good, Bad and the Ugly

Strip away the fiber, and you have the bad carbs; these are the good guys gone bad, literally! Refined, with the key fibers and nutrients missing, these carbohydrates are man made concoctions which are hostile to life.  The impact on blood sugar is swift and digestion of ’empty’ carbs actually depletes the body’s own reserves of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.

Who are the bad guys? ‘white’ refined grains, such as white rice vs brown, unrefined rice, refined sugars and added sugars to food. These supply empty calories with few nutrients, and are the staple of the American diet, think ‘white’ hamburger bun, pizza crust, refined breakfast cereals with added sugars, usually in the form of high fructose corn syrup.  A cheap sugar derived from corn, usually genetically modified, this has largely replaced sweeteners like cane sugar and honey and is in practically everything.

The take away

In moderation, carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet. The key is in choosing the most unrefined form possible, and enjoying them along with some healthy fats and proteins to slow down the assimilation and impact on blood sugar. Enjoy your  sourdough or sprouted grain bread, with a generous pat of beautiful, farm butter, healing with real food never tasted so good!

In Health and Wellness,

Carol