This is the post you will find at Food and Nutrition Magazine blog "Stone Soup" from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:Stevia: What is it?
People usually think of stevia as the increasingly popular non-nutritive sweetener that is relatively new in the food industry. But actually, stevia is a genus of about 240 species, and only one of them is naturally sweet: Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni
, also known as sweetleaf.
The stevia leaf contains two kinds of compounds: steviosids (200-300 times sweeter than sugar) and rebaudiosides (300-400 times sweeter than sugar). The compound that is being used as a tabletop sweetener or general-purpose sweetener in foods is called rebaudioside A. In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration approved rebaudioside A — purified from Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni
— as a Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) substance due to the fact that there has been no evidence of any health risk associated with its consumption. However, the FDA has not approved the use of whole-leaf stevia or crude stevia extracts as a food additive. In the U.S., whole stevia leaves are sold as dietary supplements under the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act of 1994. Where it comes from and its history?
The stevia plant is native to South America, especially Paraguay, but also the northeast region of my country, Argentina.
As I said, stevia is now commonly used in the food industry, but its use dates back to Pre-Columbian times. Theguaranies
— indigenous people from this region of South America — used the plant as a sweetener for mate
tea and other drinks for hundreds of years, but it didn't attract the attention of Spanish colonizers at that time. It wasn't until later, in 1884, that the guaranies
presented stevia to Swedish scientist Moises Bertoni. With the collaboration of his friend, Ovidio Rebaudi, Bertoni performed the first studies on stevia and described and named its active compounds, rebaudiosides and steviosids. Since then, the stevia plant has been introduced in other countries like Japan, France, Spain, the U.S., Canada and China, one of the main producers of stevia today.What are stevia's benefits and risks?
Stevia has the same benefits other non-nutritive sweeteners have, which are that it contains no calories and has no effect on blood sugar, making it ideal for people losing weight or with diabetes. It's also used as an herbal supplement — supported by low-quality studies that suggest health benefits such as management of hypertension and high blood sugar. (See conclusion from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Evidence Analysis Library
On the risk side, after years of research, there is no conclusive evidence about the potential dangers of stevia for human health. In animal trials, however, stevia was associated with an increase in infertility.Bottom line
Remember that all sugar substitutes have some good and bad features, and that natural is not the same as safe (poisons are natural and can kill you!). Even natural sweeteners can be unhealthy, especially if used in excess. Rebaudioside A is safe when used, in moderation, as a non-nutritive sweetener.
This month I wrote an article about mate tea in the Food and Nutrition magazine Stone Soup- check it out:
"Do you know mate? No, it's not some new Australian dish! Mate (pronounced MAH-tay) is a traditional tea-like beverage, popular and traditional in South American countries including Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, southern Chile, eastern Bolivia and southern Brazil. But now, mate is gaining worldwide popularity and rapidly penetrating global markets including the United States. As an Argentinean, seeing mate products at the FNCE 2012 expo was a nice surprise! But what exactly is it? Mate is an infusion drink made by brewing the dried leaves of the yerba mate tree (Ilex Paraguarensis). In South America, mate is typically drunk out of a dried gourd using a metal straw with a strainer called a bombilla. To make the drink, about two ounces of dry leaves are packed into the bombilla, hot water is poured in to steep, and the drink is enjoyed. More water is added multiple times until as much as half to one full liter of water has passed over the leaves....
see the full post hhttp://foodandnutritionmagazine.com/all-about-mate-tea
Again I was invited to blog in Stone Soup, the blog of Food and Nutrition Magazine
from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
This time the subject was meat, so Argentina couldn't be out.
Here is the post:
"If you think the Americans are the world's biggest beef eaters, think again. Argentineans and Uruguayans lead the way, consuming around 132 pounds of beef per person per year. Meanwhile, Americans eat about 95 pounds of beef a year; Australians, 86 pounds; and Brazilians, 79 pounds. Most Argentinean beef is produced for internal markets, whereas Uruguay exports most of what it produces.
In Argentina, where I live, beef is a point of national pride. It's a key component of the traditional cuisine that began in the 19th century, when there were thousands of cattle in the Pampas region, and beef became a staple in the diets of our version of cowboys, called gauchos
You may have heard about superior quality of Argentinean beef. I'm trying to be impartial, but it really is
the best. But why? The most important differentiating feature between beef from South America and the rest of the world is our soil and mild weather. Together, they make great conditions for animals to pasture freely on the prairie—grass-fed beef is still the norm here.
Grass-fed beef not only has quality advantages over feed-lot systems; it seems to be better for your health too. Beef from pastures is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and contains higher proportion of healthy omega 3 fatty acids when compared to that from feed lots. Beef from pastures also is the richest natural dietary source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is believed to have anti-cancer properties.
When it comes time to cook, Argentineans like to keep things simple. Asado,
beef grilled on an open fire pit, is Argentina's signature dish and it's a must whenever we gather with friends and family. Parrillada
is a mixed-grill platter that usually includes sausages and organ meats—also called "offal" in English—like kidneys, sweetbreads, intestines and blood sausage.
We typically don't add much seasoning to grilled beef besides a little chimichurri
(an Argentinean herb-dressing) drizzled after cooking. Beef is also served in many other ways like milanesas
(deep-fried breaded beef) andempanadas
It is said that Argentineans make use of every body part of the cow—and that's pretty close to the truth! Besides the organ meats of parrilladas,
other traditional dishes use beef tongue (lengua a la vinagreta
, meaning: "tongue in vinaigrette"), stomach lining (guiso de mondongo
: "stomach lining stew"), liver (higado con cebolla
: "liver and onions") and brain (ravioles de seso
: "brain-stuffed ravioli"). This commitment to using as much of a cow as possible is also why Argentinean leather goods are recognized around the world for their quality.
Not all people like organ meats (like me, for instance). Because these dishes usually require more time for preparation (especially to ensure food safety) and slow cooking, modern Argentineans—just like modern Americans—tend to choose more simple options. But, we must not forget that organ meats are a low-cost source of protein and other nutrients like iron, zinc, phosphorus, copper and B vitamins. The Argentinean Food Guidelines (Guias Alimentarias para la Población Argentina
) recommend choosing between kidney, liver, tongue and stomach lining. The other organs are higher in fat and cholesterol.
To get a taste in America for how South Americans eat, look for a good "parrilla
"—an Argentinean restaurant. Or, cook some U.S. grass-fed beef the Argentinean way. Here is an easy recipe I created for the Eat Well Argentina app (Eat Well Argentina is part of Eat Well Global
, a collection of nutritionist-led guides to eating well around the globe.)"
See the rest of the post here
Today I came across with a recent study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
saying that drinking several cups of coffee may protect against colorectal cancer. It can cut the risk of having a tumor by between 15 to 25%. Even though it was a large study (almost half a million people), the research has its limitations and I believe that in order to decrease the risk of developing bowel cancer one have first to make sure that is following a healthy diet and making enough exercise. Anyway, it is known today that coffee health benefits outweigh its risks. From cancer prevention to cardiovascular health, from reduced risk of Alzheimer disease to liver health, later studies have changed the way we see coffee and how we recommend it to our clients.
Talking about coffee, I would like to share Argentina's coffee culture. For many Aregntineans the a.m. energy drink to start the day is mate, but for many pthers a cup of java is the morning savior. We use about 1 kilo of coffee per capita per year vs 5 kilos in the U.S. (I think the difference occurs because of the people that choose mate over coffee). Following the European heritage, coffee is widely consumed in Argentina there are more than 11.000 cafes in Buenos Aires. It is typical to stop in a cafe bar and linger over a cup of expresso even for hours! ( contrary to the U.S. rush culture of having a starbucks coffee on the go...). However, the Starbucks landing in Argentina few years ago was a success and many other coffee shops started to sell coffee to go, something relatively new for us.
I wonder how is the coffee culture in other countries...please share! How often do you recommend coffee to your patients? In which situations you don't?
I am very excited to introduce you to Eat Well Global
and Eat Well Argentina
. What’s it all about? Eat Well Global, Inc
is a nutritionist-led travel media to help people to eat well not only at home but also when traveling around the globe.
It was founded by Julie Meyer, RD
, who is a great entrepreneur dietitian, nutrition writer and an awesome person to work with!
So, Eat Well guides
are written by local nutritionists and provide travelers (and why not locals) with exclusive information about typical foods, nutrition trends, food labeling, tips for people with food allergies or special dietary needs, markets, restaurants, and even recipes developed by local chefs. As most travelers today make use of electronic devices these guides are presented as applications (apps) for smart phones and tablets. (IPod touch, IPhone and IPad). Much easier to carry than a book!
Like I said, I have the great pleasure to work with Julie in developing Eat Well Argentina
. This is an example of how dietitians can work together, even when we are located in opposite hemispheres, to improve people’s health. We worked hard to put together all the contents...but what a wonderful learning experience! Guides from other countries are coming up (like China, Greece, Mexico), so check out www.eatwellglobal.com
for your next travel, where you will also find ongoing info on how to eat well across the globe.
I’m happy to announce that Eat Well Argentina
is now available at Apple Store: click here
. If you know foreign students or business people coming to Argentina or expats living here...pass the voice! They would love to hear where to order healthier delivery foods, how to eat vegetarian in the “beef country”, how to read food labels, how to ask for gluten-free (audio is included in the app), where to shop for food and much more! Also, many Argentineans will benefit from this easy-to-use and truthful information developed by dietitians.
Eat Well and be well!
The last part of these FNCE 2011 Highlights is dedicated to present some of the new food products that are being offered today in the U.S. market. The EXPO floor was amazingly big and full of goodies. More than 300 exhibitors presented their products, including specialized food products, food delivery equipment, nutrition assessment tools, computer programs, educational tools, cooking products, food management gear, etc.
Live culinary demonstrations were also showed by chefs and RD teams, with new dishes with quinoa, whole grains, cocoa and others.
Some of the new food products are:
Are your patients/clients tired of the same old liquid supplements? Blue Bunny® presented an ice cream called NUTRI-plus™, a real ice cream loaded with nutrients ideal for those that are not eating well. It comes in orange, vanilla and cherry chocolate flavors. A 4oz. cup contains 240 calories, 9 grams of protein and 10-20% of the daily value of most vitamins and minerals.
Nutritionally balanced meals ready to eat. Go Picnic™ makes boxed lunches that need no refrigeration, heating or preparation. They are easy to carry and are meant to be enjoyed anywhere. Also made with clean ingredients, with no trans fat, no added monosodium glutamate (MSG), no high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and no artificial flavors or colorings. My favorites were salmon + crackers and hummus + crackers, but in my opinion they are more like snacks than a “meal” as they lack in many components of My Plate....
No excuse not to eat fruit. Crispy Green® presented its new snack fruit: Crispy Cantaloupe, which is another of their freeze-dried fruits available in convenient single-serving (15-gram) bags or a "Grab and Go" 6-pack. It’s 100% fruit and nothing else!
Medical Nutrition going organic. PediaSmart® SOY is a complete formula designed to be used as a supplemental beverage or to be delivery through tube feedings for children 1 through 13 years. It has no corn, gluten, GMO ingredients.
YERBA MATE FOR EVERYONE! I was surprised to find the tradicional argentinean drink in one of the Expo booth. They offer the traditional loose herb (yerba mate) and a great variety of tea bags with flavored mate drinks as well as cold mate drinks. When I told them I was Argentinean they used me to test their products!! They taste real and are authentic as the yerba mate is imported from Argentina, Paraguay and south of Brazil. To learn more about mate click here.
Jack Canfield on FNCE 2011 closing session
Finally, I want to highlight the closing session which was very inspiring and motivating. Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul among other books, presented the Success Principles. My favorite quote was "If you want to be really successful, and I know you do, then you will have to give up blaming and complaining and take total responsibility for your life -- that means all your results, both your successes and your failures. That is the prerequisite for creating a life of success."
I hope you enjoyed these FNCE highlights and please share comments or other news. Thanks!
How much are you willing to pay for organic produce? Can you be sure that it is worthwhile? These are worldwide questions with no straight answer. In Argentina, certified organic production is relatively new as it started about 20 years ago. The extension and richness of the Argentinean soil and the use of little agrochemicals made it easy for conventional farmers to transition to certified organic production. The certification of organics in my country is made by third party organizations. This means that a private agency controls and verifies that the producer is in compliance with the standards and provides them with the organic certification seal that you find in the food label. There are a dozen of certifiers and all of them must be approved and controlled by a national organism called SENASA (Servicio Nacional de Sanidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria).
Argentina is third organic producer country in the world, complying with the strictest standards (European Union, USDA, etc.). Unfortunately, only 5% of the organic production stays in Argentina. I ask myself, what’s the point of using ecological techniques to grow organic apples if you then spend lots of resources (and contribute to pollution) to ship them to Europe? In my opinion it is more important to buy local and seasonal produce. It is likely that they have less pesticides than the ones that need to shipped.
Even though the interest for buying organics has been growing, the internal market is still small. Mainly because their high cost and the lack of massive distribution. Also, many people don’t even think about buying organic because Argentinean regular foods are though to be “natural”.
If you are going to spend in organic produce, I would start with foods from the dirty dozen list. These are foods that -when conventionally produced- are likely to have higher levels of pesticides’ residues (According to the Environmental Working Group).
How is the organic production in your area? Please share your thoughts!
The dirty dozen
· domestic blueberries
· sweet bell peppers
· spinach, kale and collard greens
The national Argentinean drink that fascinates our visitors is mate (pronounced MAH-tay), a tea-like beverage made by brewing the dried leaves of yerba mate (Ilex Paraguarensis). It is also a popular practice in Uruguay, Paraguay, southern Chile, eastern Bolivia and southern Brazil. How is it made? The way to drink mate is by pouring hot water over the leaves in a small pot-like container usually made from a carved, dried gourd (see pictures). The infusion is sipped directly from the gourd with a bombilla, which is a metal straw with a strainer. Visitors are often surprised by the fact that when in a gathering we all drink from the same mate and share the same straw! But, traditionally, mate is shared with people you know, close friends and family. There is one person preparing each mate: “cebador”, who refills the gourd and passes it to the drinker to his or her right, who likewise drinks it all and passes the empty mate to the cebador. If the person says “thank you” at that moment, it means that he or she doesn’t want more mates. The cebador keeps serving mates to the rest of the people in a circle manner. Curiosly, mate it’s something that you don’t order in a café or restaurant. There are a few “mate bars” in Buenos Aires but it’s by far something made at home or even at work.
Mate is not only drunk for its unique flavor, it also represents a ritual of friendship and sharing that can liven up any gathering. Nowadays, mate is gaining popularity all over the world due to increasing health claims. I couldn’t find any scientific evidence, but mate is promoted as a rejuvenator, weight control aid, immune system booster, body cleanser, etc.
I want to share with you something beautiful that a famous morning radio show host Lalo about mate, here is the translation:
Mate is not a drink. Well, okay. It’s a liquid and enters the body through the mouth. But it’s not just a drink. In this country, nobody drinks mate because he’s thirsty. It’s more a custom, like scratching yourself. Mate is exactly the opposite of television: If you’re with someone, it makes you converse. If you’re alone, it makes you think. When someone arrives at your home, the first phrase spoken is “hola” and the second is “some mate?”
This is something that happens at all homes. At the homes of the rich and at the homes of the poor. It happens between gossiping women, between men either serious or immature. It happens between old folks in a geriatric centre and between teenagers while they study or get high. It’s the only thing that parents and kids share without fighting or confrontation.
Peronistas and Radicales have mate without question. In summer and in winter. It’s the only thing that makes us seem both the victim and the executioner; the good guy and the bad guy.
When you have a child, you begin to share mate with them when they ask for it. You give it to them just slightly warm, with lots of sugar, and they feel all grown up. You feel a massive pride when you tiny offspring begins to enjoy mate. Your heart comes out of your chest. Later, with time, children will decide for themselves if they’ll drink it bitter, sweet, very hot, Paraguayan-style, with orange peels, with sticks, with a drop of lemon.
When you meet someone for the first time, you share some mate. Someone may ask you, if you don’t know each other well, “Sweet or bitter?” You ought to respond, “However you drink it.”
The keyboards of Argentina are covered in yerba. Yerba is always available, in all homes. Always. In times of inflation, starvation, military dictatorships, democracy, in the times of our pests and damnifications. If some day, there is no yerba, a neighbour will have it and will offer it. No one is refused yerba.
Ours is the only country in the world where the decision to leave childhood behind and move into adulthood happens this way. Not putting on long pants, circumcision, university or moving away from your parents. Here, we begin to be grownup the day we feel the need to drink mate for the first time on our own. It’s not a coincidence.
The day a kid puts the kettle on and sips mate for the first time with no one else home, at that moment he’s discovered that he has a soul. Maybe he’s scared to death, or he’s deeply in love or something. But it’s not just any day. None of us remember the day we first had mate alone. But it must have been an important day for each of us. Internal revolutions were at work.
Mate is simply nothing more and nothing less than a demonstration of values…...
It’s the solidarity of sticking out through washed-out mates because the conversation is good. The conversation yes, the mate no.
It’s the respect of taking time to talk and to listen; you speak while the other drinks mate and the sincerity of saying, “Enough! Change the yerba now!”
It’s the friendship of that moment.
It’s the sensibility to boiling water.
It’s the affection of asking, stupidly perhaps, “it’s hot, right?”
It’s the modesty of the one who serves the best mate.
It’s the generosity of giving it to the end.
It’s the hospitality of the invitation.
It’s the justice of taking turns.
It’s the obligation of saying ‘thank you’, at least once a day.
It’s the ethical, frank and loyal attitude to get together, without pretensions of doing anything but sharing.
In Argentina and many other Latin American countries, Catholicism is the main religion and is very common the avoidance of meats (other than fish) on Holy Friday. So, based fish dishes such as “Empanadas de vigilia” (vigil empanadas) are very popular at this time of the year. Also “Rosca de Pascua” (a Passover breadroll) is traditional sweet bread originated in Italy with simple ingredients (flour, milk and egg) to compete with the traditional eggs. Chocolate eggs are a must! You can find them in all sizes, colors and filled with a wide variety of candy or mini pieces of chocolate. The tradition of exchanging eggs originated in Europe as eggs are a symbol of fertility in coincidence with Easter occurring during spring. So, Christianity sees eggs as symbol of resurrection. Easter eggs weren’t made from chocolate at first!
As Holy Thursday and Friday are holiday in our country, many people uses these days for tourism.
How is Easter celebrated in your area? Do you have any traditional recipe to share?
I love cooking. I started to cook with my mom when I was a kid, she is my teacher and inspiration. My favorite cuisine is Italian (my dad born in Italy) and I love baking. So, I wanted to share my bread recipe! Last year, I bought a KitchenAid mixer (brought one to Argentina from the US) and started to make homemade breads. My specialty is whole wheat seeded bread. It’s really easy and I make a batch of 4 loaves to have it always on hand for my everyday breakfast (it’s been months without store-bought bread). My husband loves it too. It is yummy and healthy! Here is the recipe (2 loaves):
- Dissolve 1 tablespoon brown sugar in 2 cups of warm water in a small bowl. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of dry yeast and let the mixture stand.
- Place 4 cups of whole wheat flour, 3/4 cup of low fat powdered milk, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/3 cup of mixed seeds (sunflower, sesame and flax seeds) in the mixer bowl. Attach bowl and hook to mixer. Turn to a low speed and mix about 15 seconds.
- Gradually add yeast mixture and ¼1/3 cup of vegetable oil and mix about 1 1/2 minutes longer. Stop and scrape bowl if necessary.
- Continuing on low speed, add 1 to 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl. Knead on low speed 2 more minutes.
- Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
- Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each half: roll each half into a rectangle (a rolling pin will smooth the dough and remove gas bubbles); then, starting at a short end, roll the dough tightly and pinch to seal the seam; finally, pinch the ends and turn them under.
- Brush the top of the loaf with water and sprinkle with seeds.
- Place the dough, seam side down in a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
- Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature at 350 F and bake 30 minutes longer.
- Remove from baking sheet and let cool on a rack.
(1 slice, 30g): about 70 kcal, 2 grams of protein, 10 grams of carb, 1.2 grams of fiber, 2.4 grams of fat.I love when my house smells like a bakery! This
bread lasts about 1 week on the fridge and months in the freezer. It is best when toasted, when all the nutty flavor from the seeds comes up! Do you have any good recipe to share?
Shaping a loaf
Brushing the loaf with water helps seeds to stick!
Coming out of the oven...your house will smell like a bakery!