Step aside quinoa. Farro is not only here, but it seems to be everywhere. Surely you’ve seen farro dishes gracing the menus at all the trendiest spots. While it may seem as though farro’s popularity sprouted overnight, (my spell-checking doesn’t even recognize it yet! Did you mean, “Fargo,” or perhaps, “Mia Farrow?”) the truth is, farro is an ancient grain that has been around for centuries.
This newly-hailed “super grain” served as a staple for the Roman legions and tantalized the tastebuds of Egyptian kings. However, as more and more people embrace the health benefits of whole grains, farro’s popularity has taken off and this light and slightly nutty grain is finding its way into a variety of recipes, from salads to breakfast bowls.
What Are the Weight Loss / Health-Benefits of Farro
But why farro? What are the health benefits? For starters, farro is high in fiber, which makes it a heart-healthy food that is great for digestion. In fact, one ½ cup serving of farro contains around seven grams of cholesterol-reducing fiber. Fiber rich foods also keep you feeling full for longer, which should cut out those cravings.
Vegetarian? Or perhaps you are trying to cut down on your meat consumption? Farro is a wonderful source of plant-based protein, in fact, this ancient grain provides the same amount of protein you would find in most beans and legumes.
Farro also contains a higher amount of antioxidants than wheat and other types of whole grains, including phenolic compounds, which are shown to be linked to disease prevention. The specific compound found in farro, called cyanogenic glucosides, can help boost immunity levels, lower inflammation, and cholesterol, as well as regulate blood sugar levels.
Is Farro Gluten-Free? Farro is actually a type of wheat. Being wheat it contains the gluten protein, (also found it barley, bulgur, & rye) so farro is not gluten-free!
Which Type of Farro Should You Buy: Whole, Semi-Pearled, or Pearled?
Now that you know the health benefits of farro, it’s time to head to the store to buy it. Wait- not so fast! There’s more to know before you toss farro into your shopping cart. You’ll want to distinguish between whole farro, semipearled and pearled farro or you could end up preparing yourself a farro breakfast bowl that’ll cause you to chip a tooth!
Pearled Farro: Pearled farro has been polished to remove most of the outer bran, which makes it more tender and requires a shorter cooking time of around 25 minutes. It’s the fastest and easiest farro to cook
Semi-Pearled Farro: Semipearled is similar to pearled, but it does retain some of the bran and may require a few extra minutes of cooking. A good compromise between health benefits and convenience
Whole Grain Farro: Whole grain farro has the highest nutritional content, with the bran still intact, but requires overnight soaking. If you try to cook whole farro the same way you’d cook pearled farro, your grains will be as hard as a rock! Make sure to distinguish which type you are buying before you attempt to cook it, for the best results.
As far as which type of farro to buy – it’s a personal choice. You can’t go wrong- farro is great for your body in any form. If you want to receive the maximum health benefit, however, go for the whole grain. or at least the semi-pearled variety. Just don’t forget to toss it in some water before you go to bed at night to save yourself some frustration… or a sore jaw.
While there are big-time health benefits to eating farro including high protein and fiber, it’s relatively high in calories. For example, one cup of cooked or uncooked faro has about 300 calories, which is twice much as a lower-calorie alternative like bulgurwheat
A cup of farro also has about 2 grams of fat, which is also more than double what bulgur has. So, really, if you are on a diet focused on low-calorie intake, consider substituting grilled vegetables or bulgur for farro.
Farro Salad Recipes (Mostly Vegetarian)
Whether or not you are on a diet, here are couple of popular recipes for farro salad:
Health benefits of turmeric: There’s been a lot of talk lately about the unexpected health benefits that come with taking turmeric. Want to know just what all the hype surrounding this ginger-like root and spice is all about?
Keep reading to learn about eight ways turmeric can improve your health.
1. Turmeric (Curcumin) Is An Anti-Inflammatory
New studies have found that chronic inflammation plays a role in many – possibly all – noninfectious diseases. The news of inflammation’s role in so many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and metabolic disease, opens new possibilities for the treatment and even prevention of these diseases. Welcome, turmeric.
Curcumin, one of the numerous active ingredients in turmeric, has potent anti-inflammatory abilities. Curcumin has received substantial attention within the medical community for its beneficial properties. It has been compared to some of the most effective pharmaceutical medicines for inflammation.
Turmeric, which can be taken orally or applied as a salve, has shown success in treating arthritis, gout and muscle injuries.
If you happen to be one of the 20% of women who suffer from menstrual pain severe enough to interfere with your daily life, turmeric may bring you relief. Thanks to turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, taking turmeric has proven effective in treating menstrual symptoms.
2. Turmeric Can Boost Your Brain & Fight Depression
In ancient medicine, turmeric was used for increasing concentration and bettering memory retention, and its brain boosting benefits are continually recognized in modern science.
Many brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s, are linked to a decreased level of a brain hormone called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, or BDNF. Put simply, the curcumin in turmeric increases the levels of BDNF in the brain, delaying and sometimes even reversing symptoms of these brain disorders.
Recent research revealed that taking turmeric increases the bioavailability of DHA (that’s that supplement you see on the shelves in Whole Food’s). DHA is a major structural fat found in the brain that is crucial to its function. That’s right: turmeric makes your brain work better.
Imagine what these geniuses could have done if they had included turmeric in their diet!
Turmeric relieves inflammation of the brain – inflammation that causes the brain to shut down energy production. The shut down causes mental fatigue and slows down the signals between our brains and our bodies.
As a result, taking turmeric has proven extremely effective in the treatment of depression, mood swings, brain fog, ADHD, and anxiety. It has even been compared to the anti-depressant Prozac.
3. Turmeric Keeps Your Skin Healthy
Turmeric can help you take better care of your skin.
If you are concerned about acne, try this DIY turmeric mask which stops the growth of acne-causing bacteria and reduces oil secretion. It also helps reduce pigmentation and even out skin tone.
Turmeric fights wrinkles and other signs of aging by slowing down cell damage. It can also be used as an exfoliant to improve skin texture.
Turmeric’s aforementioned anti-inflammatory properties can benefit the skin, too, by reducing acne scaring and treating dry skin and eczema.
4. Turmeric Promotes Weight Loss
Like CoQ10 and colostrum, taking turmeric helps speed up your metabolism, increasing your calorie burn and promoting weight loss. It also helps detoxify your liver and reduce fat mass, both essential to successful weight loss efforts.
Turmeric helps turn white fat cells (bad fat cells) into brown fat cells (the good ones), preventing the accumulation of bad fat in our bodies’ tissues.
Turmeric improves digestion (which we will talk about more below). Making sure our digestive systems are working smoothly is particularly important if we are looking to slim down.
Antioxidants are crucial in fighting those terrible free radicals we hear about that can cause DNA and cell damage in our bodies.
Vitamin E, a well-known antioxidant, has nothing on turmeric. Taking turmeric has proven to be five to eight times more effective than taking vitamin E!
Turmeric goes a step further: not only does it help us fight the nasty free radicals, it can also actually prevent their development, thus significantly reducing the risk of free radical damage.
6. Taking Turmeric Lowers Risk Of Heart Disease
Turmeric attacks heart disease from a few different angles.
First, turmeric is a good source of vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 inhibits our bodies from creating too much bad amino acids that can cause severe damage to our cell walls. This damage in turn causes heart complications.
Second, taking turmeric helps balance our cholesterol levels buy eliminating the bad cholesterol from our arteries.
Lastly, turmeric helps improve the function of our blood vessels. In fact, in one study of patients undergoing coronary bypass surgery, taking turmeric decreased the risk of heart attack in the hospital by 65%.
7. Taking Turmeric Helps Prevent and Treat Cancer
Studies have shown that taking turmeric can reduce the growth of tumors as well as stop the cancer from spreading.
Curcumin, the antioxidant in turmeric, slows down the growth of a protein essential to tumor growth. It has also been directly linked with the reduction of colon cancer cells.
A recent study has found evidence that taking turmeric not only treats cancer, but can also prevent it from growing in the first place. Turmeric proved to be particularly effective in preventing colorectal cancer, but research on its effect in the treatment of other cancers is currently underway.
8. Improves Gut Health
When you think of “gut health,” you might first think of probiotics, but turmeric benefits your gut too. Because of turmeric’s soothing properties, it has long been used to treat patients suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (otherwise known as IBS), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and other diseases of the digestive system.
These diseases are all linked to inflammation of the gut. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties strike again!
Taking turmeric can relieve constipation and cramping as well as bleeding in the bowel by eliminating irritation throughout the gut. It calms the digestive system, relieving symptoms of gas and bloating.
Another gut health benefit of taking turmeric? Turmeric stimulates the gall balder to help the body break down and digest food.
Turmeric, My Hero
Turmeric isn’t the only thing you should be adding to your routine to make you the best you possible.
Better Sleep Equals Better Weight Loss – How Can Two People on the Same Diet Diet Get Different Results?
The difference between success and failure in your weight loss program might be the sleep you’re getting. Try adding tryptophan to your diet to help fall asleep, and get better quality sleep!
Jennifer and Elizabeth are two friends who started a weight loss journey together. They both use a fitness app to keep track of their meals, take neighborhood walks and they sweat together through Zumba class at 24 hour fitness.
Jennifer’s weight has been steadily coming off, while Elizabeth is struggling. On the surface, it appears they are following the same plan, so why is Elizabeth having a harder time? The difference might lie in their sleep habits.
While Jennifer sleeps a solid eight hours a night, Elizabeth struggles to sleep. She goes to bed around 11:00, but often tosses and turns until well after midnight. Once asleep, she wakes often and during the day, she’s groggy and unfocused. Turns out, her sleeps habits are keeping Elizabeth from successfully losing weight.
Good Sleep Habits Help You Lose Weight!
Sleeping less than seven hours a night can wreak havoc on an otherwise successful dieting plan. In fact, going several days without a proper night’s sleep will affect the body’s ability to use insulin correctly. In those who are short on sleep, fats will circle through the blood, delivering more insulin to the body. This excess insulin causes fat to become stored in the body, resulting in weight gain.
Lack of Sleep Makes You More Hungry & Gain Weight.
If that’s not enough to convince you to change your sleep habits, it has also been proven that lack of sleep affects hormones in the body, leaving you to feel hungry more often. Talk about adding insult to injury! Similarly, not getting enough shut-eye also affects judgment, pushing you towards food you know are not good for you. Bottom line – make sleep a priority.
Add More L-Tryptophan to Your Diet; Sleep Better, Lose Weight!
Getting more sleep is easier said than done. Elizabeth was still finding it hard to settle down at night, even though she realized her sleep deficiency was keeping her from properly losing weight. For people like Elizabeth, where sleep is an issue, adding foods rich in tryptophan into a meal plan can work wonders.
Tryptophan (also called L-tryptophan) is an essential amino acid that is supplied to the body through diet. The body uses tryptophan to make niacin(a B-vitamin that aids digestion) and serotonin.
Serotonin is hugely important, and as a neurotransmitter it influences most of your brain cells. It directly affects not only your sleep, but your mood, appetite, memory, and even social behavior. Eating more tryptophan helps raise your serotonin levels, so start thinking of how to get more tryptophan in your diet asap!
Foods Rich In Tryptophan: Turkey Alternatives
You probably have heard that gorging on Thanksgiving turkey is likely to make you sleepy. That’s because turkey is rich in tryptophan, but it comes with a costly 4500 calorie health bomb known as “Thanksgiving dinner.”
Yikes! Don’t be discouraged, though. You can give thanks that there are plenty of other tryptophan-rich foods that are also healthy for you to consider all year-round. Here are some foods rich in tryptophan that you can start adding to your diet:
Eggs & cheese
Beans and Lentils
Nuts and Seeds
Soybeans & tofu
There are so many recipes that incorporate these ingredients to help you on your way to a better night’s sleep. If you are short on time, you can always keep nuts and seeds(such as pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews and walnuts) on-hand for snacking. About ¼ of a cup ought to give you that boost of tryptophan you need for a more restful sleep.
Tryptophan + Healthy Carbohydrates = Better Sleep
To best achieve a serotonin boost from these foods, the key is to eat them along with a serving of healthy carbohydrates, such as rice or oatmeal.
Example: Most classic mac & cheese recipes combine several tryptophan-rich foods (cheese, eggs, and milk) together with a carb (healthy pasta) to deliver a boost of tryptophan.
Coupons: If you’re following a program like Weight Watchers (today’s specials here) you’re going to need to count some calories and Weight Watchers points to see where these foods can fit in!
Tryptophan: The Missing Piece of Your Weight-Loss Plan?
Once Elizabeth began adding tryptophan-rich foods into her diet, she found herself sleeping better at night. Sometimes it isn’t just about how many calories you are eating throughout the day, but what you are getting those calories from.
You don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to get that high dose of tryptophan. Add these foods to your diet starting today to be on your way to a better night’s sleep and to achieve those fitness goals.
Fit Tryptophan Into Your Diet or Weight Loss Program
Determining which tryptophan-rich foods to add to your diet depends on a number of factors. If you aren’t on a regimented weight loss program, getting tryptophan into your diet might be as simple as making an effort to eat more tryptophan rich foods.
The Benefits of Eating Flaxseed: Flaxseed might be a great addition to your diet, as they are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats, and can reduce your appetite by making you feel full sooner. Here’s the skinny on the benefits of eating flaxseed:
Top 5 Flaxseed HealthBenefits:
1. Ground Flaxseed Reduces Your Appetite
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Michael Pollan
Has anyone ever defined healthy eating better in 7 words? Well, flaxseeds fit nicely into that strategy; add a tablespoon to a meal or smoothie, and the healthy fats in them will help you feel full faster, making you less likely to eat too much.
2. Flaxseed is High In Fiber
I’m still scarred from the fiber-craze of my youth, and I still associate fiber with cereals and snacks that would be better off fed to farm animals. Also, my grandmother suffered through drinking prune juice every day, which wasn’t sexy either.
Sexy or not, it’s an important part of any healthy diet, and most people don’t eat enough. In fact, the average adult is only eating less than half of the recommended amount. According to the Institute of Medicine, women need 25 grams of fiber per day, and men need 38 grams.
If you’re not eating enough foods high in fiber like beans and vegetables, consider adding a tablespoon of flaxseeds to foods that could use a little crunch, or ground flaxseed to a smoothie.
How much fiber is in Flaxseeds? Just a tablespoon of whole flaxseeds has 3 grams of soluble fiber, while ground flaxseed has about 2 g.
3. Flaxseed is High In Healthy Fat
“Healthy fat” and “good cholesterol” always sound like oxymorons to me, (like “pretty ugly” or “jumbo shrimp) but your body needs them, and flaxseeds are high in both including Omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming them help decrease your appetite and raise your level of good HDL cholesterol as well as lowering your risk of heart disease.
*Note: For better absorption of fatty acids, consider ground flaxseed.
4. Flaxseed Boosts Your Immune System
Speaking of fatty acids, they are essential in strengthening your immune system, helping white blood cells in your body to fight off disease. Flaxseed is one of the richest plant sources available for Omega 3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which regulates your cholesterol levels.
Protein helps build and repair muscle and is crucial to healthy bone development and maintenance. Eating enough protein is important at any age, and if you gave up red meat (great idea!) be sure to get your protein from other sources including flaxseed and farro!
So, how much protein is in flaxseeds? 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed has 1.3 g of protein, while whole flaxseed has about 1.9 g.
Having said that, a weight loss plan can put you on the right track, so please consider our coupons for the Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem diets for up to a 50% discount!
Add Flaxseed to Your Kids’ Diet
All of the benefits above apply to kids as well as adults. Our 9 year old son wouldn’t stop eating, and it took several helpings at meals until he was full. We now add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to his breakfast to help reduce his voracious appetite, plus all of the other benefits of flaxseed.
It’s easy to add a tablespoon of flaxseed to a fruit smoothie, or many other great recipes that you can find online like muffins and pancakes.
Flaxseed: A Healthy Addition to Your Diet or Weight-Loss Program
Just about every article on weight loss should include the disclaimer that there is no “magic bullet” supplement or super-food for achieving and maintaining a healthy body. The idea is, of course, that weight loss occurs when you eat a healthy diet and burn more calories than you consume.