Friday, September 21, 2007

5 Easy Ways to Healthy Hearts and a Clean Planet

Packing my lunch and fixing dinner are two parts of the day that I try to do as fast as possible. With the job I have right now, efficiency at home has become a high priority. But I'm also not getting enough exercise.

So I try to pick foods that meet three goals: heart-healthy, low-calorie, and low environmental impact.

Here are 5 tips to meet those goals:

For a midmorning snack, eat grapes or a locally-grown apple. A whole cup of grapes has relatively few calories. Weight-Watchers gives a cup of grapes only one point, compared to two for a banana. (The more points, the more calories in their rating system. A slice of pizza has 7 points, for example.)

2. For lunch, eat a cup or a cup and a half of low-fat or fat-free plain soy yogurt, fortified with calcium. If you prefer dairy yogurt, choose non-fat plain organic yogurt. Just before eating: slice a banana into it, add a tablespoon or so of walnut pieces, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Very low-fat and low-calorie, with a lot of calcium and protein, and very tasty. Soy yogurt and organic dairy yogurt have a lower environmental impact than regular yogurt. I buy 32-oz tubs of yogurt and that makes about 3 lunches.

3. Use olive oil instead of oils with saturated fats. Only olive oil and canola oil are high in monounsaturated fats. The FDA has approved this statement for use by olive oil manfacturers: "Eating about 2 tbsps of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil." Among the worst oils for your heart are palm oil and cottonseed oil. In between somewhere are corn oil, sunflower, and safflower oils. More about that in our book Veggie Revolution.

4. Cook vegetables in the microwave. Just put sliced vegetables on a plate, fresh or frozen, and put it into the microwave. Zap for one minute and test, then add additional minutes as needed. Some people put a teaspoon of water on the plate for steam, but I don't. This is really fast way to cook frozen broccoli. And microwaves are by far the most energy-efficient appliance for cooking food. When possible, buy locally-grown veggies. Less transport means fewer greenhouse gases. Plus, buying local foods usually means you're supporting small farmers in your own community.

5. Eat whole grains, such as whole-grain rice, whole-wheat bread, barley, quinoa, or wheat berries (chewy and very good). Eating 2 and half servings of whole grains every day is associated with a 21% lower risk of heart disease than eating close to none. Be aware that "Wheat Bread" or brown bread is not necessarily whole-wheat. Look for a bread bag that says "100% Whole-Wheat." And check the fiber. Some 100% whole-wheat bread has twice as much fiber as other brands. While you're at it, look for organic breads and grains. These are not only healthier for you, because they lack pesticides, but they're also far healthier for wildlife, for fields and forests, and for our rivers and streams where agricultural chemicals wind up.

Key words:: easy foods, heart healthy, low calorie, local food, monounsaturated, whole grain, calcium. soy

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Human - elephant conflicts grow as habitat shrinks

Elephant 'played soccer with me'

Reprinted from South Africa: News
By Elise Tempelhoff, Beeld, South Africa, Sept 11 2007

Vanderbijlpark - An elephant cow in the Pilanesberg nature reserve first chased a game warden for 100 metres, then tore his pants open with her tusk.Later she "played a bit of soccer with him".

When he landed on his back next to her she stared into his eyes for a few seconds, then shook her head and ambled off back to the matriarch, young cows and calves.

Eugene le Roux, 29, chief game warden at Bakubung Bush Lodge said while he was lying staring into the elephant's eyes, he hoped his death would be quick.

Sure he would die
"I just lay there. An unbelievable calm came over me while I stared into her eyes. I felt sure she was going to kill me. I wondered: Will it be quick? Will it be slow? Will it be painful?"
"Then she shook her head, turned around and walked off into the bush to join the rest of the breeding herd.
"I couldn't believe it. I got up, went to lean against a naboom and prayed."
All he could say was "thank you, God", a prayer that he has repeated every day since the incident.
He was lightly injured when the elephant stepped on his right hand and partly stepped on his left shoulder.
Le Roux said on Friday a week ago he and his colleague Sean van Graan took a group of five American tourists for an early morning walk in the veld.
The walks usually lasted about three hours.

Heard elephants coming
They were about a kilometre from the lodge when they climbed to the top of a koppie. They tried to see if they could spot any game in the veld below.
"We heard branches breaking. There was a sudden trumpeting. 'Those are elephants,' we told the tourists."
He and Van Graan saw the herd of about 40 elephants heading in the direction of the koppie while appearing not to know of the people there.

Charged them
"They were moving at great speed and we decided to move off in a northwesterly direction. The elephants swerved right, luckily east of the koppie, ran past us on a game path and disappeared into the bush."
"We waited for everything to quieten down and were just getting ready to resume our walk when Van Graan shouted that there were more elephants coming."
This group of elephants, about 30 of them, headed straight for the hikers, but once again they were moving with the wind and couldn't smell the hikers.

Tourists were frightened
"Sean and I decided the elephants should take precedence. We had to move out of their way, and fast. "The guests were getting a bit frightened at this stage, but we told them to move down the kopple, fast.
The group jogged down the koppie and fortunately a huge herd of buffalo ahead of them, moved off.
Then the wind changed and the matriarch picked up their scent.
The matriarch was at the top of the koppie at that stage. She stopped in her tracks, turned and charged at the hikers.

Shouted 'deep' Afrikaans words
"We shouted 'deep' Afrikaans words at her. Words I can't repeat, but we encouraged her to go away."
The matriarch stopped about two metres from Van Graan, turned around and walked off.
"We told the anxious tourists more about elephant behaviour and put them at ease by telling them that the matriarch was testing us. She did exactly what her herd expected of her. She was supposed to frighten us. In that way, the calves would remain safe."
"We were just getting ready to move off again when Sean screamed: There's an elephant cow behind you!"
Van Graan went to stand in front of the tourists. " I turned around and saw that the cow was enraged. Her trunk was folded in, her ears were flat, she held her head low - and she charged straight at one of the women in the group.
"I ran to the woman and pushed her into a thorn bush. When I turned around, the cow was practically on top of me. I hit her against the head with the butt of the hunting rifle and started running.
"She started pursuing me. First I threw off my backpack hoping it would draw her attention away from me. That didn't help, so I threw my hat down. That didn't work either.

'Not ready to die'
"At one stage I could feel her trunk in my side. I tried to smack it away while praying 'Lord, I'm not yet ready to go yet!'"
The next moment Le Roux felt the elephant's tusk against his right thigh.
"Then she started playing soccer with me. I rolled a number of times. I tried to curl up into a small ball while she rolled me from side to side. Then I landed on my back. That's when we stared into each other's eyes for several seconds. I thought I was near death, but she just shook her head, turned around and walked off."
Van Graan came to fetch Le Roux and phoned the Sun City paramedics. Both were treated for shock, and the American woman was treated for deep scratches to her leg.


Key words:: elephant habitat loss, human wildlife conflict, elephant human conflict, elephant charge, South Africa

Friday, September 14, 2007

An Apple? Bran Muffin? Or Cold Cereal? Top Ten Sources of Easy Fiber

What's the easiest source of daily fiber?

I walked into a co-worker's office the other day, and saw his little bag of Fiber One lying on his desk. I recognized the little plastic bag that comes inside the cereal box. "Hey" I said "I eat that too!" He explained that his cholesterol was high and his doctor had him eating it as part of his low-fat, high fiber heart-healthy diet. And we all know fiber's good for our digestive systems.

Most Americans eat only half the recommended daily amount of fiber. The American Dietary Association recommends 25 to 35 grams of fiber every day. If you pay attention to your fiber intake, you know that 35 grams is a lot. It's a real challenge to eat that much.

Animal products don't have any fiber. It's all from plant sources. The best sources are beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. But I've found some shortcuts that are really helpful. I have a job right now that has me working about 12 hours a day - I don't have time to whip up whole grains and stir-fries. I wish I did but I don't.

I used to eat whole-grain oatmeal with 2 tbsp ground flax seeds, raisins, and walnuts for breakfast every day. But I abandoned that right quick when a doctor friend told me about 3 cold cereals that have a lot more fiber than that. The best one for me has been Fiber One. It has more fiber than any other cereal, hot or cold. And it tastes better than All Bran, which is a close second in terms of fiber.

Here are the top cereals with a high fiber content:

General Mills Fiber One has 14 grams of fiber in only 1/2 cup (and only 60 calories).

Kelloggs All Bran Extra Fiber has 13 grams of fiber in 1/2 cup (and only 50 calories).

Kelloggs All Bran Bran Buds have 13 grams of fiber in 1/3 cup, with 70 calories.

Kashi Good Friend has 12 grams of fiber in 1 cup, but with a lot more calories...170.

Weetabix Organic Crispy Flakes & Fiber has 11 grams of fiber, with 170 calories in 5/4 cup.

Weight Watchers Banana Almond Medley has 10 grams of fiber, 170 calories, in 3/4 cup.

In case you're curious about how these numbers relate to other sources of fiber...

1 medium sized apple has 3.5 grams.
1 large pear has 6 grams.
Oatmeal has 4 grams per cup, cooked.
Kidney beans have 7.3 grams per 1/2 cup, cooked.
Navy beans have 6 grams per 1/2 cup, cooked.
Bran Flakes and Raisin Bran both have 4 grams per 3/4 cup.
A bran muffin has 2.5 grams.
Brown rice has 2 grams per cup, cooked.

These are all great sources of fiber and other nutrients, and are earth-friendly foods, too, because they're all plants. According to a recent United Nations report, "Livestock's Long Shadow," the world's "livestock sector" is the second or third biggest cause of all the world's major environmental problems. That includes meat, eggs, and dairy - all livestock. ( Fiber One tastes great with soymilk, so no dairy needed.) By the way, you can google the title of that U.N. document to read the whole thing.

We explore the topic of consumer impacts on our fragile planet in our new book, Going Green: A Wise Consumer's Guide to a Shrinking Planet. Due out in April 2008 from Fulcrum.

One more little tip: fruit juices have very little fiber. Orange juice has only 1 gram per cup, apple juice only 0.8 grams per cup. Better to eat the whole orange and eat the whole apple. Would love to hear more ideas about easy ways of eating fiber.

Keywords:: top ten sources of fiber, plant foods, Livestock's Long Shadow, Going Green, Kneidel, Veggie Revolution, fiber cereal, heart healthy, low cholesterol, high fiber diet, easy sources of fiber, vegetarian, vegan, soy milk