PEORIA -- Former Peoria Journal Star reporter Clare Howard has contributed this fabulous article to this blog. It will shake your world!
Clean Eating: Peoria Physician Speaks Out About What’s True and What’s Spin
By Clare Howard
If you’d rather not eat beaver anal gland secretions, human hair and duck feathers, Dr. Michele Couri has some tips for you on clean eating.
If you think you don’t currently eat these “all natural” ingredients, Couri has some shocking news for you.
More than 100 people attended “Clean Eating,” the first in a series of eight free programs open to the public at the Couri Center, 6708 N. Knoxville Ave., Peoria. The audience emitted a collective moan upon hearing that castoreum on the ingredient list of manufactured food means beaver anal gland secretions. Castoreum can be found in candy, ice cream and beverages.
Couri, who is board certified in obstetrics, gynecology and integrative holistic medicine, will graduate in December from a two-year fellowship with Dr. Andrew Weil at the University of Arizona in Tucson. She is already speaking in Peoria about the newest findings correlating diet and health.
“Food is truly a drug. It can turn genes on or off,” she said. “The food industry is not on our side. Their No. 1 goal is to make money, so our goal is to look at food as part of healing. Look at healing as a web, and incorporate all modalities. Don’t be fooled by the label. If you don’t know what is on the label, you don’t want it in your body.”
Also speaking with Couri was Leslie Rusch-Bayer, a nutritionist and personal trainer with the Couri Center. She analyzed the ingredients in a package of candy and explained it contained beaver anal gland secretions, human hair and duck feathers.
Even reading food labels carefully can be misleading. “Natural flavoring” can include castoreum and L-cysteine which means human hair and duck feathers.
Wood pulp can be added to manufactured food products and while it might not pose a health threat, it lacks nutrients, Couri said.
She defined clean eating as eating whole natural foods, fruits, vegetables and unprocessed foods and avoiding man-made sugars, trans fats and preservatives.
“If you can pick it or it had a mother, it’s clean,” she said. “If you can read the label, know every ingredient and can pronounce them, chances are it’s clean.”
Couri is vegan and avoids all animal products, however, for people who do eat meat, she recommends only organic, grass-fed beef and other meats not raised on factory farms with growth hormones and antibiotics. Factory farm meat is high in omega 6 which is inflammatory and contributes to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and a host of other diseases.
“If you eat salmon, only eat wild Alaskan salmon,” she said, noting that farm salmon is often genetically modified, fed grain and dyed orange.
Eat a diet that does not cause spikes in blood sugar. That should include complex carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa and whole grains.
“Carbohydrates are the only source of oxygen to the brain,” she said.
Don’t eliminate all fats from the diet but include clean fats, she said, noting that the brain requires fat. Clean fats include extra virgin olive oil, macadamia nut oil, organic canola oil and coconut oil . . . “great for our neurotransmitters.” Avoid hydrogenated fats, soybean and corn oil, she said.
Couri is critical of federal government regulation that allows food to be labeled “zero trans fat” when it contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.
“That’s three potato chips,” she said. “Who is going to eat just three potato chips? You have to be your own advocate. Eat no food with partially hydrogenated fats. That means trans fat. Organic butter is better than hydrogenated margarine.”
The federal government does not subsidize olive oil, but it does subsidize corn and soybeans, she said, alluding to the influence of politics over science when it comes to government regulations.
Couri reviewed the labels on instant potatoes, Rice-A-Roni and Yoplait fat-free yogurt, concluding “Avoid.” She called soy yogurt “a double edged sword,” noting that more natural soy is edamame, miso, tempe and non-GMO tofu.
“In the traditional Asian diet, soy is used like a condiment,” she said.
The Environmental Working Group has compiled a list called “The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15” (go to www.foodnews.org/walletguide.php) indicating which foods contain the most pesticide residue and should always be eaten organic and which have the least pesticide residue and can be safe when conventionally grown with chemicals.
Apples should always be organic, Couri said, noting “By the time a conventional apple is ready to be picked, it has been sprayed up to 17 times with chemicals.”
The program concluded with a cooking demonstration preparing pan-seared salmon and a quinoa salad with apples and dried cranberries.
Couri Center cooking classes are scheduled from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month. Classes are free and open to the public. For more information go to www.peoriaintegrativewomenshealth.com. Upcoming classes include: June 21, vegetarian; July 26, vegan; Aug. 16, gluten free; Sept. 20, raw food; Oct. 18, soups; Nov. 15, Thanksgiving; Dec. 13, Christmas. For more information call 692-6838.
Recipe: Quinoa Salad with Apples and Dried Cranberries
(Serves 6 as a main course; 10 as a side dish)
1 ½ cups quinoa, preferably red
½ teaspoon sea salt
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
1 large red onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 ounces arugula, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 medium celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 large crisp apple such as Fuji or Pink Lady, cut into ½-inch dice
1 cup finely diced fennel
¾ cup dried cranberries
Freshly ground pepper
¼ cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¾ cup water plus 6 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Large pinch of each: parsley, basil, oregano and thyme
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a bowl, rinse quinoa with water, rubbing between fingers for about 10 seconds. Drain and transfer to 3-quart pot. Add 2 ½ cups water and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered, until quinoa is tender but still delicately crunchy, about 15 minutes.
Drain quinoa and return to pot. Cover and let quinoa rest for 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
While quinoa cooks, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring frequently until tender and brown around the edges, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add balsamic vinegar and toss with the onions until vinegar cooks away, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, mix quinoa, onion, arugula, celery, apple, fennel and cranberries.
For vinaigrette: Combine all dressing ingredients in blender except oil. Continue blending while adding oil in a slow, steady stream until smooth and thick. Use immediately or store tightly covered in refrigerator for up to two weeks.