Eat the Rainbow Winter Week #8: Carbohydrates, Oh How We Love Them!

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Welcome to Week 8 of the Eat the Rainbow Fruit and Veggie Challenge

REPORT LAST WEEK’S FRUIT & VEGGIE INTAKE HERE!

THIS WEEK’S TOPIC IS CARBS!

“Carbs” aka carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient along with fats and protein. Consumption of all three macronutrients (carbs, fats, and protein) is essential to maintaining good health. 

However, carbohydrates are often demonized in the media, and low-carb diets (like the Atkins or Keto diets) often become trendy fads for weight loss. 

Contrary to popular belief, carbs are not bad for you! Say it with me – CARBS ARE NOT BAD FOR YOU! 

Cutting out carbs from your diet is often used as a quick fix for weight loss, but this strategy is not sustainable in the long run. Why? Because our bodies need carbohydrates to function and survive. In fact, carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the human body. 

WHAT ARE CARBS?

Carbohydrates are large molecules made up of smaller units of monosaccharides, or “simple sugars”. In fact, all carbs get broken down during digestion into the simple sugars glucose, fructose, and galactose. These simple sugars are then used by our cells to make energy.

WHY ARE CARBS GOOD FOR YOU?

  • Energy: Carbs are our body’s preferred energy source. Our brain, muscles, and other cells and organs all use sugars to function. Carbs give us energy! This is why low-carb diets often make you feel tired and irritable.
  • Muscle mass: Carbs are the main fuel that your muscles need to do work and grow. Without carbs, your body may start to break down muscle to use for energy. This is why it is beneficial to eat a high-carbohydrate meal before a workout or other type of physical activity.
  • Metabolism: Whole-food sources of carbs (like fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, etc.) are also rich in fiber. The fiber digests slowly, helping you feel fuller for longer. There is also a form of carb called “resistant starch” that may boost metabolism. 
  • Brain Function: Carbs are brain fuel! The brain alone uses about 120 grams of glucose per day. Cutting carbs out of your diet could lead to impaired memory and brain function. 

FOOD SOURCES OF CARBS

Even though we usually think of bread and sugary snacks when we think of carbs, most foods have carbohydrates.  Fruits and many vegetables are mainly made up of carbohydrates as are whole grains, beans, and legumes. Dairy like milk and yogurt also has naturally occurring sugars. 

Focus on getting your carbs from whole food sources rather than from processed and refined sources (“white” bread, baked desserts, candy, soda, etc.). Carbohydrates from whole foods come along with beneficial vitamins and minerals whereas processed sources usually have little nutritional value. 

Special Considerations!

For those with blood sugar problems, prediabetes, or diabetes, it is important to balance the right amount of carbs at meals. If you’re in this group, ask your doctor for a referral to a Certified Diabetes Educator who can assist with this. Also, your insurance should pay for Diabetes Self Management classes, just call them and ask where you can go!

WEEKLY CHALLENGE:

Learn more about carbs! Check out the first episode of the Cancer Dietitian podcast – in this episode, Julie dives deeper into the topics of simple sugars, complex carbohydrates, why you should eat carbs, and more. She also debunks the myth that “sugar feeds cancer”. Give it a listen and share one new or interesting thing you learned on our Facebook page! 

PRODUCE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK: BANANAS

Bananas are the perfect example of a high-carbohydrate food with amazing health benefits! They are excellent sources of potassium, making them a great addition to a heart-healthy diet. Bananas also contain resistant starch, which maintains good gut health and improves digestion. 

Eat fresh: alone or sliced on top of oatmeal, yogurt, granola, etc. Bananas can also be used as an egg replacement in many vegan baking recipes! 

I know it’s getting cold outside but for me, there is no “wrong” time for ice cream. My favorite banana trick is using them to make “ice cream”, like in the recipe below! While there’s nothing wrong with eating regular ice cream, I like to mix it up sometimes with this banana version. I think it’s got a fresher taste and is just as creamy. Plus, bananas are a super low-cost option! Any time I’ve got bananas that are about to go bad, I pop them in the freezer to use for this quick and easy dessert!

Print

Banana Ginger Coconut Ice Cream

  • Author: Chef Malena Douthit
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • 4 ripe bananas, sliced and frozen 
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, minced or 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 Tbsp coconut milk, chilled
  • 2 Tbsp honey

Instructions

  1. Place frozen banana pieces, ginger, and honey in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
  2. Add coconut milk and blend until desired texture is achieved. Ice cream can be served immediately for soft serve or freeze for four hours for scoopable texture.

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Eat the Rainbow Winter Week #7: Inflammation

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