Popcorn versus carrot, parsnip & beet chips!

Warren and I watch a lot of movies that we rent for about $1.00 from the grocery store. We don't have cable and hate most of what's on TV anyway. But - I'm addicted to snacking on popcorn and am trying to find something that is more nutrient dense. I Found this recipe below and thought I'd share it. Haven't made them yet - will let you know.

Everytime I tell someone I can't eat popcorn because it causes me to gain weight, they all - and I do mean 100% all - tell me that they thought popcorn was a "healthy snack". Well, the truth is this is one of the myths that we were taught back in the 1990's when the "low-fat craze" started. Sure, air-popped popcorn is low in fat, one cup (or 8 grams) has about 1 gram of protein, 1 gram of fiber, and 6 grams of carbs.  By the way - the body still sees carbs as sugar unless the fiber and protein can balance the amount of carbs. This is what they call the glycemic load - popcorn, according to the Nutrition Facts and Analysis website has a glycemic load of 6. This is a way of giving a number to determine a particular food's effect on blood-sugar levels. This website has a "patent-pending Estimated Glycemic Load" for every food in their database. This is a really good tool. According to this website, your total glycemic load for a day varies person to person - well, of course I'm thinking. Obviously, if you have diabetes or metabolic syndrome you need to head for the low side of normal. They estimate a total glycemic load of 100 or less per day is acceptable. This is a very simplistic view of a complex issue, but for our purposes and discussion of popcorn it will suffice.

The other factor that is being examined is the "Inflammation Factor", which is a very important consideration when choosing what to eat and what not to eat. Science is discovering daily that many of our diseases are caused by increased inflammation in our bodies. There is a direct relationship to inflammation and disease - no debate about this one, everyone agrees. The very informative website, also has a rating system for each food. They give popcorn a "medium" value of -24, meaning it is inflammatory. The problem here is we want foods that are anti-inflammatory, certainly not inflammatory, regardless of whether it is in the high or low range. If it's inflammatory at all, we should be making another choice. Per their website, "The goal is to balance negative foods with positive foods so that the combined rating for all foods eaten in a single day is positive." I say, we eliminate any and all foods from our diet that we KNOW are inflammatory (represented on their rating scale as a negative number.)  Oh - and popcorn has NO nutritional value in terms of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients or antioxidants. Basically, it is only an empty food consisting of about 31 calories devoid of any really redeeming qualities - other than it tastes good. Well, not really, not air popped and not without butter and a lot of salt. We won't even talk about what happens to this food source with added butter and salt.

I think I've convinced myself NOT to have that bowl of popcorn tonight. But, I'm the type that has to have a substitute for her addiction. No cold turkey for me - give me another choice that tastes better, has nutrition, is anti-inflammatory and doesn't increase my glycemic load.  Last night I had homemade hummus with celery and carrot sticks. It was good - seriously. I didn't do an analysis of it yet, but I will and let you know.  But - today while browsing through some of my eat-healthy type books, I came across this recipe.  Let's try it! I'll make it tonight - you make it and let me know what you think.

"Chips that won't go to your hips" - page 143, "Detox 4 Women", by Natalia Rose.

  • 2 large carrots
  •  2 large parsnips (think you could substitute turnips here)
  •  1 beet
  •  1 zucchini
  •  2 tbsp pure, organic butter (I'll substitute Earth Balance butter - yummy and made from olive oil's good fat)
  •  1 tbsp sea salt (sounds like a lot...)
  •  1 packet of stevia (optional for a sweet and salty flavor) - I may leave this out since beets and carrots are already sweet

Using a mandoline, slice all the vegetables into diagonal coin-size slices. Place on a baking sheet. Melt butter and drizzle over veggies. Top veggies with a bit of sea salt. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour (or until crispy). Enjoy with a salad at lunch or dinner, dip into guacamole or salsa, or as you like!

Note: I can't imagine that it would take a full hour at 400 degrees, but I'll test it out and see.

These would, of course, be better eaten raw, dipped into a non-fat yogurt type dip or hummus. But sometimes I want something salty and crisp - these sound like a good choice.  Nutrient value for one cooked carrot includes a rating of 1 for glycemic load, a 78+ for inflammation factor (read anti-inflammatory!), vitamin A, calcium, vitamin C and iron. The ratings for the raw carrot, obviously, are even more impressive. Beets and parsnips aren't as impressive on the ratings as the carrot, probably due to their sugar content, which is by nature considered inflammatory. They are, however, much better for you than popcorn.  Nutrient dense is the operative word here - any food that has more nutrients per calorie is obviously a better choice for optimum health and aging. But what isn't measured on this scale is the high level of antioxidants and phytonutrients found in all three of these foods.  It's a good place to start though. Check out this website and play around with it when you are trying to decide what to feed the kids for the day.

Makes about 3 cups of chips.

Thanks for listening!