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Wednesday, 22 September 2021

7 Surprising Fall Foods That Will Help You Sleep Better

 According to the CDC, adults should get 7 or more hours of sleep each night, but due to life's stressors getting to sleep and staying asleep may not be that easy to do. With autumn's falling temperatures right around the corner, nothing may seem more appealing than a cozy evening spent in bed—so what can we do when all we want is to drift off into dreamland, but just can't?

Thankfully, there is a whole bevy of fall foods that can help us get that shut-eye we so desperately want and need. From calming foods that make appearances in some of our favorite holiday pies, to spices that can be easily found right in our kitchen cabinets, here are 7 surprising fall ingredients that can help us catch those well-deserved Z's.  

1

Almonds

almonds
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According to the Sleep Foundation, nuts can help people sleep better due to the levels of rest-inducing magnesium that is found in them. One type of nut that is packed with this helpful mineral is the almond, the popular ingredient that makes appearances in everything from apple cobblers to autumn goat cheese salads. For instance, eating just one ounce of almonds will fulfill 20% of the daily recommended magnesium intake

2

Apples

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It is hard to deny that apples are one of fall's main stars. Whether picked during a weekend at an apple orchard or baked into a tasty apple pie, apples are all around us in abundance during these cooler months. Besides being a fabulous fall treat, apples are also a food that can help you sleep better. According to Ambrosia Apples, apples have a good amount of Vitamin C in them which can help lower your blood sugar and blood pressure, and can also help improve breathing. This, in turn, can help you get to sleep faster and help you stay asleep longer. 

3

Sweet Potatoes

sweet potatoes
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Sweet potatoes, whether baked into a homemade pie or served alongside turkey and stuffing during Thanksgiving, are a delicious accompaniment to any fall meal. They also have great relaxing qualities that can help you get better shut-eye. For instance, sweet potatoes are packed with fiber. In a 2016 study, research found that higher fiber intake correlated with "more time spent in the stage of deep, slow-wave sleep." Because of this, sweet potatoes may make a great snack to have before bedtime. 

4

Turkey

turkey
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If you find yourself yawning and getting ready to doze off after enjoying some delicious turkey during Thanksgiving then you are not alone. As you may already recall, turkey contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is famous for its calming effects on the body. According to research published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, tryptophan may have mild sedative qualities and may even have the ability to improve sleep for adults who suffer from sleep disturbance. 

5

Sweet Corn

sweet corn
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Corn isn't just a common dinner side, but also a delicious dish that is packed with melatonin. Melatonin, which is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, is often taken orally by those who have issues with insomnia and is particularly helpful for those affected by jet lag. Interestingly enough, according to research published in 2017, ingesting melatonin-rich foods, such as corn, can also help achieve better sleep. 

6

Cranberries

cranberries
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Whether slathered on meat or enjoyed in a festive drink, cranberries are one of those fruits that are not only bursting with flavor but are also full of important vitamins. For instance, cranberries are high in Vitamin C which can actually help improve sleep. According to research, lower intake levels of Vitamin C are associated with non-restorative sleep and may also be a contributing culprit behind other sleep issues, such as insomnia. 

7

Nutmeg

nutmeg
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Nutmeg is known as a popular spice that is especially used during the fall months to help bring to life some of the tastiest baked goods. Whether you are adding it into your pumpkin pie, using it in homemade casseroles, or sprinkling it on a warm drink, nutmeg is so much more than just a delicious spice. For example, it also can help improve your sleep. According to research, it may help lower blood pressure, can help relax blood vessels, and can also positively affect mood, all of which play a factor in getting a better night's rest.

This One Diet Can Reverse Type 2 Diabetes, New Study Suggests

 The "right" eating plan could make a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes a thing of the past, new research suggests.

Study authors from the University of British Columbia and Teesside University in England gathered close to 200 adults who were between the ages of 30 to 75 and living with diabetes and instructed them to follow a specific 12-week meal plan. The diet was defined as low-calorie (850 to 1,100 calories per day), low-carbohydrate (less than 50 grams of carbs per day), and higher protein (110-120 grams per day). 

During the trial, the volunteers consulted with local pharmacists who assessed their need for blood glucose-lowering medications. The researchers chose pharmacists as the go-to healthcare provider since they've found that adults with diabetes—and usually adults living in rural areas—are most likely to visit their pharmacist more often than their physician.

diabetes diabetic diet foods
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According to the results of the study, which were published in the journal Nature Communicationsmore than one-third of the participants were taken off their diabetes meds within three months since they showed "substantial improvements" in blood sugar levels, blood pressure, weight, and overall health.

"Type 2 diabetes can be treated, and sometimes reversed, with dietary interventions," said Jonathan Little, Ph.D. assistant professor in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at the University of British Columbia and study co-author, in a statement. "However, we needed a strategy to help people implement these interventions while keeping an eye on their medication changes."

Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, LDN, CPT, author of 2-Day Diabetes Diet: Diet Just 2 Days a Week and Dodge Type 2 Diabetes, is not surprised by these findings. "Prior research has found low carbohydrate diets can promote significant weight loss during this timeframe," she says.

Even though the nutritional science is clear, dietary adherence tends to be a barrier. "As demonstrated in previous studies, maintaining these changes can often be a struggle since a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate meal plan can be restrictive, so compliance long-term can be a challenge," Palinski-Wade adds.

person counting calories and keeping track in notepad
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Furthermore, she agrees with the study authors with regard to the importance of regular check-ins with either a pharmacist, physician, or diabetes educator, especially if you're starting a new eating plan with reduced caloric and carb intake.

"This change can increase the risk of hypoglycemia in some individuals, which may require adjustments to medications," says Palinski-Wade.

While the researchers advise those living in rural areas to add a community pharmacist to their healthcare team, Palinski-Wade recommends searching for a qualified food and nutrition expert.

"Partnering with a registered dietitian has been found to be the most effective way to make dietary and lifestyle changes that stick," she says. "And now with telehealth being readily available, working consistently with a registered dietitian remotely would be accessible for most people."

The Worst Mistakes Everyone Makes Cooking Eggs, According to a Chef

 Eggs are the quintessential breakfast food and, unlike some of our other favorites—waffles, pancakes, bagels—they're a healthy way to start the day. Eggs raise your HDL (otherwise known as your "good cholesterol") and have other health benefits including providing a good protein boost, building muscle, keeping your bones strong, and reducing inflammation.

The other great thing about eggs is that there are so many ways to prepare them. But whether you prefer your eggs scrambled, poached, or in an omelet, one thing is for sure: when eggs aren't cooked properly, they aren't exactly a gift to our taste buds.

Looking to up your egg cooking game? We spoke with chef Yasmeen AlSawwaf about the most common mistakes people make when cooking eggs and she shared her do's and don'ts for cooking every type of egg dish. 

Boiled Eggs

making soft boiled eggs
Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

Mistakes: When it comes to boiling eggs, AlSawwaf says the most common mistakes are:

  • Cooking cracked eggs
  • Cooking the eggs in a shallow pot
  • Not adding enough water to the pot
  • Not salting the water
  • Cooking the eggs in boiling water
  • Peeling the egg when it's cold

What To Do Instead: First things first: AlSawwaf says it's important to select uncracked eggs when you're making boiled eggs. The pot selection also matters. "Select a pot that's deep enough for the eggs to be fully submerged into the water," she advises. "Make sure to fill up the pot with water until it covers the eggs by at least two inches."

Next, AlSawwaf says it's time to salt the water that you're using to boil the eggs because salted water boils faster — but you don't want to bring it to a rolling boil. "Eggs should be cooked in a simmer," says AlSawwaf. "There's a risk for the eggs to crack and overcook when they're violently boiling. A gentle simmer is best to ensure even cooking. Place your eggs with a slotted spoon into the simmering water. Hard-boiled eggs can be started in simmering or coldwater, however soft- and medium-boiled eggs should begin with simmering water."

Timing is also key and AlSawwaf explains that the timing of your eggs starts as soon as the water begins to simmer. "For example, a six-minute egg is timed as soon as the water returns to a simmer; only then can we begin the cooking countdown," she says. "Another example is hard-boiled eggs. If you added the eggs into cold water, timing only begins after the water begins simmering and only then can you begin counting down your ten to 12 minutes." 

Poached Eggs

Poached eggs
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Mistakes: AlSawwaf says the most common mistakes people make when cooking poached eggs are:

  • Not adding vinegar to the poaching liquid
  • Choosing a pot that's not deep enough for the poaching process
  • Keeping the water too hot
  • Not using fresh eggs
  • Using the same bowl to crack all your eggs

What To Do Instead: "Add salt and vinegar to your poaching liquid," AlSawwaf advises. Doing this makes the egg protein set more quickly and helps avoid streaks of white from spreading everywhere.

In order to ensure that the egg yolk and whites remain as perfect as possible, be sure to crack each egg in a separate bowl. When it's time to start cooking, AlSawwaf says to use a pot that's at least six inches deep; this ensures that your final product will have a good "teardrop" shape."Drop the egg into the simmering water, the egg will sink down to the bottom at first and slowly float on top, forming a teardrop shape," she says. "It takes about three to four minutes for a perfectly poached egg. Having more than one poached egg into the water means that the temperature will drop, so the eggs might need more time to be perfectly cooked." Finally, remove the egg from the pot using a slotted spoon and put it on a paper towel to dry. 

Fried Eggs

frying fried eggs nonstick pan oil
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Mistakes: AlSawwaf tells us that the most common mistakes people make when cooking fried eggs are:

  • Not using fresh eggs
  • Not using oils or fats
  • Not using a non-stick pan
  • Using heat that's too high
  • Breaking the egg directly on top of the pan

What To Do Instead: "Fresh eggs are essential for perfectly fried eggs," says AlSawwaf. "When an egg ages, the whites and yolk thin out. This means that the white will spread instead of being compact and thick and the yolk won't sit atop the whites perfectly." She also recommends using an oil like clarified butter or butter, noting that it will "add a lovely flavor to the cooked eggs." And don't forget to use a non-stick pan, otherwise, you could end up with a mess on your hands.

Eggs should be fried on medium heat. AlSawwaf says the best temperature for frying eggs is between 255°F to 280°F. "Having high heat means that the eggs could brown and blister before being properly cooked in the center," she explains. "Fried eggs should be shiny and have fully set whites and shouldn't be blistered or browned, while the yolks should be properly cooked according to your preference."

AlSawwaf also cautions against cracking eggs directly on the pan. Instead, crack them in a separate bowl to ensure the yolks don't break.

If you want to cook your egg sunny-side up, add sprinkles of water inside the pan, then cover them to steam the eggs and cook the yolks. If you prefer over-easy, AlSawwaf says to flip the egg with a spatula and baste it with butter until it reaches your desired doneness. 

Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled eggs
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Mistakes: When making scrambled eggs, AlSawwaf says the most common mistakes are:

  • Mixing the cheese and herbs into the bowl with the eggs beforehand
  • Not adding stock, water, or cream to the scrambled eggs mixture
  • Cooking the eggs on consistently high heat
  • Not removing the scrambled eggs from the heat at the right time

What To Do Instead: "Add a small amount of stock, about two teaspoons per egg, to your beaten eggs. As the water evaporates, the egg will become puffier," says AlSawwaf. "Milk and cream may also be added to the beaten eggs to enrich your scrambled eggs." Two to three minutes before your scrambled eggs are ready is the correct time to mix in cheese, herbs, or any other add-ins you like in your eggs. Fold in these ingredients when the eggs are almost done.

Next, melt your fat over medium heat before pouring the eggs. "The eggs will begin to coagulate almost immediately," says AlSawwaf. Then turn your heat down to low and continue stirring the egg mixture. "The lower the heat and the more constant your movement, the creamier your scrambled eggs will be," explains AlSawwaf. Alternatively, she says you can remove the eggs completely from the heat to stir every minute during the cooking process.

Finally, remove the eggs from the heat when they're slightly underdone. AlSawwaf explains that the residual heat from the pan will continue cooking the scrambled eggs — so if you remove them from the heat when they're perfectly done, the residual heat will overcook them.

 

Omelets

Mistakes: AlSawwaf noted there are a number of mistakes that can ruin your omelet. The most common are:

  • Beating the eggs too much or for too long
  • Using a pan that's too small or too large for the number of eggs
  • Selecting an omelet filling that overpowers the delicate flavors of the eggs instead of complementing it
  • Not having all your ingredients in place before cooking the eggs
  • Adding your filling and garnishes too late
  • Seasoning the omelet from the very start

What To Do Instead: "Beat your eggs until the whites and yolks are incorporated," says AlSawwaf. "Do not beat until the eggs are frothy or incorporate too much air."
For flat omelets that don't require stirring, AlSawwaf says that the time to add omelet garnishes and fillings is when you're beginning to cook. For folded or rolled omelets, fillings should be added when the omelet is almost done.

"You may add two teaspoons of stock per egg or cream to the omelet mixture to have a richer and creamier result," AlSawwaf suggests. "Using clarified butter is a common thing for omelets, but oils are also good to use." Finally, wait until you're as close to finishing your omelet as possible before you add the seasonings.