Monique Costello says equipping pantries with sorghum is a great way to get back to eating simpler, nutrition-packed foods.
Wellness chef and former restaurateur Monique Costello is a firm believer in the power of nutrition. While she always thought she ate well, it wasn’t until she started paying closer attention to her diet that she started to feel more vigorous and ready to take on the world.
Now an integrative health coach, Costello is inspired to help others learn to make smart food choices. It starts, she says, with stepping away from the dining out/microwavable lifestyle.
“The popularity of processed foods has brought an onslaught of health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. We’re generations away from simpler, more nutritious ways of eating,” she says. “We’ve forgotten basics that our great grandparents took for granted, such as why water, real butter, and whole grains are good for us.”
Costello has a three-step plan for returning to those basics:
1. Equip your kitchen with great-tasting foods
“When cooking from home, you want to stock the kitchen to eat cleanly without feeling like you’re depriving yourself. Some foods should be on your weekly grocery list,” says Costello. These include:
- Veggies: Asparagus, endive lettuce, onions, leeks, carrots, dandelion greens, ginger, garlic, fennel, beets, and sweet potatoes. “In general, strive to eat every color of the rainbow in vegetables,” she advises.
- Fruits: Apples, bananas, avocados, pomegranates, and grapefruit
- Grains: Sorghum, beans, and barley
- Oils: Ghee (or grass-fed butter), extra virgin olive oil, cold-pressed coconut oil, avocado oil
- Fatty Acids: Salmon, sardines, hemp and flax seeds
“Many people have never heard of sorghum but I really like it because it’s gluten-free, highly sustainable, and grown in the midwest. In addition to having protein and fiber, it’s also low in lectin so it’s easy for the body to digest and absorb. It tastes mildly nutty, and can be used in place of quinoa, rice, pasta, amaranth or barley.”
2. Feed your gut microbiome.
“Two-thirds of the body’s immune system is in the gut. If your gut isn’t working, the rest of your immune system isn’t working either. The gut also helps the body maintain overall wellbeing. Managing our gut health means nourishing the trillions of microbes that make up our gut mini-ecosystem. Diet seems to have the most powerful influence over the gut microbiome. ”
- Avoid processed foods. “Processed foods containing emulsifiers and detergent-like compounds may damage the intestinal lining, potentially leading to “leaky gut” and systemic inflammation.”
- Be intentional about eating more fiber. “Fibers are some of the key nutrients for promoting a diverse microbiome. Prebiotic fibers, found in sorghum, provide a beneficial environment in the gut for good bacteria to grow and thrive.”
3. Choose anti-inflammatory foods
“People don’t understand what inflammation does to the body. When inflammation persists or becomes chronic, it damages the body and causes illness. It has been linked to many serious diseases including heart disease, many cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease. A healthy diet and lifestyle can help keep inflammation under control.”
- Eat fewer processed foods. “These may promote inflammation.”
- Eat more foods closest to their source. “Think vegetables, fruits, and grains such as sorghum.”
- Read labels on everything before you buy. “If you can’t pronounce it, don’t know what it is or if your grandmother wouldn’t have eaten it, find a different option.”
Costello concludes, “To start more control over your health, get back to the basics of food. The more home cooking you can do, the more control you have over what you eat.”
About Monique Costello
Monique Costello is a culinary nutrition and wellness expert, chef, integrative health coach, and a healthy eating blogger who has been featured on The Food Network and can be seen conducting healthy cooking demonstrations and guest speaking appearances at food and health events throughout the United States.
Monique is often sought after by restaurant owners looking to add healthy menu options, and by top producers of healthy food products to formulate and test recipes. For Monique, healthy eating is personal. After healing her debilitating health problems by changing what she ate and how she lived, today Monique most enjoys teaching people how to reverse health challenges through good food.
Have you eaten sorghum or is it a new grain for you? Please leave a comment below.