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An easy trick for a healthier starch

In the US, the average person consumes 3.4lb of candy at Hallowe’en

The scariest thing about Hallowe'en is the sheer volume of candy in circulation. I don’t have stats for Bermuda, but in America nearly 600 million pounds of candy is bought each year for Hallowe'en, with the average person consuming … wait for it … 3.4lb of candy related to the holiday.

That’s insane and an absolute killer for dental and metabolic health. So, if you have Hallowe'en leftovers on your desk at work or somewhere at home, now is the time to ditch them.

If you are unable to be moderate (ie, a few pieces a week), then you’re better off throwing the candy away. I know that seems wasteful, but it’s better than causing yourself health problems. Of course, you can always donate it — maybe to charity? — but is unhealthy food ever really a gift?

Don’t get me wrong, I love trick or treating as a fun activity for kids and I don’t think there’s any harm in a little. It’s the volume that troubles me. This meant I was extra delighted to discover some new research recently that highlights how to significantly improve the way we consume carbs, and anything we can do to better manage carbs is good in my book!

Carbs essentially fuel our bodies with sugars, but that can happen in a healthy or unhealthy way. If we eat refined carbs (white rice, flour, cookies, candy, etc) then the sugars release really quickly; we have more than we need for cellular energy and so we store excess as fat.

If we eat unrefined or slower-releasing carbs (wholegrains, sweet potato, beans, lentils, lower sugar fruits, etc) then we have a slower, more steady release of sugars. This is due to the increased fibre. We are then more likely to use it up for cellular energy as we go along, and less likely to store. Note that this no longer applies if we overeat a healthy carb, because we still have an excess. Also note that pairing a healthy carb with protein (eg, berries with nuts) is even better than eating carbs alone, as protein also helps to moderate energy release. But you’ve probably heard all this before.

What may be new to you (as it was to me) is that the way we cook some of these carbohydrates can have a significant impact in terms of how they release their sugars. After cooking starches (such as rice, potatoes, butternut squash, carrots or even pasta) it helps to allow them to cool off first. Cooling them off in the fridge for 20 minutes (at least) creates what’s called “resistant starch”, which acts like fibre and results in a slower, more steady energy release.

It’s fine to reheat these carbs, but the cooling-off process is important. This gives the idea of food prep an extra gold star! Food prep may seem time-consuming to some, but honestly saves time in the long run. The most I tend to do is cook two dishes at the weekend and serve them during the week (eg. maybe a chicken casserole and bolognese). But now I’ve started to cook sides in bulk too, (eg, brown rice, butternut squash), which is quick and easy. Just be careful with the rice because rice can go off quickly, even in the fridge — I would freeze surplus portions instead.

Last night we had a teriyaki salmon stir fry and I cooled off the rice first. This made me feel good as the teriyaki sauce was already fairly sweet. It is a really easy week night dish and gets a thumbs-up from the whole family.

Teriyaki salmon stir fry


• Brown basmati rice, 1 serving per person

• Salmon, no skin or bones, 1 fillet per person

• Broccoli, 1 cup florets per person

• Frozen peas, ½ cup per person

• Green beans, handful per person

• Water chestnuts (sliced), half tin per person

• Teriyaki sauce


1. Preheat the oven to 400F

2. Cook the basmati rice and cool for at least 20 minutes in the fridge

3. Dice the salmon into large cubes and marinate in the sauce for 30 minutes

4. Place all the green veg in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Pop a plate on top to keep the steam in. Drain after 10 minutes

5. Bake the salmon cubes in the oven for 10 minutes. Set to one side

6. Oil a wok/stir-fry pan with a high-heat oil such as grapeseed or avocado

7. Add a tablespoon of water and a tablespoon or two of sauce. Add the water chestnuts and green veg. Stir fry till tender

8. Right at the end, add the salmon and toss with the veggies

9. Reheat the rice, serve with the stir fry and enjoy!

Catherine Burns is a qualified nutritional therapist. For more details: www.natural.bm, 505-4725, Natural Nutrition Bermuda on Facebook and @naturalbda on Instagram

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Published November 04, 2022 at 8:05 am (Updated November 04, 2022 at 8:05 am)

An easy trick for a healthier starch

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