Sweet Potatoes: The Other Potato

Sweet potatoes are another super food that is becoming more common to eat other than at Thanksgiving and holidays. They are a healthier choice than white potatoes and just as versatile.

Why then should one choose a sweet potato over a white potato? Sitting at 7 grams of fiber per serving, sweet potatoes contain two times more fiber than white potatoes. This high fiber allows them to be digested slower keeping blood sugar from spiking and its energy they provide used more efficiently.

Sweet potatoes have a large amount of vitamin B6 which can help prevent hardening of the arteries. Vitamin B6 also helps to keep the walls of the blood vessels flexible. They are high in potassium which helps lower blood pressure by regulating the fluid balance of the body. Potassium also helps to keep the normal rhythm of the heart regular and supports the normal function of the brain and nervous system.

Vitamin A is also found in abundance in sweet potatoes. Vitamin A, or beta-carotene, is an antioxidant which helps reduce cell damage and death. Vitamin A is good for the eyes and may help prevent vision loss.

Most of us know that vitamin C helps boost our immune system warding off colds and other viruses. Vitamin C also helps with the formation of bones and teeth as well as help to aid in digestion and the formation of blood cells. Vitamin C also helps with the healing of wounds and helps to keep our skin maintain its elasticity.

Sweet potatoes contain vitamin D. Vitamin D is made in our bodies as a result of being in the sunlight. This vitamin is important in helping with moods, helps build healthy and strong bones and teeth. Our heart, nerves and skin also benefit from vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is becoming a common occurrence partly due to sunblock products and sedentary lifestyles.

Manganese is another mineral that is found in sweet potatoes. This trace mineral helps metabolize carbohydrates which helps stabilize blood sugars. When blood sugars are stable, appetite is also stable so satisfaction from hunger lasts longer.

Magnesium is also present in sweet potatoes. This mineral is valuable in helping to reduce stress and increase relaxation. Our arteries, blood, bones, heart, muscles and nerve function also benefit from magnesium.

Almost anything goes with this super food. Sweet potatoes can be prepared in almost the same way in which you would prepare a white potato.

  • Mash some sweet potatoes and mix in a little olive oil
  • Bake them then add a little cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom
  • Sweet potato fries are in. Cut potatoes in wedges. Lightly coat in olive oil and add your favorite herbs. Rosemary or cumin or paprika. Bake at 425 degrees until tender.

This is one of my favorite recipes for sweet potatoes. The sugar-free syrup makes this dish diabetic friendly.

Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes

2 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 to 1 ½ inch pieces
1/3 cup sugar-free maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cubed potatoes in a 9×13 inch glass baking dish. In small bowl combine the maple syrup, butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper if used. Pour over sweet potatoes. Cover and bake for about 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until tender approximately 45-50 minutes. Serves 12.

Serving size ½ cup

Nutritional Information
Calories 96
Fat 2 grams
Carbohydrates about 15 grams
2 grams fiber
1 gram protein

Adapted from www.eatingwell.com.

Coffee – Not the Bad Guy Anymore

Coffee – my favorite way to start the day! There is nothing like that first cup of coffee in the morning, when no one else is up and about and the house is quiet. But who would have thought that the coffee you enjoy every morning is actually good for your health? I get patients all the time telling me that they quit drinking coffee believing it is bad for our health.

Research is beginning to show that coffee drinkers may be less likely to have Type 2 Diabetes. Magnesium and chromium are also present which actually help the body use the hormone insulin more efficiently and help regulate blood sugar more effectively. Coffee may help decrease heart rhythm disturbances and lower the risk of stroke in women.

We all know that coffee helps us stay awake. But did you know that coffee can help improve mood and brain function? Caffeine is a stimulant and increases firing of your neurons and release of other neurotransmitters that can actually improve mood, reaction time, memory and general functioning of the brain. As a result, coffee drinkers may have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

Due to the stimulant effect of caffeine, your metabolism increases and may enhance physical performance.

Other nutrients and vitamins found in that little coffee bean include vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, potassium, manganese and a large amount of antioxidants. Those antioxidants help prevent cell damage.

Can I drink coffee in pregnancy? Absolutely! The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) even states that moderate consumption of caffeine, about 12 ounces of coffee, does not appear to have any effects on fetal growth, premature delivery or miscarriages. So by all means enjoy that cup of coffee!

Coffee by itself is very low in calorie containing only 7 calories per cup. However, when we doctor that coffee up by adding half & half, non-dairy creamers or sugar we can be adding an additional 23 to 48 calories per cup! As with anything, moderation is always the key.

What if you do not like drinking coffee? Here are a couple of recipes to enjoy the benefits of coffee without having to drink it.

Coffee-Peppercorn Marinade

3 tablespoons strongly brewed coffee
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound your choice of beef such as flank steak, London Broil, or Sirloin steak.

Whisk together all ingredients. Place in sealable plastic bag or glass dish. Marinate meat for 1 to 8 hours. Remove beef and grill to desired doneness. My family absolutely loved this!

Nutritional Information:
Calories 230
Fat 3 grams
Cholesterol 45 mg
Carbohydrates 23 grams

Coffee Rub

½ cup finely ground coffee
¼ cup coarsely ground pepper
3 tablespoons kosher salt

Mix all ingredients together. Using 2 tablespoons of rub, rub evenly into 6 portions of your favorite protein such as chicken, beef, duck or lamb.

Serving size: 1 teaspoon

Nutritional information:
5 calories
1 carbohydrate

I experimented and used this rub on some wild caught salmon then placed under the broiler.

Adapted from www.eatingwell.com

It All Started in a Grocery Store in 1994

It was January of 1994, and I was working hard in a group of Family Medicine doctors, as the only OB/GYN. There were 15 of them, and only one of me – I was outnumbered, and was unable to make my own decisions about my practice and my life. My wife, Maura, met a very nice lady named Ann McEwen at church, and Ann happened to be married to Paul McEwen, who happened to be a medical practice advisor/manager.  Thus, the dream began to become reality. I would meet Paul at his house in Bedford, and we would discuss how we wanted to start the future MacArthur OB/GYN. We talked for hours at a time, and there was this tall kid at his house, named Michael, who was always around with a basketball.

We approached Irving Community Hospital, and spoke to the administrator, Mike O’Keefe, who was very happy to see me come to Irving.  My first day was June 1, 1994, and my first delivery was that day. There was an emergency, and I went to L&D, and said “I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, but we need to do a C-section right now”, and we ran back and did it.

My first office was on the corner of Shady Grove and MacArthur, in an old converted grocery store- I think it was a Kroger. My office was in the bakery section. I shared the office with 3 other doctors and the Adult Day Care. It was 6-7 minutes drive to the hospital, as long as you did not get stopped by the train at Rock Island. If you did, it was a 10-15 minute wait. I got caught by that train several times, and even missed a delivery or two because of it. I stayed in that office as a solo OB/GYN until 1999. Those were the days of LDRP rooms, where you labored, delivered, recovered, and then postpartumed in the same room. As I moved out of that office to 3626 N. MacArthur, across from the Arts Center, Dr. Joseph Kilianski and Dr. Robert Zwernemann joined me in the practice. We quickly became one of the busiest practices in Irving.  After 2 years, Dr. Kilianski left, and Dr. Diane Hughes joined us. We were starting to grow at that point, and then I was lucky to get Dr. Jeff Livingston to join, just as Dr. Zwernemann left the practice. We were able to get Dr. Colette Dominique to join the following year, which helped us grow even more. Dr. Hughes left the practice shortly thereafter.

Paul McEwen, my dear friend and office manager passed away unexpectedly on November 18, 2002. He was like family to me and my wife, and a great help to me personally. That tall kid, Michael, with the basketball at his house, began working at the office and quickly took over as manager and advisor of the practice. He, along with Dr. Livingston and Dr. Dominique, got us started with the EMR, electronic medical records. At first, it was a nightmare to me, as when we had tutorials, the two of them were in the front of the room going “let’s go, go, go…”, and I was in the back going “where is the ON button?”. After a few weeks, and a few long days, I finally “got it!”, and now, I can’t imagine medicine without the EMR- it makes it so much faster to write up a chart. We actually became a test site for Intergy/SAGE.

We really began to outgrow the space at 3626 MacArthur, and when we added Kim Sakovich, WHNP, my sister-in-law, we were needing to expand quickly. Michael, the tall kid, was also a dreamer, and more to the point, a visionary. This was very much like his father, Paul, who would be very proud of Michael. The practice was doing the most deliveries and surgeries at the hospital, which was now Baylor Medical Center at Irving. We looked across the street at another old grocery store (yes, it was!), at 3501 N. MacArthur, Suite 500. I can remember the first time we walked through the space – me, Michael, and Jeff. It seemed so big and there was no way we could fill that big of a space.  Michael, the magician, was able to make a deal for the space, and we built MacArthur OB/GYN. We started with 2/3 of the building, and McEwen and Associates took up some of the space.

Growth was the name of the game, and we all became very busy, indeed. After a couple of years, Dr. Elia Fanous joined us from another practice, and we soon had to expand into the rest of Suite 500. McEwen moved to Building 4, and grew as well. We then started doing more In-office procedures at that point, including ablations, hysteroscopies, Essures, and urodynamics. We quickly went from one sono tech, Joe Valine, who has been with me for 15 years – (he joined me right after I had done 5 sonograms on the L&D manager’s daughter-in-law, telling them it was a girl each time, only to deliver a BOY) – to now 3 sono techs. Dr. Kevin O’Neil joined us the next year, and we were really filling that unusually large space that we wondered if we could ever fill. We started doing robotic surgeries at the hospital, and now are among the top robot surgeons in the area.

The dream continued as we looked west to start a practice at THR Harris Methodist HEB Hospital. I had practiced there in the 90’s, but could not work there and Irving alone. Now that there were going to be 7 of us (Dr. Becky Gray joined us 3 years ago, too), we could expand to another hospital system. Michael and I looked very hard, but could not find another grocery store to renovate. Michael did find the space at 307 Westpark Way, and we got our foot in the door at HEB. We now take calls at each hospital and have diversified our practice. We have our Physician Assistant, Allie Rivard working with us. Recently, we added Dr. Reshma Patel to our staff of doctors at both hospitals. In the fall of 2013, Dr. Brian Enganno will be joining us, as well.

The cool thing about this practice is that we all bring a unique drive or quality to the office. We all have keen interests in different things, and we are able to play off each other and help each other grow as practitioners. We teach each other and assist each other – something very family-like.

  • Who knew in 1994 that someday two grocery stores would be the foundation for the premier OB/GYN practice in Irving, Texas?
  • Who would have thought that we would have all our records in a computer, rather than piles of charts on a desk?
  • Who could have imagined operating on a patient with a robot, and me, as the surgeon, being 15 feet away at a console?

At MacArthur OB/GYN, there are no limits to the imagination…the dream continues.