Eating Healthy at Home

In today’s trying economic times many people are foregoing the conveniences of ready made foods, making more from scratch, and eating out less. While it’s fairly simple to make healthy choices when eating somewhere else, the thought of cooking a healthy meal on a budget seems like a major obstacle. Here are some tips.

Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables, and get them at your local farmers market. They are more fresh and generally cost less than the supermarket. What do you do with the three pounds of kale or collard greens you just bought? Clean them thoroughly; as they are usually have a lot of dirt on them. It helps to soak them in water for five or ten minutes, sometimes two or three times. Rinse them thoroughly, remove tough stems, cut them into bite size pieces and put them in a large pot with a sliced onion and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and let simmer until the
greens are tender. Serve with cornbread and grilled chicken breasts.

What to do for non seasonal vegetables? Check the freezer at the supermarket and compare prices. It will be less expensive per ounce to buy a bag of frozen peas than fresh ones in dead of winter. The same goes for frozen peaches and berries when they are not in season. They are frozen right after they are picked, when they are ripe and ready for eating and at their nutritional peak, so they have more vitamins and minerals than the berries shipped from South America that were picked four or five days ago. Buy smaller apples and oranges in bags, each fruit is a single portion, compared to their larger counterparts that go for about two for a dollar and have at least two servings per fruit.

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Go meatless two or three times a week. Make meatless lasagna. Substitute cooked lentils for ground beef in things like chili. Use canned beans to make veggie burgers. Cook up a large quantity of beans at once and freeze in one and two cup amounts. All you have to do is pull out a bag and let it thaw, then add to salads and soups, or make bean dip for your next party.

When combined with grains, beans and legumes make a complete protein. Some meal ideas are red beans and rice served with salad and whole grain bread, lentil burgers made with lentils and oats or millet, stir fried vegetables with tofu served on whole wheat noodles, and stewed vegetables and chickpeas served over couscous.

There is always the option of serving breakfast for dinner. Make whole wheat or buckwheat pancakes or waffles and serve them with fruit salad and low-fat yogurt. Make egg white omelets with vegetables and part skim cheese, or make eggs cooked in tomato sauce. Serve tuna fish and oven baked French fries and salad.
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Eggs in Tomato Sauce

In a large frying pan sauté  a medium chopped onion and three cloves of garlic in one teaspoon of olive oil, add 2 medium sized chopped tomatoes (2 cups), a six ounce can of tomato paste, and half a can of water. Add one teaspoon Italian seasoning and a pinch of salt. If you like it spicy add some diced chili peppers or red pepper flakes. The mixture should have the consistency of chunky tomato sauce. Break four eggs into the sauce, yolks optional, cover the pan and let simmer until the eggs are cooked through. Serve with whole grain toast and salad. You can use only egg whites or egg substitute in place of whole eggs.
Serves 4
Nutrition information: 164.25 calories, 6.55 grams fat, 1.75 grams saturated fat, 250.75mg cholesterol, 412.25 grams sodium, 12.525 grams carbohydrates, 3.3 grams fiber, 9.125 grams sugar, 9.375 grams protein.
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An Apple a Day
There is truth to the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” A medium sized apple has about 70 calories, a little over three grams of fat, and 10% of your daily Vitamin C needs. Apples are rich in B vitamins, magnesium, and potassium. Antioxidants found in apples include lutein, which can prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, beta-carotene, quercitin, and pectin, which helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol. Apples are high on the list of produced sprayed with pesticides so was them well, or buy organic. Enjoy apples raw, baked, dried, freeze dried, chopped or grated into yogurt or oatmeal, and baked goods. An apple and an ounce of almonds, about 24, makes a great pick me up for that afternoon slump.

I Don’t Like Water – How to Make Better Choices

I was recently asked if it is necessary to drink the recommended eight cups of water a day. Does it really have to be water? Can I just drink a 64 oz Big Gulp and call it a day? After all, eight 8 oz cups adds up to 64, though some 800 calories also comes with it.

All of those super sized lattes and iced coffee drinks, regular soda, sports drinks and energy drinks, they all come with the added bonus of calories, calories, and more calories. If you eat the recommended daily 1800 calories in food, and then consume another few hundred in drinks it adds up to pounds on the scale and inches on the waistline.

Get a small latte instead of a giant one, and have it made with skim milk, or save money and make your own at home. You can get flavored syrups to make your own coffee beverages anywhere, even at Wal-Mart, and not just the standard chocolate and strawberry. You can also get flavored powdered or liquid coffee creamer, light versions to boot, in flavors like hazelnut, mocha, French vanilla, and even eggnog and pumpkin pie come the holiday season.

Switch from regular soda to diet soda, or seltzer mixed with some juice. Make your own flavored water with herbal and fruit flavored tea bags. Put one bag in a 16 oz bottle, let it sit for about half an hour, and enjoy. Use low calorie powdered drink mixes like Crystal Light, they come in flavors like Cranberry Apple and Peach Tea.

10 recipes
Switch to skim milk, and do it in stages. Going from full fat, or even 2% milk to skim is a drastic change, every week buy the next percentage down, going from 2% to 1%, to 1/2%, to skim.

Do you really need that sports drink after a workout, or do you just need something with taste? Unless you are a serious athlete working out more than two hours a day you probably don’t need it, and in a few gulps your drink the calories you just worked so hard to burn off. With the adrenaline and endorphins of a good workout do you really need the rush from a sugary drink? With a balanced diet you shouldn’t need the electrolytes either.

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Lemon Garlic Chicken 

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 3-4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Wisk together juice, garlic, and oil and pour over the chicken, and bake, covered, at 350°F for 45 minutes.

Makes four servings.
Nutrition information: 181.375 calories 5 grams fat, .875 grams saturated fat, 95mg cholesterol, 51.375mg sodium, 2.975 grams carbohydrates, .625 grams fiber, 1.23 grams sugar, 33.625 grams protein.

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What’s Millet?
Millet is not a grain, but actually a seed. It has a nutty taste, a little over 5 grams of protein, 12% of daily magnesium needs, B vitamins, and about four grams of fiber in a half cup serving. Millets versatility allows it to be cooked like a hot cereal or polenta (which is made from cornmeal) with a little extra liquid and a few more minutes, or it can be cooked like rice. Millet is gluten free and because it doesn’t have a strong taste it can be seasoned with just about anything. Cook it in chicken or vegetable broth (one part millet to two parts water) with some chopped onions and carrots for a pilaf, make it plain and serve it instead of rice, throw a handful into vegetable soup instead of barley, you can even serve vegetarian chili over it to make a complete protein.

How to beat the Halloween Junkfest fast and easy

It is that time of year again, when junk food comes out of the woodwork and mysteriously makes its way into pantries and entry way tables around the country. It is time to go trick or treating.

What to do with all of that accumulated junk food? Have a Halloween party coming up? Here are a few tips on what to do with all of the candy, cookies, and other goodies tempting our palates this time of year.

Trick or treaters who head out early can recycle their unwanted goodies by giving them out to people who come out later. Another option is to let your children pick a few things they like and then buy the rest, say a nickel or dime per piece. Ration what is received, one or two items per day, store the rest in the freezer, and dish it out slowly. If you must eat some of the goodies pick one or two you really like, and savor them by eating them slowly.

Donating Halloween stash to a Ronald McDonald house or women and children’s shelter is also a great option, and instead of collecting candy to begin with try asking for a donation of money or food for a charitable organization. There are organizations that distribute collection boxes specifically for collecting money on Halloween.

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Healthy snack options to give out to trick or treaters are small packages of nuts, miniature boxes of raisins, granola bars, and trail mix.

Going to a Halloween party? Pick one or two things you really love to eat, be it the spider cookies, the pumpkin shaped crisped rice bars, or bat cupcakes, eat a small serving and then stick with vegetable crudités and salsa or humus, one handful of nuts, and drink plenty of water. Do not park yourself by the buffet table or near bowls of candy. Eat before you go to the party .If you have already eaten your fill before you get there you will be less inclined to eat too much.

In short, regardless of where you are, be it trick or treating or a Halloween party, make a plan to choose one or two things you really like and only eat those. Enlist a spouse or friend, or implement the buddy system to help you stick to your plan. Check nutrition information to verify what a serving size really is. It may be three miniature chocolate bars, it may be 12 pieces of candy corn, it may be 25 jelly beans.

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Thanksgiving Dinner vs Losing Weight

5 Ways to Indulge at Thanksgiving Dinner and Still Lose Weight

1) Plan in advance the things you cannot live without eating on Thanksgiving, your great aunt’s cranberry sauce or your grandfather’s stuffing. Eat a few bites of the items you must have and fill the rest of your plate with vegetables and salads. Go back for more if what you really like if you are still hungry afterwards.

2) Stay away from bread so you can eat more of the things you really enjoy. The next day make yourself a sandwich with left over turkey and cranberry sauce on a dinner roll.

3) If you must drink alcohol, have one 4 ounce glass of wine or one 12 ounce bottle of light beer. Fruity cocktails have more calories from juice and added sugar. Alcohol also reduces inhibitions, which can lead to overeating.

4) Drink a glass of water before dinner, studies have shown that people who drink a glass of water or eat a clear soup as a first course eat less at the rest of the meal. If you must drink alcohol, have one 4 ounce glass of wine or one 12 ounce bottle of light beer. Fruity cocktails have more calories from juice and added sugar.

5) If you attend a potluck dinner, bring a dish you know you will be able to enjoy, a colorful salad, marinated green beans, roasted vegetables, or a lighter version of the classic green bean casserole

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Green Beans with Mushrooms

1 12 ounce microwaveable bag of green beans
1 8 ounce package sliced mushrooms
1 large onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 tablespoons reduced fat Italian dressing

Cook green beans according to package directions. Saute mushrooms and onions in olive oil until the mushrooms are cooked through, about five to seven minutes. Toss green beans, mushrooms and onions with the dressing. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes four servings.

Nutritional information: 64.25 calories, 1 gram fat, 1 gram cholesterol, 215.5mg sodium, 12 grams carbohydrates, 4.5 grams fiber, 3.25 grams sugar, 5 grams protein.

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Vanilla Rum Roasted Sweet Potatoes

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeling and cut into bite sized pieces
3 teaspoons brown sugar
1 ounce rum
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place all ingredients in a zip top bag and shake to coat. Pour everything onto a cookie sheet lined with baking paper. Bake, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are cooked through. Makes six servings.

Nutritional information: 103.166 calories, 2.37 grams fat, 42mg sodium, 16.75 grams carbohydrates, 2.26 grams fiber, 3.02 grams sugar, 1.18 grams protein.

What are Essential Fatty Acids?

Let’s Talk about Essential Fatty Acids

People ask me all the time about why there is so much talk about essential fatty acids. They want to know why are they so important, what do they do, and where do they come from.

To answer all of these questions let us first clarify exactly what is an essential fatty acid. All fats, be they monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, or saturated are made of fatty acids, and without getting into particulars each one is different, hence the different kinds of fats. Fatty acids are part of what make up these fats. Some fatty acids are made by the body, these include arachidonic acid (AA) is an Omega 6 fatty acid, docosahexanoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are Omega 3 fatty acids. There is also Omega 9, or oleic acid. They are all made in the liver.

Some fatty acids need to be consumed in food or taken as supplements. These are the Omega 3 essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and the Omega 6 essential fatty acid linoleic acid (LA). Both Omega 3 and Omega 6 are polyunsaturated fats, and are liquid at room temperature. They are found in nuts and seeds, olives and olive oil, avocados, cold water fish, and leafy green vegetables.

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Omega 3s are important because they improve circulation by acting as blood thinners, thus preventing blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes. They can lower cholesterol and triglycerides. They have anti-inflammatory properties and can help with arthritis, immune response in fighting viral infections. These benefits are lost during processing, so it is best to use cold or expeller pressed oils.

As with just about anything, too much of something is not always good. Research is showing that people are consuming too much omega 6s, and not enough omega 3s and omega 9s. This could be because people are still stuck in the fat is bad mentality. Most omega 6s are consumed in the form of vegetable oils, like corn, soy, and safflower, while people avoid eating nuts, olives, avocados, and seeds, which have higher ratios of omega 3s and omega 9s. The easiest way to increase fatty acid consumption is to eat more nuts and seeds, and use more olive oil in place of vegetable oil. Use olive, walnut, or canola oil in salad dressing, add ground flax seeds to yogurt, and avoid processed foods.

Now that we have discussed what essential fatty acids are, where they come from, and they benefits they provide, should you take them in supplement form? If you do not eat nuts and fish on a regular basis, I say yes. There are too many benefits to be missing out on and if you are going to take one supplement this should be it.

Please discuss taking supplemental essential fatty acids with your doctor if you are taking prescription blood thinning medication or aspirin.

Keywords: essential fatty acid, omega 3, omega 6, omega 9, dha, efa, olive oil, nuts and seeds
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Snow peas with Sesame Ginger Dressing

¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon toasted sesame seed oil
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons water

1 package snow peas
supplements
Cook snow peas according to package directions. Blend remaining ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour half the dressing over snow peas. Reserve remaining dressing for another use. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes four servings.

Nutrition information: 87.25 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 156.25mg sodium, 12.225 grams carbohydrates, 2.1 grams fiber, 7.175 grams sugar, 2.6 grams protein.
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What’s the Deal with Sesame Seeds?

Sesame seeds are those little white seeds sometimes found on rolls, bread, and hamburger buns. Making baked goods look nice aside, they are a powerhouse of monounsaturated fatty acids, calcium, iron, magnesium, B vitamins, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, protein, and fiber. They come whole and hulled, with whole sesame seeds having greater nutritional value because they are not processed. When toasted, they add a nutty flavor to salads and dressings. Put them in the blender for sesame butter, which can be used as a sandwich spread, made into tahini by adding water, lemon juice, and garlic, or further diluted to make sesame milk, which can be used as a non-dairy alternative to cow or goat’s milk. Use expeller or cold pressed sesame oil in salads for a change of pace from olive oil.

How to Choose Healthy Snacks on the Go

You’ve made your lunch for tomorrow and gotten your breakfast ready for the morning. You go to bed and oversleep. You do the five minute whirlwind brush your teeth, get dressed, grab your bag, and run out the door leaving your good start breakfast and healthy lunch behind in the fridge. You get to work with five minutes to spare and you’re starving. You grab a sensible breakfast sandwich of an egg and some vegetables on whole wheat bread from the place downstairs, and for lunch you decide on soup or salad.

Comes the mid-morning slump, what do you do? The first thing is do not go for the vending machine, there are too many temptations. To avoid this, it is a good idea to keep some healthy snacks in your desk drawer. Protein bars with at least 4 grams of fiber, nuts and dried fruit packaged in single serving portions, lower sodium instant or microwavable soups, pretzels, even a box of cereal, and if you have access to a fridge some string cheese or single serving containers of low-fat cottage cheese and fresh fruit.

Going to the bodega or corner market for a snack break with some co-workers? Get a protein shake, just make sure it has some fiber and isn’t loaded with sugar. Have the munchies? Go for a small bag of whole grain pretzels or crackers and some humus or salsa. Want something sweet? Trail mix is a good choice, just make sure it is a single portion (or split it with someone) and isn’t the kind that is mostly coconut and banana chips, which add extra fat, sugar, and calories. Protein bars or fiber bars are good picks as well.

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Spending the whole day in the car dropping off and picking up carpools for school, sports, music lesson, and other extra-curricular activities without eating is not a wise idea. Besides making your cranky it can also cause you to be less alert and pay less attention to the road. Keep adult and kid friendly snacks in your glove compartment, and/or in your emergency kit to be prepared. Good non-perishable snack options are 100% juice boxes or vitamin water, dried fruit, nuts, protein or granola bars, whole grain crackers, 100 calorie packs of cookies or crackers, dry cereal that won’t get crushed so easily like Quaker Oat Squares.

Before you leave, be it for work, carpool, a road trip, even an airplane ride, plan in advance and some fresh, healthy snacks with you like baby carrots, peppers, and cut up celery, an apple, pear, or some other hard fruit or vegetable. Avoid soft produce like grapes and tomatoes unless you can put them in a reusable container, otherwise they get crushed in your bag and make a mess. Put in a hard boiled egg, some cheese, or humus, even a turkey sandwich. You can also take the usual nuts, dried fruit, whole grain pretzels or crackers, or protein bar.


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What is Turmeric?

Turmeric, in Latin Curcuma Longa, is a yellow root hailing from India. Sold in root form and powder, it has a sweet, yet fragrantly spicy aroma and taste. It is the main ingredient in curry powders and Middle Eastern spice mixes, yellow mustard, dairy products, pickles, and dressings. Try it sprinkled on chicken with cumin and cinnamon, or on potatoes with whole fresh garlic cloves, olive oil, and rosemary. Mix it with chopped onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, cumin, paprika, and cinnamon as a rub for meats or in hamburgers for Middle Eastern burgers. It is traditionally used as an anti-inflammatory and to aid in digestion. Speak with your doctor if you would like to use turmeric in medicinally beyond what is called for in cooking because it is not recommended for people with clotting disorders or gallstones in large amounts.

Choosing Healthy Snacks

Healthy Snack Foods

‘MOM! I’m hungry!’ While these words are a regular occurrence in our house, while junk food appearing in the pantry is not, which doesn’t always make snack time so simple with two kids and junk food-a-holic husband. I won’t even bring up the troops that pass through our house during the course of the afternoon, with each kid wanted to know what there is to eat.

We have our regular snack staples of whole wheat pretzels, raisins, seasonal fruit, whole grain cereal bars, popcorn, cut up vegetables with dips like humus or low fat ranch, cheese, yogurt, and even hard boiled eggs. I only bake when we have special company coming, so occasionally we have whole wheat oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip cookies, or some other baked goodie made in a more healthful manner like corn or carrot muffins.

Mix different things together in snack size bags for variety. Trail mix is fun, and an easy snack food everyone can make their own. Mix raisins, almonds, pretzels, popcorn, dried apples, banana chips, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, dried cherries or cranberries, cashews, even good quality dark chocolate chips. I know a mother of eight who would occasionally throw in a few jelly beans as a once in a while surprise for her kids. Put everything out on the table and let the kids make their own snack bags.

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PB&J on whole grain bread using all natural peanut butter (or cashew or almond butter) and all fruit spread is always a healthy snack winner. Another good choice would be a cup of apple slices and tablespoon of peanut butter. At 140 calories you get protein, fiber and B vitamins from the peanut butter and fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C from the apple.

Celery, carrot, and pepper sticks, cucumber slices, broccoli and cauliflower florets, cherry tomatoes, and snap peas and green beans make great snack foods. Serve them with humus, low fat ranch, or another favorite low fat dressing. If you don’t have time to wash, peel, slice, and cut daily make enough for a few days at a time and store them in containers in the fridge. Another bonus of having them ready to eat is people open the fridge looking for something to eat and there is a bowl of carrot sticks calling their name.

Keywords: healthy snack food, snack size, snack option, trail mix
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Baking Tips

If you like to bake with your kids make by all means make muffins, fruit bars, cookies and other goodies with them. Substitute half or more of the flour called for in a recipe with whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour is heavier than white flour so things don’t always come out as fluffy. For some recipes, like brownies, drop cookies and bar cookies you can use all whole wheat flour. Use applesauce or other pureed fruits in place of half the oil. Omit part of the sugar called for, can leave out a good quarter of a cup for every cup called for in a recipe and they usually taste better that way. If you make muffins, unless you are serving them to company and need it for presentation, leave off the streusel topping, it just adds more calories.

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There is 100% white whole wheat flour, which can be substituted for regular white flour with little or no change in taste and texture. It can be found with the rest of the flours in the baking aisle.
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Corn Muffins

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 egg
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup milk, or soy milk, or apple juice, or plain yogurt
2 teaspoons baking powder

Mix everything thoroughly in a medium mixing bowl. Line a muffin pan with muffin cups. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Nice additions include corn kernels, chopped pecans, dried cranberries, chopped green chili peppers, cheddar cheese, or chopped pimentos.

Nutritional information per muffin: 119.91 calories, 4.667 grams fat, 0.58 grams saturated fat, 18.667mg cholesterol, 160.667mg sodium, 17.54 grams carbohydrates, 1.95 grams fiber, 2.49 grams sugar, 3.4 grams protein.