October 27, 2011
Spicy Chile and Garlic Broccoli
12 ounces broccoli florets (5 cups raw)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Arrange broccoli in a steamer. Steam, covered, 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Place broccoli in a large bowl.
2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, crushed red pepper, and sliced garlic; cook 2 minutes. Add lemon juice. Pour over broccoli. Sprinkle with lemon rind and kosher salt.
Amount per serving
Saturated fat: 0.7g
Source: Cooking Light
October 24, 2011
Hearty Fall Soups
Cooler weather is around the corner, and fall is my favorite time of year to cook. Not only can you create soups with ease in a slow cooker, but you can control the sodium content, utilize vegetables and add meatless protein from beans and legumes. It is also one of the easiest ways to increase your soluble fiber intake, which can help lower your LDL or "bad" cholesterol. It's a great item to pack for the next day's lunch. You can easily put many food groups in one container.
Let's look at a few ingredients that can contribute to a healthy soup:
Base - This is where many of us make the mistake of starting with a salty bouillon or broth. Tasty broths can be made by simmering a combination of savory vegetables, such as celery, onion, parsley, thyme, basil, for example. Broth does not have to be meat based.
However, if you want a meat base, simmering fresh meat that has been trimmed of the fat can impart a hearty flavor and minimize fat and salt content of your final product. Refrigerating the broth and letting any fat harden and come to the surface allows easy removal. Of course, ready-to-use, low sodium broths are also available in your grocery store as a time saver.
Vegetables - Whether you start with a vegetable or meat base, vegetables are an important part of your soup ingredients. The sky is the limit. Add the familiar soup mixture of green beans, carrots, corn, cabbage, celery and onions, but also consider squash, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, greens, mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes. The recipe included with this column allows your choice of vegetable additions.
Dried beans, lentils and peas - Even if you don't have the time required to cook dried beans, you can always purchase low sodium beans or drain and rinse regular canned beans to add protein, soluble fiber and some folate and iron to your soup, especially if you are not using meat.
Grains - Barley and quinoa are powerhouse foods that you often hear about but don't always know how to incorporate into your diet. Soups are great ways to add these nutrient dense grains to contribute their benefits and add body, texture and interest to your soups.
October 20, 2011
Spicy Baked Salmon and Apples
1 Granny Smith apple
4 skinless salmon fillets (4 oz each)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Wash and thinly slice unpeeled apple.
3. Place each fillet on a 12 x 12 inch square of foil. Sprinkle with cinnamon and cumin. Top each with apple slices, salt and pepper.
4. Fold and seal packets, and place on a baking sheet.
5. Bake until salmon is cooked through, about 15 mins.
Per serving: 150 kcal, 4g fat, 59 mg cholesterol, 23g protein, 5g carb, 1g fiber, 344 mg sodium
October 17, 2011
Try Something New: Greek Yogurt
Belly-friendly: Yogurt is one of the best food sources of probiotics, the healthy bacteria naturally present in our digestive tracts.
Lactose tolerant: Yogurt often can be tolerated by people with lactose intolerance, since the live cultures essentially digest the lactose for us.
Strong bones: One single-serving carton provides 20 percent of our calcium needs for the day.
Packed with protein: Ounce for ounce, Greek yogurt has more than twice the protein of regular yogurt. A single-serving carton contains 15 to 20 grams of protein -- about what you get in 2 to 3 ounces of lean meat.
Good for blood pressure: Not only is Greek yogurt low in sodium, it's also high in calcium and is a good source of potassium, all of which can help to lower elevated blood pressure.
Greek yogurt has a delightfully tangy taste, making it a perfect substitute for your sour cream on tacos.
Add your favorite berries and high-fiber granola for a great start to your morning or a super healthy afternoon pick-me-up.
Mix in savory seasonings such as garlic, dill and parsley for a zingy dip for carrots, celery sticks and cucumber rounds.
Make your creamy dressing low in fat and calories by substituting Greek yogurt for mayo and sour cream.
October 13, 2011
Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Salad With Pistachios
1 pound carrots, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
1 pound shiitake or cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup quinoa
5 cups baby spinach (4 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped salted, roasted pistachios
1. Heat oven to 425° F. On 2 rimmed baking sheets, toss the carrots and mushrooms with the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Roast, tossing once, until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Combine the vegetables in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice and thyme.
2. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to the package directions. Divide the spinach among plates and top with the warm quinoa and vegetables. Sprinkle with the pistachios and drizzle with the oil.
Any roasted vegetables will work in this salad: In place of the carrots and mushrooms, try roasted cauliflower and red onion or broccoli and sweet potatoes.
Sat Fat 2g
October 10, 2011
There's a time and a place for freeze-dried fruit. Most important, I don't think there's any substitute for fresh fruit. Here are a few things to watch for, to ensure your freeze-dried experience is the healthiest possible.
When you look at the ingredients, the only thing you should see is 'fruit". There's no reason for sugars or anything else to be added.
Check the vitamin content. Some of the water-soluble vitamins may be lost during the freeze-drying process, so you want to see if it's been fortified to add them back in.
Be mindful of portions. Because the water has been stripped from the fruit, your child won't fill up as quickly as she would eating a whole apple or a handful of fresh strawberries, so she may be tempted to eat two or three recommended serving sizes.
If you place a high value on buying organic fresh produce, check the fruit's country of origin and whether it's organic. Some parents put a lot of effort and care into choosing organic fresh fruit and then forget to pay attention to that when it's dried or freeze-dried.
Think of freeze-dried fruit as a sweet, but healthier, substitute where you might be tempted to add sugar: Blended into a trail mix instead of M&Ms, tossed atop cookies instead of sprinkles, baked into muffins instead of chocolate chips, stirred into oatmeal instead of brown sugar.
October 6, 2011
Looking at Labels
You know by now that you can't trust most of the marketing claims splashed across product labels, and that it's essential to check the Nutrition Facts to see what you're really getting.
But the Nutrition Facts label can be a bit overwhelming if you don't know exactly what you should be looking for. Is 40 milligrams of sodium in a can of Coke Zero a lot or a little? Is 32 grams of sugar high or low for a carton of fat-free Yoplait?
It's nearly impossible to specify exactly what to look for on every label of every product, since the stats that matter will vary with the type of food. The key nutrients to consider when comparing cheeses, for example, are different than comparing crackers or bread.
So here's a rundown of all that's on a nutrition facts label, including reference ranges and upper limits, as well as what information doesn't really matter much at all.
Read this carefully and consider what it really means before you scan the nutritional values below it. This may seem obvious, but it's not -- what you may intutively regard as a serving may be much larger than what the manufacturer defines as one. Even pre-packaged items that appear to be a "single serving" can often count as two or more servings on the label. And when it comes to foods such as cereal, chips and crackers, the serving sizes may be unrealistically small. That half-cup serving of ice cream? It's about what fits into a single cupcake wrapper.
Depending on the person, an appropriate range may be 100 to 300 calories for a snack, and 300 to 500 calories or more for a meal.
I almost never look at total fat on a nutrition label -- it's far less important than the type of fat that the product contains.
Research shows that different types of saturated fat may not impact cholesterol levels in the same way. One of the types of saturated fat in chocolate, for example, appears to have a neutral affect on cholesterol. Still, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend that we get less than 10 percent of our calories from saturated fat, and less than 7 percent to further reduce the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association says to limit saturated fat to less than 7 percent of total daily calories. For a 1,800-calorie diet, this 7 percent to 10 percent limit translates to 14 to 20 grams of saturated fat per day.
Trans fats have a doubly negative effect: Not only do they appear to increase our "bad" LDL cholesterol, but they can also reduce our "good" HDL cholesterol. Look for products that list trans fat at zero or as close to it as possible.
Though research shows that cholesterol from food doesn't appear to raise our blood levels of LDL cholesterol as once thought, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the AHA guidelines both recommend that we limit cholesterol intake to no more than 300 milligrams daily. One large egg has about 186 milligrams of cholesterol, and a mere 1.5 grams of saturated fat.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the AHA recommend an upper limit of 1,500 mg for most of the population (although people who lose large amounts of sweat through exercise or work in a hot, humid environment may need more). So that 40 milligrams in your can of Coke Zero -- not such a big deal. But the 800-plus milligrams that you can find in a single frozen dinner can be much more problematic.
The guidelines for carbohydrate consumption vary widely by person, activity and weight goals. With my clients, the lower range I usually go is about 1 carb gram per pound of healthy/ideal body weight; it is usually higher, as much as 2-3 carb grams per pound or more for those who exercise often and at a high intensity. Whatever your target, it's important to keep carb counts in perspective when checking labels. To with: 15 grams of carbohydrate are about what you get in a regular slice of white bread. So that Lean Cuisine with 62 grams of carbohydrate gives you the equivalent of four slices of bread.
Fiber is mostly found in foods such as whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables, as well as products that are made with these ingredients, but you won't typically find it in foods such as meats, milk, cheeses and oils. Look for at least 3 to 5 grams of fiber per serving. And if you're familiar with fiber sources, scan the ingredient list as well to ensure that the majority is from naturally occurring fiber, not just isolated fibers such as inulin or chicory root.
The AHA recommends that we limit added sugars to 25 grams daily for women and 37 grams daily for men. Unfortunately, Nutrition Facts labels don't differentiate between added sugars and naturally occurring sugars (such as those from fruit or milk), so it's up to us to look at the ingredient list to see where they're coming from.
Protein needs vary by person, although I typically recommend that my clients aim for 0.5 to 1 gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight (depending on activity level). Protein matters more on the Nutrition Facts labels of foods such as meats, seafood and dairy products, and is less important for foods such as fruits, veggies and many grains. For these foods, keep the focus on fiber, with minimal added sugar.
The recommendations for calcium are in milligrams -- about 1,000 to 1,200 for the majority of adults. But Nutrition Facts labels list calcium content as a percentage of daily value, based on 1,000 milligrams. So at least the math is easy: a carton of Greek yogurt that provides 20 percent of the daily value for calcium means that it has 200 milligrams of calcium; a cup of milk with 30 percent of the daily value for calcium has 300 milligrams.
October 3, 2011
Five Foods To Fit In This Fall
Who doesn't associate the fall with apples? Turns out apples are not only delicious, but as we enjoy the sweet taste and super crunch, apples strengthen the lining of our mouth, digestive organs and even our airways. Apples contain vitamin C (which our skin needs for collagen production) and help maintain the body's natural physical barriers to fight infection and help it flush out invaders. This super fruit is also a rich source of fiber and can help to keep your cholesterol levels healthy.
These juicy beauties contain a myriad of health benefits. Grapes and parts of the grape plant contain very powerful plant chemicals that involve polyphenols, flavinoids and reservatrol. These antioxidant chemicals help keep us healthy, slowing down aging and decreasing inflammation from arthritis, heart disease and other conditions.
Don't discount the "cousin of broccoli" for its health benefits. Its nutritional value equals others from the cabbage family. It is especially low in calories, contains vitamin C and powerful plant chemicals called indoles and isothiocyanates. These chemicals are associated with decreasing the risk of many cancers especially those of the prostate. It's also is high in water content and fiber making you feel full with fewer calories and helping you manage your weight and appetite.
4. Winter Squash
Winter squash has immeasurable benefits that stem from a healthy dose of vitamin A from carotenoids, which help to keep your red blood cells healthy. This helps to promote a healthy immune system, allowing you to fight off infection and recover faster when you do get sick. Winter squash can also prevent heart disease, aging and some cancers and is great for your vision.
Underrated and under-appreciated, this vegetable is oh-so-powerful. Beets are rich in antioxidants like folate, vitamin C, copper and manganese and a class of plant chemicals called betalins. They relate to the striking color of beets, which help the body manage inflammation and pain, and have been implicated in helping to support nerve tissue health. For a natural and healthy detox, rethink beets for improving digestion and helping in naturally lowering body toxins.