November 28, 2011
Decrease Your Risk for Diabetes
The numbers are nuts: More than 25 million people in the United States have diabetes -- and that's almost 10% of the population.
Here's what's even crazier: Making just one key lifestyle change can cut your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by roughly one-third, suggests a new government study that collected data on more than 200,000 adults. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) looked at how five specific lifestyle factors affected diabetes risk. They found that individually, each factor could lower your odds by about 30%; the combination of all five may reduce risk by about 80% -- even if you have a family history of diabetes. Here are the five changes to make, starting today, to help you stay out of those staggering statistics:
Drop extra pounds.
The more fatty tissue you have, the tougher it is for your body to make and use insulin properly, which can cause too much glucose to build up in your blood. Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes; in fact, the NIH study suggests that just being at a healthy weight reduces your risk by up to 70%. The good news: Every pound you lose improves your health.
The list of benefits speaks for itself: Exercise helps you lose weight, lower your blood sugar and boost insulin sensitivity. Shoot for at least 20 minutes a day; brisk walking is an excellent option, and so is going for a bike ride.
Eat more fiber and whole grains.
Both help improve blood sugar levels and reduce your risk. Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds; to increase your intake of whole grains, switch to brown rice and whole-wheat pasta. More healthy eating tips: Choose lean meats and non-fat dairy products, have fish a few times a week, cook with liquid oils instead of solid fats, and cut back on the snacks and sweets.
Heavy smokers -- those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day -- almost double their risk of developing diabetes, when compared with non-smokers.
Stick to one or two drinks max.
That's one for women, two for men: A little alcohol is fine, but drinking too much, too often can cause chronic inflammation of the pancreas, which can impair its ability to secrete insulin and ultimately lead to diabetes.
November 21, 2011
Roasted Autumn Vegetables
1 1/2 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried sage
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, cleaned, cut in half (2 cups)
1/2 pound parsnips, peeled, cut lengthwise into quarters, then cut into 2-inch pieces (2 cups)
1/2 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces (2 cups)
1 (8-ounce) bag ready-to-eat baby carrots (2 cups)
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix sage and garlic with oil. In ungreased 13-by-9-inch pan, place remaining ingredients.
2. Pour oil mixture over vegetables; stir. Cover with foil.
3. Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil; bake and additional 10-15 minutes longer or until vegetable are tender.
Makes 6 servings
-Per serving: 110 calories, 3 grams fat 2 grams protein, 16 grams carbohydrate, 65 milligrams sodium
November 17, 2011
Wild Rice Stuffing with Dried Cherries and Toasted Pecans
1/4 cup butter, divided
2 cups thinly sliced leek (about 1 large)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3 cups water
2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 cup uncooked wild rice
2 cups uncooked long-grain brown rice
1/2 cup finely chopped peeled turnip
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
2/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup chopped dried sweet cherries
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; swirl to coat. Add leek, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; sauté 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 cups water, chicken broth, and wild rice; cover. Increase heat to high; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Stir in brown rice; cover and simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Preheat oven to 400°.
3. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter over high heat in a large skillet; swirl to coat. Add turnip, celery, carrot, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; saute 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium; cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
4. Combine rice mixture, turnip mixture, pecans, cherries, and onions in a large bowl. Spoon stuffing into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Cover with foil; bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Yield: Serves 12 (serving size: about 1 cup)
Amount per serving
Saturated fat: 3g
Monounsaturated fat: 3.8g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.9g
November 14, 2011
Try Something New: Uncommon Fruit
Here are eight uncommon fruits that are worth a try. If your local supermarket doesn't carry them, try farmers markets in your area, gourmet shops or online vendors like Melissa's World Variety Produce or Frieda's Inc.
1. Passion fruit
What it looks like: Shaped like an egg with a deep purple exterior and very soft golden flesh; about three inches long
How it tastes: Like fruit punch with a tiny bit of tartness
Why it's healthy: Good source of vitamins A and C
How to pick it: Choose one that feels heavy; when it's deeply wrinkled, it's ripe
Happy eating: Scoop out the center with a spoon; blend into sorbets or smoothies; add pulp to vinaigrette
What it looks like: Grapefruit on steroids with thick greenish-yellow or yellow peel; can grow to the size of a basketball, though the size of a small cantaloupe is more common
How it tastes: Like a mild grapefruit, but without the acidic bite
Why it's healthy: Rich in vitamin C
How to pick it: Look for heavy, unblemished fruit
Happy eating: Like a grapefruit, cut into sections or squeezed for juice
3. Baby Kiwi
What it looks: like Fuzz-free, grape-sized kiwi
How it tastes: Sweet-tart, strawberry-ish flavor
Why it's healthy: Excellent source of vitamin C and a (rare) nonfat source of vitamin E
How to pick it: Purchase and eat when firm yet pliable
Happy eating: Pop 'em whole into your mouth or combine with other tropical fruits and serve alongside frozen yogurt
What it looks like: Two to three inches round; oval or pear-shaped; with a yellow, red or even deep purple skin when ripe
How it tastes: Remember SweeTarts? This is the natural (and more yummy) version -- a little sugary with a sour after-bite
Why it's healthy: Rich in vitamin C
How to pick it: Look for fruit that is soft and ripe, but not so ripe that it has spots
Happy eating: Eat it whole -- rind, seeds and all! Purée into sauces for chicken or pork, or blend the flesh into a smoothie
What it looks like: Bright orange; about three inches in diameter; with a glossy skin and smooth flesh
How it tastes: Subtle pumpkin-plum flavor with a hint of spice
Why it's healthy: Good source of vitamins A and C
How to pick it: Buy Hachiya persimmons firm, then allow them to get very soft and ripe before eating; Fuyu and Sharon varieties can be eaten firm
Happy eating: Whole or peeled; add to cranberry sauce; chop and toss into a spinach salad
November 10, 2011
The Busy Parent's Morning Routine
The beginning of the new school year means busy mornings for both mom and the kids. We rush out of bed, shower and get dressed, wake up the kids and give them breakfast, and make sure they catch the bus on time. The routine may be chaotic, but it gets both you and the kids on track and helps you stay on schedule for the rest of the day.
But no matter how well-organized we are during those first weeks of school, just when we think we have our mornings under control, autumn activities kick in. That means an even busier schedule of school, after-school lessons, club meetings, sports practices and homework. With the holidays just around the corner, it's only going to get more hectic.
1. Do as much as possible the night before. Make your kids' lunches. Give them their baths or showers. Check homework and other school-bound material. Lay out the next day's clothes. Load backpacks and book bags, and sit them by the door. Set the table for breakfast. Get the coffeemaker ready to perk at the push of a button. Leave as little to do in the morning as you possibly can.
2. Wake up a little earlier. Set your alarm 15 minutes early to build in a little cushion of time to make sure breakfasts are eaten, shoes tied, and teeth and hair are brushed. Take a moment for a quick inventory: Does each child have his or her lunch money? Do they have the sports gear, musical instruments or other items that will be needed for after-school activities?
3. Don't skip breakfast. Kids can be thrown off schedule easily, especially when it comes to eating breakfast. Make it easy for your child to start the day with breakfast by providing items that taste good and provide essential nutrients. A quick, nutritious way to start the morning is with Carnation Breakfast Essentials drinks. Each serving has two times the protein of an egg and two times the calcium of a standard 6-ounce cup of yogurt, plus 21 vitamins and minerals.
4. Avoid distractions. Turn off the TV, the radio, electronics, cellphones, and hand-held games. The morning is busy enough without electronic stimulation. Check your voice mail and email before everyone else gets up, or put it off until the kids head out for school. Not only can you get more things done, but you can actually spend important family time together at the breakfast table.
November 7, 2011
Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Fudge
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk, divided
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/4 cup salted, dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with wax paper. Place 9 tablespoons milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Add chocolate chips, cocoa, and coffee. Microwave at HIGH for 1 minute or until melted. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Spread into prepared pan.
2. Combine the remaining milk, peanut butter chips, and peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH for 1 minute or until melted. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Spread evenly over chocolate layer, and sprinkle with peanuts. Cover and chill 2 hours. Cut into 25 squares.
Yield: Serves 25 (serving size: 1 square)
Amount per serving
Saturated fat: 3.1g
Monounsaturated fat: 0.7g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.1g
November 3, 2011
In Season: Pears
Anjou: A popular pear with a super-sweet flavor when fully ripe. Anjou pears are very juicy and flavorful. Best eaten fresh or poached.
Bosc: Don't be fooled by the russet-brown skin. Bosc pears top the list when it comes to flavor and aroma. Firm texture, nutty aroma. They have a dense flesh which is ideal for baking and cooking, such as in preserves, pies, muffins or poaching.
Bartlett: Most versatile pear variety. A perfect pick for fresh eating. Bartlett pears are sweet and juicy with a flavorful aroma. The skin will become bright yellow or red when fully ripened. An excellent choice for canning, baking, drying or eating fresh.
Comice: Very sweet, flavorful and juicy. Light spot and blemishes don't affect flavor. Best eaten fresh and in salads.
Seckel: Smallest pear and very sweet. Perfect for snacking and preserves.
Add pear slices to sandwiches, quesadillas and paninis for a sweet burst of flavor.
Dice pears and mix into homemade salsa, stir-fry or wild rice.
Puree ripe pears and cooked pumpkin or other winter squash, such as acorn or butternut, and serve as a savory accompaniment to pork or chicken.
Top sliced celery with nut butter and pear pieces for a kid-friendly snack.
Slide pear chunks and chicken onto skewers and grill, or skewer pears with other cubed fruit to end meals.
November 1, 2011
Foods That Could Be Destroying Your Diet
Do you watch what you eat, yet can't lose a pound? It's time to examine your diet. Here are five types of foods to watch out for when you're trying to eat healthy.
The items below pack a super high punch in calories from fat and sugar and, due to low volume, water and fiber content, they will not make you feel as full as some other choices that can give you a better bang for your calorie buck.
1. Fatty Appetizers: Diet mistakes can begin even before your entrée arrives and are especially troublesome for a hungry palate. Avoid starters such as fried cheese, chicken fingers and piled-on-high nachos. Instead, look for a light soup or salad to take the edge off your hunger without saturating your taste buds with grease and salt.
2. Pre-Packaged Dinners: Melted meals or stuffed sides can be very high in calories. Dense and concentrated, a one-meal splurge will leave you with a hard to recover rehab for the rest of the week. Instead, go for meals that are jammed with high volume, high fiber veggies and are based on lean proteins like fish or chicken.
3. Bags of Chips: These light-as-a-feather bags of carbs have the natural water content of the food replaced by fat from frying. Couple that with the "I can't eat just one" seasoning to inflict maximum carnage in the impossible-to-put-down bag of heavy calorie air. Go for crunch in raw veggies and use low fat dressing to hold you until mealtime.
4. High-Calorie Beverages: Frappes and smoothies are at the top of the list of weighty ways to stay hydrated. For a healthy hydrating option try water with infused ingredients like citrus or berry juice for added flavor. Herbs like mint and ginger refresh are also great to add to water and are calorie free!
5. Sweets: When the going gets tough, sugar gets going. Sweets can coat your blood cells with sticky sugar and cause chaos. No matter how full you feel, your brain will override this when sweets are in the picture. Try to finish your meal with fruit or a small piece of chocolate.