April 30, 2012
Meatless Mondays: Sandwich King
One of the best things you can do for your health is to eat more plant foods and less meat. With so many different vitamins and minerals and powerful antioxidants, fruits, vegetables, legumes and other plant foods can benefit us in many ways.
Multiple studies show eating more plants and less meat can help significantly reduce cholesterol, lower body weight, manage chronic constipation and more. Because of these health benefits, some folks decide to become vegetarians, completely cutting meat out of their diet, while others who don't want to change their diet quite so radically choose to eat vegetarian some of the time. These folks are sometimes referred to as "semi-vegetarians."
Semi-vegetarians and health-conscious omnivores often observe Meatless Mondays, a grass-roots-type movement that suggests people leave meat out of their diet for one day a week. Even if you are not interested in becoming a full-time vegetarian, taking this small step might lead to a giant leap in better overall health.
In addition to the health benefits, many people like the idea of eating less meat because it's easier on the planet. It takes less energy to grow plants as food than it does to raise animals for food. Notably, some schools are even getting into the act. Baltimore City Public Schools, Detroit Public Schools and Miami-Dade County Public Schools are three large school districts that have adopted a no-meat-on-Mondays protocol. The University of Mississippi, Yale, Vassar and Davidson College, among many others, also have pledged to support this movement.
If you are interested, check the Meatless Monday website, meatlessmonday.com, where you can view all kinds of information about it, including a long list of schools and many restaurants across the country that don't serve meat on Mondays.
Today's recipe is a perfect one for your own Meatless Monday meal, or for any day of the week. It's a nice vegetarian option when you are grilling out. Your meat-loving friends might even decide your veggie sandwich looks so delicious they'll want to trade in their grilled burger or chicken leg for what you're having.
Since this recipe does include cheese, it is categorized as a lacto-ovo vegetarian recipe. If you prefer a completely vegan recipe, you could substitute a few chunks of tofu to blend with the pesto instead of the fresh mozzarella and use a shredded soy cheese for the Monterrey Jack.
Grilled Portobello Sandwiches
2 tbsp. pesto sauce (purchased or homemade)
2 fresh mozzarella cheese balls in water (about 2 oz.)
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 portobello mushroom caps
1 yellow bell pepper
Butter-flavored vegetable cooking spray
4 Kaiser rolls
½ cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
Place pesto and cheese in food processor and chop for 15 seconds. Scrape sides and break apart cheese, if necessary. Blend for an additional 15 seconds.
Add vinegar and blend for 5 seconds. Scrape sides and blend for an additional 5 seconds. Set aside.
Wash peppers and mushrooms and pat dry. Remove mushroom stems, if present, and save for another use. Set aside.
Slice pepper in half; remove core and seeds. Slice into ¼-inch strips. Place on flat surface, such as a cutting board. Place mushrooms next to peppers. Coat all the vegetables with cooking spray.
Slice rolls in half so you have a top and bottom "bun." Spray grill with cooking spray and place rolls flat on grill. Close lid and grill for 1 minute.
Remove rolls from grill. Place each roll, cut side up, on serving plates.
Grill peppers for 2 minutes.
While peppers grill, divide pesto mixture between each roll, spreading evenly on both sides. Remove peppers from grill and place on bottom halves of each roll.
Grill mushrooms for 4 minutes and place on top of peppers. Sprinkle shredded cheese over each sandwich and serve.
Makes 4 sandwiches.
Per sandwich: 436 calories, 15 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 33 mg cholesterol, 56 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 19 g protein, 708 mg sodium.
April 26, 2012
These reverse-gateway foods taste like cheating, but they'll help you get back on the weight-loss wagon.
Sunflower seeds: They're packed with nutrients, and snacking on a handful may regulate your nerves and muscles.
Eat this: A 1/4-cup serving
Plain frozen yogurt with fresh fruit: It has less fat than ice cream but five grams of filling protein per serving. Fruit gives it more flavor, texture, and vitamins.
Eat this: 1 1/2 cups
Dark chocolate: Just a small portion of this antioxidant-filled treat satisfies a sweet tooth.
Eat this: 1 oz dark chocolate with 65 percent (or more) cacao
Pistachios: They satisfy a salt craving while delivering more natural antioxidants than most other nuts. Plus, the shells will slow you down.
Eat this: 30 in-shell nuts
Mini whole-wheat pretzels: Crunchy and packed with fiber to keep you fuller longer, so you won't reach for a higher-calorie food.
Eat this: 1 oz pretzels (about a handful)
April 23, 2012
Tex Mex Rice Bowl
1 (8.8-ounce) pouch precooked brown rice (such as Uncle Ben's)
8 ounces ground sirloin
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons 40%-less-sodium taco seasoning (such as Ortega)
1/2 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
1 (15-ounce) can organic black beans, rinsed and drained $
1 cup fresh pico de gallo
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
4 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro $
1. Heat rice according to directions.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef; cook 3 minutes or until done, stirring to crumble. Stir in 1/4 cup water and taco seasoning; bring to a simmer. Stir in corn and beans; cook 1 minute or until heated. Stir in rice. Top with pico de gallo and jalapeño. Sprinkle with cilantro.
Amount per serving (serves 4)
Saturated fat: 2.5g
Monounsaturated fat: 2.5g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.3g
April 16, 2012
Lose It! App
A great new app to aid in weight loss compatible with Iphone, Ipod and Ipad. It is easy to use and has a huge database of food to track your calorie intake. It also saves your foods so that if you eat them again they're even easier to find. Using your Iphone, you can scan a barcode on a food to get the nutrient information. Very cool! Lose It! also tracks your calories burned through exercise and lets you set goals to track your progress.
Log onto their website and you can also track, fat, sat fat, protein, carbs and fiber. The average active Lose It! user has lost more than 12lbs. Best of all, it is free!
April 12, 2012
Try Something New: Flaxseed
Flaxseed is best known for supplying our body with an essential fatty acid -- alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA -- and fiber.
ALA is thought to contribute to a range of health benefits, including the production of anti-inflammatory agents, and providing cardioprotective abilities. In fact, some studies have shown that ALA could help prevent heart attacks. Not many foods are rich in ALA. It is found in canola, flaxseed and soybean oils, and in walnuts.
ALA is converted in the body into the type of omega-3 fatty acids that are found mainly in fish. These omega-3 fatty acids make the platelets in our blood less likely to stick together and might reduce the inflammatory processes in blood vessels. Thus, the omega-3 fatty acids reduce blood clotting and lessen the chance of a heart attack.
The soluble fiber in flaxseed helps lower blood cholesterol levels, and the insoluble fiber in flaxseed keeps your digestive system running smoothly and helps prevent constipation.
Flaxseed is found in whole-seed form, as well as ground and as oil. Your body cannot derive any nutritional benefit from flaxseed if you consume the seeds whole. They will pass right through your body, so ground flaxseed is the best.
If you buy ground flaxseed, it can go rancid quickly because of its high fat content. Ground flaxseed that is rancid will smell like oil paint. The best bet is to buy the whole-seed form of flaxseed and grind it using a coffee grinder or a small food processor. If you do buy the ground flaxseed, store it in the freezer and smell it before each use.
Just one tablespoon of flaxseed provides about 47 calories, 3.3 grams of fiber and about 4 grams of fat, which is heart-healthy unsaturated fat.
Here are some ways to incorporate flaxseed into your diet:
» Stir ground flaxseed into cooked cereals or yogurt.
» Substitute flaxseed oil for other oils in salad dressings.
» Stir a tablespoon of flaxseed into your morning orange juice.
April 9, 2012
1 (12-ounce) flank steak, trimmed $
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt $
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (5-inch) portobello mushroom caps $
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided $
1 cup thinly sliced onion $
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced green bell pepper
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon lower-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk $
1 ounce provolone cheese, torn into small pieces $
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
4 (3-ounce) hoagie rolls, toasted
1. Place beef in freezer for 15 minutes. Cut beef across the grain into thin slices. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Remove brown gills from the undersides of mushroom caps using a spoon; discard gills. Remove stems; discard. Thinly slice mushroom caps; cut slices in half crosswise.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add beef to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until beef loses its pink color, stirring constantly. Remove beef from pan. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, bell pepper, and garlic; sauté 6 minutes. Return beef to pan; sauté 1 minute or until thoroughly heated and vegetables are tender. Remove from heat. Stir in Worcestershire and soy sauce; keep warm.
3. Place flour in a small saucepan; gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook 1 minute or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Add cheeses and mustard, stirring until smooth. Keep warm (mixture will thicken as it cools).
4. Hollow out top and bottom halves of bread, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell; reserve torn bread for another use. Divide the beef mixture evenly among bottom halves of hoagies. Drizzle sauce evenly over beef mixture; replace top halves.
April 5, 2012
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
2 jalapeno peppers
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)
1 cup chopped seeded poblano chile (about 2 large)
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 12-ounce Mexican beer (such as Corona)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 cups lower-sodium marinara sauce (such as McCutcheon's)
1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup, packed)
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add beef; cook 10 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove beef from pan; drain. Wipe pan clean.
2. Remove and discard seeds and membranes from 1 jalapeño; finely chop both jalapeños. Heat pan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add jalapeños, onion, poblano, and garlic; sauté 10 minutes or until onion is tender. Add beer; scrape pan to loosen browned bits. Cook 12 minutes or until half of liquid evaporates. Add chili powder, cumin, and salt; cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in beef, marinara, broth, beans, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until slightly thickened. Ladle about 1 1/2 cups chili into each of 8 bowls; top each serving with 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese, 1 tablespoon sour cream, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cilantro.
Amount per serving (serve 8)
Saturated fat: 5.9g
Monounsaturated fat: 5.1g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1g
April 2, 2012
8 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned (about 2 1/2 pounds)
3/8 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped red bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 1/3 cups lower-sodium marinara sauce (such as McCutcheon's)
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add 4 chicken thighs to pan; cook for 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan, and keep warm. Repeat procedure with 2 teaspoons olive oil and remaining chicken.
3. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add bell peppers, 1 cup onion, celery, rosemary, minced garlic, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt; cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms; cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in marinara sauce; cook 1 minute.
4. Spread vegetable mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Arrange chicken on top of the vegetable mixture. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into chicken registers 160°. Sprinkle with cheese.
Amount per serving (yields 4 servings)
Saturated fat: 3.9g
Monounsaturated fat: 7.2g
Polyunsaturated fat: 2.3g