Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’
Monday, November 14th, 2011
One of the most difficult times of the year for those trying to lose weight is the holiday season. While the holidays are a time to get together with family and friends, every party and gathering is also an excuse to take a holiday from your healthy heating habits. A cookie here, a chocolate there, washed down with some egg nog, and before you know it your pants are too tight.
The good news is that with a little foresight, those holiday pounds can be easily avoided while still enjoying the holiday season.
To start off, here are our tips for getting through Thanksgiving:
- Start the feast on a healthy – and filling – note. Instead of caloric dips and fatty appetizers, have low-calorie pre-dinner munchies available during food preparation and pre-dinner socializing.
- Place bowls of different-colored veggies without sauces on the table first, either at the start of the buffet or as the first dishes passed around the table. That will allow people to cover a good portion of their plates with healthier choices before serving calorie-denser foods like stuffing and mashed potatoes.
- Serve salad as a first course. Go heavy on greens, light on non-veggie add-ins like cheese.
- Make the vegetable side dishes the star of the show – or at least the co-star. Try new, eye-appealing and interesting veggie recipes that pack plenty of flavor without extra calories.
- Avoid adding hidden calories during food preparation, such as adding butter to mashed white or sweet potatoes, or butter, oil or cheese to veggies.
- Sneak a few veggies into the dressing, such as diced onions, celery, leeks, shallots, carrots, even cauliflower.
- Make gravy a choice, not the default. Instead, the default serving should be turkey without gravy. If someone wants gravy, they should add it themselves.
- Be mindful of served portion sizes; someone can always ask for more.
- Get everyone up and moving before dessert. Always have plain fruit options along with traditional choices.
- Have plenty of water on the table and readily available. Make non-caloric beverages the default option.
GREEN LIGHT IT UP!
Holiday meals don’t have to pack such a high calorie punch. Simple makeover tips can lighten a meal and keep the taste just as good:
- Baked turkey – choose a plain bird over a self-basting bird to lower the sodium content. To ensure a moist bird, bake un-stuffed, leave the skin on while roasting and remove from the oven when internal temperature reaches 170 degrees in the breast.
- Gravy – use a gravy cup or refrigerate the pan juices (to harden the fat) and skim the fat off before making gravy. Save around 656 grams of fat per cup!
- Candied yams – leave out the margarine and marshmallows. Sweeten with a little fruit juice, such as apple and flavor with cinnamon.
- Green bean casserole – cook fresh green beans with chunks of potatoes instead of cream soup. Top with almonds instead of fried onion rings.
- Mashed potatoes – use skim milk, roasted garlic, and a little parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter.
- Bread – serve smaller pieces or omit it altogether.
- The plate method – imagine your plate divided into thirds. Use the first third to fan out white meat turkey, no skin. Use the second third for salad and low-fat vegetables. Finally, the last third is for all the starches (sweet potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce).
HOLIDAY FOOD FACTS
A typical Thanksgiving Meal
- Roast turkey (dark and white meat) with skin (4 oz)
- Candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows (1 cup)
- Green bean casserole
- Jellied cranberry sauce (½ cup)
- Caesar salad
- Mashed potatoes with milk and butter (1 cup)
- Apple pie with vanilla ice-cream
- Pecan Pie
TOTAL CALORIES: 2,796 calories OR 7 RED LIGHTS!
Green Light Thanksgiving Meal
- Roast turkey (light meat only), no skin (4oz) (2 GREENS)
- Small Baked sweet potato (1 GREEN)
- Sautéed green beans (1 GREEN)
- Green Light cran-berries sauce (½ cup) (1/2 GREEN)
- Mixed green salad with fat-free Italian Dressing (FREE)
- Mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and skim milk (1 cup) (2 GREENS)
- Green Light pumpkin pie (1 GREEN)
TOTAL CALORIES: 750 calories or 2 RED LIGHTS
RECIPES FOR THANKSGIVING
Green Light Pumpkin Pie
This pumpkin pie saves 244 calories and 14 grams of fat per slice from the traditional version and it tastes identical!
1 cup Fiber One
16 oz. can pumpkin
½ cup egg whites (about 4)
½ cup sugar OR 3 ½ teaspoons Splenda for Recipes
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, ginger, cloves)
12 oz. can evaporated skim milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grind the cookies in a food processor.
- Lightly spray a glass pie pan with vegetable cooking spray. Pat the cookie crumbs into the pan evenly.
- Mix the rest of the ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Pour into the crust and bake until knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Store in the refrigerator.
- Allow to cool and slice in 8 wedges. Optional: serve each wedge with fat free whipped cream.
Each slice (made with sugar):
128 calories, 0g fat, 05g saturated fat, 2mg cholesterol, 249mg sodium, 29g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 6.5g protein. (1 YELLOW)
Each slice (made with Splenda):
79 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 2mg cholesterol, 249mg sodium, 16g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 6.5g protein. (1 GREEN)
Traditional Pumpkin Pie: 557 calories, 33g fat
Traditional Pecan Pie: 680 calories, 35g fat
Green Light Cran-Berries Sauce
This easy to follow recipe is the BEST cranberry sauce you have ever tasted! You will be hooked! It is also great with roast meats, fish and as a dessert topping!
Most cranberry sauce recipes call for one cup of sugar – 774 calories. Instead replace the sugar with splenda and cut the calories in half.
1 10-oz bag fresh cranberries
1 cup of water
1 cup Splenda
1 10 oz. bag frozen blueberries (defrosted) or mixed berries
1 small can crushed pineapple in natural juice (optional)
- Place cranberries, water and Splenda in a medium-sized pot.
- Bring ingredients to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Remove pot from stove and add blueberries and pineapple.
- Place in a container and chill in the refrigerator until needed.
Green Light Cran-Berries Sauce (made with Splenda):
48 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 0mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 1g protein. (1/2 GREEN)
Traditional Cranberry Sauce (1 cup):
418 calories, 1g protein, 107g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, <1g fat. (1 RED + 1 GREEN)
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Thursday, September 8th, 2011
The fall is my favorite time of year. I love taking in the scenery on a fall foliage bike ride-and getting some outdoor exercise before winter rolls around. I also especially love the fall for it’s seasonal produce! However, when it comes to picky eaters, their love for seasonal fruits and vegetables can oftentimes be a struggle.
This week as I was educating a picky 8-year-old patient on the benefits of fruits and veggies and we came to an agreement. This month he would have to try at least one new vegetable, more than once. This is perfect for fall because there are a ton of fruits and veggies in season. Not only do these fruits and veggies taste great, they are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, such as vitamin K and carotenoids, which have been linked to protect against certain cancers. For your guide on fruits and veggies in season I have provided you with a list. These are some of my faves!
Broccoli: Broccoli is a green cruciferous vegetable packed with folic acid, vitamin K, A, and C. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Add it to cold salads, whole grain pasta, serve it cold or hot with toasted sesame seeds or simply lightly sautéed in garlic and oil.
Brussel Sprouts: A member of the cabbage family, brussel sprouts get a bad rap. In my experience many people are scared of the little guys, but if made properly, they taste phenomenal and keep you full– brussel sprouts are packed with filling fiber! My favorite way to eat them is roasting them in the oven. Brussel sprouts are a very good source of folate and a good source of iron.
Pumpkin: In addition to making a beautiful carving, pumpkin is a nutrient powerhouse. Its high levels of beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin C may boost immune function. Pumpkin is also rich in potassium and high in fiber. Use pumpkin as a soup base, add it to chili, or simply heat it up with some cinnamon and Splenda for a sweet, savory dessert.
Spinach: Probably my favorite green veggie, spinach is packed with iron, fiber and folic acid. Use spinach as a side dish, add it to soups, or eat it raw in a salad.
Sweet potatoes: More nutritionally dense than their white-potato counterparts, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, and C and also contain potassium, iron and copper. Not only are they super healthy, but they’re naturally super sweet, too! For a savory dish, brush with some cayenne pepper, salt, and a sprinkle of olive oil for a healthier version of French fries.
Winter Squash: Best in October through November, winter squash is an amazing veggie. Sure, it’s full of fiber, but did you know that our friend winter squash is also a good source of vitamins A and C, several B vitamins, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids? Winter squash has a sweet flavor and is great as a side dish tossed with a few dried cranberries and paired with turkey, chicken or pork.
Apples : Apples are full of antioxidants and some experts say it can curb your appetite and cause you to take in fewer calories throughout the rest of the day. Sweet or tart, apples are satisfying eaten raw or baked into a delicious dish. Just be sure to eat the skin—it contains hearty healthy flavonoids.
Grapefruit: Research suggests that this sweet ‘n sour citrus fruit can aid in weight loss. One small Scripps Clinic study found that eating half a grapefruit or drinking 4 ounces of juice with meals (without making any other changes in eating habits) resulted in an average weight loss of more than 3 pounds in 12 weeks. Scientists speculate that the weight loss happens because grapefruit lowers insulin levels, which curbs your urge to snack. In addition, grapefruit contains more than 75% of your daily recommended intake (DRI) of vitamin C, is a good source of lycopene, and contains pectin, which has been shown to lower cholesterol. If grapefruit is a little too tart for you, try sprinkling a little Splenda on top. If not, try adding it to mixed greens, combine it with avocado and shrimp, or enjoy a fresh glass of its antioxidant-rich juice.
Want to have fresh delicious seasonal vegetables sent to you? Check out Tanimura & Antle produce! They are a grower and shipper of premium fresh vegetables including lettuce, cauliflower, Artisan Lettuce, and hydroponic vegetables. They sent samples of different types of lettuce, celery, and cauliflower over to us at Red Light Green Light Eat Right and we were so pleased with how fresh the produce tasted. Each sample came in a sealed bag to keep it fresh. You will definitely fall for their produce!
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Friday, July 22nd, 2011
Let’s be honest, most of us could use more vegetables in our diet. In fact, studies show that a mere 27% of adults get the recommended 3 servings of vegetables per day. Kids get even less! A past study found that only 22% of children ages 2-5 met recommendations for vegetable intake, and in children ages 6-11, only 16% met recommendations for vegetable intake. In addition, a recent study found that between a third and a half of all the fruits and vegetables served to youngsters at some school cafeterias last year wound up in the trash. Similar situations are occurring at schools nationwide, as well.
Oftentimes, encouraging the addition of vegetables to one’s diet results in a rolling of the eyes or a patronizing, “Yes mom,” but what if there was an easy way to consume more veggies and lose weight even if you didn’t like the taste of veggies?
A study out of Pennsylvania State University incorporated pureed vegetables into participants’ meals, effectively doubling their fiber intake, lowering the caloric content and adding nutrients without sacrificing taste! Researchers served 41 volunteers breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner on three occasions; each time they provided the same meals, but the main dishes contained different amounts of steamed and pureed carrots, squash, or cauliflower. When given a dish that was 25 percent vegetables compared with one that had none, the participants consumed 360 fewer daily calories on average but reported no differences in hunger, and fewer than half realized that the dishes had been altered. Consuming 360 calories per day less equals roughly a pound of weight lost in just ten days without even dieting!
The cookbook author, Jessica Seinfeld, who has encouraged parents to sneak vegetables into foods like spaghetti, had popularized this strategy. However, it is important to keep in mind, that when serving the foods to young children, you must continue offering whole vegetables on the side so children develop a taste for vegetables.
If you’re striving to help your family live a healthier lifestyle, you’ve probably already made some reduced calorie swaps, like low-fat in place of whole milk or veggie burgers for quarter-pounders, but there may still be some food substitutions that you haven’t tried. I have also included some of my favorite strategies I use to cut calories but keep the taste, including easy ways to add puree vegetables
to your diet:
If I order a salad at a restaurant and none of the dressings seem appealing, I will often ask for a little dish of salsa on the side. This non-traditional topping adds a lot of flavor and is usually less processed than industrial salad dressings.
Buy puree vegetable baby food or frozen vegetable purees and add them to sauces, soups, casseroles and even lean ground beef burgers!
When it comes to baking, the possibilities for cutting down on fat while retaining flavor abound. If a recipe calls for a half-cup of oil, try replacing the oil with canned pumpkin, applesauce, or puréed prunes. Although it sounds a little odd, puréeing dried prunes and a little hot water in your food processor is an easy way to add sweetness and reduce calories in baked goods.
Another favorite baked snack is the onion. Chop an onion into quarters without cutting all the way through in order to create the “blooming” effect. Drizzle on a little olive oil and season with a little salt to taste. Wrap in aluminum foil and roast away! When its done just separate the layers one by one and eat them like chips.
Olive oil is a healthy fat, but you can have too much of a good thing. It’s easy to add two-plus tablespoons of oil while making a stir-fry — and that can add up to 250 calories. Instead, try sauteeing your veggies in a little chicken or veggie broth.
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Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
Antioxidants have been shown to decrease the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and a multitude of other diseases, but what exactly are antioxidants, what foods are they found in, and should you take them in supplement form?
What Are Antioxidants?
Medline defines antioxidants as “substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals.” People are exposed on a daily basis through environmental pollution, excessive sun exposure, cigarette smoke, alcoholic beverages, and the unhealthful foods common in the traditional Western diet. Free radicals can damage cells, and may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
Which Substances Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidant substances include some vitamins, some minerals, and flavonoids, including but not limited to:
Vitamin E- has been correlated with assisting in the protection of polyunsaturated fatty acids and other fat-containing compounds and supporting a healthy immune system
Vitamin C- has been correlated with supporting a healthy immune system, reducing free radical damage in the lungs from environmental pollutants and cigarette smoke, assisting in protecting white blood cells from oxidations, and helping prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidation which may reduce risk of heart disease
Vitamin A- has been correlated with supporting healthy vision
Lycopene – high intake of lycopene-containing foods has been correlated with reduced incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and macular degeneration.
Lutein- has been correlated with protecting the eyes from developing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts
Selenium- has been correlated with improved immune function, decreased risk of cancer and heart disease
Beta-carotene- has been correlated with boosting the immune system and reducing age-related changes in the skin and eyes
What Foods Contain Antioxidants?
Scientists continue to examine antioxidants in research studies, uncovering more data that emphasize their importance in protecting people’s health. Below you will find some of the recent scientific support for antioxidants and the foods that contain them.
Pecans - A study published in January in the Journal of Nutrition reveals pecans’ potent antioxidant benefits. Researchers from the Loma Linda University School of Public Health found that bioactive components of pecan nuts (namely vitamin E) are absorbable and capable of positively affecting the body’s antioxidant defenses. The team examined postprandial effects of pecan test meals, including whole and blended pecans, on a group of 16 healthy male and female adults. Serum concentrations of y-tocopherol, a predominant form of vitamin E, reportedly doubled following the ingestion of whole and blended pecan meals, and Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity increased significantly. The consumption of whole pecans was positively associated with a decreased serum concentration of oxidized LDL cholesterol.
Pistachios- Rich in lutein, beta-carotene, and vitamin E, the often-overlooked pistachio nut shows promising cardiovascular benefits. In the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, Kay and colleagues from Penn State University published the study “Pistachios Increase Serum Antioxidants and Lower Serum Oxidized-LDL in Hypercholesterolemic Adults.” In a crossover controlled analysis of 28 adults with high serum LDL levels, the researchers assessed the effects of pistachios on serum antioxidants and other biomarkers of oxidative stress. Subjects who consumed the pistachio-enriched diets had higher plasma lutein and gamma-tocopherol levels and exhibited lower oxidized LDL levels. The researchers concluded that “a heart-healthy diet including pistachios contributes to the decrease in the serum oxidized LDL concentration through cholesterol lowering and may provide an added benefit as a result of the antioxidants the pistachios contain.”
Blueberries – In the September 2010 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, researchers at Oklahoma State University published the study “Blueberries Decrease Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Obese Men and Women With Metabolic Syndrome.” The team sought to determine the effect of blueberry intake on 48 obese study participants with metabolic syndrome. Based on their findings, they concluded that blueberries may improve features associated with metabolic syndrome and the related risk factors for CVD at “dietary achievable doses”—in this case, the equivalent of 350 g of fresh blueberries daily for an eight-week period. Blueberry intake was associated with decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, oxidized LDL levels, and specific serum markers for oxidative stress.
Tomatoes – Several research studies published in the past year showcase the health benefits of lycopene from tomatoes, including the capability of this antioxidant to potentially inhibit cancer cell growth and enhance cardiovascular health. In the June 2010 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from the French National Institute of Agronomical Research published a study aimed at differentiating the effects of consuming lycopene within a “tomato matrix” (from food) vs. purified lycopene extract. Looking at 30 healthy adult men between the ages of 50 and 70, they found that serum lycopene concentrations increased after the intake of red tomato paste and purified lycopene. Serum collections were then incubated to measure expression of 45 target genes of cancer prostatic cells. Results showed that dietary lycopene, whether in its purified form or within its food matrix, can affect gene expression and thus may protect against prostate cancer.
For a list of more foods high in antioxidants, click here.
Should You Take Antioxidants In The Form Of Supplements?
Until more studies are done, it is best to get your antioxidants from food rather than from supplements. No single antioxidant alone can protect the body. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements in the same way it regulates medicines. A dietary supplement can be sold with limited or no research on how well it works.
When using dietary supplements, keep in mind the following:
- Like conventional medicines, dietary supplements may cause side effects, trigger allergic reactions, or interact with prescription and nonprescription medicines or other supplements you are taking. A side effect or interaction with another medicine or supplement may make your health worse.
- How dietary supplements are manufactured may not be standardized. Because of this, how well they work or any side effects they cause may differ among brands or even within different lots of the same brand. The form of a supplement that you buy in health food or grocery stores may not be the same as the form used in research.
- Other than for vitamins and minerals, the long-term effects of most dietary supplements are not known.
Tips on Incorporating Antioxidants into Your Diet
Breakfast - Start off the morning with fresh fruits such as strawberries or cantaloupe to obtain some vitamin A or vitamin C; add some wheat germ to a high-fiber breakfast cereal to obtain some vitamin E.
Lunch - Have a fresh salad with red and green peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower florets for vitamin C, and add some vegetable oil for a source of vitamin E. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend that people fill one-half of their plate with a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, including dark-green, red, and orange vegetables.
Snack – Include nuts and seeds for extra vitamin E along with some fresh fruit.
Dinner – Consume fish or meat for a healthy source of selenium, along with more colorful vegetables. To preserve vitamin content, vegetables should be consumed raw or cooked using a method that reduces heat exposure, such as steaming or microwaving.
An eating plan, such as, Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right’s, containing plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts, can supply all the antioxidants your body needs.
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Wednesday, June 8th, 2011
Whether your trying to eat healthier, lose weight, incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet, or reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates in your diet, these tips will be helpful in making a positive dietary shift.
Start slow – For people who eat sugary snacks more than once per day, starting to choose more healthful snacks, such as fresh fruit, represents a monumental shift in behavior. You might start by substituting fruit for your usual afternoon cookies. Keep track of how many fruits and veggies you’re eating a day right now and add more to your diet – a small, positive change. Then, after a few days, make another change, and then another. Remember, once you get started, the hardest part is over. For most people wanting to make a lifestyle change, the first step is often the hardest.
Set realistic goals – Don’t try to lose 50 pounds in a month – it simply won’t happen. Making positive changes to your diet can help you lose one to two pounds a week healthfully and in a sustainable manner.
Healthy can be delicious – There’s a common misperception about a healthful diet: It’s laborious, expensive, and bland. You can easily convert your favorite dishes into family favorites. For example, you can replace beef burritos with beans, low fat cheese and vegetables for a delicious been burrito. Find recipes that incorporate a few fresh ingredients.
Think positive – Instead of thinking about all of the things you can’t have, think of all of the things you can have: a rainbow of delicious fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Pile up your plate with lots of servings of these foods for a satisfying, healthy meal.
Change your mindset – Being healthy isn’t just about how much food you have on your plate, but it’s how you think about food. Think about food as something to be enjoyed, not something to simply eat because you have to. Enjoy your meals. Savor them. Arrange the food on your plate so that it’s eye appealing. Plan for family dinners and don’t eat in front of the television.
Variety: eat the rainbow of color – Fruits and vegetables should be the cornerstone of any healthy diet. When selecting what to eat, go for the colors of the rainbow:
- Greens are rich in zinc, Vitamins A, C, E and K, iron, potassium and help strengthen the blood.
- Fruits provide antioxidants, fiber and vitamins. Apples provide fiber; berries are cancer-fighters; oranges and mangos offer vitamin C.
- Sweet veggies can curb cravings for other sweets. Examples of sweet vegetables are sweet potatoes, winter squash, certain onions, corn, carrots and beets.
It may take weeks, months, or even years to reach your goal. Use these tips as a guide to making continuous efforts for your specific dietary goals. Every positive change makes a difference!
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Monday, May 30th, 2011
The average BBQ meal contains 3,500 calories, but don’t let that stop you from hitting up a slew of BBQs, backyard cookouts, and pool parties this summer. Even though BBQs can be packed with fattening foods, there’s usually a ton of delicious, good-for-you food choices there, too. Check out Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right’s top cookout tips :
1. Drink water. When you get dehydrated, not only does your energy drop (not ideal at a party), but you also become more likely to eat when you’re just thirsty and make not-so-smart food decisions. Remember to drink before your thirsty; by the time you are feeling thirsty, you are already past the point of being adequately hydrated.
2. The “Grill” of Victory- Grilling makes practically everything taste great, and it keeps added fat to a minimum. As long as the food isn’t drowned in oil beforehand, you’re pretty much good to go. Grill lean protein, fruit, and veggies. Some best on-the-grill bets include: fish, veggie burgers and bison, fat-free franks, and grilled chicken breast. Then go condiment crazy with these low-cal choices, such as, ketchup, pickles, salsa, mustard, and hot sauce. Foil packs and skewers are also good ways to secure smaller bits of lean protein and veggies.
The best type of meat to consume is sustainably raised, ie: pasture-raised, grass-fed beef, and free-range. When the animals are raised in their natural environment (roaming in the pasture, feeding off the grass, exposed to the sun) they are the healthiest and therefore have more nutrients and are better for us. By consuming sustainably raised animals you will also be avoiding the negative effects of excess hormones and antibiotics. This plus the moral and environmental considerations makes this one of the most important steps toward eating healthier and more sustainably. For fish, look for wild or organic farm-raised fish. Try to minimize swordfish and tuna, which have a higher concentration of mercury, and focus on fish like cod or salmon, which are higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Slender Side Dishes- Pair your choice of lean protein with crisp veggies and salad. Try corn on the cob, asparagus and onions, which are awesome when grilled, and they’ll fill you up. Also, remember to avoid mayo-laden side dishes, such as cole slaw, macaroni salad, and potato salad. Even a relatively demure 2/3-cup serving of ordinary potato salad can have close to 20 grams of fat… which makes eating it especially silly considering how many other fun things there are to chew. But slaw can be saved! If you can get to a sink, rinse your coleslaw (until the water runs clear) to wash calories and fat grams down the drain.
4. Find guilt-free frozen treats. Stick to fruit pops and fruit bars instead of standard ice cream treats. You get the cool refreshment without the extra fat.
5. Alter you cooking methods. The temperature at which you cook your meat and the way you eat it — i.e., well-done, rare, medium-rare, etc. — is also extremely important to focus on. You should avoid cooking your meat at a very high temperature over long periods of time. Hazards with overcooking meats at high temperatures include an increased risk of cancers due to chemicals called HCAs. Try cooking the meats medium-rare and removing any blackened or charred pieces, the worst parts for you. You can cook the meat partially in the oven before putting it on the grill to cut down cooking time, which gives the HCAs less time to form. Or cook smaller pieces, which cook more quickly.
Although it’s fine to splurge on occasion, go out of your way to use these tips at your next summer feast.
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Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
The growing consensus among scientists is that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can cause lasting damage to human health, especially during fetal development and early childhood. Scientists now know enough about the long-term consequences of ingesting these powerful chemicals to advise that we minimize our consumption of pesticides.
According to the Environmental Working Group, consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by 80% by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating only the cleanest. If consumers get their USDA-recommended 5 daily servings of fruits and veggies from those that are most contaminated, they could consume an average of 10 pesticides a day. Those who eat the 15 least contaminated conventionally grown produce ingest less than 2 pesticides daily.
EWG has been publishing guides to the “dirty dozen” of most pesticide contaminated foods since 1995, based on statistical analysis of testing conducted by the USDA and the FDA. The dirty dozen list only reflects measurable pesticide residues on the parts of the foods normally consumed (i.e. after being washed and peeled). Below is the latest EWG guide to the “dirty dozen”, along with recommendations for foods other than fruits and vegetables that are best bought organic along with information about antibiotics, hormones, and the impact of producing food on the surrounding environment.
A recent USDA Inspector General Report found that the government is failing to even test meat for the harmful chemicals the law requires.
Raising animals with conventional modern methods often means using hormones to speed up growth, antibiotics to resist disease on crowded feed lots, and both pesticides and chemical fertilizers to grow the grain fed to the animals. Additionally, it takes many times the water and energy to raise one meal’s worth of meat than it does one meal’s worth of grain.
To meet USDA standards, certified organic meat can come only from animals fed organic feed and given no hormones or antibiotics. Searching out cuts from grass-fed animals ensures that you’re eating meat from an animal that was fed a more natural diet, and looking for a local source of meats lets you question the farmer directly about the animal’s diet and the farmer’s method of raising it. It cuts down on the environmental cost of transportation, too.
Pesticides and other man-made chemicals have been found in dairy products and milk is of special concern because it is a staple of a child’s diets. Organic dairies cannot feed their cows with grains grown with pesticides, nor can they use antibiotics or growth hormones like rGBH or rbST.
Celery has no protective skin, which makes it almost impossible to wash off the chemicals that are used on conventional crop making celery rank No. 1 in the 2010 analysis, up from No. 4 in 2009.
Multiple pesticides are regularly applied to these delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards.
If you buy strawberries out of season, they’re most likely imported from countries that use less-stringent regulations for pesticide use.
Like peaches, apples are typically grown with the use of poisons to kill a variety of pests, from fungi to insects. Scrubbing and peeling doesn’t eliminate chemical residue completely, so it’s best to buy organic when it comes to apples.
New on the Dirty Dozen list in 2010, blueberries are treated with as many as 52 pesticides, making them one of the dirtiest berries on the market.
With 33 different types of pesticides found on nectarines, they rank up there with apples and peaches among the dirtiest tree fruit.
Peppers have thin skins that don’t offer much of a barrier to pesticides. They’re often heavily sprayed with insecticides.
New on the list for 2010, spinach can be laced with as many as 48 different pestcides, making it one of the most contaminated green leafy vegetable.
Traditionally kale is known as a hardier vegetable that rarely suffers from pests and disease, but it was found to have high amounts of pesticide residue when tested.
Even locally grown cherries are not necessarily safe. In fact, in one survey in recent years, cherries grown in the U.S. were found to have three times more pesticide residue then imported cherries.
America’s popular spud re-appears on the 2010 dirty dozen list, after a year hiatus.
Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically only imported grapes make the 2010 Dirty Dozen list). Vineyards can be sprayed with different pesticides during different growth periods of the grape, and no amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination because of the grape’s thin skin.
When shopping for these fruits, vegetables and other foods, keep this list handy in order to avoid those with the highest pesticide residue.
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Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
Whether at the park, on the beach or in your own back yard, a family picnic is a great way to spend time together while bonding over the food you eat. Unfortunately, traditional picnic foods like fried chicken, dips, and mayonnaise-based salads can wreak havoc on anyone’s health. With a little modification, you can enjoy a picnic while keeping your family happy and healthy.
Fresh and Crisp Produce:
Go raw! Summer picnics occur at the height of the fresh produce season. The more colorful produce you add to your menu, the healthier the meal. Get your picnics off to a ‘fruitful’ start by packing your cooler with a wide variety of colorful fruits. If they are in season, there is nothing quite like a juicy watermelon to finish the meal. Sliced apples, berries, and dried fruit like raisins, dried apricots are perfect travel snacks without the mess of fruits you have to peel. Pack a nutritional punch by filling your cooler with colorful vegetables, thereby providing your family picnic with antioxidants and vital vitamins and minerals. Try baby carrots, slices of celery, cucumbers and peppers, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli- all perfect for dipping. Pack low- fat or fat- free dressings for a fun and nutritious snack. Be sure to keep uncooked meats and fresh produce separate in your coolers to avoid potential food-borne illness.
Chips and Dips:
Greasy fried potato chips with onion dip is loaded with saturated and trans fats. Instead, help your heart and cholesterol by switching to baked chips, like Stacy’s Pita Chips or Tostitos Scoops, and pair it with a nutritious dip, such as hummus, salsa, fat-free bean dip, or low-fat yogurt with herbs and spices. Your kids will love all the dipping!
There are so many delicious ways to pack healthy protein into your picnic basket. Take slices of lean, chicken, turkey, ham or roast beef and top them on a salad or sandwich for a delicious, healthy meal. Nuts can also boost your protein and fiber intake when sprinkled onto salads, but note to self, watch your portions because although they are high in healthy fat, the calories can quickly add up.
Hearty Whole Grains:
Refined breads, rolls, and starchy pasta salads can pile on lots of calories and little fiber. Choose whole grain products like 100% whole wheat rolls or whole wheat pita bread, for an added boost of fiber and nutritional value without sacrificing taste. Bring along whole wheat tortillas—kids love the fun shape of a rolled up sandwich. Turkey and veggies, lean ham and low fat cheese, and reduced fat peanut butter and jelly, are all great options for fillings. Another kid tip-use a potato chip bag clip to keep the healthy fillings from falling out!
Switch up your Salads:
Resist the temptation to load your picnic basket with high-calorie salads that are mixed with mayonnaise. Mayonnaise-based salads are providing you with artery clogging fats. Instead opt for low-fat or fat- free mayo and split it with non- fat yogurts, which will save you loads of calories and fat and give you an added perk of protein.
It’s so easy to become dehydrated without even knowing it, especially when you are outdoors playing in the sun, hiking or tanning. Kids are especially prone to losing fluids, and often don’t want to interrupt their fun to drink. Beat the heat with plenty of ice water, sparkling water, unsweetened iced tea, and an assortment of low-calorie beverages. You can freeze water bottles the night before and use as cold packs to keep food and drinks cold.
Get Up and Move:
Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or enjoying the relaxing air in the park, there are so many activities to do to get your heart pumping! Searching for sea shells, pitching tents, climbing, and hiking are all fantastic nature filled activities, providing good exercise without feeling like a workout. Depending on what location you pick there are many fun, vigorous activities you can find.
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Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
Few kids would say they crave a good fiber-rich meal. However, many appetizing foods are actually great sources of fiber — from fruits to whole-grain cereals. Fiber has mounting research that shows we need to have fiber in our diet every day to fight off disease and promote overall well-being. Kids who eat a wide variety of fiber-rich foods will likely continue with this healthy habit later in life, so jump on the bran wagon now!
What is Dietary Fiber?
Fiber is part of the plant food that our body does not digest. You can find dietary fiber in the following plant foods: fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, seeds, nuts and whole grains. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both are important for a healthy diet.
- Soluble fiber acts like a sponge. It absorbs water in the intestines and forms a gluey gel that picks up cholesterol and carries it out of the body.
- Insoluble fiber acts like a broom because it doesn’t dissolve in water. It adds bulk and softness to the stools and keeps them moving along comfortably preventing constipation.
Fiber has the following health benefits:
- It keeps your child’s intestines working comfortably.
- It protects against constipation when combined with enough water.
- It fills up your child’s tummy so they will be satisfied and not overeat.
- It reduces the risk of many diseases including diabetes and certain cancers.
- It reduces the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
How Much Fiber Do Kids Need?
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dietetic Association both recommend a simple rule of thumb: The total number of fiber grams a child should consume each day should equal the child’s age plus 5, starting at age 2. A 6-year-old, therefore, should have 11 grams of fiber a day.
Fiber intake should be increased gradually. This is important to minimize potential adverse side effects such as abdominal distress, bloating, flatulence, cramps and diarrhea. Remember to encourage kids to drink more fluids, especially water, as they eat more fiber.
What Foods Are High in Fiber?
A high-fiber food has 5 grams or more of fiber per serving and a good source of fiber is one that provides 2.5 to 4.9 grams per serving. Here’s how some fiber-friendly foods stack up:
Lentils, cooked (1 cup) = 15.6 grams dietary fiber
Artichoke, cooked (1 medium) = 10.3 grams dietary fiber
Raspberries (1 cup) = 8 grams dietary fiber
Pear (1 medium) = 5 grams dietary fiber
How to Boost Your Child’s Fiber Power
Help your child meet their daily fiber needs, by gradually increasing fiber in their diet with the following tips:
- Choose 100% whole grain cereals for breakfast
- Have cut up fruit in the cereal or as a side dish
- Use 100% whole grain bread, rolls, wraps, or pita for sandwiches
- Add fresh fruit and/or vegetables with low fat dipping sauces
- Add a small bag of nuts or seeds in with their lunch
- Replace white rice, white bread and white pastas with brown rice and whole grain products
- Include a fruit or vegetable salad with the skin on
- Add seeds and nuts to liven up the salads
- Replace a side dish with dried peas or beans
- Make a pizza by topping a whole wheat tortilla with pizza sauce, low fat cheese and vegetables
- Toss in extra vegetables in home-made or low sodium canned soups
- Offer a bowl of air-popped or low fat popcorn
- Make a baggie of 100% whole grain crackers
Changing your child’s diet should be a positive experience. Explain to them why fiber is important for the whole family to feel healthy. You don’t want to get upset and frustrated with your child if they don’t want to try higher fiber foods. Just be positive with your encouragement and keep introducing higher fiber foods.
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Wednesday, April 27th, 2011
“Mom, can I have a triple-scoop ice cream cone, pretty please?” If you answered yes to this question, you might be teaching your child portion distortion. A study, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, adds support to the recommendation of offering kids smaller-sized servings. Researchers from Pennsylvania State University served five-year-old kids small, medium, and large portions of macaroni and cheese. The more macaroni and cheese the five-year-olds were offered, the more they ate.
Whopping portion sizes are a huge culprit in why people overeat, but if you teach your children about appropriate portion sizes, they may be more likely to stick to healthy portions into adulthood.
Here are a few tips on how you can help your child downsize their portions and get a better value on her health:
Kids Love Magic, so be an Illusionist!
Marketers have created jumbo-sized cups and plates to match the portions we are accustomed to seeing in restaurants. Dinner plates have increased in size from a standard 10-inch to 12-inch and larger, so today normal portions look miniscule on a larger plate. The solution is to put meals on smaller plates so that the portion appears larger.
Divide and Conquer Portion Distortion
Divide snacks into small portions, instead of sending your child off to snack with the whole bag. Remember those five-year-olds who ate more macaroni and cheese based on being offered larger portions, well the same rule applies here.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Serve food away from the table, which may limit family members from going back for seconds. Plate the food and leave the serving bowls off the table because, typically, when food is within reach, we eat more and it has nothing to do with hunger but because it tastes good or because it is in front of us.
Add Healthy ‘Extras’ to Your Meals
When you boost the proportion of fruits, vegetables, and herbs in your dishes, you naturally cut calories while adding nutrition and flavor. Fruit and vegetables have a high fiber and water content and therefore you can eat a larger, more filling portion without lots of calories.
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