Tag Archives: healthy eating

Ideas to Make Your BBQ Dishes Healthier!

With the start of summer, people are prepping their grills in anticipation of neighborhood get-togethers and fantastic food. Sometimes those classic backyard party foods spell disaster for your diet. While potato salad and fried chicken are tempting, there are so many tantalizing alternatives.

Kerry Neville, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, suggests switching out the more traditional but unhealthy options for healthier ones, adjusting recipes to make those classics lower calorie or more nutritious, or simply limiting portions of your favorites if you simply must have a taste.

Whether you are attending a potluck or hosting a backyard bash of your own, you can create healthy dishes that are sure to be a big hit. Neville says, “Try using broccoli slaw instead of coleslaw, toss in some shredded carrots, and toss with a light, low-fat poppy seed or yogurt dressing for a great salad that will be still be crunchy and delicious and lower in calories than the typical coleslaw.”

Summer brings a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables that can be incorporated into your menu plan. If there will be grilling at your outing, provide some fresh zucchini and squash, mushrooms, onions, and peppers to toss on the grill.

The author of the Sonoma Diet, Connie Guttersen, RD, says, “Vegetable salads (excluding lettuces) prepared ahead of time will taste even better the next day after their flavors have had time together.” As a dipping option, she also recommends that you try one of the many whole-grain crisps options available such as oat crisps and whole-grain rice chips instead of high-fat chips.”

Hummus, fat-free bean dip, and salsa are great options that are not deal-breakers for your diet. Consider bringing a simple platter of cut veggies or fruit with a healthy low-fat dip, and celery stuffed with peanut butter or low-fat cheese.

Bring on the Burgers

If burgers are an essential component of your party, consider using lean meat patties or even turkey burgers. The fat content will be much lower. Veggie burgers are also quite tasty and give vegetarians more options at a cookout. Likewise, chicken or turkey hot dogs are also available as are meatballs if you are so inclined.

Most burgers are about 6 ounces, with a payload of 460 calories and 11 grams of saturated fat. And when you count the cheese, bun, and condiments, the typical picnic burger can top upwards of 780 calories! By simply cutting out a couple of ounces to make smaller patties, and using 90% lean meat, you can cut out 231 calories and 6 grams of saturated fat. A turkey burger, even at the larger 6-ounce portion, has a calorie content that is much lower at 289 with only 2.7 grams of saturated fat.

With veggie burgers, it is difficult to provide an accurate calorie content because there are so many different ways and ingredients used to make the patties. However, most veggie burgers without the bun will range from 70-250 calories—still much lower than either lean beef or turkey.

An alternative to burgers and hot dogs is grilled chicken breasts or fish fillets. These are healthy options that taste great and have such versatility when used with marinades and seasonings. One 6-ounce boneless and skinless chicken breast, grilled, will total around 276 calories. Grill a 6-ounce portion of fish and save even more calories with about a 185-calorie total.

What About Wraps?

Another favorite is sandwich wraps. Many people choose a tortilla instead of two slices of bread, thinking they are making a healthier choice. This is actually not true in most cases. Wraps are more condensed than bread and contain a higher fat and calorie content. Two slices of bread contain on average between 70-150 calories, depending on bread type. A tortilla is typically 170-200 calories. So, skip the wraps and just use whole-grain bread instead. You could set out a sandwich construction station where people build their own sandwiches using healthy sandwich stuffers and toppings.

Beverages

Picnics and potlucks usually have lots of soft drinks, sweet tea, and other high-sugar beverage options. Steer clear of those calorie busters, and opt for sparkling, flavored zero-calorie water, unsweetened iced tea, fresh ice water, or other low calorie beverages. Ice water with fresh lemon juice and a little no-calorie sweetener makes a lovely lemonade. If you are providing alcohol, choose spritzers and low-calorie options in lieu of calorie-heavy beer and mixed drinks.

Desserts

Many of us make it through a backyard party congratulating ourselves for our healthy food choices, right up until we see the dessert table. Then it all goes to naught. By choosing guilt-free desserts, you can still satisfy your sweet tooth without regretting it later. How about dishes of berries or peaches with light whipped topping or juicy slices of watermelon? One cup of peaches contains 61 calories. A cup of watermelon has only 47. One cup of strawberries has 49 calories.

If baked goods are a must, go with light angel food cake topped with berries or light whipped topping. One slice of angel food cake (1/12th of 10” diameter) has only 129 calories. By contrast, chocolate cake has 352 calories per slice (1/12th of 9” diameter), and one slice of pecan pie (1/8th of a 9”diameter) packs a punch with 503 calories.

A simple fruit platter with cantaloupe and different types of melons offers a cooling dessert for those wanting to make healthy choices. For a tropical twist, include mango, papaya, pineapple, kiwi, and coconut on your dessert platter.

Think a fruit platter isn’t exciting enough? What better way to cool off on a hot day than with popsicles? Just freeze blended fruit with Greek yogurt and honey in popsicle molds to produce a delicious low-calorie dessert that will cool everyone off and definitely won’t be ordinary!

Bringing healthy food to a potluck or providing those options at your own party is always appreciated, and it is something you can feel good about. You are helping yourself and others as well in your journey to better health.

Meal Kit Delivery Services: What Can You Expect?

Preparing balanced meals is a top goal for most of us, although we don’t always have the time, energy, or ingredients to make it a reality. And let’s face it, our own skill in the kitchen sometimes leaves us a little short, and the family starts begging for take-out alternatives.

If you are struggling to satisfy picky eaters, can’t find the time to get to the store and plan out healthy meals, or if you are facing specific eating restrictions among your family members, you might want to consider a meal-kit delivery service. These have become wildly popular because they are so convenient and offer great meal options. Catering not only to different cuisine preferences, but also to a variety of dietary restrictions, this could be your solution to those hectic nights when you really don’t have time to go to the grocery store and plan out dinner.

There are many different services available, but the plans are all similar. Just select which service you think would provide the types of meals best-suited to your family’s preferences, and then when you sign up, you choose how many meals you need per week. The services have some variability in cost, but they average out at about $9-$12 per meal. Many offer promo-codes, so before signing up, do some online searches to locate potential cost-saving coupons. It’s also a good idea to determine what time frame is needed when cancelling so that you will know in advance of taking any vacations or should you want to try a competitor for a while.

What Can You Expect?

You will receive high-quality, fresh foods in your kit, along with recipes and everything you will need to create your meals. You do need to have some basics on-hand, such as salt and pepper, cooking oil, and possibly eggs; all other ingredients are supplied in your kit. You do also need to have your own pots and pans, knives, and occasionally an item such as a blender, cheese grater, or mixer.

Tailored Options and Extras

Some meal-delivery services provide optional extras, such as the available wine-pairing offered by Blue Apron, or the select cuts of specialty meat which can be purchased as an add-on from Home Chef or Sun Basket. Want to enjoy a decadent dessert after that amazing dinner? PeachDish and Plated are two that offer a dessert option.

If you are trying to tailor your diet around specific restrictions such as gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, or the Paleo-diet, then you may be surprised to learn that choosing a meal-kit delivery system might be an easier way to stick to the plan than going it alone. The Purple Carrot offers exclusively vegan meals, while Sun Basket has vegetarian, Paleo, as well as gluten-free choices. While some services only have a few recipes to select from each week, others have a wide assortment, so you should shop around to determine which service will best meet your needs.

In addition, some services assume that the person cooking has experience in the kitchen and there is variability in how much instruction you receive. Some very helpful resources offered by BlueApron and HelloFresh are their apps and video tutorials. This can really be a great asset for those among us who don’t have a lot of cooking experience and may need a little added help.

Whatever you are looking for, you can find a meal-kit delivery service that fits the bill with just a little looking. Signing up online is easy and straightforward, and with most you can pause or cancel your subscription just as easily. Below are some links to popular meal-kit delivery sites:

 

 

Eating Healthier: In-Season Veggies and Fruits

The arrival of spring brings more people out running, going to the gym, and dieting (sometimes “crash” dieting) to be prepared for spring break, spring and summer vacations, and to “become healthier.”

One way to become healthier is to improve the quality of the nutrients you consume by eating locally grown, in-season fruits and vegetables. In-season being the time of year when a fruit or vegetable is usually harvested, is at its peak ripeness, and is most plentiful.

You may see fruits and other produce in your grocery store during all seasons of the year, but much of the time, it has been shipped from a distance—even other countries—where it may have been many days since it was harvested, and it also may have questionable nutrient value.

Benefits of Eating In-Season Fruits and Vegetables

Flavor. The flavor is more intense: Freshly harvested produce just tastes better than produce even a few days older. Think of biting into a fresh, crisp apple that is so fresh it squirts its juices with each bite, or a fresh peach which gives off its inviting smell before you even bite into it.

Higher-quality nutrients. Produce picked before it ripens does not have enough time in the sun for the nutrients to fully develop in the flesh of the fruit or vegetable. In-season fruits and vegetables have a higher vitamin C content which lowers the risk of infections, unlike the infection risks from the pesticides and preservatives in canned and processed foods. Canned fruits and vegetables rapidly lose anti-oxidants like vitamin C, folate, and carotenes when they sit on store shelves, but freshly picked ones are loaded with these health-giving substances.

Price. Seasonal produce and fruits are in abundant supply, so the price per pound is less—making it not only better for you but also cheaper. For non-seasonal produce shipped from other places such as California and Mexico, the shipping cost is passed along to the purchaser, resulting in higher prices. Transported produce must be picked before ripening, chilled during transportation to prevent rotting, and upon arriving at its destination, possibly heated in a hothouse to artificially ripen, which changes the texture and taste as well as greatly reducing the nutrients.

Avoiding Contaminates. Because of the stringent regulations on food grown in the United States, we can feel safe consuming foods grown here (and if there is an outbreak caused by foods grown in some areas, we are notified and told to return or throw out the named food). However, many countries overseas (from which some of our vegetables and fruits are sourced) have very relaxed laws concerning chemicals that are sprayed on crops grown there. They may not conduct or regulate soil contamination tests to ensure safe ground in which to grow fruits and vegetables. In some of these agricultural areas, heavy metals and other toxic contaminates have been found coming from industrial sites located in or near the same areas.

Community. Most communities have a farmer’s market or food co-op, and these are not only great places to get the freshest of in-season produce, but you can also talk with the farmers who produce these foods and learn about the methods they use. It is a plus to be able to support farmers who work so hard to provide healthy foods for the community and to help build connections which benefit everyone.

If you don’t have the time to visit a farmer’s market, you can often find some locally sourced produce at your grocery store. Many stores will even have it labeled as locally grown.

Another option is to invest in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Before harvesting time, you pay a lump sum to a local farm or group of regional farms. This gives you a “share,” which means that you receive weekly boxes of locally harvested and ultra-fresh produce. This arrangement is mutually beneficial since the farmer has improved cash flow to help with harvesting, and the share owner is guaranteed delicious and fresh produce from a known safe source.

A study from Johns Hopkins University and a recent one from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) found that only 11 percent of adults consumed the recommended daily servings of vegetables and fruit. But more than half exceeded their daily need for protein and grains and ate excessive amounts of sugar, saturated fats, and salt.

All of us need to improve on the amount of fruits and vegetables we eat daily to become healthier. Eating in-season produce can help us to achieve that goal.  Click here and enter your state in the drop-down at the top of the page to see what fruits and vegetables are in-season in your area.

 

Eat from All Five Food Groups Daily to Improve Your Health

It’s always impressive when your waiter or waitress presents you with a plate of food that looks too pretty to eat. Many chefs say “we eat first with our eyes (saying attributed to an ancient Roman gourmet).” Have you ever noticed that the more enticing dishes tend to be visually appealing due to the variety of foods and colors displayed?

Eat from All Five Food Groups Daily to Improve Your Health

It’s hard to get that same mouth-watering effect when you have just one thing on the plate. Likewise, the greater variety of food groups you consume, the better the chance you are getting  sufficient quantities of vitamins and minerals from your meals.

According to the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy & Promotion(CNPP), an organization established in 1994 with the objective of educating and encouraging dietary guidance for all Americans, we should be following the MyPlate.gov model in order to make better food choices and eat healthfully.

The MyPlate model replaced the MyPyramid and the Food Guide Pyramid in 2011, and many people find it much easier to follow. Instead of a pyramid shape, the MyPlate image is designed to look like a place setting, with each of the five food groups displayed in the proper proportions on the plate. It is easy to understand and remember the right ratios of foods we should be eating when contemplating this visual tool.

The reason it is so important to eat from a variety of different foods is that each kind of food has different types and amounts of key vitamins and minerals. If you eat too much of one and not enough of another, you may find that you are lacking in some key nutrients, and over time, this may have a negative consequence for your health. In addition, choosing a variety of foods keeps your meals interesting so you won’t  become bored with your diet plan.

According to the MyPlate Plan, half of our plate should consist of vegetables and fruits, while the other half should be protein and grains. The portion given to veggies is a little bigger than that allotted to fruit, and the portion given to grains is slightly more than that for protein. On the top right of the image is a little circle as though for a drink. This is the dairy group and indicates the proportion of dairy we should have relative to all the other food groups. It is a slightly smaller area than that given to fruits.

The balanced diet presented in the MyPlate Plan is an ideal framework for healthy eating that is easy to remember and follow when creating meals at home or choosing what you want in a cafeteria or restaurant. Take a look at the MyPlate Plan visual tool.

The MyPlate image is not the only helpful tool provided by the CNPP to show you how much of each food group to eat; you can even get a personalized plan specific to your gender, height, weight, and activity level to help you ensure you are eating the right foods in the right quantities. Just go to: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlatePlan.

Healthy & Quick Breakfast Ideas

We recently shared information about how important breakfast is for maintaining good health and starting your day off in a great mood. Now that you know some of the benefits of not skipping that morning meal, instead of hopping in the car with nothing to eat, here are some simple solutions that will guarantee you have the time to enjoy breakfast even when you are in a hurry.

Healthy & Quick Breakfast Ideas

The key here is making something fast. You don’t have to sacrifice deliciousness or healthfulness. Below are four of our favorite superfast breakfast options:

Berries and Oats Muffin – in the Microwave!
1/4 cup quick oats
1 egg
Small handful of blueberries
2 Tbsp brown sugar or Stevia
1Tbsp soymilk or almond milk (optional-for more moist muffin)

Put the quick oats, handful of berries, egg, and a sprinkling of brown sugar into a coffee mug. Mix until well-combined, then microwave for 1 minute on high. Take a peek at 45 seconds to prevent it from overflowing, and keep cooking in 30-second increments until the muffin looks firm.

Five Minute Microwave Quiche

1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 or 2 slices bacon or 1/4 cup bacon bits (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Using a coffee mug, add the egg, 1/3 cup shredded cheddar, 1/3 cup milk, and salt and pepper to taste. You can optionally add some bacon or bacon bits as well. Using a fork or miniature whisk, beat thoroughly to mix well. Cover the mug with a paper towel and microwave on high for 3 minutes or until fully cooked. You may want to add spinach to get an even greater nutritional punch. Just make sure the spinach has had as much liquid removed as possible before adding to the cup.

Peanut Butter Protein Balls

1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey

These delicious little snacks are easy to make and their decadent flavor will make you feel like you are able to eat dessert for breakfast. The no-bake, super easy recipe is packed with fiber, healthy fats, and protein. With only five ingredients, this recipe means you have no more excuses not to eat breakfast!

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl. Stir until well combined. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes to make them easier to roll. Roll into balls.
These may be stored in the fridge for up to a week if you can get them to last that long. Good luck with that!

Fifteen-minute Italian Baked Eggs 

With 5 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to bake, you can toss these babies in the oven and finish getting ready while they cook.

1 cup marinara sauce
4 large eggs
1/4 cup fat free or lowfat milk
1/4 cup shredded gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup basil, fresh or dried

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Lightly coat 2 10-ounce ramekins with nonstick spray or oil.
3. Pour marinara sauce into ramekins in even portions.
4. Add milk, both cheeses, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Bake until egg whites are cooked through and opaque, approximately 10 minutes.

 

Does Eating Breakfast Really Matter?

We’ve all been there in that morning rush when you are trying to get your lunch packed, make sure the kids have their lunches packed, and you’ve already spilled your coffee. It seems like everything in the universe is conspiring to make you late for work. You are tempted to skip breakfast, but your stomach is churning, and you know it really is the most important meal of the day— regardless of how cliché that may sound.

Does Eating Breakfast Really Matter?

Is it true? Is breakfast really that important? Well, according to dietitians, yes. It is! Not only does eating breakfast give your metabolism a kickstart—helping you burn calories all day long—but it helps your brain to focus, which is important whether you are heading to the office or heading to school.

Believe it or not, eating breakfast is also linked to maintaining a healthier weight. According to Christy C. Tangney, PhD, a clinical dietitian at Rush University Medical Center, “Studies have found that although people who skip breakfast eat slightly fewer calories during the day, they tend to have a higher body mass index, or BMI.”

Many studies have shown that eating breakfast is associated with having a better memory and concentration, a lower chance of developing diabetes, heart disease, having lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and having good health in general.

It is difficult for experts to say whether breakfast is the cause of these healthy traits or whether people who eat breakfast just also have healthier lifestyles.

In addition to benefits for your health, eating breakfast can affect your emotional outlook as well, improving your mood in the mornings drastically. Skipping breakfast, or any meal for that matter, can lower your blood sugar which not only leaves you feeling weak and tired, but also lowers your mental acuity, and often puts you in a bad mood.

British researchers conducted a study (published in the 1999 journal, Physiological Behavior) in which 144 otherwise healthy adults fasted overnight and then were separated into several groups the next morning. One group ate nothing, one group had a moderate breakfast, and the third group only had coffee. Over the next several hours the groups were monitored.

  • The group having had nothing to eat performed the worst on memory tests and felt the most fatigue at noon, four hours after waking.
  • The group consuming coffee did not feel fatigue, but had lower scores on mental skills tests than those who ate breakfast.

Other studies have turned out similar results. Dr. Tangney also points out in regard to adolescents, “Of more concern is that an association has been found between skipping breakfast and other risky behaviors like smoking and experimenting with drugs and alcohol.” So, including that all-important meal in your family’s daily routine may be helping in more ways that you can imagine.

If you often have no time to prepare breakfast in the morning, try keeping some ideas on hand that you can use to prepare the night before a quick grab-and-go breakfast. Muffins or mini-quiches can be made the night before, or perhaps just some simple biscuits with bacon and cheese that you only need to reheat in the microwave before you leave. There are many options that are easy to prepare in advance that you can serve all week long without having to spend hours in the kitchen or make yourself late getting out the door in the mornings. Your morning rush will be a little less stressful if you can just grab it and go.

Part 2: Best Resolutions and Best of Intentions, but Losing a Little Steam?

In part 1 of this article, we talked about a list of resolutions that are nearly universal in the tradition of annual rebirth and revitalization which include lose weight, spend less, learn more, or do something to better your life in some way. In the second part, we want to discuss HOW you can stick to the promises that you made to yourself!

The key is to make sure you are setting realistic goals that you can reach. Many people set the bar too high or make their goal too vague. For example, rather than establishing a normal healthy weight loss goal such as losing one pound per week, a person might proclaim that they are going to lose 50 pounds without really laying out a plan for the appropriate time frame in which they will accomplish this goal. This can lead to a sense of defeat if he/she doesn’t see rapid weight loss.

And whether it’s weight loss, controlling our spending, getting better grades in school, or asking for a promotion at work, our resolutions always take us out of our comfort zones. With that in mind, it’s vital that we set smaller and very precise goals for ourselves—goals that will be easier to reach and help us build our confidence in our ability to succeed.

Start Small, Finish Big.

As you attain these smaller goals, your satisfaction will soar. Nothing helps me put that truffle back in the box like remembering that the last time I stepped on the scale, I was five pounds lighter, and I liked that. Celebrating each small success makes it easier to keep going. Before you know it, you will have reached your goal.

Many people find it helpful to track their progress in writing. You can look back on your journey later and really appreciate the work you put in. Sometimes, reading back over it and recalling the struggle is all it takes to find the motivation to keep going. And who knows, you may use your story later to inspire others facing the same challenges.

It is also important to put a number on it. Instead of just some vague goal like losing weight, set an attainable goal that will be easy to reach like one pound per week for four weeks. That may seem like a small amount, but according to the CDC, people who lose their weight slowly and steadily are much more likely to keep it off because true healthy weight loss is not going to come from a temporary diet, but from adopting a new lifestyle long-term. And, the CDC also says that 1 to 2 pounds per week is an ideal goal. To lose one pound per week, you would need to burn off 500 more calories than you consume on a daily basis (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories).

If your goal is to “spend less money,” make this goal less ambiguous by budgeting exactly what money you will spend and where it will go. Make use of a budgeting app like Mint or PocketGuard. You can also just plot it out on a spreadsheet. Whatever method you prefer, by tracking how you spend, it becomes much easier to see where you may be wasting money on things you don’t really need. That is how you start. Once you can highlight the less important recipients of your hard-earned cash, you can figure out how much money could potentially be saved by cutting those things out of the budget.

The key is to take baby steps. Make small changes initially, like opting to brew a cup of coffee for yourself in the morning at home rather than spending $4 at Starbucks every day. Whatever your vice, chances are that you can see big changes in your pocket at the end of the month once you start taking a closer look at your spending trends and making conscious efforts to peel back a little bit at a time.

Remember, write it down, take baby steps, and make sure you know exactly where your target is before you shoot the arrow. With sensible small goals, structured plans for accomplishing them, and a willingness to accept that you just might make a few blunders along the road to victory but that doesn’t mean you give up, the group of people celebrating success this year will probably include YOU. Go do it!

 

Starting a Healthier Lifestyle in 2019? Lettuce Help You with That!

Here are some fantastic options for shaking up your salad routine!

Everyone is familiar with the good old salad standby: iceberg lettuce. But if you’ve walked into any major produce department lately, you’ll notice an enticing assortment of leafy varieties that may be unfamiliar. These can offer great options for spicing up your salads with something a little more exotic and healthy. Here are some of the options you’ll likely encounter:

Arugula
Arugula, the funny-sounding name that reminds one of the horns on old cars, has a distinctive peppery flavor that really brings an exciting zip to your salads. The texture is different from iceberg lettuce, as the leaves of this plant are skinny rather than broad, with a softly undulating border and a smooth surface. This leafy treat weighs in high in vitamins K and A and is a good source of fiber and protein.

Kale
This curly-leafed green has grown wildly in popularity in the past few years and is now finding a place in everything from salads to oven baked-chips and smoothies! While it may seem like a new and passing fad, this vegetable was grown by the ancient Romans.

Kale has a somewhat bitter flavor, and the texture can be rather tough. If you find either to be an issue, you can tear it into smaller pieces in your salad, so as not to have the flavor overwhelm the other ingredients. And give it a good massage with an oil-based dressing to soften the texture.

Kale is one of the most nutritious options for salads with 1,021% of the recommended daily value of vitamin K, 308% of the RDV for vitamin A, and 200% of the RDV for vitamin C. With its incredible vitamin potency, it is no surprise that kale has become a hero among the health-conscious.

Spinach
This leafy green became famous after Popeye the Sailor Man gulped it down in his daily cartoon and suddenly burst out with muscles—doing impossible stunts with his superhuman strength—attributable to the magical can of spinach. While this vegetable is certainly healthy, it probably won’t turn you into a muscle-bound superhero in one sitting. It does taste fabulous raw, with a slightly astringent, earthy flavor and is a great complement to any salad. With a huge amount of vitamin K and vitamin A, it beats arugula for nutritional value. It’s also a good source of fiber and protein. While it can’t compare with kale for these vitamins, its dark green leaves boast more folate than kale, making it a definite health bonus for any salad.

Swiss Chard
Boasting even more vitamin K than kale, this superfood could be next on the list of fashionable health foods. Swiss chard, slightly bitter to the taste, contains 1,038% of the RDV of vitamin K, with 122% of the RDV of vitamin A. Chard is also an excellent way to work vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and manganese into your diet and is reputed to have a slightly milder flavor than kale. Another bonus to adding this leaf to your salad is its highly interesting coloration: dark green leaves and a vividly red stem and veins. It adds a very colorful appeal.

Radicchio
Another ancient companion to your salad, radicchio was mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his 79 A.D encyclopedic Naturalis Historia, commenting that this velvety red-leafed plant was good for insomnia and blood purification in addition to boasting a nice taste. He notes that it was Egyptians who bred this variety from the chicory plant.

Radicchio has a bold flavor, somewhat spicy, and is also pleasingly colorful with its purplish red leaves accented by white stem and veins. It resembles red cabbage but has quite a different flavor. A tasty addition to your salad!

Watercress
Once a staple in the diet of Roman soldiers and used medicinally by Hippocrates (the father of medicine),  it should be no surprise that watercress is bursting with nutritional goodness. Unfortunately, over time, the plant became known as the food of the poor and was less fashionable in comparison to the new varieties of salads that were cultivated over the next 100 years.

This ancient green is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables such as broccoli, arugula, kale, and Brussels sprouts. It is high in vitamins K, C, and A. With a tender texture but a slightly peppery taste, this dynamic green is a wonderful addition to your leafy repertoire.

The Lettuces
Whether you prefer iceberg, leaf, Boston, or romaine lettuce, most have a similar mild flavor. The four most common categories are looseleaf, crisphead, romaine, and butterhead. The iceberg lettuce we are so familiar with is a great example of crisphead, with a round head of tightly packed leaves. The butterhead variety is also mostly rounded, but with the leaves being more loose and smooth (usually found in the grocery store in plastic clamshell cases).

While romaine lettuce has rather long leaves and a robust spine, the looseleaf varieties grow as rosettes, with loosely gathered leaves—easily harvested one leaf at a time rather than by the entire plant.

The mild flavors of all the lettuces make them an ideal base upon which to add the spicy, bitter, and peppery varieties of leafy greens listed above.

Whatever exotic varieties of greens you choose to add to your salads this year, don’t be afraid to try something new! Variety is the spice of life, and this is especially true with greens.

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Food Leftovers – How Long Will They Keep?

Over the holidays, you are likely to be preparing a large meal for family and friends. But what to do with all the leftovers? In a short time, you and your family members will be sick of eating turkey or ham sandwiches, hash, or other leftover-inspired dishes.

Knowing prior to a holiday how long you can store certain cooked foods will help you avoid having to throw out food as well as ensuring that it is safe to eat.

These factors influence how long leftovers will keep:

1. How long food is left to sit out at room temperature after a meal. Family and friends often sit around the table talking after a holiday meal and may lose track of time. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, and other side dishes should be refrigerated within two hours of the time it was cooked—not from the time it was served.

2. Whether meat was cooked to the correct temperature

  • Turkey should be cooked until it reaches 165°F as measured by a food thermometer. The temperature should be checked in the thickest part of the breast, the deepest part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing.
  • Fresh or smoked ham should be cooked to a temperature of 145°F and allowed to rest for three minutes. Reheat fully cooked ham to 140°F.
  • Beef, pork, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 140°F and allowed to rest three minutes.

You can store leftovers for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. If you have a larger quantity of food than you can eat within that time, freeze part of it within two hours of the time it was cooked.

If turkey was cooked with stuffing inside, remove the stuffing and store it separately from the leftover turkey meat.

You do not have to let hot food cool off before putting it into the refrigerator but divide it into smaller portions to allow it to cool off more quickly in the refrigerator.

From a registered dietitian, the following guide is helpful.

A Guide to Storing Food Leftovers

Food Fridge Freezer
Turkey, cooked 3-4 days 2-3 months
Meat (ham, beef), cooked 3-4 days 2-3 months
Gravy 1-2 days 2-3 months
Cranberry sauce 10-14 days 1-2 months
Stuffing, cooked 3-4 days 1 month
Mashed potatoes, yams 3-5 days 10-12 months
Soup 2-3 days 4-6 months
Vegetables, cooked 3-4 days 2-3 months
Pumpkin pie, baked 3-4 days 1-2 months

 

Halloween Candy: Eat This, Not That!

If you’re like most parents, you can’t resist raiding your child’s trick-or-treat bag on Halloween night. Or maybe you’re not a parent but can’t fight the urge to eat those Fun-size candy bars you are giving out on Halloween.

Either way, all that Halloween candy can be really tempting. You can indulge and not completely derail your healthy eating habits by choosing your treats wisely and keeping portions to a minimum. In other words, don’t eat a whole bag of Fun-size Twix bars in one sitting! Leave most of the candy to the little ghosts and goblins after you satisfy your sweet tooth with one of these small treats.

Eat this: Fun-size Kit Kat bar
Not that: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup

While both candy bars are high in sugar and calories, that snack-size Kit Kat has 3 grams of fat and 7 grams of sugar compared to a Reese’s peanut butter cup that clocks in at 10.5 grams of fat and 6.5 grams of sugar. And who can eat just one?

Eat this: Dark Chocolate
Not that: Milk Chocolate

Dark chocolate contains antioxidants and has less sugar than regular milk chocolate candy bars. Keep portions small though and stick with fun-size options.

Eat this: Sweet Tarts
Not that: Skittles

If hard candy is your weakness, you’re better off choosing Sweet Tarts rather than Skittles candies. Sweet Tarts have 2.4 grams of sugar per min-bag while Skittles have a whopping 14.5 grams of sugar per mini-bag.

Eat this: Smarties
Not that: Fun-size chocolate bar

Smarties have only 5 grams of sugar and no fat, while most fun-size chocolate bars contain 7 grams of sugar or more, and 3 grams or more of fat per bar.

Eat this: Jelly Belly jelly beans
Not that: M&Ms

Jelly Bellies have only 35 calories per serving and no fat, but M&Ms (all varieties) are loaded with both fat and sugar.