Healthy Cooking Mistakes You’re Likely Making

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, March 24, 2017

Cooking more healthfully doesn’t need to be a painful task, but if you’re falling into these common traps you may be fighting an uphill battle. How many of these habits do you need to break?

 

You don’t measure high calorie ingredients

There is such thing as “too much of a good thing.” While there’s no disputing that ingredients like olive oil, nuts, avocado and nut butters offer healthy fats, inflated portions can lead to inflated waistlines. When each tablespoon of olive oil contains 120 calories and 14 grams of fat, and each cup of cooked whole grain pasta adds up to 200 calories, it’s important to measure out these ingredients to avoid a calorie overload.

 

You defrost meat on the countertop

Is it common practice for you to toss that package of frozen chicken on the countertop before you leave for work? This is a food safety nightmare waiting to happen. The drastic temperature shift from freezer to counter rolls out the red carpet for potentially harmful bacteria and foodborne illness. Instead defrost meat safely overnight in the fridge. Or if you’re in a time crunch, defrost in the microwave then cook immediately. Read more

Creative Ways To Use Dates

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, March 21, 2017

Growing up, I spent my summers in Israel, where dates were part of the daily diet. These days, I’m pleasantly surprised to see that this dried fruit has become mainstream in the States. I spoke with Colleen Sundlie, founder of the Date Lady, to ask for her tips for getting creative with this versatile, nutrient-packed fruit.

The History

This naturally dehydrated fruit goes back over 5,000 years, and is native to the Middle East. These babies require a hot, dry climate, and are grown in the Middle East, Africa, along with California and Arizona. You may be familiar with the Medjool variety, but there are numerous other varieties including Dayri, Halawy, Thoory, and Zahidi which may be found in specialty food markets.  Most varieties are about 1-2 inches long and have an oval shape with a single oblong seed inside. The skin is paper thin, while the flesh has a sweet taste.

Dates are green when unripe, and turn yellow, golden brown, black, or deep red when ripe. The sweet fruits are typically picked and ripened off the tree before drying. You can find pitted and un-pitted dates at the market. Read more

Start a Garden and Harvest the Health Benefits

by in Healthy Tips, March 17, 2017

As the weather begins to warm (March, you’re still planning to go out like a lamb, right?) and the first signs of spring tentatively peep out of the ground, many of us take our cue to start rooting around for our garden tools.

If you are not yet a gardener, why not make this spring the season you try out your green thumb? Even if you live in a city and have no yard at your disposal, you may be able to give it a whirl by finding a small plot in a community garden or even stashing a box on your windowsill. The rewards may include far more than whatever you manage to grow.

Studies have shown that gardening has all sorts of health benefits, from boosting your mood and improving your diet, to helping you stay fit and trim. So Healthy Eats reached out to Sharon Palmer, RD, a plant-based food and nutrition expert and the author of The Plant-Powered Diet, Plant-Powered for Life and The Plant-Powered Blog, to find out more.

 

How is tending a garden beneficial for your overall health? 

Gardening is good for your overall health in many ways. First of all, it is a form of physical activity that contributes to your overall physical fitness levels. Secondly, it can boost mood-enhancing hormones. Studies show that gardening can increase the release of serotonin, which has an anti-depressant effect, while decreasing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Thirdly, it can increase your exposure to health-promoting vitamin D levels we obtain from the sun. And fourthly, studies show that when you garden, you increase your consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables. Read more

Market Watch: Radishes

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, March 16, 2017

Radishes

Grown throughout the world, radishes come in a surprising number of shapes, sizes, and colors, from the large, white daikon to the ping-pong ball sized red globe radish. They range in flavor too, from slightly peppery to seriously pungent. What they have in common is a satisfyingly crunchy texture and an ability to add fresh flavor to all sorts of dishes. Though they are in season all year long, they are at their peak from spring to summer. Look for them at local farmer’s markets, where you are likely to find varieties like the whimsically named French breakfast radish, an elongated red-skinned radish with a white tip and a mild flavor, striking black radishes that pack a seriously spicy punch, and gorgeous pale green watermelon radishes that reveal a hot pink interior once sliced.

 

Radish facts

Radishes belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables, and like cousins broccoli and cabbage, offer up a wealth of nutrition. They are particularly high in Vitamin C and contain fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals called indoles, which have a detoxifying effect on the body. What’s more: radishes have only 20 calories in an entire cup.

Choose radishes that are firm and free of cracks or brown spots. Before refrigerating them, snip off the greens and place the red bulbs in a plastic bag. If the greens are still crisp and not beginning to wilt, rinse them and refrigerate them separately. Plan on using the leaves within a day or so, as they won’t stay fresh for long. The radish bulbs can be stored up to two weeks. Read more

It’s Not Just You: Stress and Fat Are Linked

by in Food News, March 14, 2017

In times of stress, many of us turn for consolation to sugary, fatty, high-calorie foods. Macaroni and cheese? Meatloaf and mashed potatoes with extra butter? A massive hunk of buttercream-frosted cake? They don’t call them “comfort foods” for nothing.

“I often see unmanaged stress lead to overeating and binging with my clients,” says Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, RYT, author of Nourish Your Namaste e-book and blogger at The Foodie Dietitian. “When we push away our basic needs for self-care — relaxation, spirituality, fun, sleep — we wind up feeling overexerted, depleted and stressed and turn to food as a way to fulfill an unmet need. Overeating because of stress often leads to more stress and anxiety and it becomes a vicious cycle.”

Given that, the results of a recent British study that found a link between long-term stress and obesity may not come as much of a surprise.

The study, conducted by researchers at University College London and published in the journal Obesity, looked at hair samples representing about two months of growth from more than 2,500 men and women age 54 and over participating in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing to determine the levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, present in the hair. The researchers found that those with higher levels of cortisol, which plays a role in metabolism and fat storage, were more likely to be overweight or obese – to have a larger waist circumference, weigh more and have a higher body-mass index. Read more

Diet 101: The Ketogenic Diet

by in Diets & Weight Loss, March 12, 2017

The latest fad diet riding on the coat tails of the low-carb trend is the ketogenic diet. This nutrition plan has been around for ages, and has been effectively used in the treatment of epilepsy, but it’s also become popular to help folks shed pounds. Here’s what you need to know about this diet plan before you hop on another fad diet bandwagon.

About the Diet

This diet promotes low carb, moderate protein, and high fat intake touting health benefits such as weight loss and improved overall health.  It promotes an extremely low intake of carbs: about 30 grams per day. For the average American on a 2,000 calorie diet, this would be 120 calories of any type of carb per day. You can find carbohydrates in fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and legumes — which, when minimized in the diet, limits food choices dramatically. The distribution of macronutrients recommended is 5% carbohydrates, 25% protein, and 70% fat.

The fats recommended include both unsaturated like avocado and fatty fish along with saturated like whole milk, sour cream, and mayonnaise. Flour, sugar, and other such carbs are not recommended on the plan. Fruits are eaten in very small amount, low carb vegetables are recommended, and nuts in moderation. Read more

How a Playful Mindset Can Keep You Fit

by in Fitness, March 11, 2017

When you’re a kid, you stay fit without even thinking about it. Turns out a playful mindset could be the key to staying fit. That’s why trainers are channeling their inner child when it comes to developing programs for their clients, incorporating kid-like activities like rebounding (think trampoline), jump roping and rock climbing.

“I remember as a kid, whether you lived in a city and walked to school or grew up in the suburbs and climbed trees, you were active without even realizing it,” explains Fayth Caruso, master rebounder trainer for Bellicon fitness equipment, who says activity was once built into our day and that the same playful mindset can be applied to adult fitness routines. “It’s more motivating to do a workout that’s fun. It also promotes endorphins in the body, which makes us feel happier,” says Caruso, who played on her friend’s trampoline growing up. “That brief moment of flight, defying gravity and weightlessness made me feel almost super human! Who doesn’t want to feel that?”

Bringing play back into a workout like rebounding can benefit adults on both a physical and psychological level. “Rebounding is good for the lymphatic system, which runs north and south in the body, which a bouncing motion stimulates, helping rid our body of toxins and waste,” explains Caruso. “It’s also easy on the joints, builds bone density, stimulates blood flow, improves digestions, increases cardiovascular endurance and improves balance and coordination — all important to keep us living healthier longer.” Read more

Chefs Share Their Strategies for Staying Healthy

by in Healthy Tips, March 10, 2017

Long, laborious hours over a stove and tasting dishes on the fly don’t exactly breed nourishment, but chefs know that sticking to a few easy healthy food habits can punctuate a demanding, exhausting industry with much-needed moments of calm and clarity.

Opening a restaurant (a grueling, all-consuming affair) leaves little time for sleep, yet alone sport. But a rigorous schedule didn’t deter Derek Stevens, who just unveiled Union Standard in Pittsburgh, from keeping to his ultramarathon training and Brazilian jiu-jitsu sessions. The disciplined chef/owner also took care to whip up healing ginger-turmeric tea amid round-the-clock planning and construction. “Turmeric root is an obsession of mine,” he says. “It is both an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory, which helps with any injuries I may have.”

Matt Jennings, chef/owner of Townsman in Boston, shed over 100 pounds after surgery and profound lifestyle transformations. Like Stevens, his non-alcoholic tipple of choice right now stars ginger, paired with organic apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest and maple syrup. “I steep all the ingredients together with a bay leaf and drink it hot, or chilled over crushed ice. The kick in the vinegar and ginger is reminiscent of a cocktail, yet the health properties of all the ingredients are amazing,” he explains. Avid swimmer Ruth Gresser, chef/owner of Pizzeria Paradiso in Washington, D.C. and Alexandria, VA, relishes turmeric as well, but when mixed with garlic and cayenne in warm lemon water. Just as her father does, she begins her day with this pungent elixir. “He has been doing this for years, and his mother lived to be 100,” she says.  Read more

6 Ways to Use Spring Herbs as Healthy Greens

by in Healthy Tips, In Season, March 9, 2017

Little flecks of green parsley make plates look pretty, but antioxidant-rich herbs are more than just a garnish. Using handfuls of herbs instead of pinches can pack more nutrition onto your plate. Basil contains the antioxidant beta-carotene and may decrease the immune response to allergens. Mint has phenolic compounds with strong antioxidant activity, along with vitamin A, folate and potassium.

Here are easy ways to use big bunches of basil, mint, parsley, arugula and other herbs as healthy leafy greens.

Make classic herb sauces from around the globe

Pureeing fistfuls of parsley, cilantro, garlic, and olive oil is the basic recipe for the classic Argentinian steak sauce chimichurri; try it on our Dry-Rubbed Flank Steak. An Indian chatni or chutney contains similar ingredients with the addition of fresh mint like in Curry Rubbed Swordfish Steaks with Fresh Green Herb Chutney. Italian Blanched Basil Pesto includes bunches of basil along with parsley, olive oil and cheese. Liberally drizzle any or all of these zesty green sauces over eggs, vegetables, or whole grains.

Slice and dice up spicy salsas

The addition of tomatoes, mangos or avocados to the classic herb sauce makes for a colorful salsa. Cilantro combines with garlic, avocado and tomatillos in our recipe for Avocado Salsa Verde. When making pureed-style salsas, add another couple handful of herbs for extra nutrition, and to use up bits of herbs that may otherwise become food waste. Even a chunk-style Mango Salsa is delicious when the amount of fresh herbs is doubled. Read more

Q&A With Rebecca Scritchfield, Author of Body Kindness

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, March 7, 2017

Visit any bookstore and you will be bombarded with cookbooks and diet books that promise weight loss results in no time flat. But the author of Body Kindness, Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RDN, HFS, is trying to change all of that with one simple concept: being kind to your body. In her new book, Body Kindness, Scritchfield urges people to ditch the crazy fad diets and treat their body with the love and respect it deserves. I was lucky enough to chat with the author and dietitian, and to get the inside scoop about her new book and the message of body kindness.

 

What prompted you to write Body Kindness?

I can trace it all the way back to being a teenager and reading the glossy magazines about how to look good in a bikini. I developed a mindset that you congratulate yourself for the foods you don’t eat and the way you look. For most of my life, I believed that health was about being in the best shape of your life and keeping a low weight.

I genuinely became a dietitian because I wanted to help people get healthy. Deep down, I always thought that was about weight loss. When I had my clients on my weight loss program, it reminded me of my own experience growing up. We would congratulate when pounds were lost, but they weren’t learning how to make better choices or take care of their bodies. I got frustrated because I wasn’t really helping develop long-lasting habits. When I had the opportunity to write a book, I wanted to focus on relinquishing the idea of trying to control your body and adopting what you can control — your habits. Read more

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