Quick Weeknight Pho Ga

by in Healthy Recipes, October 25, 2016

The star of pho, the Vietnamese noodle soup sold throughout the country at modest stands or tables on the street, is its rich and deeply flavorful broth, made by simmering beef or chicken bones for many hours.

When there aren’t hours available, a shortcut version of this healthful, balanced meal in a bowl can be on the table in about 20 minutes. The key to giving store-bought broth extra flavor is to first char and toast the “aromatics” — that is, the onion, ginger and dried spices — under the broiler. Be sure to place the onion wedges over the dried spices so they don’t burn, which would make them bitter.

Traditional pho is served with all the additional ingredients, such as the greens, fresh herbs, sprouts, lime, and chile peppers (whole or sliced, depending on their size) or Sriracha, for each diner to add to taste. Read more

Cauliflower Piccata

by in Healthy Recipes, October 23, 2016

For this piccata recipe, roasted cauliflower steaks are cooked in a delicious sauce of butter, wine, parsley, lemons and capers. To me, the pairing of bright lemon and briny capers is almost magical; spooning it over tender cauliflower finished with a generous serving of parsley is an easy way to maximize vegetable intake.

This cauliflower piccata is a vegetarian showstopper, a beautiful main dish perfect for holidays yet easy enough to enjoy for weeknight dinners. To create cauliflower “steaks,” remove the outer leaves and the bottom portion of the stem. Then slice the cauliflower into 1-inch-thick slabs. Depending on the size of your cauliflower, you may have only three to four steaks per head. For a main dish, serve the cauliflower steaks with egg noodles or roasted potatoes — and extra piccata sauce. Read more

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Spice

by in Healthy Recipes, Healthy Tips, October 22, 2016

Buried beneath the deluge of lattes, limited-edition snack foods and baked goods, the spice blend known as “pumpkin spice” has a nutritious foundation. And while it’s wise — for the sake of your waistline — to back off on the pumpkin spice Frappuccinos, ‘tis the season to take advantage of the health benefits of this ever-popular fall flavor combination.

Health Benefits
Different pumpkin spice blends may have variations, but the core blend usually includes ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice. Here are the health benefits of each.

Rich in cell-protecting antioxidants and unmistakable warmth, cinnamon is the star ingredient of pumpkin spice. There is also some research to support that cinnamon may help diabetics better control blood sugar.

Another warm fall spice, nutmeg boasts small amounts of fiber, numerous B vitamins and minerals. Read more

Nutrition News: Getting Kids to Eat Healthy; the Case for Pale Veggies; a Breakfast Challenge

by in Food News, October 21, 2016

Raise healthy eaters
Trick-or-treating will soon be upon us, scattering bite-size candies in its wake. Given that, how can you nudge your kids toward healthier eating? Writing in The New York Times, psychologist and author Lisa Damour offers a trio of suggestions. No. 1: Frame eating as a “zero-sum game.” Let children know they can take in only so much food, and explain to them that unprocessed foods are better than processed foods at providing their bodies with the nutritional elements needed to lower inflammation, prevent disease and boost immune systems. No. 2: Make it about “self-care.” Damour recommends we remind children that eating healthily is key to taking care of themselves and that they can generally rely on their own appetites to regulate consumption. No. 3: Find broader, “beyond-the-self” motivations. Damour suggests underscoring the broader environmental effects of food choices when discussing them with your kids, telling them, for instance, “Eating a real green apple is way better for the environment than a green-apple-flavored Starburst.” And, she reminds us that the behavior we model sends our kids a message as well. In other words, we should probably all put down the Starburst and reach for an apple. Read more

5 Turkey Chilis That Put Beef Out to Pasture

by in Healthy Recipes, October 20, 2016

Whether you spend the next few weekends hitting your local campground to take in the fall foliage or sitting on the couch curled up under a blanket, one thing is for sure: You’re going to want a bowl of warm chili to wrap your hands around. Loaded with fragrant spices, tender beans and protein, chili is exactly the type of dish you want to have on hand in your freezer throughout the season.

But let’s not forget that part of what makes chili so comforting is the toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, maybe even some diced avocado. By the time you finish adorning your bowl with all the desired fixings, you could be looking at half a day’s worth of calories — or worse. That’s where lean ground turkey comes in. If your favorite chili involves beef, here are a few things to consider: A 4-ounce serving contains roughly 127 calories with 27 grams of protein, compared to 199 calories and 23 grams of protein found in 90/10 lean ground beef. Need some inspiration to switch up your chili routine? These are a few of our favorite turkey-based recipes from the chefs at Food Network.

Indian Summer Turkey Chili
If you plan on doing any tailgating this fall, Rachael Ray’s big-batch turkey chili is just the thing you’ll want to spoon out of your thermos. Large bell peppers brighten up the mixture with their mild sweetness. Stir in a bit of your favorite barbecue sauce for a touch of sweet heat.

Read more

Brussels Sprouts, 3 Ways

by in Healthy Recipes, October 19, 2016

This trio of healthy Brussels sprouts recipes is delicious enough to convert even those who feel dubious about this vitamin C-packed cruciferous veggie. Here, the leafy sprouts get their moment in the spotlight first as the star ingredient in a delicately crunchy raw salad, then tossed into a peppery pasta carbonara and finally topped onto a shiitake-sesame rice bowl and drizzled with a smoky tahini dressing.

Brussels Sprouts Carbonara (pictured above)
Serves 4

8 ounces quinoa spaghetti
4 strips bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, smashed
8 ounces shredded Brussels sprouts
2 large eggs, at room temperature
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pecorino, optional

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp; drain, reserving some of the bacon fat. Using the same skillet, cook the garlic and Brussels sprouts, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and season with plenty of pepper. Add the drained pasta, bacon, Brussels sprouts and some of the reserved bacon fat, if using; toss to combine. Serve with the cheese, if using.

Per serving: Calories 285.5; Fat 6.3 g (Saturated 1.8 g); Cholesterol 98 mg; Sodium 190 mg; Carbohydrate 48.2 g; Fiber 4.8 g; Sugars 1.6 g; Protein 10.1 g Read more

The New World of Yogurt

by in Food News, Trends, October 18, 2016

You’ve probably noticed that the dairy section at your local grocery store is brimming with more choices than ever before, especially when it comes to the yogurt aisle. There have never been so many ways to enjoy this cultured dairy product, including drinks that allow you to sip them when you’re on the go and savory formulas showcasing in-season produce. Here’s a tour of the new and delicious world of yogurt.

Similar to dips, there’s a new craze surrounding cups of savory yogurts that can be eaten as a snack. Instead of fruit and sweeteners, these yogurts are adorned with an array of veggies, herbs and spices. Blue Hill Yogurt (pictured above) in New York has pioneered this savory sensation, offering flavors like Tomato, Beet, Butternut Squash and Parsnip.

More and more brands are offering bottles of less spoonable yogurt for on-the-go enjoyment. New York state-based Ronnybrook makes a drinkable yogurt without the use of stabilizers or emulsifiers and offers a variety of flavors, including Blackberry, Mango and Low-Fat Honey Vanilla.

Skyr is an incredibly thick and creamy cultured dairy product made in traditional Icelandic fashion. Like the more familiar Greek yogurt, Skyr is strained, yielding a lower water content, but it tastes less tangy than its counterpart from Greece. One of the most-popular brands on the scene is Siggi’s, which is high in protein and is made with less added sugar than many other sweetened yogurts. Read more

Q&A with Chef Virginia Willis, Author of Lighten Up, Y’all

by in Cookbooks, October 16, 2016

Think Southern food can’t be lightened up? Think again! I had the opportunity to speak with Chef Virginia Willis about her James Beard Award-winning cookbook Lighten Up, Y’all. She was kind enough to share her tips for lightening up traditional Southern foods like biscuits, as well as her recipe for Vegetable Corn Bread.

Can traditional Southern foods be lightened up and still taste good?
Virginia Willis: Yes and yes! First, and foremost, I want to say that all traditional Southern foods aren’t unhealthy. We’re a vegetable-based cuisine and have a 12-month growing season. And, yes, I admit we’re most famous for fried chicken, cornbread and overcooked vegetables. My answer to that is: When you have fried chicken, have really good fried chicken, hold out for the good stuff  — and take a walk afterwards. There are tons of great vegetable recipes, and whole-grain cornbread isn’t unhealthy. I suggest backing off on the fat and amping up the nutrition.

What are three of your top tips for lightening up Southern fare?
VW: 1) I have a squirt bottle of canola oil at the side of my cooktop. I know that three squirts are 1 teaspoon, and that helps me be accountable. Bacon fat, butter or canola oil, all oil is around 120 calories a tablespoon. I try to use heart-healthy oil for general cooking and only use more-indulgent oils when their flavor really makes a difference.
2) It doesn’t matter if it’s Southern food or Italian food or Mexican food — the real key is portion control.
3) Eat your vegetables! Make vegetables the main place on the plate, and the starch and protein the secondary piece. Read more

Being Mindful Helps Chocolate Boost Your Mood

by in Food News, October 15, 2016

There’s no denying that chocolate is a feel-good food — which is why so many of us reach for it at the first sign of stress or unhappiness. The problem is that by the time we’ve mindlessly munched down an entire candy bar or several handfuls of Hershey’s Kisses, we don’t necessarily feel any better. In fact, we’re more likely to feel overly full, plus a bit guilt-stricken for gorging on sweets.

But what if you could not only feel satisfied, but also actually boost your mood by eating just one small square of chocolate? According to a study recently published in the journal Appetite, it is possible. Researchers at Gettysburg College recruited 258 students and assigned them to one of four groups. In one group the participants each ate 75 calories’ worth of chocolate while being mindful; participants in another group each ate five crackers in the same manner; and participants in the other two groups each ate either the chocolate or the crackers without being mindful. The two groups assigned to be mindful were instructed to hold the food and think about the farmers who produced the ingredients necessary to make it. After that, they were told to focus on the sensations of the food in their mouths as they ate. Start to finish — eating either the chocolate or the crackers mindfully — took about four minutes. The non-mindful groups were instructed to eat half their food, then wait four minutes to eat the other half, in order to keep the time frames of consumption similar. Read more

Nutrition News: Naked Juice Is Sued, Junk Food Is Jettisoned and Big Soda Displays Strange Behavior

by in Food News, October 14, 2016

Duped by Juice
When you reach for a Naked Juice, you probably think you’re doing something good for yourself. After all, its label promises “goodness inside.” But, in a class-action lawsuit filed last week, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has accused Naked Juice parent company PepsiCo of misleading consumers by suggesting that the fruit and veggie juices are primarily filled with ultra-healthy “acai berry, blueberries, kale, and mango,” when in reality the product lines’ chief ingredients are orange juice or “cheap, nutrient-poor apple juice.” CSPI contends the juices’ “no sugar added” claim is misleading as well, suggesting that the juices’ sugar content is low, when actually it’s quite high — nearly as much per bottle as a 12-ounce can of Pepsi. It also accuses PepsiCo of flouting Food and Drug Administration regulations by failing to not make clear that the drinks are “not a low-calorie food.” Consumers, CSPI litigation director Maia Kats said, are “not getting what they paid for.” PepsiCo has called the allegations in the suit “baseless.” Read more