All Posts In Uncategorized

Why You Should Love Those Weird Lettuces

by in Uncategorized, July 15, 2013

mizuna
These days, there are more than 100 varieties of lettuce available, giving us an endless assortment of colors, textures and shapes to adorn our plates — and countless ways to work more healthy greens into our diets. (Read more here about creative uses for leafy greens.)

In addition to traditional lettuces, unique, heirloom varieties are often offered at farmers’ markets, and they’re definitely worth a try. Don’t be shy: When perusing lettuce, ask questions such as, “Is this lettuce more like a buttery Bibb or sharp arugula?” The grower will love bragging about the taste and textural qualities of the leaves!

And for those times when you don’t have the opportunity to ask, use this cheat sheet!

Butter Oak: Varieties include Flashy and Blushed; the oak-shaped, super soft leaves are achieved by crossing butterhead-type lettuce with oak leaf lettuce.

Buttercrunch: Bibb-type lettuce with thick, juicy leaves and subtle buttery flavor.

Cimarron: Large, tender, red romaine with orange-yellow center; flavor resembles blend of red lettuce and romaine.

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Farmers’ Market Foods to Watch Out For

by in Uncategorized, July 14, 2013

muffins
The farmers’ market has become an entertaining, weekly jaunt for shoppers looking for fresh air and even fresher food. That’s a great thing, but these days, leafy greens and brown eggs are just the beginning of the offerings. Behold the tables featuring homemade cakes, cookies, pies, pizzas, donuts, and assorted fried things. It’s a farmers’ market, so they’re healthy, right? Not always. As you eye those muffins or cookies, consider the nutrition stats below, especially since the foods rarely have nutrition labels.

Numbers vary widely, so use this guide as a reference:

Apple Cider Donut: 200-330 calories, 10-20g fat

Other Donuts (6-8 ounces): 800-900 calories, 40-45g fat

Gingerbread (1 slice or 1 gingerbread person): 260-300 calories, 12-15g fat

Muffins (blueberry, banana, corn, apple, pumpkin, poppy seed): 300-700 calories, 10-40g fat

Cupcakes: 250-400 calories, 10-20g fat

Quick Bread, 1 slice (zucchini, banana, pumpkin): 200-330 calories, 10-15g fat

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16 More Reasons to Heart Greek Yogurt

by in Uncategorized, July 11, 2013

Greek yogurt
Yes, Greek yogurt makes an awesome breakfast, a fabulous snack and a protein-packed dessert. But don’t relegate it to just those uses: This yogurt is capable of so much more!

First, the nutritional stats: When compared to most regular yogurt, Greek yogurt has 2 times the amount of protein. In fact, 1 cup has as much protein as 3 ounces of chicken. It’s also rich in calcium (important for strong bones and teeth and a healthy heart and nervous system). Lastly, Greek yogurt is rich in probiotics, which improve digestive health by maintaining levels of “good” bacteria in the gut (make sure the label says “active cultures”).

Because 1 cup of fat-free Greek yogurt has just 120 calories and 0 grams of fat, it offers an excellent way to slim down recipes while adding tang. Even whole-milk Greek yogurt has just 190 calories and 9 grams of fat per cup (compare that to 1 cup of regular sour cream with 492 calories and 48 grams of fat).

Here are 16 healthy ways to make the most of it.

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Vegetable-and-Bean Burritos

by in Uncategorized, July 1, 2013

Just the word “burrito” conjures up thoughts of high-calorie, high-fat fare that has no place on a blog about healthy eating. But, burritos should, quite frankly, be a staple on every healthy menu. It all depends what you stuff inside that tortilla. First, choose your wrap — there are so many healthy wraps to choose from: regular flour, whole-grain, low-carb and even wheat-free tortillas made with grains like quinoa. Next, you can choose a bounty of fresh and wholesome ingredients to cram inside before you roll up. Burritos aren’t deep fried and not necessarily baked (though you can bake them as I’ve done below). That means they make quick and easy meals for any day of the week. In fact, I often make burritos with leftovers from the fridge (cooked rice, veggies, fresh salsa and cooked chicken or steak). I like baking my burritos because it melts the cheese and lightly toasts the tortilla, giving the outside a bit of a crust and a lot more flavor.

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New Uses for Leafy Greens

by in Uncategorized, June 29, 2013

leafy greens
Yes, sautéed spinach is fabulous. Kale chips are fun. A crisp Romaine salad is especially refreshing on a hot day. But the health benefits of leafy greens are numerous, and to eat more of them you’ll have to think outside the produce box and get creative with those nutrient-dense leafy greens. Check out these tips for a variety of greens, including bok choy, mustard greens, chard, kale, spinach and beet greens.

• Add chopped or sliced greens to spring and summer soups for the last 30 seconds of cooking.
• Drizzle warm balsamic vinaigrette over green leaves to wilt (warm the vinaigrette in the microwave).
• Fill steamed leaves with fresh mozzarella cheese and slices of fresh tomato or roasted red peppers and roll up; drizzle with olive oil before serving.
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How to Make Polenta

by in Uncategorized, June 24, 2013

Traditional Italian polenta is basically porridge made with cornmeal, water or stock and patience; sometimes lots of patience because, for the best results, the cornmeal needs time to absorb the liquid and fully cook, which brings out the sweet corn flavor. The cornmeal can be ground coarse, medium or fine, but traditional Italian polenta is never instant or precooked and packaged in tubes. Polenta can become a healthy cook’s best friend because it’s endlessly versatile – you can serve it as a side dish or top it with meatballs and gravy, braised chicken and tomatoes, or grilled vegetables and a shaving or two of Parmesan cheese. You can also prepare firm polenta that’s then cut into squares or wedges and baked or grilled.

A few tips for the perfect polenta:
• For soft polenta, the ratio is typically 5 to 1 (liquid to cornmeal); for firm polenta, the ratio is around 4 to 1.
• Bring your liquid (water or stock) to a rapid boil and slowly whisk in the cornmeal; whisk constantly for the first minute or so, until the mixture thickens.
• Reduce the heat to low and allow the polenta to bubble/sputter gently for the entire cooking time.
• Stir every 5-10 minutes while cooking.
• Always check the liquid level and don’t allow the mixture to become too thick (it won’t cook properly).
• Depending on the cornmeal you’re using, allow up to 1 hour for fully cooked polenta (it may take less, but play it safe).

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Pan-Seared Calamari With Spicy Peanut Sauce

by in Uncategorized, June 17, 2013

It’s a shame calamari is relegated to the deep fryer most of the time. Also known as squid, protein-rich calamari boasts a sweet taste and firm texture when prepared properly (overcooked calamari is overly chewy calamari). One 3.5-ounce serving has just 92 calories, 1 gram of fat, 16 grams of protein, and 56% of your daily recommended intake for iron. It’s also brimming with calcium, dishing up 28% of your daily recommendation. Problem is, a typical serving of restaurant-prepared calamari, AKA breaded and fried, can have up to 900 calories, 20 grams of fat and almost 2,000 mg of sodium. That’s HALF of your recommended calories and fat and your ENTIRE sodium quota for the day.

Worry not – you can enjoy all the health benefits of calamari by preparing it yourself – pan-seared with a Thai-inspired sesame-soy peanut sauce. And don’t worry about searching for calamari in a store far, far away – if you can’t find it at the seafood counter, it’ll be in the frozen foods section in most grocery stores nationwide.

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Creative Uses for Pita Pockets

by in Uncategorized, June 8, 2013

pita pockets
As with many convenience items on the market, the pita pocket section of the grocery store has blown up. Sizes ranges from regular to mini to super mini (such as Itsy-Bitsy). You can find pre-cut or whole pitas and varieties include white, whole wheat, multi-grain, high fiber, cholesterol-free and more. Obviously, pita pockets make an excellent vehicle for housing healthy sandwich and salad fillings, but might there be culinary possibilities beyond the obvious? Of course! Read on:

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Food Fight: Turkey Burger vs. Beef Burger

by in Uncategorized, June 7, 2013

burgers
It’s an all-out war! With grilling season here, which type of burger should you be tossing on the barbecue?

Turkey Burger
Ground turkey has a reputation for being a very lean meat, but that’s only the case if you choose ground turkey breast. Unless otherwise specified, the dark turkey meat and skin gets mixed in with the light making it fattier than you may think.

A 4-ounce cooked turkey burger (made from a combo of dark and light meat) has 193 calories, 11 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat and 22 grams of protein. It’s an excellent source of niacin and selenium and a good source of vitamin B6, phosphorus and zinc. Choosing ground turkey made from only breast will have 150 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, and 0 grams saturated fat. Since it’s so lean, it can end up being too dry and not-so-tasty.

Undercooked ground turkey has been associated with salmonella, so make sure your turkey burger is safe to eat by cooking it to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Check that the proper temperature is reached by using a thermometer.

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Parmesan Truffle Fries

by in Uncategorized, June 3, 2013

It seems “truffle fries” are super trendy these days. No surprise, they’re downright amazing – crisp, golden-brown French fries with hints of earthy truffle oil. Problem is, they ARE French fries after all, which means they dish up about 300 calories and 20 grams of fat per 3-ounce serving. And let’s not forget, the fries aren’t the entrée; they’re often served as bar snacks or alongside chicken, steak and fish. The good news is, you can make your own truffle fries at home in a snap. You can even add Parmesan cheese and still have better nutritional numbers than the one you’ll see on restaurant menus. Check it out – these gems are incredible.

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