15 Fourth of July Potluck Recipes

by in Healthy Holidays, July 2, 2013

Jicama and Watermelon Salad
During the holiday weekend, I’m always invited to a potluck barbecue. But no matter which part of the meal I’m assigned to bring, the end result is always a no-fail dish and a string of ooohs and ahhhs by other guests. Here are some helpful tips and healthy recipes.

Tips for Easy Toting

Complicated or soggy dishes like soups, sauces, or soufflés can get VERY messy when traveling. But if that’s your assigned food, wrap the container several times in plastic wrap just in case it leaks. I also like to have the passenger hold the dish during a car ride to be on the safe side.

When traveling with a green salad, add the dressing right before serving in order to avoid soggy leaves.

If you do choose a hot dish, check ahead with the host if they have extra oven space or if you can grill your goodies right before serving. That can save you time at home plus the food will taste better freshly cooked.
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Vegetable-and-Bean Burritos

by in Robin's Healthy Take, 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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7 Breakfast Foods That Sound Healthier Than They Are

by in Healthy Tips, July 1, 2013

granola
The most important meal of the day can often be the most hurried, which is why so many of us look to reach for something healthy and fast. But breakfast foods can be deceiving — when choosing a quick grad-and-go breakfast, watch out for these 7 foods.

Bran Muffins
Some folks assume that you can’t go wrong with anything “bran” but many packaged and fast-food bran muffins tip the scales at over 440 calories and 15 grams of fat each! A down-sized homemade version is the way to go.

Flavored Oatmeal
There’s no disputing that oats are good for digestion, curbing appetite, and heart health but that can be over-shadowed by the sugar and preservatives found in most packets of flavored instant oatmeal. Get plain (even instant is fine) and flavor it up yourself.

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Dairy-Free Coconut “Whipped Cream”

by in Healthy Recipes, June 30, 2013

coconut whipped cream
With berry season in full swing, nothing beats a bowl of sweet, in-season fruit for dessert. Growing up, berries and Cool-Whip or whipped cream was a staple treat in my house. As an adult I’m not able to eat dairy, but still want to enjoy the classic combination. Here’s a fun, healthy upgrade to a traditional whipped cream that you’ll love. It’s bursting with rich, creamy flavor, is dairy free and added sugar is optional.

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New Uses for Leafy Greens

by in Robin's Healthy Take, 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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“Creamy” Tarragon Pasta Salad

by in Gluten-Free, Healthy Recipes, June 28, 2013

This party-perfect recipe is a great replacement for traditional mayonnaise-based salads; it gets its creamy texture from dairy-free yogurt. The fresh carrots, grapes and tarragon give this salad an exciting, fresh taste. Gluten-free pasta makes it gluten free, of course, but if you don’t have a sensitivity, any pasta will do.

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The Worst People For Your Diet

by in Diets & Weight Loss, June 28, 2013

office coworkers
One of the most difficult barriers dieters face are folks who try to sabotage their weight loss efforts. These are the folks who will shove an over-sized piece of cake in your face at a party or insist on having fried food at every meal. Every dieter faces them; your best defense is to be prepared.

Kids
Those sweet little ones can be a dieter’s worst nightmare! Yelling for candy at the check-out aisle or insisting on eating chicken nuggets at every meal. Oftentimes you end up giving into their whining for processed foods and end up becoming the garbage disposal for their leftovers.

Your best defense: Both adults (dieting or not) and kids should be eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy foods. There are many deliciously healthy recipes that everyone can enjoy; get the kids in the kitchen to help choose and prepare healthy recipes and the whole family will benefit.

Office Buddies
There’s always one office pal who brings in the basket of baked goodies, insisting on watching you eat it. Then there are office-mates who go in groups to pick up the latest fancy coffee drinks, some with no less than 350 calories a pop. And if you try and explain that you’re watching your weight—that’s the center of conversation for the next 2 weeks.

Your best defense: Stick to your guns (and your plan)– overcoming office buddies is all about mind over matter.

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5 Overly-Processed Foods

by in Healthy Tips, June 27, 2013

doughnuts in box
Did you clean your kitchen out after reading our list of the scariest processed foods a few months ago? Here are 5 more overly-processed foods that you might want to toss if you’re looking to clean up your diet.

Flavored Rice & Pastas
Check out the sodium on those seasoning packets — you could be downing 35 to 45 percent of your daily recommended dose in 1 cup. Plus you’ll get an laundry list of additives and preservatives (and they’re not even made with real cheese!)—it’s just so easy to make your own.

Healthier Alternative: 5-Ingredient Spicy Cheesy Rice

Processed Pastries
Boxed cakes, cookies and doughnuts might bring up those feel-good childhood memories, but they’re just a high-fat, nutrient-empty junk food. Some boxed doughnut varieties can have as much as 65% of your daily recommended dose of artery-clogging fat for just one! You’ll also find trans fats in some varieties, such as cakes made with shortening-based frosting and cream-filled cookies.

Healthier Alternative: Marbled Banana Bread

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Apple Cider Vinegar: Worth The Hype?

by in Healthy Tips, June 27, 2013

apple cider vinegar
There’s nothing better than apple cider vinegar for coleslaw, salad dressing and BBQ sauce, but in recent years this staple ingredient has gained popularity as a cure-all tonic.

The Hype
Nutrition-related tales claim that if you consume a daily dose of apple cider vinegar it can help with various medical conditions including heart disease and diabetes as well as aid with weight loss, digestive issues and bacterial infections. Many alternative-medicine practitioners recommend downing a few tablespoons a day straight-up or mixed with water.

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New Study: Kids Eat More Veggies With Dip

by in Healthy Recipes, Kid-Friendly, June 26, 2013

green goddess dressing
If you’re looking to up your kids’ veggie intake, read this! A new study found that serving vegetables alongside dip leads to munching on more veggies. Interestingly, kids were also found to prefer dips flavored with herbs and spices over plain, more bland dips.

The Study
A 2013 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that adding herbs or spices to a reduced-fat dip increased a child’s willingness to eat veggies. The portion-controlled 3 ½ tablespoon dips served to the kids had 50 calories, 4 grams of fat and 90 milligrams of sodium.

Pre-school children ages 3 to 5 years told researchers from the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Pennsylvania State University that they liked veggies when paired with a favorite flavored dip compared to eating a veggie without a dip or with a plain dip. Thirty-one percent of kids liked a veggie alone while 64% liked a veggie when it was served with their favorite dip. In addition, 6% of kids refused the vegetable when served with a flavored dip as compared with 18% who refused the veggie when served without any dip.
During a second experiment, researchers found that kids ate significantly more of a previously rejected or disliked veggie when it was offered with a favorite reduced-fat herb dip compared to when it was offered alone.

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