Meet This Grain: Freekeh

by in Healthy Recipes, April 17, 2013

freekeh
Freekeh (pronounced free-kah), is an ancient grain that’s had new-found popularity lately. If you haven’t seen it on supermarket shelves or on the menu at your favorite restaurant, be on the lookout; you will soon.

What is Freekeh?
In Arabic, the word freekeh means “to rub.” About 2,000 years ago, the grain was created by accident when a Middle Eastern village was attacked and their young green wheat crop was set on fire. The villagers rubbed off the burnt outer layers and cooked up the grain, and thus freekeh was born. It has a crunchy, nutty taste, which has been described as a cross between brown rice and barley.

What Makes Freekeh So Healthy?
One half cup of cooked freekeh has about 130 calories, 1 gram of total fat and 8 grams of protein. It’s free of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. This ancient gem is an excellent source of manganese, providing 70% of your recommended daily amount. It’s also a good source of fiber (with 4 grams per ¼ cup dry), plus phosphorus and magnesium. Freekeh is a whole grain so adding it to your diet can help you meet the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines to make half your grains whole.

Freekeh is also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two plant chemicals that have been shown to aid in eye health. This ancient grain also seems to work as a prebiotic, helping good bacteria flourish in the digestive tract.

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Chimichangas

by in Robin's Healthy Take, April 16, 2013

chimichanga
The chimichanga, or chimi as it’s affectionately termed in the Southwest, is a deep-fried burrito stuffed with meat, vegetables and spices. Once fried to perfection, chimichangas are often topped with cheese and served with a variety of condiments, such as green onions, diced tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream and black olives. Sounds delicious, right? It is delicious, but  consider that one restaurant-style chimi has around 760 calories, 34 grams of fat and 1,930 mg of sodium. With that much sodium, you’re done for the day  — you’ll have reached your daily max in sodium in only one meal. Store-bought frozen chimichangas fare slightly better, with around 300-500 calories, 25 grams of fat and 1,200 mg of sodium per serving. Filling aside, it’s the deep-frying that does most of the damage. Regular burritos have about 200-300 calories and 10-20 grams of fat each, but drop them into the deep-fryer and you can add 225 calories and 21 grams of fat to each burrito. Yes, the deep-fried, crunchy exterior is great, but not worth the health consequences, especially when a healthier version is so easy to make.

You can stuff flour tortillas with delicious ingredients and then bake the chimichangas in the oven for the same, amazing result. Try this recipe and let me know if you agree. Read more

The Veggie Table: Foods That Sound Vegan, But Really Aren’t

by in The Veggie Table, April 15, 2013

tomato soup
A couple of years ago I posted about eight sneaky foods vegetarians should avoid because they contain surprising animal-based ingredients. Since that list was not entirely exhaustive, I’ve come up with a part-two post to help you avoid those foods that may seem vegan or vegetarian, but in fact are not. Most of these foods are found in restaurants, so be sure to ask before ordering so you know what you’re getting.

Vegetable soup – I know what you’re thinking: “How could a vegetable soup have meat in it?!” While there may not be hunks of meat, I’ve come across vegetable soups in restaurants that are in fact made with chicken or beef broth. Unfortunately not all restaurants make this known unless you ask. If you spot a soup on the menu that seems to be entirely vegetable-based, it’s worth a quick question to your server or the chef to be sure. Read more

How To Build A Healthy Salad

by in Healthy Recipes, Healthy Tips, April 14, 2013

crab and avocado salad
From choosing the greens to pouring the dressing, building a healthy salad requires some thought. Selecting the ingredients carefully or you can end up with a 1,000+ calorie meal.

Work Your Way Up
Start from the bottom and work your way up to the dressing. First course of action: Select your greens. Good choices include romaine, spinach, or a combo of field greens. Keep in mind that iceberg lettuce contains fewer nutrients than darker greens, and build your salad on a plate or in a bowl — stay away from the calorie-laden crunchy taco shell.

The Veggies
Choose several colorful veggies to top your salad like tomatoes, carrots, radishes, cucumbers and bell peppers. More colors mean a wider variety of nutrients. This is a great opportunity to use leftover veggies that are lingering in the fridge—and a perfect way to minimize food waste.

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Healthy Cooking Method: Parchment Packet Cooking

by in Robin's Healthy Take, April 13, 2013

parchment packet cooking
In France they call it “en papillote”. In Italy, it’s “al cartoccio”. In America, we call it parchment cooking. What does it mean? Very simply, it’s a cooking technique that involves wrapping food, typically fish, chicken and/or vegetables in parchment paper. Once wrapped like an envelope, the “packet” is baked in the oven until the entire meal is moist, tender and cooked to perfection.

The technique may sound fancy in other languages, but it’s actually quite simple. Even better? It’s probably the least messy cooking method because it doesn’t involve any pots or pans. Nutritionally speaking, because all ingredients are assembled in a packet, very little (if any) fat is needed, making it a fantastic cooking technique for the Healthy Eats crowd. Read more

Blogger Spotlight: Gina Harney of The Fitnessista

by in Blogger Spotlight, April 12, 2013
Gina Harney is a new mom, military wife, food enthusiast and certified fitness instructor. She focuses on eating lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and veggies but fully admits to her love of chocolate and wine too. With the motto “being fit is always in style,” Gina’s blog, The Fitnessista features workout tips and a wide range of easy and fun healthy recipes.
 
When did your passion for fitness begin?

I grew up dancing, but paired the high activity with often-unhealthy (but delicious!) food. In college, my eating habits took their toll and I started to experiment with different types of fitness to get to a healthy weight. I lost 40 lbs in college after embarking on a healthy lifestyle through walking (which eventually turned into running), strength training and cleaning up my diet.

What are your favorite pre- and post-workout snacks?

It depends on the time of day. If I can squeeze in an early workout, I’ll often have something small (1/2 a banana and almond butter) and the bulk of my breakfast afterwards, making sure to enjoy a balance of carbs and protein, with a little fat in there. I love egg burritos! If I teach or work out at night or during the day, I’ll have a protein-packed salad beforehand, and enjoy a couple of protein balls afterwards.

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Trail Mix-Wild Rice Salad

by in Healthy Recipes, April 12, 2013

rice salad
With so many hip grains like quinoa and millet on the market it is easy to forget about options like wild rice.  This nutty, fiber and nutrient-rich grain is not only good for you but when mixed with long grain brown rice it’s an inexpensive, whole-grain option. The chewy rice lends nicely to the dense, chewy dried fruits and when paired with the crunch of nuts and seeds this salad is very inviting.

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10 Everyday Uses for Nuts and Seeds

by in Healthy Tips, April 11, 2013

nuts and seeds
It’s no secret that nuts and seeds are good for us. Packed with anti-inflammatory fats, protein and nutrients galore, nuts and seeds make a great addition to a healthy daily diet. The problem is, snacking on a handful of nuts everyday or adding a tablespoon of flax to your smoothie can get old really fast. Here are a few easy ways to make nuts and seeds a part of your every without the boredom of that bowlful of almonds on your desk.

Replace Eggs: Use 1 tablespoon finely ground chia seeds or flax seeds (grind them dry in a blender, food processor or coffee grinder) with 3 tablespoons of water. This ratio will replace one egg.

Thicken Soups and Stews: Add a couple tablespoons of ground or whole chia seeds to a hot soup or stew until you reach your desired thickness. Wait 10-15 minutes for chia to thicken to full capacity.
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10 Healthy Canned-Tuna Recipes

by in Healthy Recipes, April 10, 2013

tuna pasta
It’s one of the easiest proteins to keep on hand for a quick meal. Get the scoop on buying the best varieties, then get ready to cook these deliciously healthy canned-tuna recipes.

Choosing the Right Can
Both water and oil-packed tuna can be used create a healthy recipe. At the market, the most common water-packed varieties are albacore and chunk light. Albacore comes from a larger species and has a milder flavor, while chunk light comes from a smaller fish and tends to have a stronger flavor. Three ounces of tuna canned in water has around 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 22 grams of protein.

Oil-packed varieties have more calories and fat than water-packed tuna, and the price is usually higher than water-packed. Three ounces has about 170 calories, 7 grams of fat and 25 grams of protein. Splurge on oil-packed on a special occasion and drain to help remove some of the fat.

Tuna is even more convenient than ever — you don’t even need  can opener to enjoy it; you can now find tuna in pouches. The pouches are available in the same oil and water-packed varieties with similar nutritional content to canned. Some companies like Starkist also pack their tuna in extra-virgin olive oil or sunflower oil and have low-sodium options available.

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Win These Chia Seeds!

by in Giveaway, April 10, 2013

chia seeds

Chia seeds, the small crunchy seeds originally made famous by the Chia Pet are full of protein, fiber, calcium, iron and potassium. Use them to make a creamy, tapioca-like pudding or add crunch to a spring salad. Add a spoonful of seeds to a smoothie or mix them in with granola.

You can buy your own Health Warrior Chia Seeds or enter in the comments for a chance to win some. Just let us know, in the comments, how you incorporate chia seeds in to your diet. The contest starts at 10:00 a.m. EST today, and ends on Friday, April 12 at 5 p.m. EST.

We’re giving away one bag of Health Warrior Chia Seeds to two randomly-selected commenters. You must include your email address in the “Email” field when submitting your comment so we can communicate with you if you’re a winner.

You may only comment once to be considered and you don’t have to purchase anything to win; a purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Odds depend on total number of entries. Void where prohibited. Only open to legal residents of 50 U.S. states, D.C. or Puerto Rico, and you must be at least 18 to win. For the first day of the giveaway, all entries (answers) must be entered between 10:00 a.m. EST on April 10 and 5 p.m. EST on April 12, 2013. Subject to full official rules. By leaving a comment on the blog, you acknowledge your acceptance to the Official Rules. ARV of each prize: $12.99. Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC, d/b/a Food Network, 9721 Sherrill Blvd, Knoxville, TN 37932.

So tell us, how do you incorporate chia seeds in to your diet?