Prep Ahead for Easy Weeknight Cooking

by in Robin's Healthy Take, May 25, 2013

cutting vegetables
A little advance prep on the weekend will make mealtime a breeze during the week. Tips to get you ready:

• Pre-cook pasta and rice on the weekend and store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator (no oil necessary). When ready to prepare the meal, reheat the pasta in your favorite sauce (and add vegetables and cooked meat, chicken or fish) and stir-fry rice with soy sauce, mixed vegetables, nuts, tofu, meat, chicken or shrimp.

• Marinate chicken, steak and pork loin chops in low-fat salad dressing for up to 48 hours (use a zip-top bag for easy clean up). Grill or roast when ready to prepare the meal. Read more

Blogger Spotlight: Jennifer Vagios

by in Blogger Spotlight, May 24, 2013

As a certified yoga instructor and registered dietician with a Master’s in Nutrition from Columbia University, Jennifer Vagios is a yoga guru and health fanatic. Teaching yoga and working with individuals to design personalized, healthy eating plans, she’s on a mission to inspire others to embrace a healthy lifestyle. On her blog, she shares easy-to-make recipes while explaining their nutritional benefits and where to buy ingredients. Her motto is, “Ditch the Diets, Eat a Veggie. Do Yoga & Sometimes eat a Cupcake.”

You refer to yourself as a “yonut.” What does this mean exactly?

One day, while obviously really busy (insert laugh), I think I was staring at the words Yoga and Nutrition. That bored me, and who wants boring? Somehow the letters YO and NUT popped out of those two words, and it immediately clicked. I thought of a donut, then I thought of a new snack. Then I had visions of YONUT items like mugs, t-shirts, etc. That was all it took.

I also liked the fact that people aren’t sure what it is at first but the second they “get it” and perhaps get my sense of humor, it usually makes someone laugh, and I love to make people laugh.

In brief: YO represents me as a yogi/yoga teacher and NUT represents me as nutritionist/dietitian. I’m enthusiastic about both and sometimes feel like a nut, I embrace that nutty side of my personality.

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Should You Follow an Acid-Alkaline Diet?

by in Diets & Weight Loss, May 24, 2013

acid-alkaline diet
Should you follow an acid-alkaline diet? This question was the hot topic at the last cocktail party I attended. The answer, however, isn’t as straightforward as it’s made out to be.

What’s the pH Diet?
The theory behind this plan is that if you consume loads of acid-producing foods it will lead to a metabolic imbalance. The body will try very hard to regain its equilibrium, making you sick in the process.

The diet claims that if you eat more alkaline and less acid-forming foods, it will help reduce inflammation and increase your resistance to disease.

According to the diet, you should be eating 80% alkaline-forming foods and 20% acid-forming foods. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association determined how different foods affect the urine’s acidity. The results found that the most acid-forming foods included poultry, fish, dairy products, meat, caffeine, sugar and salt. Grains were found to be slightly acid forming. The most alkaline-forming foods were fruits and vegetables.

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Salmon With Roasted Grapes and Thyme

by in Healthy Recipes, May 22, 2013

salmon with grapes
A few weeks back I posted a curried quinoa salad recipe. Over the winter I ate that salad as a main dish or lunch but recently I decided to pair it with a protein for a new dinner option. I decided to use salmon because it cooks up in the oven in no time and I don’t have to fuss over it. I love topping fish with roasted tomatoes but didn’t like the idea of the tomatoes with the curried quinoa so I opted for grapes which act similarly to tomatoes in many recipes. The sweet roasted grapes paired with savory thyme was a delicious addition to my already tasty grain salad.

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Win This Tea!

by in Giveaway, May 22, 2013

Palais Tea

Liven up your iced tea for spring with one of Le Palais des Thés’ new spring blends made of all-natural fruits, flowers and spices. The canisters of sweet, refreshing, fruity and uplifting blends make up to 40 cups of tea. Pouring the loose tea into handmade, large muslin bags allows you to contril how strong you’d like each cup—or even pitcher—of tea to be.

You can buy your own Le Palais des Thés blends or enter in the comments for a chance to win some. Just let us know, in the comments, your favorite tea blend or flavor. The contest starts at 10:00 a.m. EST today, and ends on Friday, May 24 at 5 p.m. EST.

We’re giving away one canister of tea, plus a package of small filters and a Tea Lover’s book to four 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 May 22 and 5 p.m. EST on May 24, 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: $34. Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC, d/b/a Food Network, 9721 Sherrill Blvd, Knoxville, TN 37932.

So tell us, what’s your favorite flavor of tea?

Meet This Grain: Farro

by in Healthy Recipes, May 22, 2013

farro
This ancient whole grain has been making a comeback! It’s versatile, easy-to-make and downright delicious.

What Is Farro?
Imagine the taste of brown rice, only with a nuttier flavor and pleasantly chewier texture. This Italian-born grain dates back to ancient Rome. While it’s sometimes confused with barley or spelt, farro has its own unique flavor and texture. Cook it in water or broth and it’s ready in about 25 minutes.

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New Products Made With Greek Yogurt

by in Grocery Shopping, May 21, 2013

greek yogurt frozen pop
Everyone seems to be going ga-ga for Greek yogurt these days! While the tangy, creamy goodness makes for flavorful chicken salad, smoothies and dips, food manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon offering all kinds of Greek yogurt-filled goods.

Greek Goodness
Folks dig Greek yogurt for it’s thicker texture and pungent flavor. It’s also higher in protein than regular yogurt, plus it offers those tummy-pleasing probiotics. Our recent taste tests (for plain and flavored varieties) unveiled that there’s quite a difference in flavor across the numerous brands out there.

Frozen Treats
The freezer section has gone Greek! Not only can you find pints of Greek fro -o (Vanilla Honey Carmel from Ben & Jerry’s anyone?), you can also find portion-controlled frozen bars made with Greek yogurt and real fruit. As far as we can tell, the majority of these frozen goodies are made with real Greek yogurt, but buyers should beware of the health “halo” – many brands have just as much sugar and calories as ice cream!

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Cast-Iron Skillet Cornbread

by in Robin's Healthy Take, May 20, 2013

skillet cornbread

I grew up eating meals from a cast iron skillet. I’m pretty sure my mom got her skillet from her mom, and so on and so on. The reason those meals were so memorable was because the more you use cast iron, the more flavor it retains and thus infuses into food. It can be a cheesy egg frittata, Grandma’s scalloped potatoes or an aunt’s Sheppard’s pie — the older the pan, the better the flavor. Cornbread is a great example. Traditional cornbread just doesn’t taste or look the same when you bake it in a baking dish (yes, I’ve done it, and probably even on this blog).

With a cast iron pan, you can preheat and “grease” the pan first, which gives the finished bread that incredible crisp-around-the-edges-moist-in-the-middle texture. But those recipes use heaps of butter which, as I discovered during recipe testing, isn’t needed. To replace traditional fat (sometimes more than a stick of butter), I used low-fat buttermilk and 2% Greek yogurt. I still greased the pan with some melted butter for the same incredible flavor and color. Whether your cast iron pan is old or new, try this recipe and let me know what you think!

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Lactose Free vs Dairy Free

by in Uncategorized, May 19, 2013

milk
There are a variety of non-dairy “milks” and products ranging from “cheese” to “ice cream” to “yogurt” available at most mainstream supermarkets. Depending on your reasons for choosing them in place of conventional cow’s milk, you may need a refresher on the difference between dairy-free and lactose-free products.

Lactose-free milk and milk products are beneficial for people suffering from lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is very common, especially in adults. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, about 30 million Americans have some degree of lactose intolerance by the age of 20. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk products. In order to digest lactose properly, the body produces an enzyme called lactase. In people with lactose intolerance, the body stops producing adequate amounts of lactase, causing symptoms such as bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea and nausea. Individuals with lactose intolerance may find that they are able to eat small amounts of products that contain lactose without experiencing symptoms. Sometimes they may be able to tolerate products such as yogurt or goat’s milk more easily than cow’s milk. Lactase tablets are also available for lactose intolerant individuals to help them digest lactose.

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How to Save Money at the Grocery Store

by in Robin's Healthy Take, May 18, 2013

grocery shopping
Cost-conscious cooking is on everyone’s to-do list these days. Selecting healthy and affordable food might seem like a challenge, but nutritious and inexpensive are not mutually exclusive concepts. Follow these tips so you can enjoy delicious fare at a great price.

Before shopping:

• Use weekly grocery store ads to plan your weekly menu (do it on the weekend and make it a family affair)

• While reading the circulars, check for foods you buy regularly

• Get a coupon app for your smart phone and use that too (like coupons.com)

• Generate a shopping list for the week that you can stick to

• If your favorite store isn’t offering competitive prices, ask them to price match

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