How Long Will the Food in Your Refrigerator Last?

by in Food Safety, June 25, 2013

refrigerator
Go ahead, open your fridge. How long have most of the items been in there? You’re probably thinking to yourself, when should they be tossed? Since the sniff test or a quick eyeball over isn’t the best way to make that determination, take a look at the guidelines and then get ready to keep or toss ‘em.

The Guidelines
Your refrigerator and freezer are temporary storage facilities that can extend the shelf life of food. However, the food stored in your fridge and freezer can definitely spoil within a specific time frame. Here are guidelines for common foods but if you’re ever in doubt, toss the food out.

Baby Food

  • Leftover baby food (jarred or canned): 2 to 3 days (refrigerator)

Beverages

  • Opened canned juices: 5 to 7 days (refrigerator)
  • Fresh orange juice: 6 days (refrigerator) or 6 months (freezer)
  • Opened sodas or carbonated beverages: 2 to 3 days (refrigerator)
  • Soy or rice milk: 7 to 10 days (refrigerator); don’t freeze

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How to Make Polenta

by in Robin's Healthy Take, 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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7 Secret-Weapon Foods for Weight Loss

by in Diets & Weight Loss, Healthy Tips, June 24, 2013

shrimp
Don’t waste your money on secret potions and potentially dangerous supplements to lose weight. Instead, include these real foods in your diet to help trim your waistline.

#1: Popcorn
Did you know popcorn is a whole grain? One cup of air-popped popcorn has between 30 to 55 calories and 5% of your recommended daily dose of hunger shielding fiber. Snack on 2 cups with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese or 1 tablespoon of whipped butter with ¼ teaspoon sea salt. You can also make your own in the microwave in a flash.

Recipe: Chocolate-Orange Brown Butter Flavored Popcorn

#2: Greek Yogurt
With more protein than traditional yogurt per ounce, nonfat plain Greek yogurt can fill you up so you’ll be less likely to mindlessly snack. Not sure which brand to choose? Check how popular brands fared in Dana’s taste test.

Recipe: Fruit Salad with Limoncello and Greek Yogurt

#3: Shrimp
These crustaceans pack a protein punch for very few calories. One ounce (4 large shrimp) has 30 calories, 6 grams of protein and has minimal fat.  Shrimp is also a good source of vitamin D and selenium and even contains several energy-boosting B-vitamins. If you’re allergic to shellfish or just don’t care for shrimp, choose skinless, boneless chicken breast which has 46 calories, 9 grams of protein and 1 gram of fat per ounce.

Recipe: Robin’s Coconut Shrimp

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Is Your Job Killing You?

by in Healthy Tips, June 24, 2013

sitting at work
Hours of sitting at your desk, trips to the vending machine, stress, lack of sleep . . . is your job bad for your health? Get out of these 5 terrible work habits and create lifelong healthier ones.

1. Too Much Tushie Time
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that sitting for a prolonged period of time increases your risk of death—even if you DO engage in regular physical activity. Folks who sat for more than 11 hours a day had a 40 percent higher chance of dying within the next 3 years over those who only sat for 4 hours a day. Furthermore, those who sat between 8 to 11 hours a day had a 15 percent higher chance of dying compared with those who sat fewer than 4 hours a day.

In addition to working, we spend a lot of time lounging out in front of the TV, driving, and eating which all count as sitting-down time.

Solve it: Use small windows of opportunity to get up and walking. Use your lunch break to take a walk around the block, stand up during long calls or use wireless headsets that allow you to easily pace around, or get off a stop earlier on the bus or subway.

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If You Like: Giada’s Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Lemon, Basil, and Salmon, You’ll Love . . .

by in Healthy Recipes, June 23, 2013

salmon with spaghetti
It can be intimidating to try new recipes, especially when you’ve perfected a healthy and beautiful recipe such as Giada’s Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Lemon, Basil and Salmon. It can be difficult to find new recipes that are nutritious and simple to make, and the unknown is always risky — what if a new recipe isn’t as crowd-pleasing as your old standbys? I’ve taken the stress out the search for you: here are a few dishes to try when you’ve tired of the norm – these recipes are healthful, delicious, satisfying and fuss-free.

If You Like: Giada’s Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Lemon, Basil, and Salmon (above)

This recipe from Giada is like spa food, made at home. All of the nutritious components — whole-wheat spaghetti, salmon, fresh greens — come together to create a rejuvenating and satisfying dish. Capers, lemon zest, and basil infuse the pasta with just the right amount of flavor, while also allowing the salmon to shine.

Why Not Try: Seared Tilapia with Asparagus and Spicy Mint Gremolata
Picture of Seared Tilapia with Asparagus and Spicy Mint Gremolata Recipe

If you’re ready to switch up your salmon for a different fish, try this seared tilapia. Tilapia is a mild and flaky white fish; the real flavor in this dish comes from the gremolata – a piquant blend of fresh mint, garlic, lemon zest and pepper flakes – that dresses both the asparagus and fish for a refined and healthy dinner.

Get the Recipe: Seared Tilapia with Asparagus and Spicy Mint Gremolata

 

 

 

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Market Watch: Green Peas

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, June 22, 2013

green peas
Green peas are sitting in natural, pretty little packages just waiting to be plucked. Visit your local farmers’ market and dive into a basket of this spring treasure.

Also known as English Peas, inside the inedible pods are tender and succulent peas. Shelling them does take bit of elbow grease and patience, but the sweet, fresh flavor is totally worth it. Use them in any recipe that calls for fresh or frozen peas. You can also munch on them raw or blanch and freeze them for later.

One cup of shelled green peas has 117 calories and one gram of fat. It also has 7 grams of hunger-fighting fiber and 8 grams of muscle-building protein. Don’t forget about vitamins and minerals – calcium, iron, magnesium, folate, thiamin and vitamins A, C and K can all be found in peas.

Recipes To Try:
Fresh Pea Ravioli With Crispy Prosciutto
Pasta With Tomato and Peas
Tuna Pasta Salad
Spicy Cheesy Rice
Asparagus and Fresh Pea Frittata With Tomato-Basil Concasse

Plant-Based Sources of Iron

by in Healthy Tips, June 22, 2013

handful of nuts
Iron is an essential nutrient in our diets; it’s necessary to transport oxygen and nutrients to our cells. Deficiencies are quite common, especially for vegetarians. Sure, we tend to think of animal products like beef, chicken and eggs as good sources of iron (which they are) but there are several vegetable sources of iron as well.

Heme iron (the type found in animal products) is more easily absorbed by our bodies, but that doesn’t meal non-heme (vegetarian) sources are not. Here are some plant based sources of iron and tips for preparing and eating them to maximize absorption.

Vegetarian Sources of Iron

  • Legumes: lentils, soybeans, tofu, tempeh, lima beans, black beans, chickpeas
  • Grains: quinoa, fortified cereals, brown rice, oatmeal
  • Nuts and seeds: pumpkin, squash, pine, pistachio, sunflower, cashews, unhulled sesame
  • Vegetables: tomato sauce, Swiss chard, collard greens
  • Other: blackstrap molasses, prune juice

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Recipe Spotlight: Lightened-Up Banana Pudding

by in Cookies & Other Desserts, Healthy Recipes, June 21, 2013

banana pudding

Banana pudding is a classic dessert made by layering vanilla pudding with wafer cookies, loads of fluffy whipped cream and of course, bananas. After a few hours (or a night) in the refrigerator, the pudding and whipped cream soften the cookies and they become cake-like and infused with banana flavor. Banana pudding is creamy, cool, comforting and indulgent — maybe a little too indulgent. If you love the flavors of banana pudding but don’t want a calorie overload, you can still enjoy this dessert classic with this Food Network Kitchen’s lighter banana pudding. It’s made with homemade vanilla pudding made with low-fat milk, that has all the creaminess you expect thanks to a few tablespoons of sour cream stirred in at the end. Use reduced-fat vanilla wafer cookies, and be sure your bananas are very ripe so they’ll impart the strongest banana flavor possible.

Try it This Weekend: Lightened Up Banana Pudding

More Healthy Banana Desserts:

Chocolate-Covered Banana Pops
Banana Cream Pie
Banana Splits With Pineapple-Brown Sugar Topping
Marbled Banana Bread
Broiled Banana Splits

Ways To Move Without Spending Money

by in Fitness, June 21, 2013

sack races
The benefits of exercise are numerous for the mind, body and spirit. One of the biggest barriers to getting more physical activity is figuring out what to do. Expensive gym memberships or pricey fitness classes are big turnoffs for some folks but the truth is, they aren’t necessary. There are plenty of ways to get moving that won’t cost you a cent, just ask the First Lady. In a recent interview, Mrs. Obama revealed one of the ways she encourages kids — her own and those she meets — to move.

Mrs. Obama: We talk about fun. I mean, something as simple as turning on the radio and dancing with your kids to Beyonce. Kids are watching these videos — let me tell you, if you make it a task in your household to learn the Single Ladies dance with Beyonce — they’re trying to do that anyway. They want to learn every move.

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Food News: National Parks to Offer Healthier Grub

by in Food News, June 20, 2013

park

Worried about finding healthy eats while your family visits national parks this summer? Fret not, the First Lady’s healthy diet initiative has got your back.

The National Park Service, as part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, recently announced its new nationwide “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” plan: a list of food guidelines and standards for healthy options at more than 250 locations across national parks.

“Traditional favorites such as hot dogs and ice cream will remain, but the new standards will provide additional choices, such as fish tacos and yogurt parfaits, for the 23 million people who buy meals in national parks each year,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis in a press release.

Options include items like lentil soup, bison hot dogs and fresh produce from local farms. Grand Canyon South Rim and Yellowstone National park are among a handful of sites already offering healthier fair.

To find out more, view the standards here.

Tell us: What do you think of the healthy park initiative?