How to Adopt a Mediterranean Lifestyle

by in Diets & Weight Loss, May 3, 2013

salmon
It’s not just about eating more fish and using olive oil. To get the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet, you need to embrace the lifestyle.

The Benefits
Many researchers have found that those living in the Mediterranean have a lower risk of certain types of disease. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that incorporating more olive oil and nuts may help reduce the risk of heart disease by about 30% in folks who are at high risk. Since the release of this study in April 2013 the popularity of the Mediterranean diet has skyrocketed—and with good reason. On top of incorporating many good-for-you foods, the cuisine is pretty darn tasty.

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Should Healthy Kids Be On Special Diets?

by in Food News, May 2, 2013

kid eating
It’s becoming more common to see parents eliminating foods or food groups from their healthy child’s diet. Even superstar mom Gwenyth Paltrow reportedly cut all gluten and carbs from her kids’ diets. Is it a good idea for parents to make drastic dietary changes without medical supervision?

Why Eliminate?
We’re not talking about a child who is allergic to a food or needs to avoid it due to a medical reason. Parents are eliminating food groups like gluten, carbs, sugar, eggs or milk because they feel they aren’t healthy. Perhaps they spoke to “specialists” who advised them to do so or they made their own decision based on views they’ve seen in the media. (Oftentimes, these recommendations are geared towards adults, not kids.) They may also decide to follow a hot trend that isn’t scientifically sound.

According to this US Weekly article, Paltrow states that all the doctors, nutritionists and health-conscious folks she’s approached agree that gluten isn’t healthy. However, most registered dietitians agree that gluten shouldn’t be avoided if not medically warranted, especially in children.

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Is It Healthy: Cooking Spray

by in Is It Healthy?, May 1, 2013

cooking spray
Can the key to healthy cooking be found in an aerosol can? There are pluses and minuses to using cooking spray.

Yes?
Using cooking spray as a replacement for oil and butter can help cut back the calories. Since butter and oil have 100 to 120 calories per tablespoon (respectively), switching to a spray can mean fewer calories (and grams of fat) in your cooking.

Many brands use actual oils (such as olive and canola) as the primary ingredient, others rely on other types of oil and artificial flavorings– check ingredient lists on your brand of choice.

When used in a nonstick pan, a light coating of spray can allow for grilled cheese, French toast and eggs that aren’t glued to the pan. Spray is also good option to help give oven-baked breadings a crispier crust. A neutral flavored spray (like canola oil) can also be used to grease baking dishes and cupcake pans.

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22 Healthy Mexican Recipes

by in Healthy Recipes, April 30, 2013

steak tacos
Mix up a batch of lightened-up margaritas, then cook up a bunch of these fiesta-inspired favorites.

Soup, Starters and Sides
Fresh ingredients and lots of spice make these appetizers and side dishes healthy crowd-pleasers.

5-Ingredient Quesadillas
Chile-Chicken Posole
Mexican Chicken Soup
Mexican Zucchini Oven Fries
Guacamole
Five Layer Mexican Dip
Mexican Potato Skin Bites
Spicy Cheesy Rice

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Applewood Smoked Bacon-Crusted Chicken

by in Robin's Healthy Take, April 29, 2013

chicken with bacon
The great thing about bacon is that everyone loves it and a little goes a long way to enhance a dish. You don’t need to pile it on to get huge flavor. I mean, look at the calories and fat in this feast — it proves that you can enjoy bacon without loads of extra fat or calories.

I love the way the bacon spruces up mild-flavored chicken and keeps the lean meat moist as it roasts. I wanted to create a fantastic presentation so I cut the bacon into little squares and arranged it on top of the chicken, like rooftop shingles. I used applewood-smoked bacon because I like the way the smoky apple flavor (from various apple trees) partners with the chicken and honey mustard. You can use any smoked bacon you want, including hickory or brown sugar. Read more

Taste Test: Strawberry Greek Yogurt

by in Taste Test, April 28, 2013

Greek yogurt
Back in 2010, we did our Nonfat Greek Yogurt Taste Test and there were only a few brands to choose from. Today, the number of companies making Greek yogurt has exploded, and so have the flavor options. So how do the flavored varieties stack up? Find out.

The Criteria
I used our typical 5-point scale (5 being the highest) to rate these yogurts. For nutrition, I paid close attention to calories, protein and sugar content. Even plain Greek yogurt contains some natural sugars from milk (aka lactose) but when looking at flavored varieties, there’s often a large variation of ingredients. Sugars on the label can come from milk, fruit and/or added sugars.

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Toddler-Friendly Finger Foods

by in Kid-Friendly, April 27, 2013

dried apples
My 22-month-old, Hudson, is a great eater as far as I’m concerned. But that doesn’t mean he won’t dive into a bag of Goldfish crackers and devour them all. It takes a certain amount of effort to offer our little ones snacks that are nutrient rich and likeable.  Sure, its easy to fall into the rut of Cheerios, cookies and crackers and there is a place for all of this in a balanced diet. I also believe our kids learn to like the foods we give them regularly. So try these healthy snacks out for size and your little one will benefit from the added nutrition a cracker doesn’t always have.

  • Beans: Like a Cheerio, beans are a great, packable, finger food. Having a cabinet full of canned beans like chickpeas and black beans is as simple as being stocked up on cereal. Pop open a can, rinse the beans and offer them as part of a meal or packaged in a baggie as a snack for on-the-go. Packed with fiber, protein and lots of nutrients this is a no-brainer. Plus, soft beans like cannellini are easy on gums.
  • Dried Fruit: A great alternative to fruit snacks, dried fruits like apples and cherries are a tasty finger food that have a good shelf life, pack easily and of source are loaded with antioxidants and nutrition. Look for no or low-sugar options. Read more

Roasted Jalapeno Macaroni and Cheese

by in Robin's Healthy Take, April 27, 2013

macaroni and cheese
Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? But do you also love the 500-600 calories and 15-25 grams of fat per cup that comes with it (and who has just one cup)? Truth is, you don’t need heaps of fat to create a creamy and sensuous macaroni and cheese. A little butter goes a long way, as does good quality cheese. When it comes to toppings, I like the contrast of tender, cheesy noodles with crunchy toasted bread crumbs, but when you bake macaroni and cheese with a crust, the noodles dry out. So, for this dish, I created the topping in a skillet and then sprinkled it on at the end, creating golden brown, parmesan-spiked bliss. Also, lots of mac and cheese recipes call for a dash of hot sauce – the heat ramps up the cheese flavor and rounds out the dish. Instead of hot sauce, I decided to add a roasted jalapeno. The freshly roasted pepper adds the perfect amount of smoky heat and a splash of color. I think you’ll adore this! Read more

Nuts About Macadamia Nuts

by in Healthy Recipes, April 26, 2013

macadamia nuts
A personal favorite of mine, these deliciously chunky nuts are good for more than just munching.

Macadamia Basics
Buttery flavor, big crunch, and subtle sweetness sums up these medium-sized round nuts. Although native to Australia, Hawaii has since taken over as the largest exporter in the world. With a famously hard outer shell, you’ll most often find these nuts cracked and ready to eat.

Nutrition Facts
One ounce of macadamia nuts (about 10 to 12 kernels) contains 200 calories, 21 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. They also offer a decent amount of thiamin, iron and copper. Macadamia nuts are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. A small study conducted by a popular macadamia manufacturer reported that subjects who ate 1.5 ounces of the nuts per day showed improvements in cholesterol (lower total cholesterol and lower LDL “bad” cholesterol ) over a 5-week period.

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7 Foods to Fight PMS

by in Healthy Tips, April 25, 2013

pineapple
Mood swings, irritability, bloating . . . who needs it? Premenstrual syndrome affects an estimated 40% of American women. Studies have found that eating certain foods may help decrease those pesky symptoms.

#1: Yogurt
A study conducted at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst found that women who ate the highest amount of calcium (around 1,200 milligrams a day) were 30% less likely to develop PMS than women who ate much lower amounts (530 milligrams per day). One cup of nonfat plain yogurt has about 40% of your daily recommended dose (400 milligrams).

Other calcium-rich foods: milk, calcium-fortified orange juice and soy milk, kale, bok choy

#2: Salmon
Vitamin D and calcium work together to help keep bones strong. The same study conducted at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst found that women who took in more vitamin D from food showed a similar risk reduction as when eating a high-calcium diet. Three ounces of cooked salmon has over 100% of your recommended daily dose of vitamin D.

Other vitamin-D rich foods: tuna, vitamin D-fortified milk and orange juice, sardines

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