So as we think about healthy food for 2010, here are some thoughts to get you going on all of the top three resolutions and still keep you on budget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy eating means to ditch the extreme diets.   People almost always fail when trying to follow extreme diet plans, because diets are difficult for many of us to stick with over time.  So instead of eliminating certain foods or paying for diet plans, try writing down what you eat for several days, and evaluate where you can cut back 100 calories per day.   Much of the health data indicates that cutting back by 100 calories per day can lead to sustainable weight loss of pound a month.   

When thinking about cutting calories, don’t forget to think about your drinks.  Cutting out sugary drinks such as soda and other sweetened beverages, can be a quick way to save   150 -200 calories.  Try drinking tap water or other non- sugary drinks.   To get started here’s a free website to help you track your calories and other tips for healthy eating www.Sparkpeople.com

Healthy eating and losing weight also means not skipping meals.      Individuals who successfully lose weight and keep it off are those who consistently report eating breakfast.   A morning meal rich in fiber such as whole grains and small amounts protein slows the passage of food through the digestive system and provides you with a more satisfying feeling.   This feeling of fullness helps curb appetite to keep you satisfied for 3-4 hours until you’re ready for a healthy snack or lunch.

For the same price as you pay for a sugary donut or muffin and coffee to go, a healthy bowl of oatmeal or muesli with fruit  can satisfy, provide fewer calories,  and maintain  blood sugar levels  to start your day off toward maintaining  your goal.   Check out these power breakfast ideas to fuel your day.   http://www.eatingwell.com/blogs/hilary_meyer/2009_07_15/power_breakfasts_to_fuel_your_day

Fill your plate with colorful vegetables throughout the day.  There are many more vegetables to try other than lettuce and tomatoes! Bright-colored and dark green leafy vegetables are especially loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. They are also high in fiber, which as mentioned makes them very filling. In addition, they are low in calories – good to help trim the waistline. When you fill up your stomach with veggies, you will be less likely to feel the urge to binge on other high-fat or processed foods.

To save on food costs, look for fresh produce that is in-season. Right now, citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, and clementines are reasonably priced.  Collard greens, kale and turnips, squashes, and sweet potatoes are all lower priced.   Watch your grocery flyers for sales on frozen vegetables without sauce and stock up.   Here’s a link to check out winter fruits and vegetables.  http://www.foodfit.com/healthy/healthywinterfoods.asp

 Try getting organized and begin with planning your meals.  This step will save you money and time.   If you plan out what you are having for meals, you can utilize foods for more than one meal to reduce waste, for example chicken from dinner meal can be added to a tortilla wrap with fresh veggies for an easy to prepare lunch.  This will save you from spending extra on take out lunches.  

 For new ideas on planning your meals, check out many of the popular women magazines in grocery stores, they often promote weekly or month menus that are cost effective on the budget.  Here is on-line link to support menu planning.   http://www.mealsmatter.org/MealPlanning/MealPlanner/index.aspx

So as a New Year begins, let’s look toward healthier ideas that will save money, time, and will be high in nutrients but low in calories to keep us well in 2010.

  Happy New Year everyone!

This  blog is in response to a request from a consumer who asked for tips on how to manage to prepare healthy meals on a regular basis.  The best way to start is to Stock a Healthy Kitchen.

It’s easy to get frustrated choosing what to make for a healthy meal, especially dinner, after a busy day at work.  The best way to ensure that you can prepare a healthy nourishing meal that is not loaded with calories, fats, salt and added sweeteners is to stock a healthy kitchen.  A stocked pantry will make it easier to prepare and serve a healthy meal with the least amount of effort. Quick meals can be just as nutritious as those that require lengthy preparation time. Basically, it’s all dependent on what foods or staples you have and how much time you have for preparation.

Getting your pantry, refrigerator and freezer stocked with healthy items DOES NOT have to break your budget.  Start slowly and add ingredients, utensils as you increase your recipes and cooking skills.  Spring time is the perfect time to think about cleaning out, and restocking.  Here are some suggestions that can make your meal preparation a pleasure rather than a stressful situation.  

 

Keep in dry storage (pantry)  

Canned goods and bottled items

  • Canned beans –cannellini, great northern, and chick peas black, red and kidney beans. 
  • Low sodium  chicken, beef or vegetable broths
  • Tomatoes,   diced, puree, whole and sauce,
  •  Light or white tuna and salmon, water packed
  • Fruits canned in juice
  •  White wine ( Non alcohol variety is available )

Vegetables /fruits and nuts

  • Potatoes , russets  and red
  • Onions , yellow and red
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Dried fruits  all varieties
  • Nuts- almonds,  walnuts, pecans 

Oils and condiments

  • Canola or Vegetable oil for cooking
  • Spray oils canola or olive 
  • Extra virgin olive oil for cooking and salad dressings
  • Reduced –fat mayonnaise
  • Vinegars- balsamic, red–wine, rice –wine, apple cider and white.
  • Sauces,  barbecue, or marinades
  • Lite Soy sauce,  hoisin sauce 
  • Ketchup

Flavorings

  • Iodized salt
  • Kosher salt,  sea salt
  • Black peppercorns
  • Onions  fresh and dried
  • Garlic powder
  • Dried herbs,- bay leaves, sage , thyme leaves, oregano, Italian seasoning blend 
  •  Spices  ( whole or ground )  chili powder , cinnamon,  cumin, ground ginger, dry mustard, paprika, crushed red pepper
  •  Sugar , white and brown
  • Honey

  Breads, grains and legumes

  • Breads, whole grain and enriched
  •  Whole grain crackers
  • Flour, all purpose enriched and whole  wheat flour
  • Rolled oats, regular and quick cooking ( but not instant )
  • Pasta in a variety of shapes and sizes- preferably whole wheat  
  • Brown rice,  regular and quick cooking,
  • Sugar, white and brown
  • Plain dry  bread crumbs
  • Whole grain cereals

 Keep in your freezer

  •  Whole grain bagels, pita bread
  • Boneless chicken breasts
  • Fish fillets
  • Frozen vegetables,- all varieties without added butters or sauces
  •  Frozen berries and fruits
  •  100% fruit juices, concentrate
  • Lean beef
  •  Ground turkey
  • Turkey sausage, breakfast links and/or  Italian for quick pasta dishes   
  • Pizza crust
  • Frozen basil or garlic
  •  Frozen low –fat yogurt or ice cream for quick dessert
  • Fresh ginger  ( freeze unused portions and take out  as needed)

 Keep in your refrigerator

  • Eggs
  • Low-fat cheddar cheese or feta cheese
  • Good quality parmesan or romano cheese
  • Citrus juice,  orange or grapefruit
  •  Low –fat cottage cheese
  • Dijon mustard
  • Fresh fruits in season
  • Lemons and limes  
  •  Parsley , fresh basil, scallions
  • Fresh garlic
  • Milk, low-fat
  • Salad dressings, light or low-fat
  • Salsa
  • Vegetables,-  carrots, celery, lettuce, green or red  pepper, tomatoes
  •  Low fat yogurt
  • Water packed tofu
  •  Turkey bacon
  • Unsalted butter
  • Trans fat free margarine

 These basic items will get you started on your way to healthy cooking.  To begin, check the sales on your frozen vegetables, canned goods and dry goods and stock up.   Check your discount stores for sales on the dried fruits, herbs, spices and oils.  Often at the discount store you can get the dried herbs and, spices for under a dollar.    Don’t’ forget to use coupons on items that are on sale. This is how you can stock up on the lower cost side.  So as you prepare your healthy kitchen continue to use the other tips of menu planning, and sticking to grocery list except to add one or two items from the stock list to build your base.

The beauty of having a healthy stocked kitchen is that today, I found a new recipe for beef and asparagus stir fry which looks tasty with a nice Asian flavor.   On my weekly menu I had a beef dish planned, but I was busy this morning and did not add the dish to the slow cooker.    We all have days when things do not go as planned.  Not to stress about it because the new recipe I found will be just as great.   I have all the ingredients.  I will use the beef already planned, just slice it thin. All the others ingredients or flavorings, I do not have to run out for, I have them in the dry pantry.  I have in the freezer asparagus (purchased on sale two weeks ago and then froze).   So when I get home I can relax, enjoy preparing a healthy meal in 40 minutes (that’s how long it takes brown rice to cook.) and enjoy tasting a new dish

 As we just celebrated Mother’s Day, and  the kids made dinner,  It also  reinforced  with  me that many joyful and memorable experiences do not have  to break our budget to be accomplished and that cooking at home with children not only  create family fun, but also teach our children healthy eating habits. 

Cooking together can be a delicious learning experience where kids can explore new foods, learn about healthy eating, and develop math and reading skills as they measure and read directions. These simple guidelines are designed to help you make cooking safe and fun, and to entice your children into trying something new! 

Tips for cooking activities can benefit the whole family. 

  1. Learning to cook helps children to learn about healthy choices. Young people today are growing up with fast food and many choices for unhealthy foods at their fingertips, which is one part of the reason why childhood obesity is on the rise! Teaching your kids to cook healthy foods will help instill skills to last them a lifetime.  The cooking skills learned as child can be especially helpful when kids are older, and can make healthier   food choices to and on their own.
  2. Create family time and bonding. Take time to cook with your kids, and they will have memories that they, in turn, can pass on to their families. It may take a longer time to get the meal or snack done, but the moments with your children will be priceless. (Just remember to have patience and don’t worry about what gets spilled on the floor).  Cooking together, children contribute to the family and they can feel the importance of helping. They are also working together as a team, whether it is with a parent or with a sibling to get the job done.

3.  Children will be more apt to eat what they make.    

Perhaps it is the enthusiasm  creating something themselves, but they will be more likely to eat whatever they had a hand in making.   Cooking new foods is one way to expand your child’s taste buds.

 Remember the basic goals of healthy cooking at home are to reduce the unhealthy fats,  and lower the salt, and sugar in many of the dishes we prepare.  Here are healthy recipes that incorporate these principles and have been tried and accepted well by children.  Just click away.   

So as we watch our food budget and continue to discuss preparing meals at home, don’t forget that the kids can become great chefs too! 

Tip for this week:

 All the major grocery stores in the Boston have yogurt on sale this week.  Here is a delicious recipe for yogurt parfait that children can make with just yogurt, fruit and whole grain cereal.   Serve this for dessert or as a quick breakfast.

 

breakfast_parfait

With the economy still suffering, we continue our search for low-cost but nutritious ways to feed ourselves and our families. One of the cheapest and most nutritious foods that we often overlook is the dried bean. 

Dried beans come in a wide range of colors, shape and subtly different flavors.  They are staples in many cultures’ foods and are increasingly used in creative ways in American recipes.  Some of the most popular types are garbanzo beans (also known as chick peas), black beans, red or white kidney beans, pinto beans, and soybeans.

The benefits of dried beans include:

·         While canned beans are relatively cheap, dried beans are even less expensive, and they do not contain the sodium often found in canned products. 

·         Dried beans are often sold in bulk, even in small grocery stores, and have a very long shelf life if stored correctly.  

·         Dried beans are a great source of fiber, folate, protein and antioxidants.  One cup of cooked beans contains almost half the recommended fiber for a whole day! 

The following are some useful tips for storing, preparing, and cooking dried beans.

Storing:

Dried beans should be stored at room temperature in air-tight containers.  Do not keep dry beans in the refrigerator.  If stored incorrectly, the beans may absorb water and spoil before you have a chance to use them.  You can reclose the package they came in with a twist-tie, but this method will not keep them as fresh.

Preparing:

Dried beans expand in volume when cooked.  Before you begin, figure out the quantity you’ll need to get the right amount of cooked beans for your favorite recipe:

·         1/3 cup dry beans equals 1 cup cooked beans

·         1/2 cup dry beans equals 1 1/2 cups cooked beans

·         2/3 cup dry beans equals 2 cup cooked beans

·         1 cup dry beans equals 3 cups cooked beans

·         2 cups (1 pound) dry beans equals 6 cups cooked beans

The first step in preparing dry beans is to sort through the batch, looking for small pebbles and other impurities.  (Dry beans can’t be rinsed to get rid of these items during processing because they would absorb water and begin to spoil.) After sorting, the next two steps to preparing beans involve soaking and cooking.  

While you don’t have to soak beans before cooking, it’s a good idea for two reasons.  It shortens the cooking time and it begins the breakdown of starches that cause gas.  Make sure you discard the soak water in order to remove the gas-forming byproducts and any impurities.  Make sure beans are completely covered with room-temperature water (2 to 3 times their dry volume).  Do not use hot water because it could cause the beans to sour.  Using cold water will slow rehydration and increase cooking time.  Allow beans to soak for 8 -10 hours to soften, but no longer because the beans may begin to ferment.  This affects their flavor and could cause gastro-intestinal upset. 

Beans can also be “quick-soaked”, which rehydrates them in about an hour.  Bring the beans and soak water to a boil for two minutes.  Remove the beans from the heat and cover the pot.  Let the beans for rest for 1 hour.  At the end of the hour, discard the soak water and cook the beans.

Cooking:

The best cookware for beans is a heavy metal pot or saucepan. Stainless steel, cast aluminum, or cast iron are all excellent.  Bring the beans to a boil, and cover  and lower the heat and simmer for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the beans are tender. (Check your package of beans, as cooking times vary for different varieties. But also check the beans occasionally, because sometimes the beans will cook more quickly than the package says.)  Simmer instead of boil, because boiling can cause the beans to break apart and the skins to separate. Beans are done when they can be easily mashed between two fingers or with a fork.

After cooking, add the beans to your favorite recipe!  Beans taste better if cooked a day ahead, but they should be refrigerated to avoid becoming sour. When cooked, they can be frozen. Store cooked beans for up to four days in your refrigerator.

Recipes:

Here is a fun and delicious salad to try with your family.  With the weather getting warmer, you can bring it to the first barbeque of the season!  The recipe is courtesy of the California Dry Bean Board. 

“Chick-Chick” Salad

3/4       cup water
1/2       teaspoon salt
1/2       teaspoon curry powder
2/3       cup couscous
1          cup cubed cooked chicken breast (about 1/2 pound, boneless, skinless)
1-1/2   cups cooked* garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained
1/2       cup chopped red cabbage
1/4       cup sliced green onions
1/4       cup thinly sliced celery
1          teaspoon grated orange rind
1/4       cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2          teaspoons olive oil
1/4       teaspoon pepper

*1/2 cup dry makes 1-1/2 cups cooked.
In a medium saucepan, bring water, salt and curry powder to a boil; stir in couscous. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add chicken, garbanzos, cabbage, onions and celery.

Combine orange rind and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a wire whisk until blended. Add to couscous mixture; toss well. Serve immediately or chill. Makes 4 cups. Serves 4.

Nutritional Information per Serving:
Calories 309, Protein 20 g, Carbohydrates 45 g, Fat 5 g, Calories from fat 16%, Cholesterol 26 g, Fiber 5 g, Folate 134 mcg, Sodium 331 mg

You can find many more recipes on their website:  http://www.calbeans.com/recipes.html

By  Rebecca Brotzman

What are “enhanced” waters enhanced with?

First came the bottled water craze, which has become a booming industry over the last thirty years.  Now products are coming out that seem to take the convenience of bottled water to the next level of health:  vitamins and water?  Isn’t that better than just bottled water?!  Sadly, in an attempt to be healthier, people are being fooled into wasting money and hurting the environment.

Manufacturers market products to appear healthier than they are.  Even just plain bottled water is not any better for you than tap water, and often is just tap water.  “Enhanced” waters almost always contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners, with minimal amounts of the vitamins and other “healthy” additives they are promoting on the label. 

The most important thing to do is to read the ingredients and nutrition facts carefully.  It is also essential to recognize what serving size the label is referring to and how many servings you are actually consuming.

Let’s go through some of the most common “enhanced” waters and see what they are really enhanced with:

Vitamin Waters:

Most often sold in 20 ounce bottles (which are really two and half servings), most people would drink the entire bottle without a second thought.  The nutrition facts listed on the label are for one serving (8 ounces), so all nutrition information has to be multiplied by 2.5 if you drink the whole bottle.  So, for a 20 ounce bottle that lists 50 calories and 13 grams of sugar, you’ll actually be consuming 125 calories per bottle, and 33 grams of sugar (8 teaspoons) per bottle. 

If you drink the entire bottle, you will get between 25-250% of the recommended dietary allowance for 6 or 7 vitamins, with most of them being 50% or less (usually only vitamin C is over 50%).  You would be much better off health-wise, budget-wise, and environmental-wise, if you take a multivitamin and wash it down with tap water.

New versions of these products are being unveiled that show manufacturers are responding to a change in consumer awareness.  These versions have fewer calories and less sugar.  One example has only 10 calories per serving and 30 calories per 20 ounce bottle. 


Fitness Waters:

“Fitness Water” is just water with sucrose syrup, sucralose (Splenda), and a few vitamins (in one example: C, E, and four of the B vitamins).  The good thing about this drink is that it’s usually only 30 calories for a whole 24 oz container.  For one popular brand, a 24 ounce bottle will give you 75% of the RDA for 3 of the B vitamins, but 30% or less for vitamins C, E, and B-12.  Once again, you are paying for expensive tap water and a few vitamins.  A bottle of multivitamins containing 100% if the RDA for a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals would cost about the same as 2 or 3 bottles of this beverage.


Sports Drinks:

“Sports drinks” are potentially useful only after a high intensity workout lasting longer than an hour.  This beverage is really only intended for serious athletes who need to replenish electrolytes due to sweat loss.  Otherwise, they are just unnecessary calories and sodium.  Electrolytes are molecules in your body fluids that perform many important functions.  If someone perspires hard enough and long enough, they need to replenish them.  Sports drinks usually contain sodium and potassium because these are the electrolytes lost in the highest amounts through sweating.  They also contain sugar to provide athletes with a fuel source during sustained exercise.  Only during long endurance events are these sources needed.  Drinking plain water before, during, and after a workout is all most people need to do to stay hydrated.  Drinking a “sports drink” while you are NOT working out is completely unnecessary.  It will not hydrate you any better than water, and will give you empty calories and salt.  These drinks often come in 32 ounce containers, which contain four servings.  At 50 calories a serving, this works out to 200 calories if you drink the whole bottle.  You will also get 14 teaspoons of sugar, 440 mg sodium (20% of the recommended daily limit!), 120 mg potassium, and 372 mg of chloride. 

 

 Electrolyte Waters:

Water with added electrolytes is another kind of “enhanced” water found on the market.  The amount of added electrolytes is tiny. (One popular brand had 10mg potassium, 10 mg calcium, 15 mg magnesium per liter).  These are too few electrolytes to replenish a dehydrated athlete, and make little difference for a non-athlete.   Interestingly, some bottled waters contain more than this amount of electrolytes, and yet do not market themselves as “enhanced” water.  Electrolyte waters are closer to regular bottled water than to anything else.  Like water, they have no calories or artificial sweeteners, but they are not any better than tap water.   In fact, they are worse than tap water in terms of your wallet and the environment.

 
In Summary:

Becoming a savvy label reader is the most important way to not be fooled by marketing ploys.  Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1)      Labels don’t always use a standard 8 ounce serving.  Check serving size, then servings per container.

2)      Make sure you multiply the information on the nutrition label to match the servings you would realistically drink.

3)      Always read the ingredients.  Remember, ingredients are listed in order of what makes up most of the product to least of the product.

4)      Think of your wallet and your impact on the environment before you purchase a hyped-up version of what is readily available through the tap.

 

 

 

 

As the New Year begins, we often make resolutions to eat healthier and that usually means losing some weight and exercising.  To take advantage of the season, advertisers are bombarding us with ads for diets, food systems, exercise equipment and other items to help keep these resolutions: however they can often leave you disappointed.  Besides, in these times every penny counts, so we don’t have the extra to purchase the advertised items.  So what to do?

 

Here are NINE tips for ‘09 taken from health experts and successful individuals who have developed healthy habits and kept weight off over time.   These can help you stay on track with meeting your New Year’s resolutions while still eating healthy and saving money.  

 

  1. Watch your portions – Easier said then done!  A simpler method than calorie counting or measuring out every bite is to re-balance your plate. The “healthy plate” concept helps people control portion size and increase the balance of healthier lower calorie foods.  For more details check out these nutrition notes.

Another tip for a “healthy plate” is to use a 9” diameter plate instead of the current standard 12” size.  Your plate will look fuller, even with smaller portions.                                     

                                      

  1. Pile on the vegetables and whole fruits - As you can see on the healthy plate, half the plate is vegetables and whole fruits, which are nutrient-rich, low in fat and calories, high in fiber, and loaded with health-promoting compounds.  The key is variety, so try eating by colors Don’t forget that during this time of year, frozen vegetables are an economical buy. Frozen and canned fruits in the own juices are also excellent buys.
     
  2. Go for the whole grains – Grains are carbohydrates which we need for energy. Whole grains contain more vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber that than white highly processed grain foods.  The properties of whole grains also have stabilizing influences on blood sugar levels.  To keep it interesting check out ideas at Whole Grain Council 
     
  3. Eat healthy fats – by selecting low-fat dairy and lean meats, poultry and fish.  Check your labels to avoid transfat in many other foods.   Use oils such as olive or canola that contain heart healthy monounsaturated fats.   Checking the weekly flyers and using coupons is a great way to save on the low-fat dairy items and the healthy oils
     
  4. Go little nuts- Nuts such as walnuts and almond are rich in omega-3 and other antioxidants which are heart-healthy. Unlike snacks made from refined grains and sugars, nuts have fat and fiber to satisfy hunger and steady blood sugars.   Here are tips for portion control and more on the benefits of adding nuts to your food list. 
     
  5. Go meatless once or twice a week and enjoy legumes and beansadding beans and legumes to your food selection instead of meat are not only economical substitutions. They also are excellent sources of low-fat protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber.  Use beans or legumes in stew, pasta  and other dishes.
     
  6. Slow down! – These days it may seem challenging to juggle work, family and other responsibilities, but eating on the run and under stress can cause heart burn and less absorption of nutrients.   Most importantly, eating too fast makes it more difficult to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.  Fast eaters usually complete a meal in ten minutes while slow eaters take 2-3 times longer and consume 70 to100 calories less! Take time to enjoy the healthy plate of food. 
     
  7. Increase your physical activity – this does not have to cost you any money.  Try taking the stairs as a great way to add some physical activity into your daily routine. Think about this way you can “weight” for an elevator or take the stairs and burn some calories.    
     
  8. Drink up… your H20 – Water is a low- or no cost-way to stay hydrated and improve your health without adding calories.  Check out why. 

So sticking to your New Year’s resolution for healthy eating and physical activity can be done without breaking the budget.   Tell me your successes at Ask Kathy.

 

Weekly Food Forecast – Low fat yogurt is always a healthy choice and is on sale at all the major grocery stores this week. Low fat yogurt provides calcium and protein to make a satisfying snack or part of a quick healthy breakfast.   Check your coupons to match with the sale.  

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