Recipes


pumpkins 2As Halloween approaches this Saturday, we are faced with a bit of a challenge!  The kids are out of school, so they are home all day waiting to go trick or treating.   Or maybe you are thinking of hosting a party to entertain young kids and the young at heart.  If you’re not careful, it could be a day of unhealthy eating because so much is promoted to us to eat ghostly treats.     

 By focusing on the FUN of the holiday and not just the food, we CAN serve healthy treats that won’t create the sugar over load, and kids will not even know what they are missing.

Start with fun, healthy meals

As always, start your day with a hearty breakfast.    

  • Try pancakes  or waffles topped with seasonal  fruits  such as  apples or pears: simply sauté the sliced  fruit  in  light vegetable  oil  (only 2 tablespoons needed)  until soft  and  flavor with cinnamon or nutmeg .  No sugar needed.   
  • Pancakes with pumpkin are also another seasonal treat.   Most recipes call for ¼ cup of plain canned pumpkin added to your recipe.     
  • You can also try Gobbling good rice pudding http://www.whymilk.com/recipe/gobblin_good_rice_pudding

During the day, serve sandwiches cut into fun shapes. Use cookie cutters for bats on dark pumpernickel bread or make great pumpkins cut out of whole wheat bread.  I use tuna mixed with plain yogurt, but you can also try turkey or low fat cheese for the filling. And don’t forget the veggies!  Mummy fingers made of   baked sweet potato fries adds to the scary meal. Eye balls made of low fat string or mozzarella balls topped with a slice of black olive or carrots slices with green olives look like bugs.  Or try this recipe for spooky slaw. http://www.365halloween.com/spooky-slaw-recipe

One of our Facebook contest winners, Dave, suggested having low-fat brownies made with canned pumpkin. For this simple recipe, take one box of chocolate cake mix and add one can of plain pumpkin. Mix together with no other added ingredients.  Pour into brownie pan or 2a 4-muffin tin and bake as directed.  Each muffin or small brownie is about 100 calories with small amount of fat and 2 grams of fiber.    

Throughout the day, don’t forget to hydrate children well with water as first choice. However, if kids want extra, try vampire punch or witches’ brew. Mix 4 ounces of 100% grape or cranberry /raspberry juice with 6 ounces of club soda or flavored seltzer. No sugar added, but tons of FUN!  And make sure to stay away from the soda!

Add a dose of fun activity

Be sure to plan activities throughout the day, for just as much fun as trick or treating. Another Facebook winner, Emily, suggested planning an outdoor scavenger hunt. Place clues throughout the space so that kids are moving.  Add in that they can hop or skip between clues. This gives kids physical activity and FUN. The prize can be a chest of healthy non candy treats. See below for alternatives to candy treats.

Pumpkin carving is another fun activity that our final Facebook winner, Tania, suggested.  Make sure to include roasting the pumpkin seeds into this activity. Here’s a simple recipe.  http://www.fitsugar.com/5772766     

Thanks to our winners for these healthy Halloween suggestions.

trick or treatAnd finally, on to trick-or-treating

Finally the time to trick or treat is here.    As  parents, we don’t have to hand out candy bars – instead  pass  out  small, pre-packaged bags of pretzels , animal crackers or  granola bars and feel good about giving kids a nutritional treat.    Yes, I know we don’t want to be the house that doesn’t give a good treat but consider this.  When kids get too much candy, most parents say “enough candy” and toss it out after a few days.    You may be offering kids something different that could be added to a lunch bag or offered as a snack.

Play dough and other non food items that kids like to play with beyond d the holiday are other options. 

So I encourage parents to opt out of the candy treats and take charge of Halloween FUN by creating memories that are centered on the joy of the holiday not how much candy they receive.  

Last tip:  Click on the link for Healthy Halloween Treats to see additional ideas for trick-or-treaters.

Healthy Halloween Treats

Did you know?  

The first apple developed in America was grown in Roxbury, MA, known as the “Roxbury Russet”.   From this humble Boston beginning to now, apples have exploded in cultivation and popularity.   There are 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the US, with Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala and Fuji being the five most commonly consumed varieties.

Roxbury Apple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heard the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”?

An “apple a day” is a great way to get some important nutrients.  Apples are rich in pectin, a form of soluble fiber known to help lower cholesterol, and they provide a decent amount of vitamin C, an antioxidant.   Whenever possible, be sure to leave the peel on: that’s where two-thirds of the fiber and many of the antioxidants are found.  The apples’ skin also adds fuller flavor.

In terms of In a nation survey of dietary patterns, people who reported consuming apples (in any form) within the past day were 27 percent less likely to have symptoms of metabolic syndrome—like high blood pressure or a large waist measurement—compared to those who didn’t. The apple eaters also had lower blood levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation that suggests an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes. This study was cross-sectional (that is, it didn’t prove that eating apples was the cause of these benefits), but  it and others add  to the growing evidence indicating  eating whole apples  and apple products (without too much added sugar)  can be  beneficial for our bodies.

apple1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buy local or pick your own – it’s the season.

 Earthworks in Boston is hosting apple cider pressing and harvest festivals – what a great activity for the whole family to watch cider pressing and sample some of Boston’s fresh apples!  Click here for dates and locations.  http://www.earthworksboston.org/

 If you’re interested in local apple picking, check out http://www.applepickingboston.com/ 

 Want ideas of what to do with all the fresh local apples that you might pick?

apple2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here‘s a couple of good sites for recipes to try.

http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101/shopping_cooking_guides/apple_buyers_guide

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/seasonalcooking/fall/cooknow_apples

Happy fall and enjoy one of nature’s tastiest fruits!

Well, we have gotten the pens, pencils and back to school clothes ready to go!   Let’s also make sure we are set health wise!

  • Every year we hear “Must start off the day with healthy breakfast”, sounds great, but what’s a hurried parent to what do we’re rushed to catch the school bus, as well as get ourselves ready and out the door. 

Here some general tips :

Prepare as much in advance so that you’re not getting things ready in the morning. Set out cereal bowls and high fiber cereal the night before so in the mornings just pour the low-fat milk.

 Have handy easy to go fruits, such as bananas, peaches nectarines that can be easy eaten as you go.   

On the weekends, prepare these easy grab and go breakfast treats to save time during the week.

 toasted cerealOh Parents don’t forget to grab some for your breakfast too!

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During the day, kids need to stay hydrated, water is the best way.  To save  money and cut down on amount of plastic going into the environment , purchase the aluminum water bottles and fill them with water to swap out those sugary drinks.  These cool bottles come in a variety of colors and designs so I’m sure you can find one that will appears to your kid too!  

  • Check your school lunch menu.  With all the nutritional concerns about childhood obesity schools have really stepped up and are making lots of improvements.   So talk to your kids about giving school lunch a positive try.   

  Don’t forget to complete the forms to have your child receive lunch in school.

 If you do have to prepare lunches here‘s a couple of sites with great ideas for packing healthy lunches that will provide nourishment to your kids but not break your budget. 

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_eating_kids

http://www.eatright.org/cps/rde/xchg/ada/hs.xsl/home_22366_ENU_HTML.htm

 

 Be careful of those convenient highly processed lunch items.  They are high in fat and salt with limited fiber. These products are just advertisements with little nutrition to support healthy kids learning.

  • Another health essential that we don’t want to forget is hand sanitizers.  What an easy way to cut down on sick days!   Stock up on the little packable ones or the individual packets.   Be sure to talk to your kids about covering their mouths when coughing, and using the sanitizers multiple times during the day if they don’t have an opportunity to wash their hands with soap and water.

After school activities and snacks are just as important as the school day.  At some schools, kids sometimes eat lunch long before noon, which means they’re ready for an energy booster by 3 pm.  It’s easy for them to reach for the wrong foods if healthy options aren’t quick and easy for them to grab. One way is to provide tempting grab-and-go snacks that contain protein, iron, calcium and fiber to help power them through an afternoon.  Check out these healthy snacks ideas that are enjoyed by kids. 

 A cheesy chicken quesadilla (recipes follow) is a kid-friendly staple that serves as a perfect mini-meal. The chicken and cheese provide protein, while the seasonings add plenty of flavors. Using whole-wheat tortillas adds fiber and fills kids so they don’t they have to eat the whole thing — a quarter might be just enough for a little afternoon pick-me-up. 

Chicken quesadillas

 Home-made energy bars are great for any time of day.  In this recipe your can substitute with any other dried fruit that your child will enjoy.  The walnuts and oats provide protein and fiber, and the honey gives an extra kick of sweetness.  

chocoberrybarsFor a snack on the go, sweet & salty crunchy munch combines Chex cereal, popcorn, goldfish and bagel chips. Throw some in a plastic snack bag for your child to eat almost any time. If you think your children need a little more protein, you can add some unsalted peanuts and cashews.

crunchy muchIf you have any question on healthy food on a budget just post your questions

It’s summer and it’s time for grilling! However questions doe arise- how can I create safe and healthy meals?

If you are debating on whether to grill using gas or charcoal, gas is environmentally cleaner while charcoal does release soot and carbon monoxide into the environment.   Many people still prefer the taste from charcoal grill, in this case, it is so it is recommended that you use   “additive-free lump charcoal” as opposed to traditional briquettes.   Set the charcoal together and place tightly wrapped paper or small twigs to start the coals.   Try to avoid using lighter fluid at all because the vapors escape into the environment and are also absorbed by the food. This leaves your food with traces of contaminations and decreases the taste quality. 

Start by pre- heating the grill, with gas this take about ten minutes and with charcoals approximately 15-25 minutes.  After the grill has been preheated, always clean the grill top using a grill brush.  Grills tops are easier to clean when hot.   Final preparation step is to oil the cleaned grill using a brush or thongs with cloth dipped the vegetable oil.   Using oil helps to prevent your food from sticking. Avoid the use of cooking sprays, which could cause the flames to rise.

 The other question that comes to mind, are there harmful health effects from grilling?  The answer is yes. When the high heat from the gas or coals is exposed to the muscle of the meats, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) carcinogens form.  The best way to reduce the effects of HCA is to marinate meat for one hour or more.     According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), marinating can reduce HCA formation by as much as 92 to 99 percent. Select marinates that contains olive oil or citrus juices. Recently scientists at the Food Safety Consortium project at Kansas State University have discovered that herbs of the Lamiaceae family (Basil, Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, and Sage) used in marinades reduced HCA formation dramatically. These herbal antioxidants reduce the formation of free radicals (bad stuff) when meat hits heat. Attached is a simple BBQ marinade that is beneficial in reducing HCA, low in calories and big on flavor. 

Another potential carcinogen to be aware of when grilling is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which are released from the charcoal when the fat from the meat drips and creates flare up or intense heat.  The effects of PAH are reduced by  selecting meats that have less fat or by removing visible  fats from meats to reduce dripping  on to coals.   Use moderator heat to avoid flare ups which tend to char the meats.  Turning the meat regularly also helps reduce flare –ups and, creates less charred meat. If meat becomes charred slide it off, and do not eat the charred parts. However, always make sure that you cook meats to the appropriate internal temperature.

Healthy grilling also includes vegetables and fruit. Grilled vegetables really are healthier than those that are broiled (where they will lose some nutrient in the water) or fried which add only fat. Unlike meats, produce doesn’t contain the HCA, however you do want o turn your vegetables often to avoid the affects of charring.

 

 For grilling, select vegetables with low water content, such as onions, cabbage, mushrooms, bell peppers and asparagus. You can either grill the vegetables directly on the grill or wrap them in a piece of foil first. If you wrap them, you won’t need to add any fats or oils.  Fruits grill nicely, and the taste becomes greater because of heating the natural sugar found in fruits. 

  Another way to take advantage of the summer produce is to create salsas.   A variety of salsas can add interest too many grilled meats.   See salsa recipes attached

 Healthy BBQ Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomato Salsa

 

Apple Pear Salsa

 

CantaloupeSalsa

 

MangoManiaSalsa

So for healthy BBQ:  

1. Follow the steps of healthy grilling.

2.  Be sure to  provide your family or  guests with plenty of grilled vegetables rather than the traditional pasta and potato salads, that often are heavy laden with calories from  mayonnaise and other dressings with fat.   

3. Offer fresh summer fruits in the form of salsa or offer grilled fruit for a lighter dessert.

4.  After the meal, go and have fun doing some physical activity.   Play ball, or go for walk.   

 

 Contributor to this blog, Tara Dorsey, Simmons Student volunteering with BPHC this summer.

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