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!

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.

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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?

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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!

Eating more fruits and vegetables is a goal for many people, yet adding them into our daily meals sometimes creates a challenge.  Fresh and local fruits and vegetables are the best choices, and in another two months the options to choose local vegetables and some fruits will be available through farmers markets.   Until then, selecting in- season produce and frozen fruits and vegetables are good alternatives to locally grown produce.    Check out this Guide  to Buying Fruits and Vegetables  

Better Choices with Canned or Frozen Produce

Canned or frozen produce is handy when planning meals in advance and for bulk purchasing. While they may keep longer than fresh produce, some varieties may be loaded with sugar, salt or additives. The better choice when buying canned or frozen fruits and vegetables is to select those varieties packaged with just the item itself. Frozen vegetables are often processed with nothing added and canned vegetables varieties can be found salt-free and sugar-free. Frozen fruits are sometimes processed with sugar, but check the label and you will find varieties are available where the item is quick frozen without sugar.

Go Organic for the Popular Items

While organic foods are pesticide-free and all natural they are usually more expensive. Instead of busting a budget for all organic produce, a great choice is to choose organic fresh fruits and vegetables the family eats daily or often. Do the members of your family enjoy eating pears? This would be a great item to purchase organically grown.  Just knowing one item that the family eats on a regular basis is free of pesticides can be reassuring for parents and may get some adults to eat more fruits too.  As I mentioned, in June Farmers’ Markets will be opening, and there you will be able to get local organically grown food at reasonable prices.  The good news is many of the markets will be having Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) machines so food stamps recipients can purchase produce.

 To meet the challenge of incorporating fruits and vegetables into our everyday diets, here are a few tips:

Offer fruits or vegetables for Healthy Snacks

After school can be a time for active snacking, so offering fruits or vegetables for children is great. This also goes well for adults wanting a snack during the day or in the evening. Having a bowl of cut-up apples, oranges or bananas sprinkled with lemon juice for flavor and to prevent browning makes a great snack while doing homework. Mini carrots or carrot sticks are the easy and usual choice. Also try adding radishes, zucchini sticks and cucumber sticks for something easy and inexpensive to prepare.   Have low –fat dressing for dipping.

 If it is necessary to keep shelf stable fruits and vegetables on hand, always read the labels. Applesauce may be a quick and delicious apple snack, but some varieties have high fructose corn syrup or colorings.

Fortify   prepared mixes

Quick mixes for fruit muffins and pancakes like blueberry or banana usually contain highly processed colored and flavored bits of imitation fruits. Making the recipe at home from scratch with the real thing is a better choice. Plain recipes such as muffins and pancakes can be easily fortified with frozen or fresh blueberries, chopped peaches or mashed banana.  Here  is a basic muffin mix to get started. Vegetables are easily incorporated into quick breads. Frozen cut corn or freshly chopped bell peppers can be stirred into cornbread mixes for added color and flavor and can give an added nutrient boost as well.  

 When in a hurry, frozen vegetables can also be added to packaged rice and noodle mixes to increase the volume, fiber and flavor without adding salt or added fat.   For a nice change, try adding added diced tomatoes (The no-salt version), and shredded fresh carrots, zucchini or yellow squash to your favorite pasta sauce.  For more ideas that are quick ways to increase fruits and vegetables into your daily diet and keep the cost down, Check out Fruits and Veggies: More Matters.

This week’s grocery tips:

Here is a recipe using these produce items to celebrate Mother’s Day

Berries and cantaloupes are inexpensive choices this week.  Cut the fruits and add canned pineapples and pears (packed in their own juice) for a quick and easy fruit salad.  The fruit salad can be offered for dessert or add some low-fat yogurt and whole grain cereal for a quick breakfast.  Check out this Crustless Tasso Ham, Asparagus, and Leek Quiche recipe!

Posted By

Steven Belec, Director
Mayor’s Health Line,
Boston Public Health Commission

 

1.      You Can Apply for SNAP – SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is the NEW name for the federal Food Stamps program. Many families are eligible and it’s easy to start an application! The Mayor’s Health Line can help you begin the process right over the phone. Call 617-534-5050 or 1-800-847-0710.

2.      The First Step is Simple – The initial step of the application is easy and can be completed over the phone. Seniors even have an easier application. Interviews are required for all applicants, but this can also be done over the phone.

3.      You Can Find Out If You Are Eligible – Before applying, you can go to a website to use an online calculator tool and see if you may be eligible for benefits. Find it here: http://www.gettingfoodstamps.org/Screener2/index.cfm

4.      If Eligible, You May Receive Food Stamps Within 1 Week – If you qualify for emergency food stamps, the DTA (Department of Transitional Assistance)  must provide them no later than 7 days after they receive your application. For regular food stamps, it is no later than 30 days after DTA receives your application.

5.      SNAP Benefits Are Given on a Card – This plastic card, called an EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) card can be used at grocery stores in the same machine that ATM or credit cards are swiped. This provides privacy and will prevent others from knowing that SNAP benefits are being used for payment. This card is automatically reloaded with funds each month the person is eligible for benefits.

6.      Many Seniors Have NO Asset Limits – Recently, the SNAP program eliminated the asset ceiling for many low-income households. Seniors whose income is below the eligibility guidelines will not have to provide information about assets.

7.      No Work Requirements if Caring For a Child – A person who is responsible for the care of a dependent child under age 6 or of someone who is incapacitated is exempt from work requirements. The person does not have to be living in the same household as the dependent. Further, a person who is residing in a home with someone else under age 18 is exempt from the Food Stamp Work Program. The applicant does not have to be related to or responsible for the household member under 18.

8.      You Can Get Food Stamps While Working – People who have any sort of regular income, including Social Security or a pension can get food stamps.

The Mayor’s Health Line can help you with a new application for Food Stamps and SNAP benefits right over the phone. They can also assist you if you have questions or are caught in the middle of the process.

Call the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050 or 1-800-847-0710.

 

 

As the New Year begins, WE CAN make resolutions to eat healthier and STILL stay on a budget

 

As the New Year approaches, let us NOT be overwhelmed by the thought of preparing tasty, healthy economical meals on a regular basis.  This year let us NOT get sucked in by grocery merchandising tricks, INSTEAD let us become savvy consumers who CAN spot good deals and CAN create meals that will spark us up throughout the whole year! 

 

New Year resolution ideas


Save money and still have quality. If you’ve been using cost as an excuse to eat inexpensive convenient unhealthy food, you can kiss that old excuse goodbye!    With a little organization and creativity, you can take control of your kitchen—cook smart, and enjoy the first-class meals you deserve.

1.   To start, here’s a quick review of basic tips of healthy eating:

  • Limit your intake of foods high in unhealthy fats and alcohol – These are budget busters that do not give you bang for your buck!  See http://mypyramid.gov/   for details.
  • Drink lots of water.  This year make a pledge to drink safe tap water for your health, help reduce environmental pollutants and SAVE Money.  Here is information on the bottled water concerns and you can take the pledge to save the environment. http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/fwwatch/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=569
  • Limit salty and sugary foods. Foods with salt and sugar in large quantities generally increase the risk for gaining weight and developing chronic diseases.
  • Make increased efforts to add “VARIETY of foods” to your eating pleasure, especially low-calorie, high nutrient vegetables and fruits.

2.  SET a regular block of time for planning meals, making your grocery list, and shopping. This task is most often shortchanged when planning for healthy meals.  Plan for  healthy snack ideas, as well as main menu items.  Don’t be afraid to surf the internet for new recipes that use specific ingredients (plug the ingredient in as a keyword of your search).  Select recipes based on the good buys in the weekly flyers as you plan your meals before you shop.

 

3. STOCK your kitchen with items that are quick and easy to cook (yet kind to your wallet):

  • Beans and lentils, whether canned or dried, make nutritious, hearty soups, and can be a great non-meat main course with the addition of fresh vegetables or rice.  
  • Vegetables and fruit should be purchased weekly, preferably in season, and locally grown (when possible) to ensure optimal taste and nutrition. You can also rely on frozen varieties as quick cooking ways to always include veggies in your lunch, dinner, or snacks. Veggies make great stir-fry using small amounts or no meat meals (Very low- cost quick meals) while fruit is good for a quick nutritious dessert or snack.
  • Brown rice is a great addition to meat and veggies.  Brown rice is now only slightly more in price compared to white; the nutritional payoff is well worth it. Another inexpensive, easy-to-fix grain, millet, is best when bought fresh. Simply rinse and toast before using it in recipes.
  • Pasta is quick and easy to prepare, and can be paired with veggies, meat, or a fresh salad. Have fun adding your own embellishments (mushrooms, spices, and herbs). Choose whole-wheat pasta whenever available. Click here for the benefits of whole grains.http://www.marshealthyliving.com/tools_resources/whole_grains.html
  • Reduced sodium soups can be nutritious and convenient, especially when you use them as your base, and then add your own veggies and leftover meat.
  • Meat and fish can be kept on hand in the fresh, frozen, or canned varieties. Use lean meats, fish or poultry for 1/3 (3 oz.) of your healthy meal, NOT the main feature. Try the newer tuna and salmon pouches or frozen varieties of un-breaded fish to SAVE on the cost. Shop for inexpensive lean cuts of meat that work well in stews and casseroles and  can be cooked in slow cookers for easy meals.
  • Condiments add flavor and interest to your dishes. Keep a selection of dried herbs, spices, curry powder, marinades, vinegars, tomato, and soy sauces. Try purchasing small (4 oz.)  bottles or red or white wine and add to chicken or tomato sauce to add great flavor. (Note alcohol evaporates when heated and only the flavoring remains in the foods). 

Finally, a few more hints that can help you save and stay on budget:

  • When cooking a big meal, make extra to freeze, or use later in the week for lunches or quick suppers. Double recipes, then freeze half.    Capitalize on one-pot dishes, which generally save prep time, money, and dishwashing. These also make great second meals. 
  • Buying in bulk is almost always cheaper; you can freeze perishable items (such as meat, and bread) in smaller portions to use as needed. It’s always a good idea to buy non-perishable items in bulk (canned foods, dried beans, and grains, etc.).
  • Look high and low (literally) at the grocery shelves to find the less expensive generic or store brands on grocery shelves. Store brands are similar to higher-priced brand names though packaged under different labels. Stores deliberately place the highest-priced brand-name items at eye level, but if you compare the cost per unit, you’ll be able to figure out the most cost-effective purchase.
  • Take advantage of specials on staples, low-sodium broth, pasta, rice, and frozen veggies.  Many of these items have a long shelf life or can be kept frozen for short periods of time.

Like anything worthwhile in life, change takes time, a little planning, creativity, and work.  So this year make the resolution that you CAN eat healthier and still stay on budget!  Think of the rewards, better health and more money!  You’ll find it is worth the effort!   No doubt you’ll still have days when you fall back on that quick-fix packaged food or the local burger drive-thru, but if you look at planning meals and cooking as a New Year adventure, you’ll soon have days and months when you find yourself pleased at what you’ve accomplished.

 

Let me know about your healthy eating New Year’s resolutions.