3.18.2010

Kids + Fruits & Veggies.

The 3 kids I babysit for turn their noses up to all things fruits and veggies..... most of the time I am pretty sure they haven't ever tried the food..... or if they have only once. 
I still don't think that the oldest will go for this but the younger two will love to be Secret Agents--- trying to discover all about the 'new' fruit or veggie.  
Here is the 'Secret Agent Worksheet' that can be printed out or downloaded for the kids to fill out.
I would like to do this with both some common fruits as well as some very unusual ones. A few fruits and veggies I think I am going to introduce are (if I am able to find them here in Iowa City):
-Star fruit
-Kumquat
-Pummelo
-Cherimoyas
-Chayote Squash
-Ugli Fruit
-Lychees
-Kiwis
This idea goes great with these other ideas to get involved making healthy food choices.

3.17.2010

Go Green Today!

Happy St. Patrick's Day Everyone! 
You want a little bit of the Luck'o the Irish today?.... 
No better way than to load up on eating GREEN fruits and veggies! 
There are so many delicious and healthy green foods:

Try incorporating at least a couple of these foods in your menu today.  The more green the better. 
Avocados, Spinach, Broccoli, Green apples, Asparagus, Grapes, Kale, Cabbage, Kiwis, Celery, Pears, Peas, Cucumbers, Green Beans, Zucchini, Artichokes, Green Peppers, Lime, Honeydew Melon, Romain Lettuce.   

3.16.2010

Cabbage.

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day..... so in honor of the Irish, let's all eat us up some Cabbage.  

When most of us hear the word cabbage we turn up our noses..... or think of dishes combining cabbage with mayo-- or other heavily laden oil dishes... like coleslaw. But Cabbage is a very nutritious, nutrient packed veggie. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and Vitamin K. It is also packed with fiber, manganese, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Click here to learn everything you need to know about Cabbage.  


One whole cup of cabbage only contains about 15-20 calories.... now you can understand where the Cabbage soup diet idea comes from.  


Here is a Simple yet Healthy Cabbage Recipe: 

Ingredients

  • 3 slices turkey bacon, cooked and cut into little pieces
  • 1-2 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 head cabbage, cored and sliced
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 pinch white sugar

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in large saute pan; cook and stir continuously for 5 minutes, until tender.



3.12.2010

Save Time & Money .. Frozen Fruits/Veggies

One complaint I get when trying to encourage buying and eating more fruits and vegetables is that
1. Fresh fruits and vegetables are so expensive $$$
&
2. They go bad so fast that I can never use what I buy before it spoils.  
So for those of you that are shaking their heads in agreement while reading the two points above..... No more excuses! I have a solution and it will not only help you save money.... but time.... and you will be able to eat more nutritiously.  
The answer is all in YOUR FREEZER!
Not only does your freezer extend the life of foods, but you can buy fruits/veggies when they are on sale (or load up in the summer months if you have access to a garden), and save time and money by storing these pre-prepped items for future meals in your freezer.

Example.... Yesterday, my local grocery store had strawberries on sale for $1.25 a carton. I love Strawberries but don't get them as often as I would like because winter prices can be up near $4.00 a carton. I took advantage of the sale and purchased 4 cartons.  When I got home I rinsed the berries, patted them dry with a paper towel, cut off their green tops, and transferred them into a freezer bag.  (if you don't want the strawberries to freeze together, form a single layer of strawberries on a pan and place them into the freezer. Allow them to sit uncovered for three to four hours, or until thoroughly frozen. Then remove from pan and place in freezer bags.)  I now have fresh strawberries in the freezer so I can quickly grab them to add into smoothies or have with yogurt or top my cereal/oatmeal.  

Other Fruits/Veggies that freeze really well--- I have each of these items in my freezer right now.
1. Shredded Zucchini- Just wash, grate, and put in freezer bags. It's perfect to make zucchini breads, muffins, cakes, or to throw into spaghetti sauces, lasagnas, or other pastas.

2. Sliced Peaches- These are my fave....  during the summer we have tons and tons of peaches thanks to many peach trees, so I make sure to freeze lots of these so I can have summer peaches all winter long. Just peel, slice, arrange on a pan, freeze, and then put into freezer bags.
3. Green, Red, or Yellow Bell Peppers- peppers can be pretty expensive, but I use tons of them in my cooking, so when I find them on sale, I stock up. Once you get them home all you need to do is slice them- (I like to cut about half of them into strips while dicing up the other half).  I put them in little baggies..... and now when I need peppers for a recipe, I run to the freezer grab a bag and toss them into my dish. So easy and so quick! Saves time and money.
4. Tomatoes- These take a bit more work(but still so easy) because they need to be blanched. Wash and dip whole tomato in boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen skins. Peel should come off easily. Freeze whole or slice into pieces. Place in freezer bags. Seal and freeze. I use these when making soups or pastas. 
You can freeze most any fruit or vegetable. If you think you won't be able to eat something before it goes rotten try freezing the food. Click here for information from The National Center for Home Food Preservation on how to Freeze most any fruit or vegetable. They have step-by-step instructions for most anything.
What do you like to FREEZE??

3.10.2010

Have a Seat.



(Image found here.) 
Do you find yourself chowing down while walking around or standing up?  
If so you may not be aware of what you are shoving down your mouth......  hundreds of extra mindless calories.  A University of Toronto Mississauga study 
found that people who sat down while eating consumed about 30% fewer calories at their next meal than those who ate on their feet.  

The study's author, Patricia Pliner, Ph.D., psychology researcher and professor believes this occurs because of the way we've been trained to perceive and respond to mealtime. "Treating food like a meal, even if it's a snack, tells your brain that you don't need to eat for a while.  Don't eat on the run", she says "It won't feel like a meal, and you may subconsciously grant yourself permission to eat more later."
So next time you go and grab a snack..... make it a rule to sit while eating. This way you will eliminate a lot of those mindless calories that you get from grazing and picking at foods all day. 

3.04.2010

Edible Veggie Bouquet.

I love this from Hostess with the Mostess..
I have seen lots of Edible Fruit bouquets but this is a new one..... and looks much more natural than it's fruit counterpart.  What a perfect alternative to the traditional boring veggie tray. 

3.03.2010

Taste the Rainbow.

 Here are more reasons to eat fresh, whole fruits and veggies........  See if you can taste each part of the rainbow today? 
Other fun ideas to incorporate color into your diet: 
  • Have 1 color assigned for each day of the week; see how many fresh foods of that color you can incorporate into your meals/snacks.
  • When shopping with kids--- have them go on a treasure hunt for a fruit/vegetable of each color in the rainbow.
  • Next time you go to the grocery store, select one new fruit or veggie that you haven't ever tried.   
Information taken from 'Eating Well by Color' from Eating Well

RED FOODS:
Contain lycopene, a phytochemical that may help protect against prostate and breast cancers.
Eat these foods! 
  • Guava
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Red peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon
ORANGE FOODS: 
Alpha and beta carotene make foods like carrots and sweet potatoes so brilliantly orange. The body converts these compounds into the active form of vitamin A, which helps keep your eyes, bones and immune system healthy. These phytochemicals also operate as antioxidants, sweeping up disease-promoting free radicals.
Eat these foods! 
  • Apricots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Mango
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tangerines
  • Winter squash
Yellow & Green, (part 1) leafy greens
Many yellow and green vegetables are good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, phytochemicals that accumulate in the eyes and help prevent age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in older people. Leafy greens are also rich in beta carotene.
Eat these foods! 
  • Artichoke
  • Corn
  • Lettuce
  • Summer squash
  • Wax beans
  • Arugula
  • Chard
  • Collards
  • Mustard greens
  • Turnip greens
Green, part 2 -cruciferous
Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and kale, provide compounds called indoles and isothiocyanates, which may help prevent cancer by amping up the production of enzymes that clear toxins from the body.
Eat these foods! 
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Green cabbage
  • Kale
Blue and Purple / Deep Red
Blue, purple and deep-red fruits and vegetables are full of anthocyanins and proanthocyanins, antioxidants associated with keeping the heart healthy and the brain functioning optimally.
Eat these foods! 
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Eggplant
  • Plums
  • Cranberries
  • Grapes
  • Radishes (red)
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries 
  • What are ways that you incorporate the rainbow into your diet?

3.02.2010

Apple vs. Pear Shaped?

Apples are Good for you.... but when you start looking like one it may not be such a good thing.  

When fat accumulates in the abdomen and waist area it doesn’t just build up under the skin, it builds up inside the entire upper torso and accumulates around the heart, liver, kidneys, and intestine and can even begin to grow inside these organs restricting blood flow and interfering with function. This study is just one of many that has shown that apple-shaped individuals have an increased risk of cardiovascular and other diseases compared to pear-shaped individuals.
 
So are you APPLE or PEAR shaped? 
 
Image taken from here. 
If your waist is bigger around than your hips then you have an apple shape, if your hips are bigger around than your waist, then you have a pear shape.  It isn't always very obvious... so here are some steps to see exactly what you are looking like these days.  
  1. Using a measuring tape, measure your waist at the level of your navel and at your hips at their widest point.  Make sure you place the tape measure directly on your skin, do not measure over your clothes.  Make the tape snug on your skin, but don't pinch the skin together.
    * if you don't have a measuring tape, use a string or ribbon, mark where the top of the string meets around your midsection, and then measure the string with a ruler or yard stick.
  1. To insure accuracy, measure your waist and your hips a few times and take the average. 
  1. To determine your waist-to-hip ratio, divide the average waist measurement by the average hip measurement. (average waist measurement ÷ average hip measurement = (?)

    RESULTS:  
*FOR GUYS: If the ratio is less than 1, a hip and leg fat storage pattern (pear shape) is indicated.  If the ratio is 1 or greater, an abdominal storage pattern (apple shape) is indicated. 
*FOR GALS: If the ratio is 0.8 or less, a hip and leg pattern (pear shape) is indicated.  If the ratio is greater than 0.8, an abdominal storage pattern (apple shape) is indicated.  
  
Apple shaped Dangers:
Has large amounts of deep fat stored in the waist/abdomen called visceral fat.  This fat is inside your abdomen surrounding your organs. It contributes to inflammation and an increase in blood sugar. It produces chemicals and hormones that make you more vulnerable for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
 This is the most dangerous fat. An easy way to look at it is that it is fat stored INSIDE the belly, between & around organs. (see below picture)
Simply put this is not GOOD.
 
There are differences in men & women:
  Us women are a bit more lucky because we are more prone to have pear-shapes thanks to Estrogen! Men are more likely to store fat in the bellies....  We aren't cleared completely though... a woman's body generally shifts during menopause to cause more fat storage in the belly area.  So all of us, both man and woman need to be concerned about our fat placement. 
 

So what can you do to start getting rid of that mid-section? 
-Many individuals will tell you that crunches are the answer. Ya they might strengthen the abdominal muscles, but they aren't going to make the fat disappear. Instead you have to have total body weight loss from both a combination of aerobic exercise and a healthy balanced diet.

3.01.2010

National Nutrition Month

Happy March Everyone.....  March not only means warmer temperatures.... but it also means it is National Nutrition Month.  
This years theme is "Nutrition From the Ground Up."

As we start March... it is a great time to re-evaluate your New Year's goals.  It has now been two months.......  Are you healthier?  Have you incorporated any healthy lifestyles? How about exercising? Take a minute right now to look over your goals and/or create some goals.  If you need a few ideas or tips on how to be healthier and happier, check out American Dietetic Association's website and blog.

I love this years theme.  The first thing that came to mind when I heard the theme 'Nutrition from the ground Up,' I immediately thought fresh fruits/veggies, whole grains, and other natural products that come straight from the ground.  So this month I am going to make a goal to have more fresh fruits... fresh veggies... and whole grain products on a daily basis. 
Tonight for dinner, what can you add that is fresh?       

This theme also makes me realize that it doesn't matter what where you are health wise now.... but that you can start now.... from the ground up... and get healthy.

HAPPY NUTRITION MONTH EVERYONE!