Did You Know??

shocked faceDining out fills you out!!
The average meal in casual sit-down restaurants, to include restaurants serving ethnic and classic American fare, provides 1,300 calories.
It is no wonder that studies show that people who dine out more frequently are more likely to gain weight over time!

 

15 of my Favorite Super-Healthy “Convenience” Foods

Eating healthy can be easy, quick, and delicious. Here are 15 foods that prove it (these are in no particular order).

1. Frozen wild Alaskan salmon burgers (I get mine from Costco)

2. Frozen berries

3. Prepared fresh salsas (I love Jack’s brand)salsa 1

4. Prepared hummus

5. Frozen baby peas

6. Pre-washed, ready to serve, boxed or bagged lettuce greens

7. Greek plain yogurt

8. Canned beans

9. Canned tomato products– especially paste and diced

10. Quick-cooking steel cut oats

11. Canned wild salmonsalmon_canned

12. Tap water

13. Dried fruit– especially apricots, raisins, and currants

14. Dark chocolate bars

15. Canned artichoke hearts

*All can be readily consumed with minimal to no prep involved!

 

Greens for a Younger Brain

 

Dark leafy greens score again! This time for keeping our brains younger and sharper. In a study that tracked the diets of more than 950 older adults for a period of five years, those who consumed the most leafy greens performed the best intellectually. For this study, the participants completed detailed dietary questionnaires and had their cognitive function carefully monitored yearly through a battery of 19 different tests. Relative to those who did not eat leafy greens, those consuming one to two servings a day maintained the brain function of a person 11 years younger!

Given that the brain is the most demanding and sensitive of all organs to nutrition, these results come as no surprise. Dark leafy greens are truly the “nutrient goliath” – offering more nutrients per unit calorie than any other food. And for healthy icing on the cake – this nutritional megastar is also a standout food for weight control, heart health, cancer protection, metabolic health, and maintaining youthful skin. Go for any and all- collards, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, lettuce greens, etc. raw or cooked- and do so daily! (ASN Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2015)

 

WEIGHT CONTROL: FOODS FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE

 
 
In a powerful, first-of-its-kind evaluation, Harvard researchers recently uncovered some valuable new insights concerning weight control. For this study, the researchers carefully monitored the diets and weights of 120,784 adult men and women over a 16 to 24 year period of time. They were specifically looking for relationships between eating more of various foods and weight gain or weight loss over time. The upshot of this illuminating study was that some foods were clearly tied to putting on the pounds, while other foods were linked to shedding them. Because weight control is arguably the single most powerful tool each of us has to control our future health destiny, the findings of this study are particularly noteworthy. Click here to see the interesting details. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2015; DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.114.100867)

Dining Out Means More Calories

There is widespread scientific consensus that dining out increases the risk of eating excess calories and well-conducted studies confirm it. According to a comprehensive evaluation by USDA researchers, here is what you can expect in terms of extra calories when you choose to eat foods away from home.

Each additional meal or snack consumed outside of the home comes with an average of 134 extra calories vs. the same meals or snacks prepared at home. (Keep in mind that if you did this just once a day with no increase in exercise, over the course of one year you would gain an additional 15 pounds!)

For the average adult, eating out for lunch has the greatest impact, boosting daily calories by 158. Having dinner away from home adds an additional 144 calories; breakfast 74 calories; and snacks 100 calories.

Overweight individuals are at the greatest risk of consuming extra calories when eating away from home. For a person with a body mass index (BMI) in the obese range (≥30), dining out adds an additional 239 daily calories. (The Impact of Food Away from Home on Adult Diet Quality. ERR-90, USDA, Economic Research Service February 2010 and Food Policy, vol. 34(6))

Enough with the Processed Foods!

tv dinnerGet REAL! That is my passionate plea to you and everyone else. Why? A new report finds that an eye-popping 61 percent of the calories in foods purchased from grocery stores come from highly processed, industrial foods. To make this determination, researchers analyzed at least one year of grocery store purchases from over 157,000 households between 2000 and 2012, making this the first study to provide an accurate picture of what the typical American is putting in their grocery carts.

Given the enormous impact diet has on health and the irrefutable evidence that highly processed foods provide more unhealthy fat, sugar and salt, and less overall nutrition than real foods, these results are ominous. I cannot stress enough how vital it is to focus on whole real foods as the pillar of you and your family’s diet. Based on thousands of published studies, we can say with certainty that the two essential ingredients in the healthiest diets are:

  1.  Mostly whole foods and minimal processed foods.
  2.  An abundance of plant-based foods.  ( Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Annual Meeting, Boston March 2015)

If you want my very best guidance on exactly what foods should and should not make their way into your grocery cart, check out my laminated healthy grocery lists here.

5 Delicious Recipes for Cooked Greens

spinach 2I consider dark leafy greens the healthiest food on the planet and the easiest way to “feel” the power of healthy eating. Make it a dietary dictum to eat some form of dark leafy greens (raw or cooked) every day. Here are 5 delicious recipes thanks to my youngest daughter Lucie who is gifted in the kitchen.

Notes: These recipes can be used with hardy greens such as kale, collards, or cabbage or with tender greens such as spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, and turnip greens. If you use tender greens, make sure to take into account they cook faster. Often times they do not need to be covered and simmered.
Also, the recipes call for fresh cracked pepper, if you don’t have a pepper grinder get one! Lastly, greens can be cooked for longer, until melt-in-your-mouth tender or just until still a bit chewy. I prefer them “underdone” and chewy when they are super fresh or when I am serving them below my spaghetti sauce or pasta sauce instead of noodles, but suit your own palate of course!

 

Sautéed Greens with Garlic and Anchovy

No worries, you can’t taste the anchovy. The addition of one or two anchovies adds a savory depth known as umami. This is a simple go-to-recipe for greens that pairs well with anything.

Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs kale, collards, or your choice of winter green, rinsed, de-ribbed and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 packed in oil anchovies
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or butter or a 1:1 combination Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Heat the oil or butter over medium high heat in a large heavy skillet. Add the garlic and anchovy, mashing the anchovy to turn it into a paste, but stirring frequently so neither burn. Once the garlic is slightly golden, about 1-2 minutes, add greens, salt, and pepper. Stir the greens over high heat for a couple minutes until beginning to wilt, then add a splash of water, cover pan, and reduce heat to extra low. Simmer them with the top on for 5 minutes. Check them for desired tenderness. They may be done depending on the freshness of greens, but if they aren’t, stir them and then return the lid to continue cooking until desired doneness.

 

Coconut Curried Winter Greens

Add chickpeas to this and you have yourself a one dish vegetarian meal!

Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs winter greens of choice (kale, collars, etc.) rinsed, de-ribbed and roughly chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or canola oil Half a yellow onion, chopped
1 14 oz. can coconut milk, lite or regular
2 1/2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
3 tbsp raisins or any dried fruit
A handful of toasted chopped cashews

Instructions
Sauté the onion in the oil over medium high heat in a large skillet until softened. Add greens and salt and cook over high heat stirring often until beginning to wilt. Stir in the curry paste and coconut milk, being sure the paste is evenly distributed. Bring the greens to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook the greens covered, stirring every now and then until desired tenderness. Stir in raisins and serve with nuts scattered atop.

 

Stewed Greens and Tomatoes

Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs greens of your choice rinsed, de-ribbed and roughly chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano, thyme, or rosemary
1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
Shaved Parmesan cheese, optional

Instructions
Sauté the onion in the olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet until barely softened. Add garlic, herbs, and salt and continue sautéing until onion begins to turn golden, about 5 more minutes. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in greens and paprika and cover pan. Cook greens covered, stirring every now and then until desired tenderness. Serve passing the Parmesan and cracked pepper at the table.

 

Crisp Tender Greens with Lemon, Toasted almonds, and Dried Fruit

Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs greens of your choice rinsed, de-ribbed and roughly chopped
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped
1/4 cup dried fruit of choice, (raisins, blueberries, apricots,
cranberries…)
The juice of one fresh lemon
Salt and fresh cracked pepper

Instructions
Sauté the onion in the olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet until golden. Add greens and salt and sauté until wilted, stirring often. If they seem too dry add a splash of water. Remove from heat and toss with lemon juice, almonds, dried fruit, and lots of fresh cracked pepper.

 

Smokey Greens with Canadian Bacon

Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs greens of your choice rinsed, de-ribbed and roughly chopped
2 tbsp unsalted organic butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 oz Canadian bacon or natural smoked ham, diced
1 cup chicken broth
Lots of fresh cracked pepper

Instructions
Sauté the onion and garlic in a large skillet over medium high heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add bacon or ham and cook until it begins to brown along the edges, about 3 minutes. Stir in greens, salt, and pepper.
Stir the greens over high heat for a couple minutes until beginning to wilt, then add broth and bring to a boil. Cover pan and reduce heat to extra low.
5 minutes later stir greens – they may be done depending on their freshness , but if they aren’t, return the lid and continue cooking until desired doneness. Season with salt and lots of pepper! Serve over brown rice if desired.

 

Eggs Boost the Goodness in Veggies

healthy breakfast with eggsIf you are looking for a tasty and easy way to get even more nutritional oomph from your salad veggies, then look to eggs. That was the conclusion from a new study that sought to find out if adding cooked eggs to a salad would increase the absorption of a prized group of veggie-based compounds called carotenoids. For this evaluation, researchers had 16 healthy young males consume a salad without eggs and then a salad with the addition of either two or three cooked eggs. Consuming the salad with the eggs resulted in a 3 to 9 fold increase in the absorption of the vegetable’s carotenoids! Carotenoids are a large family of fat-soluble antioxidant compounds that offer broad-spectrum health protection, particularly for our skin, eyes, hearts and brains. The researchers believe the fats present in the eggs’ yolks were the active ingredients accounting for their impressive findings.

Eggs are one of the cheapest, highest quality forms of protein available and contrary to what many people believe, they can fit beautifully into a healthy diet, even for those with cholesterol and heart issues. Always choose omega-3 fortified eggs for best results.  (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Annual Meeting, Boston March 2015)

 

Dining Out on the Right Proteins

Here is my best guidance for doing your protein right when dining out:

  • Seafood including fish or shellfish are excellent choices because they provide salmon dinnerhealthy omega 3 fats and negligible saturated fats. Americans are not consuming optimal amounts of seafood, so this would be my top recommendation for a healthy protein. Of course do not even consider ruining such a healthy thing by getting it breaded or fried. Order it grilled, broiled, baked, blackened, pan-seared, poached, or steamed. Seafood is always my top protein choice.
  • Lean poultry like chicken or turkey is also a fine option. Try it roasted, baked, or grilled and if it comes with the skin on, remove it before you eat it. Steer clear of breaded or fried poultry options.
  • Vegetarian selections like bean dishes, tofu, or tempeh are great for you and the environment.
  • If you just have to have some red meat (which includes pork, too), be sure to select the leanest cuts (tenderloin, filet, or sirloin) and be mindful that a “normal serving” of cooked red meat is just four ounces or the size of a deck of cards.

 

The Anti-Alzheimer’s Diet

brain in headScientists are claiming they have identified the most effective diet to date for preventing Alzheimer’s disease. According to a new study, adhering to the “MIND diet” offers substantial protection from Alzheimer’s disease. For this study, scientists first analyzed the diets of 923 elderly study subjects for 144 specific foods based on detailed food questionnaires. With repeated neuropsychological testing, the study subject’s cognitive capabilities were then carefully tracked over the next 4-5 years. For study subjects who most closely adhered to what the researchers dubbed the MIND diet, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s was slashed by an impressive 53 percent. Even study subjects who “moderately” followed this eating pattern experienced significant benefit with a 35 percent risk reduction. Perhaps the most uplifting aspect of the study was the delicious foods that comprised this brain-healthy eating style. Click here to see them. (Alzheimer’s and Dementia, March 2015)