At the end of the day, I think everyone deserves the comfort and pleasure of eating a wholesome, home-cooked meal with loved ones can provide. With the business of my often hectic work day behind me, I cherish sitting down at the dinner table with my family to enjoy a meal that is nutritious, fresh, flavorful and simple to prepare. Having spent the past 20 years devoted to “healthy” family dinners, I am always delighted to share with your family tried-and-true dinner recipes.
Portobello and Beef Patty Melt
About 1 ¼ lbs extra lean ground beef
2 large Portobello mushroom caps, chopped
½ yellow onion, finely diced
4 tbs bread crumbs
1 ½ tbs Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 slices whole grain bread
6 slices 2% milk Swiss cheese
Mix beef, mushrooms, yellow onion, bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and pepper in a bowl. Form into large, flat patties. Cook in Pam’ed skillet until browned on both sides and cooked through. If desired, toast 100% whole grain bread. Place each patty on a slice of toast, top with cheese and place in oven on broil until cheese melts (about 60 seconds).
*For a healthier patty melt option, replace bread with romaine lettuce leaves!
If you want a quick and simple way to eat less, just say no to ear buds, music and TV while eating. In an intriguing set of experiments researchers at Brigham Young University were able to show that when we can hear the sounds created as we bite, chew, crunch, and munch on our foods, we ultimately eat less. It seems when we mask the sounds of our eating with competing sounds coming from things like music and TV, we reduce the sensory cues entering our brains that can quiet the appetite control centers. So tune in to the sounds of your meals to help fill you up on less.
Want to add up to ten years of healthy brain function to your later life? Then be sure to exercise! In a totally inspiring new study that once again echoes the profound benefits movement has on the brain, researchers documented that older adults who regularly engaged in moderate to intense physical activity like jogging or aerobics clearly exhibited superior brain function. For this study researchers followed the physical activity levels and brain skills of almost 900 seniors over a ten-year period. About 10 percent reported that they exercised at a moderate or more intense pace on a regular basis. Based on brain scans and a battery of tests designed to accurately measure cognitive function—including memory, focus, and processing speed—the exercising group displayed brain function that was up to ten years younger than the other study subjects who were either sedentary or only did light exercise like casual walking.
Dark chocolate scores again! This time for metabolic health. In a study that included 1,153 adults between the ages of 18 to 69, those that consumed chocolate daily had lower blood insulin levels and better insulin function, both of which are telltale markers for superior metabolic health. These results are not surprising. Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is home to exceedingly potent plant antioxidants called flavanols that have the potential to activate and improve our metabolic machinery in many ways. For best results, I suggest you choose a prudent portion (up to one ounce) of the highest cacao dark chocolate (70% or <) as your treat of choice.
Click here to see the full list of dark chocolate’s science-based benefits!
If you’re like most Americans, the never-ending stream of ultra-processed, highly palatable foods that define our modern food supply has hijacked your taste buds. But have no fear! Fortunately, our sense of taste is highly malleable. This means that your taste buds can be coaxed into loving the simple and less intense flavor profiles typical of Mother Nature’s disease-busting foods—like vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains. All it takes is a little knowledge and know-how. If you make a commitment to incorporate a few key practices into your daily diet, you too can reach the “ultimate goal” of healthy eating as a way of life. In time, I know from experience that you will truly crave and seek out super-healthy foods like kale and other dark leafy greens.
Click here to see the key steps for taste bud rehab!
Tomato paste is hands down the healthiest way to take advantage of tomatoes’ nutritional prowess and is a secret weapon for enhancing flavor in the kitchen. Relative to raw tomatoes, tomato paste serves up ten times more of the star antioxidant lycopene. And unlike most all other tomato products, tomato paste typically comes with no added sugar and salt. Because it is uniquely rich in the natural taste enhancer, glutamate, tomato paste is fantastic for adding a rich multidimensional flavor to soups, stews and egg dishes. Tomato paste should be a staple in your cupboard!
In a highly encouraging new report that echo’s previous findings, scientists concluded the greatest benefits come from losing just 5 percent of body weight. Yes, the biggest health bang for your efforts can be attained with a very modest weight loss. For this study, researchers randomly assigned 40 obese adults to maintain weight or to lose 5, 10 or 15 percent of their starting body weight. The researchers carefully monitored a host of organ systems throughout the body as well as cellular responses both before and after weight loss. To their surprise, there was a notable improvement in metabolic function throughout all organ systems in the body as well as a marked reduction in liver fat (considered the most deadly fat) with as little as 5 percent of weight loss. Although additional metabolic improvements were noted in some areas with continued weight loss, most of the benefits came with the initial 5 percent loss of weight. Here is the very best part -the scientists concluded that a relatively modest weight loss can markedly reduce the risk for diabetes and heart disease and improve metabolic function in all key areas of the body. That is fantastic news that could save countless lives!
If you want to keep your hunger under wraps, be sure to include a nice dose of protein at each of your meals. Past studies have indicated that protein, relative to carbs and fats, has superior hunger-quieting effects. In an effort to confirm protein’s unique sating power, researchers performed a systematic review of past studies looking at protein and perceived feelings of fullness to combine all of the results into one more powerful analysis. The results? Protein does, in fact, make us feel fuller. Because appetite control is arguably the Holy Grail for weight control, we would all be wise to put this encouraging conclusion into practice at every meal.
Click here to see my best advice for leveraging the power of protein at mealtimes as Mother Nature’s diet pill.
Barley is a sleeper superfood! This exceptionally versatile intact whole grain food is exceptional for boosting health. Thanks to its mother load of fiber (3 times more than oats!), as well as its hefty dose of magnesium, B vitamins, and selenium, barley is arguably one of the best foods around for lowering cholesterol, preventing heart disease, improving gut health, and combating type 2 diabetes. And yet few people take advantage of it! One recent study found that a single daily serving of barley improved metabolism and helped curb hunger in as little as one week by stimulating the growth of a special, “good” bacteria in the gut called Prevotella copri.
Have a bowl for breakfast or simply add it to soups, salads, stews, or use as an alternative to rice or potatoes
Caution couch potatoes! Lack of fitness in middle age may mean a smaller brain in later years. According to a new study published in the journal Neurology, scientist uncovered a direct correlation between poor fitness and less brain volume years later. For this study, researchers had 1,583 people enrolled in the famed Framingham Heart Study take a treadmill test at an average age of 40 to accurately measure their level of fitness. Two decades later they conducted a second treadmill test as well as MRI brain scans on the same group of study subjects. The findings: For every eight units of lower exercise capacity (a measure of fitness) at midlife, brain volume was significantly smaller 20 years later, equivalent to two full years of accelerated aging.
Evidence has been steadily mounting over the past few years indicating that dementia develops over several decades with lifestyle habits and health status during middle age likely exerting the greatest impact.