Spice Up Your Kitchen

26 Apr

There are many fresh foods that are delicious enough on their own, but when it comes to modifying recipes to lighten them up, it’s important to understand how to retain flavor when reducing fat, sugar or sodium.

Adding spices, herbs or other flavorings such as lemon or lime juice are great ways to accomplish this. Some recipes utilize aromatic vegetables such as garlic, onions or celery while others will add herbs and spices to season up the dish. Here are 3 tips for storing and using your spices.

  1. Dry vs. Fresh: Dried herbs do not always taste like their fresh counterparts, so sometimes they are not always interchangeable in a recipe. Substituting one part dry herb for three parts fresh will work in a pinch.
  2. Shelf Life: Dry herbs and spices have a shelf life, and most should not be kept for more than a few years, especially if they have been opened. Store your dried herbs and spices in airtight containers in a cool, dark place like your cupboard or pantry – not your counter.
  3. Seasoning: It’s much better to under-season and add more spices than over-season. Taste and season your recipe throughout the cooking process.

Pre-made blends can be nice to have on hand, but check the ingredient label, as you will want to avoid the blends that are filled with sodium.  Some recipes may call for specific herbs and spices but the list below is a great place to start outfitting your spice rack.

 Dried Herbs and Spices2

 

 

5 Ways to Lower Stress Levels

24 Apr

Did you know that depression, anxiety, mood disorders, as a group are ranked number one among the top five national health conditions that contribute to poor health in nearly every state in the US?

Stress can make these chronic conditions worse, but you can manage everyday stress by setting realistic and manageable goals in honor of April, National Stress Month.

  1. A Healthy Diet: Some foods have been shown to lower stress by decreasing blood pressure and boosting mood. Examples include:  blueberries, crisp vegetables (celery, carrots, peppers, etc.), salmon and sweet potatoes.
  2. Good Sleep: According to the National Sleep Foundation, Americans today get 40 percent less sleep than the body needs to function at its best. Adequate rest allows the body and mind to recharge, which both help in the fight against stress. The benefits of adequate rest include: muscle repair, improved memory and heightened focus.
  3. Regular, Moderate Exercise: Physical activity is beneficial in managing stress so it may come as no surprise that the body and mind work together. Releasing endorphins works to boost energy, endorse positive thinking and improve overall cognitive function.
  4. Positive Psychology: Work on spreading positivity in your own life to combat everyday stressors by considering the following writing exercises: Gratitude Journal: Write down three new things you are grateful for each day. • Experience Journal: Spend five minutes journaling about a meaningful experience from the past 24 hours. • Thank You Notes: Dedicate two minutes to write an e-mail or thank a person in your social support network.
  5. Cognitive Restructuring: Train the brain to practice positive by actively replacing stressful thoughts with more positive, “glass half full” thoughts.

Read more tips on reducing stress in the original article: https://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/2017/04/12/tips-to-reduce-stress/

Easy Foods Kids Can Grow in the Garden

22 Apr

March was National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating, and now Earth Day is April 22nd.  Celebrate by growing your own produce with your family.  Enjoy the fruits of your harvest all season long!

Gardening may help your kids eat enough fruits and vegetables because when they lend a hand in the process, research shows they are likely to eat more produce and try different varieties as well. Gardening is a great way to spend time with your family outdoors and can also build self-confidence and provide a sense of responsibility.

Kids Gardening

Make Kids Part of the Planting Process

Allow your kids to choose the fruits and vegetables they enjoy eating and add other reliable plants suitable for your region and climate.

Go Herbal

Herbs are easy to grow and excess can be frozen in ice cube trays to be stored in the freezer or even dried for later use.

Dig What Grows Below Ground

Digging for vegetables like Beets can be a great way to introduce a new colorful vegetable to your child.

Click here to read more tips on gardening with your family.

Link to original article: Easy Foods Kids Can Grow In the Garden

Starting Plants Indoors – April

21 Apr

Did you know that it’s still not too late to start some plants indoors for this year? It’s easy to do and a fun activity you can do with your family.  You can usually find seed starter kits complete with seeds, pots and dirt anywhere gardening supplies are sold.

  1. Basil. Start indoors around April 15th and transplant outdoors around May 20th
  2. Tomatoes. Start indoors around April 15th and transplant outdoors around May 20th
  3. Melon. Start indoors around April 15th and transplant outdoors near June 1st
  4. Corn. Start indoors around April 15th and transplant outdoors near May 15th

Image result for seedlings

Make a Fresh Start with Spring Foods

18 Apr

Spring is here!  It’s the perfect time to hit the reset button and reintroduce fresh foods into your family’s diet.  Involving your children in the snack or meal prep process can also make them more likely to try new foods.

Spinach: This superfood is packed with vitamins A, C and K, essential for eye health, immunity, strong bones and other body processes. Spinach also contains enough folate and iron to help prevent anemia while magnesium and potassium are important for muscle development and growth.

Yogurt: At 8 grams of protein per 6 ounce container, Yogurt is a great source of protein. This calcium-rich food is also important for building strong bones and teeth and is a great source of probiotic bacteria which helps promote digestion.

Strawberries: One cup of this sweet and colorful vitamin C packed seasonal fruit also provides 3 grams of fiber. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Asparagus: Available in green, purple and white varieties, asparagus spears can accompany all kinds of foods. Asparagus is an excellent source of folate, iron and vitamins A and K.

7 Tips for Healthy Dining Out

3 Apr

Eating out at restaurants doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel on your healthy diet. With the smart tips below, you can easily plan out your strategy without feeling like you sabotaged all of your hard work.  Prepare to dine out with confidence!

Dining Restaurant

Preparation

Plan ahead. If you had a bigger lunch earlier in the day, plan on eating a light dinner in the evening. Familiarize yourself with cooking terms, as this will make ordering easier if you have a special dietary need.

Choosing a Restaurant

Think ahead. Visit restaurant websites to see if the menu is posted. You will be able to see see the wide range of menu items in advance or in some cases, nutritional information too.

Ordering

Be deliberate when ordering. Ask your server questions. Balance your meal by including healthier selections from all food groups such as lean proteins, fruits, vegetables. For salads, ask for your dressing on the side or lean protein that is not fried.  For any sandwich toppings, veggie options and condiments low in sugar and salt are best.

Substitute. Are you afraid to make a request to meet your nutritional needs? Don’t be.  Many restaurants will honor nutritional requests, so go ahead and ask for a side salad to replace fries.

Control portions. Order an appetizer with a small broth-based soup or side salad in place of an entrée. Many restaurant portions are so large, they are enough to feed two to three people!  Eat a smaller portion and take the leftovers home.

Eating

Eat slowly. Did you know it takes approximately 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that you aren’t hungry any longer? Fast eaters usually tend to be overeaters, while slow eaters tend to be satisfied with less food.

Eating Out with Kids

Choose a restaurant that caters to children. It is likely that a restaurant that caters to children will have smaller portion sizes, healthier options and meals designed to satisfy the nourishment and palate of little bodies.

Offer your child a few bites from your plate to introduce new foods, otherwise, let kids order their favorites. Select two or three suitable menu items and let them choose. Healthier sides like carrots or fruit can often be substituted in favor of high fat sides.

Original Article:  http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/weight-loss/eating-out/eating-out

Cooking Vocabulary

9 Mar

Do you know the differences?  “Mincing” and “grating” describe different techniques as does “boiling” and “poaching”. Have no fear, understanding these differences can make following healthy recipes easier with this helpful guide. Bon appetite!

Preparation refers to any step prior to cooking, which can mean anything from gathering your ingredients and tools to trimming meats or cleaning produce. Common methods can include:

  1. Chopping: cutting food into smaller chunks or pieces of no particular size or shape
  2. Dicing: cutting food into uniform cubed pieces
  3. Grating: rubbing food against a serrated surface to create fine shreds
  4. Mincing: cutting food into very small pieces
  5. Slicing: cutting into slices that are usually uniform in size

 

Dry Heat cooking methods use hot air or heat from surfaces. Common methods can include:

  1. Baking: cooking food surrounded by hot air, usually in an oven
  2. Barbecuing/Grilling: cooking of food over a charcoal or wood fire
  3. Broiling: cooking with the heat source above the food
  4. Roasting: cooking food surrounded by hot air uncovered, usually in the oven
  5. Sautéing: cooking food quickly in a small amount of fat

 

Moist Heat cooking methods use liquids like broths or water to cook food. Common methods can include:

  1. Boiling: cooking food in a rapid boil
  2. Poaching: cooking delicate foods such as eggs in liquid that is hot but not boiling
  3. Simmering: cooking food in hot liquid that is bubbling gently, but not boiling
  4. Steaming: cooking food in steam created by boiling liquid in a covered pot, suspended over the liquid

Children’s Menus Remain Unhealthy at Restaurants Despite Industry Push

28 Feb

The healthy eating trend has impacted many American diets in recent years, but there’s one crucial area that has remained largely unchanged – the children’s menu. Studies show many children’s menus lacking in healthy options.

Tracy talks about how parents need to change children’s eating habits at home first while they are young.

How do YOU make sure your kids eat healthy?

Do You Believe In Tomorrow?

1 Feb

Who do you want to be healthy for?  Your spouse?  Kids?  Grandkids?  Yourself?  February is the American Heart Association’s Heart Month, a health initiative focused on bringing awareness to heart disease, stroke and making healthy lifestyle decisions. 

Popular Detroit radio Sports/Talk host Terry Foster was sidelined last summer after suffering a mild stroke.  His leave of absence allowed him to not only recover his speech and motor skills, but work on improving his long term health goals.  His weight loss has lowered his blood pressure, decreased belly fat (an indicator of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes), and most importantly, Terry is able to be here for his loved ones and devoted listeners.  

Prevent heart disease, stroke and diabetes by taking control of your health and by managing your health conditions. 

Click here to read Terry Foster’s inspiring article