February 12, 2014
Now into February, how well are your healthy habits going? (See "New Year, New Citrus" from January 2014 for more.) If you have not made any healthy habits this year or need a new habit to add, consider fat.
With American Heart Month going on now, this is a good time to evaluate your ticker. Making smart dietary choices in two key areas can give you a healthier heart: fat and sodium intake. This post today will focus on fat.
Now far from the 1990s where low-fat foods and diets were popular, more Americans are realizing that fat can (and should) be part of a healthy diet. From providing energy and maintaining healthy cells to helping absorb certain vitamins and promoting satisfaction at meals and snacks, we need fat for healthy living.
Types of Fats
For heart (and overall) health, the type of fat is important. Unsaturated fats – which are often liquid at room temperature – are the better choice for your heart. Saturated and trans fats – which are often solid – tend to be the artery-clogging, cholesterol-raising fats we associate with symptoms of heart disease. (Trans fats are also known as "hydrogenated" fats or oils.)
Most foods with fat usually contain both unsaturated and saturated fats. But the ratio of fats can lean heavily towards one or the other. Take a look at this chart from Harvard Medical School to see these ratios in some fats and oils.
While we are used to visually seeing fats and oils – such as butter on a baked potato or oil in a pan to sauté meat – some foods with fat are not so obvious or "hidden." The only way to tell how much fat and which ratio of fat is greater would be to read the package and the food label.
Eating Healthier with Fats
Try these tips as you make daily food choices to change the ratio of fats more towards unsaturated fat. Remember, using one type of fat in place of another will not change the calories a whole lot, but it will make the recipe more heart-healthy.
Have other tips to share? Leave a comment to let us know.
Classic Hummus (serves 6)
Beyond dip for vegetables or a snack on crackers or pita bread, try hummus as a tasty substitute for mayo on a sandwich. All the fats in this recipe are mainly unsaturated, making this hummus a heart-healthy choice. If you do not have tahini, use peanut butter for a similarly nutty taste.
1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
Nutritional analysis per serving: 160 calories, 8g fat (6g unsaturated fat, 2g saturated fat), 150mg sodium, 18g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 6g protein
WEB HIGHLIGHT: For more about oils, read the "All About Oils" article from the Food and Nutrition Magazine from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
PROGRAM HIGHLIGHT: Register today for "A Healthy Heart" class with Kirby's Kitchen. This cooking class will focus on heart-healthy eating, including tasting of a meal and dessert.
January 14, 2014
Happy New Year and welcome to 2014! I hope you will make this a healthy year – continuing the positive choices you already make and adding in new healthy habits.
Original readers of "Healthy Eats and Repeat" may remember a goal I had for this blog to help you say "I've got confidence on today's menu" and feel confident in trying new foods and new recipes. In case you had not already decided on new healthy habits for 2014, consider winter citrus.
Winter brings a lot of different citrus fruits to grocery store shelves. Stocked with more oranges and grapefruits than usual, maybe you have noticed other interesting citrus as well: clementines, tangerines, mandarins, tangelos, cara cara oranges, blood oranges, pomelos (also pummelos), kumquats, and others. (WEB HIGHLIGHT 1 has pictures of many citrus.)
Have you tried one of these less common citrus fruits before? If not, maybe trying one new type of citrus in January is a healthy habit to make.
Some citrus is available year-round in stores, but you will find the best quality and price during winter months.
Reference: University of Florida Extension, Horticulture, Fruit Garden Plant List
Reference: University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Publication 8472, Tried and True or Something New?
Make good use of available citrus in January to snack on or to incorporate into your everyday recipes.
Orange-Herbed Fish (serves 4)
Warm up this January with fish studded with fragrant orange peel. Serve with a green vegetable and a mix of roasted starchy vegetables. Try the "Roasted Root Vegetables" recipe in WEB HIGHLIGHT 2.
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp grated orange peel
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 lb white fish fillets, such as cod or tilapia
Adapted from: Illinois Nutrition Education Programs Recipes
WEB HIGHLIGHT 1: The Tried and True or Something New? publication from the University of California is a great visual resource of many different citrus fruits, including some not mentioned in this blog.
December 16, 2013
Tis the season for holiday baking and, of course, eating! This time of year, there are so many yummy treats to share with your friends and family (and taste buds and stomach).
With all those sweets available, and the temptation to resist low, many of us worry about weight gain and overeating at holiday parties and family gatherings. When you do not have control over food offerings, see WEB HIGHLIGHT 2 for tips on eating healthier over the holidays.
When you are the one making treats, try making over your baked goods to be a little healthier and just as tasty. Do not limit these changes just to the holidays. You can use these tips year-round to make healthier treats to feel better about.
While you might be tempted to try as many changes as you can to 1 recipe, do 1 makeover alteration at a time. Some recipes do not do well with multiple changes, and the quality of your sweets may not be how you want them.
This month's recipe is this Lite Chocolate Cake. Altered to be healthier, it will make a tasty addition to your holiday menu. Try it once and then consider other ways to make it healthier the way you want, such as using soy milk for the skim milk or pureed banana for the applesauce. Just remember: 1 change at a time to keep good taste and texture.
Lite Chocolate Cake (Serves 12)
Surprisingly sweet and moist, this cake is not loaded with butter, oil, or whole eggs that make most cakes high in fat.
4 egg whites
1 cup fat-free (skim) milk
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup slivered almonds
12 fresh or canned (drained) clementine slices
1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. In a large bowl, beat egg whites, milk, water, and applesauce until well combined.
3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
4. With a hand mixer on low speed, gradually beat egg mixture into flour mixture until blended. (Batter will be thin.)
5. Pour batter into a 9-in springform pan* coated with cooking spray.
6. Place baking sheet on oven rack. Place springform pan onto baking sheet.
7. Bake cake 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
8. Remove cake from oven and cool 30 minutes. Run knife along edge of pan. Remove pan sides. Cool completely.
9. Serve each slice with 2 teaspoons of almonds and a clementine slice.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 190 calories, 3g fat, 350mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 6g protein
*If a 9-in springform pan is not available, replace with 2 8-in round cake pans and bake 30-40 minutes.
WEB HIGHLIGHT 1: Need some other makeover recipes for the holidays, see the MyPlate Holiday Makeover blog postings.
WEB HIGHLIGHT 2: If you are worried about weight gain and overeating during the holidays, read Top 10 Ways to Avoid Gaining Holiday Weight from fellow Extension Educator, Mekenzie Riley.
FOOD SCIENCE HIGHLIGHT: Ever wondered why many baked goods are higher in sodium than you might expect? After all, they are not salty tasting. This is due to 3 sodium-containing ingredients often found in recipes for baked goods: salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Salt enhances flavors and promotes uniform texture in baked goods and the soda and powder help the product rise.
November 15, 2013
As we finish trick-or-treating this autumn and move into the holiday season, many of us will become busier scheduling holiday get-togethers, coordinating travel plans to see friends and relatives, and digging out those favorite recipes for day-long cooking extravaganzas.
Did you plan sleep into your schedule?
Most adults – young adults and older adults – need 7–9 hours of quality sleep each night or about a third of your day. How does this compare to your current sleep habit? If you are like most American adults, you sleep less than 7 hours per night. And yes, that is not enough sleep.
Poor quality sleep or a sleep deficit puts us at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It can also lower our immune response to colds or the flu. Not only does too little sleep make us moody and irritable, it increases the likelihood of developing depression.Enough quality sleep:
Bottom line: get enough quality sleep for your physical, emotional, and mental health!
Turkey and Sleep?
Now, about those turkey dinners at Thanksgiving celebrations: does the tryptophan really make you sleepy?
Research shows that your body makes hormones that help you sleep, such as serotonin and melatonin. Some tryptophan can be converted to serotonin, but this story has more to do with carbohydrates and proteins.
Most protein-rich meals or foods – such as that Thanksgiving turkey – contain large amino acids, such as tyrosine, and smaller amino acids, such as tryptophan. (See FOOD SCIENCE HIGHLIGHT for more about amino acids.) A high-protein meal helps tyrosine and other large amino acids in the turkey move into the brain which makes us more alert.
On the other hand, a carbohydrate-rich meal – such as that side of mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie – allows available tryptophan – such as from the turkey you ate – to be preferred over tyrosine and move into the brain, stimulate serotonin, and promote sleepiness.
So, you need carbohydrates and proteins in order for smaller amino acids to cross into the brain to promote relaxation.
Since diet and exercise affect sleep, think about what tips below might help you.
For lifestyle and environment tips to promote quality sleep, see WEB HIGHLIGHT 2.
If you still find sleep difficult, contact your doctor or an accredited sleep center.
A sleep-assisting snack before bed may be helpful if you feel awake or alert. Try a food combination from the Mix-and-Match Slumber list.
Remember, extra calories – regardless of what time of the day they are eaten – will lead to weight gain over time.
WEB HIGHLIGHT 1: How does your sleep knowledge stack up? Take this Interactive Sleep Quiz from the National Institutes of Health to see.
WEB HIGHLIGHT 2: For lifestyle and environment tips to promote quality sleep, see the National Institute of Health's "Your Guide to Healthy Sleep."
FOOD SCIENCE HIGHLIGHT: Amino acids: Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. An entire protein is made up of a strand of different amino acids. This is why protein-rich foods will contain different amounts of different amino acids.
October 14, 2013
It seems fitting for a 21st Century Popeye to be downing a can of kale rather than spinach. This is not an attempt to challenge spinach's nutritional value, but kale has gained Justin Beiber-like celebrity status in the vegetable world. Over the past two years, I am sure you, as consumers, have noticed an increasing abundance of kale products in supermarkets and menu items. At the least, you would've crossed paths with this vegetable via some sort of media outlet. So what is the buzz really about?
The nation is now more aware of the importance of nutrition than ever before. This effort to focus on disease prevention rather than treatment has become a major theme. From a nutritional standpoint, loading your plates up with fruits and vegetables is the way to go! According to WebMD Director of Nutrition and Registered Dietitian, Kathleen Zelman, including kale in our diets can provide health benefits, such as cancer protection and lowered cholesterol.
Kale is part of the Brassica family, which includes other cruciferous vegetables, cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Children notoriously despise these plants, and it may largely be due to a natural compound that gives it a bitter taste. However, with a little help from proper seasoning and preparation, the bitterness can be masked. Now bring on the nutrients.
One cup of chopped kale contains only 33 calories, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and an impressive 684% of vitamin K. It is also a great source of copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus minerals.
Kale gets its reputation as a cancer fighter due to its high antioxidant capacity from the high concentration of vitamins A, C, and K. In addition, carotenoids and flavonoids are other types of antioxidants that protect cells from being damaged.
Lastly, we can't forget kale's high fiber content. The soluble fiber helps lower bad LDL cholesterol by binding to it so it can be passed through your digestive tract. The insoluble fiber also helps with constipation so your gut doesn't always feel bloated. Now is the season to eat more kale. Dark, leafy greens thrive in cooler weather. It's a very versatile vegetable, and the true dilemma is which cooking method to try first.
It can be prepared as a salad, sautéed, baked into a chip, juiced, added to smoothies, or soups. The possibilities are truly endless. Let's start with a quick and easy recipe that even the kids will enjoy.
Kale Chip Dip (Serves 6)2 Tbsp olive oil
1. Heat a skillet over medium heat, and add olive oil, kale and garlic. Cook until kale is softened. Remove from stove and let cool.
2. Meanwhile, combine cottage cheese, yogurt, avocado, lemon juice, and salt, pepper, and herbs, if desired. Blend until smooth. Stir in kale mixture.
3. Try with a chip, and if salty enough, don't add additional salt. Scrape into a bowl and it's ready to eat!
Nutrition analysis per serving: 161 calories, 10g fat, 3mg cholesterol, 323mg sodium, 7g carbohydrate, 11g protein