"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" - Hippocrates

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Plant Strong Plates, not Pills

Today I went to the farmers market after church. I was running low on fruits and veggies and needed to stock up. I went a little crazy.....
I get excited about fruits and vegetables:) Not only do they taste good, but these power packed foods keep me healthy and prevent diseases. Yesterday I was at a health screening and someone was joking that the local pizza place knew their order when they walked in the door. And this person was dealing with a chronic disease, diabetes. Now I am not saying that pizza is a bad food (there are no bad foods, just everything in moderation), but I have a feeling that their favorite pizza was not topped with lots of veggies. So many chronic diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer can be prevented and better managed by eating a plant based diet. In a blog that I read on a regular basis, Dr. Michael Greger reviewed a research study on individuals who eat plant based diets. http://nutritionfacts.org/2012/01/10/plant-based-benefits-extend-beyond-the-top-killers/.
The lower rates of disease found in those eating plant-based diets appear to translate into fewer surgeries (from hysterectomies to varicose veins) and fewer medications. Compared to meat-eating controls, those eating vegetarian had only about half the odds of being on aspirin, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, antacids, pain-killers, blood pressure medications, laxatives, and insulin.
In conclusion, if you’re like most people and don’t like being dependent on drugs, don’t like paying for drugs, and don’t like all the side effects, you may be able to cut your odds of needing medications in half by choosing to eat a more plant-based diet. 
So maybe you don't like fruits and vegetables. Try them in different ways. I remember when I was a kid in grade school, we had canned spinach for lunch with ham and beans, a carrot and cornbread. I was a picky eater as a child and only ate the carrot and cornbread. That canned spinach was gross and it was served with vinegar. I didn't get it. But as an adult, I started buying fresh spinach to put in salads. It is awesome and much better than iceberg lettuce which has minimal nutritional value. So get creative. You would be amazed at the wonderful flavors created by roasting vegetables. Here is a quick and easy recipe for roasted vegetables:
1 eggplant
2-3 yellow squash
2-3 zucchini
1 8 oz package of mushrooms
1 onion
1 bell pepper
2-3 garlic cloves

2 tsp of olive oil
balsamic vinegar
Herbs including oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, about a tsp of each

Chop vegetables. Note that they cook more evenly if they are about the same size. But if you don't have Top Chef knife skills, that is ok- they will still taste good. Place veggies in a big pot or bowl. Add olive oil and herbs and balsamic vinegar (if you prefer). Stir to coat the vegetables evenly and then place in a 13 x 9 pan (I usually use my glass pyrex pan). Cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. You can use the roasted veggies in pasta, quinoa or other grains; in omelets; in salads or even as a side dish. Enjoy!


Friday, November 2, 2012

Clean Eating

Check out the video interview that I did for Florida Southern Wellness TV (it is the second story). Power your body with a plant strong diet!



Saturday, October 27, 2012

IM World Championships, Parties and Clean Eating

Today is the broadcast of the Ironman World Championships on NBC. Watching the Ironman World Championships is so inspiring and the coverage is peppered with human interest stories that tug at your heart strings. I am sure to shed a few tears before it is done...I am headed over to a fellow triathlete's house to watch with the local triathlon club the Lakeland Landsharks. The party is BYOB and a snack to share. I was debating about what to bring the past couple of days. My first thought was Kona carrot cake cupcakes (those sound delicious, don't they- maybe another time). But since I had to work this morning, I opted for something more simple. I could have just picked up a jar of salsa and called it good. But I was thinking about an interview that I did yesterday for Florida Southern's Wellness TV show about clean eating. Basically clean eating is all about consuming whole food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible. This means eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins instead of pre-packaged, processed foods or fast food. Many people who follow a clean eating plan don't count calories, but instead trust in good quality, healthy food. I think that clean eating is a great movement and will result in more people cooking meals at home instead of eating out. Plus people will eat more nutrient dense foods instead of processed foods loaded with sodium, sugar and other preservatives.
So back to my recipe, I decided to make a salsa. My boss gave me a Florida avocado from her brother's tree so I first thought about guacamole, but I finally decided to make a salsa with avocado, tomato, red onion and cilantro. This is a quick and easy recipe, taking only about 10 minutes to make.

Tomato, Avocado & Red Onion Salsa

1 tomato, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
almost 1/2 of Florida avocado, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp smoked paprika (this ingredient gives it a kick- If you have never tried it before, I highly recommend it. The smokiness enhances the flavor and I use it in tacos, chili and even on my scrambled eggs).

Finely chop the tomato, red onion and avocado since it will be a salsa served with chips. Juice the lime and add the spices. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour so that the flavors will develop. Or if you have time, make it a day ahead- the flavor will be even better. Serve with chips.

Check out the cute serving dish that my mom gave me (that's what mom's are for- giving you cute stuff that comes in handy every once and awhile:). Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy National Oatmeal Day!

Happy National Oatmeal Day! So I am probably the most excited person about this. Oatmeal is a staple in my house and I eat it almost every day. Oatmeal is a great source of complex carbohydrates and fiber. Specifically beta glucan,  a type of fiber that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels.  Consuming just 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day (an amount found in one bowl of oatmeal) typically lowers total cholesterol by 8-23%. 
I love oatmeal because it is quick and easy to make. And it fills me up which is a big plus. Oatmeal is so versatile with an endless assortment of flavorings and add ins. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Vanilla Blueberry Oatmeal
1/2 cup of oatmeal (I like to mix 1/4 cup of quick oats and 1/4 cup of old fashioned oats)
1 cup of water
1/2 scoop of vanilla whey protein
Slivered almonds

Cook oatmeal in microwave for 2-3 minutes. Add protein, vanilla, cinnamon, flaxseed and almonds. Enjoy!

Today I had pumpkin oatmeal. In case some of you missed it, Wednesday was National Pumpkin Day. I added canned pumpkin (not the pie mix) to my oatmeal. Canned pumpkin is a great source of beta carotene which is essential to your vision and eye health. It also helps fight infection and strengthen skin, bone and mucous membranes.
Pumpkin Oatmeal
1/2 cup oatmeal (1/4 cup old fashioned, 1/4 cup quick oats)
About 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin (not pie mix)
1 tbsp. Golden raisins
1 tbsp. Dried cranberries
1 tbsp. Walnuts
Pumpkin spice
Cook oatmeal for 2-3 minutes in the microwave. Add pumpkin, raisins, cranberries, walnuts, flaxseed, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and vanilla. Enjoy.

One more recipe. Baked oatmeal which is common in Pennsylvania Amish country. I made this for a breakfast at work and it was yummy served with vanilla yogurt. You can mix this in the evening and refrigerate it overnight. Just pop it in the oven first thing when you get up.
Baked Oatmeal
    1 tablespoon canola oil 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce 1/3 cup brown sugar Egg substitute equivalent to 2 eggs, or 4 egg whites 3 cups uncooked rolled oats 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 cup skim milk


In a good-sized bowl, stir together oil, applesauce, sugar and eggs. Add dry ingredients and milk. Mix well. Spray a 9-by-13 baking pan generously with cooking spray. Spoon oatmeal mixture into pan. Bake uncovered at 350 F for 30 minutes.

What is your favorite way to eat oatmeal?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Athlete's Plate

The USDA recently released the MyPlate icon replacing the Food Guide Pyramid. MyPlate illustrates the five food groups using a familiar mealtime visual, a place setting. MyPlate is beneficial for all people, especially athletes. As you might have noticed, half of the plate consists of fruits and vegetables. These foods might not be your first thought in terms of foods to fuel your body and your workouts, but they should be. Athletes are concerned with fueling before, during and after workouts or races. However, they don’t think about their daily nutritional needs. It would be like putting gas in your car, but not thinking about other maintenance needs such as changing your oil or rotating your tires. In order to have a long active life and improve your performance and enhance recovery, eat fruits and vegetables.These energy dense foods have many benefits, especially for athletes. 

First, fruits and vegetables are high satiety foods meaning that they will fill you up. These foods are great in terms of managing your appetite. Think about it this way, you can eat the same amount of food, but eat fewer calories. To enhance the appetite satisfying effect, eat fruits and vegetables as appetizers or at the beginning of meals. Then you will eat less of the higher calorie foods on your plate, provided that you are paying attention to your body and stop eating when you are comfortably full. For instance, have a broth based vegetable soup or a salad before your chicken or pasta. This is especially helpful for endurance athletes who struggle with achieving and maintaining their ideal race weight. 

Also, fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients which help minimize post exercise inflammation caused by free radicals.  Basically they help repair your muscles so that you recover faster, perform better in workouts and races, and avoid injury. Specifically vitamins C and E appear to be the most effective antioxidant defenders against free radical damage to muscle tissues. Citrus fruits, melon, and berries are good sources of vitamin C. Vegetable oils, nuts, dark green vegetables and whole grains are rich in vitamin E. In order to get the most benefit, eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

So what are some ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your diet?

Breakfast- As sports dietitian Nancy Clark says do your fruit duty at breakfast. Start off the day with 2 servings of fruit. Add fresh or dried fruit to your cereal or oatmeal. In a hurry? Grab easily portable fruits such as apples or bananas.

Snacks- Have these between meals to help you get in your servings of fruits and vegetables. Dip baby carrots or other vegetables in hummus. Spread peanut butter on apple slices. Spoon Greek yogurt over fresh berries.

Lunch- Add lettuce and tomato to your sandwich. If you are eating out, substitute a salad for fries.

Dinner- Order your pizza with veggies. Add a salad and eat it before your pizza. Or fire up the grill. Serve chicken and veggie kabobs with corn on the cob. 

Recovery starts today with good nutrition! For more information about MyPlate, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Now most of you are probably thinking about green beer and other Irish specialties. Since March is National Nutrition Month and the theme is Eat Right with Color, I was of course inspired to write something about green vegetables. I was thinking about how many I eat on a regular basis. In general green vegetables (and fruits) have many benefits including: promoting healthy vision, supporting strong bones and teeth, reducing cancer risk. I was thinking about how many I eat on a regular basis. Here are my top 7 lucky favorites:

1) Brussels Sprouts- They look like baby cabbages. A member of the cruciferous family (broccoli, kale cabbage and bok choy also belong to this group), Brussels sprouts are packed with vitamins, fiber and disease fighting phytochemicals. I buy them in the bag and steam them in the microwave. Yum!

2) Broccoli- When my brother was little, we told him that they were trees (a good tip for you moms who are trying to entice your kids to eat veggies). You can either buy it fresh or frozen. I usually do the frozen and can get it cheap with coupons:)

3) Kale- This is one of the newest additions to my diet. Kale is similar to the taste of greens but without the bitterness. This vegetable is popular served as chips toasted in the oven. I prefer to sauté it with balsamic vinegar and minced garlic. I have also tried it in a smoothie- the green color doesn’t look appetizing, but it is delicious.

4) Spinach- As a child, I never liked spinach. I always remember at school it was served as a slimy mess along with ham and beans, cornbread and a carrot stick. I was a finicky eater and didn’t eat much that day. But as an adult I tried spinach raw in a salad and loved it. This is a great tip if you are trying to incorporate more veggies in your diet. Try the vegetable a different way. If you don’t like it raw, try it cooked and vice versa.

5) Sugar Snap Peas- I love these, whether it be in a stir fry or just plain. Buy Green Giant frozen in the box. Just pop it in the microwave- so easy!

6) Asparagus- I usually have to wait until it goes on sale since it is a little pricy. Delicious lightly sautéed with a little olive oil and garlic.

7) Bell peppers- high in vitamin C (the other colors- red, yellow and orange are even better sources). The possibilities are endless. Sauté it along with onions and add to ground beef to use in lots of different recipes. Dice to add in chili, omelets, stir fries, and curries.

What are your favorite green vegetables? If you can’t think of seven, I would encourage you to increase your intake. Try a new vegetable. Here are some other green ones: cabbage, zucchini, lima beans, green beans, romaine lettuce, turnip greens, bok choy, cucumber or Swiss chard.

For more information about the nutritional profile and health benefits of these vegetables, check out www.whfoods.com. This is an awesome site!

Kale and Buttercrunch lettuce from my outdoor garden:)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Eating Healthy on an Unhealthy Budget

Catchy title, huh? I did a presentation a couple of years ago on this subject, and it seems that it still applies today. With looming budget cuts and a possible reduction in my salary, I was looking for a way to curb my expenses. But I was not willing to give up filling my body with good nutrition. There is an assumption that eating healthy is expensive. However, it is much more expensive not to eat healthy. Good wholesome food or medications, doctor visits and hospital stays. Take your pick.
I have always considered myself to be a bargain hound, but I have taken it to a whole new level. I went to a coupon class with one of my co-workers. Since then, most of us in the office are hooked. It is hilarious. We text each other, bragging about the latest deals. I did a pretty good job today and saved 68.81 and spent $15.32- and it was all healthy food! I was laughing my way out of the store, LOL. I posted this on Facebook and got quite a few comments. So I decided to blog about it. First of all, a couple of tips about couponing. You get the best deal by combining sales with as many coupons as you can. Publix is great because they accept competitor coupons. This means that you can use more than one coupon (a manufacturer and a competitor) on one item. So if you have a BOGO, you can use 4 coupons! The internet is full of websites and blogs that have weekly ad & coupon matchups. For Publix, go to www.iheartpublix.com. So here are the details of my latest shopping trip.

Green Giant Steamed Vegetables, 10 for $10 or $1 apiece
I had several coupons for these including 50cents off one, 60 cents off 3, etc. The average price was 68 cents per box.

Yoplait Yogurt, 20 for $10 or 50 cents apiece
I had two manufacturers coupons, 50 cents off 4 and 40 cents off 6. I combined it with a target coupon for 50 cents off 10. So I paid 36 cents apiece.

Sargento shredded cheese, 2 for $4. I had two $1.50 coupons. So I paid 50 cents per bag.

Kashi GoLean Crisp cereal, 2 for $5. I had two coupons that I got in the mail for signing up on Kashi.com. Total price per item, 50 cents.

Kashi TLC granola bars, 2 for $5. I printed off two coupons from Whole Foods, $1 off 1. So I paid $1.50 per box.

Fresh express salad, BOGO 3.69.  Two coupons printed from their website for $1 off 1. So I paid 85 cents per bag.

Wishbone dressing, BOGO 2.89. Target coupon for $1.50 off two plus a manufacturer 75 cents off. 32 cents per bottle.

Hunt's tomatoes, BOGO 1.89. Publix has a Viva Italian sale with great deals. Coupon in store for $1 off 3. So I bought six at 61 cents per can. Plus there is another coupon for $1.50 off Publix bread. I decided to get a baguette for free!

Muir Glen tomatoes, 3 for $4. I bought 4 and had coupons $1 off 2 (also at Publix). So I paid 84 cents apiece.

Non coupon items

South Beach Wraps, whole wheat. They were $2 in the clearance section.
Salad peppers, 6 bell peppers for 2.99!

Also with the Viva Italian sale, you can get $5 off 20 items (Muir Glen, Hunt's tomatoes, Green Giant and Progresso). So I used this coupon.

Plus Publix accepts $5 off coupons of various totals from Winn Dixie, Save A Lot,etc. You can sign up at Save A Lot's website and get a $5 of $25 coupon. So I used one of these too.

Total spent $15.32. Total savings 68.81.

A couple of other tips. Get the Sunday paper. You can order the Sunday edition of the Ledger for 75 cents a week. Order at least 2 so you have two coupons for BOGOs. Check out other stores and their deals at these websites,
CVS, www.iheartcvs.com
Walgreens, www.wildforwags.com
Target, www.totallytarget.com

Happy shopping!