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

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!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Comforting Crockpot Meals

Whew! These past few weeks have been superbusy at work. The New Year brings new programs and lots of motivated people:) And that means my schedule gets crazy. The last thing I want to do after a long day is come home and cook. But thankfully, I had a comforting meal in the crockpot waiting for me. If you don't have a crockpot, they are a great kitchen tool. Mine only has a low and high setting, but others are more high tech with programming features including multiple time and temperature settings. And they even have an auto shift to warm button so your food is ready when you are! Too easy!  Anyway, when I was visiting my good friend Genia and her family for the holidays, she made an awesome rosemary chicken dish. I made a few modifications, but it is really yummy as the original version too.
Crockpots are so easy. Just assemble the ingredients and add them to the crockpot. Typical cook time for Crock-Pot® slow cookers to reach simmer point (209°F):
Low: 7-8 to reach the simmer point
High: 3-4 hours to reach the simmer point

For more great recipes, visit the crockpot website, http://www.crockpot.com/

Enjoy this great recipe:
Rosemary Chicken with White Beans


2 tablespoons oil

4 to 6 chicken breast, halved

1 cup carrots, sliced

1/2 cup celery, siced

15 1/2 ounces Great Northern or other white beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon rosemary

1 teaspoon thyme

1/3 cup fat-free Italian dressing

I also added 1 small zuchini, 1 small summer squash, 1/2 cup onion diced, 1 sliced mushrooms, 1 cup cherry tomatoes (halved) and 2 cups of low sodium chicken broth.


1.Heat oil in skillet. Brown chicken breasts in hot oil. Remove and drain.

2.Place carrots, celery, and beans and other vegetables in stoneware.

3.Add chicken breasts.

4.Combine salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, broth and Italian dressing and pour over ingredients in stoneware. Stir slightly to combine.

5.Cover; cook on Low 8 to 9 hours or on High 4 to 5 hours.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year Nutrition

The holidays have come and gone. If you are like most people, too much food and too little activity has left you with an unwanted weight gain. And the accompanying sluggish hangover from all the sugary treats and alcohol. I enjoyed my holiday break visiting friends and family in Oklahoma, but I was anxious to get back to my routine of healthy eating and exercise. This time of year, magazines and newspapers talk about detox diets. Although these offer quick results, they are not nutritionally adequate, especially as you get back into a regular workout routine. Rather than go on a crash diet, develop a healthy eating plan that will become part of your lifestyle. And no, vitamins and supplements are not substitutes for real food. Bottom line, you are going to get the best results from eating whole, nutrient dense food.
Now most of us know that an apple is more nutritious than a candy bar. Healthy eating is common sense for the most part, but it can get confusing. Especially when you read articles filled with misinformation (please stay tuned for my next post about separating nutrition fact from fiction). Most of it comes down to planning. Just like you plan your workouts, you need to plan your eating.

Get started. Write down what you typically eat in a day. Now review your meals- do you notice anything missing? Do you need to eat more vegetables? Cut back on the sugar?

Keep track of your eating. Websites such as www.sparkpeople.com and www.livestrong.com are helpful. Enter your personal information and an estimate of your daily calorie needs is provided. This will seem tedious, but after awhile you will get into a routine and be more aware of what you are eating.

Set Goals. We all have training goals- swim faster, bike stronger. Make nutrition goals as well. Goals should be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely). It is not enough to say that you are going to eat more fruits in a day. Plan it out. For instance, "I am going to increase my intake of fruits by having a banana before my workout and adding berries to my post-workout smoothie."

Plan, Plan, Plan. Think about what you will eat ahead of time. Plan out 2 to 3 breakfast meals and have the food on hand. Instead of hitting the drive-thru, bring your lunch to work. Pack snacks to avoid the vending machines and breakroom munchies. Plan your dinners. Whether you are a single or married with a family, you can sit down and plan your meals for the week. Create a shopping list from your meal plan. Spend a weekend afternoon cooking your meals for the week. Portion into containers and refrigerate. That way you will have healthy meals available when you get home from your busy day.
As you plan out your racing calendar and accompanying workouts, don't forget to plan your nutrition. Take your training up a notch with healthy eating. It can make a good year even better.

If you would like help getting started with a healthy eating plan, please don't hesitate to contact me at floridardld@hotmail.com. Happy New Year!