Fruits and Veggies
Who doesn’t love to indulge in a big plate of hot, salty French fries?
French fries are among the most popular menu items eaten by millions of people in fast food chains, cafes and bistros. We cant say no to the french fry though we know they are also among the most unhealthiest foods we consume.
These days many people are trying to be more health conscious when it comes to their food choices. The good news is it easy to make a satisfying and healthier fry without sacrificing taste.
There are healthier ways to satisfy your craving like baking instead of deep frying and swapping zucchini, sweet potato, eggplant or green beans for white potatoes.
Start by slicing your veggies. Use a ziplock bag and drizzle olive oil inside . Toss in your favorite seasonings – dont be afraid to experiment with spices and herbs for a variety of favors.
Roast the seasoned veggies at a high heat 425-450 degrees for 15-25 minutes (depending on thickness of cut) Your “fries” will come out crispy and delicious!
Here is one of my favorites:
Parmesan Zucchini Fries
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with olive oil or butter flavored cooking spray.
Coat gallon ziplock with olive oil.
Beat eggs in a shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, blend together flour, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese blend and seasonings.
Working in batches, dip sliced vegetables first in eggs, then in breading to coat and place on baking sheet in single layer, without touching.
Sprinkle with additional seasonings if desired. Bake 15-20 minutes or until breadcrumb coating is golden and crisp.
Now… go ahead and indulge ! Guilt Free.
Eat more Orange if you want to Live Longer… and I don’t mean Cheese Puffs.
Have you ever noticed that people with poor diets, eat foods that are mostly beige in color? Breads, pasta, french fries… If you are trying to improve your diet, adding color is where it’s at. Orange pigment in foods, for one, provides a significant nutritional kick and should be incorporated daily into your meal plans. Some of the healthiest foods to be found are sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin and other squash, mango, papaya, apricots, cantaloupe and oranges/tangerines.
These foods are usually colored by natural plant pigments called “carotenoids.” Beta-carotene in sweet potatoes, pumpkins and carrots is converted to vitamin A, which helps maintain
healthy mucous membranes and healthy eyes. Scientists consistently report that carotenoid-rich foods can help reduce risk of cancer, heart disease and improve immune system function. Recent studies have also shown that people who have large quantities of the antioxidant alpha-carotene in their blood (found chiefly in pumpkins and carrots) have a 61% lower risk of disease-related death. And carotenoid consumption protects against the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. Citrus fruits like oranges are not rich in carotenoids; however they are an excellent source of vitamin C and folate, a B vitamin that helps reduce risk of birth defects.
Sweet potatoes are one of the best orange foods. They contain huge amounts of beta-carotene, manganese, copper, fiber, B-6, potassium, iron…. that’s a lot of nutritional power packed into a small potato case!
Adding more orange to your diet is easy. The produce department carries a variety of orange foods year round. Fruits like pumpkin are not just for Halloween. Like the sweet potato, pumpkin is one of the most nutritionally dense foods you can get and is inexpensive and convenient in its canned form. High in fiber and low in calories, pumpkin is simple to incorporate into recipes, like muffins, pancakes, and breads.
Incorporating orange fruits and vegetables everyday is not difficult to do and will improve your overall health while keeping illness and disease at bay.
EASY ORANGE ADD-INS:
ü Sliced orange peppers to a sandwich or wrap
ü Baby carrots to a salad
ü Apricots with mixed nuts for a healthy snack mix.
ü Fresh Orange, Peach, and/or Mango, Vanilla protein and almond/soy milk for a delicious “Orange Dream” Smoothie.
ü Thinly slice or dice sweet potatoes, lightly toss in olive oil, and roast in 375 oven for a simple side dish.
Cut up cantaloupe, mix with cottage cheese or yogurt for breakfast, or snack.
On your next trip to the grocery, be sure to fill you cart with plenty of color; and don’t neglect the ORANGE.
Eat the skin…. And choose your toppings wisely.
Potatoes sometimes get a bad rap because they are high in starchy carbohydrates and low in protein. But this doesn’t mean they are bad for you. It is how they are prepared that matters…and what you top them with. Boiled and baked potatoes are healthy; French fries and potato chips….not so much. Potatoes served with high-calorie and high-fat toppings like butter, sour cream or gravy are the culprits that pack on the calories and unhealthy fats.
Start with a small to medium size potato – no larger than the size of your fist, or a tennis ball. (Red or gold potato is preferable to white). Potatoes “of color” provide carotenoids (and some also provide flavonoids) that white potatoes do not. Carotenoids and flavonoids are pigments, and according to nutritional research, they provide us with many health benefits, including cancer protection. Technically, you’ll get more fiber and minerals per bite from smaller potatoes of any kind, since they have more surface area (skin) per amount of starchy inside (total volume). The three to seven grams of fiber contained in a medium-sized potato are mostly in the skin…so enjoy the skin along with the insides! (be certain to scrub them thoroughly before baking).
Here are some simple suggestions that transform an ordinary potato into an easy, satisfying AND nutritious meal.
Most of these ideas incorporate some form of protein to keep the meal balanced. You will notice I suggest Greek yogurt as a topping. Greek yogurt is an excellent replacement for sour cream. It mimics the flavor and richness while adding a significant source of protein and without adding the saturated fat of sour cream. Guilt free AND super healthy… give it a try!
- Potato with steamed broccoli and low-fat cheddar cheese. (or broccoli with greek yogurt)
- Potato topped with salsa, black beans, and avocado. (or Salsa and greek yogurt)
- Potato topped with left over chili or stewed beef.
- Potato with shredded roasted chicken and “spiked” yogurt. (Try garlic salt/powder, paprika, chili powder) and top with parsley.
- Scrambled egg whites and turkey or Canadian bacon. (think of your potato as your hash browns)
- Potato with a good mix of peppers, onions, mushrooms, squash, zucchini, or root vegetables would be great. Top it with some yogurt mixed with cumin or curry or some fat free Italian dressing.
- Potato with cottage cheese. Cottage cheese works well on top of the potato because it adds not only the creamy, cheesy flavor and is a great source of protein that is low in fat and added carbohydrates.
NUTRITION DATA: one medium potato, (2 ¼ – 3 1/4” dia.) Baked, flesh & skin contains:
approximately 161 calories; 4.3 grams of protein, 37 carbohydrate grams, (~4 grams of dietary fiber) and nearly no fat.
Potatoes also contain no cholesterol, are very low in sodium and rich in potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C.
Simple, versatile and ohh soo good for you….
This is the time of year when people have maxed out on candy, sugar and rich holiday foods and the body screams out: “Feed Me Something Healthy!” Fortunately, Eggs, cottage cheese, spinach all top the “super foods” list!
This protein packed and low carbohydrate, low fat quiche is incredibly healthy and very easy to throw together. It makes for a great tasting party appetizer*, brunch or meatless supper. Experiment with just about any base you want for this dish. You can use practically any vegetables that are in season or whatever is on hand in your refrigerator which means a lot of variety with just this one basic recipe.
The base is practically carbohydrate free and very low fat and packs an impressive 25 grams of lean quality protein per serving! That makes this pie a good meal choice for even the strictest dieters or during contest prep. You can choose to mix in some low fat cheeses for added flavor.. but this does add to the total calories/fat per serving so be sure to add this in if you are counting your fat grams.
This is how I “tossed” mine together… in less than 15 minutes of prep time:
- 6 whole eggs plus
8 egg whites (I used 1 cup of egg beater egg whites)
- 10 oz low fat/fat free cottage cheese
- Herbs – I chose McCormick Mediterranean blend (Oregano, red pepper, Rosemary, Thyme and Paprika)
- Sea Salt-pepper
- Vegetable(s) and/or lean meat (s) of choice
Optional: ¼-1/3 cup fresh shredded cheese – (I used Asiago, Romano, and Parmesan blend) but you can use low fat swiss, chedder, jack, or Feta…
- Blend eggs, egg whites and cottage cheese, (shredded cheese, if using) with wire whisk until well combined. Add salt, pepper and other spices.
- Fill bottom of 9” pie pan with vegetables of your choice. I used fresh baby spinach, sliced mushrooms, 2 green onions, and 1 diced tomato.
- Pour egg mixture over vegetables. Bake 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees until center is set and outside edge is golden brown. . Let cool.
- Slice “pie” into 4-5 servings:
Can be stored 4-5 days in the refrigerator.
Approximate Per portion. (Without added cheeses): Calories 183, 25 g of protein, 7g fat, and 4g of carbs
*Use muffin tins in place of pie pan if preparing as a party appetizers.
For Meat Eaters… try it with diced Canadian or turkey bacon, ham or diced chicken.
This was my first attempt at making a quiche and I cannot believe how simple and how GOOD this was. This will definitely become a new staple in my kitchen. Cannot wait to try it with zucchini! THANKS TRACY!
What’s so great about this salsa?.. It is fool proof… Use more or less of any ingredient to suit your taste!
It has a ton of flavor and is a great accompaniment to many dishes. … and it keeps well in the refrigerator.
Here is a very healthy and fresh salsa that can be served as an appetizer with tortilla chips or as a very flavorful topping for grilled chicken or fish, tacos, burritos, or as a dressing alternative to southwestern salads.
When possible, I prefer to use fresh tomatoes or corn for frozen or canned.
- 1 can, 14 ounces, black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cup frozen corn kernels (or 1 can, drained)
- 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- ¼ -½ small red onion chopped
- 3-4 chopped Roma Tomatoes (or 1 can Italian diced tomatoes)
- ground cumin to taste
- Minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons hot Tabasco sauce (to taste)
- 1 lime, juiced (or 1/4c lime juice)
- Fresh Cilantro (1/4 cup)
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, to taste
- Salt and pepper
- OPTIONAL: 1 Avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
- Stir the corn, black beans, tomatoes, cilantro, red onion, bell pepper, cumin, garlic and cilantro in a large bowl.
- Gently mix in the lime juice, Tabasco and avocado (if using).
- Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Let sit at least 15-30 minutes to allow flavors to meld or refrigerate overnight
- Drizzle with olive oil to serve.
- Fresh, diced jalapeno peppers may be substituted for Tabasco if you want it spicy.
NEW YEARS VARIATION: Black-eye Peas in place of Black Beans! ( I also add a little Red Wine Vinegar to this one)
Amount Per Serving (approximate) Calories: 19 | Total Fat: 0.9g | Cholesterol: 0mg
Probably the most underutilized vegetable in America, the rutabaga can be cooked any way you’d treat other roots; including roasting, baking, mashing, boiling, stir-frying.
The rutabaga may be one of the least known, and under-appreciated vegetables around, but in my opinion definitely one of the tastiest. But don’t confuse them for turnips…They have a distinct, sweet taste that is earthy and AWESOME! Because many people don’t know what they are, or what to do with them they get overlooked and underused. They are inexpensive and abundant year round in the grocery. The versatile rutabaga can be eaten raw or cooked and are excellent in stews and soups. They can be roasted, baked, made into fries, are delicious in a low country boil or… the favorite in our home – boiled and mashed. Our holiday meals are not complete without a big steaming bowl of mashed Rutabagas!
Mashed Rutabaga’s with Ham
3-4 rutabagas will yield enough for a dozen people to enjoy – The flavor is earthy and sweet and the color is a golden amber.
- 3-4 medium rutabagas
- Ham scraps (or smoked turkey)
- Salt, to taste
- (Optional: 1-2 tsp sugar)
- Fill a large pot with water and add country ham scraps, or smoked turkey parts. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.2. Using a sharp knife, peel and cube the rutabagas.3. Carefully place the rutabagas in the boiling water, adding salt – be careful, as the rutabagas will cook down and the rutabagas will pick up the flavor from the ham and you may regret excessive salting! Let the vegetables come to a boil, cover and simmer for at least an hour. The whitish raw rutabaga turns yellow-orange as it cooks. The rutabagas are done when they are soft, very much like a non-starchy boiled potato.
4. Drain excess water (reserve), mash and season with a bit of pepper, pepper vinegar or hot sauce, if you like added heat, or a bit of sugar for added sweet – adding back reserve “pot liquor” if desired or needed.
In the early part of the 17th century, Swiss botanist Casper Bauhin crossed a cabbage with a turnip and got a RUTABAGA. It first became very popular in northern Europe. It was also very popular with ancient Greeks and Romans. Their popularity spread to the rest of Europe and it remained a mainstay of the European table until the potato displaced it in the 18th century. Parsnips came to America with English colonials but never reached the kind of widespread appeal it once achieved in Europe.
Mature rutabaga roots should be four to six inches in diameter and free of bruises and blemishes.
The rutabaga is a member of the Cruciferae family Cruciferous vegetables including cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and turnips, contain phytonutrients that have been shown to help the liver remove carcinogens, as well as other toxic chemicals. Including several servings of these vegetables in your weekly diet may help reduce your risk of cancer. Nutritionally, rutabagas contain significant amounts of vitamin C and E which are powerful antioxidants. They are also fiber rich and high in potassium.
Calories: One cup of cooked rutabaga has 66.3 calories, 3 percent of the daily value (DV). Roughly 57 calories are from carbohydrates, 6.1 from protein and 3.1 from fat.
Carbohydrates: There are 14.9 grams of carbohydrates in a one cup serving – 10.2 grams are sugars and 3.1 grams (12 percent DV) are fiber. Fiber has many health benefits, including maintaining regular bowels, regulating blood sugar levels and promoting weight loss.
Protein: A one-cup serving has 2.2 grams of protein, 4 percent DV, and contains every essential amino acid.
Fat: Rutabagas have very little fat, only 0.4 grams (1 percent DV). Most is polyunsaturated fat, the healthy fat.
Rutabagas are cholesterol free
Fresh spinach paired with tender chicken is the perfect quick-fix meal.
Known in the nutrition world as a “power” food, spinach is packed to the brim with essential nutrients. Unfortunately, spinach does not top a lot of peoples list as a favorite food. Is it worth the effort to try to get your kids, or yourself for that matter to eat spinach? ABSOLUTELY! Eating spinach will help you meet your daily need for a number of nutrients, including calcium, iron, folate and vitamin A. Spinach is an excellent bone-builder, and contains antioxidants that neutralize free radicals in the brain, thereby preventing the effects of aging on mental activity. It’s also high in flavonoids, plant molecules that act as antioxidants, which have been shown to prevent breast, stomach, skin, and ovarian cancer.
Whether you’re choosing a prepackaged bag of spinach or a fresh bundle, look for spinach that is bright green in color with thin stems and leaves that are not wilted or spotted with yellow. If you prefer tender spinach, choose baby spinach, which is smaller and much more tender. The larger the leaves, the more mature they are and more likely to be tough or stringy.
So Simple Spinach & Chicken Saute
ü 1.5 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into strips
ü 1 10 oz bag baby spinach
ü 2TBSP Olive Oil
ü Minced garlic to taste,
½ onion chopped
ü Salt and Pepper
ü Red Pepper Flakes to taste
ü 1TBSP Dijon Mustard
ü ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
ü ~1/2 c chicken broth + 1/3 c fat free/low fat milk
In measuring cup, mix together chicken broth, milk, and mustard. Set aside.
In large heavy skillet, heat olive oil. Saute minced garlic over med –high heat briefly to coat pan. When pan is hot, add chicken strips and chopped onions; season with salt and peppers to taste. Sear and brown on each side, turning only once (approx. 3-4 minutes each side).
Reduce heat to med-low. Gradually stir in milk mixture and cook until bubbly, turning chicken occasionally. Simmer about 4-5 minutes to blend flavors and juice of chicken is no longer pink when center of thickest part is cut. Remove chicken from skillet; keep warm.
Increase heat to medium and stir in spinach. Sprinkle with nutmeg and additional salt/pepper. Cook aproximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted and some of liquid has been absorbed. Return chicken to pan.
Can be served alone as a low carb, low fat entrée or over couscous, quinoa, or rice if desired as there will be extra sauce. (If desired, you can add a little cornstarch to thicken).
Traditional methods of steaming or boiling make cabbage watery. To retain the maximum number of nutrients and more robust flavor, saute cabbage.
A healthy Sauté method, is very similar to steaming and enhances the flavor the of cabbage Slice cabbage into 1/4 -inch slices and let sit for 5 minutes to boost its health-promoting benefits before cooking.
- 1 medium head of green cabbage
3/4 of one medium yellow onion, finely chopped (or one smaller onion)
1 large clove of garlic, minced
2 Tbs. olive oil
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ Tbs. balsamic vinegar (or apple cider, or pepper vinegar)
Cut the head of cabbage in half, and then slice the cabbage into strips about 1/4 to 3/8 inches wide. Finely chop onion and mince garlic.
Heat a wide-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high to high heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. Add onions and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until they just begin to soften and become translucent. Add minced garlic and cook for one minute.
Add the first third of the cabbage to the pan in an even layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Let the cabbage cook– without stirring– until the bottom is browned and slightly crispy without being burned. – This is no small task to keep the heat high enough to brown the bottom but not so high as to burn it.
When the first layer is browned on the bottom, use a wide spatula to flip it, making sure to scrape up all the bits of browned, crispy goodness on the bottom of the pan. After flipping it, add the next layer of cabbage, and repeat the process.*
When all of the cabbage has been cooked through and browned well, drizzle about 1 ½ to 2 Tbs. balsamic (or other) vinegar over the top and stir well for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and serve immediately or cover and store in a slightly warmed oven. This can also be made ahead and reheated.
Balsamic vinegar lends a rich caramel color and a slightly tangy, lively flavor .
Sauté in olive oil as a much healthier and flavorful alternative to butter or margarine.
* After adding the second layer, it becomes too difficult to “flip” the whole thing, so simply stir it with the spatula, turning portions as they brown.
Cabbage Health Benefits
The nutritional value and health benefits of cabbage make it ideal for:
- Maintaining optimum health
- Weight loss
Cancer prevention tops all other areas of health research with regard to cabbage and its outstanding benefits. More than 475 studies have examined the role of this cruciferous vegetable in cancer prevention (and in some cases, cancer treatment). The uniqueness of cabbage in cancer prevention is due to the three different types of nutrient richness found in this widely enjoyed food. The three types are (1) antioxidant richness, (2) anti-inflammatory richness, and (3) richness in glucosinolates.
- In one recent study, short-cooked and raw cabbage were the only types of cabbage to show cancer-preventive benefits-long-cooked cabbage failed to demonstrate measurable benefits.
- New research shows that steaming/sautéing is a better cooking method than microwaving if you want to maximize the health benefits of glucosinolates found in cabbage
- Low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol, Very Low Sodium,
- High in Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Potassium, Manganese, Vitamin A, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium
How to Select
Choose green cabbage heads with compact leaves that are heavy for their size.
How to Store
Refrigerate green cabbage for up to 7 days.
Wandering through the local farmer’s market, my husband and I sampled some Mamey for the first time. With a surprising sweet, “meaty” flavor and texture, we took one home, anxious to try it in our daily protein smoothie! — so glad we did. One try and we are hooked!
What is mamey?
Also known as Mamey Sapote (or Sapote), this tropical berry fruit is native to Southern Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and Southern Florida. The brown skin has a texture somewhere between sandpaper and the fuzz on a peach. The fruit’s flavor is uniquely creamy and sweet.
To tell when a mamey sapote is ripe, peel off a fleck of the skin to see if it is pink underneath. The flesh should appear salmon colored and give slightly, as with a ripe kiwi fruit. The fruit is eaten raw out of hand or made into milkshakes or smoothies, or added to fruit salads. The fruit’s flavor is described as a combination of pumpkin, sweet potato and maraschino cherries with the texture of an avocado. Markets often sell them while they’re still hard and underripe, so you need to set them on the counter for a few days until they yield when gently squeezed. Peel them and remove the seeds before serving.
Health info: Mamey is believed to be an antiseptic, and is also eaten to help calm an upset stomach and treat headaches. Some consider the fruit to be an aphrodisiac. It is also high in vitamins A & C, potassium and dietary fiber.
NUTRITION FACTS: Per 1 cup of raw mamey:
Total Fat 1g
Sat Fat 0.3 g
Cholesterol 0 g
Sodium 30 g
Total Carbs 24.9 g
Dietary Fiber 6 g
Protein 1 g
Calcium 21.9m g
Potassium 93.5 mg
Mamey Milkshake: INDESCRIBABLY DELICIOUS
THIS IS A MUST TRY IN YOUR NEXT SMOOTHIE!
Slice one mamey in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
Add to blender, along with 2 scoops (Vi-shape or other protein), ½ cup almond milk (or milk of choice), ½ cup of orange juice, 4 ice cubes.
Mix well until shake is uniform and soft. Yield: one power packed smoothie.
The sweet potato is the champion of all veggies when it comes to nutrition.
The numbers for the nutritional sweet potato speak for themselves: almost twice the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, 42 percent of the recommendation for vitamin C, four times the RDA for beta carotene, and, when eaten with the skin, sweet potatoes have more fiber than oatmeal. In addition, sweet potatoes are a good source of copper, vitamin B6, potassium and iron. All these benefits with only about 130 to 160 calories!
Did you know that…
- One cup of cooked sweet potatoes provides 1,922 mcg_RAE of beta carotene (Vitamin A).
It would take 16 cups of broccoli to provide the same amount.
- Sweet potatoes have four times the US Recommended Daily Allowance (USRDA) for beta-carotene when eaten with the skin on.
- Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin E, and they are virtually fat-free, which makes them a real Vitamin E standout. Most Vitamin E rich foods, such as vegetable oils, nuts and avocados, contain a hefty dose of fat.
- Just two thirds of a cup of sweet potatoes provides 100% of the USRDA for Vitamin E, without the unwanted fat.
- Sweet potatoes provide many other essential nutrients including Vitamin B6, potassium and iron.
- Sweet potatoes are a good source of dietary fiber which helps to promote a healthy digestive tract. Sweet potatoes have more fiber than oatmeal.
- Sweet potatoes are a complex carbohydrate which means they digest more slowly than white potatoes and therefore will not cause your blood sugar to spike.
- Sweet potatoes are virtually fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium. One cup (200 grams) of cooked sweet potatoes has 180 calories.
Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts (for one medium size sweet potato)
Fat 0.39 g
Protein 2.15 g
Net Carbs 31.56 g
Dietary Fiber 3.9 g
Calcium 28.6 mg
Sodium 16.9 mg
Potassium 265.2 mg
Folate 18.2 mcg
Vitamin C 29.51 mg
Vitamin A 26081.9 IU
Source: US Department of Agriculture
Among root vegetables, sweet potatoes offer the lowest glycemic index rating. That’s because the sweet potato digests slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar so you feel satisfied longer. It’s time to move sweet potatoes to the “good” carb list.
Oven fried sweet potatoes offer a nice change from traditional baked potatoes.
( by baking, they have ALOT less fat than fried potatoes…. but still all the flavor)
Wash and scrub 2-3 sweet potatoes or yams. Slice in ¼- ½ inch rounds. In medium bowl mix 1 ½ Tbsp olive oil, salt, butter buds and generous sprinkling of cinnamon.
Toss in sweet potatoes to coat with seasonings and oil.
Arrange in single layer on baking sheet.
Bake in 450 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes, turning once during cooking. Top with additional cinnamon, if desired.
- For spicy potato rounds, substitute, cumin,chili powder, and garlic salt for the cinnamon and butter buds.
- Cut lengthwise into 1/3 inch strips for potato “fries”.