Shari Duncan

General Nutrition

Wake up and…. EAT!
Shari

by on Sep.18, 2011, under General Nutrition, Weight Loss

You’ve heard it since you were a kid:  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  And if shedding excess weight (and keeping it off) is among your health goals, a healthy breakfast holds one key to success.

You may think that skipping breakfast is an easy way to cut calories when trying to lose weight. A growing body of research, however, indicates that eating breakfast is a successful strategy for lasting weight loss. Data collected by the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) showed that over 90% of successful dieters usually eat breakfast. These are people who have lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off for a long period of time.

    Reduced hunger.

  • Eating breakfast can reduce hunger later in the day, which makes it easier to avoid overeating. . Some studies have found that those who skip breakfast end up eating more calories through the course of the day compared to those who don’t – and weight gain is the result.1This may be due to increased feelings of hunger which can lead to overeating, particularly higher-fat foods later in the day. Furthermore, people who eat breakfast regularly have better vitamin and mineral status and eat fewer calories from fat.   In addition, the prolonged fasting that occurs when you skip breakfast can increase your body’s insulin response, which in turn increases fat storage and weight gain. In fact, skipping breakfast actually increases your risk of obesity.

    Healthy choices.

  • Eating breakfast may get you on track to make healthy choices all day. When you eat breakfast, you tend to eat a healthier overall diet, one that is more nutritious and lower in fat. When you skip breakfast, you’re more likely to skip fruits and vegetables the rest of the day, too.  Choose foods that you enjoy and that fit your

    What's for Breakfast? You need to eat to lose.

    dietary weight loss goals. Whole grains, fruits, low fat dairy (yogurt) and lean protein, such as eggs.  Proteins provide a feeling of satiety which means you will feel full longer while actually eating less.  High-fiber complex carbohydrates like whole-grain breads and cereals (like oatmeal) will keep you satisfied. Fiber also increases that sensation of fullness.  Look for breakfast cereals that provide at least 6 grams of fiber per serving, suggests Harvard Men’s Health Watch, but make sure your choice is low in sugar (less than 10 grams per serving). If you are not keen on eggs or cereal, try a high protein smoothie, made with fruit, low fat milk and protein powder, spread some almond or peanut butter on whole grain toast, or melt some low fat cheese on a whole grain english muffin.

    More energy.

  • Eating breakfast gives you energy, increasing your physical activity, which boosts your metabolism and may in turn actually assist in burning more calories.  Consider this: If you don’t eat  in the morning, you are literally forcing yourself into running on empty. If the last time you ate was 8 p.m. last night and you don’t eat lunch until noon today, that’s sixteen hours of no refueling!  Your body is screaming out for fuel so it stands to reason that skipping breakfast is associated with decreased physical activity.  A healthy breakfast refuels your body and replenishes the glycogen stores that supply your muscles with immediate energy.   Increased energy levels will allow you to be more active during the day and give you more chances to burn calories. In turn, you are more likely to go for a run or hit the gym if you don’t feel exhausted all day.

Bottom Line:

Breakfast as part of a daily routine is a key strategy to use as part of a lifestyle management approach for long-term, sustainable weight loss. So, if you’re trying to control your weight and you frequently skip breakfast… you may wish to reconsider.

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/weight-loss/whats-for-breakfast-10-morning-meal-ideas-that-can-help-you-lose-weight.html

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YUM YUM Devil’s Food Brownie Muffins
Shari

by on May.15, 2011, under General Nutrition, Healthy Snacks, Recipes

    The Secret Super-food Ingredient is:  P U M P K I N!

You will not believe how easy these are. AND Only 2 ingredients!   This is an approved weight watchers recipe that delivers a healthy cake like muffin that promises to satisfy those wicked chocolate cravings.

Do not add oil or eggs as directed on the cake mix box, even though you might be tempted! I confess I

Reduced Sugar Devils Food Mix and Pumpkin: THAT'S ALL!!

added 1 heaping tablespoon of non-fat plain Greek yogurt to mine and they turned out incredibly moist… but even that isn’t necessary.  If you feel you must add a bit more liquid and don’t have yogurt, 1/4c water would work fine.

  • 1 box REDUCED SUGAR Devils Food Cake Mix (Pillsbury)
  • 1 Can Pumpkin

THAT’s ALL! Mix together well.  Mixture will be very thick.  Spoon into muffin tins sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Bake at 375 degrees for approx 20-25 minutes. – or until toothpick comes out clean.  Makes 12-18 muffins.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

PUMPKIN IS A NUTRITIONAL POWERHOUSE

PUT MORE PUMPKIN INTO YOUR DIET!

http://www.superfoodsrx.com/superfoods/pumpkin/pumpkin-as-a-super-food.html

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Perfect Post Workout Pair… Protein + Coconut Water
Shari

by on Apr.08, 2011, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Healthy Snacks, Supplementation, Weight Loss, Whey Protein Recipes

Pump up your post-workout protein shake with coconut water!

* When it comes to recovering after an intense workout, coconut water may be the perfect liquid to add to your favorite protein powder. Derived from young green coconuts before they mature, this natural beverage is the water found inside young coconuts and is not to be confused with creamier coconut milk.  Natural coconut water contains five essential electrolytes and more potassium than a banana. Contrary to popular beliefs coconuts do not make you fat. They are loaded with medium chain fatty acids that are easy to digest and therefore your body doesn’t store it as fat.

Coconut Water Contains More Potassium than a Banana
One of coconut water’s greatest nutrition facts may be its enormous amount of potassium. Potassium is an electrolyte that promotes healthy kidney, heart, and overall cellular function.

Most often, potassium is associated with bananas, which contain about 450 mg of potassium per serving. However, a serving of coconut water offers your body a whopping 650 mg of potassium.

What’s more, it has no added sugar, fat or cholesterol.

PERFECT Post workout Pair: Protein + Coconut water.

All natural coconut water provides carbohydrates and electrolytes, which are both critical for optimal recovery.  In order to replenish, a lot of people turn to sports drinks or electrolyte-enhanced water.  However, sports drinks contain alot of unnecessary  sugars and calories, which coconut water naturally avoids.  It is also fat free, with a taste that is nutty and naturally sweet and a great thirst quencher.  In addition to aiding in hydration, incredibly healthy coconut water contains amazing anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties that can help to remove toxins from the body.

Adding coconut water to protein powders such as soy, whey or rice makes a refreshing and nutrient-dense post workout drink. Its high potassium also helps regulate blood pressure, heart function and many other health benefits.

REFUEL YOUR BODY:

For optimal nutrient absorption, consume your post work out shake within 30-45 minutes after training. Mix coconut water with vanilla (or chocolate) flavored protein powder for a post-training meal to feed your muscles and replenish the electrolytes lost during strenuous exercise.

Look for it at your local grocery or health-food store.

“Almond Joy” PWO Meal.

  • 2 scoops ViSalus Nutrition Shake Mix
  • 1 Chocolate cardio-care Flavor Mix in (or 1 Tsp baking cocoa)
  • 6-8 Oz Natural Coconut Water
  • 4 Oz  Unsweetened Almond Milk

    Adds "tropical twist" to Protein Smoothies

  • 6 almonds
  • Ice.
  • Blend well  in personal blender ( I use a magic bullet) for 30-45 seconds.

TROPICAL BERRY SMOOTHIE:

  • 2 scoops ViSalus Nutrition Shake Mix
  • 4 -6 oz Coconut Water
  • 4 oz Low Sugar Orange Juice
  • 1/2 container Pineapple-Coconut Flavor Yogurt (Dannon Light n Fit)
  • 3-4 Frozen Strawberries, Mango or any other Fruit of choice.

Blend well.  ENJOY!

To Learn more about Visalus health and nutrition products:

http://sharipronatural.bodybyvi.com/


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See Less, Eat Less. Portion Distortion
Shari

by on Mar.27, 2011, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Motivation, Weight Loss

One of the most important pieces of information in a nutrition label is the serving size.

There is a difference between “a portion” and “a serving”. A serving is a standard or measure on how much food to eat and has been chosen by the manufacturer to describe the nutritional value of that food. For example 1 cup of milk, or a half a cup of oats. A portion is the amount of food someone CHOOSES to put on their plate and eat. Be mindful of portion sizes, for example 1 cup of oatmeal is actually considered 2 servings.

Buyers beware! Packaging can be misleading.  Many foods that come as a single portion actually contain  multiple servings. The Nutrition fact label on packaged foods—on the backs of cans, sides of boxes, etc. — also informs you of the number of servings in the container.  We may look at the calories but don’t notice the stated serving size. This means we may be consuming more calories, fat, sugar, sodium, etc.

For example, look at the label of a 20-ounce soda (typically consumed as one portion), and you’ll see that it has 2.5 servings in it.  So if you choose to drink the whole bottle of Pepsi, you are consuming 250 calories and a whopping 69 grams of sugar!  A 3-ounce bag of chips—which some would consider a single portion—is actually 3 servings.

Buyer Beware: This is 2 1/2 servings & contains 69gms of sugar!

Another example of portion distortion is the bagel.   A typical bagel used to be 2 to 3 ounces, or about 200 calories. Today one bagel is 5 to 6 ounces, which can be well over 400 calories, depending on the type. (This is without any “schmear” on top!)   That same 5- ounce bagel that you might enjoy for breakfast is the equivalent of 5 pieces of bread and comprises the five servings of breads/grains that someone should eat for the entire day.

We live in a world of all you can eat buffets and “supersized” convenience foods. And when food is put in front of us, we will eat.  Restaurant portions tend to be two times or more than is recommended at one sitting, which leads to way too many calories. We can retrain ourselves to eat more slowly and stop eating when we are satisfied…not full. Also, it is healthier to eat several smaller meals, rather than a few large meals a day. This is because it keeps your body in the digesting-food mode, which means it keeps your metabolism up.

One of the easiest ways to cut back on calories and lose weight is by monitoring portion sizes.

A couple of “visual” tips to help with portion control and avoid consuming too many extra calories: In general terms, one hand, cupped = 1/2cup, two hands, cupped = 1 cup. An open palm, or the size of a deck of cards = 3-4 oz, the

Portion Distortion

standard serving size for a piece of chicken or fish,  and a serving of potatoes about the size of a computer mouse, for example.  Get to know the recommended portion sizes for your favorite foods and strive to stick to that as closely as

you can.   Another way to prevent over indulgence is to serve meals on smaller side plates, instead of dinner plates.  Think of meat and pasta as the side dishes and vegetables as the main course.  Fill half your plate with veggies, one quarter with lean protein (meat) and on quarter with starch/carbs (pasta, rice, potato).  Once you get into the habit of monitoring portions, it will become second nature and easier to monitor.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who shrank their portions by 25% slashed 250 calories a day—enough to help them lose a half-pound a week—and still felt full.

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Want Peak Performance? Detox your Body, Naturally.
Shari

by on Feb.13, 2011, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Weight Loss

You’ve decided to “clean up” your diet by eliminating fast foods, red meats, pork, junk foods, sugary drinks –  But don’t worry; there’s plenty of good stuff left to eat.

… once you get the junk out of your system and start eating right, chances are you probably will not want to go back to you old habits.

“We are what we eat” is amazingly accurate. Unnatural foods are harmful and tend to accumulate instead of being flushed.  Chances are if you are feeling tired, stressed, are bloated, frequently achy, or have low energy, your diet can be to blame. Ignoring these signs will not make your situation better.  It may be time to detox your body.  Eating natural foods, provided by nature, is the best way to cleanse and revitalize the body and stay healthy. Food is the fuel you feed the body to enable it to achieve peak performance. The cleaner and purer the fuel, the better and smoother the engine’s performance. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Why Detoxify?

Detoxification is one of the basic functions of the human body.  One of the body’s functions is to constantly detox on its own. During this process, the body eliminates toxins through the kidneys, colon, liver, lungs, lymph and skin.  Problem is that our lives are full o stress, pollution, chemicals and many other harmful substances and it is difficult for the human body to cleanse itself the way it was designed to do by nature.

When toxins are unable to be flushed out, they are set aside and surrounded by fat to protect the body from their harmful properties. However, this system of defense can cause even more health problems. Detoxification can also revitalize and eliminate bacteria and viruses.

It is important to keep well hydrated by drinking lots of water and herbal or green tea.   Aim to drink at

least 8-10 glasses of water every day. Packed full of antioxidants, green tea not only washes toxins out of the system through its liquid content, but also contains a special type of antioxidant called catechins, known to increase liver function.  Stay clear of sugary sodas and caffeinated beverages as much as possible.

What we consume every day is an extremely important aspect of detoxification.  Choosing and eating the right things could make the difference between overloading our bodies with toxins or keeping it clean and working properly. There is a wide range of foods to select from that can be incorporated into your diet to help you revitalize and detoxify.  So what foods are best to eat to remove toxins and get rid of that “sluggishness” feeling?

Basically, your diet should consist of foods that can be found in an organic form when possible or

Green tea, fresh fruit, nuts make the perfect "detox" snack

found in nature without preservatives or processing.  After all, it was all those processed foods with all the additives, dyes, added sugars, salt and extra fat that got your body into the state it’s in now.

Here are just a few suggestions that should be incorporated in your diet regularly to help heal your body naturally.

  1. Garlic, Ginger, Cilantro – Potent spices known to boost metabolism and rid free radicals
  2. Green Leafy Veggies- gives digestive tract a chlorophyll boost ridding the body from harmful environmental toxins. (including cabbage)
  3. Citrus (Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit) and other fruits (high in water content and vitamin C. Also fruits provide natural sweetness to help fight off sweet craving while trying to avoid processed sugars
  4. Broccoli Sprouts -stimulate the detoxification enzymes in the digestive tract. High in antioxidants.
  5. Seeds and Nuts
  6. Beans and grains (gluten free) like rice, quinoa
  7. Omega 3 Oils – Avocado, Flax Seed, Olive Oils, helps lubricate the intestinal walls, allowing the toxins to be absorbed by the oil, and eliminated by the body
  8. Asparagus: They are diuretic and prevent water retention. Weight loss while eating asparagus is due to the loss of water and not fat.

Dairy and wheat products are not the best choices while trying to detox.  Substitute instead when possible gluten free grains and almond or soy milk. Avoid fried foods during this period as well. Instead of using butter, chose a healthier canola based or olive oil product. Avoid processed cakes and cookies and other such flour-based products as well.  An area that is tough for most people is snack foods. Instead of snacking on chips, candy and cookies, snack on nuts and seeds as a healthier source, or of course fresh fruits or veggies. Virtually all fruits and vegetables are great foods but those full of color such as dark leafy spinach or bright red tomatoes are optimal.
The bottom line, when it comes to appropriate body detox foods, consider that if a food product is made in a factory and processed in some way (besides simple flash freezing or canning), then it is not the best thing for your detoxifying diet.

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Eat Well, Live Well… Natural Beef
Shari

by on Feb.02, 2011, under Egg and Main Course Ideas, General HEALTH, General Nutrition, High Protein dishes, Recipes

Real Cows eat Grass, Not Grain.

There was a time when all beef was grass fed and “natural”.  Natural for fresh meat products, as defined by the USDA, refers to “minimally processed and containing no artificial ingredients.”   Today, most all commercially available beef are fed enormous quantities of corn, protein supplements, antibiotics and other drugs, including growth hormones so that they can be  made as fat as possible and brought to slaughter (and market) as fast as possible.  All this to make up for what they are missing from the diet that was intended for them.

Why grass fed beef is healthier for you.

Grassfed meat, is lower both in overall fat and in artery-clogging saturated fat. Because grass is cattle’s natural, preferred food source, they are able to process their food better.  And because their bodies aren’t pumped full of hormones to make them grow faster, they have more time to mature.  All those nutrients end up in the meat and result in a healthier and more delicious product.

The fat content of beef is the primary reason it has lost ground as a respectable entrée on America’s dinner table. Not only do most beef cuts have a high fat content, ranging from 35-75%, but the majority of it is saturated. The overall total fat content of a pasture raised cattle is about 25% lower than that of your typical corn fed cattle… Look at packaging and you will notice it is labeled lean by the USDA.

Grass-fed beef is naturally lower in calories too. A 6-ounce steak from a grass-fed steer can have 100 fewer calories than the same steak from a grain-fed steer.  Pasture raised beef also has the added advantage of providing more omega-3 fats. These crucial healthy fats are most plentiful in flaxseeds and fish, and are also found in walnuts, soybeans and in meat from animals that have grazed on omega-3 rich grass. When cattle are taken off grass and shipped to a feedlot to be fattened on grain, they immediately begin losing the omega-3s they have stored in their tissues.

In addition to being higher in healthy omega-3s, meat from pastured cattle is also up to four times higher in vitamin E than meat from feedlot cattle and much higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a nutrient associated with lower cancer risk. Grass-fed beef is also higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium and potassium as well as the B-vitamins, thiamine and riboflavin.

Pasture raised beef tastes different from grain fed beef.

This is the way beef is supposed to taste! The difference is that you taste “clean” meat, free from antibiotics and hormones.  Additionally, grass fed beef is safer for the environment, more humane to the cattle and overall a safer meat. And the reason is simple.  They are eating a diet appropriate for their bodies.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

20 Minute Meal:  Natural Beef Fajitas

  • 1 lb Natural Beef steak (Boneless Chuck or Round)-  cut across grain in 1 inch (finger length) strips
  • 1 small onion, sliced

    "stir fry" with fresh Veggies and spices for a quick, healthy meal.

  • ½ red, ½ green bell pepper, sliced
  • Minced garlic (to taste)
  • Fajita seasonings
  • Fresh lime juice
  • 1 TBSP Olive oil
  • Whole wheat, High Fiber or low carbTortilla Wraps
  • Salsa or Pico de gallo

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS:  Fresh Tomato, Avocado Slices, Black Beans, Low Fat Shredded cheese.

  • Coat bottom of large skillet with olive oil.  When pan is hot, quickly stir fry seasoned vegetables (garlic, onion and peppers) until lightly browned – just limp.  Do not overcook. (2-3 minutes).  Remove from Pan.
  • If needed add more olive oil to pan.  Add beef strips, fajita seasonings to taste, and lime juice and stir fry quickly  (1-2 minutes) over medium-high heat until beef is slightly pink in center.
  • Return vegetables to pan. Mix well and continue to cook meat until desired wellness.  Remove from heat promptly.
  • Fill warm tortillas with beef and vegetable mixture.  Top with ~2 tablespoons salsa (per wrap) and desired toppings.
  • Roll tortilla… and Enjoy!

Serve with side of black beans and/or whole grain rice.

  • Substitute, fish, shrimp or chicken for beef.
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Hey Honey, Pour some Sugar on Me…. or Not.
Shari

by on Jan.30, 2011, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Weight Loss

“There are four basic food groups:  milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles”.  ~Author Unknown

No denying it. We all crave something sweet occasionally. So when we indulge in making a dessert, or sweeten a cup of coffee, what sweetener should we reach for? Sugar, fructose, honey? Calories from sweeteners add up quickly though and most sweeteners contain no nutritional value….So what about artificial, no calorie sweeteners?  It’s all a bit confusing.

Let’s focus first on table sugar (Sucrose) versus Honey.

The case for Honey:

Honey actually contains the same basic sugar units as table sugar. Both contain glucose and fructose. Granulated table sugar, (sucrose), has glucose and fructose hooked together, whereas in honey, fructose and glucose remain in individual units. Fructose is sweeter than glucose, which is one of the reasons fructose is used in so many food products today. However, fructose does not convert to energy as efficiently as glucose. As a result, processed

Sugar, Honey, Splenda, Truvia.... Which is best?

foods containing granulated sugar high in fructose convert to fat stores more easily than honey. But, One teaspoon of table sugar contains 16 calories, while one teaspoon of honey has 22 calories.  (Or 46 to 64 calories per Tablespoon, respectively). Since Honey is both sweeter and denser than sugar, people may use less of it which might bring the actual caloric count about the same.  Honey, however is less processed than table sugar and some nutrition experts say that honey contains trace vitamins and minerals that might aide in digestion.  Note that raw honey contains more nutritional value than commercial honey since it is not filtered.  Honey, also is far less processed than pure sucrose (table sugar) where all naturally occurring trace minerals are removed at the sugar plant, leaving nothing but  “empty calories .   Honey also has a lower Glycemic Index (GI) rating than sucrose.  The lower the GI rating, the more slowly the absorption and infusion of sugars into the bloodstream, meaning a more gradual and healthier digestion.

What about Caloric Sweeteners (Sugar/Honey) versus Artificial Sweeteners?

The case for sugar:

Our bodies understand how to handle incoming nutrients. Through the actions of insulin, the body uses or stores incoming glucose for future use, either as muscle or liver glycogen or as fat. The problem is the body can’t handle the high quantities of sugar that most people are shoveling in.  Most of us eat the equivalent of 20 teaspoons of sugar a day which is definitely a problem if you are trying to lose weight, have to watch blood sugar levels because of diabetes, or all those sweets are keeping you from eating and drinking the nutritious foods your body needs. With that said, at least the body has a mechanism for dealing with and handling sugar. It doesn’t matter if that incoming sugar is in the form of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, or agave nectar…the body knows that it is sugar and breaks it down accordingly.

The case for Artificial Sweeteners:

Sugar is an empty calorie. Sure, with honey and molasses, you get a few vitamins, but calorie-for-calorie, sugar, in all of its forms, is just empty calories. Sugar sends your blood sugar (glucose) sky high which causes insulin levels to spike, sending you into a hypoglycemic funk, and ruining your insulin sensitivity. And sugar is exceedingly easy to over consume. There may be 20 -30 TABLESPOONS of sugar in one pan of brownies that is tempting you right now.

The main reason people choose artificial sweeteners is because they contain no calories. For dieters, sweeteners like Splenda and Equal are considered a free food. “Free foods” are those not counted as carbohydrates, fats, or any other exchange, says the Mayo Clinic. Additionally, “free foods” will not affect an individual’s blood sugar.

But consider this: as bad as sugar is in terms of processing, artificial sweeteners may be worse. These sweeteners are made in a lab from who knows what chemicals. Further, we have no idea what these chemicals will do to the body with sustained long-term use.

**One product you may have heard of that is gaining popularity is Truvia, which is a zero calorie, all natural sweetener

All natural, zero calorie sweetener extracted from the Stevia Plant

extracted from the Stevia Plant. Many people (including myself) see this as a healthy alternative, being that it’s derived from natural sources and it is FDA approved…..and no calories!

So, which is best?

You are probably not going to like the answer: None of the above.

The best option is to ditch the sweet stuff and opt for whole, real foods.  Fat, protein and nutrient dense foods will curb your appetite and fruit or a good dark chocolate your sweet cravings.

If you must add something to your food or drink, use the least processed that you can get, which would be either honey or evaporated cane juice, or if counting calories… TRUVIA. And if you opt for one of the many artificial sweeteners out there, please use sparingly.

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Turn an Ordinary, Innocent Potato into an Extraordinary Healthy Meal.
Shari

by on Jan.22, 2011, under Egg and Main Course Ideas, Fruits and Veggies, General Nutrition, Recipes

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).

choose potatoes "of color" for added nutrients

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!

  1. Potato with steamed broccoli and low-fat cheddar cheese.  (or broccoli with greek yogurt)
  2. Potato topped with salsa, black beans, and avocado. (or Salsa and greek yogurt)
  3. Potato topped with left over chili or stewed beef.
  4. Potato with shredded roasted chicken and “spiked” yogurt.  (Try garlic salt/powder, paprika, chili powder) and top with parsley.
  5. Scrambled egg whites and turkey or Canadian bacon. (think of your potato as your hash browns)
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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Do you Rutabaga?
Shari

by on Dec.25, 2010, under Fruits and Veggies, General Nutrition, Recipes

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)

    Sweet, Earthy and AWESOME!

  1. 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.

Nutrition

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

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So Simple Spinach & Chicken Saute
Shari

by on Dec.14, 2010, under Egg and Main Course Ideas, Fruits and Veggies, General Nutrition, High Protein dishes, Recipes

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

INGREDIENTS:

ü  1.5 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into strips

ü  1 10 oz bag baby spinach

ü  2TBSP Olive Oil

Fresh spinach paired with tender chicken is the perfect quick-fix meal

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).

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