April 1, 2012

April Fool Your Family

Does your family respond to healthy eating ideas with shouts of glee or a resounding “boo!”? My guess it is the latter. But there is an option: sneak vegetables, whole grains, and other good-for-you items into their diets. They’ll never know! Here are a few suggestions for helping an unwilling family eat right.

Set realistic goals.  Don’t expect family members to go from loving burgers to craving broccoli overnight.  Nutrition is rarely high on a people’s agenda, so plan for the process to take months, years–even decades Every two to three months, set a mini goal.  Some examples: Switch from 2% milk to skim or from regular to low-calorie salad dressing.  Over the long haul, these small changes will make a huge difference in your family’s overall health.

Don’t say french fries will kill you. Suggest instead that they try baked sweet-potato fries, because they contain a lot of beta-carotene, which will reduce the risk of cancer (for a man), keep skin looking great (for a teenage girl), or help build muscle (teenage boy).

Lose the attitude.  You can undermine best intentions if you present a tasty, healthful meal with a ‘holier than thou’ attitude.  Leave your judgements and opinions at the door and come to the table with an open, accepting manner.
Pink Watermelon Love
Stock up on healthful foods
.  People are much likelier to eat nutritious food if it’s available.  So fill the fridge with easy-to-grab, healthy snacks.  When the family prowls the kitchen, they will surface with fresh fruit (already cut up), dried fruit, frozen grapes and whole wheat crackers.  Leftovers are anyone’s best friend, so make sure there’s always a little extra from last night’s nutritious meal. (Photo Credit: D. Sharon Pruitt)

Make healthy versions of their favorite foods.  It’s amazing what you can do with ground turkey breast. Use half ground turkey and half extra lean ground beef when making chili.  No one even knows the difference. Use fat-free half & half, baby prunes instead of fat in baking, cooking spray instead of butter, and chicken broth when sauteeing.

Blueberry Muffins
Disguise healthy foods.
  Add chopped spinach to soups, grated carrots and zucchini to spaghetti sauces, blueberries in muffins. If the problem food at your house is broccoli, grind it up and add to pesto sauces.  Puree vegetables and add to cream sauces or soups, add spinach and crumbled tofu to lasagna, cook oatmeal in nonfat milk, mix wheat germ into your coating for chicken, or use two egg whites for every one whole egg in cooking. Add green peas to Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, cook your rice in V8 juice, and add mashed bananas into pancake batter.

Fruit Ninja! - Lemon I
Pump up the flavor.
  Even when your family wants to eat healthier, you still need to make the foods taste great. That means using savory flavors, such as fresh herbs, garlic, chilies, ginger, lemon, sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, horseradish or salsa.  Try mixing flavors, like adding winter pears, fresh raspberries or sliced peaches to a spinach salad.  Skip the cutesy garnishes and the finely chopped celery and focus on the type of meals most men like best–straightforward, uncomplicated and satisfying.

Just Do This Today

Grand Rapids Lettuce
Switch from iceberg to Romaine lettuce.  Iceberg is fine, if you like crunchy water. But if you want to get the best nutritional bang for your buck, you can double your nutrients for no extra calories by switching to Romaine or other leaf lettuces. Romaine has twice the fiber, B vitamins, folic acid (a B vitamin that lowers heart disease and cancer risk and prevents birth defects), calcium, potassium and trace minerals as iceberg. It has 7 times the vitamin C and vitamin A.

1k-7649 spinach

If you want to do yourself an even bigger favor, switch to spinach salads. A salad made with two cups of spinach supplies half your day’s need for folic acid and vitamin C, all of your requirement for vitamin A, and more than 25% of your day’s need for vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium. An equal amount of iceberg doesn’t make a dent your day’s requirements.

Hot Off the Diet Press

Vitamin Offers Protection From Skin Cancer: People who take supplements of vitamin A might be at lower risk for developing melanoma, according to a study from Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland. Supplement histories were taken on 69,635 men and women. After almost six years of follow-up, 566 people had developed melanomas. Results showed those people with the highest supplemental vitamin A were at 40% lower risk for developing melanomas. There was no association of melanoma risk with dietary or total intake of vitamin A and carotenoids. The researchers conclude that, “…{vitamin A] supplementation may have a preventive role in melanoma among women.” http://1.usa.gov/xpiQub

Vitamin D for Fibroids: Vitamin D does it again, this time shrinking fibroids in a study on animals from the National Institutes of Health. Vitamin D treatment was tested on a strain of rats genetically predisposed to developing fibroid tumors. Results showed that fibroids increased in size in the untreated animals, but shrunk up to 75% in the animals treated with vitamin D. The amount of vitamin D given to the animals was the equivalent of a human dose of 1,400 IU, which is more than twice the current recommended dose for teens and adults of 600 IU. http://1.usa.gov/znRU39

J is for ... Just Jelly BeansSweet Kids
Children average 322 calories a day from added sugars, or about 16% of their total calories, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. In comparison, the American Heart Association recommends that no more than 100 calories come from added sugar for females and 150 calories for males. Almost 60% of that sugar comes from food and the remaining from sugar-sweetened beverages, with soft drinks leading the list of contributors. Added sugars include table sugar, brown sugar, honey, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses, and other sweeteners used in prepared and processed foods and beverages. Natural sugars in fresh fruit or plain milk were not included in the analysis. The researchers warn that diets this high in sugar are linked to obesity, hypertension, and other risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Ervin R, Kit B, Carroll M, et al: Consumption of added sugar among U.S. children and adolescents, 2005-2008. NCHS Data Brief 2012;February (87).

 Photo Credit: Steve Koukoulas

Label Lingo

HUH . . .?!? BERNARD DEHYDRATED WATER Product. (At last, Stephen Wright has some instructions: “I bought some powdered water but I didn’t know what to add.”)*It’s a jungle out there. At the grocery store, I mean. With tens of thousands of items on supermarket shelves, it is easy for even the most savvy shopper to be tricked into thinking a food is healthy when it’s not.

A rule of thumb: Never believe anything on the front of a label – which is all marketing and hype. Always go to the back and check the ingredient list and the nutritional information, including a check to see the serving size, and the amount of calories, fat, sugar, sodium, and cholesterol.

Photo Credit: Cheryl via Compfight

Food & Mood Tip

Stress increases requirements for several nutrients, including the B vitamins, the antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. A diet low in any or all of these nutrients only escalates stress-caused damage to the body. For example, low vitamin C further raises cortisol levels, aggravating the stress response. In contrast, diets loaded with vitamin C-rich foods lower cortisol levels and help people cope. The same chicken-and egg scenario plays out with magnesium, a mineral flushed out of the body during stress, yet aggravates the stress response when low. Magnesium also is important for normal sleep patterns. In short, if you want to cope better, stay healthy, and keep lean,  then eat well prior to and during stress.

Eat Your Way to Sexy This Week

Tapping a Pencil
The first of my Super Sexy, Fool-Proof Tricks for Permanent Weight Loss is: Be a Planner.
There’s a saying that “failing to plan is planning to fail.” No where does that apply more than with permanent weight loss. Weight loss won’t just happen. You  need to plan your meals, your daily exercise, and how you will handle personal high-risk situations from stress, parties, and travel to eating in restaurants and boredom. Anticipate problems and go into battle well-armed with a plan. Also, have a plan for when you slip off your plans. Leave little to chance. In other words, pay attention. Watch your weight, self-monitor your eating and exercise habits, and have back-up plans for how you’ll handle problem situations.

Mood-Boosting Recipe of the Week

Low-Fat Chunky Guacamole

Do you love guacamole, but don’t like the fat and calories? Try this chunky version that substitutes green peas for most of the avocado, yet retains the same taste and texture of the original. This guacamole has half the calories and almost 85 percent less fat (and almost no saturated fat!) of traditional guacamole. Use as a dip for baked tortilla chips or heat up a whole wheat tortilla and fill with low-fat cheddar cheese, fresh cilantro, and a serving of this yummy guacamole for a quick-fix snack.

1 1/2 cups frozen green peas, thawed
1 small, ripe avocado, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt to taste
1 tablespoon diced green chilies
1 /2 cup mild or medium commercial salsa
2 tablespoons onion, diced
1 medium tomato, diced (approximately 2/3 cup)

1) In a food processor or blender, combine peas, avocado, mayonnaise, lemon juice, cumin, chili powder, garlic, and salt. Process until thoroughly blended, but not completely smooth. Stop and scrape sides, if needed.

2) Transfer pea mixture to medium bowl, stir in green chilies, salsa, onion, and tomato.

3) Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours to allow flavors to blend. Will keep refrigerated for up to two days. Makes approximately 2 1 /2 cups.

Nutritional Analysis per 1/4 cup: 49 Calories; 42% fat (2.3 grams); < 0.5 gram saturated fat; 13% protein; 45% carbohydrate; 2 grams fiber.

Photo Credit: Darwin Bell

Answers to “Do you know?” from last issue:

Raw Hamburger
What does 10% fat mean on a label of hamburger meat? The percentage on a label of raw meat refers only to the amount of fat by weight, not the fat calories. A 3-ounce serving of  “lean” meat that is 10% fat can supply about 200 calories and 10.2 grams of fat. That means the meat is 47% fat calories, with about 4 grams coming from artery-clogging saturated fat.

Is the percentage of fat calories in low-fat milk 2%? The 2% refers to the amount of fat by weight in the milk. While whole milk is 3.5% fat by weight, 48% of its calories come from fat. 2% low-fat milk is not much better with 35% of its calories coming from fat, much of which is saturated. Your best bet is 1% milk, which still is creamy, but has a significantly lower fat content compared to whole milk.

Photo Credit: cobalt123

Do You Know?

What is the #1 source of fat in women’s diets?

For every 7 teaspoons of fat consumed, potentially how much can be stored as body fat?

Check next week for the answers….

The Daily Menu

Put know how into practice with this simple, nutritious meal plan. Eliminate the morning snack  if you want to cut an additional 250+ calories.

Scrambled Eggs for Breakfast
Scrambled eggs made with 2/3 cup liquid egg substitute. (Spray pan with cooking spray)
1 slice whole wheat toast topped with 1 tablespoon apple butter
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1 cup grapefruit juice

1 ounce nuts w/ 2 tablespoons dried tart cherries
1 cup 1 percent low-fat milk

2 cups Dole Tender Greens topped w/ 3 ounces canned salmon, red onion slices, and 2 tablespoons low-fat dressing
1 piece French bread
1 cup strawberries dunked in 3 tablespoons fat-free dark chocolate syrup

1 serving Low-Fat Chunky Guacamole 1/ 1 ounce baked whole grain tortilla chips
6 ounces V8 juice

Dinner and Dessert
2 cups chunky vegetable soup (canned)
1 slice whole wheat bread
Tossed Salad: 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce, sliced red onion, grated carrot, and 2  tablespoons salad dressing
Fruit Mango Pudding Trifle, Patisserie Kihachi, Haneda Airport
Fruit Parfait: Layer in a parfait glass: 1 /2 cup chopped papaya, 1/3 cup fresh or thawed raspberries or strawberries, 1 /2 cup low-fat, plain yogurt, topped with: 2 tablespoons light dessert topping

Nutritional Analysis for the day: 2,021 Calories; 25%  fat (56 grams); 15 gram saturated fat; 2.7 grams omega-3 fats; 19%  protein; 56% carbohydrate; 37 grams fiber.

Photo Credit: Yuichi Sakuraba