Category Archives: Healthy Eating

Fresh Corn Salad – Busy Mom Series, Day 2

Fresh Corn Salad

 

Fresh Corn Salad is light and refreshing. It is a wonderful side dish for any meal – steak, hamburgers, hot dogs, or even good for a light lunch if served by itself.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 ears of fresh corn – OR – 16 oz. package frozen corn
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, washed, trimmed, and sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s™ or Best Food™)
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic vinegar
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and coarsely-ground pepper to taste

 

DIRECTIONS

The Vegetables

  1. Packaged corn – thaw and drain and skip to “add the green pepper . . .”
  2. Fresh Corn – remove husks and silk
  3. Add a small amount of sugar to a large pot of water.
  4. Place corn in water and bring it to a boil – cook for 1 to 2 minutes. (Don’t overcook. Corn should be just heated through.)
  5. Drop the corn into a bowl of ice water to shock it and stop the cooking process.
  6. Let it stand in the ice water for ~4 minutes.
  7. Cut the corn off the cob with a sharp knife and place in a large bowl.
  8. Add the green pepper, onions and tomatoes – mix well – set in the refrigerator to chill

The Dressing

  1. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, basil, garlic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper in a small bowl – mix well.
  2. Pour over corn mixture and toss gently to coat.
  3. Chill for 1-2 hours before serving.

 

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European Style Hot Chocolate

European Style Hot Chocolate, thick and creamy, is utterly delicious.  I first discovered it many, many years ago while living in Madrid, Spain.  I have tried to recreate it numerous times with some success, but it has always been filled with calories and fat.

Today, I found this recipe by Dr, Janet Brill, Ph.D., R.D., a nationally recognized expert in the field of health and wellbeing, and author of several books including Cholesterol Down. She lightens the recipe with a healthier, delicious version of the classic drink.  You should try it . . . sooooo good!  Only 190 calories and 0 cholesterol.

European Style Hot Chocolate
European Style Hot Chocolate
Image from Grandparents.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 2¼ cups vanilla soy milk
  • ½ cup natural unsweetened dark cocoa powder (or three squares of unsweetened baking chocolate, melted)
  • ¼ cup sugar (or 1/8 cup Splenda sugar blend)
  • 1½ tablespoons corn starch

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
  3. Remove from heat, pour immediately into three mugs
  4. Top with fat-free whipped topping and a dash of cocoa powder, if desired.

Servings: 3 (1/2 cup each) It is so rich that is all you will need per person.

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Packing Lunches for Kids – Elementary and Middle School

Packed Lunch - Elementary School
Photo by Wendy Copley

Packing lunches for kids is a smart choice. It can save money and provide nutrition not found in school lunches. Preparing healthy lunches that children will eat requires time for planning, shopping and preparation; but, the benefits make it time well spent.

Consider the age and needs of each child.   

Elementary age children eat differently and have different needs than middle-school children. Their lunches need to be small and a bit playful to hold their interest. Since they usually do not eat a lot at one time, include things that can be eaten at various breaks in their day.

  • Pre-baked dinner rolls cut in half make tiny buns just right for little hands. Fill with sliced meatballs, ham and cheese, egg or chicken salad. Add a little container of dipping sauce or their favorite condiment. Throw in a snack sized bag of whole grain chips, baby carrots or small pieces of celery with dressing and a 100% juice boxed drink. Let them help make a home-made trail mix and fill a small baggie with enough to share with a friend.
  •  Spread fresh goat cheese and sliced tomato on rice cakes. Look for small bananas in the grocery. Most children like mandarin oranges so pack a few in a container. Make some pasta the night before and toss with olive oil. In the morning add cheese chunks, snap peas, bell pepper slices or whatever vegetable your child likes. Those little mini bagels can be spread with hummus or almond butter and paired with string cheese and mini sized pretzels.

Just for fun, hide a note written to them somewhere in the lunch. Assure them that they are loved and thought of even when you aren’t with them. They may not remember the special thought put into their lunches; but, they will remember the notes and you will know you did your best to help them stay strong and healthy.

Middle school children are dealing with changing bodies as well as their appetites. Boys will need more of everything because they are always hungry. Focus on healthy foods that they will eat, and lots of it!

Girls, on the other hand, often need to be encouraged to eat. They tend to become self-conscious about everything and will skip lunch all together unless they have compelling reasons to eat. You can tell them all day long how their brain needs fuel to function – but, you may have better results if you tell them how the food they eat will help their bodies grow into what they want them to be – beautiful.

  • Provide roasted or grilled vegetables dressed with vinegar and olive oil or a small salad with dressing on the side. Add some cheese squares or whole wheat crackers. Wrap up a piece of leftover chicken, a container of coleslaw and a roll. Add a cold drink and lunch is ready.
  • Wrap a piece of turkey around a cheese stick and include a condiment for dipping. Add some whole grain pretzels and a small piece of fruit.
  • Alternate cooked chicken with raw vegetables on a skewer. Lay on a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with honey mustard and wrap tightly. Include some sunflower seeds or nuts and a fruit juice drink. Add some grated carrots to a BBQ and send extra sauce in a container along with a bag of chips.
  • Using a hot dog bun, make them a mini-hoagie. Pile on some meat and cheese and top with sautéed peppers and onions. Send a container with olive oil and vinegar to pour on just before eating so the bun doesn’t get soggy. Add a container of fruit cocktail for dessert and a soft drink.

The main thing is to get them to eat healthy food every day for lunch so they not only stay healthy and energetic, but also so their brain works properly and learning can take place.

Photo credit: Wendy Copley via photopin cc

How to Improve Your Diet and Lifestyle

Since I am always interested in tips and articles that will help you understand how to improve your diet and lifestyle, I wanted to share a tip that I found in an article on a Website: Cooking Lite Recipes.  The article covers a number of excellent points, but the tip below caught my attention.  I have made the mistake they mention so many times, it’s crazy – how about you?

When I start a diet or make a lifestyle change that I think is important, I want the results NOW! I am not a patient person when it comes to change of any kind – especially when it is connected to my body, my health, and how I look. So, I try to force the process. This tip makes it  clear why that is not a good idea.

To start with, you’ll have to decide how you will implement your all new healthy diet. Sadly, most men and women make a huge mistake at this step by trying to force the changes rapidly. I know for a fact it just will never work. That’s why you need to continuously use a gradual strategy. That strategy is enduring and not as fast, but it always yields great outcomes in the end.

The very first thing that you should really keep an eye on is the rush of implementing those changes in diet. If you make a rapid change, you may find yourself cheating regularly, because your thoughts will be set to cheating the “system”. There’s actually no need to do that. Apply changes slowly, incorporating healthy and balanced dishes a little bit at a time. For example, you might take small, gradual steps such as including salad one day, and adding beans the next day. A great idea is to reduce portion sizes, starting with white bread by reducing 1 slice at a time – bearing in mind that whole grain bread is fine and in truth will help keep you full a lot longer.

I found the article very thought-provoking and useful.  I hope it does the same for you. For the full article, Specifically How to Eat Healthy.

Bottled Water – Is It a Wise Choice?

Bottled Water on Ice

[ilink url=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/brraveheart/538063535/”]Photo by Braveheart [/ilink]

When bottled water first came on the scene in the early 1990’s, no one could have guessed what a huge business it would become, but the global bottled water sales have increased dramatically since its introduction.

 In 2011, total bottled water sales in the U.S. hit 9.1 billion gallons — 29.2 gallons of bottled water per person, according to sales figures from Beverage Marketing Corp. (May 17, 2012 National Geographic News Watch) It is the highest total volume of bottled water ever sold in the U.S., and also the highest per-person volume.

The bottled-water industry is so successful, it has outpaced milk, coffee, and juice in number of gallons of drinks sold—putting it behind only beer and soda. Spring water and purified tap water are currently the leading global sellers.

“Pure” is a powerful buzz word especially when it comes to water; but, is bottled water really better than tap water – especially In the U. S. where water is federally regulated and often screened for dangerous pollutants? And . . . Is it as pure as the bottling companies claim?

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px” color=”#ad0c1a”]Water Regulation[/typography]

Tap water flows from community water systems that are regulated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and required to submit testing reports annually to the government.

Bottled water is a bit different. It is regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) like any other food product. Bottlers are required to regularly test their source water as well as perform quality control on their bottled products for safety and contaminant levels. They must also bottle water using sanitary practices and monitor the source for any contamination.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px” color=”#ad0c1a”]Purity – Tap Vs Bottled[/typography]

The term “pure water” is relative. It depends on the standards by which it is being graded. Read the label on your water bottle and see where the source water comes from. If it is a municipal supply then it is filtered or distilled tap water you are buying.  Since you already pay for water that is provided by your town or city, you are actually paying twice for the same thing.

Tap vs Bottled image

[ilink url=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/philografy/6184896091/”]Photo by Philography[/ilink]

To be fair, tap water must be further purified in some way for bottlers to label it as purified water. But, as consumers we have no way of knowing to what extent the purification process is being carried out. In other words – just how pure is it, really?  On the other hand, the EPA employs regulations and monitors community water supplies. We know they are checked regularly.

Many experts claim that even though it costs you a thousand times more to drink bottled water than to drink water from your kitchen tap, there is a good chance that it is no safer or cleaner. A 2008 investigation by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group found “some bottled water is sullied with untested industrial chemicals and may not necessarily be cleaner than tap water.”

When it comes to bottled water, what is left in is just as important as what is filtered out. For instance, beneficial minerals like calcium and magnesium in tap water are important to health. It is important to consider that the levels of such minerals may be lower or non-existent in bottled water. Some of the more expensive ones do provide more healthy minerals; but, how can you justify paying a premium for mineralized water, when the very same minerals can be found in the tap water in your home that you also pay for.

There are a few situations in which the cost of premium bottled water can be justified. For example, the controlled levels of minerals in bottled water can be a healthier option for making a baby’s formula because a baby’s immune system is still developing.  It could also be a wise choice for anyone with an immune-compromised system.

However, for the majority of us, if you compare the mineral content of bottled water with that of your tap water, you may find the differences unremarkable.  Making the choice to drink bottled water is primarily more about taste or social trends than anything else.

In addition to the question of water purity, there are other serious concerns over the prevalent use of bottled water.

In a National Geographic Daily News article (10 March 2010) titled, “Why Tap Water Is Better than Bottled Water,” the following point is made:

Water aside, the plastic used in single-use bottles can pose more of a contamination threat than the [questionable purity of the] water. A safe plastic if used only once, #1 polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) the most common resin used in disposable bottles; however, if #1 bottles are reused, as they commonly are, they can leach chemicals such as DEHA, a possible human carcinogen, and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), a potential hormone disruptor. And because the plastic is porous you’ll likely get a swill of harmful bacteria with each gulp if you reuse the bottles.

It should also be noted that these dangerous contaminants do not stop with the person drinking the water. For example, they can cross the placenta of pregnant women and create problems such as genetically programing a female baby’s uterus to be hyper sensitive to estrogen and increase the chances  of premature puberty. They can also create other fertility and hormonal problems in children.

water bottles in landfill

[ilink url=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/hoppy1951/7716048978/”]Photo by Allan Hopkins[/ilink]

We really must ask ourselves what we are doing to the environment with the excessive waste build up in landfills from the incredible numbers of bottles that are dumped every year; AND . . .  what are we doing to our bodies by choosing bottled water over tap water just because we have been convinced by slick advertising campaigns that bottled water should be “the drink of choice.”

What do you think? Please share your thoughts!