Saturday, October 29, 2011

Make your own instant oatmeal!

Fall is in the air and I don't know about you, but that means I start craving warm and comforting foods to fill my belly! Others must feel the same way since one day in October is dedicated to a certain comforting superfood. Today, October 29th, is Oatmeal Day!

An insignificant annual celebration? No way! We really can thank oatmeal for a host of nutritional benefits--from weight control to diabetes management to heart health--all in its natural form, with minimal processing. Thanks to the fact that it's a whole grain, uniquely high in soluble fiber.

I ran across this awesome idea for creating your own instant oatmeal packets--instead of buying the pre-packaged ones available at the store, that is. Get the benefits of instant oatmeal  in the same convenient form by packaging your own. And I'm not talking boring, plain oats.  The mix-ins are included! It's good food that really tastes good too, no matter what your flavor preference. Your packets will be lower in sodium, added sugars and preservatives than their store-bought counterparts too.

Each packet you make will cost as little as 10 to 15 cents, saving you 15 to 25 cents per packet! It may not sound like much, but we all know those cents can turn into dollars real quick (and it sure beats the cost of picking up fast food on the way to work). Your savings could be more than $1.00 per store-bought package, debunking the common myth that healthy food is more expensive.

So improve your health and save some dough by clicking here!

Handout provided by Iowa State University.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A dietitian's pledge for Food Day

When I read this Food Day pledge (October 24) written by a fellow Registered Dietitian, Robyn Flipse, I had the overwhelming urge to share it. Her words are wise and urge us to get to the root of the obesity problem instead of vying for quick-fixes to make us healthy and lean. I couldn't agree more...and if I may, I would like to opt in on this pledge too.

Thanks for keeping it real, Robyn!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Slashing calories at your game day celebration

Here in St. Louis we're gearing up for Game One of the World Series tonight! And since football season is already in full swing, not only do St. Louisans have their minds on the game, but so do other sports fans around the nation. Watching your favorite team just wouldn't be the same without the tailgating fun that surrounds it--but these celebrations typically include high-calorie, diet-blowing snacks. Never fear! You can enjoy the fun and fill your gaming crowds' bellies with some healthier game day options without blowing your diet plan. Build your menu from some of the following selections to include delicious, healthy ingredients while slashing calories (and don't worry--nobody will know!):
  • White chicken chili with jalapeno cornbread
  • Turkey sliders (mini burgers made with ground turkey breast)
  • BBQ pork tenderloin sliders (cook the pork in a crockpot, then shred with a fork)
  • Mini roast beef sandwiches served with spicy mustard and horseradish sauce
  • Boneless wings (oven-baked chicken tenderloins: dip in low-fat buttermilk and roll in bread crumbs, then bake) served with choice of sauces and celery sticks
  • Layered bean dip with baked tortilla chip "scoops"
  • Veggie platter with low-fat salad dressing and hummus
  • Tomato, basil, and marinated mozzarella bites on a toothpick
  • Caramel apple bites (slice apples and drizzle with lemon juice to prevent browning, serve with caramel dip)
  • Chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks and chocolate-covered raisins (easy to make by melting chocolate in the microwave on low)
Do you have other healthy game-day crowd-pleasers that you like to serve? Please share by posting a comment.

And oh yeah...GO CARDS!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dietitian’s Tips to Make Halloween a Treat (Not a Trick)

To me, Halloween marks the beginning of the fall holiday season. Although Halloween is supposed to be spooky, it doesn't mean you have to dread its effects on your health or weight management plan! Let’s face it – resisting Halloween candy is hard to do.  But you can have a guilt-free Halloween while enjoying a few treats as long as you have a few tricks up your sleeve!  In fact, if you allow yourself a treat here and there, you’re more likely to stick to your diet.  With a little knowledge and planning, you can still enjoy the fun (and some candy) while maintaining your health and weight management goals.

Remember that all desserts and sweets should be eaten in moderation.  Although it is okay to treat yourself sometimes, desserts are a source of empty calories and fat.  And they don’t provide many healthy nutrients.  Limit yourself to one serving of dessert or less per day and make sure to count it as part of your meal plan or calorie goals. Here are some of my tips for handling Halloween temptations:
  • Purchase the candy you plan to give away only a couple days before Halloween so it's not in the house for long!
  • Buy mini or fun-sized packages of candy only.
  • Consider fun-sized, healthier options like chocolate teddy grahams, animal crackers or 100 calorie packs of cookies. Don't worry; I know kids don't want raisins and apples for Halloween...but these are snacks that kids like!
  • Throw away (or give away) any candy that you or your kids don't particularly like.
  • Out of sight, out of mind! Keep some candy in the pantry, on a shelf that you don't see as soon as you open the door.  Not in the candy bowl on the table!
  • Consider this a teaching moment with your family. Certainly allow kids to have a few more pieces of candy than usual on the night of Halloween.  But in the days following, set some limits about how much candy is allowed. It’s never too early to teach kids about food and nutrition. Remember, if you don't need it, neither do the kids!
  • Keep some candy, especially chocolate, in the freezer. It won't go bad as quickly and you'll have a little treat option for months to come.
  • Increase your activity level if you plan to indulge a little more than usual.
  • If you have a sweet tooth, don’t always reach for the candy jar! Instead try low-fat chocolate pudding, flavored yogurt, berries drizzled with honey or apple with peanut butter. These healthy “desserts” provide good nutrition too.
Happy Halloween! I know it's early, but we're planning ahead :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Avocado Tomatillo Salsa

Once again, here’s a co-op driven recipe (I belong to a local co-op that delivers “surprise” baskets every other week). Seems as though the produce I received from my last two co-op pickups was just begging me to make Mexican! Included in my baskets were: tomatillos, cilantro, limes, avocados and tomatoes…so I thought, “how about a green salsa?” I created this recipe, which was friend-approved at our dinner get-together last night:

  • 2 large tomatillos, peeled, washed and cut into small cubes
  • 1 small tomato, cut into small cubes
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (I used one and the product had just a little “kick”)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 lime, rolled on the counter and sliced in half
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt, dash
  • Fresh ground pepper, dash
  • 1-2 avocados, removed from peel and cut into small cubes (when ready to serve)

Add all ingredients, except lime and avocados, in a small bowl. Squeeze both halves of the lime over mixture. Mash with potato masher until about 1/3 of the ingredients are left in cubes and some juice has formed in the bottom of the bowl. Stir and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to let the flavors marry. When ready to serve, gently fold avocado into salsa mixture. Serve as an appetizer with baked tortilla chips.

The tomatillos add a unique, light tartness to this salsa and the avocados cool it down. Refreshing! This is a super easy-to-make recipe that's, of course, also super healthy. It’s lower in sodium than canned salsas and the avocados are rich in healthy unsaturated fats. Again, the co-op has nudged me to be a little more creative…I would be unlikely to purchase tomatillos on my own, but now I’ve created a new recipe that I’ll make again in the future!

If you have leftovers, remember you can always use them! I’m going to use my leftovers this week to top a grilled ahi tuna steak. I love it when I can enjoy my recipes twice in different ways and save myself some energy in cooking later in the week.