food clock

Time seems to be one of the biggest barriers to healthy eating for many people.  A common misconception is that healthy foods are time-consuming, or that there is only one way to “eat healthfully.”

There are some “short cuts” you can take to help you put healthy meals on the table without too much time and energy. Using frozen and canned goods can be a quick way to incorporate nutritious foods into your meals. Frozen and canned goods are convenient and easy to prepare, take less time to cook, often cheaper than fresh,  offer similar nutrition to fresh items and can be stored for longer time than fresh foods.

Frozen vegetables and brown rice are examples of healthy food choices from the freezer section.  Always read the ingredients to make sure they didn’t add in unhealthy sauces, etc.  Canned vegetables, tuna, and beans can help create a quick and healthy meal.  It is best to choose “no salt added” canned goods when possible and rinse and drain those with added salt. The Canned Food Alliance is a great resource for items to keep on hand to help with meal preparation.  The website also offers recipes about how to incorporate canned foods into your weekly meals.

So stock up on those frozen and canned goods when they go on sale.  You will have a fast, cheap and nutritious meal on the table in no time!

Fire up the grill because the weather is just too beautiful to be inside during these summer months!  Grilling is a great option for protein, vegetables, and even fruit.  It allows natural flavors to shine or you can add some variety with different marinades made from heart-healthy oils.

Check out some of the websites for healthy and delicious grill ideas:

Grilling fresh vegetables with herbs in garden
Grilling fresh vegetables with herbs in garden

42 Top-Rated Grill Recipes

Grilling with Flavor

Fire up the Barbecue

Get Grilling: Pro Tips for the BBQ

Best Foods for 4th of July Grilling

Healthy Grilling

Get Fired up! Tips for Healthy, Flavorful Cookouts

Grilling & Picnic Tips: Guiltless Meat, Fish, & Vegetables

Remember it’s always important to practice safe food handling practices.  Read more about it here in the article Food Safety at the Grill.

FDA has been working on changing the nutrition facts labels on food products.  The new label aims to help consumers make better informed choices.  It highlights certain information better than before and also includes some important added information, too.

Below is an image of the old label on the left with the new label on the right.  As you can see, there are some differences but much of the content is the same.  It’s still important to read and pay attention to many of the same information as before, e.g.  servings, total calories, saturated & trans fats, and sodium.

new nutrition label

Some information has been taken away while new information has been added based on new scientific findings about nutrition and health.  For example, the Calories from Fat has been removed because it’s more important to pay attention to the type of fat (trans, saturated, unsaturated) more so than the total amount.  You’ll notice that the Total Fat is still there, and it is still broken down by what type.  A big difference you’ll see is underneath the Total Carbohydrate section.  Food manufacturers are now required to indicate how much added sugar there is in a product.  Scientific data shows that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugar, and this is consistent with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  Diets high in added sugars have also been linked to an increase in abdominal fat, which is linked to a greater risk of chronic disease.  Please check out the blog post about natural sugars versus added sugars written back in January for more information on sugars.  The nutrients at the bottom have been updated to reflect those that most Americans have difficulty meeting.  Aiming to incorporate a variety of foods to include vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and healthy fats can help ensure you meet your needs.
changes in nutr label

Many people struggle with portion control.  Often there is more than one serving of a food in a package so that when we eat the entire container, we consume much more than we think.  The new label will help make it more clear what one serving is and how many calories, etc. you would be getting if you eat the entire container.

Dual_Column

Manufacturers meeting certain yearly sales amount will be required to use the new label by July 28, 2018.

For more information, please check the original article Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label from the FDA.

do whatever and enjoy

Warmth and sunshine are finally here, so it’s time to get moving!

Check out the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition to learn why being active is a vital part of your overall health.  You can also pick up some tips on how to be more active!

Like technology?  Check out the list of the 25 Best Fitness Apps or 16 Fitness and Health Apps for your phone.  No doubt there are many more out there so do some research and find one that works for you!

i heart being active

Check out the blog post here from back in January for even more ideas.  With the weather being nice, many parks in the area now offer daily activities!

Workout-because-you-love-your-body-500x500

Remember that the workout you’ll stick with is one that you enjoy.  Just because your neighbor enjoys jogging doesn’t mean you have to run 5ks every weekend.  It’s important to be open to trying different activities.  You can find one that you enjoy and look forward to doing.

Find-An-Exercise-You-Enjoy

 

We want to help get you started on the best path possible to weight loss and weight maintenance.  There are many factors that go into losing weight and many habits to learn to maintain weight.  That’s why it’s important to set S.M.A.R.T. goals for yourself.  Too often, people simply say “I want to lose weight,” “I need to eat healthier,” or “I need to exercise more.”  Everyone understands the basics of what goes into these, but these goals are too broad and overwhelming that people often give up without accomplishing much.

When setting goals for yourself, it’s important to make sure that they are S.M.A.R.T.: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.

SMART

Ask yourself these questions to begin developing your personal goals.  Setting SMART goals will help you achieve weight loss and weight maintenance one step at a time, allowing you to not be overwhelmed by the changes that you’re making.  Evaluate your progress every week or two, and update your plan based upon your current progress or circumstances. Make sure you are giving yourself enough time to achieve each smaller goal so you are not discouraged if you haven’t met them.

 

GOAL S.M.A.R.T. GOAL
I will eat more vegetables  

I will eat one serving of vegetables at lunch and dinner every day

I will drink more water  

I will drink one glass of water with my meals and snacks every day

I will exercise more  

I will walk thirty minutes during my lunch hour three times per week

I will cook more  

I will cook dinner at home four times per week

I will spend less money at the cafeteria  

I will bring my lunch to work three times per week

Although what you eat is important, new studies are beginning to pay attention to the importance of how you eat.MindfulEating
Results are positive and encouraging, emphasizing the importance of practicing mindful eating during meals and snacks.  One study showed that mindfulness increased enjoyment of pleasurable foods like chocolate and also led to lower-calorie consumption of unhealthy foods.  Another indicated that snack intake after a meal was approximately 30% less for people who ate mindfully, versus those who were distracted while eating.  There is also evidence to indicate the importance of eating slower, with studies showing that a slower eating rate was associated with a lower calorie intake.  One study questioned what leads people to increase their portion sizes of food.  It revealed that lack of self-control over food cues (like hunger) and also distracted eating were top reasons people might go back for seconds.

 

distracted eatingSo what does all this mean?  In a nutshell, when you get rid of distractions (like your phone or TV or work), sit down at a table, and eat food slowly… you tend to eat less!  Eating food slowly and mindfully allows you to recognize when you’re full and satisfied, and helps to stop you from overeating.

 

Some people think this is easier said than done, so here are some steps to help you practice and learn to eat more mindfully.

  1. Always try to sit down at a table to eat.
  2. Before you sit, clear any clutter that may be on the table.
  3. Set a place for yourself, even if you’re eating alone.
  4. Use tableware and utensils that appeal to you.
  5. Take a moment to adjust the lighting so it feels pleasant to you.
  6. Considering playing some soft music while you eat.
  7. Try to minimize multi-tasking while eating.

As with any new goal, take it in baby steps.  Aim to eat mindfully for perhaps one
meal per day and increase from there.  Eventually you’ll find yourself enjoying the peace, quiet, and taste of your food more.

I pledge to

keep good foodsWhether you’re making a quick 30-minute meal or more time-intensive recipe, here is a list of some staples to always have on hand.

Fruits & Vegetables

  • Any and every – fresh, frozen, or canned!  If canned, make sure to choose fruit in its own juice or low-sodium vegetables (always drain canned goods to cut down on calories and sodium).

Grains & Legumes

  • Whole-wheat flour
  • All-purpose flour
  • Assorted whole-wheat pastas
  • Brown rice and instant brown rice
  • Wild rice
  • Old-fashioned rolled oats
  • Dried lentils
  • Yellow cornmeal
  • Whole wheat or whole grain crackers
  • Dried grains: quinoa, whole-wheat couscous, bulgur, barley
  • Low-carb tortillas
  • Whole grain bread
  • Whole grain English muffin

Protein

  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Lean ground beef
  • Chunk light canned tuna or salmon (low sodium, in water)
  • Nuts/Seeds
  • Nut butters
  • Eggs
  • Water-packed tofu

Dairy

  • Low-fat milk or soy milk
  • Low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • Sour cream
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Part-skim mozzarella string cheese
  • Mini Babybel low-fat cheese wheel

Oils, Vinegars, & Condiments

  • Extra-virgin olive oil for cooking and salad dressings
  • Canola oil for cooking and baking
  • Cooking spray
  • Flavorful nut and seed oils for salad dressings and stir-fry seasoning: toasted sesame oil, walnut oil
  • Vinegar: balsamic, red-wine, white-wine, rice or rice-wine, apple cider
  • Asian condiments and flavorings: reduced-sodium soy sauce, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, mirin, oyster sauce, chili-garlic sauce, curry paste
  • Dijon mustard
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Ketchup

Seasonings

  • Kosher salt, coarse sea salt, fine salt
  • Black pepper
  • Fresh garlic or garlic powder
  • Fresh ginger
  • Dried herbs: bay leaves, dill, crumbled sage, thyme leaves, oregano, tarragon, Italian seasoning blend
  • Spices: allspice (whole berries or ground), caraway seeds, chili powder, cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, ground cumin, curry powder, ground ginger, garlic powder, dry mustard, nutmeg, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, turmeric

Canned Goods

  • Canned tomatoes, tomato paste, low sodium
  • Reduced-sodium chicken broth, beef broth, and/or vegetable broth
  • Canned, low sodium beans: cannellini beans, great northern beans, chickpeas, black beans, red kidney beans.  Remember to drain and rinse well before using!
  • Canned lentils

Freezer Basics

  • Frozen plain vegetables: stir-fry mix, bell pepper and onion mix, edamame soy beans, peas, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, chopped onions, green beans, diced
  • Unsweetened frozen berries

Try this quick and easy meatloaf made from pantry ingredients. Cooking the meatloaf in a muffin tin cuts the baking time in half. Serve with green beans and boiled red potatoes or cauliflower mashed “potatoes”.

meatloaf-muffins

Meat Loaf ‘Muffins

6 Servings (2 “muffins”)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped frozen onion, defrosted
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped canned carrots
  • 1 tsp dried oregano or parsley
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, extra lean
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed crackers (saltines)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tbl prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • Cooking spray

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350o.
  2. Combine all ingredients except ketchup and cooking spray.
  3. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.  Spoon meat mixture into muffin cups.  Top each with ketchup.  Bake at 350o for 25 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160o.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Nutrition Information

Calories  279         Protein 32g         Carbohydrates 11g        Sodium 638mg        Fiber 1g

NNM2016_700x550_4Although every month should be celebrated with good nutrition, March is National Nutrition Month®.  Here are a couple of tips to help you have a happy and healthy month!

  1. Eat Breakfast. Start your morning with a healthy breakfast that includes lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Try making a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, low-fat cheese, salsa and a whole wheat tortilla or a parfait with low-fat plain yogurt, fruit and whole grain cereal.
  2. Watch Portion Sizes. Get out the measuring cups and see how close your portions are to the recommended serving size. Use half your plate for fruits and vegetables and the other half for grains and lean protein foods. To complete the meal, add a serving of fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt.
  3. Be Active. Regular physical activity has so many health benefits. Start by doing what exercise you can for at least 10 minutes at a time. Children and teens should get 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day, and adults should get two hours and 30 minutes per week. You don’t have to hit the gym—take a walk after dinner or play a game of catch or basketball.
  4. Fix Healthy Snacks. Healthy snacks can sustain your energy levels between meals, especially when they include a combination of foods. Choose from two or more of the MyPlate food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and protein. Try raw veggies with low-fat cottage cheese, or a tablespoon of peanut butter with an apple or banana.
  5. Get to Know Food Labels. Reading the Nutrition Facts panel can help you shop and eat or drink smarter.
  6. Get Cooking. Preparing foods at home can be healthy, rewarding and cost-effective. Resolve to learn some cooking and kitchen basics, like how to dice an onion or cook dried beans.
  7. Enact Family Meal Time. Plan to eat as a family at least a few times each week. Set a regular mealtime. Turn off the TV, phones and other electronic devices to encourage mealtime talk. Get kids involved in meal planning and cooking and use this time to teach them about good nutrition.
  8. Drink More Water. Quench your thirst by drinking water instead of sugary drinks. Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water if you are active, live or work in hot conditions, or are an older adult
  9. Eat Seafood Twice a Week. Seafood—fish and shellfish—contains a range of nutrients including healthy omega-3 fats. Salmon, trout, oysters and sardines are higher in omega-3s and lower in mercury.
  10. Consult an RDN. Whether you want to eat better to lose weight or lower your risk or manage a chronic disease, consult the experts! Registered dietitian nutritionists can help you by providing sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice

For a more complete list and other healthy eating advice, check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.

omega 3You hear about omega-3s but do you really understand what they are? We know they’re in fish and that they’re good for us, but why exactly? With February being Heart Health month, I wanted to explain a little more what exactly omega-3s are, why they’re so good for us, and where else we can get them besides in fish.


What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3s belong to a family of fats called essential fatty acids. Your body needs these fats, but cannot make them. You must get them from the foods you eat. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is the essential fatty acid found in some vegetable oils. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are found in fish, eggs, and organ meats

What can high-omega-3 foods do for me?

  • Reduce inflammation throughout your body
  • Keep your blood from clotting excessively
  • Lower the amount of lipids (fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides) circulating in the bloodstream
  • Help arteries relax and dilate, helping slightly lower blood pressure
  • Inhibit the thickening of the arteries and slow rate of plaque growth

What are the sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids?

  • Flaxseed/oil (linseed oil)—the richest natural source
  • Canola oil
  • Hempseed/oil
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Soybeans/oil
  • Walnuts/oil
  • Oily fish

Can I get my omega-3 essential fatty acids from vegetables?
Yes, although fish provides the most readily-available form of omega-3.  But if you are working towards eating more fish, incorporating a variety of green vegetables into your diet will provide you with omega-3s.  Try seaweed, broccoli, spinach, kale, spring greens, dark salad leaves, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and parsley for reasonable sources of omega-3s.

How does cooking, storage, or processing affect omega-3 fatty acids?
Polyunsaturated oils, including the omega-3 fats, are extremely susceptible to damage from heat, light, and oxygen. When exposed to these elements for too long, the fatty acids in the oil become oxidized, a scientific term that simply means that the oil becomes rancid. Rancidity not only alters the flavor and smell of the oil, but it also diminishes the nutritional value. More importantly, the oxidation of fatty acids produces free radicals, which are believed to play a role in the development of cancer and other degenerative diseases.

It is important to store oils rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids in dark glass, tightly closed containers in the refrigerator or freezer. In addition, you should never heat these oils on the stove. Instead of sautéing your vegetables in flaxseed or walnut oil, make a salad dressing using these oils.

Do I need to worry about mercury content in fish?

Levels of mercury are generally highest in older, larger, predatory fish and marine mammals. Five of the most commonly eaten fish or shellfish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish. Avoid eating shark, swordfish, king Mackerel, or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.

How much do I need?

The American Heart Association recommends getting at least two servings per week of fish, particularly fatty fish.   These would include salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and chunk light tuna. A serving is 3.5 ounces of cooked fish. Experts say any fish is better than no fish!

 eat more fish

 

 

 

sad-veggies-610x225Poor vegetables. Some people don’t like them and just don’t even give them a chance. Let alone a second, third, or even fourth chance. Experts say that it could take up to about twenty times of trying a food before you develop a taste for it. Our tastes and preferences are constantly changing and we can adapt to like foods. It’s unrealistic to dismiss vegetables, or any food for that matter, forever because you didn’t like it back when you were a child. You are missing out on some tasty and healthy foods doing by so!

Here is a pros and cons list to trying new foods.

Cons:

  1. You might not like it. Then what happens? You can choose to either eat or not, and then continue on with your meal.

Pros:

  1. Variety is the spice of life. By choosing a variety of different foods with different colors and from different food groups, you will have a well-balanced and nutrient-dense diet.
  2. Setting a good example. Kids pick up their eating habits from their parents. If your kids see you being open to trying new foods, they’re more likely to do the same.
  3. Cooking more. If you’re curious about a new vegetable or recipe, try it out! Cooking at home helps you be more in control of what you eat by deciding the portion and the ingredients.
  4. Discovering flavors. There could be a new flavor or food out there that you could absolutely love! You won’t know until you try.
  5. Why not? What have you got to lose? Trying a new food or recipe should be fun. Healthy eating is a lifelong journey, so why not make it an adventurous one!

Suggestions to get over “picky habits”

  1. Give the food at least three bites. If you don’t like it then, try the food at another meal in a different way. It’s best not to have the mentality of “one and done.”
  2. Try a different cooking method, suDifferent ways to prepare asparagusch as grilling, sautéing, blanching, broiling, or roasting. Check out Fruit and Veggies More Matters or Eating Well for some great ideas!
  3. Try different spices, herbs, or flavor mixtures. Just be mindful of the sodium content of pre-made flavor packets; check for low-sodium or no-salt versions.
  4. Take realistic steps to incorporate new foods.  Start off with a goal of trying or re-trying one new food per week, and you can increase it from there.  Having too many goals at once can lead to discouragement if you don’t meet them.

The most important thing is to try. And remember the motto: if at first you don’t succeed, try try again!

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