7 Ways to Eat Green on St. Patrick’s Day

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Drinking green beer and savoring a green cookies aren’t the only ways to eat green on St. Patrick’s Day. I am so thrilled that Nutrition Expert, Patti Wooten Swanson has shared with all of us her healthier plan for celebrating St. Patrick’s day. Here are 7 ways to eat green this St. Patrick’s Day:

1. For breakfast, sauté chopped spinach, kale or Swiss chard in a little olive oil, then add a beaten egg to make scrambled eggs. Dark green vegetables are among the most healthful of vegetables, Wooten Swanson said. They are low in calories and high in vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, iron and dietary fiber. The USDA’s dietary guidelines recommend adults eat 9 to 13 servings of fruit and vegetables each day, with most of those being vegetables.

2. Mid-morning snack, grab a green apple. Not all apples are red; you’ll find several green varieties in grocery stores just right for St. Patrick’s Day. Light green Golden Delicious apples are sweet, plentiful, inexpensive and easy to find. Granny Smith apples are deep green, tart and very crunchy. Granny Smith are often used for apple pie, but are also great to eat out of hand. 

3. At lunch time, prepare a crisp salad with a blend of romaine lettuce, baby kale, spinach or mixed greens. For crunch add sugar snap peas, slices of green bell pepper and pieces of celery. Artichoke hearts, avocado and healthy green goddess dressing add gourmet flair. To make the dressing, blend 2 green onions, ½ green jalapeño pepper, 2/3 cup Greek yogurt, ½ cup cilantro, juice from 1 lime, ½ cup olive oil, salt and a teaspoon of sugar or honey. (Recipe adapted from Oklahoma State Extension.) “When you put a lot of different green ingredients in your salad you get a lot of different nutrients,” Wooten Swanson said. 

4. For an afternoon snack, blend a green smoothie. Put a handful of green leafy vegetables in the blender with non-fat yogurt or almond milk. Add half a banana and any kind of fresh or frozen fruit. 

5. Cabbage and corned beef are traditional St. Patrick’s Day foods, but Wooten Swanson has suggestions that are greener, healthier and just as festive. Mix cooked spinach fettuccine noodles with prepared basil pesto (made with olive oil), fresh spinach leaves and green olives. Add cooked chicken and some feta cheese.  “The meal will offer a balanced blend of whole grains, vegetables, protein and dairy,” Wooten Swanson said.

6. A healthful and simple green drink to accompany meals is cold tap water with a squeeze of lime. 

7. For desert, there’s no reason to punish your body with sugary green jello shots. Treat it right with a healthy and delicious green desert. “I layer non-fat Greek yogurt and kiwifruit. Sprinkle pistachios and drizzle a little honey on top,” Wooten Swanson said.  Kiwifruit are high in vitamin C and pistachios are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids. Both are great sources of antioxidants.  

Of course, eating a green diet shouldn’t be limited to St. Patrick’s Day. “Once you start enjoying these green vegetables and other healthy foods, you’ll probably want to eat a lot more,” Wooten Swanson said.

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Wooten Swanson is the nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for UC ANR Cooperative Extension in San Diego County. She manages the county’s federally funded Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, in which staff members visit schools and community sites to provide lessons on healthy eating to low-income families and children. Thanks for sharing your nutrition knowledge with me and my readers!!

7 Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are nature’s hidden treasure because one handful of mushrooms delivers nutrition, value, taste and versatility. They’re fat-free, low-calorie, nutrient-dense, low in sodium, contain natural antioxidants, and have a savory flavor that enhances everyday dishes. Here are 7 health benefits of mushrooms:

 1. Weight Management/Satiety. Mushrooms are hearty and fulfilling. Increasing intake of low-energy density-foods (meaning few calories given the volume of food), specifically mushrooms, in place of high-energy-density foods, like lean ground beef, can be an effective method for reducing daily energy and fat intake while still feeling full and satiated after the meal. Research conducted at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests substituting mushrooms for lean ground beef in an entrée just once every week would save almost 20,000 calories or more than 5 pounds of body weight in one year.

 2. Source of Vitamin D. Few foods naturally contain vitamin D, but mushrooms are unique for being the only source in the produce aisle and one of the few non-fortified food sources. All mushrooms contain vitamin D, but growers also have the ability to increase D levels in mushrooms to a controlled amount by exposing them to ultraviolet light.

3. Every Day Versatility.Thanks to their versatility, low-calorie, nutrient-dense mushrooms can help people meet recommended dietary guidelines. Fresh mushrooms can be added to everyday dishes to provide an extra serving of vegetables and deliver important nutrients, including vitamin D, potassium, selenium, ergothionene and B vitamins.

4. Low in Sodium. Mushrooms are low in sodium, plus their umami counterbalances saltiness and allows for less salt to be used in a dish, without compromising flavor. “Tasting Success with Cutting Salt,” a collaborative report from the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America, recognizes cooking with umami-rich ingredients, like mushrooms, as a way to boost flavor without adding salt.

5. Good Source of Antioxidants and Immunity. Mushrooms are a great source of the antioxidants selenium and ergothioneine which helps strengthen the immune system and protect body cells from damage that might lead to chronic diseases.

6.  High in B Vitamins Mushrooms also provide B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, which help to provide energy by breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

7. Cancer Prevention Scientists at City of Hope were some of the first to find a potential link between mushrooms and a decreased likelihood of tumor growth and development in cells and animals. The team’s research shows that women may benefit from a balanced diet, which includes about 3 to 5 ounces of mushrooms per day. Pink takes center stage in October as mushrooms are sold in pink packaging in honor of national breast cancer awareness month.

Also here’s some more mushrooms 101

  • To clean mushrooms, simply brush off any dirt with a damp paper towel or fingers. Before using, trim the end of the stem if it’s tough. Never soak mushrooms as they may absorb the moisture.
  • Mushrooms keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. To maximize shelf life, keep mushrooms in original packaging until ready to use. You can freeze sautéed mushrooms for up to one month.

I am partnered with the Mushroom Council, but this post was done independently to share my love for mushrooms and their health benefits. See Mushroom Council for more information about mushrooms and recipes.

 

How Do We Make Food Decisions? Seductive Nutrition

We hear about “Mindless Eating” often, and I speak about it often during my health and nutrition presentations. I was so glad to find out about Dr. Wansink, an expert in the psychology of food. In his book, “Mindless Eating, Dr. Wansink explores and trys to understand how small changes in people’s everyday food decisions can make a positive difference on their health. He is supportive of Unilever Food Solutions’ “Seductive Nutrition” approach.

What is “Seductive Nutrition”? Dr. Wansink states, “It can speak to the holistic dining experience. Nice dinnerware, soft lighting and a matching tablecloth can help enhance a person’s dining expectations and is something to keep in mind for your next dinner party.” In his research, he found people rated the taste of a brownie much higher when it was served on a nice dinner plate than on a cheap plastic plate. Look how this broccolini  looks more luscious in this photo (above). See health benefits of broccolini and the recipe for Broccolini with Pumpkin Seeds. Dr Wansink now wants to help industry professionals (bloggers, recipe developers, restaurant operators) and their dining patrons learn how quick, easy meal changes – whether dining in a restaurant or at home – can make positive impact on how people eat, and therefore how they live. The group at Unilever Food Solutions recently hosted a “select group of chefs and restaurant operators at the Culinary Institute of America-Greystone (CIA) to highlight their efforts to help people choose delicious, slightly healthier meals when they eat out through “Seductive Nutrition.” Developed by Unilever Food Solutions after the release of a global World Menu Report, “Seductive Nutrition” nudges guests to choose top menu items made slightly healthier through small changes to ingredients and preparation methods, with more enticing menu descriptions.” For example, my recipe for Checkboard Tuna Sandwich is more enticing by its name and its presentation.

Here are a few tips from he suggests on how to seduce diners or readers into making the healthier meal choices:

  • Research from his Cornell Food and Brand Lab, and his book show that we eat first with our eyes and imagination, and then with our stomachs. If we think something is going to taste good, it also tends to.  Knowing this tendency, “Seductive Nutrition” may help make the healthiest of foods not only appear – but also taste – indulgent to your customers.
  • Simple, yet descriptive, words on a menu board can help lead customers to select healthier menu items. Using words like creamy, hot, or spicy on a menu board have been shown to help increase food sales in restaurants by up to 28 percent; and, in his studies, he found it led people to view restaurants as more “trendy and up-to-date.” It’s an easy change to make.  For example, including descriptive adjectives can turn your everyday mashed potatoes into “creamy, whipped mashed potatoes,” and a yogurt parfait into a “silken yogurt parfait.”
  • Incorporating vivid adjectives can trigger people’s meal expectations. In his analysis of more than 1,000 descriptively-named menu items, he found three key ways for foods to be “seductively” named:
  • 1. Geographic Labels: Use words to create an image or illicit the ideology of a geographic area that diners can associate with foods. Examples include Southwestern Tex-Mex Salad; homegrown Iowa Pork Chops; “Real” Carolina Barbeque Sauce; or Country Peach Tart.
  • 2. Nostalgic Labels: Alluding to your customers’ past can trigger happy associations of family, tradition, national origin and a sense of wholesomeness. Use these fond associations to create appealing names, like Old-World Italian Manicotti; Grandma’s Best Banana Cream Pie; or Green Gables Matzo Ball Soup.
  • 3. Sensory Labels: Describing the taste, smell and texture of menu items served can help set customer dining expectations. Dessert chefs accomplish this masterfully; example menu names include Velvet Chocolate Mousse; Silky-Smooth Pumpkin Pie; or Warm Apple Crisp. Sensory labels apply to all meal courses, such as Hearty, Sizzling Steaks; Snappy-fresh Seasonal Carrots; or Garlic butter-infused Chicken Kiev.

For more information on Unilever Food Solutions, the “Seductive Nutrition” approach to menu development and the “Seductive Nutrition” Challenge, please visit www.unileverfoodsolutions.us.


Disclosure: I received compensation for this post as part of a sponsored opportunity from the Mom It Forward blogger network for Unilever Food Solutions. All ideas, images and opinions are my own.

 

Fitness Friday: Burn More Calories Trail Running

Need some new ways to blast calories? Since it’s warmer outside, head to the trails. Try some of these three fun, fast-paced trail routines designed by Vindum and Nikki Kimball, three-time winner of the prestigious Western States 100-mile endurance race. I love all of three trail running suggestions.

1. Circuit Play
Why: Mixing walking, running, sprinting, and strength work transforms a hike into a full-body workout.

How: As you move along the trail, vary your pace: Go easy for two minutes, pick it up a bit for five, then sprint or speed-walk hard for 15 to 60 seconds. Recover at a slow pace until your breathing returns to normal. Then launch into a strength move (pushups and triceps dips on a log, calf raises on a rock, squats with one foot propped up on a rock) for 60 to 90 seconds. That’s one cycle. Do four to six cycles, switching up the strength moves and your speeds throughout your workout.

2. Cardio Hill Blast
Why: Running and hiking uphill increases your leg strength and improves your cardiovascular fitness while also torching fat—win, win, win! For each degree of incline, count on at least a 10 percent increase in calories burned, according to New York City nutrition and metabolism expert Jana Klauer, M.D., author of The Park Avenue Nutritionist’s Plan: The No-Fail Prescription for Energy, Vitality & Weight Loss. So running up a 5 percent grade (a gentle hill) will burn 50 percent more calories than running on a totally flat surface for the same amount of time.

How: Run up gradual hills at a strong but comfortable pace (you’re breathing hard, but you can still say a few words). Keep your chest lifted and your shoulders relaxed and down. On steep grades, switch to a quick walk, using medium to long strides. If the route you take has only one or two hills, do repeats: Run or walk the hill, jog back down, then take the climb again. Aim for four to eight total hill climbs.

3. Power Up, Race Down
Why: When you do squats, lunges, and other strength moves uphill, and then run downhill, you’ll get a balanced lower-body workout. The uphill exercises target the glutes, calves, and inner and outer thighs, while downhill running works your quads. Bonus: Doing strength moves on an incline requires more energy, so you’ll burn more calories, and managing uneven ground as you descend improves balance and coordination.

How: When you get to a hill, work in a few strength moves. Then run down the other side (or the same side). If the climb is long enough, perform 20 reps of each exercise on the way up.

Read more of this story at Women’s Health

10 Foods That Boost Your Metabolism

I am on Magic 96.5 FM Radio this morning in Birmingham doing my monthly radio show on “Foods that Boost Your Metabolism”. Tune in at 6:50 a.m and 8:50 a.m CST today. Here are 10 Foods that can help boost your metabolism so add them to you diet. You can find the recipe above for Oatmeal with Egg whites here.

1. Water-Water speeds up weight loss and increases the metabolism. It also flushes toxins and sodium from the body. Cold water is said to be even better as your body has to work to heat the cold water until the temperature reaches the rest of the water in your body. This process increases the metabolism even more.

2. Green Tea: The caffeine in green tea speeds up metabolism and also has a chemical, EGCG (antioxidant), that stimulates the nervous system and helps prevent cancer. Extracts from Green tea boost metabolism, aid in weight loss, and also have anti-cancer properties.

3. Grapefruit-Water rich fruits, such as grapefruit, dilute calories. Grapefruit also reduces insulin, which can help your body process food more quickly and efficiently. Grapefruit is also a good source of Vitamin C, reducing insulin levels and boosting metabolism.

4. Broccoli-Broccoli is high in vitamin C and calcium. These two work together to help burn calories faster and more effectively. Calcium also activates your metabolism, and vitamin C helps absorb more calcium. Broccoli is also great for immunity. It  has vitamin A, folate and fiber.

5. Low-fat Yogurt or Greek Yogurt-Yogurt is full of calcium and protein which gives you energy and helps build lean muscle mass. Yogurt also helps regulate your digestive track

6. Hot peppers-Eating hot peppers can boost metabolism and curb cravings. The chemical capsaicin (found in jalapeno and cayenne pepper) assists in speeding up metabolism. Other spices, cinnamon and curry powder, are also metabolism boosters.

7. Salmon-Salmon is a lean protein and high in omega-3 fatty acids which help speed up your metabolism.

8. Lean proteins-Protein found in chicken, turkey and lean meats takes energy to break down so your body burns calories in the digestive process. 

9. Almonds-Although almonds are high in calories, they are jam packed with essential fatty acids, which are great metabolism boosters.

10 Oatmeal-Oatmeal is rich in fat-soluble fiber which requires a lot of calories to break down. It also reduces cholesterol levels and risks of heart disease.

Five Heath Benefits of Drinking Water

We hear it all the time-“Drink more water!” “Stay Hydrated” But WHY? I am so excited to have a guest post by Crystal Springs of Alabama on this topic. Read on… 

It all boils down to one word: Dehydration. We all know that dehydration means our bodies aren’t getting the amounts of fluids they need – we’re not replenishing what we’ve used. The effects of dehydration may surprise you though, and get you to pay attention to the old “eight glass” rule.

Depending on several variables, like weight and activity level, it takes about 60 to 80 ounces of water (7.5 to 10 cups) to replace the fluid the body naturally loses in one day. Water makes each organ in your body run the way it’s supposed to. Think of water in your body as gas for your car (just, not as thick or smelly, hopefully).

The health benefits of drinking plenty of water can’t be denied. Drinking enough water each day can lead to:

  • Fewer headaches. Ever get a mild to moderate ache in your cranium that Tylenol just won’t fix? It could be due to a lack of water in your system. Drink up to feel better!

  • More energy. When you have enough water working in all the systems of your body, your body functions better and you have more energy.

  • Better skin. Healing blemishes or reducing wrinkles from the inside out is a natural way to look better.

  • Better breath. Ever been around someone with a raging case of halitosis? It’s not pleasant. Ensure your breath is at its best by drinking enough water daily.

  • Weight loss. Having a glass or two of water before meals can help fill your tummy with liquid volume, actually helping you eat less, according to Today.

So what if you’ve got an aversion to drinking glass after glass of the clear stuff? Not to worry. According to the Mayo Clinic, food provides around 20% of your daily water intake on average, especially water-filled fruits and vegetables. And if you just can’t stomach plain ol’ water, take a look at our blog post about the best diet drink alternatives – drinks that hydrate you while giving you a little flavor.

Crystal Springs of Alabama is a home and office water delivery service, providing crisp, clean spring water right to your door. We offer individual bottles and 5- or 3-gallon jugs with coolers. For more information about our services, visit our website.

Fitness Friday: Bob Harper’s Top 5 Fitness Tips

Bob Harper is America’s #1 TV weight-loss authority and fitness expert from NBC’s The Biggest Loser. You can also find him here on twitter, and he is the creator of Smart Success. Here are his top five weight-loss and fitness tips:

1. Protein is important for building muscle and repair. It is essential to get at least half of your body weight of protein in grams. For example if you way 180 pounds, you must get 90 grams of protein.

2. When traveling, stick to your workout regiment; sneak out to your hotel gym, and get a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio a day. Pack a jump rope-it doesn’t take up much space. Grab a hotel bath towel, and create a short circuit, or just run around the surrounding area of your hotel to keep your body trim and in its normal fitness routine

3. Your warm up sets the mood for your entire workout. Choose something that gives you a dynamic and strong start. An example is standing kicks. They are excellent for getting the blood pumping.

4. When building better abs (or any muscle), work them out 2 to 3 times a week. Not everyday.

5. For an overall body workout, you can keep it simple and stick to push ups. You will see great results.

Photo via Pinterest

Fitness Friday: Toughest Workout DVD of 2012

What is the toughest workout DVD out there? Insanity Workout is a 60-day home-based workout video program designed by the company Beach Body, which also produces other popular workout DVDs such as P90X. Insanity is possibly the most difficult, cardiovascular-based DVD workout program on the market today, due to its strenuous pace. It is a total body, circuit training workout that uses only your body weight as resistance. The plan involves a schedule of six days of exercise per week, and each workout will take approximately 30 to 60 minutes to complete. All that is required to perform each INSANITY workout is a TV, DVD player, a good pair of tennis shoes, and sheer willpower. I am dying to try this!

Photo above via pineterst

Health, Diet and Super Foods Seminar at Bikram Yoga Birmingham

Exciting news….I turned in my second cookbook manuscript this afternoon. It will be released this fall and will be published by Robert Rose Books. More fun news: I’ll be at Bikram Yoga Birmingham tomorrow (Saturday morning – see below). I have never done a speaking event sweaty, so this is a first. Join me if you are in Birmingham! I’ll be talking about healthy eating, super foods, healthy snacks and more.

Top Healthy Eating Habits and How to Avoid the 10 Worst Eating Habits”
Saturday, January 14  11:15am (immediately following the 9:30 class)

Maintaining a consistent yoga/ exercise regimen is mandatory for a healthy life.  Equally important is a consistent, realistic, healthy eating style.  Alison Lewis is one of our own devoted students We are  fortunate that she will be here to help us in our nutrition quest!

 Alison is President and Owner of Ingredients, Inc., a Food Media Consulting company in Birmingham, Alabama. She is a well-known Nutritionist, Cookbook Author, Recipe Developer, Magazine and Internet Journalist and Food, Fitness and Health Blogger. You can find her work in Southern Living, Clean Eating, Cooking Light, Oxygen and more as well on her personal blog http://ingredientsinc.net or bio website http://alisonlewis.net There is no fee for this seminar, but if you would like to make a donation to our monthly featured non-profit, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Birmingham, it would be greatly appreciated.

Fitness Friday: Top 5 Best Workouts for Burning Calories

How can you get the most from workouts? Take a look at the top calorie burning exercises if you want to get the most bang for your buck.

1. Running-Running is the easiest, cheapest workout. All you need is some good running shoes and a street or trail. Depending of your pace, running is said to burn up to 500 to 700 calories in an hour.

2. Spinning-The great thing about spin (or indoor cycling) classes is that anyone can do them. Also, it’s a great cross-training workout and not hard on the joints or knees. Some spin classes, with a lot of intervals, are said to burn up to 600 to 700 calories in an hour.

3. Jumping Rope-If your’e short on time, this is the exercise to do. Jumping rope for only 10 minutes is said to burn 130 calories or 780 calories an hour. I think I’m going to buy one tomorrow :).

4. Zumba-Dancing for an hour is a great way to burn calories, and this latest rage is said to burn up to 500 calories in an hour. Its popularity is increasing by the week.

5. Swimming-This all over body workout is easy on the joints and great for you. It is a great workout for cross-training, and 30 minutes of the breast stroke can burn 400 calories in only 30 minutes.

Photo via Pinterest