"I love cooking with spices. They can so easily take a dish from blah to fabulous.But when you’re first starting out with cooking, it can be a bit daunting to know which spices to purchase and which aren’t necessary to have on hand. Here are the spices that I basically can’t live without. If all of my spices were suddenly to disappear, these are the ones I would rush out to purchase first."
Parsley: This is a great everyday herb. It isn’t super punchy but it helps to round out other flavors.
Sage: This spice definitely says “breakfast sausage” to me. I think it goes great with poultry or pork.
Rosemary: This spice is a little more distinctive. It almost has an acidic smell to me. Great with poultry.
Thyme: This one you either love or hate. Some people in my family call it “the dirt spice” and it definitely has an earthy quality to it. A little goes a long way.
Dill weed: This goes great with salmon. It’s also used to make homemade ranch dressing.
Basil: I love this herb for Italian dishes. Great in an Alfredo sauce.
Oregano: Another one that goes great with Italian dishes (I really like it in tomato or pizza sauce), or Mexican dishes. I use it in my homemade chili powder.
Celery seed: This can be added to soups or stews when you don’t have fresh celery on hand. But be careful: it can overwhelm other flavors if you use too much!
Fennel: Great for making your own Italian sausage, or adding to Italian sauces. It almost has a licorice flavor to me.
These are spices that I most often use for sweet recipes. However, most of them cross over into the savory realm as well.
Cinnamon: CANNOT live without this. I love it on my oatmeal, cinnamon toast, in baked goods…
Cloves: Used in many spiced baked goods. Use a light hand with this one—it can be strong!
Nutmeg: Love this not only for baking, but also for homemade eggnog. It’s also used to make some savory cheese sauces.
Ginger: Another one that can be used for both savory and sweet dishes. Great for baked goods such as gingerbread or “pumpkin spice” anything. Also wonderful for Thai or other Asian cuisines.
Cardamom: This spice isn’t SUPER necessary, but it’s used in chai-spiced recipes, which I adore. It has a bit of warmth to it.
Paprika: Used in many Mexican dishes. It’s great sprinkled on chicken before cooking.
Curry powder: Another one that isn’t absolutely necessary, but I’m a big curry fan, so I like to have this on hand.
Onion powder: This is so handy to have in case you’ve run out of onions and need to add some extra flavor to a dish.
Garlic powder: Same idea for garlic powder—great for when you’re in a pinch. These two are also used in a lot of homemade spice mixes.
Mustard: This adds a bit of kick to a dish without adding too much heat. Used in cheese sauces.
Cayenne: If you like things fiery, this is an easy way to add extra heat to a dish. Not necessary if you abhor all things spicy.
Cumin: Crucial for a lot of Mexican dishes. I like to add it to guacamole.
Article Courtesy of the Pioneer Women
View the full article here: http://thepioneerwoman.com/food-and-friends/how-to-stock-a-basic-spice-cabinet/
For many families, back to school means a return to packing lunches. Making sure that your children are well-fed 365 days of every year is hard enough, but adding 180 school lunches can feel downright relentless. I understand and am here to offer relief. Get ready for the most liberating school lunch advice you'll ever receive: Let your kid pack their own lunch box.
Packing Lunch Is Empowering for Kids
No, it's not passing the buck or even punishment — you'll be surprised to see that your kids may even take some joy in being in charge of their own lunch. Allowing kids to pack their own lunch boxes is empowering. They might not love doing it every single day, but they can be in charge of a significant part of their diet, which goes a long way towards a healthy relationship with food and cooking, even when they make less-than-optimal choices.
And, yes, getting your kid to pack her own lunch frees you of the daily task. It's okay to reap benefits while teaching your kid a life lesson. It's smart, even.
Here are seven lunch box ideas that kids can easily make themselves. Get ready to sleep in, you know, an extra five minutes.
The Keys to Help Kids Pack Their Lunch
Keep the pantry stocked with healthy staples.
Keep school lunch in mind when you make dinner, because leftovers are lunch box gold.
Keep a posted list of ideas available for kids to choose from.
Water is a vital nutrient and we need to drink plenty every daily. Every cell, tissue and organ in the body contains water, and almost every life sustaining system in the body requires water! Water transports vital nutrients and oxygen to cells and removes waste products and regulates body temperature, keeps tissues moist and is the main part of body fluids. Our body needs an ongoing supply of water to function normally and to prevent dehydration.
Here are a few tips to help you drink more water:
Get in the habit of drinking a glass of water first thing every morning.
Choose bottled water instead of a sugary beverage from a vending machine.
Order water as a beverage when eating out.
Sparkling water with a few frozen berries added is delicious.
Add cucumber slices or fresh ginger to a glass of ice water.
Garnish a glass of ice water with a sprig of fresh mint and a slice of lemon, lime or orange.
Protein is a popular topic of discussion. What is it?
Protein in foods we eat is made from many amino acids arranged in different sequences according to the type of protein. It is the unique arrangement of these amino acids that makes proteins different.
Every cell in our body contains protein and amino acids arranged in specific orders are the building blocks that make these proteins.
Why do we need protein?
Amino acids from protein make and repair all different types of body proteins including body tissues like muscles, organs, bone and skin. Growth, repair of tissues and replacing body cells as they wear out require amino acids. They also regulate many body processes, are a part of the body’s defense system and even help transport oxygen in the blood to body cells. These are just a few functions of amino acids in the body.
Where do we get protein?
Both animal and plant food sources contain protein. Animal sources contain all of the essential amino acids and are called complete proteins.
Most plant sources supply amino acids but lack one or more of the essential amino acids and are called incomplete proteins. Different plant sources lack different essential amino acids but combining two plant sources that are lacking different essential amino acids makes a complete protein. Proteins from soybeans and quinoa are plant based proteins that do contain all of the essential amino acids and are considered complete protein.
What are some sources of protein?
Great animal based proteins include lean cuts of meat like round steak, sirloin and ground beef that is 93% lean or greater. Enjoy skinned poultry like chicken and turkey and choose a variety of seafood. Eggs are another option.
Some plant based proteins to enjoy include dried beans like pinto, kidney, black beans, navy beans, red beans and great northern beans. Dried peas including chickpeas (garbanzos) made into hummus and split peas made into split pea soup are delicious. Soy products like tofu and tempeh can be prepared many ways. Nuts and seeds contain protein but are high in calories so enjoy in small amounts.
Why should I eat vegetables and fruits?
Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits has many health benefits. They provide many nutrients that are important for good health and some that help protect against heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Choosing nutrient dense vegetables and fruits instead of calorie dense options like sweets, cakes, pies, pastries, chips and high fat crackers, fried foods and rich sauces can be helpful for managing weight.
Tips to keep fresh vegetables and fruits safe to eat:
In the produce section of the store choose fresh vegetables and fruits that are free of bruising or other damage. Keep away from raw meat, poultry and seafood items in your grocery cart, at the checkout counter and in grocery bags.
Go straight home if possible so all foods that need to be kept cold can be refrigerated quickly. If not going straight home put a cooler in the car with ice packs to store foods that need to be kept cold. Return home as soon as possible.
Once home, refrigerate foods that need to be kept cold. Generally if produce was kept cold at the store it needs to be refrigerated at home.
Wash fresh vegetables and fruits under cold running water just before serving. They need to be washed even if they will be peeled so that any dirt or germs on the peel or skin will not be transferred from the outside surface to the inside when cutting into the produce.
All vegetables and fruits that have been cut up, peeled or cooked should be refrigerated as soon as possible and within two hours. If outdoors, and the temperature outdoors is above 90 degrees F., they should be kept chilled in a clean container in a cooler at 40 degrees F. or below within one hour.
Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before beginning food preparation or handling food.
Luscious, sweet and juicy strawberries make a fabulous & healthy dessert!
Strawberries are low in calories and contain many nutrients including vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber. Plus they contain phytonutrients and are delicious and sweet enough to enjoy for dessert. Select strawberries that are plump, ruby red and evenly colored with green leafy tops. Avoid those that are bruised or appear mushy.
Strawberries deteriorate quickly so enjoy them or freeze within a day or two of purchasing. Overly ripe strawberries can be used in smoothies or pureed and served as a sauce over melon.
STRAWBERRIES WITH BALSAMIC REDUCTION DRIZZLE DESSERT
½ cup balsamic vinegar
4 cups strawberries
Pour vinegar in a small stainless steel or other nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium heat about 5 or 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until it reduces to about ¼ cup. It will continue to thicken slightly as it cools. If it gets too thick add a little water and simmer again just until it is almost as thick as you would like. The flavor is stronger after the vinegar reduces to a smaller volume. Divide strawberries in four dessert dishes and drizzle the balsamic reduction equally over the berries. This recipe makes four serving and each serving contains approximately 50 calories and 1 gram fat.
Have a little celery left in your refrigerator? Make this simple sautéed celery to serve as a side dish. This recipe can be adjusted for as much celery as you have that needs to be used. Simply increase the oil and garlic as well as the amount of celery. A favorite fresh herb such as fresh basil could be added and a little salt or pepper if desired.
Celery is very low in calories and high in fiber. It also provides potassium, vitamin C and some folate.
It adds volume to recipes like soups, stews and casseroles for minimal calories. Celery also adds a delightful crunch and fresh flavor when served raw in recipes like tuna or chicken salad.
Celery has a mild but distinctive flavor that blends well with many foods. Because of the mild flavor it is extremely versatile and can be served in many types of recipes including salads, salsas, soups, casseroles, pilafs and stir-fries.
SIMPLE SAUTEED CELERY
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup diagonally sliced fresh celery
Pour oil in small skillet and heat to medium. Add garlic and sauté just a few seconds. Add celery and sauté five or six minutes while stirring. If needed, add about a tablespoon of water while cooking. This recipe makes one serving and contains approximately 59 calories and 5 grams of fat.
Why Should I Eat Whole Grains?
· Whole grains contain dietary fiber which may reduce the risk of heart disease, some types of cancer, diabetes and other health concerns.
· Whole grains contain vitamins and minerals that have specific functions in the body.
What is a Whole Grain?
·A whole grain is the entire edible part of the
grain including the bran, endosperm and germ.The bran makes up the outer layers of the grain and contains dietary
fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants and trace minerals. The endosperm is the inner
part of the grain and contains protein and carbohydrate with a minimal amount
of vitamins and minerals.The germ is
small but it is the seed that sprouts to generate a new plant.It contains B vitamins, trace minerals,
antioxidants and healthy oil.
·Examples of whole grain include whole wheat,
oats, brown rice, buckwheat, sorghum and quinoa.
·Read the food label to determine if a product
is a whole grain.
How Do I Eat More Whole Grains?
·Start with breakfast.Enjoy a bowl of oatmeal or include a whole
grain bagel or whole wheat toast with breakfast.
·At lunch enjoy as a sandwich made with whole
wheat bread (not just wheat bread which may not be whole wheat).Or have a wrap made from whole wheat.
·At dinner substitute brown rice for white
rice, whole wheat pasta for refined pasta or enjoy a whole grain salad like
tabbouleh which is made from whole grain bulgur or a salad made with whole
·For snacks enjoy a muffin made with whole
wheat, whole grain crackers or whole grain air popped popcorn.
Tomatoes – What’s in them for me?
Tomatoes provide nutrients including vitamins A and C, potassium, dietary fiber and other vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are so good for you. They add beautiful color texture and flavor to many dishes. Tomatoes are extremely versatile and can be served in salads, soups, casseroles, on sandwiches or just sliced as a simple side salad.
Tomatoes are a basic ingredient in many salsas. The simple Basic Salsa Recipe below is wonderful as it is or you can add your own favorite ingredient like chopped avocado, zucchini or bell pepper to create your own version.
BASIC SALSA RECIPE
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapenos
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped green onion
2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
Combine lime juice, garlic, jalapenos and salt in a small glass bowl. Stir to mix. Add cilantro, green onion and tomatoes and stir. Refrigerate until ready to serve. This recipe makes 8 servings. Each ¼ cup serving contains approximately 12 calories and a trace amount of fat. Serve with raw vegetable dippers or whole grain pita chips.
Keeping food safe to eat is important for healthful eating. Food-borne illness also called food poisoning is caused by bacteria or other pathogens in food.
An estimated one in six Americans becomes ill annually from food poisoning resulting in many hospitalizations and some deaths. Improper handling and storage of food increase the risk of food-borne illness. Practicing food safety guidelines can prevent many cases of food poisoning. Some tips to help keep food safe include:
Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling food or anything coming in contact with food. Bacteria live and multiply on warm, moist hands. Use soap and warm water to scrub all parts of the hands and nails for at least 20 seconds. Rinse hands thoroughly with water and dry with a clean towel.
Keep countertops, appliances, utensils and cutting boards clean. Wash with hot soapy water and rinse with hot water before and after preparing food. These can be sanitized by applying a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Allow to air dry.
Change dishcloths, sponges and towels often. When damp they are a great place for bacteria to grow.
Wash fresh produce thoroughly under running water just prior to eating, cutting or cooking.
Avoid cross-contamination which can spread bacteria. Keep raw seafood, meat and poultry separate from ready-to-eat foods in the grocery cart, in your refrigerator and when preparing at home.
Cook seafood, meat, poultry and egg products to a safe internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria.
Keep the refrigerator clean. Proper refrigeration slows bacteria growth. Bacteria can grow rapidly in the “danger zone” temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees F. Keep cold foods cold at 40 degrees F or below and keep hot foods hot at 140 degrees F or above. The freezer should be 0 degrees F or lower.
What makes red and purple grapes and berries healthy for your heart?
Red and purple grapes and berries like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries contain phytonutrients believed to be beneficial for heart health. They also contain potassium and dietary fiber and are very low in sodium.
A few small clusters of red grapes make a great snack, dessert or edible garnish for a meal. And they are delicious in salads.
Visit our Recipes for a wonderful and quick to fix fruit salad recipe that combines the healthy benefits of grapes and berries.
Potatoes, including the skin, are packed with healthful complex carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber that are vital for good health.
They contain phytonutrients which are food components being studied for their role in protecting us from certain diseases.
The key to keeping potatoes healthful is the preparation. Many traditional potato recipes contain lots of fat and sodium because of the fat and salt added in preparation. Examples are traditionally prepared fried potatoes, a huge baked salted baked potato (loaded with butter, sour cream, cheese and bacon) mashed potatoes, potato salad and potato soup.
Below is a great Cream of Potato Soup recipe that is much lower in calories, fat and sodium than many traditional potato soup recipes. Enjoy!
Root vegetables are the part of the plant that normally grow downward and anchor the plant into the ground where nutrients and moisture are absorbed.
They range in color from white, to bright pink, to orange and to deep red. Flavors range from sweet to mild and nutty.
These vegetables are low in fat and calories, rich in carbohydrate and most are good sources of fiber. Other nutrients vary according to the specific vegetable.
Beets, carrots, celeriac, parsnips, rutabagas, sweet potatoes and turnips are examples of root vegetables. Roasted root vegetables are a wonderful and hearty option to serve in cold weather. They can be served solo or combined like in the following recipe:
ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES WITH
FRESH ROSEMARY AND GARLIC RECIPE
tablespoons canola oil
tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
teaspoon black pepper
garlic cloves with skin removed
cups carrots sliced in ½ to ¾ inch slices
cups parsnips sliced in ½ to ¾ inch slices
cups sweet potatoes, unpeeled and cut in ½ to ¾ inch cubes
cups turnips, peeled and cut in ½ to ¾ inch cubes
sprigs fresh rosemary
oven to 450 degrees F.Spray a glass 8
inch x 13 inch baking dish with a nonstick cooking spray.
oil, rosemary leaves, black pepper, salt and garlic cloves in a large glass
bowl and stir to mix.Add vegetables and
toss to coat.Place vegetables in prepared
baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes.Remove from oven and turn with large spoon or spatula.Return to oven and bake another 20 to 25
minutes or until desired doneness and vegetables have a nice roasted color. Garnish
roasted vegetables with rosemary sprigs. This recipe makes 6 servings. Each serving
contains approximately 135 calories and 5 grams fat.
vegetables can be served with any main dish protein such as baked chicken
breast, sliced turkey breast, pork chops, lean beef or fish.Complement with a green salad and a whole
The fragrant aroma and comforting warmth of simmering soup is inviting on a cold winter day. Soups can be very healthy when made with ingredients rich in nutrients and low in sodium and fat.
• They are quick to fix and so they fit a busy lifestyle.
• Clean-up is easy since only one pot is required for cooking.
• Plus soups often taste even better the second day as flavors have more time to blend and so you can cook once and eat twice!
Another great bonus - can clean out your refrigerator and make soup at the same time!
• Soups need a flavorful liquid for the base. If you have chicken or beef stock in your refrigerator from cooking chicken or lean beef simply remove and discard any hardened fat that has surfaced and use the liquid for the soup base – a great way to save money also! If not, use a low sodium and fat free commercially prepared chicken, beef or vegetable stock or broth for the base to keep sodium and fat content lower. Low sodium tomato or vegetable juice can also be used. Pour the stock or juice in a large pot and turn burner on low to begin heating.
• Now it’s time to clean out the refrigerator! Look for raw vegetables like carrots, celery, cabbage, kale, bell peppers and the onion half and that would be good in vegetable soup. Don’t forget the half bag of coleslaw mix and fresh tomatoes in the refrigerator. Toss out any vegetables that are not fresh enough to use.
• Chop vegetables in uniform pieces and add to the heating soup base liquid. Turn the heat up to medium to begin cooking.
• Check the potato bin and grab a couple potatoes to wash well under running water. Chop and add to soup. No need to peel, the peeling contains lots of nutrients. Grab an onion to chop if there wasn’t one to use up in the refrigerator.
• Next check the refrigerator for leftover cooked vegetables like green beans, corn and peas that would be good in soup and add those.
• If you have leftover cooked dried beans, peas or lentils that would be good combined with the soup ingredients you can add them for protein. Or open a can of unsalted beans to add if desired.
• Adding leftover cooked brown rice or whole grain pasta is a great way to incorporate a whole grain in the soup.
• If the soup seems lacking in vegetables a great option is to add that partially used bag of frozen peas, corn or mixed vegetables.
• If more liquid is needed add additional broth, a can or two of unsalted stewed tomatoes or unsalted tomato sauce plus water.
• Soups should be loaded with nutrients and wonderful rich flavor. For additional flavor add garlic, ground black pepper or favorite dried soup seasonings like oregano, a couple of bay leaves or thyme. A little salt can be added if needed but keep to a minimum to keep the sodium content of the soup low. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
• One more bonus – no two pots of soup will ever taste the same and each will be delicious!
Looking for a great way to get your New Year off to a healthy start? Try a good dose of black-eyed peas! The bonus: you just may get a little good luck for healthier eating in this New Year!
Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day
traditionally brings good luck and prosperity in the upcoming year.But enjoy them any day to reap the
·Black-eyed peas are high in fiber which helps
provide the feeling of fullness after eating that can curb overeating.This can be helpful with weight management. They also provide protein, complex carbohydrate, folate, magnesium,
zinc, calcium, iron, potassium, among other nutrients and are low in fat and
·Black-eyed peas are very low in sodium unless
salt has been added.No added salt
canned black-eyed peas are available.
The following slow cooker black-eyed pea
recipe is simple to prepare and deliciously seasoned with spices for flavor and
minimal added salt.
Cooker Black-Eyed Pea Recipe
6 cups water
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
3 whole bay leaves
1 pound dried black-eyed peas
1 cup chopped onion
Pour water in slow cooker.Add garlic, black pepper, cayenne pepper,
cumin, salt and bay leaves.Stir to
combine.Sort and rinse the black-eyed
peas.Add them to the slow cooker.Cover and cook on high for 3 to 3 ½ hours or
on low for 6 to 7 hours. Cooking time
can vary due to individual slow cookers.Remove bay leaves before serving. This recipe makes 8 servings.Each serving contains approximately 142 calories.
Holiday Food Safety Tips To Keep Family and Friends Healthy
Want to help keep family and friends healthy during the holidays? One of the highlights of the holiday season is enjoying festive foods with family and friends. Safe handling of food is important to prevent foodborne illness. Some important tips to follow include:
everything clean.Wash hands with soap
and warm water for twenty seconds before and after handling food.All contact surfaces including countertops,
cutting boards, utensils and dishes should all be washed with hot soapy water
after preparing food items and before preparation of another food.Fruits and vegetables should be rinsed
thoroughly under cool running water using a produce brush.
raw eggs, meat, poultry, seafood and their juices separate and away from foods
that will be eaten uncooked like salads, raw fruits and vegetables and from
foods that are already cooked to prevent cross-contaminating foods and
spreading bacteria that can make people sick.Use separate cutting boards and utensils for ready-to-eat foods than
those used with raw eggs, meat, poultry, seafood and their juices.
all foods to a high enough internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria for the
foods to be safe to eat.Follow package
cooking directions and be sure foods are thoroughly cooked.That Christmas turkey needs to be cooked to
an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.A food thermometer should be used to ensure food is cooked to a safe temperature.Hold hot foods at 140 degrees F or above and hold
cold foods at 40 degrees F or lower.
bacteria grow quickly at room temperature. Always refrigerate leftover food within two
hours.The refrigerator should be set at
40 degrees F or below and the freezer should be set at 0 degrees F.
these guidelines whether preparing foods to eat at home or to take to a party
or other festivity.Be sure and and
heat leftovers to proper temperatures also.
Cranberries make a make a festive addition to any holiday menu but did you know they also are a great source of nutrition?
Cranberries contain vitamin C which helps produce connective tissue that holds muscles, bones and other tissues together. It also helps prevent bruising, keeps gums healthy, helps with healing of wounds and helps protect from infection and boosts immunity by stimulating the formation of antibodies.
They also contain dietary fiber that promotes health in many ways and aids in optimal digestion.
Cranberries contain phytonutrients that may have roles offering protection from disease and illness by inhibiting adhesion of bacteria to the walls of the urinary tract reducing the incidence of urinary tract infections, reducing inflammation throughout the body and may protect against chronic disease.
Select fresh cranberries that are firm, shiny and plump. They can range in color from bright light red to dark red. Avoid those that are shriveled, soft or have dark spots. Unwashed cranberries can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two months or in the freezer for up to a year.
Fresh cranberries are quite tart when eaten alone but taste less tart and are excellent combined and cooked with sweeter fruits like apples and pears, ground up with sweeter fruits in a relish, chopped in rice or other grain pilafs and prepared when served as a condiment. The following very simple cranberry compote recipe is quick to fix. Many cranberry compotes, sauces and relishes have a lot of added sugar. If you prefer more sweetness add a small amount of honey to this recipe.
Want to spice up your winter? Try ginger! It is aromatic with a spicy flavor that is wonderful in savory and sweet dishes. Throughout history ginger has been used to help with digestion, for nausea and other conditions. It contains vitamin C, magnesium and potassium.
Fresh ginger is a knobby, beige root that is available year round in the produce section. Select one that has a spicy fragrance and smooth skin without cracks. Store ginger root in a plastic bag or wrapped in a paper towel in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
Ginger is great to use during the Christmas season. Here are some ideas:
Stir fry: Add grated or minced ginger for a wonderfully flavored stir fry.
Soup: Grated or pureed ginger is a great addition to most any soup.
Tea: Cut a piece of fresh ginger and pour boiling water over it. Add a little honey and lemon to make a festive hot beverage to warm you up during cold winter weather.
Zucchini or Broccoli Sauté: Sauté fresh minced ginger in a little olive oil until light browned. Add zucchini chunks or broccoli florets and sauté until tender. Serve as a simple and healthy side dish to add a nice green color and to fill out a Christmas menu.
Poached Pears or Apples: Add a piece of fresh ginger to unsweetened apple juice to poach fresh pears or apples for a spicy and sweet dessert.
Did you know you can boost your immunity with the foods you eat to help prevent getting ill?
Having a healthy immune system is important for good health, to reduce illness and may offer some protection from seasonal illness like the flu.
Good nutrition is essential for a strong immune system. A deficiency in even one nutrient can make a difference in your body being able to fight off illness or infection.
The following nutrients from the foods you eat foods as a part of a healthful diet are recognized for their roles to boost immunity and help protect against infection.
Protein is a part of the natural defense mechanism of the body. Enjoy a variety of protein containing foods like lean meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dried beans and peas, nuts, seeds and soy products.
Vitamin A helps to regulate the immune system and protects from infection by keeping skin and other body tissues healthy. Good sources of beta carotene that the body converts to vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, deep green leafy vegetables like kale, collards and spinach, eggs, and foods labeled as “vitamin A fortified” like milk and cereal.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, stimulates the formation of antibodies that protect from infection and boost immunity. It is essential for growth and development of tissues throughout the body. Many fruits and vegetables including citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers and Brussels sprouts, among others are goods sources of this nutrient.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and may improve immunity. Vegetable oils like sunflower, safflower and cottonseed, nuts like hazelnuts and almonds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, peanut butter and vitamin E fortified cereals are good sources.
Zinc helps the immune system work properly and may support wound healing. Lean meat, seafood, poultry, beans, whole grains and nuts are good sources of zinc.
Other nutrients including B6, folate, selenium, iron and copper may also influence the immune response as well as prebiotics and probiotics.
Let me tell you about Brussels Sprouts… they are in
the diverse cruciferous vegetable family along with arugula, bok choy,
broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, radishes and watercress among some others
all of which have many health promoting benefits.
·Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin
C, and are a good source of vitamins A and K, potassium, folate, iron and
·They also contain phytonutrients that
may provide anti-inflammatory protection which can reduce the risk of
cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.
·Select firm, dense and bright green
Brussels sprouts that are similar in size so they will cook evenly. The smaller ones are usually the most tender
and flavorful.Store them in a loosely
closed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.Rinse under running water, removing any
loose or wilted leaves just before cooking or preparing to serve raw.
·Brussels sprouts can be steamed, sautéed, roasted or microwaved and they make delicious
additions to salads, soups and casseroles.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed and dried with ends
trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.Combine
oil, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice in a large glass bowl and stir to mix.Add Brussels sprouts and toss to coat.Spray a baking dish with a nonstick spray and
arrange Brussels sprouts in an even layer.Roast about twenty minutes and then lightly toss. Roast another ten to
fifteen minutes until tender when pierced with a fork and lightly golden on the
edges. This recipe makes four servings and each serving contains approximately
104 calories and 7 grams of fat.
Does your child refuse to eat certain foods because of the color or texture? Does your child only eat particular foods? If yes, you may have a picky eater! Picky eating is common in young children and can be part of the process of growing up and learning to make independent food choices.
Here are some tips to encourage picky eaters to enjoy a wide variety of healthful foods:
•Allow children to help choose fruits and vegetables in the grocery store. For example, if your child loves bananas, let them choose one while shopping. Over time let them choose a fruit or vegetable that is their favorite color or one they have never tried. If it requires preparation let them help prepare the food.
•Encourage your child help prepare meals. Children are excited when they can help do something new, like stirring food, rinsing vegetables and adding ingredients.
•Allow children to choose between two options the food they would prefer. For example, ask “would you rather have carrots or green beans?” When children have a choice of foods, they feel in control and at the same time you are in control of making sure their choice is a healthful one.
•Offer foods with bright colors and fun shapes. Use cookie cutters to make star shaped sandwiches. Or make smiley faces on plates with fruit and vegetables. For example, they could use cucumber slices for eyes, a strawberry for the nose, and beans as the smile. It makes eating new foods fun!
•Model positive eating behaviors. If you’re not eating fruits and vegetables, most likely your child won’t either. If they see you eating and enjoying a variety of fruits and vegetables they will probably eat them with you.
Many people say potatoes are fattening – should I eat them or not?
Potatoes are not fattening and they are an extremely healthful and wholesome food.
Here’s the problem! Many people eat potatoes in the form of fast foods or prepared snack foods that have lots of added calories, fat and sodium. Or they add lots of high calorie, high fat and high sodium ingredients like a baked potato loaded with butter, sour cream, cheese and bacon. Or they eat a huge potato loaded!
Potatoes are nutritious and are packed with healthful carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Choose a small to medium size potato and keep it healthy by topping with a little salsa, fat free Greek yogurt and chives, steamed broccoli or other favorite vegetable, hummus or low fat cottage cheese.
Potatoes are versatile, economical and a delicious way to get great nutrition.
Want your children to make better grades? Try a better breakfast!
Eating a balanced breakfast is important for children to do their best in school.
Research shows that children who eat breakfast are better able to pay attention and perform problem-solving tasks. They tend to have better school attendance, less tardiness, fewer hunger-induced stomach aches and other symptoms mid-morning than those who do not eat breakfast. Children may have better ability to concentrate and better muscle coordination if the morning started with a nutritious breakfast. Breakfast provides key nutrients needed for children to grow and develop. Those who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight. And yet breakfast is the meal that is most often skipped by children.
A balanced breakfast does not have to be traditional but it does need to provide essential nutrients. Choose foods from different food groups. Here are some simple and nutritious ideas:
Whole grain toast topped with peanut butter and sliced banana and a glass of skim milk
Melted cheddar cheese on a whole grain bagel with a fresh fruit cup
Whole wheat pita pocket stuffed with shaved ham and grated cheese (serve cold or hot to melt cheese) and apple wedges
Oatmeal made with skim milk for the cooking liquid instead of water and topped with chopped walnuts and sliced bananas
Bran muffin, fruit flavored yogurt sprinkled with sliced almonds and a cup of applesauce
Cold whole grain cereal topped with berries, peach slices or banana and a glass of skim milk
Whole wheat English muffin topped with sliced ham and cheddar cheese, toasted to melt cheese and served with grape clusters
A selection of clusters of grapes in a variety of colors makes a great snack and those same grapes can be used as an ingredient in a simple and delicious salad like our Grape Salad with a Hint of Mint recipe below.
Select plump grapes that are free from surface wrinkles and firmly attached to green pliable stems. Avoid those that are limp, shriveled, cracked or have brittle stems.
Place unwashed grapes in a perforated plastic bag if they did not come in one. Store in the refrigerator. They should keep about a week.
Wash grapes under cold running water just before serving. Remove any damaged grapes. Use scissors to cut into smaller bunches for serving.
One cup red grapes average approximately 104 calories, 1 gram protein, .24 grams fat, 27 grams carbohydrate, 0 cholesterol, 1.4 grams dietary fiber and 3 milligrams sodium.
Apples are a great low fat and high fiber snack to enjoy during autumn months. They contain vitamin C and the health promoting plant based phytonutrients polyphenols and antioxidants.
There are many varieties of apples ranging from tart like granny smith, pink lady and braeburn to very sweet like fuji, gala and red delicious. Apples can also be used to make great desserts, salads and salsas.
Select apples that are firm to hard and well colored for the variety.The skins should be unbroken, tight and unblemished.
Store unwashed apples in the refrigerator to prevent flesh from getting mushy.
Wash apples under cold running water just before serving.
Dip cut apples in apple juice fortified with vitamin C or pineapple, lemon or lime juice to prevent apples from turning brown.
One medium apple contains approximately 81 calories, .3 grams protein, .5 grams fat, 21 grams carbohydrate, 0 cholesterol, 2.8 grams dietary fiber, 1 milligram sodium and 159 milligrams potassium.
Kale is very popular but why is it so great for you? It can help keep eyes healthy, may protect against some types of cancer and help with immunity, skin and bone health.
lutein and zeaxanthin which are antioxidants that may protect eye tissues from sunlight damage and reduce the risk of macular degeneration which is a leading cause of blindness in the elderly and can help reduce the formation of cataracts.These antioxidants may also protect against some types of cancer.
beta-carotene, an antioxidant and a precursor for vitamin A important for vision, immune function, healthy skin and bone health.
vitamin C which helps defend against illnesses, enhance absorption of iron and aids in wound healing.
Tips to eat more kale include:
Add kale to minestrone or vegetable soup. Unlike spinach, which tends to get limp in soups, kale maintains its sturdy structure in soups and stews.
Sauté kale in olive oil and minced garlic for an easy side dish.
Add kale to a green salad.
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