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Colorful, healthy food options for Memorial Day

The sun is finally shining and the warm weather promises to put us all in a better mood—just in time for Memorial Day and the celebrations that typically accompany this holiday.

Many families will be celebrating Memorial Day with picnics, outdoor grilling and other gatherings with food. Below are a few tips on how to enjoy a day of food and fun while still sticking to a healthy diet with a variety of colorful fruits and veggies. They’ll look almost as good as they taste!

  1.  Kabobs. You can pre-assemble kabobs that have cherry tomatoes and red, green, yellow or orange peppers. You can also use big chunks of celery, onions, mushrooms, squash and other vegetables. Spritz some olive oil on each kabob before grilling and enjoy the wonders of grilled vegetables. You can grill zucchini, eggplant and even fennel bulbs, too.
  1. Choose lean protein. You may choose to add some protein to your kabobs such as chicken, fish or extra firm tofu. Shrimp are a tasty addition to kabobs, but be aware that they will cook much faster than your veggies or other lean protein. Continue Reading »

Simple food resolutions for the whole year

vegetables and fruitsAs I’ve mentioned in my previous New Year’s resolutions blogs, resolutions are successful when they are specific in nature, measurable and realistic. Continued success is enhanced when a plan or steps detailing how the goal will be achieved exists. There are many food related resolutions one can make: reduce portion sizes, minimize late night snacking, always have breakfast, limit sugary beverages, etc. This blog focuses on one particular food related resolution that will have an impact on your health and on Mother Earth.

More plants please!
Americans consume almost double the protein their bodies need. Most of this protein is animal protein, which tends to be high in fat and saturated fat. The Western diet is heavily based on meat and research shows that it might not be the best for us.

A plant-based diet has its benefits; including an increased intake in fiber and reduced consumption of fat. Because of this, and concerns about the earth’s resources (it takes more resources to sustain cattle than to grow plants) vegetarianism continues to grow all around the globe.

One way to start reaping the benefits of plant-based foods is to make a concerted effort to include them in our diet. A simple way to do this is to elevate the importance of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and other plant based foods in our meals. With the Oscars coming up, I thought of a great analogy. Instead of meat being the best actor, make it the supporting actor. Point the cameras and shine the light on non-meat foods!

Another strategy is to designate one day a week as a meatless day. Meatless Monday not only has a ring to it but it is also the name of a nationwide evidence based initiative that promotes eating more plant-based foods. This initiative based out of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has a goal to reduce meat consumption by 15 percent “for personal health and the health of the planet.”  The site, www.meatlessmonday.com has more information about this initiative, provides recipes, promotions and more.

Many people are concerned that following a meatless diet will not provide enough protein. There are plenty of meatless sources of protein such as: beans and other legumes, eggs, dairy (yogurt, milk, etc.), soy products (tofu, tempeh, etc.), and nuts and seeds.  There are other sources as well, which will be discussed in future articles.

So, make yourself a promise to include more plants in your life, and not just houseplants to beautify your home. Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables and designate the Mondays in your schedule as Meatless Mondays!



Lentil cake recipe

lentilsMy favorite vegetables are lentils and black beans. So when I came across this recipe for lentil cakes, I knew I had to share it!


  • ½ tsp of curry powder
  • 1 cup crimson lentils *
  • 1 cup beluga lentils*
  • 1 cup split peas
  • 1 cup sweet onions diced
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 quarts water
  • 2 Tbsp. garam masala*
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, to sauté the cakes
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/4 tsp. salt or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper or to taste Continue Reading »

Tracking your path to success in weight loss


Many people are interested in losing weight. Eating less, starting an exercise program and limiting fatty foods are strategies that many people utilize to reach their weight loss goal.

One strategy to help individuals lose and keep off the weight is to track what and how much they eat. Tracking also helps individuals start and consistently maintain an exercise routine. For example, pedometers track how many steps a person takes in a day, while keeping a food journal allows them to view their daily food intake.

Food journals have come a long way from the pen and paper version. The tediously written food logs that were very time consuming to complete are long gone. Today there is a myriad of weight-management applications at our disposal. These food and nutrition programs are available online, and the apps are available on smartphones or tablets.

Some apps are more user friendly than others, and in order to know which one would work best you may have to try a few before deciding on one. Basically, the apps allow you to enter the foods you eat on a daily basis, giving you access to an enormous database of foods to choose from. Some allow you to track your consumption of water, your physical activity and your weight as well as other measurements such as waist circumference. At the end of the day a daily report on calories and nutrients consumed as well as other variables is available for viewing.

However, like buying a new car in which you have a choice of one with standard features or one with more bells and whistles, some weight management apps have more to offer than others. For example, some apps will provide additional information about specific nutrients like sodium or saturated fats, while others simply report on calories, fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

Many apps provide an opportunity for social support. You can sign in to join a ‘community’ or ‘team’ – groups of people sharing a same goal or having something in common. “Mommies over 40,” for example, brings together mothers over the age of 40 while “Healthy Hearts” is a group of people with heart health issues that support each other, share information and learn from each other. These teams may have a blog where each team member can communicate or share resources with other members of the group, communicate about events, etc. It provides support and a means to reach out to others who may be struggling or experiencing the same things as you.

Research suggests that establishing a support network can be extremely beneficial for successful weight loss. Online supports groups can be very helpful to many.

To learn more about these apps, a review of the 10 most popular free weight management apps is available through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. According to this review, some of the top free weight management apps include Myfitnesspal.com, Caloriecount.com and Sparkpeople.com along with many more that were reviewed.

As you work toward achieving a health goal, it may help to track your efforts. Weight management apps allow you to see how well you are doing regarding nutrition and fitness and provide you the opportunity to make corrective actions quickly if needed.

Peaceful meal times and children

Have you noticed how kids like to hear the same book read over and over, like to listen to their favorite song on repeat and don’t tire from watching the same video again and again?

Most young children do not like surprises or new situations. Some, like my own daughter, need time to get used to new environments, activities and food. Having parents repeat something over and over gives the child a sense of security because they know what will happen next in the storyline, song or video. Routines offer the same sense of security to children.

With food and feeding children, some of these same principles apply. Below are some tips to keep in mind when establishing eating habits with your child.

Patience: Much like the book, song or video, children find comfort in eating the same food over and over. Keep this in mind when you are serving something new. When offering a new food or even a new way of serving a familiar food, give your child time to get used to it. Don’t expect him or her to eat it the first time. It may take repeated tries (as many as 15 times or so) for your child to try something different, or new.

Routines: Try to serve meals and snacks at the same time. That is, establish some sort of routine when it comes to meals. Offer or serve the vegetables or salad first, that way if your child is hungry before the actual meal is ready, they can start eating healthy items that are part of the meal and not fill up on snack foods, which often have low nutritional value. Offer milk with the meal for an excellent source of calcium.

Mimicry: Studies have shown that children mimic their parents. If parents aren’t eating fruits and vegetables, it is very likely the child will not want to either. If the parent is averse to trying new foods, the child will likely not be an adventurous eater, and so on. Research has shown that this mimicry extends to grocery shopping patterns as well. When children see parents purchasing healthy foods, they also adopt these patterns later on. Continue Reading »

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