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Healthy foods for Cinco de Mayo

Healthy foods for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo (May 5) is often mistaken as a celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day. September 16, however, is Mexico’s Independence Day and Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla, an important victory in Mexican history.

Due to civil unrest and economic hardships during the 1800s, Mexico announced that it would be delaying the payment of all foreign debt. After some negotiations, Britain and Spain withdrew their naval forces from the area but France decided to take advantage of the volatile circumstances and fight for domination of the territory. A much-favored French army went against a poorly prepared and outnumbered Mexican army. The outcome was not what most expected: the Mexican army defeated the French army in Puebla on May 5, 1862.

Today, this victory is celebrated in Mexico and the United States and is often highlighted with Mexican food and music. Guacamole, tacos, burritos and many other foods are incorporated into the celebrations.

Here are some tips to make this Cinco de Mayo a healthy one!

• Mexican cuisine is colorful, so have fun using different colored veggies to make a veggie tray with the colors of the Mexican flag—red, white and green. Try arranging red cherry tomatoes on one side of a rectangular tray. For white, arrange cauliflower, peeled cucumber slices or a rectangular dipping dish filled with Greek yogurt dip. Finish off with a green strip of broccoli, avocados or green peppers.
• You can also make a fruit tray using watermelon, raspberries or strawberries for red, vanilla yogurt for white and kiwi or green grapes for the green.
• Another idea is all about dips. You can serve a tomato salsa for red next to a Greek yogurt-based dip for white, followed by a green tomatillo-based dip, a green pesto-based dip or guacamole to represent the green stripe.
• Impress your guests with a layered Mexican dish. Simply arrange layers of black beans, sour cream (or better yet, Greek yogurt) avocados, shredded cheese, refried beans and tomatoes in a dish.
• If serving tacos, use whole wheat or corn tacos.
• Make different types of salsa and serve with corn-toasted tortillas.
• Offer something different and try a Mexican-style soup for your guests.

This Cinco de Mayo, celebrate a bit of Mexican history with some healthy offerings. Please remember to celebrate responsibly!

10 non-meat foods that are protein-rich

Whether you eat meat or not, protein is a vital part of our diets. Below are just a few of the foods that will help you reach your protein intake for the day.

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Change of the cholesterol tune?

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For years we have been cautioned about consuming cholesterol-containing foods as a way to control our blood cholesterol levels. Perhaps that is why a collective gasp was heard when the 2015 Dietary Advisory Committee Scientific Report recently proposed lifting dietary cholesterol-limiting recommendations.

The Dietary Advisory Committee is made up of health experts who are charged with researching scientific and medical literature and making recommendations that guide dietary health practices. They make suggestions that other organizations review; organizations such as the United States Department of Agriculture or the United States Department of Health and Human Services, which jointly publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years. The last published set of Dietary Guidelines was in 2010 and the 2015 Dietary Guidelines will be published later this year. The guidelines are just that, a highly referenced nutrition guide for not only nutrition professionals, but also the general public.

The current dietary guidelines advise Americans to limit dietary cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams per day. For egg lovers this poses a challenge, with the average egg taking up most of this allowance. So why the change in recommendations by the Dietary Advisory Committee? Continue Reading »

Think green: celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a healthy way!

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You know it is almost St. Patrick’s Day when McDonald’s starts advertising the return of its highly anticipated Shamrock Shake and stores start changing their decor to highlight different shades of green. After a long, seemingly never-ending winter, March 17 brings a rush of excitement, not only for the celebration of the patron saint of Ireland, but for the feeling that spring weather is upon us.

St. Patrick’s Day is full of tradition: parades, leprechauns, shamrocks, and corned beef and cabbage, just to name a few. But don’t use the celebration as an excuse to forget all the healthy habits we vowed to make when that ball dropped in Times Square just a few short months ago!

Give yourself a push to get your daily servings of fruits and vegetables. The latest dietary guidelines from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion recommend 1 ½ -2 cups of fruit and 2 ½-3 cups of vegetables per day for the average adult. It is important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, which is why the guidelines also recommend at least 1-2 cups of dark green vegetables per week. Dark green vegetables include broccoli, spinach, bok choy, kale and turnips. So, fill up half of that St. Patrick’s Day plate with green fruits and vegetables!

Here are some ideas on how you can think green this St. Patrick’s Day and make some healthy swaps. Continue Reading »

Chia: not just your average seed

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When it comes to recent food trends, it is almost impossible to ignore the increased use and popularity of Salvia hispanica L.

Salvia hispani… what?

Salvia hispanica L. is popularly known as chia seeds. This mint-related plant is leaving its mark on the food industry and is ever so prevalent on the Internet. If you do a quick Google search you will find plenty of recipes using chia seeds, and you are likely see people raving about this gluten-free seed on Pinterest and other social media networks, too.

Chia seeds, which date back to the ancient Aztecs, have shot to the top of the “superfood” lists, creating a craze with consumers. Perhaps it is their versatility that is so appealing. You can use chia seeds to make beverages, desserts, crackers, breading and more.

The seed can be consumed whole or ground, and may be easily added to foods such as yogurts, smoothies, oatmeal and other cereals. A unique property of the seed is its ability to turn gelatinous or gummy when soaked, allowing it to be used as a thickening agent in recipes.

This feature comes in handy when using chia seeds as a substitute for eggs in baking. To use chia seeds instead of eggs, soak one tablespoon of ground chia seeds in three tablespoons of water for five to 10 minutes. This is usually the equivalent of one egg. In a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, it was found that 25 percent of eggs or oil in a recipe could be replaced with the chia gel without affecting the functional or sensory properties of the result. By using chia seeds instead of oil or eggs, it decreases the caloric and fat content of the final product. Continue Reading »

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