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Healthy eating out options in the Fox Valley made a little easier with SmartPlate

smartplate

Americans are eating out more than ever. It used to be a struggle to eat healthy when eating away from home, but in the last few years restaurants and other eateries have been making some changes to remedy that. Kids’ menu items now include fresh vegetables such as baby carrots and steamed broccoli as side dishes, and fruit cups for dessert. Lighter fare and gluten free options can now be found on the menu in some restaurants. These changes are a breath of fresh air and whole-heartedly welcome. Many health professionals hope that more changes will arise as more consumers demand healthy food when eating out.

One way to choose healthier options is to look at the nutrition information. Big chain restaurants, by law, now have to provide nutrition information upon request by the consumer. Smaller or local eateries are encouraged to do so as well.

In the Fox Valley, a community-wide initiative highlighting menu items that get a “thumbs up” from local health professionals was developed to help patrons identify healthier foods when eating out. The initiative is called SmartPlate and it involves the collaboration of many local partners including Affinity Health System, local health departments, re:TH!NK, Community Action for Health Living and others.

These community partners have been working with local restaurants, caterers and Fox Valley Technical College to offer and identify items at restaurants that include healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. These SmartPlate items use fresh herbs, spices and natural flavors to create delicious food without using too much salt, fat and sugar.

The SmartPlate icon clearly identifies menu items that you can eat everyday. Look for it at local restaurants like Lara’s Tortilla Flats, Mahoney’s, and Manila in Oshkosh; Fin ‘N Feather in Winneconne; Landreman’s Family Restaurant in Kaukauna, Copper Rock and Bagelicious in Appleton; Angie’s Main Café and Luigi’s Pizza in Shawano; and Granary Supper Club in Sherwood.

Thinking of catering a meal for a work party or celebration? Catering options are also included in the SmartPlate program. LaSure’s in Oshkosh and Bridgewood Resort in Neenah are two new partners that are offering SmartPlate items as part of their catering options. So if your workplace ever needs to order lunch or there is a group hosting an event, just ask for the SmartPlate menu and feel good that your co-workers, and guests, are eating foods that are SmartPlate approved.

For more information about SmartPlate visit: www.smartplatewi.com or watch this short informational video. http://www.thenorthwestern.com/videos/life/2014/12/01/19734335/

Preventing type II diabetes with healthy holiday and everyday eating habits

healthyhabits

According to the Center for Disease Control, 29.1 million people are living with Type II Diabetes and 8.1 million of those are undiagnosed. There are many factors that put a person at risk, some you can control and others you cannot. These factors include:

• Physical inactivity
• Tobacco use
• Poor diet
• Overweight
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• Impaired fasting glucose (commonly known as pre-diabestes)
• Age
• Race
• Gender
• Family history
• History of gestational diabetes

You can also see if you are at risk for diabetes by taking the diabetes mellitus risk test here: http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/diabetes-risk-test. How can you reduce your risk? Start by aiming for at least 30 minutes per day of activity, quitting smoking, and focusing on eating a healthy diet that is low in sugar. Continue Reading »

Brown rice stuffing for Thanksgiving

brownrice

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, albeit an adopted holiday for me since Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Latin America, where I grew up. This holiday brings together family, friends and of course good food. My family grills turkey on a charcoal grill, serves mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, a broccoli cheese dish, green beans, salad, cranberry sauce, homemade rolls and an assortment of pies (cherry, pumpkin, sweet potato, apple and sometimes pecan pie too). One of the dishes that has recently been added to our menu is stuffing; in part due to the addition of my niece’s husband to the family, who claims this is his favorite part of the meal. So in honor of our expanding family and palates, here is a recipe for a brown rice stuffing.

Ingredients
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2-3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 medium tart red apple, cored and diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 cups cooked brown rice (cooked in chicken or vegetable broth)

Preparation
Cook almonds in butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown. Add apple, onion, celery, poultry seasoning, thyme and pepper; continue to cook until vegetables are tender crisp. Stir in cooked rice; cook until thoroughly heated.

Use as stuffing for poultry or pork roast, or bake tightly covered in a separate baking dish at 350 degrees 25 to 30 minutes. Continue Reading »

Pumpkins: the fall fruit mascot

pumpkins

Every fall we see pumpkins brightening up our yards and our front porches; a sure sign that Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner. Pumpkins, a type of squash, are usually orange but come in all different shapes and sizes. While most people consider pumpkins vegetables, pumpkins are actually considered a fruit.

There are two types of squash: winter squash and summer squash. Summer squash are harvested and eaten when the skin is thin and tender. They tend to have a shorter storage span due to the thin skin and must be eaten promptly. Zucchini and yellow summer squash are just a couple of several varieties of squash you can enjoy during the summer months.

Pumpkins are included within the winter squash category along with butternut, spaghetti and acorn squash. Winter squash are known for their hard, thick skin, which is what makes carving pumpkins so challenging. The thick skin also contributes to a long shelf life, allowing these winter squash to be kept for months when stored in a dark and cool place such as a basement or in a garage. Continue Reading »

Apples: so much variety, so many benefits!

apples

Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith—these are just a small portion of the 7,500 varieties of apples grown around the world. Apples come in all shades of red, green and yellow. With so many different types out there, it may be challenging to decide which apples to buy, especially now that we are in the midst of apple season and plenty of fresh apples are available.

All types of apples are good sources of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with only slight variations in nutritional value. Below is a brief description of some of the most popular apples.

Red Delicious is probably the most recognized apple in this area. When you say ‘apple’ the Red Delicious is often what comes to mind. Red Delicious apples have the highest source of antioxidants and are great defenders against cellular damage.

Fuji apples are sweeter, crisper and have a longer shelf life compared to other varieties. In fact, when refrigerated properly, these apples can last up to a year without spoiling! In addition to their lengthy shelf life, these apples are high in potassium. Potassium is a mineral that acts as an electrolyte in the body and helps to regulate heart rhythm, blood pressure and muscle movements. Golden Delicious and Gala apples are also good sources of potassium.

Granny Smith apples are known for their crispness and tart flavor. While vitamin C is a nutrient found in most fruits and vegetables, Granny Smiths have particularly high levels. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, aids in wound healing and with repairing and maintaining bones and teeth.

Next time you are at the grocery store or farmer’s market, keep an eye out for the varieties of apples that are grown right here in Wisconsin! It is always a good idea to buy local products as they do not have to travel as far and are fresher in taste. Of the types listed above, Gala apples are most likely to be grown locally. Continue Reading »

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The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.