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Delicious (and Healthy!) Football Snacks

Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/globevisions/

Winter marks the season for building snowmen, having snowball fights and Super Bowl parties, where friends and family get together to cheer on their favorite team. Along with the cheering, there is a lot of eating. However, there are many ways to enjoy tasty and healthy snacks as we watch our team move the ball down the field.

 

Think healthy fats.
Consider an assortment of nuts served alongside dried fruit such as apricots, dried pineapple, raisins, cherries, etc. Throw in some dark chocolate dipped nuts, too.

Display a variety of olives on a platter. Consider Greek Kalamata olives, Green Spanish olives, garlic stuffed olives, red pepper stuffed olives and the sort.

Add color to your snacks by making guacamole, or try something new like a Mexican layer dip, which incorporates layers of black beans (or refried beans), shredded low-fat cheddar cheese, chopped tomatoes with green chilis, Greek plain yogurt or low-fat sour cream, chopped avocado (or guacamole). Serve with whole grain tortilla chips.

 

Include fruit.
A fruit salad is not only nutritious, but also tasty and easy to make. Combine apples, pears, pomegranates, watermelon, cantaloupe, mandarin oranges, pineapple, kiwis, or whatever fruit you prefer for a wonderful and colorful sweet snack.

Make a fruit pizza. Use low-fat vanilla yogurt for the sauce and arrange pieces of fruit on top of it on a low-fat pie crust. Sprinkle with unsweetened coconut flakes and enjoy!

Fruit kabobs can be a great hit as well, with fruit such as pineapple and nectarines caramelizing quite nicely when grilled.

 

Don’t forget the veggies.
Place a variety of colorful veggies such as orange baby carrots, white cauliflower florets, and green celery sticks on a platter. Serve with hummus, a chickpea dip.

Bruschetta can be a wonderful addition to any party. Slice up some tomato slices and place on top of pieces of grilled French bread that has been rubbed with garlic and topped with some olive oil. Next place a thin slice of fresh mozzarella cheese. Top with a fresh basil leaf for a wonderful appetizer, Italian style. You can also make a tomato salad with chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic and basil, tossed in light vinaigrette and serve over grilled bread.

Salsa with whole grain tortilla chips is an all-time favorite.

Stuffed mushroom caps.

Kale crisps are unbelievably tasty. Simply remove the washed and dried kale leaves from their stem and tear into bite-size pieces. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place on parchment paper and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

 

Serve protein like a pro.
Serve an assortment of meatballs with a variety of sauces. Use lean ground beef, or white breast ground turkey. Combine with cooked rice or Panko bread crumbs and add spices. For Italian meatballs, use oregano and serve with a tomato-base sauce; for Asian style meatballs, use ginger and sesame seeds or green onions and serve with teriyaki or soy sauce. Experiment with different spices to make your own creation.

Sliders are quite popular and can be made very easily. Once again, consider using ground turkey or lean ground beef. Serve on whole wheat flat bread for an interesting change.

Consider mixing avocado with shredded chicken and sautéed onions for a variation on the classic chicken salad. The avocado adds healthy fat to this traditional salad and allows you to cut down on the amount of mayonnaise used. Serve with whole wheat pita bread.

 

Don’t forget the beverages.
Smoothies can be a great hit at any party. Simply mix yogurt, a little bit of juice and fruit such as mango, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, bananas, etc. for a healthy and refreshing drink. Kids will love this!

Have pitchers of fruit and vegetable infused water. Earlier in the day, wash and cut up lemon in slices and place in a pitcher full of water. Cover and let stand. You can also use cucumber slices. Do the same with orange slices.

Above all, remind your guests to drink responsibly if you plan to offer alcoholic drinks.

With some planning and creative thinking, you can enjoy delicious and healthy offerings at any Super Bowl party.

Add color to your lunches

Looking for a way to liven up your lunch? Here are some ideas for making your midday meal colorful and healthy.

Make your main dish a salad of dark, leafy greens and other colorful vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, avocado, celery, peppers and carrots. Add chickpeas or edamame (fresh soy beans). Drizzle with low-fat dressing. Fruits like mandarin oranges, apples, pears, dried cranberries also add color and nutrition to salads.

Looking to add more vegetables to your meal? Roast and combine them with low-fat cheese, hummus or avocado, and wrap it all in a whole wheat tortilla. Add an extra cup of frozen veggies to your soup. Microwave and enjoy a cupful of antioxidant rich soup. Colorize your baked potato by adding beans, salsa, broccoli and low-fat cheese.

To incorporate more legumes into your lunch, think about hummus, falafel, baked beans and black beans. For a protein boost, include a small handful of walnuts, pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts or even soy nuts in your lunch. For low fat dairy options, include a small carton of milk or yogurt. 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.

How to build a better salad

Just like building a wall, a salad has to start with a good solid base. Look for dark, leafy greens for starters, as these are rich in nutrients. After this foundation, you can start to add the other ingredients- the options are endless, so get creative!

Toss in shredded carrots and cabbage, spinach, watercress, tomatoes, oranges or sweet peas for a colorful, flavorful and fun salad. To add some uniqueness to your salad, try Greek olives, mushrooms and artichoke or palm heartsTry adding almonds or walnuts, which provide fiber, protein and healthy fats to satisfy your hunger. Pile on other veggies and add some crunch with celery, cucumbers, string beans, peppers or onions. Try adding in fruit like fresh strawberries, berries, pears or apple slices. Fruits sweeten your salad without adding too many calories. The more colorful your mix of fruits and vegetables, the more nutrients you will consume. 
 
You can add lean protein such as salmon, tuna or chicken, or try adding slices of hard-boiled eggs. Avocados are full of heart healthy fats and can be a great last minute addition to your salad. Soy beans are another add-in; you can find precooked edamame in the grocery store’s frozen-food section. Continue Reading »

Learn the facts about vitamins, supplements and healthy food choices

It is easy to let healthy eating habits fall by the wayside in today’s fast-paced society. But consuming the proper amount of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients is key to healthy living.

That is why Dr. Jennifer Norden, integrative medicine specialist, and Julia Salomon, corporate dietician, are teaming up to inform the community about vitamin and supplement intake, as well as which foods are the best sources for nutrients.

Join them on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., for a free presentation at Mercy Medical Center. Here is an overview of what will be covered during the presentation:

Vitamins and Supplements: What should you take?
Review the evidence and marketing behind vitamins, supplements and natural medicine to help decide what really works:

Sorting fact form fiction in the marketing for vitamins and supplements can be challenging. In her presentation, Dr. Norden will be talking about the medical evidence of common vitamins and herbal medicines, as well as safety and quality concerns. During her presentation, you will find out what really works for preventing disease.

Colorize for Good Health: Do you know what Colorize is?
Bring color, texture and freshness to your diet and life:

Julia Salomón will be teaching you how to think food first! Her presentation will highlight the importance of focusing on healthy food as the first source for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. You will learn about the benefits of various foods and how to easily incorporate them into your daily life.

This presentation might be just what you need to get on the right track toward living a healthy lifestyle. 

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