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Healthy Living: Tomatoes


Baked Parmesan Tomatoes

I love tomatoes.

I’ve been known to eat them like apples, just taking a big juicy bite. However, I wouldn’t recommend that method unless you’re either alone or wearing a bib.

Tomatoes are a fruit and super-duper healthy. They contain a massive amount of lycopene, a natural and powerful antioxidant. Some studies show lycopene can also help prevent colon cancer, and it’s great for your skin as well. Tomato varieties are available with double the normal vitamin C, (Doublerich), and 40 times normal vitamin A (97L97). A diet rich in tomato-based products may help reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer. Tomatoes are rich in potassium, which is a common deficiency in a lot of people.

When tomatoes are eaten along with heart-healthy fats, like avocado or olive oil, the body absorbs two to 15 times more of the carotenoid phytochemicals in tomatoes.

Try this recipe, with a low-fat cheese and heart-healthy oil, today!

Baked Parmesan Tomatoes
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 tomatoes, halved horizontally
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450° F. Place tomatoes cut-side up on a baking sheet. Top with parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil and bake until the tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Nutrition: Calories Per Serving: 91, Fat: 6 g, Saturated Fat: 2 g, Monosaturated Fats: 4 g, Cholesterol: 4 mg, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Protein: 3 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sodium: 375 mg, Potassium: 363 mg



Healthy Living: NuVal. New Year, New You


I can’t believe 2013 is almost here! This year has gone by so quickly! Many of us start off the New Year with a healthy bang. We join gyms and stock our fridges with fresh fruits and vegetables in hopes to lose those unwanted pounds that seem to just appear over the Christmas holiday. Unfortunately by mid-January the visits to gym get fewer and the hopes of getting healthy diminish.

At Brookshire’s we have an easy tool that lets you pick the most nutritious products in a short amount of time. NuVal is a scoring system that places food’s overall nutritional value on a scale between 1 and 100. Simply put, the higher the NuVal score, the higher the product’s overall nutrition. You can find these scores located in the blue double hexagon on the price tag.  

NuVal produces the scores by entering the information from the nutrition facts panel and the ingredients list into an algorithm, called Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI). The ONQI takes into account 30 different nutrients that affect the health of the general public, including sodium, fat, carbohydrates, proteins, cholesterol, fiber, antioxidants and a number of vitamins and minerals.

 When using NuVal, there is not a particular score to shoot for; rather it’s a tool to help you compare items. If you normally buy a cereal that scores a 10, try to find one that scores a little higher, like a 17. Just remember the higher the score, the better the overall nutrition of the product. The NuVal system is not a diet and should not take place of any dietary recommendations provided by your doctor. NuVal is a quick and simple tool to help you pick the most nutritious foods for your family. 

I personally love using the NuVal system and use it every time I go to the store. I encourage you to give it a try this January!



Ask Leigh


Question:  On the last visit to my doctor for an annual check-up, she told me I needed to increase the fiber in my diet? Any suggestions?

Answer:  When I think about adding fiber to my diet, I think of foods I don’t usually like to eat very often! I like oatmeal and I like raw broccoli, but I don’t want to eat them every day.  

A few foods you may not have thought of that are good sources of fiber include refried beans (1 cup gives you 13 grams of fiber), avocado (one-half is about 7 grams of fiber), and chunky peanut butter (2 Tbs gives you 3 grams). The recommended daily intake is between 21-38 grams, depending on age and gender. This isn’t easy to get in our fast-food diet! 

And to make sure we’re talking about the same thing, there are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber is what is found in oats, beans and a few fruits. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and helps to slow down how fast sugar enters our bloodstream – and some evidence shows it may help lower bad cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and help prevent hardening of the arteries. 

A quick fiber-rich dinner I like to make for my family is a simple black bean burrito. I use fat-free refried black beans and whole-wheat tortillas. Just top ‘em with cheese, lettuce, tomato – anything else you like and you’ve got a delicious, easy dinner that also helps you reach your daily fiber intake.

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Healthy Living: The Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen


There’s been a lot of hype in the news the past two years over the “Clean 15” and the “Dirty Dozen.”

The Environmental Working Group (an organization of scientists, researchers and policymakers), has studied which fruits and vegetables are grown exposed to toxins such as pesticides.

They put together two lists, “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15,” to help consumers know when they should buy organic and when it is unnecessary. These lists were compiled using data from the United States Department of Agriculture on the amount of pesticide residue found in non-organic fruits and vegetables after they had been washed.

The Clean 15 are a list of fruits and vegetables that, when conventionally grown, bore little to no traces of pesticides, and is safe to consume in non-organic form. This list includes:

  • avocados
  • sweet corn
  • pineapples
  • mango
  • sweet peas
  • asparagus
  • kiwi fruit
  • cabbage
  • eggplant
  • cantaloupe
  • watermelon
  • grapefruit
  • sweet potatoes
  • sweet onions
  • onions

The Dirty Dozen tested positive for at least 47 different chemicals, with some testing positive for as many as 67. For produce on the “dirty” list, experts recommend that you buy organic produce, which should be pesticide free. The Dirty Dozen are:

  • celery
  • peaches
  • strawberries
  • apples
  • domestic blueberries
  • nectarines
  • sweet bell peppers
  • spinach, kale and collard greens
  • cherries
  • potatoes
  • imported grapes
  • lettuce

Now that you know, it’ll help you make the choice between organic or non-organic when you’re doing your family’s grocery shopping.



Healthy Living: Vegetarian Awareness Month


Growing up becoming a vegetarian always interested me. I have never been one who really liked meat; I know it’s weird. In college I would frequently make a meal without meat and my roommates would look at me weird. I would never think twice about a meatless meal. October is Vegetarian Awareness Month and I challenge you to have a meatless meal once a week.

There are a variety of types of vegetarians. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat fruit, vegetables, dairy and eggs only excluding meat. Lacto-vegetarians do not eat any meat or eggs, but do consume dairy. Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs, but not dairy product and meat. Vegans exclude all animal products including honey, gelatin and dairy products. Fruitarians only eat fruit, nut and seeds. Pescetarians avoid meat, but eat seafood. Flexitarians only eat meat on occasion.

Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol reducing the risk of developing heart disease. The vegetarian diet can also be lower in iron, calcium, protein, vitamin B12, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics with a variety of foods a vegetarian diet can meet all the recommendations of these nutrients.

Iron is essential for healthy red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout your body. Plant sources of iron, non-heme iron, are harder to absorb than heme-iron, which is found in meat. Non-meat sources of iron are iron-fortified breakfast cereal, cooked spinach, chickpeas, lentils, dried beans, dried fruit, pumpkin seeds, broccoli and blackstrap molasses. Iron is more readily absorbed when consumed with vitamin C. Foods high in vitamin C are strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli.

Calcium is important to build and maintain healthy bones and teeth. Most American’s get their calcium from milk and dairy products, which presents a problem in Americans following a vegan, fruitarians or ovo-vegetarian diet.  Sources of calcium are calcium fortified orange juice and green leafy vegetables like turnip greens, collard greens, kale and broccoli.

Protein is important for healthy skin, bones, muscles and organs. Good sources of protein are nuts, nut butters, beans, seed, lentils and whole grains. Quinoa, a whole grain, has all the essential amino acids making it one of few plant-based complete proteins.

Vitamin B12 is almost exclusively found in animal products, but can be found in fortified cereals.

Zinc is essential component of many enzymes and plays a roll in cell division and the formation of protein. Zinc can be found in fortified cereals, dried beans, nuts and whole grains.

Omega-3 fatty acid which is important in a heart healthy diet is found in fish and eggs. Other sources of omga-3 fatty acids are canola oil, walnuts and ground flaxseeds.

With a diet in a variety of fruits and vegetables a vegetarian diet can meet all of your dietary recommendations. Here is one of my favorite meatless recipes:

Black Bean and Corn Quinoa
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 8

1 tsp Food Club Canola Oil(NuVal 24)
1 onion, chopped (NuVal score 93)
3 garlic cloves, minced (NuVal score 91)
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa (NuVal score 91)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp Food Club Salt
1/4 tsp Food Club Ground Black Pepper
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed (NuVal score 91)
2 cups cooked black beans
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (NuVal score 99)
1 avocado, diced (NuVal score 89)

Directions:
In a saucepan, over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and garlic; sauté until lightly browned. Mix quinoa into saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in corn and black beans; cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and avocado.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 398, Fat: 9 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 297 mg, Carbohydrates: 64 g, Fiber: 15 g, Protein: 20 g



Healthy Living: Cauliflower Poppers


Today is my younger son’s birthday. And in honor of the day, I asked him what his favorite healthy food was.

I expected him to try to rationalize how deep-dish-pepperoni-double-cheese pizza was his healthy favorite.

To my surprise, he did not.

He named his favorite vegetable: cauliflower.

I should have known as cauliflower is one of MY favorite vegetables and I steamed and pureed it for him, as a baby, by the pound.

Cauliflower only contains about 26 calories per cup and is very low in fat and contains no cholesterol. One cup contains two grams of dietary fiber and several anti cancer phyto-chemicals like sulforaphane and plant sterols such as indole-3-carbinol which appears to function as an anti-estrogen agent. Together these compounds fight against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers .

Fresh cauliflower is excellent source of vitamin C; and contains good amounts of many essential B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, vitamin B5, B8,B1 and B3 as well as vitamin K. It is also good source of minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, calcium and potassium. 

Luke’s Favorite Balsamic and Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower
Serves 4

Ingredients:
8 cups 1-inch-thick slices cauliflower florets, (about 1 large head)
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 F.

Toss cauliflower, oil, marjoram, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spread on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast until starting to soften and brown on the bottom, 15 to 20 minutes. Toss the cauliflower with vinegar and sprinkle with cheese. Return to the oven and roast until the cheese is melted and any moisture has evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes more.

Nutritional Information: Calories 149; Fat 10g; Cholesterol 7mg; Carbohydrates 10 g; Protein 7g; Fiber 4g; Sodium 364 mg; Potassium 490 mg



Healthy Living: Fatoush


Back in the late 1990s, when I lived in Germany, one of my very best friends there was from Lebanon. We were part of a close-knit group who spent more time together than apart.

Once a month we had a supper club at someone’s apartment. I always loved it when Paula hosted because she’d make the most exotic foods. Creamy baba ganoush, sweet and savory ma’amoul, dishes full of roasted nuts, decadent baklava and my favorite, fatoush. The names of the dishes would roll off her tongue as perfectly as the food tasted.

Fatoush is a wonderfully light and flavorful salad whose ingredients celebrate the end of summer. Serve this for an exotic twist at your next backyard barbecue. It’s also a great answer to “eat more vegetables.”

Fatoush
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup red bell peppers, sliced into strips
1 cup yellow bell peppers, sliced into strips
1 cup peeled cucumbers, thinly sliced
4 vine ripened tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch wedges
1/2 cup red onions, thinly sliced
3 Tbs finely chopped mint
3 Tbs finely chopped parsley
3 Tbs finely chopped cilantro
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp high quality olive oil
2 tsp lemons, juice of
salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 pita breads, to serve

Directions:
Place the bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, mint, parsley and cilantro in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl combine the garlic with the olive oil and lemon juice.

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss lightly to mix.

Toast the pita breads in a toaster until crisp and crumble on top of salad. Serve immediately or prepare ahead and add pita right before serving.

Nutritional Information: Calories 154; Calories from Fat 27; Total Fat 3g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 172 mg; Total Carbohydrate 28g; Dietary Fiber 4g; Sugars 7 g; Protein 5g

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Healthy Living: New Nutrition Labels


Have you ever wondered how much saturated fat is in your ground beef?  Or which has more protein_ ground chicken or ground turkey?

Until recently, if you wanted to answer these questions you had to dig in and do your own research. But now all you have to do is pick up a package at the grocery store.

For decades, virtually all packaged foods sold in the U.S. have been required to have a nutrition label, indicating ingredients and content of fat, protein, fiber and nutrients. This is due to the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990. Restaurant meals and some fresh foods were exempted.

But now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made it mandatory that 40 of the most popular cuts of meat also include a nutrition label on the package or the package display.

The label will allow you to pick meat based on the amount of calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, protein, sodium and iron. It will also serve as a reminder for the proper serving size of meat.

The most important part of the nutrition label is not how much fat is in the product or how many calories it has – it’s the serving size. The serving size lets you how much of a product you can have for x amount of calories. Many of us forget a serving of meat is only 4 ounces. Seeing the numbers will allow you to see how important that serving size is for weight management.

The part of the label that really helps open my eyes is seeing the % Daily Value. Let’s take a look at 80% lean ground beef’s nutrition facts panel.  There are 9 grams of saturated fat in a serving. Not so bad, right? Well,  if you slide your finger over you will see that is 43% of the daily value of saturated fat you can have during a single day, based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Seeing the % Daily Value really opens your eyes to what you are eating.

Now there is no need to guess how many calories are in your meat. You can look at the labels right in the store to make an informative choice for your family.



Healthy Living: Healthier Microwave Popcorn


Popcorn and movies go together like peanut butter and jelly; I hardly ever watch a movie without it. You can imagine how excited I was when I found out popcorn was a whole grain, making it a healthier snack than most.

What’s not healthy about popcorn? All the fats and salt and flavorings that it often contains. Even the healthiest microwave popcorn has much more fat and salt than the kind you make in an old-fashioned air-pop popcorn maker.

But since those air-pop makers can be hard to find in stores, I needed to find a way to make my own, healthier microwave popcorn. Luckily, it’s easy – and you don’t have to make room in the kitchen for yet another special cooking device!

You just need popcorn (the original kind, which boasts a super NuVal score of 91) and Paper Chef Parchment Bags.

Add about 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels to the parchment bag. Fold the bag down about 3 or 4 times. Microwave the popcorn 2 1/2 minutes on high.

Meanwhile, put just a little bit of butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the bowl to the microwave with the popcorn and microwave for about 15 seconds. Remove the popcorn from the microwave and carefully open it. Add the melted butter and shake the bag. Serve!

I haven’t felt so good about indulging in popcorn since I was a kid, and we used to pop big bowls of popcorn in my brother’s Scooby Doo air-pop popcorn maker. In fact, when the Breaking Dawn movie was recently released on DVD, I rushed right out and got my collector’s edition – and not just because I’m a big fan of the Twilight movie vampires. I also knew it would give me the perfect opportunity to sit back, relax, and enjoy a movie with a bowl of my favorite movie snack …popcorn. Guilt-free.



Healthy Living: Tea for your health


It makes sense that January is National Hot Tea Month. When the weather’s cold, and you’re possibly fighting off the cold and flu bugs that are making the rounds, a nice cup of hot tea sounds especially appealing.

But it turns out that tea is actually good for you all year long. A growing body of research has linked the consumption of tea to health benefits that may include weight loss, cancer prevention, and strengthening of the immune system. A big factor is that tea contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties, which help stave off many chronic diseases, including heart disease.

Also, if you’re trying to cut back on caffeine, tea is a wiser choice. The average cup of black tea (what’s in regular tea bags) has under 60 milligrams of caffeine, half what you are likely to get in an average brewed cup of coffee.

What’s more, the specialty tea market has also grown dramatically over the last decade. So even if most of the tea you drink is of the iced variety, like many Southerners, you may find that some of the newer flavors or blends of tea taste good hot, too.  And while almost all tea has some health benefits, each has a little something different to offer.

Green tea: This is the tea that’s gotten most of the attention health-wise. It is a mild, almost grassy tasting tea that has been linked to lots of good things.  It may fight diabetes and strokes, lower cholesterol, burn fat and slow down some signs of aging. If you don’t like the taste of green tea plain, try one of the many flavored varieties now on the market.

Black tea: Black tea doesn’t have as high a level as antioxidant as green tea, but its consumption has also been linked to the prevention of heart disease, stroke, some cancers and more mild maladies such as tooth decay. And, many drinkers prefer its clean, mild flavor, especially because this is the kind of tea most of us have grown up drinking.

Herbal teas: Strictly speaking, most herbal teas aren’t actually tea at all, but rather a mixture of dried herbs. Many of these herbal teas have long been used as home remedies or simply to promote good health. Chamomile tea, for instance, is often considered a natural way to help relax; so is lavender. And hibiscus tea, known as jamaica in Spanish-speaking countries, offers Vitamin C and antioxidants, and has been linked to lowering blood pressure.



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