It's never easy to change your diet without feeling deprived - even though you know it's the right thing to do. I handle change differently than my husband ... I face it head on replacing the 'no-no' foods with alternates - updating favorite recipes to be more compliant energizes me. It annoys Tom. He tends to look for what's different rather than embrace a new flavor or especially a new texture. Adding fiber is an excellent way to combat high cholesterol - that and filling your plate with color.
As I said in an earlier post, Tom is doing rather well and working hard to remember to look at the nutritional analysis on the foods he's eating. I reminded him to look for saturated fat and cholesterol. For those meals when the cholesterol is higher than I suggested for him, he adds foods that will add color and fiber to his diet.
Though I felt as though I neglected his diet a bit last week because I was so busy, he managed quite nicely on his own ... not the way I would have done it ... but OK.
In effort to give him the best opportunity to stay on track I've been cooking/baking all afternoon. It's not a burden as it is for some women because I love to cook. So the day began with a scan of both freezers and refrigerators to see just what was left after last week. Boneless pork ribs, chicken legs/thighs, a container of leftover Italian beef Tom had made, homemade chicken broth, lean stew meat and two zucchini. Once I put a menu together based on what I had on hand and what Publix had on sale, I was off to the store - list in hand.
On the lowfat menu this week:
For the record, the crisp was a hit ... but I know he would have preferred the topping to be something more like his mother used to make (flour, sugar, butter), but mine's close ... remove the flour ... add oatmeal. Yeah, he's not a big fan of crunchy when he wants 'melt in your mouth.' But he said he liked it.
Need a way to increase your intake of vegetables ... fiber ... nutrition? Try stuffing it ... vegetables, that is! Nature has provided us with the most amazing bowls!
Rather than eating a baked potato dripping with butter, sour cream, salt and pepper, try ...
Twice Baked Potatoes
Scrub two large Idaho potatoes. Pop them into a 425 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. They’ll be done when the potato ‘gives’ a little when you give it a squeeze. When cool enough to handle - I never wait long enough - cut it in half the long way and scoop out the potato into a large bowl leaving about a quarter inch inside the skin. Smash the potato gently. Add a bit of plain yogurt, a little butter and a little salt and pepper. While the potato is still quite warm, add:
Serves 4 people or 2 if you use the twice baked potatoes as a main dish ... which I often do!
There are endless variations to these potatoes ... what’s your favorite?
Cut a thin slice of the top of the zucchinis and scoop out the inside of the squash leaving the shell. Diced scooped out zucchini and place in a large bowl.
Drizzle the insides of the squash with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes. While the squash shells are in the oven, start browning your ground meat, when the meat is almost brown, add the onions, eggplant, and diced excess zucchini, and cook until the eggplant is soft.
Add the remaining ingredients and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Pull the shells out of the oven and stuff them all as full as possible with the meat (or meatless) mixture. Put the stuffed zucchinis back into the oven and bake for another 30-40 minutes. You may need less time for smaller zucchinis.
Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan, add the couscous, cover the pan and remove it from the heat.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut the stems and top half inch off the bell peppers and scoop out the seeds and membranes. Boil trimmed peppers for 5 minutes, then drain them upside down (Note: I usually skip this step as I like my peppers a bit crunchy.)
Heat oil in a nonstick skillet. Add onion, zucchini, yellow squash, fennel seeds, oregano, and salt.
Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes and chickpeas.
Using a fork, scrape the couscous into the skillet and toss with the vegetables. Stir in the crumbled feta. Place peppers upright in the baking dish and fill them with couscous. Bake 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
Read more about this recipe.
Trim the stems from the eggplant, and cut them in half lengthwise. Cut the pulp from the center of each half, leaving about a half-inch shell.
If your eggplants are large, soak them in a quart of water with an added tablespoon of salt for 10 minutes to remove any bitter flavor.
Remove the eggplants from the brine and rinse off the salt then pat them dry.
Cube the pulp into a medium dice. Place a large saute pan over moderate heat, then add the oil.
Once the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic, zucchini, pepper, and cubed eggplant. Cook, stirring until very tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, olives and seasonings and heat through.
Lightly spray the cut edges of the eggplant with nonstick cooking spray, then spoon a quarter of the mixture into each shell. Top each eggplant with a quarter of the cheeses. Place in a baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.
You can add other vegetables like mushrooms, hot peppers, shredded carrots if you've got them.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the eggplant is hot and the cheese is bubbly.
Stuff your favorite salad into a fresh tomato! Cut the top off a tomato, scoop out the pulp (you can save it for chili or spaghetti sauce) and fill with your favorite chicken salad ... or tuna salad ... or salmon salad ... or pasta salad! The variations are endless!
Recently a friend suggested I start taking a spoonful (or two) of unsulphured blackstrap molasses for health reasons, including reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing the good cholesterol (HDL) ... really? YES! My research netted some pretty good stats which you can read here. Allow me to summarize ...
So, what is blackstrap molasses? Blackstrap molasses is a sweetener that is actually good for you. Unlike refined white sugar and corn syrup (stripped of virtually all nutrients except simple carbohydrates) or artificial sweeteners like saccharine or aspartame (provide no useful nutrients and have been shown to cause health problems in sensitive individuals), blackstrap molasses is a healthful sweetener that contains significant amounts of a variety of minerals that promote your health.
And, just where does blackstrap molasses come from? No secret ingredients here, molasses is a by-product from the process that turns sugar beet or cane into sugar. Be sure you use the unsulphured type!
So what can blackstrap molasses do for you? It’s jammed-packed with iron and calcium, for starters, but also offers copper, manganese, potassium, and magnesium!
If you are like me and like the slightly bitter taste of blackstrap molasses, go ahead and eat it right out of the spoon!
If you’re not really feeling downing a couple spoonfuls of this very sweet powerhouse, here are a couple recipes to increase your intake ...
If you're worried about low iron levels, here's a suggestion: Add a wide variety of iron rich foods to your diet. Don't rely on just one iron rich food item.
And if you follow this blog you know you can expect a recipe or two ... so, here you go ... a couple recipes to utilize this powerhouse food ...
If you’re not really feeling downing a couple spoonfuls of this very sweet powerhouse, here are a couple recipes to increase your intake ...
Pumpkin, Raisin, and Spice Muffins with Molasses Glaze
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt.
In a separate large bowl, beat together the sugar and the oil, with either a hand whisk or an electric beater.
Then, add the eggs one at a time, beating after the addition of each egg until the egg is completely combined. Once all the eggs have been added, add the ginger juice, pumpkin, buttermilk, molasses and raisins to the bowl and whisk/beat thoroughly.
Next whisk in the dry, sifted ingredients, added 1/4 at a time. Be sure to whisk the flour mixture just enough to combine - the more you beat the flour, the tougher the muffins will be.
Fill the muffin tins to about a centimeter from the top with the batter.
Bake in the upper 2/3 of the oven for about 40 minutes if you're using the large tins, and about 30 minutes if you're using the regular sized tins, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle of a muffin comes out mostly clean.
Removed the finished muffins from the oven and set the tins on a rack to cool.
After about an hour the muffins will be cool enough to remove from the pan.
After removing the muffins from the pan, make the glaze. Sift the powdered sugar and salt into a medium sized bowl. Add 1½ tbsp molasses and 1½ tbsp water. Whisk. If the glaze seems too thick, add a little more water, if it seems too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar.
Dip the tops of the cooled muffins into the glaze, which will drizzle down the sizes. Allow the glaze to set for about an hour before serving. Enjoy!
Whisk flour, ginger and cinnamon.
Beat butter and brown sugar.
Whisk molasses and boiling water, add baking soda.
Add flour and molasses mixtures to butter mix.
Beat in eggs until smooth and thin. Add to glass baking dish.
Bake 55-65 minutes.
Cool 10 minutes. Can be prepared as muffins - bake for 20-25 minutes.
To make this cake more heart-healthy, use Earth Balance margarine, egg whites and a mix of flours to include oat flour and/or whole wheat flour ... you’ll have to test it to see what you like best.
MOLASSES AND RAISIN MUFFINS
Stir together vegetable oil, blackstrap molasses, milk and egg.
Mix together dry ingredients with liquid ingredients; add raisins.
Bake in a preheated 350̊F oven in well greased or paper-lined muffin pans until a toothpick inserted
in center of a muffin comes out clean (about 20-25 minutes).
WHOLE - WHEAT BANANA BREAD
Blend with as few strokes as possible. Put in oiled loaf pan. Bake in 325 degree oven for about 1 hour or until firm throughout.
APPLE BRAN MUFFINS
Pour juice of orange into 2-cup measure and add buttermilk to make 2 cups.
Add to egg, molasses, and oil, and stir thoroughly.
Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients with a few swift strokes.
Pour into greased muffin tins, filling them 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Makes 24 muffins.
Spicy Pumpkin Muffins
Preheat oven to 350̊F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, 1½ teaspoons baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
In a large bowl, combine applesauce with ¾ teaspoon baking powder.
Add oil, molasses, agave nectar, vanilla, and pumpkin to applesauce mixture. Stir to combine.
Slowly add dry ingredients to wet.
Spoon into oiled muffin pan.
Bake 25–30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
As cooler weather pushes the summer heat aside, football season is all over the media and I found myself craving some tailgating favorites. In looking for some ways to make them heart healthier I happened on the Eating Well website which offered many options. What’s your favorite football food? Mine is chips and dip so that’s the first heart-healthier fare I looked for. And … I found one I’m anxious to try. As a young adult I got hooked on processed cheese combined with a can tomatoes with chilies and served with chips. Over the years, I purchased baked chips, which helped, but the processed cheese block just wasn’t cutting it for me. The I found a recipe that cut the fat and enhanced the flavor. On the Eating Well website they have a great recipe for an alternative to an old favorite:
Chile Con Queso
From EatingWell: January/February 2009
Our healthier version of chile con queso will have ooey-gooey-cheese lovers celebrating. Now you can enjoy this Tex-Mex dip without all the fat and calories. We replaced some of the cheese with a low-fat white sauce and used sharp Cheddar plus a splash of beer to boost the flavor. Our version cuts the calories in half and reduces total fat and saturated fat by nearly 60 percent.
4 cups | Active Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 20 minutes
Per 1/4-cup serving:
From EatingWell: January/February 2007
Plenty of black beans, salsa and chopped fresh vegetables mean a healthy amount of dietary fiber in this Tex-Mex layered dip. We use reduced-fat sour cream along with full-fat (and full-flavored) cheese to make the dip lighter without compromising great taste. Be sure to have lots of baked tortilla chips on hand when you serve it.
12 servings, about 1/2 cup each | Active Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 20 minutes
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 1, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
To serve, continue with Steps 2 & 3.
Love nachos? Pizza? Try this dynamic combo I found on Eating Well’s website!
Black Bean Nacho Pizza
From EatingWell: July/August 2008
Break out the napkins! This pie is an over-the-top, vegetarian concoction with black-bean spread, Jack cheese, tomatoes, scallions, olives and pickled jalapenos; it's part nacho, part pizza. For an even more decadent treat, serve with low-fat sour cream. Beer pairing: Spicy foods need spicy beers—go for an India Pale Ale (IPA). If you're not a hop-head, the malty sweetness of brown ales work well with the sweeter elements on the pizza.
6 servings | Active Time: 40 minutes | Total Time: 40 minutes
Tip: To roll out pizza dough: When you're ready to get your pizzas on the grill, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Dust the top with flour; dimple with your fingertips to shape into a thick, flattened circle—don't worry if it's not perfectly symmetrical. Then use a rolling pin to roll into a circle about 14 inches in diameter.
Rocco’s Buffalo and Blue Chicken Tenders
Enjoy the KICK OFF without the guilt!
Each day whether the chirping of the birds or the interruption of a buzzing alarm clock announce the new day to me I have a choice. Sometimes I choose well all day … sometimes part of the day … or sometimes I don’t choose well at all. I am, after all, human.Today was no different. It’s Labor Day and since I didn’t have to work, I delayed my usual weekend activity until today … menus, shopping lists, cooking and baking for the week. It is not a burden for me at all as I love to do it, but trying to keep my cholesterol numbers within the normal range does take a bit of planning just like any other medical condition. Opting to bypass the prescription solution, adjusting my diet and lifestyle was the way to go for me besides I hate the side effects of medications. To date, removing saturated fats, high sugar foods, and other foods was a better choice for me. So here is a list of what I’ll be eating this week - in no particular order … (recipes and links included!):My Favorite Sandwich
A large, fat slice of tomato with plenty of fresh spinach and a bit of olive oil mayo, salt and pepper on whole wheat bread. And a good, crisp dill pickle. No chips. No fuss. A simply delightful sandwich.
MorningStar Hickory BBQ Riblets with smashed red potato with fresh chopped spinach and a side of steamed broccoli.
Smashed Red Potatoes with Spinach
Salad in a Pita
My Favorite Salad
Breakfast Oatmeal (I eat this three times a week, plus twice a week for a snack)
* to roast your own, purchase raw nuts and in a heavy pan, like cast iron, cook them over medium heat, shaking the pan so they don’t burn, until they become aromatic.
Eggs My Way
This is good for lunch or dinner, too.
So, there you have it … of course, I eat more than what is listed above but honestly, those are my staples … rarely does a week go by without eating the majority on these foods.
Got a recipe you love and want to transform it into a more heart-healthy dish? Let me know … maybe I can help you make some adjustments.
As the French would say, Bon appétit! (Enjoy your meal.)
It’s summertime and tomatoes are abundant! Why is this a good thing? Well, it’s a GREAT thing because tomatoes help lower cholesterol! Since a tomato has zero cholesterol, it doesn’t add cholesterol to the diet, plus a cup of freshly diced tomatoes provides fiber and we all know fiber reduces high cholesterol levels! Tomatoes are also a good source of niacin (you know, B3) which is a supplement being used to lower high cholesterol! Need more info ... part of this information was taken from a cool website all about tomatoes and their enormous value when trying to get your cholesterol numbers in a normal range and keeping them there! ... here you go ... Tomato Dirt
So, now you’ve visited your local farmer’s market where the tomatoes looked scrumptious and you bought more than you know what to do with, right? You wonder what to do with them all? Well ... you’ve come to the right place ...
Of course, there’s the usual lettuce, tomato, cucumber salad with dressing, but there are so many things to do with the versatile fruit ... and yes, a tomato is a fruit ... if you don’t believe me ... click HERE.
A few ideas ...
Like tuna salad? Salmon salad (my personal favorite)? Or ham salad? Go ahead ... make a batch, be sure to add plenty of vegetables - diced cucumbers, celery, shredded carrots, peppers - all colors, etc ... and after you cut the top off a ripe tomato, scoop out the pulp (save it for soups, stews or casseroles) and stuff your meat salad into the tomato. Serve on a bed of fresh spinach or spring mix and you have a wonderful lunch or dinner. Serve with ciabatta bread and olive oil dipping sauce and a tall glass of fresh lemonade.
Looking for a fresh way to serve a salad ... try this asparagus, tomato and feta salad ... it is wonderful!
Need a quick side dish? Try this easy recipe ...
Tomato Pie Recipe
And, the absolute, positively best way to eat a fresh tomato is right off the vine in your backyard after it’s been sunbathing for several hours ... nothing beats the warm tomato juice running down your chin ... it’s a flavor few have enjoyed ... pity ... it’s a little slice of paradise!
Got a tomato recipe to share? Leave a comment!
Even though I’ve been pretty faithful to lowering my cholesterol naturally with lifestyle changes rather than medication you never really know until the numbers are in. Last Thursday I had blood taken to check my cholesterol and on Tuesday I returned to my doctor’s office for the results. Why is it when I feel I did all the right things I was a bit nervous to receive the results? Well, I needn’t have worried ... my numbers are all within the normal range and I was thrilled!
When writing my blog I do not always follow my own advice! But you knew that, didn’t you? I’m sharing that because none of us is perfect - pizza happens! Poor choices happen! Cravings happen! But, it’s OK ... you’ll get back on track.
Knowing my numbers are in the normal range does not give me permission to return to my previous bad habits, but rather embrace my success by continuing my plan. So, I celebrated my numbers with a spinach/cranberry/apple/pecan salad with bleu cheese and a pomegranate dressing and a chunk (yeah, I just ripped off a piece) Ciabatta bread with a homemade dipping oil. Need the recipe for the salad and/or bread dipping oil?
Fresh Spinach Salad with Cranberries and More
Put a good handful of fresh spinach (or lettuce combination if you prefer) on a plate, sprinkle with some dried cranberries, ½ chunked green apple and ½ chunked red apple, a sprinkling of bleu cheese (I use the low fat bleu cheese), roasted pecans, drizzle some pomegranate or raspberry vinaigrette and enjoy. I have also added sliced avocado and/or fresh orange pieces. It’s a beautiful salad that tastes great, too!
Olive Oil Dipping Sauce for Ciabatta Bread
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
• 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
• 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil leaves
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients. Serve in shallow bowls or small plates with Ciabatta or other Italian bread. My family likes to just rip a chunk off the loaf ... try it, it’s fun.
I do a good bit of research, both in the library and on the Internet. One of the books I am currently reading is“The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff where I read the following bit that sums disease up for me ... A saying from the area of Chinese medicine: “One disease, long life; no disease, short life.” In other words, those who know what’s wrong with them and take care of themselves accordingly will tend to live a lot longer than those who consider themselves perfectly healthy and neglect their weaknesses. So, in that sense at least, a Weakness of some sort can do you a big favor if you acknowledge that it’s there.
How true is that? If you have high cholesterol (a weakness) own it ... embrace it ... but don’t let it define you ... I don't want to hear, "Oh, there's Elizabeth, she has (or had) high cholesterol" but rather, "Oh, there’s Elizabeth, she lives a good and healthy life!"
To wrap it up this week, I happened on a post right here on Everyday Health - which is not uncommon. Here Joy Bauer lists ten healthy foods that won’t break the bank.
What do you do when you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol and your decision is to 'change your lifestyle' rather than pop a pill? How do you manage to cook and eat as a family without forcing everyone down the heart-healthy path? Well, what's wrong with a heart-healthy diet?? Oh, getting some resistance from the peanut gallery? Children are notorious for turning their noses up at 'healthy food' … or are they? Men, too can balk at the sheer mention of healthy eating, but do they really? Let's look at some gentle ways you can introduce heart healthy foods in your house. I try not to shove the good stuff down their throats, so to speak, but as the chief cook I can incorporate some healthier choices into the foods they love. Mashed potatoes is a good example. I used to prepare them the good ol' fashioned way – peeled Idaho potatoes mashed with milk, plenty of butter, salt, and pepper. Plus I made some the 'new' way … organic whole small red potatoes cooked with some organic carrots and smashed gently. I added a bit of butter with olive oil and some salt and pepper. Once they got used to that, I added a little chopped fresh spinach (for color) and now they all eat it with plenty of chopped spinach. A small change, but one that is healthier than the earlier way to eat mashed potatoes.
Another way to incorporate the good stuff is in a salad and hopefully your family eats salads! If they're stuck on iceberg lettuce, slowly start adding romaine and other lettuce types, even spring mix and spinach. My grandson does not like lettuce so the switch to spinach was well received. He loves to make his own salads, too. Perhaps your children will enjoy that as well. His current favorite is a take on Wendy's Apple Pecan salad with chicken and we have mimicked it at home. Recently he tried spinach with strawberries, bleu cheese (yeah, I know for a six year old to like bleu cheese is odd, but he loves it!) with roasted pecans and a pomegranate dressing. "Good to the last drop," he says!
I keep plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables on hand. This time of year your local farmer's market can provide a wealth of heart-healthy foods. It's so easy to grab a bag of chips and a soda when the hunger monster attacks, but a cold sweet melon cut in bite-sized pieces can easily fill the void and it's jam-packed with nutrients, too. So many fruits lend themselves to a quick snack … apples, peaches, pears, plums, kiwis (and yes, you can eat the skin, too!), fresh pineapple and the list goes on and on.
I also keep plenty of vegetables the kids (and spouse) can grab on the go. If you don't own a mandolin it's a great tool for the kitchen. It makes a quick and easy way to slice vegetables into kid-friendly size pieces with little effort.
Keeping individual containers of sliced carrots, cucumbers, peppers, cherry tomatoes, celery, broccoli, cauliflower is a great way for kids to make their own healthy snack. Of course, they'll probably want Ranch dressing with their veggies at first, but offering them other options will open them up to trying new flavors … like hummus!
I make my own croutons by simply cutting pieces of my whole wheat and their white bread into crouton-sized pieces, spreading them on a cookie sheet and spraying them with Pam and sprinkling them with Italian herbs. Toast in the oven until lightly browned.
Need bread crumbs? Same thing only I save all my bread ends in a basket and when I have enough I break the bread into pieces and put in a blender with Italian herbs and some salt and pepper.
Shall we talk about popcorn? Sure, I was sucked into the extra butter, movie style pop in the bag popcorn, but is that really the best choice? Air-popped? OK, I don't really like it either so what are some options? Just a lighter fare and portion control – a good place to start. My carnivore husband adds butter and salt to his bag of extra butter movie-style popcorn – I've learned to pick my battles. With the grandchildren, I offer a lighter popcorn or use the old-fashioned Stir-Crazy popcorn maker where I can add healthier oils and less salt with no butter. They love to watch the kernels pop into fluffy tidbits of happiness.
It's easy to incorporate healthier oils, less salt, add herbs and spices, reduce the quantity of foods consumed aimlessly, add more salads and healthier cheeses. If you make changes slowly they'll hardly notice. Then, get them involved … read ingredients on packaging together … review the listed nutritional analysis … and serving sizes. Talk about how science is creating our foods and simplify. If you can't pronounce it without some effort do you really want to eat it?
Another way to start without a major change at first is to eat correct portion sizes and eat balanced meals. Take a look at the new food "pyramid" and follow its guidelines.
It's that simple.
Not much else can beat pizza with friends and family. But when you’re sitting at a pizzeria restaurant or around a take out box of pizza in the comfort of your own home, you might be asking yourself some pretty important questions about your health, and you’re not alone.
Pizza restaurants are all about feeding the ‘average’ or what is currently considered as the average meal. Upscale restaurants tend to offer healthier choices, but these choices could come with a stiff price tag. As a solution to this I started making my own pizza. However, most people don't opt for this choice, instead they choose to stand in line for the best greasy pizza, casting away their healthy eating intentions. Sometimes, I do it too...so how can we make the best of the pizzeria or get take out without breaking all the rules of healthy eating?
If you are eating out, you might want to kick off your pizzeria meal with a big salad and watch the amount of dressing you put on. Hold off on that sugar-laden soft drink and opt for sugar-free lemonade or water. And...yep...one piece of pizza with plenty of vegetables...holding on the meat.
When grabbing a ‘hot and ready’ on your way home -- be sure to make yourself a salad packing it with fresh vegetables including a healthy serving of fresh spinach and go easy on the dressing, you can then enjoy a piece of pizza. Note: “a” is the operative word here!
Grocery stores have a lot of pizza to offer -- just watch the nutritional analysis on the box, make a salad and enjoy a piece. Note: again “a” is the operative word.
Making your own? Now here’s where the options are endless from making your own crust, using a store bought one, or eating your pizza on a toasted whole wheat tortilla with vegetables most pizzerias wouldn’t even consider! Recently I found a recipe on the Epicurious website that was wonderful. I made it with a whole wheat tortilla which I popped into a 325 degree oven for just a few minutes, then piled on the veggies, sprinkled it with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, popped it back in the oven until the cheese got all melted and scrumptious and I completely enjoyed it!!
So you see, it’s easy to mainstream when you’re eating to protect your heart, just be sure you eat plenty of fresh vegetables, drink plenty of water, and limit the number of pieces of pizza you eat and get you can get the best of both worlds.
Some mornings it sure would be easy to pour myself a bowl of cereal and run or skip breakfast all together keeping a stressful day at bay with a couple cups of strong coffee laced with a non-dairy creamer knowing full well I was stepping into the world on the wrong foot. Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Well, yes it is ... but it also depends on what breakfast is! Downing a bowl of dry cereal and a cup of coffee is better than nothing, but not much. With a little planning you can be set for the whole week. I find it most helpful to have a menu posted on the refrigerator outlining what the plans are for the week. Now, I don’t always do it, but the weeks I don’t is obvious. I really don’t want to think much about breakfast when I first get up ... but setting my palate when I go to bed makes me enjoy my sleep time more and knowing what’s for breakfast the next day sets the pace. So, is cereal a bad thing? Of course not ... but the choices are virtually endless and it’s what you reach for that does make a difference.Most cereal boxes these days sport some new words ... Whole grain! Lower sugar! More fiber! So can you believe what you see and/or read? Not always ... it’s up to you to read the ingredients and nutritional analysis ... lower sugar may mean a drop from 13 grams of sugar to 11 grams? A good deal? Not in my opinion. Watch the fiber. Personally if the fiber isn’t at least 10 mg, I pass.
Remember, there are two types of fiber ... soluable and insoluable. What’s the difference? My Food Diary says dietary fiber, the edible portions of plant cell walls are resistant to digestion, is an extremely beneficial component of our diets. Not only does it help ward off many diseases, it has been shown to aid in weight loss by reducing food intake at meals. This is because fiber-rich foods take longer to digest and thus result in an increased feeling of fullness and satiety. In addition, the more gradual absorption slows the entrance of glucose into the blood stream, thereby preventing large blood glucose and insulin spikes.
The recommended fiber intake is 20 - 35 grams per day for adults, or 10 - 13 grams for every 1,000 calories in the diet. This recommended amount should come from a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber, since each type provides different benefits. While it's not necessary to track, a 3:1 ratio of insoluble to soluble fiber is typical. Although neither type is absorbed by the body, they have different properties when mixed with water, hence the designation between the two. However, due to overlap in function between the two types and disparities in measurements of each depending on the method used, the National Academy of Sciences has recommended that these terms "gradually be eliminated and replaced by specific beneficial physiological effects of a fiber". Thus you may hear less about "soluble vs. insoluble fiber" in the future.
Soluble fiber is "soluble" in water. When mixed with water it forms a gel-like substance and swells. Soluble fiber has many benefits, including moderating blood glucose levels and lowering cholesterol. The scientific names for soluble fibers include pectins, gums, mucilages, and some hemicelluloses. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats and oatmeal, legumes (peas, beans, lentils), barley, fruits and vegetables (especially oranges, apples and carrots).
Insoluble fiber does not absorb or dissolve in water. It passes through our digestive system in close to its original form. Insoluble fiber offers many benefits to intestinal health, including a reduction in the risk and occurrence of colorectal cancer, hemorrhoids, and constipation. Most of insoluble fibers come from the bran layers of cereal grains.
Since dietary fiber is found only in plant products (i.e., nuts, whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables), these are essential to a healthy diet. The average American significantly falls short of the recommended amount of fiber, consuming on average only 12 - 17 grams per day. Ways to increase dietary fiber in your diet are:
Now that you understand the two types of fiber, let’s move on to sugars and sweeteners. Cereals are notorious for adding lots of sugar to make whole grains more palatable. Today’s children have an insatiable sweet tooth and we, as parents and grandparents, are not helping by hiding the wonderful flavors of whole grains and healthy food by excessively sweetening them. Allowing children (and ourselves) to learn to enjoy the natural flavor of foods is critical to eating healthier. I love my morning oatmeal with a few dried cranberries, raisins, and/or other dried fruits or unsweetened applesauce and a little cinnamon. No sugar or other sweetener and just a splash of unsweetened soymilk. I had no idea how wonderful plain cooked oatmeal could taste, but I had to retrain myself ... I was a sucker for the cute little packets of instant oatmeal with no redeeming qualities at all! Once I realized that, I now opt for the healthier whole, long-cooking organic oats, preferably steel-cut. Need a recipe?
Crock-Pot Steel Cut Oatmeal
The only variation I used was substituting soymilk for the whole milk ... very yummy!!
Not into steel-cut oats? Try The Perfect Oatmeal which uses the type of oatmeal of which most people are familiar.
Need some breakfast ideas beyond the usual offerings? How about this? Want bacon, fried eggs, white toast with jelly? Try Canadian bacon, soft cooked, poached, or scrambled eggs with whole wheat toast with low sugar jam.
Want pancakes (made from a mix) with butter and syrup with a side of sausage? Try a whole wheat pancake mix or make your own using ½ whole wheat flour, a vegan sausage, and real maple syrup - skip the butter.
Going for a toaster strudel or Poptart type breakfast? A simple piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and/or low sugar jam is a better choice - and grab a piece of fruit.
Doughnuts? I have nothing for you ... just say no.
There are ...
Have a suggestion? Thought? Opinion? Leave a comment! Thanks.
I am ...
... a former blogger for a health site, which means eating healthy aka heart smart
which has become a passion for me. I will start at the beginning when I first
discovered I had high cholesterol.