Friday, July 31, 2009

Forget Those Commercially Prepared "Healthy Yogurts"

Don't let the mass food manufacturers fool you, those fruit flavored yogurts are not healthy for you. Many of them are nothing but candy bars disguised as “healthy yogurt”. I find it disgusting and disconcerning to read the labels on these foods. If sugar isn't listed as the first ingredient, it is probably the second or third ingredient.

Commercially prepared, fruit yogurt varieties could be sweetened with ingredients such as sugar, dextrose, maltodextrin, corn syrup solids, aspartame, saccharin or fruit juice. The fruit juice may be one fruit or a combination of a variety of fruits with additional sweeteners.

Either can make your own version of fruit yogurt without the added nonsense just mentioned. It is also much cheaper and healthier than the commercially prepared varieties. Here's how...

Buy a container of plain yogurt. (PLAIN without any vanilla or other flavorings). The low fat variety will save you calories and fat content.

Your chosen variety of fruit.
Mix together. It's that easy.
One of my favorites recipes....

½ cup plain yogurt
5-7 bing cherries, chopped
½ teaspoon flaxseeds
3” banana, sliced and quartered
pineapple juice (adjust for taste)

Mix together in serving bowl. It makes a great breakfast.

NOTE: If you want to, blend all these ingredients together for a fruit smoothie. You may want to add more yogurt or juice, you decide on what consistency you want your smoothie.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Curious about Tempeh?

Curious about tempeh and how to use it? Here is an easy and quick way to make a tasty meal with it. It is from my cookbook, Cooking with Soy. My students have loved this...

Tempeh Sloppy Joes

½ block of tempeh, crumbled
¼ cup onion, chopped
spaghetti sauce, your choice
¼ t garlic powder
¼ t Italian seasoning
whole grain hamburger bun or large roll cut in half

Lightly spritz a frying pan with oil, or use a nonstick pan. Place the tempeh and onions into the pan. Add garlic powder and Italian seasoning.

Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. Cook until tempeh is brown around the edges and onions are translucent. Add spaghetti sauce. The amount of sauce will depend upon your liking.

Stir and heat thoroughly. Scoop onto the bread of your choice.

NOTE: You can make an open face sandwich out of this recipe by simply scooping the tempeh mixture onto one piece of bread.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Natural Occurring Caffeine

As a way to get out of the heat, I embarked with my laptop to my nearest local java establishment. After deciding upon a relaxing cup of iced jasmine green tea, I started sipping its tasty delights. It was delicious.

After relishing in the first two sips, however, something troubling began. My heart started racing faster than a locomotive. It was frightening. I sat for about 10 minutes while my heart calmed down. Then, I felt mildly light headed. This was another sign that I needed to return this “healthy” drink.

The proprietor notified me that the tea I ordered contained “naturally occurring caffeine” and it was attempting to rid my body of toxins. That was causing my rapid and irregular heartbeats. That doesn't sound logical to me. Hmm...

I have had jasmine green tea in bulk and brewed it at home. I had no negative health consequences at that time. So, I figured it would be good this time around.

These heart palpitations were worse than any caffeinated beverages I have ever had, including coffee.

Whatever it is, whether the brand or manner of brewing, I am hesitant to order teas not brewed at home anymore.

Just thought I'd throw this out there in case anyone else experiences the same thing.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mango Pudding

Sometimes, no matter what happens, people have preconceived notions about tofu. There are ways to enjoy this soy food without it overwhelming your taste buds. Here is a very easy to prepare recipe that has always been a kick in my classes:

Mango Pudding
1 medium mango, peeled and sliced
1 cup tofu, silken variety

Cut off a slice of tofu and crumble it into a measuring cup. Or, if you are not concerned about measuring (which I am not), simply crumble the tofu into a blender. Add the sliced mango.

Puree until smooth. You may want to adjust the amount of tofu to arrive at your desired pudding-like consistency.

Spoon pureed mixture into serving bowls. If desired, sprinkle with coconut. Chill prior to serving.

Option: Add a ½ teaspoon of fresh mint leaves when pureeing for a refreshing taste treat.

Recipe taken by my cookbook, Cooking With Soy.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Natural Decaffeinating

It turns out there is a natural way to decaffeinate any tea you are drinking. You can do itself in your own kitchen, which is the nicest part.

Found on In Pursuit of Tea, via Dr. Andrew Weil's newsletter....

Steep the tea for 45 seconds in hot water and then pour off the liquid. This removes up to 80 percent of the caffeine.

Add more hot water and steep as you normally would. The aroma and taste should not be affected.

How easy is that?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fresh Nutrient Rich Fruits

A health promoting dessert can be easily enjoyed by making a quick and simple fresh fruit salad. The USDA and American Heart Association have a list of 10 fruits that are known to be superfoods. Include them in one of your salads. All of the fruits are high in antioxidants and fiber.

If you have a farmer's market nearby, I recommend buying your fresh produce there. It'll give you a chance to meet the grower and learn new ways to enjoy the foods. Plus, you'll know exactly where your food is coming from. It can't get much better than that, in my opinion. Local farmers deserve all the support we can give them. When you get accustomed to the way food is supposed to taste, fresh from the unadulterated ground, you won't go back to supermarket foods.

Here's the fruit list, in no particular order:
* raspberries
* cherries (have you ever had a Rainier cherry?! OOOHH!)
* wild blueberries
* cranberries
* granny smith apples
* strawberries
* red delicious apples
* plums
* prunes
* blackberries

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Heart Healthy Seafood Tips

Even though seafood is a healthy and nutritious food to eat, there are certain things to know that can help you make it even healthier. According to the American Heart Association, try these tips to enjoy a health promoting seafood experience:

Substitute salsa or cocktail sauce for butter when ready to eat your seafood. Not only will you be decreasing your fat content, you'll also be consuming more nutrients.

* Choose fresh berries or fruit as a seafood topping.
* Prepare your seafood using low fat cooking methods such as broiling (without heavy oils), poaching, steaming, and grilling.

* Choose fresh seafood salads, not the processed fake crab variety.
* If you choose a seafood salad, make sure there is no high fat mayo in it.
* Buy canned tuna in water instead of oil. You can use the liquid in soup bases.
* Try to avoid or limit eating fried seafood of any kind.
* Instead of heavy sauces, squeeze a fresh orange, lime or lemon over your seafood.
* Use herbs to season your seafood instead of butter and salt.


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Friday, July 17, 2009

Green Tea is Not Just For Sipping

Green tea can be enjoyed in ways other than as a beverage. An easy way to enjoy it is by adding it to your water when steaming some fish.

Place a teaspoon of green tea leaves into the water. If you don't have the leaves, open up a teabag and pour the contents into the water. Place the steamer basket in your pot. Then, add the fish. Bring to a boil and steam until done. It will only be a few minutes. Poke fish for doneness.

The green tea adds a mild sweetness to white fishes such as halibut and tilapia. Green tea steaming is good even with salmon, though not as noticeable since salmon has such a strong flavor on its own.

I have found a good alternative is to mix some green tea leaves with some chopped fresh basil. Use twice as much basil as green tea leaves. Place the basil and leaves in a flat pan. Lightly spritz the fish with some water or milk. Dip the fish into the herb tea mixture to coat. Place into the steamer and steam until done. This gives a stronger taste than the first method, but is still tasty. (In my opinion, anyways :) )

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Eating a Heart Healthy Diet

In addition to know what to eat in a heart healthy diet, it also is important to know how to cook them to reap the highest benefits.

Steaming is the quickest and healthiest way to cook food. There are steamers you can buy for under $10 that fit into a saucepan. Or, you can buy a steamer machine.

Baking, without excess oils, is a healthy cooking alternative. Use extra spices to get the best taste benefits.

Grilling. If you do not have warm weather for an outdoor grilling experience, there are varieties you can buy for using on your stovetop.

Poaching. Adding a little water to the bottom of your cooking pan will result in a healthy way to cook your food. Add more water as necessary.

Good luck...
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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Lowering Your Cholesterol

Foods known for their cholesterol lowering properties are those high in fiber, according to the USDA. Some high fiber foods include:

Whole grains. This family includes oats, barley, millet, kamut, quinoa and whole wheat.

Legumes. Included in legumes are bean varieties (kidney, navy, garbanzo, etc.)lentils.

Fresh produce. Fruits and vegetables contain beneficial fiber.

Seeds and nuts. Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and flaxseeds are in this category.