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Ask people to choose a healthy breakfast, and, chances are, some are going to mention oatmeal. Oats are full of heart-healthy fiber which can help minimize our cholesterol and keep us fuller longer. High-fiber diets can also help reduce your risk of colon cancer. Obviously, we need to be reaching for this comforting grain in the morning, but, we need to take extra care when reading the labels of the most popular brands. One of the most popular choices is undoubtedly instant oat packets. They take just about a minute to cook up and usually come in flavors we love. But, the flavored packets undo all the health benefits of the grain by packing in salt, sugar, and, sometimes, artificial flavors. Most flavors have, on average, at least 3 teaspoons of added sugar!  

 Understandably, instant oats are the time-saver in the morning. But, instead of reaching for that box of packets at the store, get yourself a big container of old-fashioned or instant plain oats and make your own packets for the week. As a bonus, this can save you some money as well! All you have to do is put your ingredients in a sandwich bag, and when you want to use them, prepare as you would a store-bought packet: add water or milk and microwave for one minute (instant) to three minutes (for old-fashioned).

Here are a few combinations to try:

 

Apple-Cinnamon Oats:

½ cup oatmeal of choice

¼ tsp. cinnamon

2 tablespoons of chopped, dried apples

½ to 1 teaspoon of brown sugar (optional, and still less than the food companies are adding)

 

Cinnamon-Raisin Oats:

½ cup of oatmeal

¼ tsp. cinnamon

2 tablespoons of raisins

½ to 1 teaspoon of brown sugar (optional)

 

Banana-Nut Bread Oatmeal :

½ cup of oatmeal

¼ tsp cinnamon (can you tell , i love this spice)

2 tablespoons of chopped pecans or walnuts

2 tablespoons of dried banana chips

1 teaspoon of brown sugar (optional)

 

Elvis Oatmeal:

½ cup of oats

1 tablespoon of powdered peanut butter

2 tablespoons of dried banana chips

Optional teaspoon of sugar

 

I hope these serve as some breakfast inspiration!


In health, Angela

 

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Few things are as confusing as the research pertaining to our diet. Scientific evidence changes almost instantly it seems, leaving the general public constantly asking, “What should I eat?” It doesn’t help that the media gives too many “experts” a voice and opinions are so varied. In the past year, eggs have been a nutrition hot topic again. They say we can put them back on the table, but what does this mean and for whom? Eggs are indeed a high source of dietary cholesterol, but they are also a great source of protein, folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin D (which are great for your health). Let’s examine some of the new evidence.

New research is suggesting (that is the key word) that it is not so much dietary cholesterol as much as the mix of fats that can raise your blood levels of cholesterol. In most healthy individuals, moderate egg consumption (an egg a day) can be part of your diet and have little effect. Bottom line: if you are healthy, have no issue with cholesterol or your blood sugar, or your weight, it is okay to consume eggs in moderation.

On the other hand, if you have issues controlling your LDL or have diagnosed diabetes, you may want to rethink a daily egg at breakfast. Research has demonstrated, consistently through the years, that heart disease was increased in people with diabetes that consume whole eggs. A whole egg will still have more fat and calories than an egg white or even two, so if you are watching your weight, be aware of the choice. If you have any of these issues, the guideline is still to limit your egg yolk consumption to no more than three a week.

All in all, moderate egg consumption is safe, but if you go beyond that, you may be at risk for heart failure later in life. Also, be aware of what you eat with your eggs. If you have bacon and fried potatoes, you are adding to the fat load of the meal. Pair eggs with healthy grains, vegetables, or fruit to make it a healthy, well-balanced meal.

I hope this clears some things up when it comes to eggs and your heart health.


Have a good month, Angela

 

 

 

trail mix

 

When school time rolls back around, parents start to search for ways to bring some fun to the lunchbox for their kids. Opening a packed lunch is one way to let a child know they are thought of, even if you aren’t there with them. Some may think it is important to come up with fancy or elaborate meals, but few have time for creating a work of art in a box. Parents also have issue with items coming home or going to waste because the child doesn’t like something. So how can you increase the health of a lunch and the probability that it will get consumed?

 

Instead of thinking big, think simple. One of the key tips I give to parents is that children like to have some involvement in their menu.  They also love to help make their food and customize it to their liking. For a side or an after school snack few things can pack in a bunch of nutrients and appeal as a trail mix. The possibilities are really endless for combinations. You can make a sweet or savory blend. Pick ingredients such as cereal to add fiber, nuts for protein, and fruit for vitamins, minerals, and a touch of sweet. As a bonus, it is super easy to throw together!

 You will need:

A big bowl

Measuring cups

Baggies

Labels (come up with fun names for different blends)


Ingredient options:

Toasted Oatmeal O cereal

Popcorn

Puffed grain cereal

Unsweetened rice square cereal

Craisins

Raisins

Unsweetened banana chips

Sunflower seeds

Peanuts or almonds (if allowed nuts at school)

Pumpkin seeds

Mini chocolate chips

In a bowl, combine ingredients as you choose. Try to make a grain the base of the mix. Use a 2:1 ratio of cereal or popcorn to nuts and dried fruit. Once the ingredients are combined, portion out into baggies or ½ cup containers and place a label on the package. Children will take pride in their self-created snack and enjoy spending the extra time with you.


In health, Angela

 

 

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We all have familiar foods that we look forward to eating on special days of the year, such as on Thanksgiving. Your father may fry the turkey or your aunt may make a special green bean casserole. Many people balk at changing up tradition on these special days, but for the many of us that are now celebrating the holidays either away from our loved ones or with new families and friends, it can be worth looking for new ideas to mix up the line-up, especially if you are accommodating friends or relatives that have special dietary considerations such as a food allergy or are vegetarian.

I love suggesting adding flavorful vegetable side dishes to the table. They add key nutrition and can be easily made to fit different diet preferences. This dish is a nice, warm alternative to a salad, adds in a touch of sweet and is a little heartier than your average steamed vegetable side with the fruit and the nuts.  It is gluten free and vegan. You can make it with any leafy green, but I used swiss chard. If figs are not available, you could use raisins or currants.

Swiss Chard with Figs and Pine Nuts

Serves 4-6

2 pounds of swiss chard

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup of chopped, dried figs

¼ cup of pine nuts

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of salt

Black pepper, to taste

Wash the greens and cut off any tough stalks. Boil the greens in a saucepan of water until just tender. Drain thoroughly.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the figs and the pine nuts over moderate heat until the nuts are toasted and golden. Add the swiss chard and stir well. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Cook over low heat for another 3-4 minutes. Serve warm.

I hope you enjoy the kick off to the holiday season.

In health, Angela

 

 

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I am always looking to mix up my side dish offerings all the while keeping it simple, fresh, and needless to say, healthy. When you are looking for something refreshing in the summer months, it is hard not to revert to some sort of salad. You can just slice and toss together ingredients and serve. It got me to thinking, what else can I do to add variety to a grilled fish or chicken meal? Chilled soup! Many chilled soups are super easy, you simply blend and serve. They are easy to keep cool if you are going to be outside for a while; all you have to do is set them on ice. In doing some searching online, I found a lot of great ideas, but this one from Martha Stewart’s website looked particularly good to me.

 
Photo Credit: The Cook's Atelier

Yellow Gazpacho

Serves 4


Ingredients:

2 pounds of yellow heirloom tomatoes , quartered and cored

1 small onion, diced

1 medium yellow squash, sliced

1 medium yellow pepper, cored, seeded and diced

1 garlic clove

½ cup carrot juice (I recommend using fresh if you can)

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt, to taste

Avocado and red tomato, sliced for garnish (optional)


Directions:

  1. Working in small batches, combine the ingredients in a blender or food processor until finely pureed. Salt to taste. Chill for at least 2 hours in refrigerator before serving.

  2. Option: garnish with slices of avocado and tomatoes or a fresh herb such as basil to serve

  3. Another option: blend an avocado with the rest of the ingredients to make the soup creamy and add healthy fats

 This soup is rich in vitamins and fiber while being low in calories and fat. It is perfect to add a healthy option to cookouts or summer dinner parties.

In health, Angela  


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