I am a Discovery Networks (Discover Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, etc.) junkie. If we aren’t watching toddler TV, I usually have it tuned to one of their channels, well, unless it is football season. This week several people on my favorite shows are dealing with health issues from a stroke (Captain Phil Harris, Deadliest Catch) to possible heart attack (Mauro Castano, Cake Boss) to false heart attack internet rumors (Matt Roloff, Little People, Big World). Matt is fine, it is a friend of theirs that passed from a heart attack. To those conspiracy theorists that think the programming decision to run these episodes in the same week even though they happened in different places and at different times means the incidents are faked for ratings I can only ask, does your television set have a power button or channel tuner?
Regardless of the potential fraud or sensationalism perpetrated by the Discovery Networks, I am fairly confident I speak for most people when I say we should all be a little more conscious of what we eat and its effect on our health. The American Heart Association has a handy online tool called My Life Check to help you “learn the state of your heart and what you can do to live a better life”. The website lists their recommended food choice guidelines:
- Vegetables and fruits are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber — and they’re low in calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help you control your weight and your blood pressure.
- Unrefined whole-grain foods contain fiber that can help lower your blood cholesterol and help you feel full, which may help you manage your weight.
- Eat fish at least twice a week. Recent research shows that eating oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, trout, and herring) may help lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease. Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat. Select fat-free, 1 percent fat, and low-fat dairy products.
- Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet. Aim to eat less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol each day. Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Aim to eat less than 1500 milligrams of sodium per day.
To help you meet some of those guidelines, I have compiled a list of delicious, yet healthy, recipes. In future blogs I will discuss substituting ingredients in recipes as well as tips for “adding extra nutritional value” (a.k.a. sneaking in veggies).
Black Beans and Rice – You can substitute brown rice for the white for an extra nutritional punch.
Chasen’s Chili – This is a recipe that you can easily use the leanest ground meats you can find and it won’t affect the outcome (unlike hamburgers and meatballs that really need the fat content to taste right).
Gumbo – I am not sure how this compares to my brother’s version, but this is a pretty healthy recipe. Use brown rice to make it more nutritious.
Oven Roasted Potatoes – Slice the potatoes thinly and let them bake until they are crispy as a substitute for French fries.
Sweet Potatoes with Lemon – Try this instead of dousing your sweet potatoes with tons of brown sugar and marshmallows.
Salads and other Side Dishes:
Tabbouli (or Tabbouleh) – A great way to use up some of that fresh summer produce you may have. A good variation is to substitute quinoa for the bulgur wheat. Quinoa is one of the new “super foods” among health experts. It is a grain from South America with a very high protein content.
Black-eyed Peas and Corn Relish – Pair this with some grilled chicken breasts for a super southwestern style meal.
Cold Celery Salad – Be sure to use reduced sodium soy sauce (I personally think it is more flavorful than the salt loaded variety). Sesame Oil can be an expensive ingredient, but a little goes a long way. Most recipes will only call for a teaspoon or two so that $7 bottle will end up lasting for quite awhile.
Summer Soup (yogurt and cucumbers) - This could be a soup or a salad depending on your ratio of yogurt to vegetables. Plan to eat it within a day or two of making it as it will become watery if you leave it too long.
Gazpacho or Beet Gazpacho – Two more good recipes to use up that fresh summer produce for a quick and cool summer supper.
Cabbage Soup – This one is probably better left for chillier nights, but as long as you use lean meat it is full of goodness.
The June 2010 issue of Sunset Magazine had some delicious looking salmon recipes from Seattle’s top chefs (look for a link to each recipe after the initial paragraph on each page) plus an article about 5 different kinds of salmon and how to use them. I am not even going to try to top that.
Peanut Butter Balls – Peanuts are high in fat, but it is “good fat” plus they are packed with protein and other nutritional value. I always buy natural peanut butter that is just the peanuts and a small amount of salt, no added fats or sugar. I never remember having any M&Ms or other candies hidden in them growing up and I always thought they were great without them.
I am in a food rut lately, so if you have any recipes you’d like to share, either healthy ones or “indulgent” ones, please share them.
“To keep the body in good health is a duty... otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” (Guatama Buddha)
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