Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fall In Love with Pumpkin

Jack-O’lanterns are the symbol of Halloween, but don’t overlook pumpkins as a source of nutrition. Pumpkins are full of fiber and low in calorie. The bright orange color of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that it is loaded with an antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body. Thus, beta-carotene plays many important functions in overall health. So don’t just buy canned pumpkin for pie, keep it in the pantry to whip up some of the quick, homemade recipes listed below: pumpkin ravioli and pumpkin soup!

 What are the Health Benefits?

-Vitamin A: helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, skeletal muscle and soft tissue, and mucus membranes. Known as retinol for producing pigments in the retina, thus, promoting good vision.

-Fiber: normalizes bowel movements, helps maintain bowel health, lowers cholesterol levels, and helps control blood sugar levels, aids in achieving healthy weight

Recipe: Pumpkin Ravioli          Serves 6           Serving size: 4 ravioli


            1 cup canned pumpkin

            1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

            ¼ teaspoon salt

            1/8 teaspoon black pepper

            6 wonton wrappers

            1 teaspoon salt

            ½ cup chicken broth

            1 ½  tablespoons unsalted butter

            Chopped parsley


            Combine pumpkin, Parmesan, ¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper. Spoon about 2 teaspoons pumpkin mixture into center of each wonton wrapper. Moisten edges of dough with water; bring 2 opposite sides together to form a triangle, pinching edges to seal. Place ravioli into large saucepan of boiling water with 1 teaspoon salt; cook 7 minutes and drain in a colander. Place chicken broth and butter in pan; bring to a boil. Add ravioli, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with parsley.

Nutrition Facts:

            Calories: 162              

            Fat: 5g (sat. 4g, mono. 1g,  poly. 0g)               

            Protein: 6g              Fiber: 2g                                 

           Cholesterol: 17mg         Sodium: 505mg

           Calcium: 102mg

Recipe: Pumpkin Soup            Serves 6           Serving size: 1 cup


            1 tablespoon butter

            1 cup chopped onion

            3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

            ½ teaspoon curry powder

            ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

            ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

            2 garlic cloves, crushed

            1 cup peeled and cubed (1/2 inch) sweet potato

            ¼ teaspoon salt

            2 14.5 oz. cans fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

            1 15 oz. can pumpkin

            1 cup 1% low-fat milk

            1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

            2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (optional)


            1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in flour, curry powder, cumin, nutmeg, and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add sweet potato, salt, broth, and pumpkin; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, partially covered, 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool 10  minutes.

            2. Place half of pumpkin mixture in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining pumpkin mixture. Return soup to pan; stir in milk. Cook over medium heat 6 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring often. (Do not boil.) Remove from heat; stir in juice. Garnish with chives, if desired.

Nutrition Facts:

            Calories: 121              

            Fat: 2.8g (sat. 1.6g, mono. 0.7g, poly. 0.2g)

            Protein: 5.1g                  Carbohydrates: 19.7g

            Fiber: 3.5g                    Cholesterol: 7mg

            Sodium 565mg              Calcium 85mg


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Freshen Up Summer With Lemon Water!

Enjoy summer gatherings without the guilt! Lemon water can serve as a healthy alternative to other high caloric beverages. Lemon water has zero calories - making it a flavorful drink without all the excess calories.

Why Lemons?
Lemons are packed with nutrients, such as vitamin C, B-complex, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and fiber.

Note: Because lemon juice can be hard on the enamel of the teeth, it’s important to dilute it with water of any temperature. It is recommended to drink lemon water first thing in the morning, and wait 15 minutes to have breakfast. This will help to fully receive the benefits of lemon water:
What are the benefits?

1. Gives the immune system a boost - Lemon juice is full of vitamin C. When we are stressed, the level of vitamin C in the body is first to go. This is why it is recommended to take in additional vitamin C on stressful days.

2. Excellent source of potassium - Lemons are high in potassium, making it good for heart health, as well as brain and nerve function.

3. Aids digestion - Lemon juice encourages healthy digestion by loosening toxins in the digestive tract, and helps to relieve symptoms of indigestion including heartburn, burping, and bloating.

4. Cleanses the system - Lemon juice helps flush out the toxins in the body by enhancing enzyme function and stimulating the liver.

5. Freshens breath - Lemon juice is known to aid in relieving toothaches and gingivitis. Because the citric acid can erode tooth enamel, it’s recommended to hold off on brushing teeth after drinking lemon water or brush teeth before drinking it.

6. Keeps skin blemish-free - The antioxidants in lemon juice can help to decrease blemishes and wrinkles too! It can be applied to scares and age spots to reduce their appearance, and because it is detoxifying the blood, it will maintain the skin’s radiance.

7. Assists in weight management - Lemons contain pectin fiber, which assists in fighting hunger cravings. In addition, it is a calorie free beverage without the hidden/additional sugar additives that other drinks contain.

8. Reduces inflammation - When lemon water is consumed on a regular basis, it can decrease the acidity of the body, where disease states occur. It removes uric acid in the joints, one of the main causes of inflammation.

9. Gives a energy boost - Lemon juice provides the body with energy when it enters the digestive tract and helps to reduce anxiety and depression. The scent of lemons alone is known to have a calming effect on the nervous system.

10. Helps cut out caffeine - Replacing morning coffee with a cup of hot lemon water can help one feel refreshed without the mid-afternoon crash.

11. Helps fight viral infections - Lemon water, warm, is very effective in diminishing viral infections and especially sore throats. The lemon juice also boosts the immune system, while simultaneously fighting off the infection completely.

So this summer, enjoy the freshness and the simplicity of lemon water, while attaining its benefits and omitting additional calories and sugar additives hidden in other beverages.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Healthy Holiday Eating Made Easy

We all know the holiday season can be a stressful and overwhelming time. With large family gathers brings an overabundance of food. It is believed that the average American will gain up to 5 pounds throughout the holiday season, but that doesn’t have to be you! Enjoy the holiday season without packing on the pounds! Here’s how:

Holiday Guide #1: 4 Simple Shopping Tips for Healthy Holiday Meals
1. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, avoiding the center isles where “junk” foods lurk.
2. Choose “real” foods. Select foods labeled 100% fruit juice or 100% whole-grain. These items are less processed and contain fewer additives.
3. Avoid foods with cartoons on the label that are targeted to children. It is best not to keep “junk” foods in the house if you don’t want your kids eating them.
4. Avoid foods containing more than five ingredients as well as artificial ingredients. If you cannot pronounce the ingredients, don’t buy it.

Holiday Guide #2: How to Avoid Overeating During the Holidays
1. Create and maintain an exercise regime: During the holidays it’s easy to lose motivation to get to the gym. Because the holiday season is surrounded by an abundance of food and many of us tend to overeat, it is especially important to make time for daily physical activity. Team up with a family member or friend to encourage one another in meeting your exercise goals.
2. Don’t Fast Before a Party: Fasting before a party can lead to overeating and a decreased metabolism. Choose smaller portions and eat slowly so you can savor every bite. Eating slowly will allow you to recognize when you are full.
3. Eat Smart Before a Party: Choose foods high in fiber. Doing so will help you feel full, making it less likely for you to overeat at the party.
4. Drink Water: Drinking water throughout the holiday meal or party can help you to slow down your eating by taking smaller sips between bites.
5. Don’t Forget to Enjoy Yourself: Eat small amounts of your favorite holiday foods so you don’t feel deprived. Fill the rest of your plate with healthier options such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Trick or Treat: the top 10 healthiest Halloween candies

Annually, October brings a surplus of candies to the shelves of

grocery and convenient stores nationwide.  It is almost impossible

to go anywhere without candy at your fingertips.  Because the

availability of candy is everywhere, it is common to give into

cravings of these high calorie sweets.  Tired of packing on the

pounds? Below are healthy eating tips for this Halloween season as

well as the top 10 healthiest Halloween candies! 

1. Buy Candy Late: having tempting candy around can be a big diet

challenge.  Resist the urge to buy bags of candy until Halloween

night.  Not only will you save yourself the temptation, but you

will find big discounts on candy sold that late.

2. Buy Candy you don’t like: Keep cravings away by purchasing

treats that you don’t personally enjoy. 

3. Store Halloween Treats Out of Sight: We’re much more likely to

reach for candy when it is within view.  Store treats in drawers,

behind doors, on shelves or in out-of-the way pantries.  Resist

the temptation to open the bag.  It’s too easy to slip in for a

quick bite.

4. Enjoy Parties for the Atmosphere, Not the Food:  Attend

Halloween parties for the fun and friends rather than the food. 

Have a healthy snack before you go.  Plan ahead what you’ll allow

for food and drink, and then stick to your plan. 

5. Make Your Own Halloween Treats: Bring your own dish to your

next Halloween party.  Be sure to bake it shortly before the

party, so it won’t tempt you for days.  Try this popular heart-

healthy party recipe such as caramel popcorn.


#1 Gummy Bears - 9calories in 5 bears
#2 Dum Dum Pops - 20 calories per pop
#3 Jolly Ranchers - 23 calories in one piece
#4 Smarties (sweet tarts) - 25 calories in 1 roll
#5 Tootsie Roll - 26 calories in 1 roll
#6 Nerds - 40 calories in 1 small box
#7 Jelly Beans - 54 calories in 5 beans
#8 3 Musketeers - 60 calories in 1 fun size bar
#9 Kit Kat - 70 calories in 1 snack size bar
#10 Peanut or Plain M&M's - 90 or 70 calories in 1 fun size pack

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Top 7 Superfoods of Fall

Be on the lookout for these vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables at your local farmers market and or grocery store. Not only will these foods provide you the best flavor, but they will be also be of greatest value!

Apples - Eat the skin! The apples skin is full of fiber and contains a powerful anti-oxidant that may fight off a host of diseases. Apples are also high in calcium, folate, and Vitamin C.

Pumpkin - Just 1/2 cup of pumpkin contains about a full serving of Vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, plus a healthy dose of potassium.

Brussels Sprouts - this vegetable is incredibly good for you, containing more vitamin C than an orange! Brussels sprouts are also high in vitamin K, calcium and folate.

Kale - Just 1 cup of chopped raw kale contains more vitamin K than any other green! This dark leafy green also offers high amounts of beta-carotene, an anti-oxidant which is believed to boost the immune system and help ward off certain types of cancers.

Chestnuts - A serving of chestnuts offers about half a days worth of vitamin B6 - boosting the immune system, keeping skin youthful and possibly fighting lung cancer. These nuts are also high in fiber, helping to fill you up longer.

Pomegranates - this middle-eastern fruit is loaded with antioxidants and compounds called tannins that provide good heart health and lower "bad" cholesterol (LDL).  Just 1/2 cup of arils provides 5 grams of fiber!

Turnip Greens - Turnip tops are the most nutritious part of this Autumn root vegetable.  One cup provides 441 mg or about a half of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A (beta-carotene - helps to promote good vision, fight illness and build strong bones). Turnip greens are additionally loaded with Vitamin C, folate, Vitamin K and calcium.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Healthy Eating Tips for Your Summer BBQ

We all know the summer months bring parties, barbecues and an overabundance of high calorie foods - burgers, ribs, potato salad, coleslaw, rich desserts and alcoholic beverages.  As the popularity in outdoor activities increases, consuming excessive calories may become an issue for many - leading to lack of energy and or unwanted weight-gain.  The following simple tips can help you to indulge in your favorite foods while saving you the calories - helping you to achieve that swimsuit body you have always wanted!    

  1. Broaden Your Grilling Horizons
    • Grilling does not have to be limited to hotdogs, hamburgers and bratwursts.  Fruits and vegetables are additional foods that taste great when grilled and provide many nutrients the body needs for daily functions!  Brush with a small amount of olive oil and throw right onto the grill.  Try grilling romaine lettuce, summer squash, eggplant, red peppers, peaches, and nectarines at your next barbecue!
  2. Reinvent Old Favorites
    • Most barbecue side dishes tend to be saturated with full-fat mayonnaise. Swap out half the mayo with non-fat Greek yogurt and use light mayo in place of regular!  It tastes just as good without the excess calories.
  3. Sip Smart
    • Warm weather brings fruity calorically dense cocktails.  Stay festive this summer by choosing seasonal sippers such as unsweetened iced tea with lemon and mint or seltzer with a hint of juice!  Fruit infused water is another great choice!  Soak your fruit of choice in water overnight and it will be ready to enjoy the next day.  Cucumbers and or citrus fruits always work great!
  4. Don't Arrive Starved
    • We all know that all bets are off when arriving to a party or meal starved.  Choosing healthful choices becomes challenging when you are starving.  Before heading to your next summer cookout, reach for a protein and a fiber rich snack to keep you full and sane.  Such foods include but are not limited to hummus, string cheese, a handful of almonds and fruits. 
  5. Pick Your Indulgence
    • Never restrict yourself from your favorite dishes.  Instead, control your portion sizes.  Head to the party with a plan and decide ahead of time what your indulgence will be.  Keep the portion size small and eat slowly!  Eating slowly will help you to really enjoy it.  Fill up the rest of your plate with healthful eats and your cookout will be a success! 

Here are a few ideas for your next cookout! 
  • Baked Carrots & Zucchini Fries
  • Fat Free Mayonnaise Substitute
  • Strawberry Watermelon Mint Infused Water
    • 10 large strawberries
    • 1/2 cup sliced watermelon
    • 1/4 cup mint leaves
    • 6 cups water
    • Ice
    • Directions:
      • Fill the bottom of a pitcher with ice cubes and top it with strawberries, watermelon and mint leaves.  Fill the rest of the way with filtered water and let it cool. 
  • Peanut Butter Cup Fudgesicles

Monday, April 1, 2013

Recapture the "Spring" in Your Step

As the weather continues to warm up, outdoor physical activity will begin to become of high popularity. With an increase in activity, more nutrient rich caloric foods will be necessary in order to properly refuel the body and optimize performance. Spring brings new seasonal produce that is readily available at local grocery stores and farmers markets. Stocking up on the following vegetables will help you to achieve daily nutrition requirements while providing your body with natural sources of energy that will enhance your overall performance.

Artichokes – antioxidants in preventing some kinds of cancer as well as heart disease; helps lower cholesterol by helping to excrete LDL (bad) cholesterol; helps balance blood glucose levels; improves liver function by ridding toxins and assisting in vital operations; digestive aid (stimulates gall bladder); high in
potassium helping with hypertension
Asparagus – good source of fiber, folate, Vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as chromium; detoxifying compound, glutathione, helping to protect against and fight some forms of cancer; rich in antioxidants

Green Beans – good source of fiber, vitamins A, C, K, as well as manganese and antioxidants lutein, zea-xanthin and beta-carotene; manganese can relieve the symptoms of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis as well as alleviating some PMS symptoms while helping the body to absorb vitamins B, E and the mineral magnesium
Leafy Greens – control blood pressure and blood sugar levels, lowering the risk for heart attacks; contains phytonutrients and antioxidants that prevent illnesses; high amounts of magnesium and the low glycemic index helps manage and prevent type-2 diabetes