Thursday, October 30, 2014

Smart Snacks for Your Thanksgiving Road Trip

You are in a hurry, packing the car and getting ready for the long trip ahead to spend Thanksgiving Day with the entire family. Due to last second thoughts, you forget to plan snacks for the car ride. You rapidly grab chips and candy and pour the rest of your mornings coffee into a travel mug. You stare at the road all day, eating candy and chips out of boredom, while downing your coffee to stay alert. Upon reaching your destination, you feel jittery and bloated. This is no way to feel prior to the holiday! Although it may be easy to grab snacks, such as chips and candy, with a little planning, you can snack the smart way on a road trip and arrive at your destination feeling energized.

Good grab-and-go options:
  • Unsalted nuts
  • Pre-washed fruit like apples, pears, bananas, and grapes
  • Dried fruit
  • Pre-cut raw veggies
  • Whole-grain crackers or pretzels
  • Plain popcorn
  • Peanut butter
*Tip: Pre-portion snacks into single-serving bags before you leave your home. Never bring a big bag of chips, crackers, or the other snack food on the road—it’s too easy to snack by the handful.

Benefits of a cooler:
A cooler is another great idea—being sure to keep the cooler temperature at 40degrees F. A suggestion is to use ice packs to keep the cooler cool. The following are healthful options to pack:
  • Reduced-fat cheese sticks or slices
  • Reduced-sodium deli turkey sandwiches or wraps
  • Individual containers of low-fat or fat-free wraps
  • Low-fat deli, hummus or guacamole to eat with veggies or whole-grain chips
Additional tips:
  • Steer clear of sweet and salty snacks. If you want something sweet, try a piece of dark chocolate with  fruit or a small handful of almonds. 
  • Avoid high-fat and high-sodium foods. They can make you feel sluggish and thirsty.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking seltzer water or water with a little flavor added that’s low in calorie. Another option would be to add a slice or two of lemon or lime to regular water.
  • Instead of coffee or soda, try packing a thermos of ice water or tea with sprigs of mint, slices of lemon or cucumber. The longer it sits in the car, the more refreshing it will taste.


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