Healthy Gourmet

Finally, some more yummy food that’s easy, healthy, and tastes great!

Spinach Salad with Sauteed Shrimp and Sweet Potato Fries:

Homemade sweet potato fries are my one of my favorite things. I cut them into wedges ahead of time and keep them in my fridge for an easy weeknight dinner. I drizzle a bit of olive oil and sprinkle on some chili powder, garlic powder, and whatever else I’m in the mood for. Then I preheat the oven to 425 and stick them in for 20 minutes, or until they look done (browning on the outside and soft all the way through). Try drizzling balsamic vinegar over the top (so good and much healthier than ketchup).

For the salad be creative and add what you enjoy. I added fresh tomates, toasted walnuts, and of course some delicious shrimp sauteed in garlic and olive oil, just until done (opaque). For dressing I later added a bit of aged balsamic vinegar (the longer it’s aged the sweeter and thicker it becomes). It’s a great low calorie way to dress up almost anything.

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Spring Cleaning

It’s been way to long since I’ve posted! April kept me busy. I have more food pictures to post and more recipe ideas to share, so check back soon.

In the mean time, I wanted to touch on some ideas for spring cleaning. It’s time to clean out your closet and start pulling out those summer clothes, so why not take a closer look on what’s in your kitchen closet? Check out your cupboards and fridge/freezer. Here are some things to look for:

1. Expiration dates: I’m not as good at this as I should be and I always surprise myself. If it’s expired, toss it!

2. Junk food: Keep a small bit of dark chocolate for the odd craving, but toss the rest of the junk. The best way to avoid eating cookies, chips, candy, ice cream (you name it) is to NOT BUY IT. And if you have extra lying around, toss it. It’s not worth the calories to get your money’s worth.

3. Items with freezer burn: It’s not going to taste good, it’s already been in there long enough to have freezer burn, you probably won’t miss it if you toss it.

What to do:

1. Designate your crisper drawers for fruits and veggies. Chop ahead of time and put in tupperware so they’re ready and easy to grab for snacking.

2. Keep your healthiest items right up front so they catch your eye.

3. Always keep some lemon or cucumber water (or crystal light or iced tea) ready so you can grab something refreshing as it starts to heat up. This is a much better choice than soda!

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Healthy Steak and Potatoes

Who says steak and potatoes can’t be part of a healthy diet? Last Thursday’s dinner included a small (3 oz) portion of lean steak (grilled) with a twice baked potato, steamed broccolini, and fresh green salad. The potatoes and veggies/salad makings (lettuce, avocado, oranges, broccolini) came from my farm basket.
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For the steak: grill or broil until it reaches preferred doneness (I actually prefer medium rare but overdid it a bit on mine).

Twice Baked Potato: Cook potatoes in oven at 350 for 1 hour, or until cooked through. Carefully scrape out inside of potatoes, leaving skin intact. Mash insides with fat free greek yogurt, and salt/pepper to taste. Add fat free milk if softer consistency is desired. Put mashed potatoes back into potato skin and bake another 15 min until top is browned. Can add cheese if desired.

Broccolini: Steam in water for 3 min or until bright green.

Salad: Toss fresh greens with 2 tbsp light raspberry vinaigrette. Add 1/2 sliced orange, 1/4 sliced avocado, 1/8 cup toasted walnuts, and 1-2 tbsp blue cheese or gorganzola cheese. (this is per salad, if you’re making individual servings)

Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture refers to an increasingly popular system of providing local farm-based produce to the community. Basically members of a community (you) sign up for a farm “basket” or “box” which delivers fresh, mostly organic, local produce on a regular basis. Depending on where you are your options will vary. I am personally signed up for a basket through the local CSA in Visalia, Family Farm Fresh. I have been receiving my farm basket (delivered to my doorstep!) every other week for over a year now. As it’s just my husband and I, one of their small baskets of fruits/veggies usually lasts us for two weeks. Weekly deliveries are also available. I do pay a (minimal) fee for delivery, but you can also pick it up at certain locations. My farm basket allows me to practice what I preach. I eat more vegetable, with greater variety and nutrients because they’re fresh, seasonal, and local. They are harvested just days before I eat them! It’s also a great way to introduce new types of veggies into your diet. Who knew radishes could taste so good? Or baby bok choy? Or kale? And their mandarins are to die for.

March is National Nutrition Month!

nullThis year’s NNM theme is to Eat Right with Color! Adding color to your plate is more than just visually appealing. Eating a range of colorful foods ensures that you’re eating a variety of healthy nutrients. It also keeps things from getting boring. Try adding some of these colors to your palette for the month of March:

Green: antioxidants, improves vision, reduces cancer risk
(avocado, apples, grapes, honeydew, kiwi, lime, artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, green peppers, leafy greens (spinach))

Orange/yellow: improve vision, immunity, reduces risk of cancer
(apricot, cantaloupe, grapefruit, mango, papaya, peach, pineapple, carrots, yellow pepper, yellow corn, sweet potatoes)

Purple/blue: antioxidants, anti-aging, memory, urinary tract health, reduces risk of cancer
(blackberries, blueberries, raisins, eggplant, purple cabbage, purple-fleshed potato)

Red: improves heart function, vision, immunity, reduces risk of cancer
(cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, red/pink grapefruit, red grapes, watermelon, beets, red onions, red peppers, red potatoes, rhubarb, tomatoes)

White/tan/brown: may improve heart health and reduce risk of cancer
(banana, brown pear, dates, white peaches, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, turnips, white-fleshed potato, white corn)

Diet Soda versus Regular Soda

Just a quick note on diet versus regular soda. I get patients in all the time who are concerned that drinking diet soda with artificial sweetener (namely aspartame) poses more of a health risk than drinking regular soda. Here is my take on this:
1. Regular soda is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and in spite of the recent commercials (paid for by the corn company) HFCS is metabolized differently and studies show that it contributes to greater weight gain and medical complications than traditional sugar (sucrose). It also contains calories and will increase blood sugar rapidly (a big danger for diabetics).
2. Diet soda is sweetened with aspartame, a non-nutrative (so no calories) FDA approved sweetener. Studies have shown that sweeteners like aspartame DO NOT (as rumor has it) contribute to weight gain by promoting increased hunger. There is also no evidence that they cause cancer or are harmful in any way.

In conclusion, if you are diabetic….drink DIET! If you are trying to lose weight…drink DIET! If you drink 2 liters a day…drink DIET! If you are a healthy active individual who drinks the occasional 12oz can of soda and you prefer regular, go for it. And finally…if you would rather bypass this debate and stay “natural” without worrying about sweeteners, HFCS, or sugar (since some sodas are going back to the old days of regular sugar)…drink WATER!

Low Carb, High Carb? Atkins? Huh?

Below is a link a friend sent me to an article in the LA Times. I finally had a chance to read this. It’s interesting and I’ve heard most of it before. I completely agree that limiting refined carbs (white breads, white rice, sugar, pasta, etc) is the way to go. I tell my patients everyday that they should reduce their carb intake and the carbs they do eat should be whole grains, high fiber fruits/veggies, beans, etc. Especially my diabetics. I agree that LEAN protein and heart healthy fats from olive oil, avocado, nuts, fish, flax, etc have an important place in our diet. My only hesitation with all this is that it seems to still advocate animal fats in much larger amounts. I don’t think a low fat diet is always the key (since low fat can mean high refined carbs and still cause weight gain and metabolic issues like diabetes) but I do think we need to be careful of BOTH the carbs that we eat AND the fats. Balance and moderation, with a focus on whole grains, unrefined foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and lean protein still seems like it makes more sense than any overly restrictive diet which seeks to eliminate any one type of food.