Your kitchen is the center of your nutritional hub. It’s where you make your decisions on how (and how often) to fuel your own body, and the bodies of others you may be responsible for feeding. For some of you, it’s also the place where meals are served and consumed: at a bar or island, for example, or a casual kitchen table.
You’ve already taken control of what goes in your refrigerator; now summer’s your chance to take control of the mood your kitchen sets. Believe it or not, the color of your kitchen walls can have an impact on your diet. Perhaps it’s time to evaluate how you want your kitchen to make you feel, and seize the day.
First of all, there’s a reason that McDonald’s, Burger King and every fast food restaurant known to man incorporates red and yellow in their logos and décor. Want to guess why?
Let’s start with yellow. This cheery hue is good for optimism and hope. But it also stimulates the appetite, pure and simple. You just thought you wanted a salad … now you want a Big Mac with fries.
Yellow is happy, but to overweight people, it can also be a tad dangerous when applied to kitchen walls. Better to let a good workout stimulate the appetite than the mere presence of a color. Unless, of course, you are underweight.
Need to beef up? Head for the yellow section of the paint store and slather it on. Think butter, egg yolks, lemons … mmm, I’m getting hungry already. But yellow helps the memory, so it could be useful if mom’s not available for a recipe consult.
Orange stimulates learning. If you’re a new cook, or aspiring chef or nutritionist, opt for orange.
As for red, it is a complex color, perhaps the most of all. Red engages us and brings out our emotions. Here’s the amazing thing about this color: to calm people, it is exciting, in a good way, a little thrilling. But for folks who are more anxious in nature, red is disturbing. The last thing you want is to be disturbed eight to 12 times a day, so be honest with yourself about your nature, and that of others with whom you may live.
Red walls trigger the release of adrenaline (which can be good for cooking, I suppose). And like yellow, it also stimulates the appetite, while simultaneously stimulating the sense of smell. Red walls can also increase your blood pressure and breathing rate.
Blue is opposite of yellow, on the color wheel, and in terms of appetite. It decreases blood pressure, the breathing rate, and the desire to eat, as do indigo and violet. So if you’re determined to drop 20, 30, even 40 pounds … coat your walls in hues of blueberries, grapes or plums. This will also remind you to eat antioxidants, which is a good thing. You win on two counts!
Pink is also proven as a winning weight-control color, at none other than prestigious Johns Hopkins Medical University in Baltimore.
Violet is known for its ability to create balance. So as you’re planning your menus or dishing out portions of lean protein, fresh veggies and multigrain bread, look to your walls for inspiration. (Violet is also good for migraine sufferers).
This brings us to green, the color of all things fresh and good for our bodies. Green is relaxing, and also creates a sense of balance. It relaxes the body, and helps those who suffer from nervousness, anxiety or depression. Green may also aid in raising blood histamine levels, reducing sensitivity to food allergies. Antigens may also be stimulated by green, for overall better immune system healing.
Placing your sunlit fresh herbs near a green wall brings the outdoors in. That might also make you think about starting a garden, going for a walk or run, or cycling around the neighborhood.
Brown enhances a feeling of security, reduces fatigue and is relaxing. Black is a power color. If you have six-packs and you know it, raise your hand. Gray is the most neutral of all colors for the kitchen: not much happening there. Brighter hues inspire creativity and energy, while darker colors are peaceful and lower stress. Beige and off-white are “learning” colors.
Make good choices, on your walls, as well as your plate. What color should your kitchen be?
From my notes for the Daybreak Show on Fox 92.5 with Trey Radel. It was fun, Southwest Florida !
Q: How can we motivate kids to be more active?
1. STOP for a bit after work and take your children to the park. The 20-30 min you spend with them will change their lives and yours.
2. Always have your tennis shoes and change of clothes or a gym bag in your car. It eliminates your excuses. Children are ready to have fun any time. We do in life, what we make time for and a shift in priorities is necessary. In this fast-paced, crazy life we live in, we forget our children only mimic us. If you’re a couch potato, what do you think you’re going to get
3. We live in Florida, go run on the beach, barefoot in the sand with your children. Play Frisbee. Talk a long walk in shallow water.
4. Pick an active hobby that helps others, like walking an elderly neighbor’s dog.
5. Plan games and activies that are fun but active – regular physical activity can improve mental health and mood for both you and your children.
6. Once school gets out, start your day with a walk in the morning before work, to just talk to your your child(ren). Try it just once and I guarantee it will be the MOST rewarding day you have had in a LONG time. You will have activity and learn something about your child(ren).
7. Take your kids to the pool with a snorkel and fins and thrown money in the pool, they will enjoy hunting for even pennies, dimes and nickels. Make a game out of it. How many can they get with one breath? Have them get only the pennies with one breath. Throw in a few quarters, half-dollars or specialty coins. Then let them keep a few at the end. (ps. Don’t forget the sun screen
Q: What are some simple changes to make at home, which encourage better nutrition and health?
(in terms of shopping, habits, or schedules)
First and foremost: remember that kids mimic adults!
Your children will do what you do, eat what you eat!
With that in mind, here are some simple changes to make, which give the whole family a healthful advantage:
Don’t buy sodas
Don’t buy sugary breakfast cereals
Eat breakfast every day
Keep fruits and veggies on hand
Don’t let kids eat standing up: be mindful of each meal
Plant a garden at home with your kids
Grow or keep herbs in pots in the kitchen
Take walks after dinner or early in the day – a great time to talk (and listen)
Declare one day a week as treat day, when candy or dessert is allowed……..?
Notes for my interview on Trey Radel’s Daybreak Show on Fox 92.5 this morning
Q: What are some ways to get kids actually eating healthier?
Take kids to a local fish market, talking about fish being heart-healthy for mom and dad, teach them what is caught locally; have them pick out fresh local fish for the family to eat
Teach kids about grilling and get them to choose veggies to grill; make shish-kabobs together.
Teach kids to cook a few healthy things, over the course of the summer.
Make one night a week “Kids Cook” night.
Talk about the best choices on restaurant and fast-food menus
Expose kids to the 12 power foods, and asking them to find tasty-sounding recipes that include them: almonds, apples, blueberries, brazil nuts, broccoli, green tea, olive oil, red beans, salmon, spinach, sweet potatoes, wholegrain wheat, yogurt.
Now that summer is almost here, it’s a perfect time to fire up the grill instead of the oven. May is even National Barbecue Month.
Barbecuing also offers plenty of health benefits, depending upon what you’re throwing over the flames. Groceries and farmers markets are full of fresh, locally grown produce, and Southwest Florida is blessed with an abundance of seafood.
But no matter what your favorite protein is, one thing always holds true: Grilling lends itself to a healthy diet.
Veggies never taste better than when grilled. That fresh, flavor-bursting taste is complemented by that magazine-cover grilled veggie “look” and it’s all good. It’s also nearly impossible to ruin a vegetable on the grill, so relax and experiment. You’re likely to wind up with a flavorful al dente version of corn, zucchini, peppers, onions or even something more unusual.
For something different, try grilled endive. (Joseph’s Table in Taos, N.M., serves a delicious version, with a gorgonzola sauce).
Marinating is a wonderful way to enhance veggies; they tend to caramelize when marinated. Use a large Ziploc-type bag to give them this advantage, if you have the time and inclination.
But once you’re ready to grill, avoid coating veggies (or anything else) with anything too sugar-intensive. Ingredients such as molasses, brown sugar and fruit juice tend to make foods burn in high heat. Most vegetables do best when cut into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch-wide pieces.
You can choose to put your vegetables directly on the grill – including speared on kebabs – or you may opt to put them in foil and lay that on top of the heat. Experiment and see what suits you.
Also, adding a dash of salt to veggies really draws out the flavor by drawing out the moisture inside them. Add the salt and any other seasonings you choose, after brushing them with a little oil. Then grill; veggies only need a few minutes.
Chicken with the skin on has a much higher fat content than that without: nearly double. So take it off before you marinate. Leaner cuts of meat can also trim up to half the fat calories overall, while still providing that yummy grilled taste. This frees you up to “spend” your calories on salad dressing, a cocktail, a simple dessert or something else.
Leaner cuts will require a marinade, however, as they can be tougher. Opt for thinner cuts of meat; marinade will penetrate only to about a quarter of an inch. Score the meat before covering it in marinade. And choose something with higher acid content, to help break down the fibrous nature of the meat.
Fish is always lean. Grilling is a great time to add salmon or tuna to your diet (tuna doesn’t want to be grilled for long). It’s very important to keep fish on ice or refrigerated until ready to grill in order to avoid food poisoning.
Depending on your meat, here are four low-calorie choices of marinade: Worcestershire sauce (2 tablespoons has only 30 calories); low-sodium soy sauce (2 tablespoons contain 120 calories), or tomato paste (2 tablespoons contain 40 calories), work really well.
For chicken, I like a tropical marinade of stone-ground mustard, honey and Key lime juice.
The sides that typically accompany a grilled dinner are where you can run into trouble. Save a lot of calories by avoiding creamy salads such as cole slaw, macaroni or potato salad; try brown rice or whole-meal pasta instead. If you plan to use bread, avoid white breads and pick up a nice whole-grain option. Fresh fruit salad is also a great substitute for potato salad, and can double as dessert.
Grilled pineapple is another delicious dessert option. Brush it with a little oil the same way you do with veggies and enjoy this delicious treat. For something really different, grill bananas!
Make sure any kids in your household understand how to be safe around a grill. And then get them involved in the process: shucking corn, skewering veggies, brushing on marinade or oil. This fun activity can become a lifelong habit, one that enhances nutrition and health.
Copyright 2010 Elaine Hastings, RD. Heath and Wellness, Nutrition Expert
Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian and owner of Associates in Nutrition and Sports Specialty in Florida. Hastings can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting AssociatesinNutrition.com. Visit her blog for the latest information on nutrition and great tips for staying healthy: AssociatesinNutrition.com/wordpress. Take the Challenge, Change your Life!
Smoothies are a great snack or meal replacement (and a mobile one at that). They’re especially healthy as a meal replacement if you follow my recommended pattern of eating five to six small meals per day.
Smoothies can also be effective for weight gain or weight loss and are super for helping you stay healthy. It’s all about what goes in the blender, and the beauty of smoothies is that you can customize them not only to your taste, but also to your dietary needs.
If, for example, you need a pick-me-up to aid in recovery after an athletic event or exercise, use orange juice, apple juice, skim milk, ice, soymilk, pineapple juice, Gatorade, water or low-fat chocolate milk as the liquid base. I typically recommend liquid recovery over solid because it’s absorbed faster, is quick to intake and easier to talk someone into doing if they’re hesitant to eat after a workout.
There’s also the rehydration factor.
I recommend smoothies and liquid supplements for the same reasons: they’re easier to consume, and have a faster availability of nutrients due to shorter transit time from ingestion to utilization. The science of nutrition says, quite simply, that liquids simply have a faster absorption rate.
If you’re trying to add protein to your diet, blend natural peanut butter, skim milk or almonds into your smoothie. Green tea smoothies can aid in weight loss as well as give you a healthy dose of antioxidants. I recommend Stevia, Agave and Splenda when you want to add sweetener.
At our house, we use frozen strawberries, banana, cranberry grape juice, AminoRip protein supplement and ice. If we want to make more of a shake, we add skim milk, or just replace the cran-grape with skim milk. When making smoothies for my 14-year-old son, however, I would use all of the above and replace skim milk with whole milk.
After-school snacks that include protein are another way to power-pack your kids with nutrient-dense foods. Almond milk, kale, cacao nibs and vanilla rice protein make a really good smoothie.
Keep your fridge stocked with smoothie ingredients and you’ll be far more likely to whip up a healthy treat for yourself, your friends or family. Buy fresh fruit in season and freeze it.
Yogurt smoothies made with frozen bananas or strawberries are terrific. Some of the tastiest fruits for smoothies include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, banana, apples, pineapple and peaches.
Get creative in how you mix them, and make yourself happy. Experimentation can lead to some wonderful surprises for your palate. It’s that easy.
Frozen fruit smoothies are a quick, nutritious breakfast food, hydrating you early and giving your body the full range of nature’s bioavailable vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. They’re also full of natural fiber and help boost the immune system. You sure can’t say that about a donut.
I love my Magic Bullet blender and the manufacturer has a ton of great smoothie recipes on its “Buy the Bullet” company website. Share your favorite recipe with me via the comments column at The News-Press.com, or on my Facebook page, and I will post the recipe, along with my thoughts, and/or recommended changes.
Don’t be tempted to skip a meal, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Substitute a smoothie instead. And if the thought of cleaning a blender is making your resistant to this oh-so-healthy option, I have fallen prey to that myself. Just head straight for Liquid Nutrition. You might see me there!
Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian and owner of Associates in Nutrition & Sports Specialty in Florida. Hastings can be contacted at Elaine@associatesinnutrition.com or by visiting AssociatesinNutrition.com. Follow her on Twitter @elainehastings
Take the Challenge, Change your Life!
©2009 Associates in Nutrition Therapy. All Rights Reserved.
Last week I wrote about omega-3 fatty acids, and how they play a critical role in brain function, growth and development, and may reduce the risk of heart disease. They’re found in seafood and shellfish, and no doubt, some of my better-informed readers are weighing the risk of contaminants like mercury against the benefits of omega 3s.
You’ve possibly read about the dangers of mercury, which can occur in some types of fish. So let’s go over the facts. The most important one is this: the FDA says women who are pregnant, want to become so, or are nursing should avoid the fish most likely to have mercury contamination. This rule applies to young children, too.
Mercury levels are generally higher in older, larger, more predatory fish and marine mammals. That’s why I recommend (for people outside the aforementioned groups) consuming no more than one fishmeal per week from predatory fish like shark, tuna and swordfish. The FDA agrees, recommending no more than 7 ounces of fish from the high-mercury-potential list per week.
Do add other seafood meals to your menu, but I recommend no more than two per week from non-predatory fish (sardines, salmon, shrimp, etc.). Oily seafood such as fatty sardines, trout, herring and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. They are thought to reduce the risk of death from stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association also recommends four to six ounces, twice a week, of these types of fish.
Eating a variety of fish also cuts down on any negative effects caused by environmental pollutants. To decrease potential exposure from these types of contaminants, simply remove the skin and surface fat from a fish before cooking. If you know where your fish comes from, specifically, you can also check with local and state authorities in regard to potential contamination of local watersheds.
Here’s the good news: postmenopausal women and men middle-aged or older can relax about mercury consumption. For them, the benefits of eating fish far outweigh any potential risk. The main negative effect from mercury in fish is high blood pressure.
So, as with so many other things in life, moderation is the way to go. Unless you’re in the category of pregnant/nursing/trying or that of young children, a little fish can go a long way toward your heart health and brain function. And it tastes great! Coastal residents are particularly lucky to have easy access to the freshest of fish from local fish markets, retailers and restaurants. Find one or two sources you can rely upon, and support them.
Be aware of watershed issues if eating locally caught fish, and otherwise, simply enjoy this heart-healthy choice. Seafood is lean and low in saturated fats. It’s a great entrée in the evening, too, when that too-full feeling is particularly troubling. A good piece of fish is hard-pressed to make a diner feel he or she has over-indulged, unless it’s stuffed with something and doused in a rich sauce. Fish is also great on top of a salad, whether grilled or blackened.
As summer temps heat up, the added bonus of fish is that it can be cooked outside on the grill. Save on your air conditioning while doing something good for the bodies you feed. It’s a win-win.
Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian and owner of Associates in Nutrition. Hastings can be contacted at info@ElaineHastings.com or by visiting AssociatesinNutrition.com. Visit her blog for the latest information on nutrition and great tips for staying healthy: AssociatesinNutrition.com/wordpress.
Take the Challenge, Change your Life!
©2009 Associates in Nutrition. All Rights Reserved.
Fish: A Four-Letter Word for Healthy!
Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet, and nowhere is fresh fish easier to find than the coast. Increase your odds for a long and healthy life with a simple, tasty change: add fish to your weekly menus.
Here are some nutrition facts to motivate you. Fish is a lean, low-calorie source of protein and a great source of critical omega-3 fatty acids. These play a crucial role in brain function, as well as growth and development, and may even reduce the risk of heart disease.
But here’s the catch: the body can’t make them. We must go to the source for omega-3s, and in a seafood-centric environment, that’s easy. They come from fish – such as salmon, tuna, and halibut; other seafood, including algae and krill; some plants; and nut oils.
A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can contribute to the whole family’s well-being. Just remember, you don’t have to go overboard to reap the benefits. A little bit of “daily catch” goes a long way. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week (especially fatty fish like trout, herring, sardines, tuna and salmon) at least twice a week. I personally recommend consuming no more than one fish meal per week from predatory fish (shark, tuna, swordfish, etc.) and no more than two per week from non-predatory fish (sardines, salmon, shrimp, etc.). Very few palate-challenged people will be overwhelmed by this schedule.
Some of you are thinking ‘I know fish is good for you, but my family doesn’t really like it.’ There are many recipes that you can use which will increase the appeal. Look for salmon stuffed with crab and breadcrumbs, or use a tasty pesto to enhance the flavor (Costco offers one of the best I’ve found, in its refrigerated section) . Add grilled fish to a salad loaded with other items. Throw some shellfish into your marinara. Be creative and research ways that might make your family happy when consuming fish or shellfish. Here are two seafood recipes which will help:
Easy, tasty tuna salad
1can (12 oz) water-packed solid white tuna, drained
1/3 cup Yoplait® Fat Free plain yogurt
1can (4 oz) crushed pineapple, drained; or grapes
1 stalk celery, finely chopped (1/3 cup); or sweet onion
¼ cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a medium bowl, mix tuna, yogurt, pineapple, celery, pecans, mustard, and cinnamon.
1 serving has approximately 180 Calories, Calories from Fat 50; Total Fat 6g (Saturated Fat 1/2g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 25mg; Sodium 420mg; Total Carbohydrate 11g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 9g); Protein 22g.
Shrimp tomato sauce over pasta; makes 4 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small bunch scallions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
¾ cup dry white wine or nonalcoholic white wine
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley or basil
12 fresh or frozen and thawed jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
8 ounces spaghetti
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Warm oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add scallions and garlic. Cook 10 minutes, or just until scallions begin to turn golden.
2. Add tomatoes, wine, sugar, and 1/2 cup parsley or basil. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 to 25 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened.
3. Add shrimp and return to a summer. Cook 4 to 5 minutes or until shrimp is opaque.
4. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add sauce and toss to mix.
5. Sprinkle with Parmesan and remaining 1/4 cup parsley or basil.
Approximately 1 serving has about Calories 380, Calories from Fat 60; Total Fat 7g (Saturated Fat 2g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 65mg; Sodium 650mg; Total Carbohydrate 59g (Dietary Fiber 6g, Sugars 10g); Protein 19g
Next week, I’ll share some insights about mercury in fish. We’ll sort the truths from the rumors so you can relax at mealtime.
Lions and tigers and berries, oh my! When following the yellow brick road to good health, berries are a wonderful snack to enjoy along the way.
You may already be adding sliced strawberries to your granola or cereal in the morning, but once you uncover the many different health benefits of berries, you will want to add those little marvels to every meal. Why not? They are berry, berry good for your skin, health and heart.
Berries are the perfect snack food. Not only are they naturally sweet and low in calories, but they are also high in fiber, making them a great choice for fending off the between-meal munchies. In addition, berries are loaded with vitamin C and powerful antioxidants that give your immune system a boost while helping to prevent the cell damage that leads to diseases such as cancer.
Eating the sweet treats may even help slow down the natural aging process, improving skin’s appearance from the inside out.
Berries are truly little wonders of nature. Each type of berry carries its own special health properties. For example:
- Blueberries contain anthocyanins, a group of antioxidants that help with memory functions.
- Raspberries are full of ellagic acid, a compound that is known for its cancer-fighting abilities.
- Strawberries are high in vitamin C, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.
- Cranberries contain compounds that can treat or prevent many urinary tract infections.
In addition, research is under way to determine how different berries contribute to weight loss. In order to obtain the wide spectrum of health benefits that berries provide, it is best to add a variety of different types to your diet.
Choosing from the large selection of berries that are available in your local farmers market, supermarket or health food store will prove to be a fun and delicious experience. Along with the more well-known choices such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and cranberries, expand your tastes by exploring the delectable flavors of blackberries, boysenberries, currants and honeyberries.
Selecting fresh, local, organic berries is always the best option, yet berries retain most of their nutritional value even when they are frozen or dehydrated. So, stock up on fresh berries when they are in season, but feel free to opt for canned, frozen and dried berries to benefit from their valuable phytonutrients year-round.
Just be sure to read nutrition labels when buying dried or frozen berries. Steer clear of those that contain added sugar or are packed in heavy syrup, which adds unnecessary calories.
With just a quick rinse, most berries are ready to be tossed into a storage bag or portable container for easy snacking on the go. While berries are delicious and easy to enjoy on their own, there are many more ways to enjoy those nutritional powerhouses.
- Blend frozen berries with fat-free yogurt for a refreshing smoothie.
- Top fresh berries with low-fat whipped topping for a speedy dessert.
- Add berries to whole-grain waffles or pancakes for a filling breakfast.
- Layer berries with granola and yogurt for a decadent parfait.
Now that you know the numerous health benefits surrounding berries, and are ready to add them to every meal, head out to your local market or produce stand to load up on the ultimate treat – just watch out for any lions, tigers and bears on the way.
We all know that eating a variety of foods is important to promoting growth and establishing good nutritional habits for the entire family. But if you have a picky eater in your household, mealtime can be a source of frustration and battles.
Fortunately, most kids get the proper nutrition in their diets throughout the day. Children’s taste buds and food preferences mature over time, so introducing new foods can take time and patience.
Picky eaters beware – here are some tips to encourage your children to try new foods.
- Try and try again. It may take up to 10 times of trying a new food before your child likes it. It is normal for children to be cautious at first.
- Involve your child in choosing foods at the grocery store. Trying new foods is more fun for children when they pick them.
- Let your child help prepare the food. Whether it’s stirring the ingredients, cracking an egg or washing vegetables, let your child become familiar with the new food. As you prepare it together, you and they can talk about the color, shape and texture of the food.
- Try one new food at a time. Don’t overwhelm your child with too many new foods at once. Make small changes and try serving new foods alongside some of their favorite, more familiar foods. Broccoli may be more appealing if it is served with a side of macaroni and cheese.
- Minimize distractions. Turn off the TV, don’t allow toys during meals and eat at a table.
- Don’t force your child to eat. Respect their preferences. Children sometimes do not like to eat food they have never seen before. Keep serving the food to your child. As they become more familiar with it, they may decide to taste it.
- Get creative with preparing new foods in different ways. If your child doesn’t like cooked carrots, try serving it with a low-fat dip such as ranch dressing or hummus. Another option is to purée fruits and vegetables and add them into casseroles or other prepared foods. For example, add chopped vegetables into sauces or top cereals with fruit.
- Set a good example. If the adults in the family avoid eating a variety of foods at the table, then it really shouldn’t surprise you that your little shadows are following the example that you are setting. With fast foods so readily available, it is only logical that healthier options are easy to pass up.
- Don’t be a short-order cook: Serve everyone the same meal. If everyone is eating the same thing as the rest of the family, it becomes easier for children to model after healthy choices.
Meal time should be about spending time together as a family, not a battleground over what’s on the plate. However, if you are concerned that your child’s eating habits are compromising his or her growth or health, consult your pediatrician or a registered dietitian.
Research shows children who eat healthy in their early years will carry those habits into their adulthood. Keep trying, be patient and eventually your child will surprise you.