Sunday, February 27, 2011

10 Foods to Always Have on Hand

Knowing you have a stocked kitchen at home can be one more reason for you not to hit up the local drive-through. These staples will help you get a meal on the table in minutes.
"There's nothing to eat."

That has to be one of the most disheartening assessments you can make after examining the contents of your refrigerator. Of course, it opens the door to takeout or a restaurant meal and, very often, a far bigger portion of a much unhealthier food than you would have eaten at home.
The solution? Keep an intelligently stocked kitchen so you're never more than 10 minutes of cooking time away from a healthy meal.
Thanks to Christopher Mohr, PhD, RD, a dietician and exercise physiologist in Louisville, Kentucky, we've compiled a list of 10 foods that will help you create simple meals at a moment's notice. Plus, "they'll give you a variety of nutrients without an abundance of calories," Mohr says.

1. Boneless, skinless chicken breast
"Chicken can be prepared with almost anything you have in the house," says Mohr. Grill it for a sandwich, spice it up with curry and cumin for Thai-style satays, or just throw it in a salad. There are thousands of choices.
Frozen chicken will last up to six months in your freezer (well sealed) and will quickly add low-fat protein to any meal.
Serving size: 3 oz of cooked boneless, skinless breast meat
PointsPlus™ value: 3

2. Unsalted dry-roasted nuts
Choose the roasted, unsalted version you can find in most supermarket produce sections, not the oily snack mix kind. "They're loaded with healthy fats, plus you can use good mixed nuts as toppings for stir-fry and salads," says Mohr.
Instead of breadcrumbs, crush the nuts and use them to coat chicken-breast strips for a tasty, protein-packed "breaded" cutlet.
Serving size: 1/4 cup
PointsPlus value: 6

3. Frozen vegetables
A no-brainer, and no one's freezer should be without them. Stock your favorites, from broccoli to spinach (which can improve everything from soup to pasta). Frozen vegetables can last up to one year, so it's no sweat to keep all the ingredients necessary for an instant, colorful stir-fry. Or, add them to a quick vegetable soup, like minestrone.
Serving size: 1/2 cup
PointsPlus value: 1

4. Fat-free soup broth
No cook would ever be caught without soup broth (vegetable, chicken or beef). You can use it to flavor meat, thin sauces, make gravy — and a million other options.
Throw raw vegetables into broth and they'll last up to three days longer, says Mohr. "They'll not only stay more crisp, but they'll be more flavorful because they'll absorb the flavor of the stock," he adds. Set the pot over a flame and you have an instant healthy soup. Toss in a chicken breast for a tasty meal.
Serving size: 1 cup
PointsPlus value: 0

5. Lean ground beef
"Ground beef is loaded with iron, zinc and protein; it's always good to have some on hand to add nutrients to meals," says Mohr. You could grill it into a burger or crumble it into any conceivable dish.
Serving size: 3-ounce cooked patty
PointsPlus value: 3

6. Basil leaves
When you need a touch of class — and perhaps to create the illusion that you put more effort into cooking the meal than you really did — add a few whole, fresh basil leaves. It's a flavorful spice and garnish that's visually appealing. You can use it in numerous ways: to make pesto, to flavor fish and meats, or to liven up fresh tomatoes and mozzarella.
Serving size: Almost any
PointsPlus value: 0

7. Extra virgin olive oil
Sure, it's high in PointsPlus values, but it's one of the most versatile sources of good fat — and a little goes a long way. It's important to purchase "extra virgin" olive oil for a flavor boost. When a recipe demands an oil or fat, it's the best choice.
Serving size: 1 teaspoon
PointsPlus value: 1

8. Canned, crushed or whole Tomatoes
Chili, pasta sauce, soup — sooner or later, a recipe will call for it, so keep a can in the pantry. It's a great source of potential cancer-fighting lycopene and vitamin C.
Serving size: 1 cup
PointsPlus value: 0

9. Chicken sausage
"It comes frozen and is lower in fat than regular pork sausage," says Mohr. It'll add spicy flavor to otherwise drab meals. With spaghetti sauce, create a sausage version of Bolognese or eat it on a roll hot dog-style. Grill two links for a Cuban sandwich. Give yourself an extra five minutes in the morning, and you might even eat it for breakfast.
Serving size: 1 1/2 ounces cooked
PointsPlus value: 1

10. Dried whole-wheat pasta
A fail-safe anytime you crave a quick, filling dinner. Whole-wheat pasta has more fiber than white flour pasta, so a smaller serving fills you up more. You can add penne to soups, or eat angel hair with a low-calorie marinara sauce or a dash of olive oil, garlic cloves (which you should also keep on hand) and red pepper flakes.
Whole-wheat pasta:
Serving size: 1 cup cooked
PointsPlus value: 4

Store-bought marinara sauce:
Serving size: 1/2 cup
PointsPlus value: 2

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Do you read this blog?

Just taking a little blog poll.   If you read this blog at least once a week, leave a comment under this post.  :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Walk Your Way to Goal
    By Dotti

How many of us have said, "I don't have time to exercise" or "I hate exercising"?  I'll bet many of us at one time or another have said those exact words.  I know I have.  I have found that once I'm in the habit of exercising it is rather easy and enjoyable but once I get out of the habit it takes forever to get back into exercising.  Sound familiar?
Walking is the one exercise most of us can do.  If you are just starting out then walk about 5 minutes from your house and head back. Keep it up until you can go 10 minutes out and then head back.  20 minutes a day is all you need to gain health and fitness according to many experts. 
The benefits your will gain from a 20 minute walk each day are fantastic.  Let's look at a few:
Hungry?  Believe it or not walking will reduce the nervous stress that leads to nervous snacking.

Tired?  Yep, walking can actually wake you up and energize you because walking improves circulation to your arms and legs stimulating the growth of tiny blood vessels throughout your body. This improvement in collateral (extra) blood circulation leads to a greater efficiency of your entire cardiovascular system, which in turn combats the tired feeling.

Bad Mood?  Walk and stew.  Walking increases blood circulation to your muscles, which reduces muscle tension and stimulates the release of endorphins.  After walking 20 minutes you will find that your bad mood will disappear.

Memory not so good?   Many scientists have shown that by exercising you will retain your memory, judgment and hand-eye coordination better than sedentary people.  Walking has an invigorating effect on your brain cells.

Want to lose some weight?  We've all been told to exercise when trying to lose weight.  Strolling at 3 mph over level ground burns 240 calories an hour.  Brisk walking at 4 mph burns 360 calories and fast walking at 5 or 6 mph with arm swinging can burn about 500 calories an hour—equivalent to jogging.

Feet hurt?  After being in your high heels or hard leather all day, walking for a bit in your comfortable walking shoes will be a nice thing.  Walk slowly at first until your feet relax into the comfort of the walking shoes.

Stuffed?  Ate too much? After you've waited about an hour for your big meal to settle, try taking a walk.  Walking speeds up digestion, keeps the bowels regular and prevents constipation by stimulating your abdominal muscles.  It also encourages the muscles to burn the fats circulating in the blood, instead of the blood sugar, helping you burn up some calories.

Afraid of getting heart disease?   Walking/exercise strengthens the heart's ability to pump and helps it withstand stress. The aerobically fit heart pumps more oxygen and blood, meaning it works more efficiently.  This makes it so you have a slower resting heart rate and lower blood pressure.

Nervous?  Upset?  Walking will keep you in the best shape possible for dealing with everyday problems.  You'll be able to think more clearly and handle your emotions better after a nice walk.
Walking is an excellent aerobic exercise that stimulates the heart, lungs, and muscles and increases the circulation of the blood so that it benefits every organ of the body. As I mentioned above, walking does improve your mood and reduce stress.  Many psychiatrists recommend walking as therapy to their depressed patients.
Most people who exercise, including those who walk, will experience a boost in fitness after two or three months of regular exercising.  So, please, try and stick to your walking program so that you may benefit from exercising. After two or three months of regular exercise you'll feel a boost of power when walking up a flight of stairs, jog up the street or lift a heavy bag.
Many people believe if they have dropped exercise programs in the past then they will likely do it again. Studies have shown this is not true and that it often takes several tries to change an ingrained habit.  If you've given up in the past then you know what does and doesn't work for you.  Use that knowledge to succeed this time.
Did you know that once your metabolic engine is warmed up by walking, it continues to burn more energy for the next six hours?  Scientists estimate that you can lose an extra four to five pounds a year by increased calorie burning. Middle-aged adults who are active tend to be in a much better mood than their more sedentary counterparts.  Higher self-esteem is a direct result from regular long-term exercising.  Because walking is virtually injury-free, it has the lowest dropout rate of any form of exercise.  Makes sense to me. 
I have found walking a nice way to get in some fresh air and spend some quality time with a loved one.  Al and I have some of our best discussions while walking.  Walking also does indeed put you in a good mood and lifts your spirits if you're down. 
For now I'm focusing on doing my elliptical due to my arthritic hip issues but I track my miles.  I can walk little walks and will eventually try to get in my 20 minutes walking because I know walking and moving is one of the best things for your weight loss Journey.
How many of you will be walking this week?  Make it part of your "ME TIME". Make it an adventure. Walk with your best friend or a loved one.  Make sure you take in the surroundings and fresh air.  I'll bet you get home feeling like a million bucks!