Fitness Magazine published an informative piece titled, “10 Surprising Health Benefits of Yogurt.” These benefits include: flatter abs courtesy of calcium; a strengthened immune system from good-for-you bacteria; high blood pressure prevention from the potassium; and red blood cell and nervous system maintenance provided by vitamin B12. Check out the article for the other six, as well as a list of their Favorite Yogurts.
As for what to look for when choosing a yogurt, keep in mind that not all yogurts are created equal, and some can actually do more harm than good. The Healthy Apron has a great post on How to Pick A Healthy Yogurt. In a nutshell, you want to make sure that you’re not ingesting too much sugar (many of the fruit-in and flavored yogurts are high in sugar content – more than 20 grams of fat per 6-ounce serving) or too much fat (eschew the full-fat offerings for lower-fat varieties – less than 3.5 grams of fat per 6-ounce serving).
I tend to go for 1% Plain, organic if I can find it. You can always sweeten it up with a little honey or agave nectar (the latest healthy sweetener). I like to squeeze the juice that’s left from half a grapefruit to give it some extra flavor. Add your favorite fruits, nuts, seeds, granola, whatever is appealing.
An added bonus? If you’re really in a jam (i.e. the jar of mayonnaise has seen its last scrape), plain yogurt will do its part hold together a decent tuna sandwich (with a little red onion, salt and pepper).
If you’re not already eating yogurt, try including it in your daily menu a couple of times a week. Your body will thank you.
I made a quick trip to Whole Foods Market yesterday and, while in the produce section, I happened to notice what I first thought was an orange, but then realized was a lemon, a Meyer lemon, to be exact. According to Wikipedia:
The Meyer lemon (Citrus × meyeri) is a citrus fruit native to China thought to be a cross between a true lemon and either a mandarin or common orange. It was introduced to the United States in 1908 as S.P.I. #23028 by the agricultural explorer Frank Nicholas Meyer, an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture who collected a sample of the plant on a trip to China.
Having heard of, but never having actually tasted, one (at least that I am aware of), I purchased a few. I cut a wedge, sniffed, then took a bite. It smelled and tasted of lemon and orange. It was both tart and sweet. It was… unexpected. I squeezed the lemon, and drizzled some olive oil, on a spinach salad with salmon, tomato, and red onion (citrus helps with the absorption of iron in the spinach). I’ll do it again. Lemons, along with the other citrus fruits, have significant health benefits.
So, what’s the best way to take advantage of the unusual qualities? SheKnows.com has an excellent article on the lemon, which includes the Top 20 Uses for Meyer Lemons: infuse olive oil with Meyer lemon juice and use for dipping bread; make a Meyer lemon martini; try chocolate Meyer lemon pudding; and roast potatoes with thick Meyer lemons wedges on top.
They have a great recipe for Meyer Lemon Risotto. And I found two recipes for Meyer lemon cake. One from Saveur, claiming to be The Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake. I have to admit, the use of butter, dried bread crumbs, and blanched almonds has me curious. Then there’s the recipe from Epicurious, Meyer Lemon Cake with Lavender Cream, that sounds divine.
If you’ve got access to Meyer lemons, you might want to give them a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.
We sometimes forget about pork, especially in the summer, when beef steaks and burgers reign supreme. And when we do remember it, we think of the oven and roasting, and who wants to be stuck in the kitchen when it’s a sunny 80 degrees in the backyard?
There is a solution to this dilemma. Think pork tenderloin – marinated and cooked on the grill. It is a low-calorie, lean meat (less than 25% of the calories come from fat), that is “a good source of Riboflavin, Phosporous and Zinc, and a very good source of Protein, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6 and Selenium.” (On the down side, it is a bit high in cholesterol – see below). Here’s delicious recipe that is sure to garner rave reviews. Originally published in The Free Lance-Times, Fredericksburg, VA, in the summer of 1998, it’s still making the rounds.
Two-for-one Pork Tenderloin
Serves 4 at two meals or 8 at one meal
2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar or white vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes, optional
1-1/2 to 2 pounds pork tenderloin
To make the marinade: Cut the limes in half and squeeze the juice in a 2-cup glass measure. Add the vinegar, vegetable oil, soy sauce, and honey. Peel and mince the garlic and add it to the measure. Add the red-pepper flakes, if desired. Whisk the mixture well to blend in the honey.
Place the meat in a self-sealing plastic bag and pour the marinade over the meat. (Scrape out any honey that clings to the dish.) Seal the bag and refrigerate.
To grill: Heat a gas grill on high. Cook 6 minutes and rotate the meat a one-third turn. (Pork tenderloins tend to be shaped like triangles.) Cook 6 minutes more and rotate the meat another turn so all sides brown. Cook 8 to 10 minutes more, until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. (Visit “She Wears Many Hats” if you want to see helpful photos of the grilling technique.) Serve at once or refrigerate until ready to serve.
(Per serving: 125 calories, 5 g fat, 49 mg cholesterol, 18 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, .01 g dietary fiber, 73 mg sodium.)
Just add some grilled vegetables (red and yellow peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, and mushrooms) and a Lemon-scented Quinoa Salad, and you’ve got the perfect summer meal.
The temptation is no doubt great. You take your large knife, slice off the woody stems of a bunch of beets, and toss them, along with their leafy greens, into the trash. Before you do so, I strongly encourage you to reconsider.
When cooked properly, not only are they delicious, but they’re nutritious as well, “Beet greens are emerging as a nutritional powerhouse, rich in potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, betacyanin (a potent antioxidant), leutin, thiamin, riboflavin, folate and vitamins , A, B6, C, E, and K. In fact, researchers discovered that beet greens are even more nutritious than the roots!”
Having purchased a couple of bunches of beets at the local farmer’s market, I thought I’d give the greens a try. After searching for, and finding, a number of recipes that seemed tasty and easy to prepare (and gluten-free), I settled on Sauteed Beet Greens with Garlic, Olive Oil and Persian Lime by Heidi on Melissas.com. I loved them, even the leftovers, which I proceeded to eat cold the next day.
If this particular recipe doesn’t appeal to you, I came across two others that might: Beet Greens from Simply Recipes (bacon, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, sugar, and cider vinegar) and Sauteed Beet Greens With Garlic and Olive Oil (garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes) from the Fitness and Nutrition section of The New York Times.
Try them. You just might like them.
A quick addendum – in case you’ve never previously cooked the beets themselves, here’s what I do and it works like a charm. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees ( a bit higher if your oven runs cool). Trim the beets (keeping the greens, of course!) and wash, skin on, under cold water. Place the beet roots in aluminum foil, making a tent. Drizzle with a quarter-cup of water, and then fold the foil over, creating seal. Place on a cookie sheet (or another piece of foil) to catch any juices and then into the oven for 60 minutes. You’ll smell the beets cooking. Test with a fork to see if they’re done – the fork should go in easily (larger beets will take longer to cook). If they’re done, re-fold the foil and let cool on top of the stove. Then open the foil and peel the beets – the skin should rub off. If it doesn’t a paring knife should do the trick. Slice the beets and serve with goat cheese, walnuts, olive oil, salt, and pepper, alone or on a bed of arugula or spinach.
Yesterday, a variety of news organizations reported on a study conducted by the University of Montreal and Harvard University, and published in the journal Pediatrics, linking exposure to common organophosphate pesticides, used to grow conventional fruits and vegetables, to an increased risk of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. “[T]he investigation found a connection between exposure pesticides and the presence of symptoms of ADHD.” This was alarming, to say the least, and, no doubt, left countless parents wondering what exactly they should be feeding their children.
Enter the Environmental Working Group. Today, they released their 2010 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides. What does the guide include? A list of 12 conventional fruits and vegetables that, when tested by the US Department of Agriculture Pesticide Testing program, as they would typically be eaten – after being washed or peeled – were determined to be contaminated with the highest level of pesticides. This group is known as the “Dirty Dozen.” What sorts of fruits and vegetables are on the Dirty Dozen list? Apples, bananas, blueberries, spinach, bell peppers. Also included in the guide, as a result of the same testing program, is the list of the “Clean 15″ – those fruits and vegetables with the lowest levels of pesticides. What are some of the Clean 15? Onions, avocado, grapefruit, watermelon, and sweet potato.
The message? Whenever possible, when it comes to the Dirty Dozen, buy organic – if you want to pick-and-choose where to spend the extra money on organic, this list points you in the right direction. Secondly, buy from the list of Clean 15. According to the EWG, “You can lower your pesticide consumption by nearly four-fifths by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and instead eating the least contaminated produce.” And, always thoroughly scrub all fruits and vegetables, even frozen.
Your children will thank you, and you’ll feel better too.
This is the launch of Food Seriously’s “Tip of the Week.”
Today, the tip comes courtesy of Bethenny Frankel - Real Housewife of New York, Celebrity Natural Food Chef – who appeared on the Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda to discuss the “Skinnygirl” way to get through Memorial Day. If you’re a guacamole lover, this is for you. She calls it Low Fat Mock-a-Mole.
Her suggestion: take your favorite guacamole recipe and substitute half of the suggested amount of avocado with frozen green peas. Thaw them, mash them up, and stir them in. You’ll reduce the fat and calorie count of the guacamole, and add nutritional value. Ms. Frankel claims, and Kathie Lee and Hoda concurred, that you can’t taste the difference. Serve with baked, multi-grain tortilla chips. Check out her recipe.
If you are in need of another guacamole recipe, try this one by Bob Cody on AllRecipes.com. It has all of the ingredients that make great guac – cilantro, lime, cayenne pepper – and now you can cut the fat with 1-1/2 avocados and a cup of defrosted, mashed frozen peas.