March 30th, 2011 | by Pam Stuppy
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 C. low sodium chicken broth
- 3 C. water
- 3, one pound cans low sodium chick peas
- 2, 1 lb.12oz. cans tomatoes, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicier)
- 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano (or 2 tsp. dried)
Saute garlic and onions in oil until tender.
Add remaining ingredients except for herbs; bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add herbs and continue to simmer another 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Serve warm.
Can be frozen for later use.
Contributions to better health:
- chick peas contribute great fiber and many other nutrients for good health
- tomatoes contain many “phytonutrients” (many of which are antioxidants that protect body tissues from damage); they also contain fiber, potassium (to help with blood pressure), and many other nutrients
- the use of low sodium broth and beans, garlic, onions, herbs/pepper adds flavor while lowering the sodium content
- olive oil is heart-healthy
Note: If low sodium beans are not available, buy regular canned beans and rinse them well in a colander
March 28th, 2011 | by Pam Stuppy
Printed in Seacoast Online
When it comes to eating healthy, the grocery store is the place to start. It is the foundation of the decisions you make around food, because what you buy is what you have to choose from all week long. The better the options, the better you and your family will be eating.
Even with the best goals in mind for how you plan to eat throughout the week, if less healthy foods are sitting in your refrigerator or kitchen cabinets or on the counters, they will call your name all week until you finally give in. Let’s take a virtual tour through the grocery store for some ideas to add to your grocery cart.
Fruits and vegetables should make up a major percentage of your cart. A general recommendation is that at least half of each person’s dinner plate should be vegetables. Vegetables can also be included at lunch and snacks to meet the goal of at least four servings a day (for adults, think two to three cups daily). Each family member should be eating close to two to three servings of fruit each day as well. Buy enough to last until the next shopping trip. Frozen can be just as healthy as fresh, especially in the winter.
The produce area may also be where you add some fresh salsa and hummus to your cart for healthy snacking or for adding to other foods for flavor. Salsa counts as a vegetable and is generally low in sodium. Hummus provides protein and fiber. This area may also have whole grain fresh pasta (or you can choose some in the dry pasta aisle).
In the bread/bakery/cracker sections, fiber is your goal. Preferably look for those containing fiber from natural sources, such as whole grains. Limit those that contain a lot of sodium, fat, or sugar. Remember that every 4 gm of sugar on a food label is equal to one teaspoon of sugar. The current goal for sodium is less than 2300 mg a day except for people over 50 years of age or those who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease whose limit is 1500 mg.
For snacking, besides fruits and veggies, try low fat popcorn, baked corn chips, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, and soy nuts. Choose the low sodium versions when possible.
In the cereal aisle, check for fiber, sodium, and sugar content. In some cases, part of the sugar noted on the label is coming from dried fruit (which is healthier than added sugar), but some may also be from added sugar. This makes it a little more difficult to decide, but use your best judgment. Another option is to buy a healthy high fiber, low sugar cereal and add your own fresh or dried fruit. That way you have more control. Besides buying enough for breakfast, consider buying some for pairing with nuts/seeds for snacking.
Hot cereal can be another healthy choice for your cart. Oatmeal, oat bran, or other whole grain cereals are a great way to add fiber and keep you fueled for several hours, especially when made with milk. Buy the ones without added sugar, as these empty calories can add up quickly. You can add spices like cinnamon or fruit for more flavor. Buy some other whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, whole grain couscous, and barley to use as part of your dinner meal or as part of a soup or cold salad for lunch.
In the dairy aisle, buy low fat when possible. Choose the 1 percent or skim milk, low fat cheese, buttermilk, and cottage cheese. Low fat or fat-free yogurt is a great way to get protein, beneficial bacteria, and a concentrated source of calcium. It can be used with cereal or fresh fruit for breakfast or a snack, and makes delicious smoothies. Since it lasts a long time before going bad, stock up so you always have it as an option.
Keep in mind that children and teens need about four servings of dairy a day, adults need at least three, and older adults need four to five. Soy milk is another option for getting similar protein and calcium as cow’s milk.
Stop at the fish counter since the recommendation is two servings of fish per week. Some fish is low in fat while others (like salmon) contain heart-healthy omega three’s. Shrimp, scallops, and other shellfish are good choices, too. Frozen shrimp is great to have in the freezer to make a quick stir fry on days when you have run out of other protein foods.
Another excellent source of protein to always have on hand is beans. Buy many cans to keep on hand, preferably the low sodium versions, that you can add to soups, stews, stir fries, or salads. They are the star player when it comes to fiber. (Hint: rinsing them in a colander and eating them on a more regular basis reduces the gas issue). Try for meatless meals made with beans several times a week.
Limit the frequency that you eat beef and focus more on lean pork, chicken, and turkey. Choose the lowest fat possible with ground forms. With other than fresh meats and poultry, be aware that there may be added sodium, especially when buying deli meats or cured meats. These can quickly push you over your daily sodium budget. Some, like bacon or sausage are also high in saturated fat/cholesterol. Eggs have gotten some good nutrition publicity lately and can be part of your cart as well (or buy an egg substitute).
Speaking of sodium, choose low sodium pasta sauces, canned tomatoes, V-8 or tomato juice, broth, or other jarred/canned foods that fit into a healthy food group. Tuna and vacuum- sealed or canned salmon can be used for meals as well.
Condiments, salad dressings, and marinades can be high in sodium or fat. Consider using mustards instead of mayo, or use lite mayo or mayo made with canola oil. You can also buy plain yogurt to mix with a little mayo for a similar flavor to save calories. Homemade vinaigrettes and marinades can be easily made from scratch. Keep a good supply of olive or canola oil and various vinegars.
This is just a small sample of the choices you can make to ensure that your week is filled with healthy choices for you and your family.
Pam Stuppy, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a registered, licensed dietitian with nutrition counseling offices in York, Maine, and Portsmouth. She is also the nutritionist for Phillips Exeter Academy and is teaching healthy cooking classes at Stonewall Kitchen. Visit www.pamstuppynutrition.com for some healthy recipe ideas.
March 25th, 2011 | by Pam Stuppy
Makes one large loaf.
- 1 pkg. yeast
- ½ C. warm water
- 1 tsp. sugar
- ¾ C. warm water
- 1 C. oats
- ¼ C. molasses
- ½ C. corn meal
- ½ C. buttermilk
- About 4 C. flour
- Stir together yeast, ½ C. warm water, and sugar.
- Stir together ¾ C. warm water, oats, molasses, cornmeal, and buttermilk; stir in yeast mixture.
- Gradually add enough of flour to form a ball; knead in more flour to make fairly stiff dough.
- Place in oiled bowl and cover with towel; allow to rise until double.
- Form into loaf and place in oiled bread pan or on cookie sheet.
- Bake in preheated 350 degree oven; bake about 45-50 minutes or until done.
- Cool on wire rack before cutting.
Contributions to better health
- oats add great fiber – both soluble and insoluble
- buttermilk is used instead of shortening or oil to save calories and to add some protein and calcium; it also makes the bread more moist
March 21st, 2011 | by Pam Stuppy
Printed in Seacoast Online
March 15th, 2011 | by Pam Stuppy
Printed in Seacoast Online
Although Americans are becoming more aware of the importance of fiber for good health and the reduced risk of medical issues, many are still far behind in reaching the general goal for adults, which is 25-30gm/day. This is one reason for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommendation to eat at least three servings of whole grain per day.
What is a whole grain? It is a grain or grain product that contains the entire grain seed, (called the kernel) — the bran, germ, and endosperm — all found in the natural proportions of the original grain. Whole grains are a naturally good source of fiber, plus minerals, vitamins (like many of the B vitamins), and numerous “phytonutrients” (plant-based nutrients that promote optimal health — like antioxidants).
Enriched grains are those that have had parts removed during processing. Some of the lost nutrients are then added back (like iron, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin). Refined grains are also fortified with folic acid. The ingredient list will tell you if these have been added.
Most processed grains tend to be low in fiber unless it is added back as another ingredient. Another concern with refined grains is that they often contain higher amounts of fat, sodium, and/or sugar. The recommendation is to limit intake of refined grains.
Don’t be confused by words on a food label. The term “multigrain” means that the food contains more than one type of grain. It says nothing about the amount of fiber or whether the grains are whole or not. Other confusing terms that may or may not indicate a whole grain are “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” “cracked wheat,” “seven-grain,” or “bran.”
Some foods that we call grains may not actually be grains at all, like buckwheat, which is really a fruit. Natural versions of these tend to be very similar to true whole grains with regard to calories, carbs, and other nutrients, so their intake is included in the recommendations for whole grains.
That being said, some of the possible options include — forms of whole wheat (such as wheat berries or whole wheat flour), whole grain corn/popcorn, whole rye, brown rice, wild rice, whole/steel cut/rolled oats, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, barley, teff, whole grain sorghum, whole grain triticale, and others.
Good sources of fiber contain 10 percent to 19 percent of the Daily Value, while excellent sources contain more than 20 percent. Know, however, that the fiber count on a grain product may not indicate just the natural fiber that is in the grain. An example is some of the “double fiber” breads on the market. “Isolated fibers” (like maltodextrin, polydextrose, inulin, etc.) are being added to some of these grain products to boost the fiber count. These fibers may not provide the same health benefits as the natural fibers. This is because natural whole grains contain antioxidants and other nutrients for health. Check the ingredient list. Make sure that a source of natural whole grain is near the beginning of the list.
The fiber in most grains is “insoluble fiber” — often called “roughage.” It adds bulk to the intestinal contents and helps keep that tract healthy. Grains like oats and barley also contain a high percentage of “soluble fiber.” Higher intakes of soluble fiber are beneficial for persons with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Soluble fiber is also suggested for people with irritable bowel, constipation, diarrhea and other intestinal issues.
Fiber, in general, helps with feelings of fullness and can extend how long fuel lasts from foods (so it can help with weight control). Owing to its bulk, fiber also exercises the intestinal muscles, which can reduce the risk of diverticulosis/diverticulitis. It also promotes the beneficial bacteria that live in the lower bowel.
How can you start to increase your intake of whole grains? Breakfast is an ideal place to slip in whole grains. Look for the many whole grain dry cereals that can be eaten with milk or yogurt (they also make a great snack alone or with added nuts and seeds). Cooked oatmeal or oat bran, especially when made with milk, provides fuel for several hours and contains both types of fiber. Oats ground in the food processor, buckwheat flour, or whole wheat flour can be used to replace some of the flour in baked goods (like pancakes, waffles, muffins, scones, etc.).
Whole grain breads can be used to make french toast. There are pre-made whole grain waffles available that can be topped with peanut butter (or other nut butter). You could also choose from the many whole grain breads, bagels, English muffins, pitas, crackers, etc., instead of the refined versions. These work well for lunches and snacks, too.
Whole grain pasta, as well as other whole grains, can be part of an entrée, a side dish, or in a soup or stew. A cold grain salad with added vegetables, a source of protein, and vinaigrette is great for lunches or a quick dinner meal. Experiment with some new grains you have never tried. Many can be prepared the same as rice with the ratio of about 2:1 or 3:1 liquid to uncooked grain.
So add a little more variety and good health to your day by expanding your choice of grains. Think about what whole grain(s) you might want to try in the week ahead and check out a few new recipes. Remember the goal of at least three servings of whole grain per day.
Pam Stuppy, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, is a registered, licensed dietitian with nutrition counseling offices in York, Maine, and Portsmouth. She is also the nutritionist for Phillips Exeter Academy and is teaching healthy cooking classes at Stonewall Kitchen. Visit www.pamstuppynutrition.com for some healthy recipe ideas.
March 10th, 2011 | by Pam Stuppy
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large shallot or 2 medium, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 ½ qt. low sodium chicken broth
- 2-3 pounds of butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1-2” pieces
- 2 apples, cored, peeled and cut into eighths
- 1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
- 1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
- Saute shallot and onion in oil in large saucepan until softened.
- Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil; reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes, covered.
- Remove lid and simmer another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Allow to cool slightly; puree in food processor or blender until smooth.
- Return to pan and heat to serve.
- Can be frozen for later use.
Note: Pureed canned squash (3, one pound cans) can be used in place of fresh after the rest of the ingredients have simmered for 10 minutes.
Note: For an alternative flavor, replace the rosemary and thyme with 1 Tbsp. of curry powder.
Contributions to better health
- butternut squash contains a lot of beta carotene, fiber, and other nutrients for good health
- apples also add fiber and other nutrients
- low sodium broth is used to add flavor with minimal sodium
- herbs, shallots, and onion add flavor without the use of salt
- olive oil is heart-healthy
March 7th, 2011 | by Pam Stuppy
Guidelines for intake of fats and fatty acids are based on both general health goals and recommendations for prevention and treatment of chronic disease. Some fats that are important to the body can be made internally, while others are considered “essential,” meaning required in the diet. Suggested intake of total fats ranges from about 20 percent to 35 percent of calories consumed.
Terms you may hear with regard to fats are based on their chemical structure — saturated, trans, unsaturated (which includes polyunsaturated and monounsaturated). Within the unsaturated fat category, we also find the omega-6 and -3 fatty acids. These are considered “essential fatty acids.” Each of these subcategories of fat has a set of functions they perform in the body.
Most fats contain a mix of all of these categories, but tend to have predominately one type. Fats that are more saturated come from animal foods and tropical oils. Trans fats are naturally found in very small amounts in the food supply, but greater amounts are found in processed foods and partially hydrogenated fats.
These two types of fats are termed “solid fats” in the newest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It suggests keeping trans fat intake as low as possible and saturated fat intake to less than 10% of calories (the American Heart Association recommends less than 7 percent). Poly- and monounsaturated fats should make up the balance of our fat needs.
Monounsaturated fats come mostly from plant sources — olive and canola oils, nuts, seeds, nut butters, and avocado. Other vegetable oils (corn, safflower, soy, etc.) are mainly polyunsaturated and contain omega-6 fatty acids. These are common in many processed snack foods and desserts.
Omega-3′s are usually abbreviated ALA, EPA, and DHA. ALA is found in flaxseed oil, canola oil, walnuts, and dark leafy greens. EPA and DHA are found in cold water fish and algae. ALA can be converted to EPA and DHA, but very inefficiently. It appears that EPA and DHA are more effective than ALA when it comes to heart health.
The American Dietetic Association encourages Americans to make mono- and polyunsaturated fat a high percentage of the fats they consume. In addition, they suggest including more sources of omega-3 fatty acids to improve the ratio between the omega-3′s and the omega-6′s.
Why do we hear so much about omega-3′s? Research has established a number of health benefits from intake of these fatty acids. One of their biggest claims to fame is their anti-inflammatory function. Many of our major diseases — diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and others — are related to inflammation in the body. This inflammation is caused by factors such as obesity, stress, food sensitivities, dietary habits, etc.
Some researchers are concerned that the typical American diet is not only low in omega-3′s, but also high in omega-6′s due to the high intake of processed foods. It is believed that this imbalance between the omega-3′s and omega-6′s can reduce the effectiveness of the omega-3′s.
For heart health, the general goal is to consume 600-1000mg of EPA plus DHA through diet and/or supplements. Higher doses (2000-4000mg) have proven helpful in lowering triglycerides in persons with elevated blood levels.
Omega 3′s can help keep blood vessel walls more flexible (countering “hardening of the arteries”), thin the blood which can decrease clumping, reduce the likelihood of plaque build-up, increase “good” cholesterol, and improve heart function. They can also improve the effectiveness of statin drugs. The FDA permits supplements containing omega-3′s to state, “supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”
Besides the benefit to the cardiovascular system, omega-3′s are helpful to the eyes and brain. They are an integral part of retinal health and some studies suggest higher intakes may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. It is recommended that persons with “dry eye” add omega-3′s as well. Studies are underway to determine more specific eye benefits.
DHA is an essential structural part of the brain. Studies have shown that DHA intake by pregnant and breastfeeding women (about 300mg/day) can be of benefit to the fetus and infant with regard to brain and eye development. Adequate intake may also lower the risk of premature birth and low birth weight. Women who want to increase their intake of DHA should be cautious about fish sources due to concerns for toxins. They should limit intake to food or supplement sources less likely to contain mercury and other contaminants.
Printed in Seacoast Online
Other studies suggest less brain function decline in adults who consume higher levels of DHA. DHA and EPA may also help with depression, bipolar disease, and schizophrenia. Again, studies are currently looking into these areas.
Because of their anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3′s can help reduce the symptoms (but not progression) of arthritis. Reducing the risk of certain cancers (breast, prostate, colon) are other areas being investigated that may benefit from omega-3′s.
To date, not enough studies have looked specifically at the doses recommended for the potential non-cardiovascular benefits. Until that information is available, it is recommended to follow the same guidelines as those for general heart health. Because of their blood-thinning effect, persons considering taking the higher dose supplements of omega-3′s who are taking medications, should first check with their health care provider. It is often recommended to stop taking them about a week before any surgeries.
Pam Stuppy, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, is a registered, licensed dietitian with nutrition counseling offices in York, Maine, and Portsmouth. She is also the nutritionist for Phillips Exeter Academy and is teaching healthy cooking classes at Stonewall Kitchen. See www.pamstuppynutrition.com for some healthy recipe ideas.