Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ~Hippocrates

Archive for February, 2013

Breakfast: the Most Important Meal of the Day


This can’t be more true and I’ve addressed this in other entries about weight loss and maintenance.

Because the body is basically an energy burner, like a coal stove, the burn stops when the energy source (fire) stops. Never mind how much coal (i.e.-fat) is sitting in the stove. Get the picture?

Breakfast comes (duh!) from two words, cleverly put together. “Break” the “fast.” The “fast” part is when the fire goes out, while you are sleeping. To kickstart that fire (your metabolism) again, you need to add fuel in the form of a healthy breakfast. The key word is “healthy.” Not a slice of white bread with jelly. A good, solid breakfast ideally has something from at least 3 food groups. A protein, a fat and a whole grain carb will keep  you satisfied until lunchtime. Use portion control as well. Learn what a portion looks like. (I’ll review this in a subsequent post.) Add a mid-morning serving of fruit so you arrive at lunchtime hungry, but not starving. After a healthy lunch, have a id afternoon snack so you are not famished at dinnertime. A healthy afternoon snack would be a palm-sized handful of walnuts, almonds, peanuts, cashews pr pistachios (or any other nuts), or a plain yogurt with some fresh fruit added for sweetness. Stay away from flavored yogurts which are high in sugar. Some brands are now featuring lower sugar content. Look for 10 or fewer grams of sugar per serving.

The extra bonus of eating a healthy breakfast is that yo continue to burn calories at a higher rate throughout the entire day! Skip breakfast and your body remains sluggish, stubbornly holding onto that unneeded mass.

If you are not great in the morning, prepare your breakfast the night before. Some ideas:

  • A whole wheat muffin spread with peanut or almond butter, topped with whole fruit spread, not jelly.
  • Prepare quick-cooking steel cut oats, put in the fridge and reheat in the morning (watch it warm up in the microwave so it doesn’t overflow the bowl). Better still cook the real kind – enough for a week, and reheat with a splash of water each morning. Add raisins or craisins and a tablespoon or two of nuts for a very filling and healthy breakfast.
  • Cheese and crackers. Watch portions.
  • Trail mix. Make your own with low sugar cereal, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, raisins, cashews or other nuts. Also good for a snack on the run.
  • Low fat cottage cheese, fruit and a slice of whole grain bread.

Hydrate with water, skin milk, coffee or tea or a 4-6 oz. portion of fruit juice.

A few other tips to make your meal nutrient dense (packed with goodness, not junk!)

  • Make your grains whole.
  • Read the bread labels and look for whole in the ingredient list.
  • Use fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits. Canned are loaded with sodium and/or sugar.
  • Make your dairy low fat
  • Watch portion size
  • Read labels
  • Have moderate portions of healthy fats. These are easily recognized by being liquid at room temperature
  • Strive for fresh over processed. Always a better choice.
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The Simple Salad


A salad can be a feast for the eyes, which comes before the desire to eat it! We often enjoy a salad as dinner, or with dinner. Variety in color enhances the nutritional value of the meal. Salads are versatile: you can use what’s left in the fridge. It’s fast, easy and economical. This salad has only green leaf lettuce, red cabbage and yellow peppers. It is tossed simply with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a dried spice consisting of garlic, chili pepper and a little salt. While delicious on its own, you can make it dinner by throwing in small blocks of cheese, leftover roasted chicken, tuna, canned salmon, avocado, or sunflower seeds. You can make it a little sweet by adding dried cranberries, orange slices (fresh or mandarin), apples, gorgonzola (Waldorf style). You can add other greens or red lettuce, radicchio, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. A salad is really whatever you choose to put in it!

Just stay away from the creamy dressings, caesar dressing (VERY high in fat/calories) and bacon, and your meal will be very healthy.

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Mushroom Barley Soup


P1010325 (1)What could be better on a wintery day than a nice hearty, savory soup? I love making huge pots of soup in the winter and freezing family meal size portions to pop out of the freezer or to give to a sick friend. This one is filling enough for a meal with some bread and a salad. IF you prefer vegetarian, use vegetable broth. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs of mushrooms. Chop one pound finely and slice the other pound into thin slices. You can use any kindof mushrooms you like. Mixing varieties makes it interesting.
  • 1 Cup of pearl barley
  • 2 Quarts of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh, chopped parsley
  • 1/2 bunch of chopped, fresh dill
  • 1 cup of sherry or other wine of your choice
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • Oil to brown herbs

Directions:

In a stock pot, sauté onions and garlic until just beginning to caramelize. Add chopped parsley, stir and remove from heat. Add the stock and wine, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any sticky onions. Add dill, salt, pepper and barley. Cover pot; bring to boil then lower heat to a simmer. Cook for one hour, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot every 10 minutes. After an hour, check the barley for doneness. If it is still hard, you can continue cooking the soup until the barley is tender.

There are many types of barley. Some take as little as 40 minutes to cook and some take 2 hours If you know how long your barley will take, adjust cooking times appropriately. You want the mushroom soup to cook for at least an hour but it can cook longer. If the barley is quicker cooking, add it later in the process.

Optional additions: chopped carrots, shopped spinach or kale to add extra goodness and nutrition.

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