Do You Need to Get Dinner on the Table Fast?

Timely Tips to Speed Up Meal Prep!

It seems like more people are eating out rather than cooking at home. Sure, it’s tasty, you can choose from a variety of food, and you can leave the dirty dishes to the restaurant staff. One drawback of eating out is that the portions are so big, and it’s tempting to eat the whole thing in one sitting. Don’t forget the extra sugar and salt that is used in preparing your favorite dishes.

Eating at home lets you keep an eye on portion size, and cook with healthier ingredients.  I have some tips that will help you cut down meal prep time so you can continue to eat healthy foods but not spend hours in the kitchen.

Prep Vegetables Ahead

This is where your food processor can be your best friend. Use different cup sizes as needed. Chop vegetables for salads, soups, or sauces. There is a small one cup size that is perfect for quick jobs such as chopped nuts or yogurt topping.

Pre-Cook Beans and Rice

When your family is starving and you’re trying to get dinner on the table, there’s not going to be enough time to cook a pot of beans, or rice. Get ahead of the game by pre-cooking and then putting exact portion sizes in Ziploc bags and storing in the freezer. When you’re ready to use, thaw and add to your favorite dishes.

Hard-Boil- Eggs

I love hard-boiled eggs, and there are so many things you can do with them. My favorite is to just peel, add a little pepper, and I have a good protein breakfast. Boiling ahead of time and cooling in the refrigerator saves time when you want to add eggs to your chicken, tuna, or egg salad. For that weekend picnic, deviled eggs are always a favorite. Eggs can be stored up to one week.

Create Different Dishes from Same Ingredients

This is where you can let your creative streak go crazy. If you had a bowl of beans for lunch, roll into burritos for dinner. Thaw sauce for spaghetti and all you’ll have to do is simmer, boil the noodles, put out some delicious garlic bread and you’re ready to eat.

Do you like Asian food?  Instead of ordering takeout, try this delicious Chicken Fried Rice. This is a good way to use up that frozen rice, and the chicken adds extra protein. If you like a spicy kick to your rice, this Mexican Rice Casserole may become a new family favorite.

 

 

 

Four Tips to Prepare and Store Fruits and Veggies

You Never Know Where Germs are Lurking!

 

Yes, there are some negative things about menopause. Weight gain, hot flashes, hair loss, and itchy skin are certainly not on the list of your favorite things. However, menopause can also be a wake-up call about paying more attention to your eating habits.

Eating fresh vegetables and fruits not only helps you keep the pounds off, it also keeps your body in tip-top shape. There are some things to remember when you prepare and store fresh produce. Here are four tips to get the most out of your fresh fruits and veggies.

Beware of Pesticides and Bacteria

It doesn’t matter if you bought fresh produce at the farmer’s market, an organic grower, or at the grocery store, there is always the threat of pesticides and or herbicides on the outside skin.

However, bacteria is a bigger problem. Before produce ever hits the shelf, it is handled by the packers, delivery person, and store personnel. Don’t forget about the kids that like to run around and touch things as you’re shopping or the person with a cold who doesn’t cover their mouth.

How to Wash

Contrary to popular belief, washing your fresh produce doesn’t take much time. You don’t need soap or detergents. Just a quick rinse with cool running water is all you need. To keep bacteria from growing, dry with paper towels or a clean cloth.

Don’t Wash Until Ready to Use

I know Rachael Ray from the Food Network is constantly nagging you to wash all your fresh produce when you get home, but if you wash them too soon, any moisture that is left after drying, can cause more bacteria to grow, and may spoil before you can use them up.

How to Keep Fresh

There are some fruits that are ripe and can be kept at room temperature. Take off the original packing and let the fruits set on the counter. Items such as apricots and avocados should be stored in a paper bag on the countertop and this will help them ripen faster. Bananas can sit on the countertop for five days, or stored in the freezer to use in baked goods.

Red and green cabbage, which are so good in coleslaw, can be kept in the refrigerator for two weeks. Broccoli and cauliflower can be stored for a week, which gives you plenty of time to whip up a vegetable dish or casserole. Refer to this handy reference guide for more tips.

 

Arthritis-Friendly Foods For Your Next Cook-Out

Yummy Recipes That Can Help Fight Pain!

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I feel like I could write a book on the pain of arthritis. I have it in my fingers, hands, neck, back, and feet. It really puts a damper on leading an active life and it’s tempting to just sit in a chair and watch the world from the sidelines. The foods you eat also have a big impact on whether your joints are feeling good or driving you crazy with pain.

What could be more delicious than cooking-out now that it’s warmer? Brats, chicken, hamburgers, and hot dogs sizzling on the grill make your mouth water. Of course the side dishes of chips or potato salad, and a tasty dessert like cookies, brownies, or cake just send the whole experience over the top.

Unfortunately, it may also send your joint pain through the roof, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still  enjoy cooking-out. Here are four healthy options for a tasty cook-out:

Main Dishes

Sprinkle lemon and your favorite herbs on salmon. It’s not only delicious but you also get a good dose of Omega-3 and Vitamin D which promotes joint health and controls inflammation.

If you like a little spice, try these Caribbean Chicken and Pineapple Kabobs.

Condiments

I have to admit when I eat hamburgers or hot dogs, ketchup is a must and I often go overboard with it. A tasty substitution for ketchup is salsa or pico de gallo. Buy mild salsa if you have problems with spicy foods.

Kick mayo to the curb and try a tasty spread with olive oil, basil, and sundried tomatoes.

Side Dishes

I am not a big vegetable eater but I enjoy threading different vegetables on skewers and grilling them.  You can use zucchini or summer squash, peppers, onions, or whatever vegetables are your favorites.

I like Three-Bean-Salad, which is rich in potassium and fiber. You can combine fresh and frozen beans, and to make it even more delicious, put in some homemade green beans.

Desserts

What is any meal without dessert? Well, at least that is how my thought process works. Grilling fruit such as peaches, pineapple, or plums is a delicious way to up the nutrition and still satisfy that sweet urge. If you want to put it over the top, serve with frozen yogurt.

Grill fruit at a high temperature and only on one side for best results.

Frozen banana bites dipped in chocolate help you cool down after standing over a hot grill. Use dark chocolate which has many beneficial flavonoids that help fight against cell damage. It only takes about an hour in the freezer, and then it’s time to chow down.

 

I Screwed Up My Diet Again

4 Ways I'm Taking Back Control

 

Well I screwed up my diet again.  Too many trips to the buffet, fried chicken, ice cream, and cookies from the Farmer’s Market that are so good they’ll knock your socks off.

So I was getting dressed for church in my one good pair of black pants and I couldn’t even button them around my expanding waistline. What was I going to do? I thought about going into hiding and changing my name so people wouldn’t know it was me, or wearing them unbuttoned with a long slimming top.

I’m not making excuses, even though I would like to, but every other pair of pants that I owned in the same size still fit. I might have drawn the pants up in a hot dryer and maybe that is why they were tight.

So I did a little research to see if I was the only one on the planet that was overeating, and it turns out I have a lot of company. That made me feel better, and now I am on the diet straight and narrow again.

Here are four ways to get back on track after you screw up your diet:

Banish All or Nothing Thinking

Too often when you fall off the diet wagon, there is a tendency to throw in the towel on your diet. Since you ate the fried chicken with all the trimmings, you might as well have a big piece of chocolate cake to top it off. If you feel like you have to give in to your favorite food, sit down and enjoy it, and then get back on track with something healthy like a fruit salad or Greek Yogurt.

Don’t Think of It As Cheating

When you hear the word “cheating,” more often than not something delicious with a lot of calories comes to mind. Give yourself permission to eat some of your favorite foods, and work them into your daily calorie count.

Remember How Good Your Body Feels

It’s important to remember why you’re eating a healthy diet. Sure, it’s fun to give in and eat high-calorie foods, but you often end up with indigestion and a bloated stomach. You’ll be happy to return to healthy foods that are good for your body, make you feel energetic, and help you maintain a normal weight.

Get Some Exercise

Yes, you ingested way too many calories, but there is nothing you can do about that now. If you have a gym membership, lift some weights, ride a stationary bike, or take a fitness class. Schedule an appointment with a personal trainer, who can help you set up some fitness goals to work towards.

Gym memberships can cost an arm and a leg, so if you’re budget-challenged, take a walk, go for a run, hit the trampoline with the kids, or put on some music and perfect your dance moves.

 

 

 

 

Freezer-Friendly Foods for Painful Arthritis

Dinner is Ready in Minutes!

 

I can remember my working days and since I have trouble judging distance, I don’t drive, so getting to work always involved a few blocks to the bus stop, walking across two parking lots, and then I had arrived and could begin my day. My arthritis was mostly in my back at that time, and I remember having to take a pain pill before I had even worked a half hour. I walked the parking lot on breaks and lunch just to get through the day.

When it was time to go home, I repeated my morning walk and arrived home in about an hour. What was I cooking for dinner?  I was mostly eating trail mix or fast food, and cooking something healthy seemed too much trouble when I could just swing by the food court and pick up a sub or burger.

Menopause is a common time to have pain flare-ups, but you’ll feel better if you take time to prepare healthy food. That is where your freezer comes in. Here are five tips for arthritis freezer-friendly foods:

Freezer-Friendly Foods

If you’re trying to eat healthy, you’re probably eating more whole grains. For a fun twist, you can make oatmeal and freeze it in muffin tins, or try some new grains such as quinoa or bulgur.

Butter, cheese, and nuts also freeze well, and don’t forget broth and stock to make soup or gravies.

Foods That Don’t Freeze Well

Foods you shouldn’t freeze include eggs, or salad fixings such as lettuce, tomato, and celery. Make a fresh salad the day you plan to serve it, and eggs scrambled, fried, or poached taste better when they are hot from the skillet.

Buy in Bulk

Watch for grocery sales, and stock up on ground beef or turkey. Brown the meat and you can add it to chili, spaghetti, or sloppy joes. Chicken freezes well also and can be added to casseroles, chicken salad, or chicken tortilla soup.

Make Extra Batches

When you’re doing your meal prep, make extra batches of pasta sauce, stews, and soups. You’ll thank yourself later when you come home starving but not wanting to stand over a hot stove to prepare dinner.

Pre-Portion Servings

I know it takes extra time, but make single portions of whatever you’re freezing and then you have the perfect size when you’re ready to eat. It also helps keep you on track with portion control.

 

 

The Great Cholesterol Debate

How Many Eggs Can You Safely Eat in a Week?

 

It’s challenging enough to cope with menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, weight gain, and high blood pressure, without having to worry about high cholesterol levels. This is meant to be an enjoyable time in your life, and that includes eating your favorite foods.

If you go to a breakfast buffet, you’ll see a long line at the omelet station. Most people wouldn’t even think of eating breakfast without eggs, and a made-to-order omelet with all the meat and cheese you want is an egg lovers dream.

There has been a debate in the medical community for years over how many eggs you can eat without raising your cholesterol levels. Now, there is good news for egg lovers. According to a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it’s safe to eat twelve eggs a week. The trick is to find healthier ways to prepare eggs, so you don’t have to feel deprived.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one large egg has about 180mg cholesterol and it’s all in the yolk.  I like hardboiled eggs, which are high in potassium, zinc, iron, vitamin E, and folate. At only 80 calories, I can have a nutritious breakfast or snack without breaking the calorie bank.

Poached eggs are easy to prepare. Add a splash of vinegar to a pan of simmering water, tip in the egg, and leave for three minutes. Drain with a slotted spoon and you’re ready to chow down.

Eggs are not usually prepared as a stand-alone dish, and are often accompanied by bacon, sausage, ham, or hash browns, and the saturated fat or oil you’re using to prepare these side dishes can increase your risk of a heart attack.

If you like a more substantial breakfast, take a whole-grain tortilla, and stuff it with scrambled eggs, lean turkey sausage, and diced tomato. You can bake low-fat eggs in a bread bowl for a special weekend breakfast or brunch.

Stay away from high-calorie toppings such as sour cream or cheese. Invest in a non-stick skillet so you don’t have to use oil when you fry your eggs. You can top eggs with salsa, or use herbs such as parsley, tarragon, or chives.

Prepare a whole-grain cereal to go with your eggs so you cover all the nutritional bases, or if you want to serve eggs for dinner pair with your favorite vegetables.

 

 

5 Tips to Minimize Bone Loss in Menopause

It's Never Too Early to Start!

You lose more bone mass in menopause because your body is producing less estrogen. This increases your risk of bone fractures due to osteoporosis.

You don’t have to suffer in silence. Making wise choices, changing some bad habits, and consulting with your doctor can minimize bone loss, and improve your quality of life.

Here are five tips to minimize bone loss in menopause:

Enjoy the Sunshine

The conventional wisdom is that you shouldn’t go out in the sun without sunscreen. However, enjoying the sun for 15-20 minutes a few times a week, allows you to soak up Vitamin D3. This feel-good vitamin not only helps you build bone mass, it also brightens your mood.

Quit Smoking

Smoking may relax you, but it reduces the amount of calcium in your bones, and interferes with Vitamin D production. There are many over the counter products to help you quit smoking, or you can  join a smoking cessation group.

Weight Bearing Exercise

Walking, jogging, or strength training helps keep bones strong. If you have arthritis or osteoporosis, ask your doctor which exercises would be appropriate for you. If you’re a member of a gym, many personal trainers will give you at least a complimentary session, so take advantage of that.

Foods High in Calcium

Fish with bones such as salmon, sardines, or whitebait, are rich in calcium, and can be served as a main dish, added to a casserole, or used as a tasty protein over salad greens. Other good sources of calcium include almonds, broccoli, collard greens, dried figs, soy milk, and fortified tofu.

Calcium Supplements

It may not be possible to get all the calcium you need from your diet. Unless you take hormone therapy, you need between 1000-1500 mg a day. Take two to three times a day, because the body only absorbs about 500mg at a time.

 

Why Your Smoothie May Not Be Healthy

Try One of These Healthy Substitutes!

Smoothies are popular with the diet crowd, and by combining and blending different fruits with a vegetable, you may feel like you’re meeting your nutritional requirements.

On those busy mornings when you don’t have time to prepare a full-course breakfast, drinking a smoothie will keep you from starving to death before lunch. However, like everything else in life, there is always a down side.

You May Still Feel Hungry

Liquids may not satisfy your appetite like solid food, and so you may eat more later in the day, which can send the scale into overdrive.

It Affects Your Blood Sugar

According to Dr. Thomas M. Campbell, medical director of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, “When you blend fruit with a veggie, you’re absorbing much more of the fruit and that can cause a rapid rise and fall of your blood sugar. Your energy can plummet, which makes for a very tiring day.

There Are Healthier Substitutes

Fruits and vegetables in their natural form provide needed nutrients, and they’re easy to prepare ahead of time. Cut melons into cubes, have a bowl of grapes on hand, or make a fruit salad with apples, pineapple, blueberries, and strawberries, which is my personal favorite.

Put some cooked greens in a Ziploc and mix into omelets or scrambled eggs. You’ll have to get up earlier, but the protein will give you energy to motor through your day. Layer cucumbers on sandwiches and top with a juicy tomato.

This doesn’t mean that you can never have another smoothie, but don’t make it an everyday thing. As a time saver, you can mix your smoothie the night before so it’s ready for you when you need it.

What has been your experience with Smoothies?

4 Foods That Get a Bad Nutritional Rap

They're So Good You Won't Even Feel Like You're Dieting!

It seems like we are always on a diet. Too much holiday cheer, pigging out at the buffet, or just not keeping close track of calories can add pounds in a hurry.

You know the healthy foods you should eat, such as yogurt, whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and veggies. However, many times the foods you think might be bad for your diet, are actually nutritious and can help you keep your diet on track.

Here are four foods that get a bad nutritional rap:

Peanut Butter

I would like to raise a toast to the man that invented peanut butter. Yes, it may be high in fat, but the majority of fat is made up of healthy monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated oils. The high protein count will give you extra energy, and it is rich in Vitamin E, niacin, folic acid, and antioxidants.

When you shop for peanut butter, buy a natural brand that just contains ground peanuts, and avoid brands that have trans fat, high fructose corn syrup or too much salt.

Bananas

Bananas are my favorite fruit, but have received a bad rap because they’re high in calories and carbohydrates. On the plus side, bananas are packed with potassium, vitamin A, folic acid, and fiber. Remember, a half a banana is one serving. I just have to point out with a little peanut butter spread on they are over-the-top delicious.

Potatoes

Who doesn’t love a fully loaded baked potato? It makes my mouth water just thinking about that crispy bacon, sour cream, butter and cheese.

Unfortunately, if you are interested in losing weight, you’ll have to skip the loaded version, but you won’t have to skimp on flavor. Replace sour cream with low-fat Greek Yogurt, which only has ten calories per tablespoon. Season your baked potato with thyme, fresh chives, and rosemary.

Egg Yolks

Every time I go out to breakfast, it seems I always see an egg white omelet as one of the daily specials. Many people don’t eat egg yolks because they are afraid their cholesterol will go up.  You miss out on so many vital nutrients such as choline, which promotes neurological function, and lutein and zeaxanthin for healthy vision.

Limit yourself to four egg yolks a week and if you have any questions, consult your doctor or dietitian.

5 Drug-Free Tips to Control Hypertension

You Will Be Happier and Healthier!

 

Americans have a love affair with salty snacks. Nibbling on foods such as chips, crackers, deli meats and fries, has caused an epidemic of high blood pressure problems. According to the Center for Disease Control, 1500 mg. of salt is the ideal daily limit, but some people are consuming as much as 3400 mg.

Eating too much salt in menopause can cause hot flashes, palpitations, and may lead to dehydration. Here are five drug-free tips to control hypertension in menopause:

Limit Eating Out

Restaurants are notorious for adding too much salt, and since portions are larger, you can easily go over your daily limit. Cooking at home lets you keep an eye on portion size and either eliminate or reduce added salt.

Home Monitoring

Blood pressure monitors are inexpensive, and let you keep tabs on your blood pressure. You can adjust lifestyle changes if the numbers are too high, or call your doctor to deal with complications. Best of all, you can buy a blood pressure monitor without a prescription.

Keep a Food Diary

Write down everything that you eat in a week’s time. List each food, portion size, time of day, and why. Were you hungry or just stewing over a problem and used food to make you feel better?

Buy Low-Sodium Foods

Stores feature a wide variety of no or low-sodium foods. If you like cereal for breakfast, try shredded wheat, oatmeal, or muesli. Snack on unsalted popcorn, rice cakes, unsalted nuts, or plain breadsticks.

Use Juices and Spices for Flavor

For flavorful veggies and salads, use lemon juice or freshly-squeezed lime juice. I like sweet potatoes, which can be drizzled with lemon juice and black pepper before roasting. Make your own seasoning for meats by combining 1 tsp. of paprika, 1 tsp. garlic powder, and 1 tsp onion powder.