Main Nutritious Intent Website

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Want to improve your health? Enjoy your food.

Lots of evidence supports the health benefits of enjoying your food.  The French are famous for spending loads of time on their meals, savoring delicious rich dishes, yet they don’t have the obesity problem we do.  The French spend  more than 2 hours per day eating and drinking.  Americans spend 1 hour.  Studies show that eating under stress or with other stimuli reduces the absorption of certain minerals.  Also, how you view your food also affects how much nutrition you get from your food.  The cephalic phase of digestion is the term for your brain's reaction to the anticipation of food.  More digestive acids and enzymes are produced when you anticipate delicious, appealing food.  These chemicals help absorb vitamins and minerals found in food.  So enjoying nutritious food that is delicious and appealing to you ends up benefiting you more than choking down a nutritious but  unwanted meal.  

Besides savoring your food, it also pays to listen to your body as  you eat.  Using a scale from one to ten, you can rate your hunger and fullness levels.  Paying attention to what we really physically need when it comes to food is key to long-term good health.  Before you eat, assess what level of hunger you are at.  While eating, check in with your body to see how full you are getting.  It's generally best for meals to start eating at a 3 and end at a 6 or 7.  When  we get too hungry (say 1 or 2) we tend to eat so quickly that we over shoot how much food we really need, and end up at an 8, 9 or 10.  

Hunger/Satiety Scale

0          1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

0 = Starving – ravenous, dizzy, no energy to move
1 = Famished – light headed, weak, can't concentrate
2 = Painfully hungry – stomach pain, irritable
3 = Strong hunger – stomach growling
4 = Slightly uncomfortable - 1st signs of hunger
5 = Neutral – not hungry, not full
6 = Comfortable – satisfied
7 = Full
8 = Uncomfortably full – definitely should have stopped eating sooner.
9 = Stuffed – painfully full, tired, sluggish
10 = Sick – so full and bloated that you feel nauseous. 

The more mindful we are as we eat, and the more enjoyment we find in food.  More enjoyment means stress levels will decrease and we will be less likely to plough through the ice cream pint or the bag of cheese puffs -  thoughtlessly eating our way to obesity, heart disease and diabetes.  The take home message is that multi-tasking may actually end up multiplying your health problems.  Plan in time for food and allow it to not only nourish your body, but your soul. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Corn: Not Just Fuel for Your Gas Tank

It’s a veggie. . . it’s a grain. . . it’s corn! 

Myth’s surround one of America’s favorite summer dishes.  Here’s the truth about wonderfully versatile corn:

  1. Myth: Isn’t most corn GMO (genetically modified organism)?  Only 3-4 % of sweet corn grown in the US was GMO last year. 
  2. Myth: Corn is high in sugar and dangerous carbs. Nope.  An ear of corn contains the same amount of calories of an apple and only ¼ the sugar.  What you slather on it afterward may be a different story. 
  3. Myth: Corn doesn’t contain any real nutrition beyond fiber. While it’s true that fiber is a real nutrition selling point – one ear contains 3 grams of fiber, it is also loaded with healthful nutrients.  Corn contains protein and lots of B vitamins.  Sweet corn contains lutein and zeaxanthin which are phytochemicals with promote healthy vision. 
  4. Myth: Corn is a culinary one-trick-pony available for just a few month each year.  These cooking ideas are great ways to use leftover corn on the cob, but frozen corn is a tasty and wonderful substitute year round. 

o   Soup: Creamy soups and chowders are deliciously thickened by blending in some cooked corn.
o   Salads: you don’t have to go to a salad bar to enjoy corn on your salad.  Work it into any of your favorite fresh salads.
o   Pizza: Corn is my latest favorite pizza topping.  It adds great texture and natural sweetness that balances well with the other strong flavors of pizza.

o   Baked Goods: Add in a cup or two of corn kernels and a can of green chiles into your favorite cornmeal muffin mix for a quick, delicious southwestern side.  A fun twist would be to cook it in a waffle iron, top with chicken, salsa and a little cheese for a tex-mex twist on chicken and waffles.

Tex Mex Chicken & Waffles

1 small (8.5 oz) box of corn muffin mix - prepared according to package instructions
1 can (4 oz) diced green chiles
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen) 

2 cups shredded roasted chicken
4 oz. shredded colby jack cheese
1 cup salsa

Mix chiles and corn into corn muffin batter.  Cook in waffle iron.  Top with shredded or diced roasted chicken, salsa and cheese.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Keep Kids Cooking

Summer may mean that all routine goes out the window, but it also means that kids have more time at home to start learning to plan and prepare meals.  My daughter has been cooking for 4 years now, and although we're not ready to start our own kid-prodigy-cooking-reality TV show, 4 years of cooking dinner once a week has provided her with some skills.
This was a simple, but tasty dinner she made for us recently.  Corn on the cob, roasted potatoes, marinated-grilled chicken with a creamy shallot sauce and tossed salad.  More than just the basic cooking of an entree, we work on planning 2-3 veggie or fruit dishes with each meal.  If you're not ready to start cooking classes with your kiddos this summer, here are 3 easy ways get your kids ready to start cooking:

  1. Let them plan a menu.  When you plan out your weekly or monthly menu, have them help you plan out what dishes they'd like to try.  Be sure that they include 2-3 fruit or vegetable dishes to go along with the entree. (You can take this a step further and have them help grocery shop for that week's menu.)
  2. Have them set the table.  As the habit of sitting down to family dinner goes by the wayside, so does health and nutrition.  Eat together, and have your kids learn how to set a proper table that accommodates your menu.
  3. Have them help wash and prep.  Rinsing produce, putting frozen peas in a bowl to be microwaved, or tearing up lettuce for a salad are safe, simple ways to start giving your kids ownership of the meal.  What they help plan and prepare, they are more likely to eat.  
So without being overwhelmed, start small and work your way up to teaching your children to cook.  Few life-skills will serve them better that cooking and enjoying healthful food.  And although it may be frustrating, it does pay off - that picture above is proof!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Stay Cool in a Smart Way: Frozen Treats

 Dog-days of summer cry out for frozen treats such as slushes, ice-cream, and popsicles.  But are some choices better than others when it comes to cooling off with something frozen? Here are some things to look for when choosing frozen treats from the store.

   Serving size: one-kid-hand rule – if a child can hold it with one hand, then chances are the serving size is reasonable.  (Monstrously large slushes in huge cups – not so much).  If you have a package with a nutrition label – 100 calories or less is a good target to shoot for with creamy treats and closer to 50 calories for fruity frozen treats. 

   Ingredient list: the shorter the better and something other than sugar as the first or second ingredient.

Freeze your own
   Save out some smoothie, freeze it in a cup and enjoy it frozen another time.

   Involve your kids – let them choose what fruit combinations to blend and freeze. Freezing in cups is simpler doesn't require fancy popsicle molds, is dripless and forces you to slow down.  Slower eating means more enjoyment, more relaxation and better nutrition.  

   Bypass the blender and enjoy the whole fruit frozen: grapes and berries make great bite-sized frozen snacks, put a stick in a spear of pineapple, mango, melon or banana for the most wholesome and simple frozen treat. 
Chocolate-dipped pineapple - affectionately called choco-pina in Guatemala made me fall in love with this delicious treat. Super simple to make.

Being intentional in your choice of cool-down treats can help you stay hydrated and boost your nutrition at the same time. 

Choco-pina Recipe:

  1. Put popsicle sticks partway into spears of fresh pineapple.  Freeze (I put them on wax-paper-lined baking sheets)
  2. Melt a small amount of dark chocolate mixed with a little coconut oil.  (I know this sounds vague, but it depends on how much pineapple you are doing.)  I usually melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil.
  3. Dip frozen pineapple into melted chocolate mixure.  Place back on wax paper and freeze.  
  4. When frozen, wrap in plastic wrap or put in zip-top bags.  Keep in Freezer.
  5. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Great Grilling: Bump Up the Nutrition at Your Next BBQ

6 nutrition-boosting tips 

Tip 1: Start with a Clean Your Grill 
Scrubbing keeps the buildup of carcinogens left on the grill grates to a minimum and makes your food taste so much better.

Tip 2: Marinate Your Meat 
Marinating meat helps to reduce carcinogens. Multiple studies show up to 1/3 less carcinogens are formed when the meat is marinated before grilling.

Tip 3: Use a better oil 
You want to avoid burning and grilling is considered "high heat".  Some oils are better than others for this.  Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is important to heart health, and when it comes to impact on cholesterol, not all cooking oils are created equal. In fact, the Journal of Clinical Lipidology has published a study that found that corn oil, like Mazola, can help lower cholesterol more than extra virgin olive oil. Corn Oil has more cholesterol-blocking plant sterols than other cooking oils – four times more than olive oil and 40 percent more than canola oil. and it is these plant sterols that reduce absorption of cholesterol in the gut.  Choose your oil wisely.
Chipotle-lime marinated flank steak - recipe to follow

Tip 4: Watch for Flares - choose lean meats 
When you cook a fatty piece of meat, the fat that drips onto the flames creates smoke which may contain the much talked about carcinogens. If you grill lean meats, poultry, and fish, you'll have less fat = better.

Tip 5: Beware Bacteria 
To kill the common E.coli bacteria, the USDA recommends cooking ground beef to 160 degrees. Don’t add foodborne illness to the menu.

Tip 6: Think outside the grill. 
Often we focus on the grilled entrĂ©e and don’t plan much in the way of sides.  So when it comes to the chips and dips that often make an appearance at the BBQ buffet, here’s my take on keeping your nutrition high.  When it comes to the chip, choosing something with a short ingredient list is key.  Ruffles has three simple ingredients – potatoes, oil and salt – that’s it. For dinner guests with celiac or gluten intolerance, they are gluten-free.  And to keep that nutrition high, chips should be a vehicle for a nutritious dip – an edible utensil.  We’ve got a zucchini dip made with greek yogurt that really ups the  nutrition. 


Zippy Zucchini Dip

1 zucchini, shredded
1 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
Salt to taste
Mix zucchini, yogurt and garlic together in a small bowl. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Serve with Ruffles potato chips.

Chipotle Lime Marinade
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Marinate Time: 30 minutes

4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely minced
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Mazola® corn oil.

Combine all ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag.  Add 1-2 pounds meat or poultry (flank steak is pictured).  Marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Remove from marinade, and grill, discarding remaining marinade.  Cook to desired doneness.