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Posts Tagged ‘Kerri-Ann Jennings’

Why You Should Eat More Green Food

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’d like to encourage you to eat green. No, I’m not talking about green beer and Jell-O, but rather those beautiful naturally green vegetables and fruit that have unique health benefits. Let’s look at the main health benefits of green foods and a few of my favorite ways to eat them.

Dark-green vegetables: This category (which includes broccoli and “dark leafy greens,” such as kale, bok choy and spinach) is so important that there’s actually a separate recommendation for dark-green vegetables in the U.S. dietary guidelines. For most adults, that number is 1 1/2 to 2 cups per week (keeping in mind that for leafy greens, 2 cups raw cooks down to a 1-cup serving). Why are they so good for you? They’re a bang-up source of carotenoids, iron and calcium, plus vitamins C and K. One of the many benefits of carotenoids and vitamin C is that they’re important for the texture and health of your skin. Dark-green vegetables are also typically high in folate — a vitamin that helps cells form (which is why it’s particularly important for women in early pregnancy). Some of these nutrients are fat-soluble, meaning you absorb them best if you eat them with a bit of fat.

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10 Easy Ways to Eat More Fruits and Veggies

As a registered dietitian, I constantly find myself giving this advice to clients: Eat more fruits and vegetables. Why? Overall, they’re low in calories, high in fiber and water, and loaded with nutrients. Eating plenty of them daily can help you maintain or lose weight — and ward off various diseases.

They also add so much color and flavor to food that I’m always surprised so many people don’t eat them regularly. How much you need depends on your age, gender and activity level, but in general the five-a-day number is a good rule: two cups of fruits, three cups of vegetables. (To put that in perspective, the average American eats only about 1 1/2 cups of produce.) Find out what counts as a cup here.

If you’re not used to eating so many fruits and vegetables in a day, it can seem overwhelming to think of adding them to your diet. That’s why I usually have clients “walk through” a day of their typical eating and ask them to find room for fruits and vegetables — by adding them to existing meals or swapping other foods for them. Here are some of the ideas they came up with:

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Health Reasons to Love Pomegranates

Move over, blueberries, pomegranates are the new superfood in town. Pomegranates (mainly in the form of pomegranate juice) have gotten some buzz for a while — and with good reason. Pomegranate juice is a powerful source of antioxidants linked to lowered cholesterol and a slower growth of prostate cancer. But I’m a big fan of the whole fruit, which adds beautiful ruby gems to whatever dish you choose and offers a host of health benefits.

First, you might be wondering how to actually get those jewel-colored seeds — which are technically called arils — out of the pomegranate. It’s simpler than it seems. Just thwack the skin side of the pomegranate several times with a wooden spoon so the seeds fall into a ball. (Alternately, you can cut the pomegranate in sections and pull the clumped-together arils into a bowl of water — the arils will sink to the bottom and the white membrane will float to the top.)

Now for the additional nutrition info. Half a cup of arils (a little less than a third of a pomegranate) has 72 calories and 3 grams of fiber. It’s also a good source of vitamins C and K, plus has a smattering of other vitamins and minerals. Arils also take a while to eat, as the crunchy seeds within the tart, juicy arils slow down your pace. But perhaps a pomegranate’s most-notable feature is that it’s a powerful source of antioxidants, signified by its vibrant color.

My favorite, and simple, way to eat pomegranate seeds is to scatter them over a bowl of honey Greek yogurt, but they’re also a great addition to other recipes. Here are some to try:

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How to Make Creamy, Creamless Vegetable Soup Without a Recipe

In the wintertime, no food satisfies quite like a bowl of steaming, creamy soup. But the problem with a lot of soup recipes is that they have so much cream! Is there a way to get the creaminess of a bisque with the healthfulness/nutrition and calorie count of your favorite vegetable soup? You betcha! The secret lies with an immersion blender — the hand-held tool that saves you from hot soup exploding out of the blender and the massive cleanup that ensues. Follow this easy formula and you can whip up a creamy but creamless soup in less than 30 minutes.

1: Soften the aromatics. In a Dutch oven, heat a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil or butter over medium heat. Add 1 chopped onion (or a similar quantity of shallots), maybe a little minced garlic and some diced celery if you have it on hand.

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10 Healthy, Comforting Slow Cooker Recipes

This winter has already seen its fair share of cold, snowy days. It’s the type of weather that makes me crave warm, wholesome food. At the same time, I don’t have hours every day to spend cooking complicated meals. That’s why I love my slow cooker. I can prep the ingredients when I have time, add them to the slow cooker and let the low, steady heat cook it all day long (or all night, in the case of steel-cut oats).

The slow-heat method can also be a boon to healthy foods. It’s the perfect way to tenderize lean cuts of meat, to soften whole grains, and to let the flavors and textures of vegetables mellow and merge.

Here are some healthy slow-cooker recipes that I can’t wait to try. What are your favorite slow-cooker meals?

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Best Ways to Use Citrus Right Now

For most of the year, I like to eat fruits and vegetables that have been grown locally. But if I can say one thing about January, it’s that it’s a hard time of year to be a locavore in the northeast. Root vegetables and cabbage are pretty much the only things I can get that were grown in Vermont right now, which is why I love that it’s also citrus season. In Spain, California and Florida, citrus fruits are at their peak. The juicy yellow-, orange- and pink-fleshed lemons, oranges and grapefruit, respectively, are like a ray of sunshine in the middle of a dreary winter. While my favorite way to enjoy citrus has to be popping the easy-to-peel, ever-so-sweet clementines and satsumas like they’re candy, I also like to use citrus in recipes. Here are some of my favorites right now:

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How to Make Smarter New Year’s Resolutions (plus 3 to Make Your Own)

We all know the drill: January 1 rolls around and we feel compelled to make resolutions. We go gung-ho for a week or two before we bring back our old ways. Resolve that this year, 2014, you will make New Year’s resolutions that work.

How do you do that, you ask? What works best is when you think about where you actually are and where you want to go, and then make goals (or resolutions, if you will) that bridge that gap. If you reach too far, it’s easy to miss the mark and then get discouraged. By being realistic about your current lifestyle and what typically prevents you from making the changes you’d like to make, you’ll set yourself up for success. It’s also helpful to break down a larger goal into smaller steps. Instead of creating an overwhelming goal like “lose weight,” take a close look at the behaviors that are keeping the weight on and select one or more to change. For example, maybe you notice you do a lot of late-night noshing. Try and think about why that is. Maybe you tend to eat when you’re tired or stressed? Come up with some replacement behaviors that address the real problem (like getting ready for bed earlier, or writing down your worries).

Here are some examples of those intermediate goals and how to make them achievable:

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Lighter Drinks, Dips and Treats for New Year’s Eve

This time of the year can be really fun for indulging, but there comes a point when you just need a break (hello, January 1st!). If you find yourself hitting that point when you still have some more festivities to attend (I’m looking at you, New Year’s Eve), then these lightened up drinks, dips and treats are for you.

Skinnier Sips
Alcohol is high in calories. Cutting down how much you drink in any given night is smart for a number of reasons, including your waistline. Try alternating between a drink and a glass of sparkling water to slow your drinking pace. And keep in mind that mixed drinks can often deliver lots of extra calories. A glass of wine is usually around 120 calories; beer can range upwards of 250 calories for higher-alcohol brews. Here are a few lower-calorie alternatives:

Spritzers (pictured above): Spritzers are a great way to curb the alcohol per drink.

Bellinis: They have more calories than spritzers, but like spritzers, they help you to drink less actual alcohol.

Alcohol-free wines have half the calories of regular vinos and they’re surprisingly delicious.

Desserts

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Lighter Appetizers for New Year’s Eve

Who says appetizers have to be ultra-rich to be a hit? These lightened-up appetizers use healthy whole foods to make small bites that taste as good as they are good for you. Most of them are a cinch to make, too, so you can cut down on the stress as well as the calories.

Pecorino and Honey Dip (pictured above): This simple combination of pecorino and spiced honey hits the sweet, salty and spicy flavor points.

Spicy Roasted Olives: Give heart-healthy olives an update.

Roasted Chestnuts: A holiday classic studded with vitamin C and manganese

Porcini Bruschette with Nipitella: Mushrooms and fresh herbs top this quick and easy bruschetta.

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The 6 Healthiest Nuts

Time to get cracking — nuts, that is. Nuts are a superfood. They give you fiber, healthy fats and protein — three main things that help you to feel satisfied. Whether you’re adding them to a quick bread, sprinkling them over a salad or quick bread, or eating them out of your hand, they’re a healthy addition to your diet.

The one thing to keep in mind is portion size. Nuts are really calorie-dense, so by eating just a few more, you can easily consume an extra 100 calories. I’ve noted the portion size (how many nuts per ounce) and major nutrition information for a variety of nuts here, as well as some notable nutrients found in different kinds of nuts.

Walnuts (14 halves): Calories: 185; Fat: 18 g; Fiber: 2 g; Protein: 4 g
Walnuts are one of the few plant foods that have Omega-3 fatty acids, the kind that are linked to heart health. They also have a smattering of B vitamins, a bunch of copper (which helps make energy) and manganese (needed for bone formation and metabolism), as well as a good amount of magnesium and phosphorous — both important in bone health, among other functions.

Hazelnuts (21 nuts): Calories: 177; Fat: 17 g; Fiber: 3 g; Protein: 4 g
Hazelnuts are an excellent source of vitamin E — an antioxidant that can help protect against heart disease — as well as manganese and copper. The primary fat in hazelnuts is monounsaturated fat, which helps you get healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Pistachios (49 nuts): Calories: 157; Fat: 13 g; Fiber: 3 g; Protein: 6 g
Pistachios are the best choice if you don’t want to concentrate too hard on portion size. Because you need to shell them (and because a serving is 49 nuts!), it’s harder to go overboard on pistachios. They also are an excellent source of vitamin B6 (which your body needs to create new cells), and a good source of manganese and copper. Pistachios also deliver phytosterols — compounds that can help lower your cholesterol levels.

Almonds (23 nuts): Calories: 162; Fat: 14 g; Fiber: 3 g; Protein: 6 g
Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E and manganese, and they are a good source of riboflavin. Also, the fat is mostly from monounsaturated fat.

Brazil nuts (6 nuts): Calories: 185; Fat: 19 g; Fiber: 2 g; Protein: 4 g
These earthy nuts are notable for their super-high amount of selenium (delivering 774 percent of the daily value per serving). Like many of the other nuts, Brazil nuts are also an excellent source of magnesium, phosphorous, manganese and copper.

Cashews (18 nuts): Calories: 155; Fat: 12 g; Fiber: 1 g; Protein: 5 g
Buttery cashews are a good source of vitamin K (the vitamin that helps your blood coagulate), phosphorous and zinc (needed for immune function). They are also an excellent source of manganese, copper and magnesium.

Kerri-Ann is a registered dietitian and nutrition coach who writes on food and health trends. Find more of her work at kerriannjennings.com or follow her on Twitter @kerriannrd or Facebook.

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