Drugs or fresh fruit & vegetables? I like this approach. Read about it here:
May 14, 2013|4 Comments
Simple steamed vegetables are one of the reasons I love eating in Japan. I mean, let’s be honest, I probably like steamed vegetables more than most, but I enjoy them exponentially more in Japan. Somehow, many of the things I love about traveling there are summed up in this simple preparation. I’d often receive a sampling of seasonal produce as part of a combination lunch, the vegetables arriving at the table beautifully arranged in the bamboo basket they were steamed in. I’d work my way through a rainbow of vibrant, tender potatoes, squash, mushrooms, broccoli rabe, and the like, sometimes adding a pinch of zesty shichimi togarashi, but more often than not, a casual toss of a few grains of salt would be all. Each time, a vibrant, satisfying reminder of just how good vegetables can be when prepared simply with care and intent. After this past trip, my cheap, tri-level bamboo steamer was promptly dusted upon my arrival home, and put into proper rotation. The thing that never ceases to surprise me is the speed even the most hearty chunks of root vegetables or squash become tender – ten minutes, often less.
Bamboo steamers are easy to come by, and relatively inexpensive. The one downside is they take up a good amount of storage space, not much more than a big pot, but still. The steamers are available in a range of diameters, and are made of interlocking trays intended for stacking on atop of the other. Placed above simmering water, the steam from the water rises through the trays and cooks the food. It’s a simple premise that works astoundingly well. I use three trays, but you can certainly go up or down a level.
A few things I’ve learned:
- While steaming with water is most common, I’ve also played around using miso broth, vegetable broth, vegetable dashi, or tea in place of water. Each imparts a different scent and flavor to the vegetables. More times than not though, I use water.
- Arrange your slowest cooking vegetables in the bottom basket, working up to the quickest. Another time saver is to get your densest, slowest cooking vegetables started in in the bottom tray, while you prep the quicker cooking vegetables for the mid and top baskets. Place the lid on whatever basket is on top at the time.
- Some people line their steamers with cabbage leaves or parchment. I don’t bother, placing the vegetables directly on the steamer instead. I like how it seems to keep the steam circulating. A quick scrub with hot water and the rough side of a sponge makes clean-up simple.
So, less of a recipe, and more of a reminder today of how good the most basic preparations can be. -h
HS: This is how I put together a sample of steamed vegetables. I use a three-tiered bamboo steamer, the sort that is available in most culinary shops.
a sampling of seasonal vegetables
flaky sea salt
to finish: good olive oil, a few drops of toasted sesame oil, or shallot oil
equipment: a bamboo basket steamer, preferably three levels. And, your steamer needs to fit inside your cooking skillet.
Wash your vegetables well, and cut them into bite-sized pieces. I tend to leave peels on, but it is a personal preference. Arrange them, in a single layer, in steamer trays according to needed cooking time. For example:
Bottom tray: equal-sized chunks of slower-cooking vegetables. For example: sweet potato, potato, winter squash, beets. These usually cook through in about ten minutes.
Middle-tray: equal sized pieces of broccoli, cauliflower
Top-tray/last minute: asparagus, fava beans (inner pods), snap peas
Bring an inch of water to a simmer in a skillet large enough to accommodate the diameter of your steamer. The water should not be so high that it makes contact with the vegetables when the steamer is placed in the skillet – do a quick test if needed, and remove some water if needed.
The goal here is to have your vegetables perfectly cooked and ready to serve just before you sit down. And, ideally, all of the vegetables finish cooking at the same time. Here’s how you do it. Roughly ten minutes before you’re ready to serve, place the slow-cooking, bottom tray vegetables over the simmering water, covered. Let them steam there until they’re about 2/3 cooked, about 6-7 minutes. Test, and cut into any root vegetables toward the end to make sure they’re going to be cooked through. The mid tray only needs 3-4 minutes, so add that next, moving the lid up a level. And the top tray vegetables, like snap peas and asparagus, just need a kiss of steam to brighten, barely a minute. Add that last. Or if you only have two baskets, add these to the broccoli/cauliflower basket to finish. You’ll have to make slight adjustments based on the sizes of your vegetables, but this is the general idea. Cook them until they’re bright, just tender, and taste good to you.
I like to quickly arrange the steamed vegetable, nested, in one basket to serve along with a drizzle of good oil – toasted sesame, shallot, olive oil, herb, etc. With a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.
Prep time: 5 min – Cook time: 10 min
Healthy eating starts with learning new ways to eat, such as adding more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and cutting back on foods that have a lot of fat, salt, and sugar.
A change to healthier eating also includes learning about balance, variety, and moderation.
Why pay attention to what you eat?
Healthy eating is one of the best things you can do to prevent and control many health problems, such as:
Is healthy eating the same as going on a diet?
Healthy eating is not a diet. It means making changes you can live with and enjoy for the rest of your life.
How do you make healthy eating a habit?
First, think about your reasons for healthier eating. Do you want to improve your health? Do you want to feel better? Are you trying to set an example for your kids?
Next, think about some small changes you can make. Pick ones you can keep doing.
- Don’t try to change everything at once.
- Set an easy goal you can reach, like having a salad and a piece of fruit each day.
- Make a long-term goal too, such as having one vegetarian dinner a week.
Where can you get support?
Having support from others can be a huge help. The more support you have, the easier it will be to make changes. Ask family and friends to practice healthy eating with you. Have them help you make meals, and share healthy, delicious recipes and cooking tips.
If you need more help, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian. Look online for groups that support healthy eating and share success stories.
He also speculated whether the British psyche was fatalistic when it came to illness: “I wonder if many people feel that they can ignore their health for decades in the expectation that the NHS will be there to bail them out when they get into trouble.”
In the 1970s a universal National Health Service was established in Italy which was modelled in part on the NHS. Successive Italian governments poured money into health – for decades Italy spent significantly more on its health service than Britain. Only recently has UK spending caught up and overtaken that of Italy.
It’s true that Italians are more likely to smoke than Britons – 23% of adults there compared to 20% here. But until around 2006 Italy had fewer smokers; our levels have simply fallen faster than theirs, meaning adults here are still paying the price of decades of greater cigarette consumption.
Consumption of olive oil is high in Italy
The Mediterranean diet is also likely to be a factor in Italian longevity. Stefania Salmaso, Director, National Centre for Epidemiology and Health Promotion in Rome, told me: “Since the 1960s there has been a big improvement in the Italian diet, with much more fresh fish and a wider variety of foods. Fresh vegetables and fruit are commonly available and we use a lot of olive oil in cooking, and less animal fats than is found in British dishes.”
Traditionally, Italians have drunk wine with meals and avoided the sort of binge drinking that is commonplace in Britain, but Dr Salmaso warns that habits are changing for the worse among the young.
Several studies have linked the Mediterranean diet with a reduced risk of heart disease. Only last month a trial in the New England Journal of Medicine involving more than 7,000 people in Spain found that those given either a litre of extra virgin olive oil, or 200g of walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds every week for five years had a significantly reduced risk of stroke and heart disease compared to a third control group who were simply advised to have a low-fat diet.
How do the Italians view their health? Do they celebrate their position as among the longest living nations in the world? Apparently not. “Not a single Italian journalist contacted me about the Lancet study” said Stefania Salmaso in Rome. “People here don’t realise how lucky they are. All the focus is on the political crisis. I think that good news gets ignored.”
Can we be certain why average life expectancy in Italy is 81.5 years compared to 79.9 in the UK? Is it diet, healthcare, social structure, even climate – and which is the most important? Dr Edmund Jessop, vice-president, UK Faculty of Public Health, told me: “To be honest, nobody knows. Life expectancy looks like a simple number but it’s incredibly complicated – with a huge number of factors all playing a part. We can speculate about the causes, but it’s impossible to give a single definitive answer.”
Read the entire article here: http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21690003
Now that the science fair project is officially over (except for her presentation at Regionals on March 23), people have asked me if I’m “going back”. Uh, no! I’ve lost 20 lbs in 90 days. I feel better. My blood pressure is normal. I’m sleeping better. Besides the pain in my back (I think it’s the new office chair I was given), I feel better than I have in years.
I get the “are you going back” question the most at lunch time at work. I’ve talked with a lot of my coworkers (who have noticed the weight loss). Many of the women have joined a Weight Watchers group. Some of the guys are doing it on their own. Some are taking a radical approach. Some are successful…others are not.
Again, I’m not following a “diet” or reading a fitness guru book. I know this is a repeat, but this is what I’m doing:
1. Planning/Goal setting – I use My Fitness Pal every day, every meal.
2. Healthy choices – I eat more vegetables and fresh fruit. I have really cut back on junk food. I’m even thinking of moving towards a more vegetarian lifestyle.
3. Portion control – I don’t eat for 3 anymore. This has been significant for me. I think it’s been key.
4. Exercise – I exercise at least 3 days/week for at least 1 hour. My routine for now consists of 50% strength training and 50% cardio. I need to make some changes and intensify my workouts.
After all of that, what’s for dinner tonight?
* Steamed broccoli
* Fruit (perhaps an apple)
by Markham Heid
Grapes: nature’s Prozac? It sounds a little crazy, but what you eat today may determine how psychologically good you feel tomorrow, shows new research from New Zealand.
Eating junk like candy or potato chips can leave you feeling depressed, low, and unhappy, according to a few recent studies. But a team from the University of Otago wondered whether eating fruit and vegetables might have the opposite effect. To find out, they asked 280 adults to keep a daily journal of what they ate and how they felt for 3 weeks.
The results: The average study participant ate 1.7 cups of fruit and vegetables each day. But on days when people ate more than that, their self-reported positive affect—defined as feeling calm, content, cheerful, and energetic—increased roughly 3 percent per additional serving, the study shows. And that’s not all: Those good feelings tended to linger throughout the following day, says study author Tamlin Conner, Ph.D., a professor of health psychology at Otago.
There are a few possible explanations for this: Studies have tied several vitamins and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables—including folate and flavonols—to improved mood, Conner explains. “These foods also contain complex carbohydrates, which may increase concentrations of brain serotonin,” she adds. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter research that’s been linked to feelings of well-being and happiness.
Read the rest here: http://news.menshealth.com/eat-this-today-feel-happier-tomorrow/2013/02/08/
So you’re working to lose weight. You work hard on planning your meals. You are sticking with your exercise schedule. Then you have a lunch meeting you have attend. How do you handle the ordering of food in front of your colleagues and/or guests?
Option 1: Puff out your chest and loudly declare, “I’m getting fit. I won’t eat the garbage you just ordered! Give me veggies or give me death!”
Option 2: Order the 5 cheese cheeseburger with the side of mega-fries. Oh, and keep up with the eating of the free rolls that keep coming to your table.
Option 3: Stick to your plan. You know what your plan is and order accordingly. It’s doubtful that your lunch guests will say anything. If they do, tell them what you’re doing and share your results. Not in pride. As a matter of fact. You should be proud of your determination, but you don’t need to ram it down anyone’s throat. Chances are, you’ll be respected for your discipline. Besides, you don’t need the wrong food to mix with guilt.
When I talk with people about portion control, most think I’m starving myself. I’ve been at this since Dec. 3, and I haven’t been starving once.
Portion control is not:
- eating like a bird
- eating food that tastes like cardboard
Portion control is:
- eating more vegetables – and you can eat a lot. Great nutrition, fiber, and tasty.
- eating more fruit
- eating protein smarter – chicken, fish, Greek yogurt, quinoa (a seed that has a surprising amount of protein)
- eating nuts
- eating whole grain breads (be careful not to over do it here)
There are tons of cookbooks that have easy recipes to help you eat better. Use a tool like My Fitness Pal to help you determine portion sizes. Go see a nutritionist. There are resources on the web (like this blog). Use them.
Portion control: it works if you work it.
A healthy lifestyle involves many choices. Among them, choosing a balanced diet or healthy eating plan. So how do you choose a healthy eating plan? Let’s begin by defining what a healthy eating plan is.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, a healthy eating plan:
- Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
- Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
- Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars
- Stays within your daily calorie needs
A healthy eating plan that helps you manage your weight includes a variety of foods you may not have considered. If “healthy eating” makes you think about the foods you can’t have, try refocusing on all the new foods you can eat—
- Fresh fruits ― don’t think just apples or bananas. All fresh fruits are great choices. Be sure to try some “exotic” fruits, too. How about a mango? Or a juicy pineapple or kiwi fruit! When your favorite fresh fruits aren’t in season, try a frozen, canned, or dried variety of a fresh fruit you enjoy. One caution about canned fruits is that they may contain added sugars or syrups. Be sure and choose canned varieties of fruit packed in water or in their own juice.
- Fresh vegetables ― try something new. You may find that you love grilled vegetables or steamed vegetables with an herb you haven’t tried like rosemary. You can sauté vegetables in a non-stick pan with a small amount of cooking spray. Or try frozen or canned vegetables for a quick side dish — just microwave and serve. When trying canned vegetables, look for vegetables without added salt, butter, or cream sauces. Commit to going to the produce department and trying a new vegetable each week.
- Calcium-rich foods ― you may automatically think of a glass of low-fat or fat-free milk when someone says “eat more dairy products.” But what about low-fat and fat-free yogurts without added sugars? These come in a wide variety of flavors and can be a great dessert substitute for those with a sweet tooth.
- A new twist on an old favorite ― if your favorite recipe calls for frying fish or breaded chicken, try healthier variations using baking or grilling. Maybe even try a recipe that uses dry beans in place of higher-fat meats. Ask around or search the internet and magazines for recipes with fewer calories ― you might be surprised to find you have a new favorite dish!
No! Healthy eating is all about balance. You can enjoy your favorite foods even if they are high in calories, fat or added sugars. The key is eating them only once in a while and balance them out with healthier foods and more physical activity.
Some general tips for comfort foods:
- Consume them less often. If you normally eat these foods every day, cut back to once a week or once a month. You’ll be cutting your calories because you’re not having the food as often.
- Eat smaller amounts. If your favorite higher calorie food is a chocolate bar, have a smaller size or only half a bar. Be careful! This technique works well for some people, but others may find it is too tempting to have their favorite food available, even in smaller amounts.
- Try a lower-calorie version. Use lower-calorie ingredients or prepare it differently. For example, if your macaroni and cheese recipe uses whole milk, butter, and full-fat cheese, try remaking it with non-fat milk, less butter, light cream cheese, fresh spinach and tomatoes. Just remember to not increase your portion size. For more ideas on how to cut back on calories, see Eat More Weigh LessEat More Weigh Less.
The point is, you can figure out how to include almost any food in your healthy eating plan in a way that still helps you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Being consistently healthy in your eating choices is the key. Making the same healthy eating choices over time can lead to better eating habits. By thinking more positively and focusing on what you can have, you’ll help yourself establish healthy eating habits.