Wednesday, January 10, 2007

WFMW: Eating Well in 2007

Ohhhh ... this will be long ... but Shannon -- you asked for it! It's another "themed" Works For Me Wednesday -- it's the Eating Well Edition ... and I thought I'd jump in head first ... even though I had a great tip for [ehem] brownies [ehem] ... anyway ... here it goes ...

Background: I have PCOS. I also am insulin resistant. This combination makes it nearly impossible for me to loose weight -- honest! It's not an excuse ... it's a medical condition. I can usually loose between 20 - 40 pounds but then, I level off and maintain. But, whether I'm trying to loose weight, or just stay healthy, healthy eating is essential, and I thought I'd share some of my tips with you.

Now, I don't know about you, but I think the key to cooking healthy and eating well is to eliminate foods that are fried, or drenched in a lot of grease / fat. I know that's easy to say, and a lot harder to do in real life, but if you stick with using the freshest ingredients possible, and grilling, baking, or sauteing in olive oil, chances are, you're already cooking in a healthy manner. Even if you have a busy life (and seriously ... who doesn't!), you can do many short-cuts that will help reduce your time in the kitchen (like jarred pre-minced garlic, or jarred spaghetti sauce, boxed broths -- never canned -- or frozen vegetables in a pinch), and still allow you to cook in a healthful manner for your family.

I'd like to think that moms around the world are revolting against the long-boiled, flavorless vegetables, and bland baked chicken meals. Flavoring your foods with herbs and spices and a little bit of salt goes a long way for making your dish more appealing, as well as making sauces with broth and wine ... and ... if it tastes good, chances are ... your family will dig in and love it.

We have one rule in my home. You must try everything once. If after that one try you decide you don't like it, then I will respect that and not make you eat it again.

Here are some quick tips I can think of off the top of my head for introducing healthy eating into your lifestyle. We do all of these ... we just haven't mastered the "cutting of sugar" out of our diet (like brownies -- lol):

1) I generally use olive oil. Why? Well, it's got a higher smoke point (410 degrees) than regular oils, so it won't burn as easily in my pan while I'm sauteing things. Being that it is four or five times more heat resistant than regular oils, the nutritional compounds won't break down as fast. Plus, it reduces the "bad" (LDL) cholesterol and does no harm to the "good" (HDL). Who can argue with that? And, interestingly enough, there are new studies that are finding olive oil has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticlotting properties, and it actually helps fight the chance of cancer. I know that olive oil can taste rather strong to some, and for those of you that do not care for the stronger "green olive taste," I recommend you use regular olive oil, as it's the weaker tasting first-press of olives, but still packed with all the nutritional value. I usually use extra-virgin olive oil for dressings (the more fragrant of all the olive oils), and regular olive oil for cooking. I HATE using those spray oils (Pam, etc.), because I don't know what's actually "in" the can ... so if you must have those spray oils in your diet, use the olive oil versions.

2) If at all possible, I will generally use fresh fruits and vegetables over canned ones. I know this can put quite a dent in the budget -- trust me ... I know. But on the flip side, fresh fruits and veggies are quite rich in vitamins mineralsrals, and in some cases, antioxidants... and the flavors are much richer than their canned counterparts!

3) When possible, use whole grains. Now, I know this is tough with children who love white bread, but I just saw at the grocery store the other day that Pepperidge Farms has a "whole-grain" white bread that doesn't contain all of the dough conditioners that Wonder bread does. Remember ... if the word "whole" is NOT the first thing on the ingredient list, then it isn't "whole grain." Also, keep in mind that it still contains far less fiber than whole wheat bread! Also, another way to change your eating habbits is to use whole wheat pastas and brown rice rather than the white versions.

4) If you drink Orange Juice, drink the one with added calcium. The calcium is more easily absorbed into your body than the calcium found in milk.

5) If your kids/family eat cereal, get the cereal with 7g of fiber per serving. It may be yucky to them without all the sugar, so sprinkle with some splenda and toss some blueberries or strawberries in to add an extra punch of flavor and antioxidants (1/2 cup).

6) Include a lot of meals with cooked tomatoes in them... amazingly, the consumption of cooked tomato products has been linked with a reduced risk of prostate and other cancers. This could include spaghetti sauce (homemade!), soups, pizza, italian "stir-fry," etc.

7) Eating raw car carrot sticks is a great and filling snack ... but did you know that if you don't pair those raw carrots with some type of fat, your body absorbs very little of carrot's cancer-fighting carotenoids!? You can remedy this by eating them with some a little bit of dip or some cubed cheese. Keep in mind that carrots are very high in natural sugars (carbs).

8) Having said that ... whenever you eat a carb, try to make it a complex carb, and pair it with a protein. The most important thing is ... eat the protein first because protein is digested and broken up in your stomach and the energy lasts much longer than the carb. Carbs and fats aren't, they are completely broken down in your lower and upper intestines. This is a tip I learned from having PCOS and being insulin resistant, as well as having had gestational diabetes.

9) If your kids (or yourself) must have desserts, try making sugar-free puddings with low-fat milk, or sugar free jello. You can get very creative with these two things and low-fat cream cheese or cool whip!

10) If you love sodas, and don't like the taste of diet drinks, try drinking club soda (carbonated water or seltzer water) with a squeeze of lime or lemon. In fact, in some restaurants, this is considered a free drink because it's "water." My sister-in-law (Sunshine) is famous for saying "it's free of calories, tastes good, and the carbonation tricks your mind into thinking you're having a soda." Yes, it may take some getting used to because it's not sweet like soda is ... but it's clean and refreshing and delicious once you get used to it.

11) If you cook with cream soups (cream of chicken, cream of celery, cream of mushroom, etc.) use the Healthy Recipe options, and in place of whole milk use skim milk. Your family is less likely to notice the introduction of skim milk it if you cook with it, and if your sauces don't thicken up as well, then add a little bit of flour (2T) to equal parts skim milk, stir until it forms a smooth, but thick slurry, and add it slowly to your dish. Bring to a boil, or place it in the oven. This will thicken your sauce for things like chicken pot pie, or stroganoff (just like it would gravy).

12) Don't be afraid to punch your foods with flavors found in spices and seasonings ... especially garlic. Even if it's not ... gasp! ... fresh garlic. Believe it or not, I honestly think there is a place for garlic powder ... but more importantly ... garlic is a very healthy and flavorful addition to every day cooking!


I tired my best to put down my famous lasagna recipe in writing, but I just didn't have the time before I went on bed rest, so here are a couple other healthy recipes to try.

I've already published these two recipes, but they are just about the only way I'll eat broccoli, and are worth a re-post! I hate steamed broccoli, broccoli casserole, etc., but at the same time, I acknowledge the tremendous health benefits this vegetable contains ... Ounce for ounce, broccoli has more vitamin C than an orange and as much as a glass of milk... one medium spear has three times more fiber than a slice of wheat bran bread... and Broccoli is also one of the richest sources of vitamin A in the produce section. But the real surprise is this vegetable's potent cancer-fighting components, and let's face it ... if I want my son to continue eating it (which he does), then I have to set an example!

The roasted broccoli is quite delicious! It is crisp, bright green, and has a slightly "nutty" flavor. Oh, and to me, it doesn't smell like rotten food the way steamed broccoli does. That, in it's self, is a plus for me. The broccoli slaw is loaded with all things good for you ... anti-adhesion properties, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits. Try them both out. I'm sure you'll enjoy them as much as I have.

I'll post my lasagna recipe at another date!


Oven Roasted Broccoli
(goes great with italian foods and casseroles, as well as roasted chicken, pot roast, pork roast, burgers, etc.)

Broccoli Crowns split apart (as much as you need for your family)
Olive Oil
6-8 (depending on how much broccoli you use) cloves of FRESH garlic, peeled and crushed
Coarse-Ground Sea Salt
Freshly Ground pepper

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. In a very large bowl, place your split broccoli crowns. Drizzle liberally with olive oil. Add crushed garlic, and toss all around so all the florettes are coated with the olive oil and have pieces of garlic all around them. Arrange the broccoli on a foil-lined baking sheet (for easy clean-up). Liberally sprinkle with cracked sea salt and pepper. Place in oven and bake until you can slide a knife through easily... about 25-30 minutes. Don't over bake into mushy broccoli. The broccoli will be a bright green with little browned pieces of garlic and broccoli, and yummy flakes of salt on it. It will have a mild, almost nutty and very yummy flavor.


Broccoli Slaw (for all you gourmet lovers)

Slaw Ingredients (If you are picky about fruit or nuts in your food, then don't try this recipe, because it will just ruin it if you take those two elements out)

1 Bag of Broccoli Slaw (I use Foxy Organic brand in produce section)
2 chopped scallions/spring onions/green onions (which ever way you call it - all the same to me)
1/2 large, firm apple, peeled and chopped (I love Braeburns or Cameos in this recipe)
3/4 cup of Dried Cranberries
3/4 cup of chopped Pecans or 1/3 cup sunflowers

Slaw Dressing (VERY subjective -- according to taste -- if you have a slaw dressing recipe you love, just use that -- also, I don't usually measure my ingredients, so I'm going from memory here

1 cup mayonnaise (or more, depending on how thick you like it)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (more or less, depending on how tart you like it)
3 (or so) tablespoons sugar (I use either straight Splenda or the Splenda/Sugar mix for baking)
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon onion powder (or grated onion, or no onion if you don't like it)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the dressing well. This can be refrigerated until ready to use.

Toss all ingredients together, including the slaw dressing. Cover tightly, because it WILL stink up your refrigerator. Let chill for a while before serving. Enjoy!


Christy said...

Wow! Great info and I'm looking forward to trying the recipes.

momrn2 said...

Fabulou! I loved all of the great tips here!! You mentioned using garlic pre-chopped in jars. How much of that equals one clove in a recipe? (or maybe it tells you on the jar. Guess I should just look.)

Thanks again for such great tips!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, GiBee!

theresa said...

Yum-O! I love broccoli and I'm doing a 21-day Daniel Fast right now so I think I'll be making that Oven-Roasted Broccoli tomorrow. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This is so yummy!
Thanks for the recipe.

We had it twice this week;)

I HATE cooked broccoli so for me to love this so much is awesome.

I stocked up on Broccoli and fresh garlic so we can have it more;)