Here's the Dish

healthy ANDI licious

Healthiest Dishes at Sushi Restaurants August 18, 2011

Tempura style veggies are still veggies, right? Read on to learn how to make the most of healthy sushi dining without breaking your diet.

What’s the healthiest thing you can order at a sushi restaurant?

Mmmm sushi… fresh fish, sea vegetables, beautiful presentation, and thanks to Groupon, this luxury food can cost no more than any other dinner out. And it’s all healthy, right?

Not quite. If you are looking for a light dinner, “it’s just fish” doesn’t quite sum up a meal of fried, breaded (tempura) sea life, cream cheese stacked Philadelphia rolls, sodium spiked soy sauce, and hidden high-cal spicy mayo. Want to have your maki and eat it too? Here are some tips for smooth sailing for a healthy sushi dinner.

Appetizers

A cup of hot green tea is a great way to start your meal, delivering antioxidants warmth and flavor without any sugar or calories.  Edamame, shelled soybeans, are high in protein and low in calories. While they are not low in sodium, seaweed salad and miso soup are two great sushi starters. Seaweed salad is rich in nutrients, high in flavor, and low in calories. Miso soup will help fill you up on fewer calories and delivers some tasty tofu and kelp to get the meal started well. Avoid fried appetizers which will add fat and calories at the start of the meal without staving off hunger.

Sushi Rolls

Special rolls, the ones with imaginative names, are often more caloric than the basic rolls due to added sauces or “crunchy” fried elements. Salmon, octopus (tako), fresh water eel, salt water eel, shrimp, crab, scallops, smelt eggs (smelt roe), and trout are all low mercury fish. Choose these fish more often to reduce toxic effects of bio-accumulation.  Eat less of high mercury fish like yellow fin (ahi), yellowtail and other sushi-grade tunas, swordfish, mackerel, and sea bass. As far as calories go, salmon, roe, trout, shrimp, squid, and scallops served as sushi, tend to be lighter among the lower mercury options.

Vegetable rolls, salmon rolls, and combination rolls without tempura or heavy sauces a great picks. While eel and avocado are not low in calories or fat, they are also nutritious and I consider them worth the calories for the flavors they provide. My strategy: order these and enjoy them but don’t get them in every roll. If, like me, you love avocado,order one roll or two rolls that contain it and get low-cal veggies like cucumber slices or shredded carrots in the rest. You can ask to add these or other veggies to a roll even if it doesn’t normally come that way.  Stick to one roll or a couple of pieces of sashimi with your favorite caloric or higher mercury fish. Make your favorites part of the meal, just know which dishes can add up to big calories so you can keep them paired with lighter fare.

More Ordering Tips

Choose It: Brown rice, rice-less options, reduced sodium soy sauce, wasabi, ginger.

Choose brown rice when it’s offered for more nutrients and fiber. At most restaurants you will hardly be able to taste a difference but the choice is better nutritionally. (My one exception to this is at supermarkets. I have yet to find a grocery store that makes brown rice sushi that tastes good. If you know of one please leave a comment and share it!) Or, just go rice-less: Many restaurants serve rice-less alternatives. When I was in NYC last weekend I had a great salmon avocado roll, wrapped in cucumber instead of rice. It was very fresh and a nice addition to the meal. Traditional sushi, or raw fish, is often served by itself sans rice.

Skip It: Tempura, regular soy sauce, cream cheese, caloric drinks, and lots of spicy mayo.

As much as I love “spicy” rolls, I try to stick to one roll like this at the most per meal as these are made with caloric spicy mayo. Instead, make your roll spicy by loading up on wasabi, which contains some natural anti-bacterial properties.

References

Natural Resources Defense Council Guide to Mercury in Sushi
FDA Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish & Shellfish
US EPA What You Need to Know about Mercury in Fish and Shellfish

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Aguacate Relleno de Salmón August 17, 2011

Aguacate Relleno de Salmón
Salmon & Avocado Half with Salsa & Greek Yogurt

Inspired by one of my favorite summer dishes, Aguacate Relleno de Atún, I decided to give the same basic recipe a try with salmon instead. I used freshly baked wild caught salmon, chilled in the fridge for a few hours after baking.

Ingredients

-salmon
-1/2 fresh, ripe avocado
-fresh salsa
– FAGE 0% Plain Greek yogurt

Methods

Prepare salmon as desired. Scoop out 1/2 of a ripe avocado. Top with salsa and fat-free plain Greek yogurt. (The Greek yogurt is a healthy alternative to the mayo traditionally used in the tuna dish.)

Nutrition Info
Approximate values taken from nutritiondata.com. These are estimated values and may vary.

Info for 1/2 avocado, 2 oz salmon, 2 tbsp salsa, 1 tbsp fat-free plain Greek yogurt.

Calories: 310, Fat: ~20g (only 2.5g  saturated), Sodium: 50mg, Sugar: 3g, Fiber: 7g, Vit C: 20%, Calcium: 6%.

 

Walking the Walk: Meals to Live™ Shows Good Taste in Corporate Culture August 10, 2011

You would think I would be tired of eating our meals after so many lunches at the office but I have enjoyed them so much that I have been happy to "take my work home." These have been great for days when I am too rushed to cook.

On my first day at Meals to Live™ I asked my co-worker Vicky if she had tried any of the meals. “Oh definitely, I’ve tried all of them. We eat them here for lunch!” She wasn’t kidding. Vicky led me over to a large freezer full of Meals to Live™ frozen entrées. “You’re welcome to try them yourself. Are you here for lunch today?”

A company whose corporate office staff happily eats the products they sell–the idea seemed almost too perfect to be true. This was the first of many good impressions that Meals to Live™ has made on me this summer.

If you are a picky eater like me, you’ll never buy a product without a scan of the nutrition label. This was the main selling point that Cole Egger, Meals to Live™ Founder and CEO, made to me when he introduced me to the company’s concept and brand in March: labeling transparency. The nutrition facts are clear, simple, and require no serving size multiplication; What you see is what you get–and what you get is nutritionally excellent.

All of the products must meet the nutritional standards outlined by a registered dietitian. Registered Dietitian & Nutrition Expert Jennifer Neily, MS, RD, CSSD, LD also creates educational content for consumers including the Meals to Live™ free live webinar series and Nutrition Quick Tips videos. Since Meals to Live™ products are created especially to meet the nutritional needs of consumers with diabetes, the nutritional standards are based on the most up-to-date research and guidelines to work well for these needs. As a result, the meals tend to be high in protein and fiber, and low in fat and carbohydrates. Several of the meals are also gluten-free and are marked as such on the packaging.

Lunch today at the office: Meals to Live Spinach Omelet

Working as the Social Media Director, I research relevant nutrition articles to share with our online fans and followers. What I’ve found is that the dietary habits recommended for both individuals living with diabetes and for Type 2 diabetes prevention is really advice that all of us could stand to take. The diabetes-friendly diet is really simply an “eat better” diet. Reduce fried foods, saturated & trans fats, refined carbohydrates & excessive sugar and salt. Increase lean proteins, whole grains, heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats (such as found in nuts and fish), and eat a plentiful variety of fruits & veggies.  Meals to Live™ includes lean proteins, whole grains, & vegetables in portion controlled servings high in nutrients and ready in minutes. I’ve been impressed with their ability to stick to the professed mission with our products.

What sets these apart from other frozen meals? With no preservatives, no trans-fats, and a target audience with specific dietary needs in mind, Meals to Live™ also gets it right in my book with the reduced amount of sodium used compared to similar products. Frozen meals are often spiked with salt so I found it refreshing to find a brand with much healthier levels.

As I head back soon to Boston to finish my Master’s in Public Health, I will miss working at the Meals to Live™ office in Dallas. I view Meals to Live™ as a shining example of a company fostering a corporate environment consistent with its mission statement. Cole has really succeeded in creating a culture that makes productivity pleasant. Some of the first things I noticed were that my co-workers all had healthy-looking green plants by their desks, music was not only tolerated but encouraged, and Cole was diligent about thanking us for our work and letting us know that our efforts do not go unappreciated. I was even pleased to walk in one morning and see that the leftovers from an early morning meeting were whole-wheat mini bagels, a large platter of  fresh fruit, & low-fat cream cheese. Doughnuts & pastries would not have seemed fitting for a company created around the value of healthy eating.

I cannot tell you that I am unbiased in my opinions of this brand; I am. But you should also know that no one has asked me to write this post and these are, in fact, my real opinions. To Cole, Mike (both Mikes), Vicky, Christy, Jordynn, Betty, Jennifer, & Dev it has been a true pleasure getting to know you and work with you this summer! Keep up the good work. To the members of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC), thank you for letting me become part of your network of knowledge and support.

I could go on for hours writing about the fun I’ve had with Jennifer recording videos, the interesting things that I’ve learned, and the great people I’ve gotten to know but I will leave you with an answer to one final question: What’s my favorite Meals to Live™ meal? It’s a toss up between the White Chicken Burrito & the White Chicken Chile Relleno– I love them both.

Curious? See for yourself what we’ve been up to:
Web: www.mealstolive.com
Facebook: facebook.com/MealstoLive
Twitter: @MealstoLive

 

Freshly Chilled Mango Frozen Yogurt August 5, 2011

Freshly Chilled Mango Frozen Yogurt made with Organic Lowfat Yogurt

Freshly Chilled Mango Frozen Yogurt
Topped with a spoonful of whipped cream & cinnamon

I recently found an absolutely delicious frozen yogurt that did a great job emphasizing its nutritional high points on the packaging. Only after eating far more than I should have did I take a look at the ingredients and find to my disappointment that it was full of high fructose corn syrup and other food-like substances that I would rather not be eating. From this came the motivation and inspiration to finally make my own!  I still hope to one day soon take it a step further to learn to make my own yogurt. If you have tips please share!

Ingredients

16oz Organic Lowfat Plain Yogurt (other flavors would work too)
1-2 14oz Packages of GOYA Mango Pulp (More = more intense flavor)
Splash of OJ
1 Banana
3 Very Ripe Plums
3 tbsp Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Honey

(Toppings: Whipped Cream & Cinnamon)

Methods

Pre-freeze ice cream maker overnight (following instructions for your model). Combine ingredients in large bowl and blend using a hand blender. If you don’t have one just blend everything in a large blender. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and allow freezing process to take place.

Serve fresh & cold. Delicious when topped with a dash of whipped cream and cinnamon as shown.

Nutrition Perks

Low-fat, good source of healthy pro-biotic cultures, good source of vitamin A, excellent source of calcium.