Here's the Dish

healthy ANDI licious

Warm Rosemary Olive Oil Bread May 23, 2012

Whole-Grain Rosemary Olive Oil Bread made with Organic Spelt Flour

Warm Rosemary Olive Oil Bread
with Organic Spelt Flour & Honey

Adapted from the recipe on the package of Arrowhead Mills Organic Spelt Flour.

Ingredients

-1 Package of Active Dry Yeast
-1 Cup Warm Water
-2 Tbsp. Dried Rosemary Leaves
-2 Tbsp. Honey
-2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
-1 tsp. salt
-3 1/2 cups Arrowhead Mills Spelt Flour

Method

Active Time: About 20 minutes
Total Time: About 1 hour and 45 minutes

While this recipe is easy to make, you will need to plan at least an hour and a half for it to rise and bake. No bread machine needed!

1) Combine warm water, yeast, honey, rosemary, and olive oil. Stir in salt and 1 1/2 cups Spelt Flour. Beat well for a few minutes until ingredients are well mixed.

2) Cover with a damp cloth (I used damp paper towels) and leave dough in a warm place for 30 minutes.

3) Add remaining flour, mix well, and knead by hand. Set aside again (I placed my dough at this point in a pie tie that I had coated with olive oil) in a warm place for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

4) Bake for about 30 minutes until brown. Serve warm. Delicious with a little olive oil, butter, or coconut spread to add to each slice.

Tip: If you are cooking for one, slice half the loaf and place the sliced half in your freezer so you can use some later in the week (or even a later month). When you are ready for a slice of your homemade bread, take the slice from your freezer, microwave for 30 seconds, then toast in a toaster, toaster oven, or lightly oiled pan on the stove.

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Savory Oatmeal April 30, 2012

Oats are really just another grain. Just as you wouldn't think twice about eating a savory sandwich with wheat bread, once you try savory oatmeal, you'll see that there are so many new breakfast possibilities!

Oats are really just another grain. Just as you wouldn't think twice about eating a savory sandwich with bread made from wheat (another grain) once you try savory oatmeal, you'll see that there are so many new breakfast possibilities!

Savory Oatmeal
with spinach & egg

Break free of your oatmeal rut! Sweet, fruity oatmeal dishes can be wonderful but there is world of other flavor possibilities that are just too good not to try. I got the idea to try this combination from an recipe in Women’s Health Magazine printed last fall by contributing editor and Nutrition Expert Keri Glassman, RD. (Love her!)

Here is my spin on the dish:

Ingredients

-1/2 cup plain oats
-1/4 cup water, milk, or unsweetened almond milk
-1/2 cup chopped frozen spinach (or other leafy green)
-2 spoonfuls of walnut or pecan pieces
-Dash of paprika and your favorite savory herbs & spices
-(Optional) A spoonful of Gorgonzola  or blue cheese or Daiya Dairy Free

Method

1) Place oatmeal, frozen spinach, and water (or milk, almondmilk) in a microwave-safe ceramic bowl. You don’t need a lot of liquid because the frozen spinach will also give off moisture when cooked. Stir ingredients together and microwave on high for 2 minutes.

2) Carefully remove bowl (hot!) and combine remaining ingredients.

3) Top it off with one egg: scrambled, sunny-side up, or your favorite style.  If you are also including the egg, start your egg cooking first so it will be done when the oatmeal is done. I often just take about 2 tsp. peanut oil to coat a saucepan and cook an egg on the stove-top.

 

Crisp Wheat Toast with Wood Smoked Sardines March 9, 2012

Crisp Wheat Toast & Wood Smoked Sardines
with fresh dill & brown spicy mustard

Simple. Economical. Sustainable. Delicious.

I have been trying to find a way to enjoy sardines ever since I discovered the enormous nutritional powerhouse properties that these small fish deliver. I’ve broiled them with garlic, tossed them in pasta, seasoned them with lime juice and salsa and pan fried them for fish tacos, and–with great hesitation–have attempted to eat them straight from the tin. All attempt have been edible, some even good, but none delicious…. until now.

The little fish are a rich source of calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids–three nutrients that most of us could use in greater quantities in our diets. Despite the popular perception that sardines have a high sodium content which renders them less healthful, it is only the varieties with added salt that contain high levels. You can pick up a tin of sardines in water with “no salt added” and sprinkle a light pinch of a course grain salt yourself to get the same flavor with very little sodium.

In Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives, author Annie Murphy Paul describes her preferred sardine recipe: on a slice of buttered toast. Paul also was trying to get more of these little fish in her diet due to their low risk of mercury contamination compared to many other popular fish varieties. Her simple style of serving them gave me the idea to try sardines in this style.I nixed the butter and used brown spicy mustard and fresh dill.

Ingredients
for one serving

-1 slice fresh bread (toasted)
– 1 tsp brown spicy mustard
-fresh dill (to taste)
-1/3 tin (about 1.5 oz) sardines (not the kind with bones removed)

Method

Toast fresh bread to desired crispness. Spread the brown mustard across your freshly toasted slice and top with fresh dill and sardine fillets (straight from the tin or pan seared or broiled with garlic if preferred). Enjoy!

I decided to try Wood Smoked Wild Caught Brisling Sardines  hand packed in extra virgin olive oil this time by Crown Prince Natural. I have to say these were excellent but if you are trying to reduce your sodium intake, opt for a “no salt added” variety instead.

 

Local Farm Feast in the Heart of the City October 2, 2011

A colorful plate!

After some absolutely wonderful restaurant adventures this weekend (Vegetarian Indian Cuisine, Moroccan Brunch, Sushi for two…), today Ben & I decided to cook our own little feast. I have been studying the role of Farmer’s Markets in urban environments in several of my classes lately so it was extremely fitting to bring this education to life with a trip to a couple for some local fare. In Massachusetts, farmer’s markets follow strict local policies- the food is either from the state or from a bordering state. I am not sure if an identical rule applies to those in New York but I would imagine that this is the case since NYC  has been extremely progressive in its Farmer’s Market efforts–being one of the first cities to make the markets easily accessible to both SNAP and WIC shoppers.

Ben is extremely fortunate to have a weekly farmer’s market that comes almost literally right to his doorstep. So this beautiful crisp October morning we walked out to the row of fresh produce, bread, meat and fish farm stands and happily gathered up a few things for lunch.

Today’s Picks
Butternut Squash
Shallots
Purple Potatoes
Honeycrisp Apples
New York Farm fresh turkey

Union Square Farmer's Market in NYC

We sauteed the butternut squash with some fresh sage, sauteed the purple potatoes with shallots, used a natural Santa Fe marinade and pan seared the fresh ground turkey into mini burgers, and served up our feast with an appetizer of freshly baked organic kale chips and broiled cinnamon oranges for dessert. Tonight, back in Boston, I am already itching to look up when the next farmer’s market will be near me! Luckily in Boston, a good farmer’s market is easy to find. Can’t wait to return to the NYC market next weekend and take the sweet approach with another butternut squash (I’m thinking baked with cinnamon sugar…) Find a farmer’s market in your city at localharvest.org.

 

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

 

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