Heart Healthy Brownies

Chocolate can be delicious and addicting, but oh-so-deadly! Store bought brownies or brownie mixes can be high in sugar and bad for your blood sugar levels. This version of the traditional brownie recipe offers the same delicious taste but with less sugar and less butter. It may not be as rich as other brownies but you will feel less guilty consuming these chocolatey treats!

hershey-brownie

Makes: 8×8 pan

Ingredients:
3 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Extra: 2 tbsp dark coffee for a delicious bitter aroma

1) Heat oven to 350°F. Grease pan with oil or nonstick cooking spray.
2) Melt chocolate and butter together in a bowl using the microwave (30 second bursts) or over a pot of boiling water.
3) Whisk in the sugar then the eggs. Add vanilla extract and salt (and coffee if desired).
4) Spread into pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes. Brownies are done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
5) Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy with a cup of milk to get your daily dose of calcium and vitamin D!

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Flavorful Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori-chicken

Most of us love salt – it adds a wealth of flavor to any dish but unfortunately, we often consume more than we should. Some processed foods out there deliver over 50% of your recommended daily salt intake in one sitting! While you shouldn’t exceed 2,300 mg of salt a day that doesn’t mean that you have to live eating bland dishes. Indian cuisine integrate a wealth of flavorful spices such as in our version of Chicken Tandoori. A word of caution though, the recipe below contains very little salt and you can choose to completely remove the salt from the recipe. However, if you were to order the dish in a restaurant it probably has a lot more salt. As always, the best way to know what is in your meal is to cook it yourself.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
Chicken – cubed or quartered
¾ cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon of garam marsala
1 teaspoon ginger pulp
1 teaspoon garlic pulp
1.5 teaspoons chilli powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons corn oil
Skewers (if using cubed chicken)
Optional: a few drops of red food coloring for that distinctive color

Directions:
1) Cube or quarter chicken and make slits into each piece
2) Mix yogurt, ginger, garlic, spices, lemon juice, oil, and food coloring well
3) Cover chicken and marinate – overnight is best but you can decide to cook right away
4) Preheat oven to 475°F
5) If chicken is cubed, skewer cubes
6) Bake 20 – 30 minutes or until cooked through. Skewers will take less time.
7) Remove from oven and garnish as desired

A few notes on preparation:
This can seem like a daunting recipe. If this is your first Indian dish, it may be a task to buy all the spices alone. Add to this, many purists will say to fresh grind all the spices too! I tried this the first few times I cooked but it takes much longer than 20 minutes to prepare, especially if you go the mortar and pestle route. Try buying spices that are already ground or, if you know this will become a regular on your dinner table, I would recommend mass grinding spices and making a jar of pre-mixed tandoori spices. You can also find commercial ginger pulp, garlic pulp, and ginger/garlic pulp mixes to save you some extra time.

Calculate Your BMI

Body Mass Index (BMI) is measure for determining someone is under or overweight. BMI integrates weight with height because it makes sense that 2 people that weigh the same but have a foot difference in height cannot be considered equivalent.

BMI is calculated in S.I. units (standard international units), which means if you’re in the U.S. you’ll have to convert your weight from pounds to kilograms and your height from inches to meters. See the tips and examples below.

1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds
1 inch = 2.54 centimeters = 0.0254 meters
12 inches = 1 foot

150 lbs x (1 kg/2.2 lbs) = 68.2 kg
5’6” = (5×12”) + 6” = 66”
66” x (0.0254 m/1”) = 1.7 m

Now the calculation for BMI is:

BMI = Weight / (Height x Height)

Remember these are in SI units. So, for the 150 lb and 5’6” individual we would calculate:

BMI = 68.2 kg / (1.7m x 1.7m)
BMI = 23.6

Now, what is a normal BMI? The U.S. classifies BMI as follows:

BMI Classification
< 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 25.0 Normal
25.1 – 30.0 Overweight
> 30.0 Obese

Healthy Alternatives

We all have tricks to swap certain ingredients in a recipe if we don’t feel like running to the store to grab one item. There are also healthy ingredient swaps that you can try in recipes that range from replacing sugars, reducing salts, or integrating whole grains.

healthy-food-alternatives

Whole grains are preferable to more processed grains like white rice. This is because it takes the body a little more effort to break down a whole grain, so the rise and fall of your blood glucose (sugar) levels is gentler rather than the spike and crash seen with sugary, processed foods. Controlling blood glucose is essential to managing diabetes or decreasing your risk of developing type II diabetes. Not everyone enjoys whole grains though. For some it is a taste issue and for others it is a texture issue. Take it slow! When making rice, mix half a cup of white rice with half a cup of a whole grain. If it’s bread, you can find a loaf that has a mix of whole wheat and white flour. If you’re a pasta lover, try using half whole wheat noodles and half the regular! Half-half tastes like the processed grains you’re used to while introducing you to a healthy alternative. If all goes well you can slowly change the ratio until you’ve found a comfortable medium or fully converted to whole grain!

Honey Balsamic Salmon

salmon

Salmon makes for a tasty meal but it is also a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin D, and it’s pretty fast to make.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
Salmon Fillets
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
Mustard powder
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Optional: Lemon
Optional: Cilantro and other garnish

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 450°F
2) Mix balsamic vinegar and honey in a bowl
3) Score salmon fillets a few times with a knife
4) Season salmon fillets with mustard powder, salt, and pepper
5) Baste salmon fillets with balsamic vinegar and honey mixture
6) Bake salmon for 15 minutes or until cooked through
7) Garnish with cilantro and serve with some sliced lemons for flavor

High Cholesterol: The BOOST and REDUCE game

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, over 77 million Americans have high “bad cholesterol.” Yes, that means there is “good cholesterol” too. The goal is to eat less “bad cholesterol,” also known as low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, and eat more “good cholesterol,” high density lipoprotein, or HDL.

Here are some guidelines on choosing your foods.

good-and-bad-cholesterol

Good Foods (REDUCES bad cholesterol and BOOST good cholesterol)
Oatmeal, oat bran, high fiber foods:
REDUCES your bad cholesterol (also known as low-density lipoprotein, or LDL)
*Eating 1.5 cups of cooked oatmeal a day gives 6 grams of fiber!*

Fish, omega-3 fatty acids:
REDUCES blood pressure and prevent blood clots.
INCREASES your good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL)

American Heart Association recommendation:
2 servings of fish per week.

List of fish with LOTS of HDL:
· Mackerel
· Lake Trout
· Herring
· Sardines
· Albacore Tuna
· Salmon
· Halibut

*Baking or grilling will reduce your need to add in other unhealthy fats into the cooking process.*

Nuts
INCREASES your HDL.
Examples of nuts: walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans, and hazelnuts.
*A handful of nuts makes a great healthy snack*
*You can eat them raw or lightly roasted!*

Olive Oil
INCREASES your HDL.
Simply replacing corn oil and butter with olive oil will make a positive impact on your health.

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/slideshow.asp?show=50
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/cholesterol/art-20045192
http://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/facts.htm

Eating for Diabetics

25.8 million (8.3%) Americans have diabetes and of these Americans, 7 million do not know that they have the disease. 1.9 million people ages 20 or older were diagnosed with diabetes. http://ndep.nih.gov/diabetes-facts/

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that causes blood sugar levels to become higher than normal. High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) is caused by too little insulin or inability to use insulin correctly in the body. Insulin is responsible for helping your body use glucose for energy. Some other causes of high blood sugar include stress, eating too much, or not having a sufficient amount of physical activity. Here are some signs of elevated blood sugar in the body:

• Frequent Urination
• Increased thirst
• Increased hunger
• Fatigue

d

Eating healthy is very important in preventing diabetes or when you have diabetes. This is a sample menu plan. (Your weight should be taken into account for each meal idea. This meal plan is for someone who needs 1,600 calories a day)

Breakfast: Whole-wheat pancakes, waffles or toast, one piece of fruit or 3/4 cup of berries, 6 ounces of nonfat vanilla yogurt.
Lunch: Grilled Cheese (no butter), a hand full of almonds and glass of milk
Dinner: Pan Seared Chicken with Tomato-Olive Relish with a side salad with 1 1/2 cups spinach, 1/2 of a tomato, 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar.
Snacks: Cucumber snacks

• Healthy carbohydrates. Example: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans, peas and lentils) and low-fat dairy products.
• Fiber-rich foods. Foods high in fiber include vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), whole-wheat flour and wheat bran.
• Eat heart-healthy fish at least twice a week. Example, cod, tuna and halibut, salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines and bluefish. However, avoid fried fish and fish with high levels of mercury, such as tilefish, swordfish and king mackerel.
• ‘Good’ fats. Such as avocados, almonds, pecans, walnuts, olives, and canola, olive and peanut oils. Eat them sparingly, however, as all fats are high in calories.

Moderation is the key!! Try the Hand Jive methods to track your portions.

Increasing Your Physical Activity can lower blood sugar.

Here are some tips on how to start your physical activity.
1. Strength training (ex. weight lifting) at least twice a week.
2. Ease into it. If you’re not active now, start with 10 minutes of exercise at a time, and gradually work up to 30 minutes a day.
3. Make it a habit. Exercise, eat, and take your medicines at the same time each day to prevent hypoglycemia.
4. If possible, exercise with someone who knows you have diabetes and knows what to do if your blood sugar gets too low. Plus, it’s more fun to work out with someone else, it can help you stick with it. Also, wear a medical identification tag, or carry a card that states that you have diabetes, just in case.
5. Be good to your feet. Wear good shoes, and practice proper foot care.
6. Hydrate. Drink water before, during, and after exercise to prevent dehydration.
7. Stop if you have any unexpected pain. Mild muscle soreness is normal. Sudden pain is not.

There have been cases where people get hypoglycemia episode when they are exercising and these are some sign and some ways to help in this situation.

Signs of hypoglycemia:

• Shakiness
• Confusion
• Hunger/nausea/fatigue
• Unconsciousness
• Rapid heartbeat
• Sweating

What to do in a hypoglycemia episode?

• Always carry a source of simple carbohydrates (15 g) with you in case of hypoglycemia episode. Eat something even if you don’t have a blood glucose monitor to test your level but you feel the symptoms of a low blood sugar level. Make sure to stay hydrated during exercise and replenish your electrolytes afterward.
• Examples of 15-20g of Carbs:
o 3-4 Skittles
o Glucose tablets (3 x 5g tablets)
o ½ Cup of 100% Fruit Juice
o 1 cup (8 oz) Non-fat or 1% Milk
o 1 Tablespoon of Sugar or Honey
o 2 Tablespoons of Raisins