Posts By: Theresa Albert

Easy Ways to get Greens into Your Day

It is spring! And nothing says spring like the budding of green from the earth. I am not talking about the crocuses and daffodils, I am talking about the herbs and baby greens.

One of the best ways to get kids to eat veggies is to let them plant seeds and grow tasty herbs like mint on the window sill. In colder climates, these can be started in April in separate small pots and transferred to a larger group pot when the frost warnings have passed. A pizza pot is a great way to start!

Plant:
• Parsley
• Oregano
• Chives
• Basil
• Baby spinach

 

Cut a handful of fresh herbs to sprinkle on top of a cooked (or delivered) pizza. Before you know it, you will be growing enough to add to a salad each day. Graduating to baby kale, Swiss chard and mustard greens is only a step away and can be done mid season as they are hearty through fall. It doesn’t have to be a big ordeal or an expensive process, the idea is to bring on the green.

Other spring vegetables that should be honored this season are green beans, asparagus and leeks. The easiest cooking method is to roast them all together. Rinse leeks well under cold running water and cut into rings, and then place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Rinse the tips of asparagus and lop off the woody ends and place on the same sheet. Rinse green beans and line up one end to even out the tips for trimming. Line up the other end and do the same to maximize the amount of bean and minimize the waste. Drizzle with a mere tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and bake in a hot oven at 400F for 12 to 20 minutes depending upon the thickness and size of the veg. Stir once or twice so that the veg on the end doesn’t burn.

You can do a huge batch of these at a time and serve them in salads or as a cold side dish any time. Feel free to store in the fridge in glass jars in vinegar with a little sea salt like pickles. They go great on sandwiches or as a perk next to baked fish.

Working more vegetables into your day gives your body the spring clean that the house and garden are getting. Your skin and vitality will thank you.

About the Author

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

Fiber: Benefits, Sources & 3 Ways to Get More Fiber in Your Diet.

Easter is basically a high sugar, high fat, low fiber celebration. And while self-restraint and holding back may sound like the only option, it isn’t necessarily the best one. There’s a better way to get through such hefty holidays.

Fiber: A few fun facts.
• The benefits of a high-fiber diet are not only in the “prevention” category but also in the “solution” category. Eating lots of fiber can help prevent serious and debilitating diseases like diverticulitis, high cholesterol, many types of cancers (most notably colon), obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

• Fiber’s job is to move foods through the digestive tract, meanwhile increasing the sense of fullness and scouring out cholesterol and other waste, reducing blood sugar swings and overall inflammation. Recent studies have drawn a direct link between belly fat and fiber intake: when fiber goes down, belly fat goes up and vice versa.

• There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. You need both because they do different things.

• Soluble fiber dissolves, so it can be broken down by our digestive enzymes. It’s in things like fruit, oats, beans, sweet potatoes, chia and psyllium. Soluble fiber helps fight heart disease because its jelly-like consistency allows it to capture cholesterol on its way through our blood system.

• Insoluble fiber cannot be broken down in our bodies, so it is the one that bulks up the bowel and moves waste through. It is found in whole grains (like bran), nuts and seeds, wheat, corn and the skins of some vegetables (like tomatoes) and the strings in celery.

3 ways to make friends with fiber:
1. Find a high-fiber cereal that tastes good and have it as a snack throughout the day. A handful can go a long way toward filling your gut, which turns off the “feed me!” signal coming from the belly.
2. Bring a little chia into your day. These seeds contain both kinds of fiber and one tablespoon delivers four grams, which is a whopping amount. If you find bran fiber harsh or explosive, chia is your solution.
3. If you haven’t already switched to whole grains, what are you waiting for? There are lots of whole-grain products on the shelves. Go half and half for a while to smooth the transition: a sandwich with one white slice and one dark slice of bread looks beautiful and tastes great! A handful of whole-grain pasta can go into the pot first and be cooked for a minute or two extra and then you can add the white stuff. (Some of the new white pastas on the market are made with a fiber called inulin, which may or may not have the benefits of the whole-food sources; the jury is still out.)

So go ahead and celebrate! Chomp off a few chocolate bunny ears, dip a little matzo in honey but be sure to add fiber before, during and after you spend that family time.

About the Author

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

How to properly clean your kitchen

How long should things last in the fridge? In the cupboard? What about cutting boards and wooden spoons? Do you throw them away? How do you know if they are still safe or if they are bacteria laden?

Here are the things you should do weekly, monthly and yearly to keep your kitchen safe and tidy.

Weekly:
• Clean out the fridge and toss any leftovers that have been there more than 5 days.
• Rotate your vegetable bin and roast whatever is left in there.
• Chop all fruits and either freeze for smoothies, cook for compote or make into a fruit salad. They will be more likely to be consumed and enjoyed.

Monthly:
• Label all containers in the freezer with dates & use up anything that has been there more than 3 months
• Toss anything more than 6 months old or anything that has freezer damage.

Yearly:
• Go through the spice drawer and throw away any that have been there for a year (or more, yikes!)
• And since it is Mabel’s birthday month, March is your “deal with scary dishes” month

Plastic containers
Pull out all your plastics and have the gang match up lids. If they don’t have a cover, toss them. Any with cracks or discolouring should go too.

If you are a yogurt tub re-user, know that the plastics used are not intended to handle the heat of the dishwasher or repeated washings as they can leach toxic substances. Buy decent dishes with lids and label them so they don’t go missing and you will be further ahead.

Water bottles and sippy cups need to be paired and managed just like the other plastics. Then, scrub a sink clean and fill w soapy hot water and a capful of bleach. Soak bottles for 10 min to kill bacteria they may have formed in cracks and let air dry.

Cutting boards
Wooden cutting boards can harbour bacteria and mold. They shouldn’t go in the dishwasher as that can cause splintering and drying. Instead, wipe down with vinegar after each use, rub with cooking oil and get a new one if you start to see black spots of rot or mold.

Plastic cutting boards can go in the dishwasher and, even though, they can look rough and discolored, they should be soaked in a sink of hot water with a cap of bleach on occasion.

I am not a big fan of anti-bacterial washes, soaps and sprays, they tend to do more toxic harm than good but a good old fashioned annual rotation of attention to a kitchen is in order.

 

About the Author

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

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