Posts Categorized: Health

Your Weekend Superfood Prep Plan

What if time is the barrier between you and your superfoods? Maybe it isn’t that you don’t want them or don’t like them but that you don’t have the time to work them into your routine. Your schedule is stretched to the max and it just won’t allow you to eat well, though you know that you should and believe in the benefits of a better diet.

What if I told you that there is a way to have it all at your fingertips when you need it? And that “way” would take you less than an hour on a weekend? If you knew that it would help improve your health, kick start weight loss and shrink your waistline, decrease stress levels and ease your schedule…would you do it?  Read on to discover how.

Here is the superfoods list of the top 10 performers in the category of anti-aging, anti-cancer foods:

(chicken bones)

Onions

Sweet Potatoes

Beets

Fennel

Red Pepper

Broccoli

Leeks

Watermelon

Kiwi

Blueberries

It is simple to have them at the ready as the foundation for every meal you will have this week. You are about to embark on a one hour journey of readiness and healthy meal plans using only your slow cooker and your oven. Store everything in the fridge and watch them all come together into multiple meals with minute effort.

Slow cooker:

(or stovetop but you have to watch it simmer for 3-4 hours)

  1. Place chicken bones and one onion halved (skin and all) into a slow cooker, cover with water, set on high. Walk away. 8 hours later, divide into 2-3 cup portions and place into fridge or freezer.

Oven:

Turn oven on to 400 F and pull out two large cookie sheets:

  1. Rinse sweet potatoes and beets under cold water, poke with a fork and place them whole into the oven on the bottom shelf for 45-60 minutes. (rinse and reserve greens)
  2. Chop two onions, spread onto cookie sheet and drizzle with 1 tbsp grapeseed oil. Place into oven on top rack for 30 minutes, stir once. Store empty into containers. (do not wash cookie sheet, reuse for bread croutons)
  3. Cut fennel in half, remove core and discard fronds. Slice bulb into strips and lay onto second cookie sheet.
  4. Chop or rip 3-4 slices of day old whole grain bread into crouton sized chunks, sprinkle with dried herbs and 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.  Empty onto onion cookie sheet and place back into the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool at room temperature before storing. Use for salads or soups.

Fridge:

Wash and chop and store in the fridge:

  1. Red peppers, broccoli and leeks. Store each in separate baggies to use as veggies and dip or within meals as below.
  2. Carve watermelon into cubes to use as a fruit snack or in smoothies.
  3. Peel and slice kiwi as above.
  4. Rinse and store blueberries likewise.

Now. What to do with all this prepped super food?

Chicken broth:

  • Sauce: simmer to evaporate into a jus for grilled fish or chicken. Stir in 1 clove of garlic and 1 tsp fresh herb as desired
  • Soup: 4 cups broth + 1 cooked sweet potato +1/4 cup cooked onion +1 tsp curry powder or 4 cups broth + 2 cups chopped broccoli + ¼ cup cooked onion + ½ cup cream
  • Pasta Sauce= ½ cup broth + chopped cooked fennel + can white beans + ¼ cup parmesan cheese

Side dishes:

  • Salad=Cooked fennel + sliced leeks + red pepper + balsamic vinaigrette
  • Mashed sweet potatoes = 2 peeled sweet potatoes + 1 tsp butter + salt and pepper
  • Pan fried beets with beet greens = peel and chop 3 beets, warm in a skillet with 2 tsp butter + chopped leeks + chopped beet greens.
  • Vegetarian= Leeks + oil + canned lentils pan fried

Healthy snacks:

  • Broccoli and Red Peppers with hummus
  • Fruit salad of kiwi, watermelon and blueberries + vanilla yogurt + cinnamon
  • Smoothie blend above ingredients
  • Freeze fruit on a cookie sheet to preserve for future smoothies

 

You want to be ready for anything that the week throws at you! Having all of these items prepped and in the fridge makes those decisions that much easier.  Do you do something similar? What tips can you share to get healthy foods into your diet easily and quickly?

 

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 Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Are you hoping to get through the holiday season without gaining that pound or two? Though it may not sound like much consider this: the entire obesity crisis could be avoided if we lost one pound per year instead of gaining it. That one pound gained per year eventually leads us to the 10 pounds we put on per decade. That weight is often acquired during the holidays. The trick is to either manage it wisely and/or drop it immediately in January. This way you can still, quite literally, have your cake and eat it to.

On the management end, here are three easy weight loss tips to prevent the problem:

  • Increase physical activity during the holiday week(s) by 15 minutes each day. A skipping rope does wonders. Really! Clear a space and skip for 5 minutes in the am. You will rev up your metabolism which will not only help you burn excess calories-it will also give you more energy. To skip properly, flick your wrists and keep your hands close to your hips. Hop on your toes and don’t let your heels touch the ground.
  • Drink more water to fill you up. Herbal tea is a great way to go, adding flavour, nutrients and warmth. Omit all liquid calories: no lattes with caramel or pop. That could cut 300-500 calories per day depending upon your current habit. Spend those on your extra holiday treats and you will be further ahead.
  • Eat more fiber to make you feel full and able to resist temptation. Try adding chia to breakfast, it can go in yogurt, on eggs or spread into peanut butter without even being noticed.

Your cheat sheet for eating at holiday sit down dinners:

  • Fill up on a plate of green vegetables, broth based soup or salad before you go to any party. Dialing down impulses is the best way to start.
  • Avoid the chips, nuts, sweets that are placed around for your fattening pleasure.  Position your body away from the tempting table.
  • Stand next to the veggies and dip that you brought yourself.
  • For full meals, fill your plate with protein and “un-fatted” vegetables first.
  • Truly enjoy only a tablespoon of the dangerous dudes:
    • Mashed squash
    • Mashed potatoes
    • Buttered carrots
    • Stuffing
    • Any “casserole” type dish
    • Gravy
    • Cheese sauce
    • Salad dressing

 

  • Wait an hour to be sure you actually want dessert then serve yourself a small piece rather than accepting what you are handed by the hostess.

The holidays “done right” will allow you to taste your way through some delicious fun without doing yourself in. The holidays “done wrong” will cause you to gain an extra couple of pounds to lose on top of the few you picked up and forgot about last year.

Holiday Leftovers

When all is said and done, after those big holiday meals you are left with a fridge full of bits and pieces that will either bore you to death or set you up for quick second suppers.  Here are a few ideas of what to do with the leftovers.

Leftover Sweet Potato or Mashed Potatoes

There are many ways to use these starches again. Here are three including one of my relatively healthy recipes for a sweet potato topping that can be used for biscuits or in sweet potato pie.

  1. Thin mashed potatoes with broth and use as a base for soup.  Mix any cooked vegetables in and blend with an immersion blender or in a regular blender once cooled.
  2. Add sweet potatoes to pancake mix and stir in cinnamon. Pan fry and top with cooked apples or applesauce.
  3. Use in biscuits or as a pot pie topping (see recipe below)

Sweet Potato Biscuit Topping

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon honey

2 cup baked, mashed sweet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen

Combine flours, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl and set aside. In a separate large bowl, mix together milk, honey and mashed sweet potato until evenly combined.

Grate frozen butter through the large holes of a box grater and toss with dry ingredients until butter is coated. Add milk mixture and mix lightly until dough comes together.

Turn out mixture onto a floured surface and knead just until it comes together. (The dough will not be smooth.)

Divide into two circles and use a floured rolling pin to roll dough to a thickness of about 3/4 inch. Place dough on top of meat pie mixture and freeze immediately. Once solid, wrap in plastic and a layer of foil.  Stores well in freezer for up to 2 months.

To bake: Place directly from freezer into a 375F oven uncovered for about 1.5- 2 hours depending upon the depth of the pie plate.

Cooked Chicken Recipe Ideas or Turkey Leftovers Tips

Of course you can make sandwiches or turkey soup but here are a couple more ideas for your pantry.

  1. Mash meat in a mini-chopper along with feta cheese, garlic and oregano. Spread on bread and bake to warm through or serve cold.
  2. Gather shredded lettuce, peppers, fresh herbs and pull meat into small pieces. Add boiled water to a large bowl and dip rice paper wraps in to soften. Roll veggies and meat into spring rolls and serve with peanut dipping sauce.

Leftover Greens

Most people throw away cooked broccoli or green beans thinking they will be too mushy to reuse. Here are some tips so those veggies won’t go to waste!

  1. Toss in a small amount of extra olive oil and spread onto a cookie sheet. Roast until crispy and top with sea salt.
  2. Use to top pizza.
  3. Mash or chop into Greek Yogurt with hot mustard and dry dill to serve as a dip.

Never ever throw away leftovers, they really are mother’s little helpers!

 

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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