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Food for Thought: Spring Clean Your Diet

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Now that the long, cold, endless winter is over it's time to give up those comfort foods and trade them in for a spring cleaning of your diet!

Spring clean your diet

The good news is it is possible to rid your body of harmful toxins that you may have indulged in during the winter months, just by eating better and right this spring.

These foods will help hydrate, refresh and detoxify your way into a healthier season and give you the energy you need to gear up for summer, too!

  • Berry green smoothie : Get started with a healthy smoothie blending together a cup of greens like spinach, kale and celery with a handful of fresh berries.  The greens contain chlorophyll that eliminates toxins that can contribute to liver damage and other illnesses.  The berries are packed with antioxidants and enzymes that fight free-radical damage, plus their sweetness combat the bitterness in the greens.
  • Curry powder : Popular in Indian foods, curry gets its yellow color from a compound called curcumin.  According to holistic medicine, curcumin is used to help aid with liver issues and digestive disorders.  And because curry powder is also an anti-inflammatory it also contributes to the production of glutathione, a liver-protecting antioxidant.  You can add curry powder as an accent to almost any food including eggs, chicken, and vegetables.
  • Cabbage : Made up of nearly 92 percent water, cabbage is a natural diuretic that will help your body get rid of excess fluids. It is also jam packed with glucosinolates, organic compounds that contain nitrogen and sulfur, that help to flush out unwanted toxins in the body.  Cabbage also is loaded with many essential vitamins like C, K, E and A, plus minerals, dietary fiber and folic acid.
  • Water : Always start your day with a big glass of water and stay hydrated all day long by carrying around with you a reusable water bottle.  Drinking water before a meal can help curb hunger and overeating.

Eating Healthy: Spotlight on Plums

Written by Lisa Jillanza
  • Plums, and their dried version known as prunes, are very high in phytonutrients, which function as an antioxidant and provide much benefit to the body.
  • Eating plums helps in the production and absorption of iron in the body, thereby leading to better blood circulation leading further to the growth of healthy tissues.
  • Consuming plums on a regular basis will help prevent macular degeneration and other eye infections.
  • Researchers have also found that plums contain anti-cancer agents that prevent the growth of cancerous cells and tumors.

Health benefits of eating plums

Recipe: Chicken Breasts with Plum Salsa and Basmati Rice

1 ½ cups of water

1 cup uncooked basmati rice, rinsed and drained

¾ pound plums, pitted and chopped

½ medium red onion, minced

3 habanero peppers, seeded and minced

3 tablespoons fresh minced cilantro

1 teaspoon sugar

¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Place water in medium saucepan and stir in rice. Bring to boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, cool and fluff with fork.  In a bowl, mix the plums, peppers, onions, cilantro and sugar. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Season chicken with rosemary, salt and pepper.  Heat vegetable oil in skillet over medium-heat. Place chicken in oil and brown 1 minute per side.  Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 5 additional minutes per side.  Serve over rice with plum salsa.

Recipe: Fresh Summer Fruit Salad

½ cup water

2/3 cup sugar

3 cups thinly sliced rhubarb

15 seedless grapes, halved

½ orange, sectioned

10 fresh strawberries, hulled and halved

1 apple, cored and diced

1 peach, sliced

1 plum, pitted and sliced

15 pitted Bing cherries

¼ cup fresh blueberries

Bring water and sugar to boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the rhubarb, turn heat to low, cover and simmer until rhubarb is soft, 10 to 15 minutes.  Mash and chill in the refrigerator about one hour.   To serve, mix the grapes, orange, strawberries, apple, peach, plum, cherries, and blueberries with 2/3 cup of the rhubarb sauce.  Stir gently, but thoroughly to coat.  Refrigerate for at least two hours for all of the flavors to blend well.

Healthy Picnic Food 101

Written by Lisa Jillanza

It's getting warmer and it's almost time for picnics, barbecues, and outdoor parties! But just because you aren't choosing all of your meals, that doesn't mean that you have to pack on the pounds this summer.  Keep these tips in mind at your next picnic:

Healthy Picnic Food

  • Choose lean ground meat when making burgers. You should also try low-fat hot dogs, sausages and bratwurst and other grilled favorites.
  • Seafood and chicken are great grilled foods and are both still healthy picnic options.
  • Don't forget your greens and mix in a salad to your picnic or party menu.
  • Remember your veggies as they are also great on the grill and in side dishes, especially summer time veggies like squash and zucchini.

Instead of chocolate desserts, think fruity desserts instead, and take advantage of a season when fruits are plenty.

Food for Thought: Choosing the Right Spring Foods

Written by Lisa Jillanza

healtySpring is here again and it's time to take advantage of all those great springtime fruits and vegetables. Here's how to choose the best ones:

Right Spring Foods Right Spring Foods

  • Apricots : slightly soft, not bruised
  • Artichoke : compact head, bright green color
  • Asparagus : closed and compact tips, bright green stalks
  • Avocado : should be a little “give” when squeezed
  • Carrots : crisp, healthy tops
  • Collard Greens : dark green, vibrant color
  • Mango : more orange/red than green
  • New Potatoes : last only a few days
  • Pineapple : sniff the bottom for sweet aroma, check for firmness
  • Rhubarb : check for bright, crisp stalks
  • Spinach : avoid dried out or yellow stems
  • Strawberries : pick fragrant, slightly soft ones
  • Sugar Snap/Snow Peas : bright green, should feel like they have a snap (not limp)

And while you are grabbing those great spring fruits and vegetables, it's also time to get rid of some of those bad foods, too!

While they may be quick and easy, oftentimes processed foods are causing you more harm than good.  If you are looking to get healthy and lose some weight in the process, then you must get rid of these processed foods.

  • Flavored yogurt
  • Fat free potato chips
  • Diet soda
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Packaged egg whites
  • Bottled barbeque sauces
  • Bottled salad dressings
  • Sugar free candy bars
  • Multi-grain tortilla chips

Eating Healthy: Spotlight on Spinach

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Leafy, green vegetables, like spinach, provide more nutrients than any other food.

Researchers have found at least 13 different flavonoid compounds in spinach that have been known to act as antioxidants and as anti-cancer agents, combating specific cancers like ovarian and prostate cancer.

The vitamin K in spinach provides 200% of the daily value in fresh spinach and nearly 1000% of the daily value in boiled spinach.

Health benefits of Spinach

Recipe: Spinach Lasagna

2 egg whites

26 oz of prepared spaghetti sauce

24 oz of ricotta cheese

10 oz of Lasagna noodles, cooked

10 oz of frozen spinach, thawed and chopped, then squeezed dry

2 cups of mozzarella cheese, grated, reserve ½ cup

¾ cup of Parmesan cheese, grated and divided, reserve 2 tablespoons

½ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of black pepper

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare lasagna noodles as directed on the package. Combine parmesan cheese, ricotta cheeses with the egg whites, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Pour ¼ cup of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the baking dish and spread it out using a spatula. Cover the sauce with a single layer of lasagna noodles. Spread about half the cheese mixture over the noodles, and then cover with about half of the spinach and shredded mozzarella cheese. Finish this layer with half of the remaining spaghetti sauce. Add a second layer of noodles, topping with the remaining cheese mixture, spinach, and mozzarella cheese. Top with the final layer of noodles and remaining spaghetti sauce. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set for 10-12 minutes.

Recipe: Wilted Spinach Salad

10 to 12 ounces spinach, washed and torn into pieces

¼ cup minced red onion

5 to 6 radishes, thinly sliced

2 hard-cooked eggs, 1 chopped and 1 sliced

2 to 4 slices bacon

1 to 1 ½ tablespoons bacon drippings

1 ½ tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon water

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Place prepared spinach in a large bowl. Add onions and radishes. Refrigerate, tightly covered. Fry or microwave bacon until crisp; remove to paper towel and set aside. In a small jar or measuring cup combine drippings with sugar, vinegar, water, salt and pepper. Refrigerate all ingredients until just before serving. When ready to serve, microwave the dressing on high for 30-45 seconds. Toss the chopped egg with the greens then pour the hot dressing over greens mixture; toss again lightly. Top with sliced egg and crumbled bacon.