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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.

Food for Thought: Easter Candy Calorie Calculator

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Easter may be just around the corner, but that Easter candy always sticks around for a few weeks and sometimes months.  While it's ok to satisfy your sweet tooth use this calorie calculator to monitor your intake!

Candy calorie counter

From marshmallow peeps to chocolate, find out the calories of the content of your Easter basket,

4 Peeps Marshmallow Bunnies: 130 calories

1 Peeps Hollow Milk Chocolate Egg: 420 calories

5 Mars Mini Chocolate Eggs: 179 calories

1 Cadbury Solid Milk Chocolate Easter Bunny: 890 calories

1 Cadbury Crème Egg: 150 calories

12 Cadbury Chocolate Eggs: 190 calories

1 Reese's Peanut Butter Egg: 180 calories

1 Reese's Reester Bunny: 798 calories

1 Brachs Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Egg: 43 calories

5 Brachs Malted Easter Eggs: 180 calories

35 Jelly Belly Assorted Jelly Beans: 140 calories

1 Cadbury Caramel Egg: 190 calories

5 Peeps Marshmallow Chicks: 136 calories

1 Large Solid Chocolate Bunny (7 oz.): 1050 calories

8 Robin Eggs: 180 calories

1 Milky Way Bunny: 160 calories

12 Cadbury Mini Eggs: 190 calories 

Spotlight on: Spinach

Written by Lisa Jillanza

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

Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A, folate and magnesium.

Cooked spinach is a great source of iron and is totally fat free.

Healthy Spinach Recipes

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 to 45 seconds, or until mixture boils. 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.

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 a 9x13 dish.Cook lasagna noodles as directed on the package, then rinse and drain. 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. Sprinkle the reserved Parmesan cheese over the top and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set for 10-12 minutes.