Soybean Hummus

February 4, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Posted in recipes | Leave a comment
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Have healthy snacks on hand for this weekend’s big game with this quick and easy hummus recipe from the Be Fit Program.  Serve with vegetables or whole wheat pita.

Ingredients:
1 cup shelled, frozen edamame (soybeans)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 garlic clove, minced
dash of Tabasco (or more, to taste)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions:
Place edamame in a small saucepan with water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes (or until beans are tender). Drain.

In a food processor or blender, combine edamame with olive oil, juice, salt, garlic, Tabasco, and parsley. Puree until smooth.

Yield: 9 servings ( Serving size ~ 2 tablespoons)

Nutrition Information Per Serving:
Calories: 65 • Protein: 2g • Carbohydrate: 2g
Fiber: 1g • Fat: 5g • Sat Fat: 1g • Sodium: 270mg

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Trans Fat: What is it and Why Should I Avoid it?

January 21, 2016 at 10:10 am | Posted in Nutrition, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Alison Bliven, Dietetic Intern

What is it?

Trans fat has been used since the 1950’s in order to add certain tastes and textures to packaged and prepared foods while also increasing their shelf life. These fats naturally occur in small amounts in some animal products and oils, but the product used in processed foods is man-made and differs slightly from the naturally found substance. Hydrogen ions are forced into oil in a process called ‘hydrogenation’ which turns the oil into a solid. This product is called partially hydrogenated oil (PHO for short) and is filled with trans fats. This PHO is what is used in place of butter or oil in a variety of processed foods in order to keep them fresher longer.

Why is it bad for me?

For half a decade trans fats were included on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Generally Regarded as Safe list. However, more recent studies have linked the consumption of trans fats to increased risk of coronary heart disease: by raising ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) and lowering ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL), trans fat contributes to the buildup of plaque in arteries which can lead to heart attack. Insulin resistance, a sign of Type 2 Diabetes, has also been shown to have strong connections with trans fat intake.

What foods contain trans fat?

Trans fats naturally occur in meat, dairy, and some oils. The amount of trans fats found in these sources make up an insignificant part of the American diet and are not considered a health concern. The majority of trans fats come from processed foods.  For example:  crackers, cookies, cakes, frozen pies, microwave popcorn, stick margarine, coffee creamer, biscuits, cinnamon rolls and ready to use frosting. Luckily, the number of foods containing trans fats is decreasing, and should soon be nonexistent.

What is being done to protect us?

As mentioned above, studies have overwhelmingly shown a direct connection between trans fats and certain negative health outcomes. This evidence has led to the FDA passing laws that will phase trans fats out of food manufacturing completely. The first step in this process is including the content of trans fats on the nutrition label. This allows the consumer (you) to know what the product contains, to an extent. Food companies are allowed to put ‘0 grams trans fat’ on their labels if the product contains less than 0.5 grams per serving. There are two problems with this: 1) foods with small amounts can add up to a significant intake when more than one serving is eaten and 2) the Institute of Medicine has concluded that there are no safe levels of artificial trans fats in the diet. Even though the FDA is attempting to preserve Americans’ health, there is only so much it can do during the lag time before trans fats are outlawed completely.

What can I do?

Read the label! Look for products that include the phrase ‘trans fat free’ – by law these products can contain no trans fats. Also, scan the list of ingredients for words such as ‘hydrogenated oils’, ‘partially hydrogenated oil’, ‘PHO’, and ‘vegetable shortening’. If the food contains any of these ingredients, there is sure to be some amount of trans fat in it. Other tips include choosing liquid oils or soft tub margarine over stick margarine, and avoiding or limiting commercially baked foods and packaged snacks. Filling up on foods naturally high in fiber (whole grains, beans, peas, fruits, vegetables) means there will be less room for foods containing trans fats and will help promote general health as well.

Remember, Trans Fat Free ≠ Healthy!

One very important takeaway from this article is that just because a food is trans fat free or has very low trans fat, it doesn’t automatically make the food well-balanced or healthy! Limiting trans fats is just one component of a healthful diet that includes lots of fruits and veggies, a focus on whole grains, and limited intake of higher fat meats and dairy products.

(Post content reviewed by MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services)

 

 

Use the Force (for Fitness)

January 14, 2016 at 10:13 am | Posted in Fitness, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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By Chrisanne Sikora, Sr. Project Specialist
Diabetes Self-Management Education Program

Chrisanne headshot

Chances are “okay grab your lightsaber, get ready to move” is not something you’d expect to hear in a group fitness class. Gyms and health clubs often run special promotions after the holidays when many people begin setting up new fitness routines. Last week when I read an article about one of the nearby gyms offering a free class inspired by the new Star Wars movie, I thought it sounded a little silly but also like it could be a lot of fun. I figured why not? and called to sign up.

After we’d picked out a lightsaber and chosen our spots the instructor, Cassie, explained the class was designed around the idea of circuit training. We’d learn a sequence (or “circuit”) of about four exercises that we would do for a minute each. After we’d done each sequence three times, we’d start over with a new sequence. Cassie showed us the first sequence while a dance remix of the Star Wars theme played over the speakers, and we were off.

I couldn’t help but giggle along with the woman next to me as we swung our lightsabers side to side while doing lunges. Aside from thin disks used to slide our feet along the floor (and of course a toy lightsaber), there was no equipment used in the class. Most of the exercises were versions of basic moves like squats and push-ups that use bodyweight as resistance. Even so, the class was more challenging than you’d think! By the time we started our second sequence you could see several people were already getting tired – and we still had another whole sequence to go!

The second and third sequences were more challenging than the first, but Cassie always gave us the option of going back to an easier move if anything became too difficult. By the end of the class everyone was tired, sweaty, probably a little sore, but smiling. On the way out, I chatted with a couple of classmates about what we’d expected going in and how much fun the whole experience was. Maybe if we take the class again we’ll be able to float rocks with our thoughts.

The two key things I took away from the class were:

  • You can get a really good, challenging workout with using just your bodyweight. No equipment (or even a gym!) required.
  • The most important part of any routine is making it FUN. If you’re not enjoying yourself, it will be hard to stick with it.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

December 22, 2015 at 10:43 am | Posted in recipes | Leave a comment
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Is a long day at work leaving you with little time left to make a healthy meal?  Let your crock pot do the cooking.

Ingredients:
3 pounds boneless pork loin roast, cut in half with fat trimmed
1 cup water
1-18 oz bottle barbecue sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar, unpacked
2 tbsp hot sauce
½ tsp black pepper
2 cups shredded cabbage and carrot coleslaw, pre-packaged mix if available
10 whole wheat hamburger buns (try Pepperidge Farms®100% whole wheat)

Directions:
Place pork and water in a 4-quart crock pot/electric slow cooker. Cover with lid and cook on high heat for 7 hours, or until meat becomes tender. Drain and discard liquid from pork. Return pork to cooker and shred with a fork. Reduce to low-heat and add remaining ingredients (minus the shredded cabbage and carrots) and cook 1 hour more. Serve pork on a whole wheat hamburger bun and top with shredded cabbage and carrots.

Yield: Approximately 10-1/2 cup servings of pulled pork

Nutrition Information per Serving (bun and cabbage mix included):
Calories: 421 • Protein: 36g • Sodium: 691mg • Carbohydrate: 42g Fiber: 2g
Fat: 11g • Sat Fat: 3g

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Who Knew Carbohydrates Could Be So Simple – or Complex?

December 10, 2015 at 10:10 am | Posted in Nutrition, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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By Shannon Evins
Dietetic Intern

With various medications, glucose tests, and protocols to follow, diabetes can seem an overwhelming subject to master. Doctors, nurses, dietitians, and other health professionals start throwing numbers and words like carbohydrates and glucose at you and telling you what you should and should not eat. By now, most people know that carbohydrates are at the center of what affects blood sugar. To get to the root of the problem and simplify the concept, it is important to understand the different kinds of carbohydrates. They can be split into two main groups: simple or complex.

Simple carbohydrates are the things you normally think of when someone mentions high blood sugar – candy, cakes, cookies, pies, pastries, etc. They are called simple because they are easy for your body to digest and so spike your blood sugar quickly. It is best to avoid or watch the portion size of simple carbohydrates. Here are some other simple carbohydrates that people often overlook although they have the same effect as table sugar on your body: brown sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup, corn syrup, jams/jellies, fruit juice, and soda.

Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, take longer to break down which means a slower release of energy and less of a spike in your blood sugar. They also often have a higher content of fiber and nutrients, so everyone, not just people with diabetes, should focus on eating complex carbohydrates. Common complex carbohydrates include whole-grain items (whole-wheat bread, whole-grain cereal, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, etc.), corn, beans, lentils, peas, potatoes, winter squashes or pumpkin, and whole fruits.

To better understand the concept of simple versus complex carbohydrates, let’s go back to the days of arts and crafts and imagine carbohydrates this way: say you have some beads and string and want to make a necklace. You have to add the beads one-by-one to the string in order to make the necklace. Each bead represents a sugar molecule. Simple carbohydrates are the equivalent of just two beads on that string. It would take you no time at all to add those beads to the string. Complex carbohydrates, however, have several more beads on the string, meaning it would take longer to put together. Similarly, your body is doing this for digestion but in reverse – each bead is being removed from the string, meaning each sugar molecule is being broken down and digested. It takes only a short amount of time for your body to digest two molecules versus several.

Overall, carbohydrates are very important for bodily functions because they are the main fuel source for your body. Just remember that it is best to eat them as part of a balanced meal with a fat or protein source and vegetables in order to stabilize blood sugar. Simple (or complex) enough?

(Post content reviewed by MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services)

Another “Mini”Relaxation Exercise

December 3, 2015 at 10:03 am | Posted in Health, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Meditation picture

The holiday season is “the most wonderful time of the year.”  It’s also the time of year many feel the most stressed! The relaxation response is the body’s natural counter to the stress response.  If you’re feeling holiday stress starting to creep in, take a few minutes to try this mini relaxation breathing exercise from the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine

INHALE, pause- 1,2,3         EXHALE, pause, 1,2,3

  • After each inhalation, pause and count: 1,2,3 (breath is held in)
  • After each exhalation, pause and count: 1,2,3 (breath is let out)
  • Do this for several breaths.

Parmesan Almond Crusted Chicken Breast Stuffed with Cauliflower and Dried Cranberries

November 19, 2015 at 10:23 am | Posted in recipes | Leave a comment
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A nutritious take on a classic stuffed chicken recipe that is as delicious as it is healthy.

Ingredients:

Cauliflower Cranberry Stuffing
2¼ cups frozen cauliflower
¾ cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
¼ tsp black pepper
pinch salt

Chicken
¾ cup almonds, sliced or chopped
6 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
6 4 oz chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1½ cups fresh baby spinach, washed
pinch salt and black pepper
pan spray

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Make the cauliflower cranberry stuffing: Fill a medium saucepan with water and add cauliflower.  Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until tender. Drain water from saucepan and mash cauliflower with the backside of a fork or potato masher until slightly chunky. Mix in cranberries, salt, and pepper then set aside.

Cook the Chicken: In a small bowl combine sliced almonds and Parmesan cheese, set aside. Butterfly raw chicken by cutting ¾ of the way through the side of the chicken breast (so that it opens like a book) and season with salt and pepper.

Place spinach on chicken breast, covering all visible parts of the meat.  Spoon ½ cup of cauliflower cranberry stuffing on one side of chicken. Fold chicken breast over and push any extra stuffing back into the breast.

Spray baking sheet with pan spray.  Place chicken on sheet. Sprinkle about 2 tbsp of the almond Parmesan mixture on top of chicken.

Cook in a 350 degree oven for 22-25 minutes or until chicken reaches 165 degrees.
Chicken juices should be clear.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition Information per Serving:

Calories: 335 • Protein: 11g • Sodium: 388mg • Carbohydrate: 35g •
Fiber: 6.5g • Fat: 10g • Sat Fat: 4.5g

Recipe adapted by Samantha Foor, Dietetic Intern

 

World Diabetes Day

November 12, 2015 at 8:10 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Today we are celebrating World Diabetes Day, a day set aside each year to raise awareness of the impact of diabetes. All are invited to stop by our table near Coffee Central to learn more about diabetes from our Certified Diabetes Educators. Plus, games and prizes!

Updated WDDCircle

Is Organic Produce Healthier?

October 29, 2015 at 11:10 am | Posted in Health, Nutrition | 1 Comment
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By Lauren Beth Cohen
Dietetic Intern

A lot of confidence is put in the word organic. When playing the word-association game, you might hear things like: health, nutrition, clean, natural, expensive, and safe. But is that always the case? Before we fully answer this question (spoiler alert: the short answer no), we should breakdown what “organic” actually means.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) certifies and labels certain foods as organic if they are produced “using methods that preserve the environment and avoid most synthetic materials, such as pesticides and antibiotics.” Pesticides and antibiotics are used to extend shelf life in the grocery store, reduce plant spoilage and mutation, and prevent illness in livestock. They are GRAS, or Generally Recognized As Safe to consume by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

So, should you eat it? Well, the choice is yours.

Not a lot is known about the how these pesticides and antibiotics affect the human body. What we do know is that organic can be a great option, but is not always essential.

In an attempt to help you save some cash and become a more savvy shopper, let’s introduce you to the “dirty dozen.” These foods, tested by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), show a higher amount of pesticides than average and, if given the option, should be purchased organic. They include: apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach/kale/collard greens, sweet bell & hot peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes.

Next time you head to the grocery store, go in armed with some of these helpful tips:

  • Buy organic for the “Dirty Dozen” and conventional for the “Clean Fifteen,” which includes; avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.
  • Prioritize buying local over organic. Often times, local farmers are producing products in an organic fashion but can’t afford the accreditation. Support your local farms!
  • Check the country of origin. The United States only imports certified organic foods from Canada, EU, India, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Korea, and Switzerland. Any other country with “organic” on the label may be a trick to get you to spend more!
  • Milk and seafood do not need to be purchased organic.
  • Remember: A cookie is a cookie. Even if it’s 100% natural and organic – it doesn’t make it a magically healthy cookie.
(Post content reviewed by MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services)

Beans, beans, the magical fruit…

October 15, 2015 at 3:38 pm | Posted in Nutrition, recipes | Leave a comment
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By Kelsey Baumgarten
Dietetic Intern

What comes to mind when you hear the word “beans?” Maybe you think of chili, baked beans, minestrone soup, gallo pinto, burritos. Whatever you think about beans, you may not know how they are related to your health and blood sugar control.

While the old rhyme calls beans a magical “fruit,” they are, in fact, a vegetable! They’re part of a larger group of vegetables called legumes, which includes foods like black beans, chickpeas, lentils, and split peas. When counting carbohydrates, legumes should be counted as a starchy vegetable. However, if you can think of the rhyme, it may help you remember that a ⅓-cup serving of beans has a similar number of carbohydrates as a piece of fruit.

The more you eat, the more you toot…

Many people avoid beans because of their reputation for causing gastrointestinal discomfort. The gas related to eating beans is caused by the fiber and starches your body can’t break down. These are digested by the bacteria in your intestines.

The more you toot, the better you feel…

The fiber is part of what makes beans so good for you! Fiber can help lower your cholesterol and prevent constipation. Over time, your body will get used to it and you will notice less discomfort.

So let’s have beans at every meal!

You don’t need to have beans at every meal like the song suggests, but beans do make a great choice for balanced meals and snacks. Try swapping beans for some of your usual servings of pasta, potato, squash, and bread. You can even replace half of your starch with a half serving of legumes:

  • Eat a smaller portion of pasta, and add beans into the pasta sauce.
  • Mash black beans into a half serving of mashed potatoes.
  • Sprinkle beans on top of a thin-crust pizza
  • Add roasted chickpeas to your salad instead of croutons (just toss dry chickpeas in olive oil and salt, and broil until crispy— about 10 minutes)

Snacking on beans (15-30 g carbs)

  • 2 tablespoons of hummus or edamame dip + 6 whole grain crackers
  • ½ cup of lentil soup
  • ½ cup kidney beans, sprinkled with olive oil and Italian seasoning
  • ⅓ cup soy nuts + 1 piece fresh fruit

Don’t forget:
While legumes are a great source of plant protein, their carbohydrates will still raise your blood sugar. Legumes generally supply 15-20 grams of carbohydrates per serving. Be sure to check the nutrition label of whichever kind you are eating.

Beans can be a great addition to your diet. For increased fiber intake and heart-health benefits, aim to eat 3 or more servings every week. With so many nutrients per serving, they really are a “magical fruit”!

Did you know? You can use beans to make healthier baked goods and desserts!

Cannellini Carrot Muffins

  • BeanCarrotMuffin1 can* cannellini or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups grated carrots
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup oats
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.

In a food processor, puree beans, eggs, oil, molasses, salt, and cinnamon until very smooth. Add carrots and nuts and blend on low speed until nuts and carrots are in small chunks. In a separate bowl, mix flour, oats, sugar, and baking powder. Add the bean mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into the muffin tins and bake for 35-40 minutes.

*You can also use beans cooked from dry. 1 can = 1½ cups cooked beans.

Per muffin: 190 calories • 40g carb • 5g protein • 4g fiber • 7g fat

Black bean Chocolate Hummus
(who knew hummus could taste like dessert?)

BeanChocolateHummus
  • 1 can* black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • 1 tbsp decaf coffee (or water)

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Serves 8.

For a snack with 30g carbs, spread hummus over 2 graham cracker squares (1 full sheet), or use as dip for 1 serving of apple slices or strawberries.

Per serving (about 2 tbsp): 150 calories • 20g carb • 5g protein • 5g fiber • 7g fat

*You can also use beans cooked from dry. 1 can = 1½ cups cooked beans.

 (Post content reviewed by MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services)
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