Nutrition, recipes

Be Fit Basics : Mango Black Bean Salad

This easy salad recipe from the MGH Be Fit Program is a great use of the leftover grain from last night’s dinner. If you don’t have a cooked grain, substitute fresh or frozen corn kernels instead.  If you can’t find fresh mango, look for frozen cubed mango in the freezer section of your grocery store.  Dislike cilantro? Substitute another green herb, like parsley.

Ingredients:
1 mango, chopped and peeled (or about 1½ to 1¾ cups)
½ cup thinly sliced green onions (scallions), the white and green parts
½ cup cooked grain (use leftover rice, quinoa, etc.) or corn kernels
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
2 tbsp fresh tomato salsa (or diced tomato)
1-15 ounce can low- sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp salt (or to taste)
¼ tsp black pepper

Instructions:
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and toss gently to mix.

Yield:  Serves 6

Nutrition Information per Serving (about 2/3 cup – nutrition information calculated with brown rice):  Calories:  160 • Protein:  5g • Sodium:  250mg
Carbohydrate: 27g • Fiber:5g • Fat: 5g • Sat Fat:1g

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.  Originally posted on mghbefit.com
Guest Post, Health, Nutrition

College Eating- Healthy Lifestyle Living on a Budget

By Ellie

Moving off to college and living on your own for the first time can be a major adjustment. Personally, the biggest adjustment I found was learning how to cook for and feed myself on a regular basis around classes and other activities. Through my experiences in college and living on my own, I’ve acquired a few tips and tricks when it comes to cooking, including tips about cooking for only one person, eating healthy, and eating inexpensively.

Cooking for One

One of the more prominent challenges when it comes to living on your own is adapting recipes – whether they’re from websites, apps or even good ole’ fashioned cook books — that make 4-6 servings for one person. My first tip is embracing freezer meals. By freezing leftovers, you can cook recipes without having to adjust to fit your serving size, and you have future quick and easy meals readily available. All you must do is heat them up! Personally, I’ve found this very helpful with dishes such as lasagna, soups, breakfast sandwiches, muffins, quesadillas, and casseroles.

Another freezer tip you can use is instead of freezing whole meals you can freeze pre-cut ingredients so that they won’t go bad, and they’re ready to use whenever you need them. I’ve found this helpful in: soon to expire fruits that can be used for smoothies; leftover vegetables such as onions, carrots, and celery; and even products like cheese or breads. I use this most often when I need to cut a recipe in half (or even quarters) to fit my serving size.  If I’m left with three-quarters of an onion in my fridge, I’ll cut it up, bag it, and freeze it for future recipes.

Eating Healthy and Inexpensively

A common myth is that it’s cheaper to eat unhealthy foods than healthy foods. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive.  You can save a lot of money by eating out as little as possible and doing more home cooking.   As you do more grocery shopping, you’ll learn that vegetables, grains and beans are much cheaper and more accessible than meat.  I’ve also found that shopping is easier if I plan out what weekly meals I will be cooking at the beginning of the week and decide what ingredients I need before I get to the store.  This way, I’m not making trips to the grocery store every two days or buying things I don’t need that then go to waste. When shopping, be sure to stick to foods that will give you the most nutrients, like brown rice instead of white rice, whole-wheat bread products, and stay away from processed ingredients/foods that are high in sugar. When shopping for produce, you can save a lot of money by buying fruit and vegetables that are in season or on sale in bulk and freezing what you don’t use.

Lastly, many people don’t like to cook at home because they don’t have a lot of cooking experience or confidence. Some would-be cooks don’t know where to find recipes, or they don’t know how to cook for their own food preferences or dietary needs.  There are many great websites, beginner’s cookbooks, and apps with hundreds of delicious recipes and easy to follow, step-by-step instructions for those who are new to the kitchen. These will help you be inspired to eat at home more, which will save you money and help you eat healthier.

Overall, cooking is an individual process. There are going to be ideas that work for you and ideas that don’t.  This will be mostly dictated by personal preferences and needs. The most important thing is to be constant in cooking at home and cooking with quality ingredients.

Post content reviewed by Melanie Pearsall, RD, CDE
Nutrition

A Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning

Is cooking more meals at home one of your goals for this year?  Great!  Now the next question:  where to start?  Standing in front of the fridge at dinnertime hoping to find some inspiration might work for some, but if cooking at home is new for you it’s probably a good idea to adopt a habit of meal planning.  Essentially, meal planning helps answer the question “what’s for dinner?” for the whole week.  If done regularly, it can help reduce some of the stress of cooking weeknight dinners and save money.  Begin your meal planning practice with these tips:

Plan:  Set aside time to devote to meal planning.  The weekend is usually a good option as you can plan your meals for the following week.  Decide how many meals you will need to prepare, choose your recipes and make a grocery list.

Shop sales/shop in season:  Read through grocery store flyers and plan your menu around what’s on sale.  Fruits and veggies are less expensive (and more flavorful) in season.  Also, look for opportunities to use the same ingredient(s) in more than one recipe.

Stay organized: Get a calendar and fill in the menu for the week.  Keep it someplace you can see it easily (like on your refrigerator).  Save all your recipes in one place so you can find them easily.  If you find recipes online, a Pinterest board may be a good option.

Prep ingredients:  Do as much of the prep work as possible ahead of time.  This is another reason it’s helpful to do your meal planning over the weekend.  Chopping the veggies you need for each recipe or making a big batch of quinoa on Sunday saves time during the week.

Use leftovers:  Practice “cook once, serve twice” when possible.  Make extra servings and bring some for lunch the next day.  Soups and chili can also be frozen for later (just thaw and reheat).

Have a backup plan:  There’s always the chance something unexpected will happen to throw off your plans.  Keep a couple of simple recipes on hand to fall back on in a pinch.

If you’re just starting to cook more at home, start small.  Maybe plan for one or two meals a week.  As you gain more confidence in the kitchen, you’ll be able to do more.  Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to do meal planning.  The most important part is finding a system that works for you and that you can stick with.

Post content reviewed by Melanie Pearsall, RD, CDE

 

Health

Wishing you a Healthy Holiday

Thanks to everyone who joined and followed our healthy holiday photo challenge!  Wishing you a happy and healthy new year.

BeFunky Collage

Gratitude – Gratitude can reduce stress/anxiety and improve relationships.

Colors – Quick and healthy holiday appetizer: colorful veggies and hummus.

Evergreen  – Sneak some exercise into your day:  use the season as an excuse to go for a walk and take in the holiday decorations.

Prioritize – Trying to “do it all” is a common cause of holiday stress. Focus on the things that are most important to you – anything else is bonus.

This makes me happy – Taking time to do something you enjoy (any time of year) helps reduce stress.

Relax – Research shows listening to your favorite music can help you relax.

Healthy Swap – Steamed fresh or frozen green beans are a healthy side dish alternative to green bean casserole.

Exercise – Sneak some exercise into your holiday shopping by doing an extra lap around the mall.

Breathe – When the holiday cheer starts getting to be too much, try a mini meditation like this one from the Benson-Henry Institute.

Peace – Remember to take time for activities (yoga, meditation, even a walk outside with family) that help you unwind and find peace.

Hydrate – Keep a water bottle nearby to remind you to sip water through the day.

Moderation – Using a smaller plate at meal time can help with portion control.

Decorate – Multitask to fit in some fitness:  turn up the holiday music and dance while you decorate.

Sports – Winter activities like sledding, skiing, ice skating or making a snow man are great ways to exercise outside with family in winter.

Unplug – Putting away phones and other devices for a time can reduce stress and help you feel more connected with loved ones.

Light – Happy #Hanukkah! Enjoy this sweet potato pancake recipe from MGH Be Fit.

Minimize – Over scheduled? It’s okay to say no! Only take the commitments you want/can do.

Sleep – Stick with your regular sleep routine during the holidays.

Something I enjoy – There’s so much to do during the holidays, but be sure to plan some fun activities too!

Mindfulness – Choose foods you really want to eat and focus on the taste and texture of each bite.

Fun and games – Plan family activities that take the focus away from food.

Fresh – Buying produce in season is a great way to save on fruits and veggies. DYK – Brussels sprouts (in season now) are a source of vitamin C?

Anything you like – Finding a way to laugh (like a surprise visit by a cute puppy) is a great way to relieve holiday stress.

Act of kindness – Research shows simple acts of kindness can reduce stress levels.  These gifts were wrapped as part of a charity toy drive.

Healthy treats – Don’t go to the party hungry! Have a healthy snack (like a handful of nuts) before you leave the house.

Cranberry – DYK cranberries are a good source of vitamin C? Try them in this recipe from the MGH Be Fit program: Parmesan Almond Crusted Chicken Breast Stuffed with Cauliflower and Dried Cranberries.

Positive vibes – A positive outlook will help with coping with challenges you may face during the holidays.

Memories – Remembering loved ones who aren’t there is helpful in bringing the family together. H/t MGH Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds.

Tradition – As you take part in holiday traditions, take a deep breath and savor the moment.

Community – Schedule “together time” with those you most want to see during the holidays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

recipes

Be Fit Basics: Sweet Potato Pecan Pancakes

Ingredients:
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped pecans, divided
2¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or ½ tsp cinnamon and ½ tsp allspice or nutmeg, with a pinch of cloves)
1/4tsp salt
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tbsp canola oil, plus more for the pan (est. 3 tbsp for greasing)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 (16 ounce) can of unsweetened sweet potatoes or yams, liquid drained and solids mashed together

Instructions
Combine flour, half the pecans (2 tbsp), baking powder, spice(s), and salt in a large bowl. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the milk, sugar, oil (1 tbsp), vanilla extract, and eggs; add these wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix until smooth; stir in sweet potatoes.

Heat a griddle or sauté pan.  Pour enough canola oil to grease the griddle or pan.  Spoon about ¼ cup batter (per pancake) onto your hot cooking surface. Flip each pancake when bubbles start to form on the surface and the edges look cooked.  Cook about 1 minute more, or until both sides are golden.  (Turn down the heat if the pancakes start to brown too quickly.)

Repeat with the remaining batter until all batter has been used, using additional oil to grease the pan as needed. Sprinkle pancakes with the remaining pecans.

Yield: Serves 6 (2 pancakes per serving)

Nutrition Information per Serving:
Calories:  310 • Protein: 8g • Sodium: 345mg • Carbohydrate: 37g • Fiber: 3g • Fat: 15g • Sat Fat: 1.5 g

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light. Originally posted on clubsatcrp.com
Health

Healthy Holidays Photo a Day Challenge

Join us for a healthy holidays themed photo a day challenge starting November 27!

PhotoADay

 

How to play:  Take a photo each day of the challenge, using the prompt for that day as inspiration.  Post your photo on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook (or all three!) with the hashtag #DSMEHealthyHoliday.  Follow along on our  Instagram page for healthy holiday tips.

Daily Prompts:

Gratitude
What does gratitude look like for you?

Colors
Post a picture of something colorful you saw today.

Evergreen
Go outside sometime today and take a picture of an evergreen (or anything green).

Prioritize
What is most important to you during the holidays?

This makes me happy
What makes you happy during the holidays?

Relax
The holidays can be stressful. What’s something you do to relax?

Healthy Swap
What’s something you do to make a recipe healthier?

Exercise
There’s always so much to do during the holidays.  How do you fit in exercise?

Breathe
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop and take a breath.  What does that look like?

Peace
What does peace look like to you?

Hydrate
Enjoy your holiday drinks, but don’t forget water! How do you remember to drink water through the day?

Moderation
The holidays are full of treats and feasts. How do you practice moderation?

Decorating
Share how you incorporate physical activity in your holiday decorating.

Sports
Do you enjoy winter sports? Share an outdoor activity you did today.

Unplug
Power down your devices for at least an hour today. Show us what you did!

Light
How is light used in your holiday celebrations?

Minimize
Trying to do EVERYTHING is a big source of stress. Show us how you keep your “to do” list from becoming too overwhelming.

Sleep
Getting enough enough sleep helps keep the immune system healthy which can protect against colds and flu.  How do you make sure you get in your 8 hours of sleep during the holidays?

Something I enjoy
What do you enjoy most about the holidays?

Mindfulness
How do you practice mindfulness during the holidays?

Fun and Games
Fun activities with friends/loved ones can help reduce stress. What did you do today?

Fresh
Post a picture of something new or fresh you saw or did today.

Anything you like
Wildcard! Post a picture of anything holiday related today

Acts of Kindness
Small things mean a lot. Share an act of kindness you experienced today.

Healthy treats
Do you have a go-to healthy holiday treat? Show us!

Cranberry
Cranberries are a good source of vitamin C. Show us how you use cranberries in your holiday meals.  Or, take a picture of something cranberry colored.

Positive vibes
How do you stay positive in times of stress?

Memories
The holidays can be difficult for some. Post a picture of something that brings back a happy memory.

Tradition
What are some holiday traditions in your family?

Community
How does your community come together for the holidays?

Nutrition, Uncategorized

Other Whole Grains

By now you’ve probably heard about the many health benefits of whole grains (and hopefully started making half your grains whole grains).  Brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat bread are some of the go-to whole grain options but there are many, many other kinds to choose from.  Here are some other types of whole grains to try.

Barley

Barley is a really good source of fiber.  In fact, it has the most fiber of all the whole grains.  Barley has been shown to help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and keep blood sugar stable.  When shopping for barley, look for hulled barley rather than “pearled” barley.  Although pearled barley cooks much faster (about 30 minutes vs. an hour for hulled barley), pearled barley has had much of the bran scraped off.  Without the bran, it is no longer considered a whole grain.

Serving ideas:  Barley can be eaten alone as a hot cereal, used to thicken soups and stews, or as a substitute for rice.

Buckwheat

Like quinoa, buckwheat isn’t really a grain (it’s a seed).  It’s also not a type of wheat – it’s more closely related to rhubarb.  Buckwheat is high in protein and gluten-free, making it a good option for people with Celiac or other gluten sensitivity.  The kernels (called “groats”) cook in about 20 – 30 minutes.  If you’re short on time, look for toasted buckwheat groats (called “kasha”) which typically cooks in 15-20 minutes.

Serving ideas:  Cooked groats can be eaten alone in place of oatmeal, or added to salads or soups.  Buckwheat flower is used to make soba noodles.

Oats

Oats are a good source of fiber and are known to help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and blood pressure.  Some different types of oats you may find in the store include oat groats, steel cut oats, and rolled oats.  The difference between each of these is how they’re processed.  Oat groats are whole oat kernels.  Steel cut oats are oat groats that have been cut into smaller pieces, while rolled oats are groats that have been steamed and flattened.  Processed oats cook faster, but here’s the good news:  all processed oats are still whole grains!  Even instant oatmeal counts as a whole grain, but read the nutrition facts label very carefully and choose brands that do not have a lot of added salt and sugar.

Serving idea:  Make up a batch of this Be Fit Power Granola for a healthy snack

One final thing to remember:  whole grains are still high in carbohydrate.  While you’re trying out new whole grain options, remember to pay attention to portion size.

 Content reviewed by Melanie Pearsall, RD, CDE