Nutrition, recipes

Be Fit Basics: Quinoa Parsley Salad

Celebrate Whole Grains Month with this easy grain salad.  One serving is a good source of iron.

Ingredients:
1 cup of water
½ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¾ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
½ cup thinly sliced celery
½ cup thinly sliced green onion
½ cup finely chopped dried apricots
¼ cup pumpkin seeds

Directions:
Bring water and quinoa to a boil in a medium saucepan; cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.  While the quinoa is cooking, whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork and place in a bowl.  Add the parsley, celery, onion, and apricots.  Toss with the dressing to coat and top with pumpkin seeds.

Yield: Serves 4

Serving Size:  about 2/3 cup.

Nutrition Information Per Serving:
Calories: 195 calories • Protein: 5 g • Sodium: 160 mg • Carbohydrate: 33 g
Fiber: 4 g • Fat: 6 g • Sat Fat: 1 g

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.  Originally posted on mghbefit.com.
My Story, Nutrition, Uncategorized

My Story: Gaining Confidence in the Kitchen

By Kait

I never used to cook at home. In fact I HATED cooking. I had no confidence in the kitchen and burned everything, even toast. Time was another reason I didn’t cook often. I always thought cooking a meal had to take a ton of time; I really just wanted my food to appear in front of me. At the same time, I wanted to eat healthier but had no idea where to start or what to do with things like vegetables and spices. Then a coworker mentioned she had signed up for Plated [a subscription meal service] and suggested I give it a try. It sounded like an interesting concept, so I went for it.

What I like most is that it saves time and effort. Everything you need to make the dish is included and portioned out for you. Some recipes use ingredients I never would have bought on my own because I didn’t know how to use them, so it’s a great way to try new things. I also discovered that cooking doesn’t take up as much time as I thought. We typically cook at home 3-4 times a week (usually dinner). We’re definitely eating as a family more often, and I enjoy getting to spend time with loved ones while preparing meals.

We’ve been using Plated for about a year now and I feel much better about my cooking skills. I know if I made a recipe once I can do it again. You get to keep the recipe cards, so we’ll usually do a little experimenting the next time we make the dish. I’m eating healthier now, too. Before, I never really ate vegetables (or if I did they were just raw). I’d go into the grocery store and see all these wonderful looking vegetables but feel intimidated not knowing what to do with them. Now that I have a better idea how to cook them, I include vegetables with my meals often.

I recommend signing up for something like Plated if you don’t have much confidence with cooking. The recipes are easy and they tell you about how much time it takes to make. You’ll learn how to cook new things and different types of vegetables. My parents actually signed up for another meal delivery service, Blue Apron, because of my experience with Plated.

 

 

Nutrition

Smart Grocery Shopping Strategies

By Nichole Reed, Dietetic Intern

When you have diabetes, it’s critical to stay on top of what you eat on a day-to-day basis. Cooking meals at home gives you more control over what goes into your food. Of course, this is all easier said than done – so here are some quick tips for meal planning and grocery shopping to help get you started.

Sit down and plan your weekly menu: Taking a moment to plan out your week ultimately saves you time and money. Knowing the answer to What’s for dinner? keeps you from going through the drive-thru or ordering take-out. Pick a few main dishes and rotate them throughout the week. (Use this menu planning tool to make it even easier.) Choose recipes that you will both enjoy and are willing to make! Sites like Pinterest, Eating Well or our own MGH Be Fit page are great resources for recipe ideas.

Make a shopping list: We all make the mental notes of what we need to pick up, but actually writing it down commits you to the list. You can do this on paper or even your phone. Having a list keeps you on a mission. Otherwise, your eye will wander and your cart will end up looking like you bought the whole store.

Shop locally: Farmers market season has arrived! The grocery store can seem chaotic and more like a chore. Buy your produce from local vendors. Enter your zip code on Mass Farmers Markets and see the one closest to you! You’ll get to enjoy some fresh air, beautiful weather, and support your local farmers. Make a day of it and take some family or friends.

Remember, keep it simple. You don’t have to be five-star chef to make delicious meals. Getting organized makes grocery shopping a breeze and gets you one step closer to taking control of your diet.

Post content reviewed by MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services
recipes

Be Fit Basics: Herbed Pear Breakfast Sausage

A fresh idea for Sunday brunch from the Be Fit Program.

You can substitute other herbs, like parsley or basil, for the cilantro.  Fresh rosemary or oregano can also be used, but use much less because they are stronger-flavored. This recipe is also gluten free, but be sure to check your spices if you have Celiac disease.

Ingredients:
1 pound- ground turkey meat (look for 93% lean or ground turkey breast)
¾ cup- diced pear
¾ cup -diced red pepper
½ cup -diced red onion
¼ cup- chopped cilantro leaves
1 tsp -dried sage (or ½ -1 tbsp chopped fresh sage)
½ tsp -salt
½ tsp- ground cumin
½ tsp -ground allspice
½ tsp- crushed red pepper
1½ tbsp- canola oil

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the canola oil. Shape into 8 patties (½ inch thick).

Heat a large sauté pan on medium heat and add half the canola oil and half the shaped patties. Cook patties about 4 minutes per side, until slightly golden brown with an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Drain the patties on paper towels.  Wipe out any bits in the pan and repeat with the remaining oil and patties.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size 2 small patties)

Nutrition Information per Serving:
Calories: 260 • Protein: 22 g • Sodium: 375 mg • Carbohydrate: 10 g • Fiber: 2 g • Fat: 15 g  Sat Fat: 3 g

Recipe Adapted from Cooking Light
Nutrition, Uncategorized

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

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)

 

 

Nutrition, recipes

Beans, beans, the magical fruit…

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)
recipes

Apple Barley Salad

Pearled barley cooks quicker than hulled barley (hulled barley still has the bran of the grain attached and takes about an hour to cook). Though pearled barley is technically not a “whole grain,” it is still a good source of fiber. Avoid buying white pearled barley, it is more processed; instead, look for the variety that is “lightly pearled.”  Lightly pearled barley will be tan in color and has more fiber.

Ingredients:
½ cup lightly pearled barley, uncooked
1 tsp salt, divided
½ cup plain low-fat yogurt
1½ tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp black pepper
2 stalks celery, diced
1 apple, skin intact, diced into ½-inch pieces
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
2 bunches arugula (about 6 cups)

Instructions:
Combine barley in a saucepan with 1½ cups water and ½ tsp salt and bring to boil (or see directions for cooking barley on package). Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until water is absorbed and barley is tender. Use a strainer to drain any excess water. Allow barley to cool.

Meanwhile, whisk together yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, remaining ½ tsp salt and black pepper. Toss with celery, apple, mint and cooled barley. Divide arugula between bowls and top arugula with barley salad.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Information per Serving:
Calories: 195 • Protein: 5g • Sodium: 650mg • Carbohydrate: 30g
Fiber: 6g • Fat: 6g • Sat Fat: 1g

Recipe adapted from Real Simple