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Apples

Apples have a lot of nutritional value and benefits.  They are an excellent source of fiber, a good source of vitamin C, and loaded with antioxidants! 

Apples are a great source of fiber.  One medium apple with the skin contains 20% of your daily fiber needs.  Apples offer both soluble and insoluble fiber.  Insoluble fiber helps to promote the movement of materials through your digestive system.  Therefore it can help with those who struggle with constipation.  Soluble fiber helps to lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar.  It specifically lowers the “bad” cholesterol in the blood and helps to slow the absorption of sugar in the blood.  Therefore a high fiber diet can help to reduce the risk of developing type II diabetes.

Apples are packed with antioxidants which can help protect your body’s cells from damage.  One specific antioxidant apples contain is Quercetin.  Quercetin has been shown to fight heart disease, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease.  The peel of the apple contains the highest amount of antioxidants which is why it is so beneficial to eat apples in their whole fruit form opposed to as applesauce or juice. 

Apples are a good source of vitamin C, which is also an antioxidant that helps protect your body’s cells from damage and chronic diseases.  Vitamin C is very important for the body to form collagen in bones, cartilage, muscles, and blood vessels.  Vitamin C also helps aid the absorption of iron as well.  For example if you had a bowl of an iron-enriched cereal and added apples, it could help aid in the absorption of iron. 

Apple season is here!  Pick your own or buy your apples from your local farmer’s market.

 

Apple Yogurt

Makes 6 servings

2 medium apples (any color)

¼ cup crunchy granola

¼ cup raisins or dried fruit bits

1 ½ cups (12 ounces) vanilla yogurt

 

Core the apples.  Leave the skin on and cut into small pieces.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Stir well and put ¼ cup of mixture into six individual serving cups.

 

Easy Baked Applesauce

Makes 8 Servings

 

5 tbsp. water

¼ cups packed brown sugar

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

4 pounds- apples, peeled, cored, and halved

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Combine all ingredients in a large Dutch oven; toss to coat.  Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring once after 45 minutes.           

 

Recipe from: Cooking Light

Mozzarella Sticks

Most everyone loves mozzarella sticks. Why not make them healthier by making them yourself and sneaking in a vegetable?  Whole-wheat breadcrumbs and flaxseed meal add fiber and using part-skim mozzarella and sautéing them with a little olive oil also makes them lower in fat than the restaurant fried version. This is a good way to get a little calcium in your kid’s diet!

 

Mozzarella sticks

Makes 8 sticks

 

1 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon flaxseed meal (optional)

1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella

½ cup cauliflower puree*

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Nonstick cooking spray

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ teaspoon salt

 

In a bowl, toss the breadcrumbs with the flaxseed meal and sesame seeds.

In a second large bowl, stir together the mozzarella, cauliflower puree, and cornstarch until well combined.  Shape into eight 2×1/2 inch logs.  Gently roll each log in breadcrumbs, then wrap in aluminum foil or waxed paper and freeze for 20 minutes.  Make sure they are frozen before you cook!

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set it over medium-high heat.  When the pan is hot, add the oil.  Arrange the mozzarella sticks in the pan in a single layer, being careful not to crowd them.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turning occasionally, until the crumb coating begins to brown.  Sprinkle with salt and serve with ketchup or marinara sauce. 

 

*Cauliflower puree

Cut off florets and discard core from 1 head of cauliflower.  Steam for 8 to 10 minutes.  Puree in food processor or blender for about 2 minutes, with a few teaspoons of water if needed for a smooth, creamy texture.

Deceptively Delicious; Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food; Jessica Seinfeld

Eggs!

Eggs come in single-serving packages stuffed with easy-to-digest protein for maintaining muscle and building your immune system against pneumonia and the flu. The yolks,the part which usually gets a bad wrap because of the saturated fat and cholesterol, also contain the good fats – mono and polyunsaturated fats.  They are loaded with important nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin D and two antioxidant carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) which are crucial for preventing blindness in adults. The yolk also contains the mineral choline which has been shown to enhance memory.  Choline, a little-known but essential nutrient contributes to fetal brain development and helps prevent birth defects. The National Academy of Sciences recommends increased choline intake for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Two eggs – including the yolks – contain about 250 milligrams of choline, or roughly half the recommended daily amount.  Eat an egg two to three times a week and be egg-OK!

 

Egg Salad Sandwich

Yields 1 serving

 

1 hard boiled egg, peeled

1 tablespoon light mayonnaise

½ tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon finely grated carrots

a little salt and pepper, to taste

 

Chop egg.  Add other ingredients and mix together.  Pile mixture on a slice of whole wheat bread.  Add whatever other veggies you want, top with the second slice of bread and enjoy!

Watermelon

Eat watermelon!  This is one hard-working fruit that is often overlooked because it seems so simple!  A 1-inch slice is a great source of hydration. – It contains 92% water!  And low in calories – 1 cup has only 49 calories.  Who would have guessed that this fruit is a cancer fighting powerhouse!   The red color in watermelon meat comes from the anti-oxidant lycopene.  In fact, watermelon delivers 1/3 more lycopene than fresh tomatoes do.  Lycopene protects against skin cancer by boosting the skin’s natural SPF.  For men, lycopene is a powerful fighter against prostate cancer. 

The fiber in watermelon is soluble which means that it helps clean out your blood vessels of unwanted plaque and cholesterol, lowering your total blood cholesterol.  Watermelon also packs a lot of potassium which helps the fight against high blood pressure.

For all of you mom’s-to-be out there battling that queasy feeling – studies have shown that pregnant women who can’t even keep water down enjoy ice-cold chunks of watermelon without feeling sick.

 

Selecting watermelon

A whole watermelon gives very few clues as to what is inside.  Check out the store’s cut pieces of watermelon which are typically sold along side whole ones.  This will give you a general idea of the quality of the melons the store sells.

  • Look over the melon.  Choose one that is firm, symmetrical, and free of bruises, cuts and dents.
  • Lift it up.  Watermelon should be heavy for its size since it is mostly water.
  • Turn it over.  There should be a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.  If the melon is still green or white on the bottom, it is probably immature.
  • Watermelons ripen on the vine, not on your kitchen counter.  So, what you buy is what you get.

 

Freezing watermelon chunks:

Cube seeded watermelon.  Place the cubes on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and freeze.  When frozen, transfer to a plastic bag and return to freezer.

 

Serve Watermelon Slush drinks at your next family gathering!

Yield:  six servings

 

1 can (10 ounces) frozen nonalcoholic margarita mix

3 cups cubed seeded watermelon

2 cups frozen cubed seeded watermelon or ice cubes

 

In a blender or food processor, whirl the margarita mix and the unfrozen watermelon cubes until liquefied.  Add the frozen watermelon cubes or ice cubes.  Pulse until mixture is slushy.  Serve immediately.

 

Sources:  The Giant Book of Kitchen Counter Cures;  Karen Cicero and Colleen Pierre, M.S., R.D.

USA Weekend June 1-3, 2007

Ranch Snack Mix

Ranch-Snack-MixTry this recipe for a snack mix with the tangy twist of ranch dressing.  By adding nuts, you are getting protein along with the complex carbohydrates found in the pretzels, fish crackers and cereal.  Eating a protein and carbohydrate together will make you feel full longer.   Nuts offer a dose of heart healthy fat and by choosing whole grain fish crackers and wheat cereal, you are boosting the fiber content a little which will help you feel fuller faster.  This is a great snack for kids to prepare by themselves or with just a little help from an adult.

 

Ranch Snack Mix

 Servings: 8

 

1 cup whole grain fish crackers

1 cup pretzels, any shape

1 cup Wheat Chex cereal

1 cup peanuts, plain

¼ cup dry buttermilk salad dressing mix, do not prepare

1 tablespoon canola oil

 

Combine crackers, pretzels, cereal and peanuts in a large bowl or bag.  Drizzle oil over dry ingredients and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle ranch dressing mix over the mix. Toss or shake well.  Store in an airtight container.

Since the first official state fair in 1841, Americans have flocked to fairgrounds every summer to see livestock competitions, play carnival games, go on rides, and, of course, eat!

But fair food is not necessarily good fare for the health-conscious.

Although state fairs may celebrate the best of local agriculture, sometimes it’s awfully hard to walk right past the smells of cotton candy, corn dogs and funnel cakes to concentrate on the produce.

And one of the most alarming trends in fair food seems to be the most extreme: deep-fried food on a stick.

Topping the list are those deep-fried candy bars. Gooey candy bars (Snickers are a favorite) skewered on sturdy sticks, dipped in a sweet cakey batter, fried in hot vegetable oil, and then given an extra dusting of powdered sugar for good measure. For those fairgoers looking beyond chocolate and caramel, there’s a popular variation: batter-dipped, deep-fried Twinkies on a stick.

Another bizarre concoction, fried Coke, debuted at the State Fair of Texas just a few years back. This all-American treat almost defies description. It’s a Coca Cola-flavored batter that’s deep-fried like a funnel cake, then drizzled with Coke syrup and topped with whipped cream, cinnamon, sugar, and a maraschino cherry.

Deep-fried corn dogs on a stick continue to be a perennial favorite, but there’s a new seafood competitor making an appearance at some state fairs: a tube of spiced crab meat rolled in pastry dough, skewered with a strong stick, then deep-fried.

While it’s true that just one day of state fair food won’t cause serious harm to you and your heart, chowing down on these foods just isn’t worth it. Because they are so loaded with fat, calories, sugar and salt and lacking any real nutritional value it’s probably best to just stay away.

Top 10 State Fair Foods to Avoid:

1. Fried Snickers Bars and other fried candy bars (batter-dipped, deep-fried and dusted with powdered sugar)

2. Fried Twinkies (batter-dipped and deep-fried)

3. “Australian Potatoes” (batter-dipped, deep-fried potatoes topped with cheese and a creamy ranch sauce)

4. Foot long corn dogs

5. “Bloomin’ Onions”(batter-dipped, deep-fried onions)

6. Giant Funnel Cakes (often topped with chocolate and whipped cream)

7. Batter-fried corn on the cob

8. Greasy fries (sometimes topped with cheese and gravy, too!)

9. Gigantic sodas (32-ounces and even larger)

10. Cotton candy

 

Believe it or not, it’s actually possible to get healthy foods at your state fair. Many of the concessions stands are now trying to cater to a more health-conscious crowd.

Top 10 Guilt-Free State Fair Foods: 

1. Whole-wheat pitas stuffed with fresh veggies

2. Potatoes topped with steamed veggies

3. Tacos with beans, wild rice and exotic salsas

4. Crepes with fresh fruits

5. Smoothies made with fresh fruit and non-fat yogurt

6. Jamaican veggie patties

7. Falafel

8. Buffalo veggie burgers

9. Grilled corn on the cob

10. Chocolate-dipped bananas or caramel apples

 

These guilt-free alternatives are plenty tasty. So if you are checking out your state this summer, don’t be tempted by those deep-fried candy bars and foot-long corn dogs!

(PS A food safety tip! Always make sure you see a license posted in the window of the concession stand before you buy any food. That’s a sign the vendor uses hygienic preparation methods that will help protect you and your family against food-borne illnesses.)

 

Adapted from www.meatlessmonday.com

Tomatoes are in peak season right now!  Wonder what to do with the huge amount of them that you have on the kitchen counter?  How about making a big batch of salsa!  Salsa is a great low-fat way to dress up your snacks and meals!  It is also rich in vitamin C, lycopene and other antioxidants that help fight diseases like heart disease and cancer.  Add black beans to your salsa to add protein and fiber.  Add a little fruit like mango for a sweeter more tropical salsa.  Aside from scooping it up with tortilla chips here is a few other ways to use this versatile condiment:

  • spoon on to a baked potato – use instead of butter and sour cream
  • spoon over grilled chicken and sprinkle a little shredded cheddar cheese on top
  • spread on a flour tortilla, then add refried beans and shredded cheddar cheese

Here are a few recipes for salsa for you to make right now!  All you do is mix all the ingredients and serve!  Salsa also stores in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

 

Basic Salsa

 

4 medium tomatoes

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

½ cup red or yellow onions, chopped

2 jalapenos (adjust for heat, as needed)

¼ cup fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

salt and pepper, to taste

1

Ultimate Summer Salsa

 

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

½ cup corn kernels

2 large green onions, minced (white and green parts)

1 medium jalapeno, seeded and diced

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

salt and pepper, to taste

 

Mango Salsa

 

3 roma tomatoes, diced

2 mangoes, pitted and diced

½ medium red onion, chopped

juice from one lime

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

salt and pepper, to taste

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