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Archive for July, 2009

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

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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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Cottage-Berry-CrunchVitamin C is required by the body for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body.  It is essential for the healing of wounds and the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones and teeth.  Vitamin C is also known to boost our immune systems and keep illness away.  Vitamin C is also one of the antioxidants that our body uses to fight off cancer, heart disease and arthritis.  Antioxidants, like vitamin C, are very important at helping reduce the damage to our bodies caused by toxic chemicals and pollutants like cigarette smoke.

Vitamin C can be found in all fruits and vegetables.  Some of the best sources of vitamin C include green peppers, citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, kiwi), strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, leafy greens, sweet and white potatoes, and cantaloupe.  Other excellent sources of vitamin C are papaya, mango, watermelon, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, squash, raspberries, red peppers, blueberries, cranberries and pineapples. 

Deficiency (not enough) of vitamin C can occur since the body does not store it.  A serious deficiency of vitamin C is called scurvy.  Other symptoms of vitamin C deficiency are; dry and splitting hair, gingivitis and bleeding gums, rough and dry skin, decreased wound healing, bruising, nosebleeds, swollen and painful joints, anemia, and frequent colds.

Toxicity (too much) of vitamin C is very rare.  Taking a supplement of vitamin C greater than 2,000 mg/day is not recommended and can lead to stomach upset and diarrhea.

Vitamin C must be consumed daily since the body does not make it or store it.  Be sure to include a vitamin C source from the above list every day.

 

Recommended daily amounts of vitamin C are as follows:

Infants – 35 mg/day

Children 1-3 years – 40 mg/day

Children 4-10 years – 45 mg/day

Men over 18 – 90 mg/day

Women over 18 – 75 mg/day

 

As a point of reference, one orange has 70 mg, one kiwi has 74 mg, and one tomato has 23 mg of vitamin C.

**Because smoking depletes vitamin C, people who smoke generally need an additional 35 mg/day.

 

Cottage Berry Crunch

 

Ingredients

½ cup low fat cottage cheese

2 Tbsp. low fat granola

½ of a medium banana, sliced

½ cup assorted fresh berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)

 

Directions

 Spoon cottage cheese into a small serving bowl.  Sprinkle granola over cottage cheese.  Top with bananas and berries.

Prep Time: 5 min.  Total Time: 5 min

Makes: 1 serving

From kraftfoods.com


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Spinach-Artichoke-DipGreen fruits & vegetables are PACKED with important nutrients and phytochemicals.  Cruciferous vegetables (members of the cabbage family) have several amazing cancer-fighting phytochemicals. These phytochemicals can act as antioxidants or they may actually keep cancer-causing substances out of your body. Green fruits, like kiwi, have some of these compounds too. Some of the phytochemicals in green vegetables can also help in digestion and keep bad bacteria out of your stomach. Broccoli is a great example. 

Leafy greens and some green fruits also contain a phytochemical which keeps your eyes healthy and may keep you from going blind when you get older. Spinach, kale and collard greens are the best sources.

Of course, some green vegetables are also high in beta-carotene, another important antioxidant. Remember, beta-carotene can be converted to vitamin A in your body which helps your vision, immunity and your skin look healthy. Several of the leafy green vegetables are also a good source of potassium for your heart to beat correctly and your muscles to contract. They are also rich in calcium for strong bones.

Try these green fruits & vegetables:  Broccoli, kale, romaine lettuce, bok choy, zucchini, collard greens, brussel sprouts, turnip greens, spinach, asparagus, celery, cucumbers, cabbage, okra, artichoke, kiwi, honeydew melon, lime, green bell peppers, peas, kale, avocado, and many more!

Taken from: http://vickids.tamu.edu/nutrition/green.html

 

Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip

 

Ingredients

2 cups  (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

1/2 cup  fat-free sour cream

1/4 cup  (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided

1/4 teaspoon  black pepper

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened

1 (8-ounce) block fat-free cream cheese, softened

1/2 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry

1 (13.5-ounce) package baked tortilla chips (about 16 cups)

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, sour cream, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and next 6 ingredients (through spinach) in a large bowl; stir until well blended. Spoon mixture into a 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Serve with tortilla chips.

Yield: 5 1/2 cups (serving size: 1/4 cup dip and about 6 chips)

Nutritional Information

Calories: 148 (30% from fat), Fat: 5g (sat 2.9g,mono 1.5g,poly 0.5g), Protein: 7.7g, Carbohydrate: 18.3g, Fiber: 1.5g, Cholesterol: 17mg, Iron: 0.6mg, Sodium: 318mg, Calcium: 164mg

 

Recipe from: Cooking Light, September 2007

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Left alone, an unpicked artichoke will blossom into a striking purple flower. But its real beauty lies in what it can do for you. The globe artichoke frequently shows up on lists of top 10 detox foods — and it’s no wonder. An elegant member of the aster family, it’s low in calories, a good source of vitamins and minerals, and replete with nutrients that ease digestion and lower cholesterol, among other wellness rewards.

Health Benefits
Leaves and heart combined, one medium artichoke has just 60 calories, more than six grams of fiber, and four grams of protein. Artichokes also provide a good source of magnesium, potassium, and folate, nutrients that help improve muscle function and heart health.

The real draw for artichokes, though, is their ability to promote liver health and soothe digestive issues such as nausea, pain, and bloating. For this we have the flavonoid silymarin to thank. A powerful antioxidant, silymarin boosts liver function by stimulating cell regeneration and scavenging for free radicals. In addition, it helps the liver cope with big toxic loads.

Artichokes help the liver in another way — with cynarin, a caffeoylquinic acid found primarily in the leaves. Cynarin promotes the liver’s bile production, which in turn helps break down fatty foods. According to some studies, cynarin also helps lower cholesterol.

How to Buy
Look for firm, heavy, medium-sized artichokes. To test for freshness, squeeze the artichoke and listen for a squeaky sound. Refrigerated in a plastic bag, artichokes will keep for up to five days.  You can also buy the hearts already prepared in a can or marinated in a jar.

Article taken from Body and Soul Magazine – May 2007 www.bodyandsoulmag.com

This recipe is a great easy salad to prepare and eat for dinner with plenty left over to take to work for lunch!

Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Feta Vinaigrette

1 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta; about 8 ounces)

2 cups bagged prewashed baby spinach, chopped

½ cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves

3 tablespoons chopped red onion

3 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

1 (6 ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, undrained

¾ cup (3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled and divided

Cook the orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Drain, rinse with cold water.  Combine orzo, spinach and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. 

Drain artichokes, reserving marinade.  Coarsely chop artichokes, and add artichokes, reserved marinade, and ½ cup feta cheese to orzo mixture, tossing gently to coat.  Sprinkle each serving with remaining feta cheese.

Yield:  4 servings

Recipe from: Cooking Light Magazine

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