Monday, February 28, 2011

Superfood Strawberry in Season

Run (don't walk) to the nearest grocery store for your stash of strawberries. They are a bargain considering all the benefits they offer. The Florida variety is out there! What is a superfood anyway? To keep it simple, just remember a superfood is LOADED with nutrients and has many health benefits.

If you really want to know, the nutrients found in strawberries are: vitamin C, manganese, fiber, iodine, potassium, folate, B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin K, magnesium, and  copper. 

The health benefits of strawberries are:
  • improve memory
  • heart healthy (decrease total & "Lousy" LDL cholesterol)
  • anti-inflammatory
  • anti-cancer
  • decrease age-related macular degeneration
  • lower blood pressure &
  • protection from rheumatoid arthritis
Ways you can enjoy strawberries in your diet are endless. You can include them at mealtimes or snacks and even desserts (shhh, I didn't say that).

Breakfast: top your cereal with them, add them to a smoothie
Lunch: add them to your salad of spinach, walnuts, salmon & more
Dinner: add them to a parfait of low-fat yogurt & pecans
Dessert: top plain yellow cake & if you want add light whipped cream
Snack- grab a handful anytime
Treat-dip in dark chocolate, it's a superfood if it's dark! Look for at least 70% cacao.

Remember strawberries can also be enjoyed frozen and freeze-dried! I love the cereal that comes with freeze-dried strawberries, but I feel they don't put enough. You can find freeze-dried strawberries on my Amazon aStore.

In case you are in this area, the Florida Strawberry Festival will be in full force March 3 - 13 in Plant City Florida (near Tampa). Also strawberries are on sale at Publix thru March 2, you get 3 one pound containers for $5! Not bad at all for something so good and healthy.

What are some ways you enjoy your strawberries? Or do you have any memories of strawberry picking?

Please share this post with your friends and family as strawberry will not wait, get them while they last.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Not Just Farmers Market


I'm so happy I get to take over the grocery shopping once again. My husband had been doing it since I was working. The truth of the matter is I'd rather go grocery shopping than the mall. Weird huh, I used to have a mall within walking distance and  hardly ever went. Oh yeah, sometimes to walk when it was so cold in Lexington. My husband has gotten better throughout the years, but I have a better eye for the deals. I also do a better job at combining errands, thus saving gas.

Flea Market

For those of you that don't have time to go check out Flea Markets, Farmers Markets, Roadside Stands and the like, you too can save money at the grocery store if you pay attention to detail and shop around. The majority of the grocery stores have their weekly sale ads online, check the sites for the sales in your area. In my area I have Winn Dixie, Sweetbay, Publix and Walmart. Designate a day to do some grocery planing and compare where you want to buy what.

Some weeks you may not have to go to all stores because the sale is not worth you driving X number of miles for one or two items. In my case Walmart is the farthest for me, so I would have to combine that errand when going to the Bakery where we get our 100% Whole Wheat bread at .79 cents! Just remember if you are going to go to several grocery stores on the same day, you must take all the ice packs and cold storage bags you own, especially in the summer. You don't want to find a bargain and then have a family with food poisoning.

Grocery Store
When you are in the grocery store stick to your list and sale items you want to buy, but also keep your eyes wide open for unadvertised sales. Just the other day I went to Publix and while looking for POM juice I found bags of stir fry, broccoli florets and broccolli slaw on sale for $1.00 when the regular price was $2.50. Had I not gone to that section I would have missed out on some wonderful side dishes of broccoli. Generally I wouldn't purchase these unless they were on sale.

Another tip is when you go grocery shopping try to leave the kids at home with the hubby, or the other way around. When you have other distractions you will not be able to concentrate on the task at hand. When my kids were little I would put the boys to bed, (hubby too, ha,ha) and I would then hit the grocery stores. The store was so quiet and I loved it, but this was sometimes 10:00 PM!

In concluding remember you don't necessarily have to go to the Farmers Markets to find deals. If you stick to the produce that is in season and on sale, the sale ads and the unadvertised sales, you will save a bundle. Oh, by the way, if you want to hire me to do your grocery shopping, I'm open, just don't ask me to cook it too.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Are You Tired of Same Lunch Salad?

Salads don’t have to be boring, especially if you are making them yourself. I love main meal salads for lunch or dinner. We have many options to choose from when making a salad.

Step 1: Choose your salad greens: spinach, romaine, spring mix, etc. You want at least 2 C of greens. Tip-The darker the green the more nutrients it has.

Step 2: Get creative; this is where you decide which fruits & vegetables you want to add. Ideas: shredded carrots, orange bell peppers, shredded broccoli, cut up apples, dried cranberries or blueberries, shredded red cabbage, tomatoes, etc. This can be endless, but you want to add color here and make sure you add at least 1 C of these items.

Step 3: Add fat/protein, otherwise you will be hungry pretty quickly. Ideas: eggs, beans, chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, walnuts, almonds, soy nuts, etc. Also you can add avocado, yes I know it is a fruit. It has the good type of fat you want.

Step 4: Choose a light salad dressing. The problem with fat-free salad dressing is that when they take out the fat, they are also taking out flavor and they compensate by adding more salt and/or sugar. I like the Light Raspberry Vinaigrette, but you can pick what you like. When I get rid of my salad dressings in my fridge, I am going to experiment with homemade. I’m going to make my own raspberry dressing using Polaner All Fruit Raspberry, I can’t wait!

I think if you use this as a spring board for making your salads, you will not be bored anymore. Please watch my YouTube video titled, “Norma Yr Nutritionist: Salads 4 Lunch” for more ideas. Click below:

What things do you like to put in your salads?

Please comment, I don’t bite! Also I would appreciate you sharing this post to anyone that can benefit from it. My goal is to help people become healthier by making small changes; small and steady wins the race.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Eating Healthy is NOT more Expensive

I cringe when people say, “Eating healthy is Expensive” and they walk around with a sports drink/soda in one hand and a bag of chips in another. It’s no wonder why we have an obesity epidemic on our hands. The thing that causes me great concern is when I saw infants in the WIC (Federal government program for Women, Infants & Children) clinic. We first would see babies at birth, then at 6 months and finally at 1 year. I was seeing babies at 6 months that had already reached their 1 year weight! When I would ask parents about what doctor said, the majority said, “that he/she’s OK. That is not OK, but you see, doctors typically are required to take 1 nutrition course in college, whereas, nutritionists take many nutrition courses, including biology, chemistry and physiology courses together with med students. Who you going to listen to? Patients get 2 different messages, that is not right.

Let’s get back to my main point. Just recently I saw a guy saying buying an apple was more expensive than buying apple cereal. First of all, that doesn’t make any sense comparing 2 totally different foods, one high in nutrients and the other low in nutrients. See how you feel after snacking on an apple one day vs. snacking on the apple cereal on another. The apple will satisfy me for a longer period while the apple cereal would give me a headache as I’m coming off the sugar rush. So which one is more expensive for you?

I’m not talking about buying organic either. Did you know that organic is not any healthier? This comes directly out of the mouth of Dr. Stephenson, my Nutrition & Food Science college professor at UK. She even tried tricking us on an exam. She said studies have not proven organic is any healthier. Funny thing, she buys organic. What I conclude from this is, if you can afford to buy organic food, buy it. For the rest of us that are suffering the consequences of the economic times or being unemployed or underemployed, non-organic will do just fine.

For starters you can drink tap water, it’s free. I know you don’t like the taste, it’s acquired. I moved to FL from KY almost 8 months ago and yes I prefer KY water. Get yourself a clear pitcher and slice up some oranges or lemons or both and add ice and tap water, it works for me. Another option is a product I discovered called True Lemon; it is just crystallized lemon and comes in little packets with no sugar added. Now they have True Orange and True Lime, they are great to carry in your purse or pocket and take when you go to restaurants. They also have True Lemon shaker and True Lime shaker to use in cooking. Do you know if you give up one soda a day, at the end of one year you will have lost 15 pounds! If you give up 2 sodas that’s 30 pounds you’d lose! You don’t need the sports drink either, the majority of us are not doing 8-12 hours of strenuous physical activity. Ha, it’s hard enough for us to get the recommended 30-60 minutes a day. If your pee is not clear by later in the day, you have not had enough water!

For grains choose more whole grains, like 100% whole wheat bread, oats, whole wheat pasta, corn tortillas, whole grain cereal, brown rice and cornmeal. Check out my YouTube video on grains for more ideas and a recipe made with instant brown rice. We pay .79 cents for 100% Whole Wheat at the Hostess bakery versus getting the same thing in the grocery store for $3.00. I’ve been doing this for years, with different bakeries, check your city, they are out there. For snack eat popcorn, another whole grain, I like the 100 calorie packs. Another tip is to buy everything generic when possible.

When shopping for fruits and vegetables buy in-season items. Check out your farmers market and flea market. I would have never thought a flea market would have fruits and vegetables, until I moved to FL. We just went again this past weekend and bought strawberries, mango, plantains, tomatoes, peppers, lemons, plums, oranges, tangerines, garlic, bananas, and red potatoes. Check out my Fruit & Vegetable video. Also watch the video on how to cook plantains and how to cut a mango.

I grew up drinking whole milk, but when I went away to college, my roommate whose dad was a doctor and mom a nurse started me on 2%. When I got married I purchased 1% and today I only care for fat free. Sometimes my husband buys 1% and I have to add a little water or ice! You can get use to lower fat milk. Remember small changes are better than nothing. The only people that really need to be drinking whole milk are 1-2 year olds and people who have been told by a doctor or nutritionist they need to because they are underweight or have a medical reason for doing so. The rest of us should be consuming 1% or fat free. If you now drink whole change to 2%, even if you have to mix whole and 2% until you can wean yourself from whole. Then tackle 1%, ultimately you want to at least be drinking 1% or fat free.

You would think that I would recommend eating low-fat cheese, but don’t worry, I say eat the real thing but in small portions. I love extra sharp cheddar cheese but I do portion control. I usually get a 16 oz. block for better savings and cut it in 1 oz. portions however that can sometimes back fire if you end up eating more. I’m not going to say that doesn’t happen to me, ha, ha.

As for yogurt, watch out for any yogurt that has cartoons on it, geared toward kids. They are loaded with sugar, check the label for yourself. The companies are so sneaky that they sell them in tiny serving sizes, this way the sugar content seems lower. I buy low-fat generic yogurt in the 32 oz. size. I like to buy the plain or vanilla and divide it into small containers and add frozen blueberries or dried cranberries, that way they are ready for when I want to eat. At the time I’m going to eat it, I add walnuts or wheat nugget cereal, yummy. Stay tune, as I have a video in production on dairy products.

We have already covered water, produce, grains, and dairy, so that leaves us protein sources. Learn to love beans, they are not your enemy and they are versatile too. I make a pot of beans with calabaza (squash) and serve them over rice, they are to die for. You can add them to soups, chili, salads, rice, pasta salads and even make brownies with them. What, I’m not joking I saw Chef Rucco on The Dr. Oz show sharing his brownie recipe made with black beans. When I had a separate freezer I used to buy dried, and cook them and put them in 2 cup containers. Now that I don’t have my freezer I buy the can beans. They are a cheap source of protein. Give them a chance, try to go meatless twice a week and you’ll save.

When we lived in KY, we would buy rotisserie chickens at half off! We’d go a little later in the evening when they’d probably be at the 2 hours standing time and they would mark them down to ½ off. I use to kid my husband that he had a hook up with the deli guy. Sometimes he would come home with 3 or 4 chickens. We would cut them up and freeze them. It was not even worth buying unprepared chickens. So get friendly with the deli guy, you might get a hook up, ha, ha. As for pork and beef, try to buy roasts (get then on sale) and cook them in a slow cooker.

Salmon and tuna are good protein sources, and the can variety is good to have on stock. And don’t forget about the eggs, they are not as bad as previously thought. In a recent study it was revealed that an egg a day is OK, even if you have high cholesterol. The researchers of the same study will test if 2 eggs a day is OK for people with high cholesterol. The researchers speculate that 2 eggs are going to be fine. Yet another good source of protein are nuts and seeds. They have good fat in them and a handful a day is all that’s needed.

Another thing I’m going to tell you is our bodies need fat in order to carry out bodily functions. You only need small amounts, so sorry if you like to fry. I grew up in a household where fried foods were common, once I got married, no fried stuff for me. I don’t even know how to fry, and that makes me happy. What the body needs is good fat, in the form of olive oil or canola oil, avocados, seeds and nuts.

So there you have it, these are some ideas on how to eat healthy while not going broke. It really doesn’t entail you spending long hours in the kitchen. Plus, you get the added benefit that you cooked homemade. You can do it!

Please feel free to comment. If you liked this article and know of other people than can benefit from it, please email it or share it on your Facebook or Twitter, etc.