Healthy Options On the Fly…

We all have those crazy weeks when we can’t even imagine finding time to sleep, let alone cook a full meal or head to the grocery store. In those “times of need”, I run to Food Network’s Healthy Eating section. There you can find anything from quick weeknight meals to side dished to desserts. Most are quick to prepare and all are healthy…definitely a lot healthier that running through the Mickey D’s window on the way home from work.

They best part about it is the variety they provide. The section doesn’t just have a handful of recipes. It contains a wealth of options, from special diets and regional food, to quick and simple and guilt-free desserts. There is an option for every diet, time frame, and budget. So check it out the next time you’re in a bind, or even during your weekly meal planning, and enjoy.

An Afternoon at Reading Terminal Market

A Philly staple since 1892, Reading Terminal Market has something for everyone. Located at the corner of Filbert and North 12th streets, it contains over 80 vendors selling everything from meat to produce to ice cream.

I spent Friday afternoon at the market to do some shopping, people watching, and snacking on good eats. A few of my market favorites are DiNic’s for their hot roast pork and brisket sandwiches, Bassett’s Ice Cream for some amazing homemade flavors, Smucker’s Quality Meats for their Amish beef jerky, Termini Bros Bakery for their cannoli and baked goods, and Iovine Brothers Produce for fresh fruits and veggies. You can’t go wrong at the market, there’s something for everyone.

ImageSeating area at the center of the market is bustling with patrons.

ImageProduce is plentiful at Iovine Brothers Produce where everything from yucca to okra can be found.

ImageAmerica’s oldest ice cream company, established in 1861, has become a staple at the market.

ImageHot roast pork with sharp provolone is a local favorite at Tommy DiNic’s.

Image

Patrons stroll down Arch Street, outside the market, on Friday afternoon.

Healthy Snack on the Go

As I mentioned last week, breakfast is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A great way to get that meal in is a smoothie or protein shake. It helps regulate metabolism, curbs hunger, is full of nutrients, and is great for post workout or on the go.

To help get a jumpstart on the tricks to making a quick shake without all the mess, I thought I’d provide a recipe that I like to use, and the tricks that make it easier to make.

I start with a basic smoothie recipe, and then throw in some extras to make it more filling and nutritious. The recipe I use amounts to about 20 ounces, so it can easily be halved or made larger to suit anyone’s needs.

Photo by Jessica Kennedy

 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup skim milk (or low fat or soy milk*)
  • 1 cup frozen berries (50/50 strawberries & blueberries*)
  • 1/2-1 frozen banana

Add Ins:

Throw all of your ingredients in a blender and pulse a few times to incorporate everything, then blend for 30 to 60 seconds until smooth. Poor into a glass or shaker cup and enjoy!

Tips for prepping & making:

– I try to buy fresh fruit when it’s on sale or in season. I clean it, cut it up, and freeze it in reusable plastic containers so I have easy access when I want to grab some fruit for a shake.

– If you always make the same shake with the same fruit, or only a couple versions, you can portion the fruit into individual sealable bags so you can easily grab one and throw it in the blender on the go.

– I love the Ninja Master Prep blender. It’s inexpensive, easy to use, and dishwasher safe. Picked mine up at my local Target on sale and it’s worked great.

– Add in whatever fits your lifestyle, or nothing at all. I add the protein to supplement my daily intake and help with my active lifestyle, the fiber for fullness and to assist with digestion, and the maca for stamina, energy, and hormone balance. You can easily use just protein or nothing at all though.

– If you’re using fresh fruit, add about a half a cup of crushed ice and blend for up to a minute longer. Freezing fruit eliminates this need.

– If you prefer to avoid milk, a good 100% juice (orange, pomegranate, carrot, etc.) can take it’s place.

– Try out different combinations to find what works for you. Banana with chocolate protein powder and peanut butter, mangos with papaya and berries, strawberries with vanilla protein powder, the options are endless.

Alton Brown’s Take on a “Healthy Diet”

As an avid watcher of Alton Brown‘s Food Network show Good Eats, I have always been intrigued with the science behind foods and cooking. Brown uses his show as a basis to explain the science behind classic dishes, both old and new. The only issue I always found in watching, however, was the unhealthy content of what an abundance of his recipes contained. Apparently I wasn’t the one one.

In 2009, Brown took notice in his weight gain during his Good Eats series run, and took on a new, healthy approach to eating. 50-pounds later, Brown emerged healthier, happier, and wanted to let his viewers know how he had accomplished it. Brown did this in a 2009 episode titled “Live and Let Diet”, when he explained the basics behind his new lifestyle.

Brown called his new diet “The Plan of Four Lists”. He used the idea of everything in moderation to make sure he intakes the right amount of nutrients and calories on a weekly basis. They consist of the following:

“Eat Daily” List – fruits, whole grains, leafy greens, nuts, carrots, green tea

“Eat Three Times Per Week” list – Oily fish (wild salmon, tuna, sardines, etc), yogurt, broccoli, sweet potatoes, avocado

“Only Once per Week” list – pasta, one alcoholic drink, red meat, dessert

Alton Brown’s “Zero Times per Week” list – fast food, soda, processed meals, canned soups, “diet” anything (no artificial sweeteners)

Brown’s eating plan is very similar to the diet that I try to follow on a regular basis. It’s very balanced, filling, and provides the adequate nutrients for our bodies function and well-being. In addition to Brown’s list, I try to keep these things in mind when shopping for groceries, cooking my own meals, and filling my pantry:

– The more color the better. Try to incorporate the full color spectrum every week (different colors mean different nutrients).

– Yes, some oil is GOOD. Healthy oil provides more good than bad in a diet (avocados, nuts, oily fish, fruit and nut based oils).

– Protein should be eaten from different sources, not just meat (soybeans, dairy, nuts, beans, tofu, etc.).

– If choosing to take vitamins/supplements, use them to complement a healthy diet, not replace it.

– Carbs are not bad, they are essential for energy production…just try to consume mostly whole grains.

– Fiber promotes healthy weight & digestion. This means little to no “hunger pains”. Take advantage. (Fruits & veggies, grains, fortified foods).

– Shop the outside of the grocery store first, the majority of a full cart should come from the outer walls (Fresh produce, meats, grains, dairy, etc.).  The interior aisles are likely to contain the majority of highly processed foods.

– Don’t depend on the same mundane, regular foods. Mix it up, rotate meals, try new things, eat with the seasons. & different doesn’t mean eating a baked potato, french fries, and mashed potatoes. They’re the same thing. Trust me, it’s worth it.

– Eat Breakfast. Even if it means prepping beforehand and grabbing it on the go. (protein or granola bars, baggies of healthy cereal, smoothie made the night before, piece of fruit, etc.). It’s essential to keep metabolism in check.

With breakfast in mind, I’ll end with this Buff Smoothie recipe from Brown’s diet episode. For those on the go, the ingredients can easily be put in a blender in the fridge the night before. In the morning, it can be thrown on the blender and poured into a to-go cup without a hitch. Try it out, mix it up, make it your own.

Maintaining a Healthy Life for All Generations

Keeping up with health and fitness is a challenge for many people. Between work, school, keeping up with friends and family, and juggling all that life encompasses, it’s easy for our health to fall to the wayside. It is because of this trend that I talked to two generations of an active family to find out what keeps them going.

The Colton family of Philadelphia is a quintessential example of a family on the go. I spoke to both father and son Saturday to gain some insight into their approaches to living a healthy life.

Tucker Colton, a Senior at Penn Charter School, is a high school athlete and ball boy for the Philadelphia 76ers. As spring approaches, Colton prepares by getting his body into prime shape for baseball season. “I do a lot of upper body and calf weight room workouts…try to run, bike, play basketball as much as I can to have endurance”, Colton said.

As far as nutrition goes, the 17-year old avoids supplements. He enjoys protein bars during the season, however, to keep up with proper nutrition on the go. The balance of nutrition and exercise will come in useful as Colton prepares to graduate high school and enter college in the fall, helping him to maintain good health as he transitions into a new setting.

Jerrold Colton, father to Tucker and two younger sons, is a sports agent for CS Sports Management and local attorney. Constantly on the go, Colton emphasizes his belief in “the interrelation of a healthy mind, body, and soul.”

He lives a life of healthy moderation, supported by his commitment to devote time to all aspects of his life. “I make it a priority to pray work out, and eat well each day. I am not fanatical about any of them, but make sure they are a part of every day.”, states Colton.

As far as his fitness is concerned, Colton finds it important to stay toned and burn calories to control weight. He accomplishes this through 30 minutes or daily intense aerobic activity  such as treadmill or elyptical machine. As for toning, Colton finds it beneficial to “incorporate three times per week P-90X style lifting and push up routines.”

When it comes to Colton’s diet, he stated “I just try to stay away from high carbs and fatty foods.” “The combination seems to work, and makes me feel better without ever consuming me, or being overly onerous.”

For a family on the go, both father and son live a healthy life that revolves around moderation. The key seems to be finding the time and drive to commit to living an overall healthy and balance lifestyle. As Jerrold Colton said, the interrelation of mind, body, and soul is key.

The Colton Family (L-R): Skyler, Tucker, Jerrold, & Griffen.

Game Day Grub

Super Bowl Sunday is the second largest eating day in the United States, not that that should shock anyone. Falling only behind Thanksgiving, it is a day that is traditionally filling with gorging on junk food, beer, and endless wings. While I enjoy a good “off day” like most people, if I don’t plan ahead and watch my intake, I usually end up feeling worse in the long run. No one likes waking up feeling bloated and hungover after a night of eating your heart out.

As a solution, I have decided on more of a cocktail style for this years celebrations. This allows me to integrate healthy options with small and managable portions of those not so healthy yet oh so tasty junk options. This is one of those days where moderation is key. Your best bet is to prep anything you can the day before to limit the hassle of prepping and cooking before the big game. Any dips that you can make, veggies that you can chop, or wings that you can marinate, do it ahead of time.

One source of great game day recipes is Women’s Health. Guys, don’t let the name fool you. These options are just as tasty for you as they are for your female counterparts. From Guiltless Guac, to Grilled Buffalo Wings and everything in between, these options taste just as good as their fatty counterparts.

My personal game day menu will have a little of everything:

  • Pigs in a Blanket – this classic, while not very nutritious, are a great option for snacking. They let you indulge in your guilty pleasures without scarfing down an entire Coney Island Chili Cheese Dog. Simple to make, I thaw and cut puff pastry sheets into triangles, brush with brown mustard, and wrap the cocktail franks. I spread them out on a baking sheet with the end side down, brush with eggwash, sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds, and bake ing the oven for about 12 minutes. They make a great snack served with dipping sauces on the side (ketchup, mustard, horseradish dip, etc).
  • Chili – This classic is easy to make and can easily be made into a healthy option. Whether made from scratch or whipped up using a spice packet, any recipe can be made healthy. I simply use a McCormick Chili Seasoning Packet if I’m in a rush. I brown 95% lean ground sirloin instead of your standard 80% in a saute pan. I then add tomato sauce, spice packet, and any add ins (chopped tomatoes, beans, onions). This can be made in a matter of minutes and can warm on low heat in a crock pot for hours for a quick meal.
  • Wings – My trick to buffalo wings is obtaining the crisp without the fat. While they’re are many ways to make them, I usually stick to three different versions. I like to either quickly boil them in water and they bake until crisp, go straight to baking, or grill when possible. I marinate using either a buffalo sauce or a Spiedie marinade. All versions are baked first and then tossed in the sauce, although Spiedie versions can be marinated before and after being cooked. If you don’t have access to spiedie marinade, a good Italian vinaigrette will work fine.
  • Veggie Tray – I like to snack on a veggie tray to help fill me up and provide a snack between meals. You can include whatever you like, but carrots, celery, broccolli, cherry tomatoes, peppers, and snap peas are all good additions. I plate them with a low far ranch dressing to dip.
  • Sliders – I like to make sliders as an alternative to burgers. Giada’s Caprese burgers are a great option for something a little different with great flavor. I use the recipe as a base but sub in lean ground sirloin, low-fat mozzarella, whole wheat dinner rolls or a baguette, and use reduced fat olive oil mayo for the pesto mayo. Subbing low-fat ground turkey is also a great option.
  • Flatbread Pizza – I love pizza, but it is often heavy and filling. I lighten it up by using flatbreads as my base instead of dough. I top with sauce, low-fat mozzarella and toppings and broil on a baking sheet until the top browns.
  • Guacamole – Full of good fats, I love to eat guac with baked pita chips or blue corn tortilla chips. Preprepared versions are usually pretty healthy if you don’t want to deal with avocados, but if you’re up for the work, Alton Brown’s Guacamole is a great option.

The options are endless when it comes to game day food, just remember to snack in moderation and enjoy the game!