Monthly Archives: April 2013

3 Earth-Friendly Recipes

Oatmeal

In honor of Earth Day this week, be good to your body and to Mother Earth. Make an effort to eat  foods “close to the earth” with the least amount of packaging, processing, energy and use of your time. 

Here are a few “go green” recipes to enjoy this weekend and beyond.

SNACK: Pop Your Own Popcorn

Start with a jar of corn kernels. In a large stockpot, heat a healthy oil (canola, corn, etc.) and then add kernels and cover the pot with a lid. Listen for “popping” kernels for the next 1-2 minutes. When the popping stops, remove pot from the stove.  Serve popcorn hot, just straight up, or add a little Parmesan and seasonings (that stick with cheese and heat). Seasonings such as dried oregano, parsley, thyme, or unsalted Italian or Greek seasonings are delicious.

OTHER SNACKS:  unsalted, uncoated nuts, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables dipped in hummus or bean dip

INSTANT OATMEAL:  Yes, even instant counts.

Try the new larger bagged portions of instant oatmeal, prepared in 1 minute in the microwave or on a stovetop.  Convenience and speed are there, but less packaging.  The larger bag contains, in essence, multiple  “instant oatmeal packets”.  You control your portion, as well as the added salt, sugar, or sugar substitutes.  Quaker Perfect Portions comes in two flavors – cinnamon or maple syrup – and the flavors add no additional calories. Great idea!

BEANS WITH GREENS SOUP- How much earthier can you get!

Soak a package of 16-bean mixture overnight in water in a stockpot. The next day, drain the water. In a large stockpot (or slow-cooker), sauté half a pound of extra lean ground beef, chicken or turkey.  Add  unsalted broth to water, in the amount recommended on the bean package. (I like to choose Kitchen Basics broth, with the Heart-Check logo, meaning it meets the saturated fat and sodium criteria of the American Heart Association.) Add in beans and 2 cups each of the following chopped vegetables: carrots (about 5-6 big carrots), celery (ons bunch) and a large onion. You may also substitute a thawed bag of these frozen mixed vegetables.  For speed and convenience: 1) chop all veggies in a food processor, one type at a time or 2) purchase fresh chopped onions and tiny petite carrots at your grocery store; 3) buy celery sticks in water and slice in half; use the water as part of the water added to the beans for cooking.

Bring to a boil and simmer 60-80 minutes. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, add a bag of washed, chopped kale, after you have chopped it more finely into strips for quicker cooking.  Spinach may be substituted or added. Add seasonings such as a tablespoon of vinegar, your favorite unsalted seasoning blend, black pepper and garlic powder. When beans are cooked tender, enjoy a bowl-ful! Refrigerate or freeze left-overs  for a snack or meal the next day This soup tastes better each day, as flavors continue to blend. I even eat it for breakfast!

For more ideas on healthy eating, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia KostasNutrition and visit:http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

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Earth Day – Five Easy Ways to Eat Greener

Green Salad

Eating green is not only good for you, but good for the planet. It’s important we understand how our food is grown, processed, packaged and transported to us to make the best decisions for our health and the environment.

Make a pledge to give your eating habits a green makeover by following these simple steps. This Earth Day, there’s no better time to start.

Get real. Real foods in their most basic form are as “green” and unadulterated as you can go. The only processing and energy utilized is your own – in preparing them at home. We are talking about fresh vegetables, fruit and beans and remember, fresh is best; frozen next best. Steer away from foods processed with extra salt, sugar or fats. Stick with the basics. These more “basic” the food, the more nutrition is preserved, and the more likely your appetite to be satisfied. There’s nothing like fresh and crunchy to satisfy hunger and when it comes to snack time, nuts are an excellent  “green” go-to. Pistachios, walnuts, almonds and peanuts are all-packed with disease-fighting nutrients and can add crunch and flavor to nearly any recipe.

Above all, be sure to read food labels carefully and select foods with the shortest and most basic, understandable list of ingredients.

Veggie up. All vegetables start out green, literally and you can’t overestimate the power of adding more greens to your diet. They are chock-full of antioxidants, phyto-nutrient, vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iron, folic acid, copper and zinc and Vitamins A and C. This wealth of nutrients protect the heart, blood vessels, bones, immune system and muscles and prevent heart disease, cancer, hypertension and bone loss. Talk about a great dollar value per nutrient value!

Try cooking your veggies in simple ways – like steaming in your microwave or stovetop – or add a little excitement by roasting your veggies in the oven, sautéing them in a skillet or grilling them on the grill. Try simple olive oil, which encrusts over the vegetable when roasted or grilled, sealing juices. Try spicing them up! Add a little heat by tossing vegetables into a powdery mix of cayenne, curry, ginger or Serrano peppers. Milder flavoring agents like fresh lemon juice, oregano, basil or seasoning blends work wonderfully, too.

Keep it local. On average our produce travels around 1,500 miles to get from the farm to your plate. Cut out the energy used to transport your food and grow your own plant foods or buy local produce at farmer’s markets. Some grocery stores also sell local produce, too, so be sure to ask. Look for “organic” or “sustainable” certifications (labeled). If you have any questions, you can always ask produce-growers at farmer’s markets how they raise what they sell.

Eat up. Most fruits and vegetables come with edible peels or stalks. Don’t toss them out – eat them! This is where most of the important vitamins and minerals are and of course, fiber, too. Making a point to eat all the edible parts of your produce will ensure you have less waste while getting the most nutritionally out of each meal.

Tap your water. Forgo plastic water bottles. They are often over-priced and certainly over-packaged especially when we have access to clean water. What’s more, municipal tap water is often times more strictly regulated (and safer) than bottled water, and contains fluoride, for cavity-resistant teeth. Save the waste and the planet by using a refillable water bottle you can carry with you at all times.

These tips will get you started on simplifying your diet, getting healthier and saving money while preserving and appreciating the earth.

For more ideas on healthy eating, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia KostasNutrition and visit:http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

 

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