Undercover Veggies

veggies

Undercover Veggies

Vegetables are not everyone’s favorite thing to eat, but the vitamins, minerals and fiber in vegetables and fruits are essential for health. According the USDA, individuals between the ages of 19-30 years old are recommended 2.5-3 cups of vegetables per day… that is not even counting fruit.  It can be difficult to eat that much in just one day! Check out some tips below; eating the recommended amount can become easier, and tastier too, with a little practice.

  1. Include vegetables in your pasta sauce

Be sure to take advantage of fresh and frozen veggies when making your pasta sauce.  You’re looking for 50% of the food on your plate being veggies!!  Add some mushrooms, zucchini, and broccoli into your tomato sauce before mixing in your pasta. For a rich vegetable flavor, use an immersion blender to partially puree the vegetable pieces in the sauce.  Try blending some cauliflower into the cheese sauce of your mac and cheese; you’ll be packing on the vitamins and minerals while giving the sauce a bright flavor.

  1. Kale and spinach blended into your smoothies

This one isn’t groundbreaking; if the flavor of greens isn’t your favorite, try mixing kale or spinach (or both) with tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango and citrus fruits. The powerful flavors of tropical fruits hide the flavors of these leafy greens. It’s a great way to add vitamin K and a serving of vegetables to your smoothies without a trace!

  1. Add zucchini to your baking

This one’s a little bit of a cheat, but adding the zucchini makes it healthy, right? This is for my sweet tooth friends, adding zucchini actually adds moisture to baked products and provides potassium and vitamin C.   So bring on the carrot cake and zucchini muffins when you feel like baking.

  1. Roast up several pounds of veggies once a week

Now you‘ve got ready to eat, cooked veggies at your command.  For the seasons, try:

  • Summer: zucchini and yellow squash, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, green beans
  • Winter: Acorn, butternut or delicata squash, carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, onions and cabbage
  • Spring: Asparagus and cabbage along with your root veggies cellared from winter.

Add these to casseroles, salads, and eat with meat meals as you go through the week.

Here is a great resource for roasting veggies.

References

https://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables

 

Build a Better Salad!

Congrats! You’ve made it through Summer’s hottest months. But if you are like me, you are probably denying that it is ever going to end and still trying to squeeze in that last bit of fun outdoors. As a result, spending time inside cooking is probably last on your list. But with a multitude of end-of-summer activities, you need to fuel your body somehow. So what’s the solution?

Salad! Salad is the perfect easy meal. It’s light, fresh, quick, and since salad leaves naturally contain water, it’s even hydrating. But with so many options for creating a salad, it can be tough to know what to choose. Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure your salad is not only healthy but also delicious.

Step 1

Start with lots of leafy greens. This is an easy way to fill out the bulk of your salad while adding a lot of nutritional value without adding calories. Find information on how to choose the best salad greens here.

  • Spinach is the number one salad green, packing over twice the daily value of Vitamin K along with high levels of potassium and calcium.
  • Romaine is a close second, beating out spinach only in Vitamin A content.
  • Other options are Swiss Chard and Kale, which both boast super high antioxidant content. These are not commonly available at salad bars, but can be found in the produce aisle.

Step 2

Now comes the fun part: adding fruits and vegetables to the mix. As a general rule, the colors of fruits and vegetables indicate which nutrients they contain. Focus on getting a little of each color in your salad to maximize their benefits. With so many options this is where you can get creative with your salad depending on your preferences.

  • Excellent veggies for salads include sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, onions, mushrooms, beets, and broccoli
  • Add fruits such as avocado, chopped apples, pears, grapes, cantaloupe or strawberries

Step 3

Add a lean protein. Lean protein will help you feel fuller longer as well as help build lean muscle mass.

  • White meat chicken or turkey
  • Fish is one of the healthiest sources of lean protein because it is lowest in saturated fat. A good choice for fish is salmon, because it contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids (or good fats).
  • Hard-boiled eggs

Step 4

Add some extra crunch. Nuts and seeds are full of good-for-you fats and are high in fiber and antioxidants. Some great nuts for salads are almonds, walnuts, and pecans. Another way to add crunch without nuts is to use crushed pita chips.

 Step 5

It is smart to use discretion when adding dressing to your salad to avoid dousing your healthy salad with unnecessary calories. A good way to control the amount of dressing is to ask for it on the side. Stay away from creamy dressings, as just two tablespoons of the average ranch dressing contain about 14 grams of fat. Instead look for an olive oil-based dressing like this one,  which contains half the amount of fat but still adds flavor.

Looking to put your brand new salad building skills to work? Try the Hub at West Village’s Kitchen, which has a variety of tasty options at their salad bar. The Hub Kitchen is currently featuring seasonal vegetables grown at the UC Davis Student Farm, including Sungold tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, Basil, and Summer Squash. Don’t forget to ‘Like’ them on Facebook to stay up-to-date on all of the Hub’s specials at https://www.facebook.com/HubWestVillage.

Ask a Dietitian! We are compiling a list of nutrition-related questions readers have for a special post in September. Simply fill out your name, email, and question in the feedback form below. 

How to Build a Healthier Sandwich

build_healthier_sandwich

I have a theory.

My theory is that food tastes best when you take a big bite full of different textures and flavors all at one time. You see I’m not much of a nibbler, which probably explains why I love sandwiches so much. You get crunchy, creamy, sweet, and salty all in one epic bite. On top of that, there’s nothing complicated when it comes to sandwiches, except for maybe how difficult it was for me to spell the word growing up…sandwitches? sandwhiches? It took me a while to get that part right.

Even though building these beauties is simple, sometimes it can be tricky knowing how to build sandwiches that are healthy. Follow some of these tips and I guarantee you’ll want to make a sandwich your new simple go-to meal.

Step 1: The Bread

Like all great masterpieces, we must begin with the foundation. White breads spike blood sugar levels and lack protein, fiber, and essential B vitamins that give your body energy.  Try some of these whole grain options that are both nutritious and filling:

  • Whole wheat baguette
  • Whole wheat English muffins
  • Whole grain pita bread
  • Rye
  • Pumpernickle bread
  • Whole wheat Ciabatta

Quick tip! Scoop out the inside of thick crusty bread, such as a baguette and Ciabatta, to remove some calories. You can use the bread to make breadcrumbs by blending it in a food processor and baking it in the oven at 300°F until brown.

Step 2: The Moist Maker (aka Spreads)

Here’s where the calories can really start to sneak up on you! Many of us spread thick layers of oil-based spreads to add moistness to our sandwiches. What if I told you that the moist factor could be achieved without adding excessive calories?

Add a light layer of spreads like mayonnaise, Aioli, and creamy dressings on one side of your bread.  By adding a thin layer, you will experience the full flavor without piling on the calories. Keep in mind only one tablespoon of mayonnaise has 94 calories and 10g of fat!

Feel free to add more of your favorite low calorie spread. Try some of these delicious options:

  • Hummus
  • BBQ sauce
  • Mustard such as Dijon, honey, spicy, etc.
  • Avocado or guacamole

Don’t want to use spreads, but still want to add flavor? Toss your veggies in your favorite salad dressing and add it to your sandwich.

Step 3: Cheese

Look for your favorite cheese made from skim or part-skim milk, which has less calories and saturated fat. Use just one thin slice!

Step 4: Vegetables

This is where you can experiment with your favorite veggies! It’s also the perfect chance to try new vegetables you’ve seen at the farmers market. It’s more than just lettuce and tomatoes now…here are my personal favorites:

  • Spring mix
  • Arugula
  • Caramelized onions
  • Avocados
  • Roasted peppers
  • Alfalfa Sprouts
  • Cucumbers
  • Beets
  • Pickled vegetables

Step 5: Protein

Some things to consider when looking for meat:

  • Look for meats naturally low in fat and saturated fat.
  • Aim for less than 500 mg of sodium per serving. Some processed meats are very salty.
  • Choose deli meats free of nitrates and nitrites, which are used as preservatives.

Try some of these:

  • Turkey
  • Roast Beef
  • Chicken breast
  • Chicken, tuna, or egg salad made with Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise.
  • Eggplant
  • Tofu: made from soybeans and is subtle in flavors so it will easily absorb any spices or marinades.
  • Tempeh: made from fermented soybeans and has a unique flavor different from tofu. It has a great chewy texture and it is packed with protein and fiber.

You can also make it without meat and pile on hummus and more veggies!

The last step is slicing it diagonally… it makes the sandwich infinitely better.

Ask a Dietitian! We are compiling a list of nutrition-related questions readers have for a special post in September. Simply fill out your name, email, and question in the feedback form below. 

Healthy Summer BBQ

SummerBBQproof


Sometimes I forget why I like summer, especially with temperatures rising to 106 degrees.

But then I remember how much I like warm nights, barbeques, fireworks, outdoor activities, the beach, oh and did I mention barbeques? There’s no better way to enjoy summer than being able to grill up anything and everything. From fruits to steaks the possibilities are endless.

The good news is that there are health benefits to grilling. One example is that cooking vegetables on the grill is quick, allowing them to retain vitamins and minerals. Although grilling can be made healthy, many of us end up eating meats that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and carcinogens when charred. Instead of loading up on high fat meats, try some of these healthy recipes at your next barbeque!

Appetizer
Grilled Baby Artichokes
Did you know that artichokes are a good source of vitamin C? Vitamin C helps our bodies absorb iron and plays an important role in immune function. Artichokes are also high in folate, magnesium, and fiber!
Artichokes
This recipe includes a flavorful dipping sauce that’s made with light mayo and Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt’s thick and creamy consistency allows it to be a healthy substitute for mayonnaise in many recipes.

Salad
Grilled Green Bean Salad. 
I love how simple this recipe is! This salad is a good base to add any herbs or vegetables that will accompany your main meal. What’s even better is that green beans are high in calcium, which is important for building strong bones and teeth. 
GreenBeans

Main Dish
Thai Chicken Burgers. 
Burgers and barbeques go hand in hand. Instead of grilling the usual beef patty, try making your own patty with ground chicken! Compared to ground beef, ground chicken is lower in calories and saturated fat.

Turkey-Burger

You don’t have to sacrifice flavor by adding fresh ingredients like onion and garlic. This recipe takes creative spin on a burger by packing Asian flavors with sesame oil and garlic chili. The best part? Peanut sauce.

Tofu Lettuce Wraps. Grilling isn’t just about meat anymore. Venture out and try these tofu lettuce wraps that are perfect for a hot summer day. What’s tofu? Tofu, commonly used in Asian cuisine, is made from soybeans that are high in protein. Soy protein has been shown to lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
By Erin Gleeson

Sides
Grilled Asparagus and Cilantro Pepita Pesto. 
Asparagus is an easy vegetable to grill during the summer and what better way to serve them than with a cilantro pepita pesto. Pepita is another name for pumpkin seed and is packed with nutritional value from vitamins to amino acids. It also contains omega- 3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and the risk of heart disease.
Asparagus
Dessert
Red, White, and Blue Popsicles. There’s nothing quite as refreshing in 100 degree weather than a good popsicle. Homemade popsicles are a simple alternative to buying popsicles at the grocery store that are full of artificial coloring and added sugar. These popsicles look delicious with the balance between refreshing berries and creamy yogurt. You’ll feel guilt-free while eating one of these because berries are full of antioxidants.

Popsicles

Drink
Strawberry Lemonade. Only four ingredients? I’m sold. When a drink is this easy, there’s no reason to buy soda for your next summer barbeque. Fresh strawberries and lemons are the stars of this drink that balance each other nicely between sweet and tart. Not only do the lemons add a nice tang but they also contain antioxidants and are good sources of electrolytes that help maintain your body’s function.

Lemonade