Archive | Happy Healthy YOU

No Need to Cry-Let’s Celebrate the Onion

Guest Post By Bonnie Brost, licensed and registered dietitian at Essentia Health.

onion recipe

The onion is a hardy vegetable that can be planted right now. It does well in cool climates and can be planted five to six weeks before the final spring frost date, which is early June here in the Northland. You can plant seeds or small starter bulbs.

Onions are the third largest fresh vegetable industry in the United States, according to the National Onion Association. Per person consumption is about 20 pounds per year, which translates to more than 450 semi-truck loads of onions used each day.

There are two main kinds of onions, fresh and dry. Fresh onions include green onions, also known as scallions, and sweet onions, such as Vidalia, that are availablein spring. Dry onions, also known as storage onions, can be yellow, white or red. Dry onions usually have a stronger, more pungent flavor.

The onion’s strong flavor and odor come from sulfuric compounds. These compounds cause our eyes to tear. To keep tearing to a minimum, refrigerate an onion for 30 minutes before cutting and leave the root end on as long as possible, which reduces the release of the sulfuric compounds.

Onions provide a little vitamin C, folate, calcium and potassium. Onions are high in flavonoids, the antioxidants that can neutralize harmful free radicals and suppress inflammation in our bodies. One flavonoid is quercetin, which has been linked to protection from lung cancer and asthma.

For some people, onions can increase the symptoms of gastric esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome. Onions, especially when eaten raw, can bring on symptoms of GERD or heartburn because the valve between the esophagus and stomach does not to close well, allowing the acid from the stomach to come up into the esophagus. Some people can tolerate cooked onions or onion powder better than raw onions.

For those with irritable bowel syndrome, onions are a source of fructans that need to be broken apart by an enzyme in the small intestine. If they don’t have enough of this enzyme, the fructans continue into the large intestine where they ferment and result in gas, bloating and/or diarrhea. Avoiding all types of onion is best. Try adding onion flavor by sautéing large pieces of onion in oil, removing them and then only using the flavored oil.  This doesn’t work with soup because fructans are soluble in water and remain in the soup.

Here are two recipes featuring onions.

Marinated onions are a great addition to sandwiches and salads. Try different onions, such Vadalia onions for something sweeter or red onions to add some color.

Marinated Onions

1 medium onion

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup rice vinegar or red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons honey or granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

Peel and thinly slice onion. Separate into rings. Combine remaining ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake until well blended. Add onions. Shake to coat onions. Refrigerate at least 8 hours.

Nutrition facts

Serving:  About 6

Calories:  40

Total fat: 2 grams

Saturated fat: 0 grams

Trans fat: 0 grams

Cholesterol:  0 milligrams

Sodium: 1 milligram

Potassium: 35 milligrams

Carbohydrate:  6 grams

Fiber: 1 gram

Protein: 0 grams

French onion soup is usually very high in saturated fat and sodium but this one is more heart-healthy.

The traditional soup uses toasted French bread but whole-grain bread makes it more nutritious.

 

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cups thinly sliced sweet Vidalia onions

4 cups thinly sliced red onions

½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon ground pepper

¼ cup dry white wine

1½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

6 cups unsalted beef stock (140 milligrams sodium or less per cup)

½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme

3 slices whole-grain bread, toasted and cubed

¾ cup shredded Swiss cheese

Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in sugar, pepper and salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in wine, broth and thyme, bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours.

Preheat broiler. Place 8 ovenproof bowls on a pan. Add 1 cup of soup to each bowl. Add ½ slice of toast cut into cubes and then top with 2 tablespoons of Swiss cheese. Broil for 3 minutes until cheese begins to brown.

Nutrition facts

Servings: 6

Serving size: 1 cup

Calories: 195

Total fat: 7 grams

Saturated fat: 3 grams

Trans fat: 0 grams

Cholesterol: 13 milligrams

Sodium: 250 milligrams

Potassium: 150 milligrams

Carbohydrates: 21 grams

Fiber: 3 grams

Protein: 10 grams

Bonnie Brost is a licensed and registered dietitian at Essentia Health.

Easter candy can quickly add up

{guest post By Bonnie Brost, licensed and registered dietitian at Essentia Health.}

With Easter just around the corner, baskets are filling up with candy for kids. Sugar-packed treats are also part of the celebration for many adults.

Easter candy

Pop a Peep bunny or chick in your mouth and you’ve just enjoyed a teaspoon and a half of sugar. Sink your teeth into a and you’ve had 5 teaspoons. Four jelly beans equal a teaspoon of sugar.

It’s easy to see how Easter candies quickly load up our diets with added sugars.

Sugar can be natural or added. Natural sugars are found in whole fruits, vegetables and milk products. Added sugars are put into foods during manufacturing or at the table. Added sugars have many names that include corn syrup, date sugar, dextrose, fructose, glucose, honey, maltose, molasses, sucrose and fruit juice concentrates.

The American Heart Association and the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting how much added sugar we consume. These calories crowd out other foods that provide important vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that we need to keep us healthy.

Eating too much sugar can increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease and obesity. Added sugars can also increase inflammation by releasing inflammatory messengers called cytokines.

Most Americans eat 22 teaspoons or a ½ cup of added sugars a day. That adds up to 156 pounds a year, or 15 10-pound bags. The American Heart Association recommends only 6 teaspoons of added sugars each day for women and children and 9 teaspoons for men.

Reading food labels can help you see how much sugar you’re eating. However, it is sometimes difficult to decipher how much of that sugar is natural or added since the amount listed in the nutrition facts includes both. If you don’t see any of the names for various forms of sugar, then the total sugar comes from natural sugars. For candy, the total sugar is added sugar. It’s more difficult for a product like yogurt that has natural sugars from milk and usually has some added sugar. The label also lists grams so remember that four grams equals a teaspoon of sugar.

We like things sweet because we are born with a desire for sweet foods. Foods that are high in sugar and fat release “reward chemicals” in our brain and give us a strong desire to eat more.

This Easter season, start something new by rewarding your family with some alternatives to candy. Then rely more on the natural sugars in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products that also provide vitamins, minerals and many phytonutrients to keep your immune system strong and help improve or prevent many chronic diseases.

SIDEBAR: Easter basket alternatives

Create new traditions this Easter that include less added sugar. Try filling Easter baskets with fun alternatives to candy:

Bunny ears
Balloons
Bubbles
Colored pencils or crayons
Coloring books
Stickers
Sidewalk chalk
Toothbrush
Toys for the tub, beach or sandbox
Squirt gun
Stamps and ink pads
Jump rope
Hair bow/barrettes
Fun socks or tights
Gift card for phone apps or music
Seed starter kits
Baseball or tennis balls
Yo-yo
Bubble bath
Nail polish
Sunglasses
Movie tickets or DVD
Zoo admission

Happy Easter!

Bonnie Brost is a licensed and registered dietitian at Essentia Health

Healthy Kid Friendly Food Ideas

Kids are picky eaters. Some of course are more finicky than others. In fact, mealtime can become a dreaded battle ground. Do you have children that despise anything that doesn’t resemble a chicken finger? Do they turn their nose if it isn’t packed with sugar? If so, then you have your hands full. Here are a few ideas to help you win the battle and get some vitamins and nutrients into your kid’s diet.

picky eater

#1 Fun shapes – It doesn’t matter what it is, kids tend to like things that look fun. Pancakes and sandwiches are easy to shape with cookie cutters. However, you can also make vegetable latkes and shape them. You can also get creative with vegetables. Imagine building a little log cabin out of celery, with carrots and cheese or peanut butter as an adhesive to bind it all together.

Don’t forget meats. You can cut turkey burgers, chicken breasts and other meat into shapes too. Once your child is accustomed to the flavor you can ease back on the novelty shapes and fun designs.

#2 Get sneaky – Add vegetable and fruit purees to their favorites. Brownies, breads and muffins and even sauces or dips can be healthy too. For example, add some applesauce, blueberry or peach puree to yogurt and serve with shredded chicken or breads & biscuits.

#3 Cheese – Most kids love cheese. You can embrace this tasty food as a dip, a sauce or a casserole staple. You can also stuff vegetable or meats with cheese. Yum, a cheese-filled pepper, or chicken breast!

#4 Don’t force the issue – Many parents choose to simply make their meals as they would normally make them. However, they take a less stringent approach. Instead of making kids eat everything, the simply ask the children to “try” everything. Most children are more opposed to how a food looks than how it tastes. When you’re not forcing them to eat they tend to be a lot less rigid with their choices and decisions.

#5 Let them choose a meal once a week – Giving your children some independence and responsibility may make them more responsive at meal time. Let them choose one meal each week. Get them involved in the preparation too. This way they learn to appreciate what goes into making a meal.

Kids can be tough to please. A little patience and creativity can help you manage their picky appetites and mealtime successfully. Be patient. Help them learn to appreciate what goes into a meal and how to be healthy. Provide children with a variety and encourage them to try new things. Eventually they’ll learn to appreciate new foods.

Side Note: Think your child has sensory processing disorder? Learn about the warning signs of SPD @POPSUGARMoms

spd

Picky Kids? Fake ’em Out and Make Veggies FUN (Gift from Country Crock)

Eating healthy is hard work (for some of us anyway)


But..I am trying.

As I was perusing the web today, I saw this cool free Veggie Cookbook from Country Crock. I am not a big fan of cooking, much less recipe books, BUT the ideas are fabulous and the images are striking. I just HAD to share:

NOTE: This caught my eye because I switched to Country Crock awhile back when I saw with my own eyeballs the health/nutritional difference between Country Crock and by beloved butter. 

NO, they did not pay me to say that.

Check out the rest of the recipes courtesy of Country Crock HERE.

I’d love to include everyone else’s tips and ideas too (Lord knows I could use the help) SO…feel free to share fun recipes kids will love in the comment box below..or even on our Facebook Wall (including pictures would be FABULOUS as well).

**I was not asked or paid to write this post. This is just the opinion of little ol me.:)

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Writer, blogger, social media fiend, and proud mama, Becky Flansburg writes for a variety of places including Her Voice Magazine, Franticmommy, and BizEase Support Solutions. When not creating typos and brain lint here, she can be found spending waayyy too much time on Facebook. Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+
 

 

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