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#Essentia Health Tips | Try a new twist on zucchini with “Zoodles”

 

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

a new twist on zucchini with “Zoodles”

 

It is the A to Z time of summer: August brings an overabundance of zucchini.

Essentia Health Tips -Try a new twist on zucchini with “Zoodles”

 

Zucchini is exploding in our gardens and filling up stands at farmers’ markets. What do we do with this green veggie and its close cousin, the yellow summer squash?

 

A popular option is zucchini bread. Recipes often add a lot of sugar and then we top the bread with high saturated fat butter. This tasty treat does not promote the health benefits of this summer garden gem.

 

One cup of sliced or spiralized zucchini is a great source of potassium. It has 295 milligrams, which is higher than an orange at 240 milligrams. We need 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day to insure our heart beats well, our blood pressure is under control and we metabolize our food well. Zucchini also is a great source of the “eye vitamin” known as lutein. Lutein is one of two major carotenoids found as a color pigment in the human eye. It is thought to function as a light filter, protecting eye tissues from sunlight damage. 

 

Zucchini has recently become popular in the foodie world. “Zoodles” or zucchini noodles, are the internet’s favorite pasta substitute. The lean green spirals are thin slices of zucchini, styled to mimic the look of pasta. Zoodles are popular in low-carbohydrate menu plans. While one cup of pasta has 200 calories and about 40 grams of carbohydrates, a cup of zoodles has only 20 calories and about five grams of carbohydrates.   

 

Using zoodles instead of pasta is an easy way to boost the amount of vegetables we eat. Vegetables insure that we get the needed vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to ward off cancer, heart disease, diabetes, eye disease and other chronic diseases. 

Essentia Health Tips -Try a new twist on zucchini with “Zoodles”

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 87 percent of Americans do not get the recommended two to three cups of vegetables. Adding spiralized vegetables, starting with this season’s zucchini, can get us closer to this goal.

 

Spiralizing gives a new and enticing look that is pleasing to the eye and we know that we eat first with our eyes.

 

There are hand spiralizers and table-top spiralizers. Hand models are less expensive but only do thin swirls. Table-top models, which cost $25 to $40, usually come with multiple blades to make fancy fun shapes, including ribbons and half-moons. Small to medium zucchinis work best with the spiralizers. For a huge zucchini, try a hand-held julienne peeler to make straight thin zoodles that look like fettucine. You can also try a potato peeler to test this concept before purchasing a new device. I tried a hand-held spiralizer and the julienne peeler. I’m thinking about purchasing a table-top model to experiment with a variety of vegetables and add more eye appeal to my vegetable presentations.

 

A simple meal to try is zucchini spirals topped with your favorite spaghetti sauce. It works well to warm the zoodles in a frying pan. Heat a skillet with a little olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the zoodles and pepper to taste. Sauté the zoodles for one to two minutes, until slightly soft. Remove from the pan and place on a plate covered with a paper towel. Allow the paper towel to soak up the extra moisture for about two to three minutes. Then divide the noodles on plates and top with the sauce.

 

Try zoodles in Zucchini Caprese Salad, a cold salad. Or cook them in Stir Fried Zucchini Noodles with Chicken and Peppers, a recipe that I adapted from Martha Rose Shulman’s “Spiralize This” cookbook. Zucchini Noodles with Chicken in Peanut Sauce is a delicious way to fill up with less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per serving and plenty of protein and vegetables. 

So, try a new twist on zucchini this summer.

 

 Essentia Health Tips -Try a new twist on zucchini with “Zoodles”

Zucchini Caprese Salad

2 small zucchini or yellow summer squash, spiralized (about 2 cups)

1 green onion, thinly sliced

16 grape tomatoes, cut in half

6 large fresh basil leaves, torn in small pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Pepper to taste

4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped in small chunks

 

Mix vegetables and basil in a medium bowl. Combine olive oil, vinegar and pepper; mix well and then add to vegetables. Top with chunks of cheese and serve. 

 

Nutrition facts

Serving size, 1 cup; calories, 125; total fat, 8.5 grams; saturated fat, 3 grams; cholesterol, 20 milligrams; sodium, 95 milligrams; potassium, 270 milligrams; carbohydrates, 5 grams; fiber, 1.5 grams; protein, 6 grams. 

 

Stir Fried Zucchini Noodles with Chicken and Peppers

2 small to medium zucchini, spiralized to make 6 cups of zoodles

1 large red pepper, cut into very thin strips

1 large yellow pepper, cut into very thin strips

2 tablespoons low-sodium teriyaki sauce (less than 150 milligrams sodium per tablespoon)

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon sambal oelek chili paste

1 ¼ pound fresh boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips

2 tablespoons canola oil or peanut oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

Chopped cilantro for garnish

 

Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the zucchini noodles, Boil for 1 minute. Drain and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Drain again.

 

In a small bowl, combine teriyaki sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch and chili paste. Stir to dissolve sugar. Set aside.

 

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and coat the pan. Add chicken strips and brown on both sides, for about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

 

Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, garlic and ginger; stir. Add peppers and stir-fry for 1 minute.  Return chicken to pan. Add zucchini noodles and sauce mixture. Stir together until noodles are heated through and coated with sauce. Serve garnished with cilantro. 

 

Note:  Peppers could be spiralized if you have a table-top spiralizer.

 

Nutrition Facts (calculated using Asian Fusion Low Sodium Teriyaki Sauce)

Serving size: 2 cups; calories, 300; total fat, 9 grams; saturated fat, 0.5 grams; cholesterol, 80 milligrams; sodium, 250 milligrams; potassium, 750 milligrams; carbohydrates, 18 grams; fiber, 4 grams; protein, 36 grams. 

 

Zucchini Noodles with Chicken and Peanut Sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 medium carrots, shredded (about 1 ½ cups)

1 cup red cabbage, shredded

1 large red pepper, very thinly sliced

2 medium to large zucchini, spiralized (8 cups)

2½ cups fresh chicken breast, cooked and shredded

 

Peanut Sauce

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger

1-2 teaspoons hot chili sauce

 

Prepare peanut sauce first by combining ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk constantly until peanut butter has melted. If too thick, add 1-3 tablespoons of hot water. Remove from heat.

 

Over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil and garlic in a large skillet. Add carrots, cabbage and pepper slices. Cook for about 5 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add zucchini noodles and shredded chicken to skillet and cook for about 3 minutes. Pour peanut sauce over chicken and vegetable and toss until well coated. May be garnished with cilantro, chopped green onions or sesame seeds.

 

Nutrition facts

Makes 6 cups; serving size, 2 cups; calories, 320; total fat, 14 grams; saturated fat, 2.5 grams; cholesterol, 65 milligrams; sodium, 230 milligrams; potassium, 620 milligrams; carbohydrates, 18 grams; fiber, 4 grams; protein 28 grams.

 

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Tell Fat to Fork Off-Diet-Proof Your Kitchen

Tell Fat to Fork Off

You can only overeat unhealthy foods if you stock them in your kitchen. But old habits are hard to break; you buy what you buy at the store because it’s what you’re used to, or what your family likes. Until you give your kitchen an overhaul, though, and diet-proof your pantry, weight loss and healthy eating habits are going to remain elusive.

It’s important to admit your weaknesses regarding diet – we all have them, and those who understand them are the ones who are more likely to implement healthy habits and shun the bad ones. For instance, if you know you can’t eat just one or two potato chips, then it’s probably a good idea not to have them in your house.

So what do you do? How can you diet-proof your kitchen? Here are some tips that may help, starting with a list of foods to avoid buying. Keep this list in mind when you make your grocery list…because you are making a list, aren’t you? That’s one of the keys to beginning the diet-proofing of your kitchen!

Foods to Avoid Buying

This is only a partial list which is meant to act as a springboard – listing all unhealthy foods not to buy would take volumes! This list focuses on foods that tend to be “go to” foods when you have a craving, or foods you may just be buying for their convenience or out of habit.

1. Peanut butter that’s been highly processed with added fat and sugar
2. Toaster pastries
3. Potato chips
4. Ice cream (especially rich, fatty ice cream with lots of added ingredients)
5. Candy
6. Packaged cakes (such as those individually wrapped ones)
7. Shortening or lard (if you don’t have it on hand, you can’t reach for it to bake an impromptu batch of midnight cookies)
8. Foods that contain high fructose corn syrup
9. Sugary drinks (colas)
10. Sugary cereals
11. Fatty cuts of meat, such as ground chuck or “marbled” beef roast or stew meat
12. Fatty dips, spreads, and salad dressings

Foods to Stock Up On

Here is a partial list of foods to have on hand:

1. Cut-up vegetables with low-calorie dip
2. Whole wheat tortillas
3. Fresh fruit (frozen grapes are especially good for sweet cravings)
4. Nuts (raw without added fat)
5. Healthy oils
6. No-sugar-added condiments like jelly and jam
7. Whole wheat bagels
8. Low-fat cream cheese
9. Low-fat yogurt
10. Granola
11. Fresh garlic
12. Flavorful, low-calorie condiments, herbs and spices, such as mustard, hot sauce, salt-free spice mixes, etc.
13. Frozen fish fillets

We all know that fruits and vegetables are essential parts of a healthy diet. The vitamins and nutrients from them helps make the body stronger and can boost the immune system. Each fruit and vegetable has its own natural properties that are beneficial. For instance, a tomato has antioxidant properties that help cleanse the body of toxins and free radicals. It is great for preventing cancer too.

You can easily find fruits and vegetables in the grocery store.  But how do you choose the good ones from the bad ones? Read on for some great tips.

Tips for Finding Good Produce:

Fruits

Oranges– Good oranges are firm, heavy and have a smooth texture. Do not buy oranges that are lightweight, dull, spongy, and have a rough texture.

Peaches– Good peaches are firm and plump. It should be white or yellow in color with a red blush. Do not buy peaches that are very cushiony or shriveled.

Grapes- Good grapes are tender, plump, firmly attached to the stems and have a slight amber blush (green grapes). Bad grapes are brown in color, have a wrinkled surface and brittle stems.

Apricots– Good apricots have a uniform golden color and they are firm. Do not buy apricots that have a pale yellow or greenish color. Bad apricots can be very soft or very hard.

Cherry– Good cherries have new looking stems and a smooth and shiny surface. Bad cherries have dried steams and dull surfaces.
Cantaloupe- Good cantaloupes have a delicate aroma, yellowish skin and a thick texture on the rind. Do not buy cantaloupes with a sweet and pungent aroma as well as those with a soft rind.

Watermelon– Good watermelons are symmetrical in shape and have a cream-colored underside. Do not buy watermelons with cushiony spots.

Vegetables

Broccoli– Good broccoli is firm, have closed florets and have a deep green color. Do not buy broccoli that are yellow in color, with open florets and water-soaked spots.

Asparagus- Good asparagus have closed tips and straight green stalks. Bad asparagus have open tips and the stalks are curved.
Bell Pepper- Good bell peppers have bright and glossy skin. They are firm and thick while bad bell peppers have soft spots and shriveled surfaces.

Carrots– Good carrots are firm and have a bright orange color. Bad carrots have a rough texture, soft and have green roots.

Tomato– Good tomatoes are plump, smooth and have a rich red color. Bad tomatoes look shriveled and have blemishes.

Now that you know how to choose good produce, you will spend your money wisely. Do not rush choosing good produce though, take your time and make sure you buy the best, it will be worth it.

Tell Fat to Fork Off-Simple Hacks To Help You Build New Habits

Tell Fat to Fork Off
Creating new habits isn’t easy. The past few posts in the Tell Fat to Fork off series has revealed just that. At 51 years-young, changing my habits isn’t as seamless as it used to be…but I am still trying 🙂

SO, for those of you who are following along and floundering a tad like me, you might appreciate these six simple hacks that will make CHANGE little easier. Use them until you’ve internalized the new habit and don’t need them anymore.

Schedule It And Put It On The To-Do List

Sometimes we forget to do that new thing we were trying. Maybe we forget that we’re supposed to be having eggs for breakfast instead of a stack of waffles, or that we need to get that daily walk in.

Schedule your new habits or make them part of your daily to-do list until they become something you do automatically. I have a Bullet Journal system that I use everyday and at the top of every page (in big, black letters) is “Do the 3 W’s.” This reminder on something eyeball everyday is a wonderful reminder of what I need to do to continue to Tell Fat to Fork Off.

My “4 W’s” are:

  • Water
  • Walk
  • Weigh

 

Make It Public and Be Accountable

Let family and friends know what new habits you’re trying to establish. They will call you out if you don’t stick to your plan and get you back on track.

You may even go as far as sharing it publicly on Facebook or write a blog about your new journey. Knowing that others read it and know about it might be just enough to keep you going when you feel like throwing in the towel.

Piggyback On A Habit You Already Have

Whenever possible, add the new habit to one you already have. For example, if you fix a cup of tea or coffee at 4pm, and you want to get in the habit of taking a daily walk, make the new ritual to go for your walk and then come back and enjoy your tea.

It’s much easier to amend an existing habit or ritual than creating an entirely new one.

Make Slipups Costly

Here’s a fun idea. Put a jar on the kitchen counter and each time you slip back into your bad habit or forget to stick to the new one you have to put five dollars in the jar. It will quickly help you remember to skip that sugary food and motivate you to go out for that walk. For extra motivation donate the money to charity at the end of the month or hand it over to your spouse to go spend on him or herself.

Find A Partner and Help Each Other Along

Find someone with the same or similar goal. This could be a workout partner or a diet buddy. Keep tabs on each other and encourage each other to keep going. It’s much harder to skip a walk if you know someone else is depending on you being there.

Make It A Group Challenge

If one accountability partner is good, a whole group is even better. And they don’t even need to be local. Find a supportive group online and challenge each other to stick to your new habit for the next 30 days or so. Not wanting to be the first one to give up will keep all of you going until you establish that new habit.

Give these simple little hacks a try. Keep using the ones that you find helpful until you have made new habits you can stick with without the help of any tools

Tell Fat to Fork Off-3 Steps to Creating New Habits

Tell Fat to Fork Off

3 Steps to Creating New Habits

Let’s talk about forming new habits. We all have times in our lives where we intentionally want to change our behavior for the better and create new habits for ourselves. This could be getting in the habit of eating healthier and drinking more water. Or it could be moving more and taking the dog for a daily walk. Or it could be work related, or spiritual, or… There are so many areas in our lives that could be improved and made easier if we created new habits.

Getting into the habit of doing something is often easier said than done. We seem to acquire bad habits without any effort, but getting into a “good” habit can be a little more challenging.

Let’s break it down into a three step process that makes it easy to follow until we’ve internalized the new behavior and made it a true habit – something we do automatically without having to think about, like brushing our teeth.

Decide What You Want To Do

The first step is to decide what you want that new habit to be. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just tell yourself you want to exercise more. Instead say something like “I will go for a 30 minute walk every single day”. Deciding what your new habit will be and committing to when and how you’re going to do it, is half the battle.

Remind Yourself To Get It Done

The next few days should be smooth sailing. You’re motivated and excited to get this done. Sticking to your new habit isn’t an issue. But a few days in you’ll notice that it’s easy to slip back into old habits.

Maybe it’s raining and you don’t really want to go out and walk. Or maybe your day just gets away from you. This is when it’s important to have a daily reminder. Set an alert on your phone or add the new habit to your daily to-do list for a while.

Make It Part Of Your Routine Until It Becomes A Habit

Which brings us to the last step. It takes some time before a new behavior becomes a true habit. Until then, a routine will work to your best advantage. Even before the new behavior becomes automatic, a routine will help you get it done without having to spend a lot of willpower or relying on daily reminders.

Make that daily walk part of your after dinner routine, or change from grabbing a snack at the vending machine at work at 10:00 in the morning to packing a healthy snack.

Congratulations! Decide to create the new habit, practice the routine until it’s second nature and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit.

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