Wellness News by Tanya

The New Food Guide Pyramid

The USDA unveiled the New Food Guide Pyramid last spring. It’s worth taking a few minutes to check out this site and find the eating plan that is best for you. It’s simple. All you do is go to www.mypyramid.gov and enter your age, gender, and activity level. Click “submit,” and your personalized daily eating plan will appear. The “tips” are very helpful in making healthier food choices. Nutrition Fact In the United States, French fries are the most popular vegetable eaten by children 18-24 months old.

Zapping Broccoli Zaps Nutrients (or does it?)

 A 2003 food study concluded that zapping broccoli in the microwave can destroy up to 97% of its flavonoids and may destroy the B and C vitamins as well. Researchers claim that lightly steaming veggies appears to be the best method for retaining the highest level of nutrients and flavonoids. What this study failed to mention is that researchers used a significant amount of water when microwaving the broccoli. Boiling or microwaving veggies in water leads to significant nutrient losses. Nutritionists teach that exposure to air, light, water, and heat reduces the nutrient content of most produce (tomatoes are an exception). Thus, using less water and reducing the cooking time retains more nutrients, even when microwaving. To maximize the amount of nutrients and flavonoids in your cooked veggies: use very little water when microwaving or steaming (never boil) reduce the amount of cooking time store veggies in airtight containers don’t cut up veggies until you are ready to use them cook veggies immediately after cutting (to help minimize exposure to air and light) Source: Vallejo, F., Tomás-Barberán, F. A., García-Viguera, C., Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 2003 Oct; 83(14):1511-1516.

Is Teflon Safe To Use?

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), there is one definite health risk connected with the use of Teflon pans. When Teflon-coated pans are allowed to rise to temperatures over 500° F, the Teflon emits dangerous fumes. Teflon pans were never meant to be used with high heat. It was discovered that the fumes emitted from Teflon pans can kill pet birds. The closer birds are to the kitchen, the more likely they are to die. (Remember when they used to send birds into mines to check for safety?). Dr. Christopher Portier of The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences says the answer still is not clear. He says that research on Teflon “is an emerging science and studies are in the beginning stages, even after all these years.” In other words, we really don’t know enough about the safety of Teflon. The CSPI says, “If used properly, Teflon still appears to be ‘okay.’ However, it may not be a bad idea to watch for updates on the use of Teflon.” If you are concerned about safety of Teflon, avoid cooking at high temperatures, don’t brown meats in Teflon pans, and don’t scrape out browned bits of food from the pan onto your plate. If the pan is scratched and flaking, throw it away. Source: Center For Science In The Public Interest, cspinet.org Going Nuts! Research is piling up on walnuts. The word is out -- they are a powerhouse for your health and an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids and copper. Both nutrients are known to be extremely deficient in the American diet. A balance of zinc and copper is needed to help maintain proper cholesterol levels. Walnuts also provide a rich source of zinc, magnesium, fiber, and a little vitamin B-6. The latest study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, involved 58 people with type 2 diabetes who ate 30 grams of walnuts daily for six months. At the end of six months, the researchers concluded that the lipid profile of patients significantly improved. The walnut-eating group had a 10% drop in artery-clogging LDL cholesterol. Eating 10 to 20 whole walnuts each day can make you healthier! Store them in the freezer, preferably in an airtight container, and take out just what you plan to eat daily. This will keep the oils fresh and preserve the antioxidant properties. You can bake with them, add them to salads or fruit cups, or simply eat them by the handful like I do! Enjoy! JOURNAL ABSTRACT:  http://care.diabetesjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/27/12/2777

Avocados GOOD For You?

Researchers claim that combining fruits and veggies with avocado may help you absorb the nutrients in those foods to a greater degree. People often avoid avocados because of the fat content. However, heart-healthy unsaturated fats in avocados aid carotenoid absorption. Carotenoids are antioxidants. They are the bright orange, yellow, and red pigments in fruits and vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, and spinach. These antioxidant properties concentrate in your retinas, where they absorb blue light that damages your eyes and can lead to age-related macular degeneration. In a recent study, adding three-fourths of a medium avocado or two tablespoons of avocado oil to fruits and veggies boosted the carotenoid absorption of those foods. Carotenoids are more efficiently absorbed when consumed with avocado. However, eating any type of healthy fat enhances carotenoid absorption from meals. Stir-frying veggies in olive oil also aids in greater absorption of nutrients. Try adding a little avocado dip or salad dressing made with olive oil to a veggie tray of baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, and grape tomatoes! Source: Unlu, Z. N., Schwartz, S. J., Clinton, S. K., International Food Technology (IFT) Annual Meeting, July 12-16, 2004. Vitamin E and Menstrual Cramps A study published in the April 2005 issue of the British Journal of Gynecology found that teenage girls receiving vitamin E had fewer and less severe menstrual cramps than a group of girls who took a placebo. Both groups were permitted to take ibuprofen for pain as needed. The vitamin E group took 200 mg of vitamin E twice a day starting two days before their periods and continuing through menstruation. Researchers found that the vitamin E group averaged two hours of cramps compared to 17 hours for the placebo group. Only four percent of the girls who took vitamin E reported using ibuprofen compared to 89 percent of the girls in the placebo group. Will this work for adult women as well? No studies have been done on vitamin E and adult women. Further research is needed to know if vitamin E also helps adult women with menstrual cramps. Note: Several studies have shown that 1,200 mg of calcium per day also helps with menstrual cramps.

Source: British Journal of Gynecology, April 2005 Food For Thought Food experts in Britain studied the changes in the nutritional value of vegetables from 1940 to 1991. Artificial fertilizer is thought to be the culprit. Soil today is not as rich in minerals due to use of synthetic fertilizer. Missing minerals can not be replaced. What’s the bottom line? We may need to eat even more veggies to compensate for the decline in the nutritional value of food. The British Agriculture Ministry and the Royal Society of Chemistry found the following comparisons: Potatoes 35% less calcium and 45% less iron Onions 74% less calcium Broccoli 46% less iron and 75% less calcium Turnips 71% less iron Spinach 60% less iron and 96% less copper Watercress 93% less copper Carrots 48% less calcium and 75% less magnesium

,,, Recipes ,,, From The Fitschen Kitchen

Pasta With Grilled Veggies


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 10 large fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic 2 tablespoons chopped onion 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil 1 teaspoon sugar 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 red peppers, sliced into chunks 1 yellow summer squash, sliced lengthwise 1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1 sweet onion, sliced into 1/4-inch-wide rounds 8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti Directions: To make the marinara sauce, in a heavy skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes, salt, garlic, chopped onions, basil, sugar, oregano and black pepper. Simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill or broiler (grill). Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source. Brush the red peppers, squash, zucchini and sweet onion with the remaining olive oil. Place the vegetables on the grill rack or broiler pan. Grill or broil, turning as needed, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and set aside. Fill a large pot 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (tender), about 10 to 12 minutes, or according to package directions. Drain the pasta thoroughly. Divide the pasta evenly among individual plates. Top with the marinara sauce and grilled vegetables. Serve immediately. Strawberry Spinach Salad

Serves 4 Try this baby spinach salad dressed in a light raspberry vinaigrette and tossed with fresh strawberries, almonds and creamy goat cheese. Ingredients: 1/2 shallot, minced (about 1 TB) 2 TB raspberry vinegar 1/4 cup olive oil 6 oz baby spinach leaves 5 fresh strawberries 1/3 cup sliced almonds 2 oz goat cheese Directions: Combine the minced shallot and raspberry vinegar in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil to the mixture while continuously whisking. Place the vinaigrette in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Roughly chop (or tear) the baby spinach into large julienne strips. Add to a large bowl. Prep the remaining components of the salad, but keep separated. Slice the strawberries into thin round slices. Toast the almonds by spreading on a cookie sheet and placing in a 375°F degree oven for approximately 5 minutes. Crumble the goat cheese into medium-size chunks. When you are ready to serve the salad, add the strawberries, almonds and goat cheese and lightly mix together. Add the dressing slowly. You can go light -- or use another fat free dressing if you prefer. Gently mix together and serve immediately.

Tropical Wild Rice Medley

 1 onion, chopped 2 stalks celery, chopped 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced 1/2 teaspoon cumin 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 1/2 cup bouillon 2 cups cooked wild rice 2 cups cooked barley 1 red bell pepper, chopped 1 green pepper, chopped 1 16-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained 1 ripe, fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cut in 1/2" chunks (about 3 cups) OR use canned pineapple tidbits 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Cook the onion, celery, jalapeno pepper and spices in the bouillon until softened, 5-10 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients and heat through. Serve warm or at room temperature.

6-8 servings Low-fat Cheesy Vegetable Lasagna (with no tomato sauce)


12 whole wheat lasagna noodles 2 teaspoons vegetable oil cooking spray 2 cups broccoli - chopped 1 1/2 cups carrot - thinly sliced 1 cup green onions - sliced 1/2 cup bell pepper - chopped 3 cloves garlic - minced 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 3 cups milk, 1% lowfat 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese - grated 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach - thawed 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese, lowfat 1 cup mozzarella cheese, part skim milk 1/2 cup Swiss cheese - shredded Directions: Cook lasagna noodles, omitting salt and fat. Drain; set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat oil in a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium high heat until hot. Add broccoli, carrot, onions, bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté 7 minutes; set aside. Place flour in a medium saucepan. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Add half of the Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in spinach. Reserve 1/2 cup of spinach mixture for top layer of casserole and set aside. Combine cottage cheese, mozzarella, and Swiss cheese; stir well. Spread 1/2 cup spinach mixture in the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 lasagna noodles over spinach mixture in dish; top with half of cottage cheese mixture, half of broccoli mixture, and half of remaining spinach mixture. Repeat layers, ending with noodles. Spread reserved 1/2 cup spinach mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan mixture. Cover and bake.