Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Shopping for Fish this Summer!

The intake of fish and seafood increases with summer so it’s pretty crucial to ensure that what you are buying is fresh and safe! Just follow these tips for buying and storing fish and shellfish to keep your meal safe and delicious!

Shopping for Seafood
A faint sea odor is normal, but fresh seafood should not smell "fishy". Freshly cut fish, peeled crustaceans (shrimp, lobster and soft shell crabs) and mollusks (scallops, oysters, clams and mussels) should be moist, not slimy or dry around the edges.
Fresh fish should have clear, well-rounded eyes, not clouded, dry and sunken. The gills should be bright red, not darkened or slimy so ask that the gills be lifted up and check for sliminess and color! You can also place your finger on its skin for fish should feel moist and springy (skin should bounce back when you touch it) instead of having a mushy hole in it.
Fresh prawns, shrimp, lobster, soft shell crabs and rock shrimp should have a uniformly light-colored tail without any discoloration. Mollusks in the shell should be alive and hold tightly to their shells when handled. Moreover, when buying fresh oysters, look for a natural creamy color within a clear liquid.
Always buy fish last! You can pass by, choose your fish, ask them to be cleaned then pick them up at the end of your supermarket tour; I mean that’s what I do. This way  you will go directly to the cashier and then head home and right back to the fridge. If you know you’re running errands after your supermarket trip, keep a small fridge with ice in your trunk, where it’s best to place fresh milk and meats till you get home. By doing this, you will ensure that the temperature of foods that need to be stored in a cold temperature won’t increase to a point of proliferation health hazardous bacteria .
It's best to buy fresh seafood the day you're going to eat it. Now if you want to buy frozen fish, make sure there is no sign of thawing and refreezing crystals in the bottom of packages. If there are any tiny refrozen crystals, simply don’t buy that specific package. If that isn't possible, properly store it in the fridge or freezer until it is prepared and cooked.
Fresh fish, shrimp, scallops and lobster tails can be stored in tightly sealed storage bags or plastic containers and kept on ice in the refrigerator. Using this method, fresh scallops and crustacean tails will keep 3-4 days and fresh fish will keep 5-7 days.
Scallops, crustacean tails and fish can be frozen in water and stored in a freezer for 4-6 months (0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower). To thaw, leave them in the refrigerator overnight or you can place them under cold, running tap water immediately before you cook them.
Live, hard-shell mollusks can remain alive for a week to 10 days stored un-iced in the fridge, kept at 34 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fresh soft-shell crabs can be stored up to two days if wrapped in plastic and packed in ice in the fridge. They can keep for up to six months when wrapped in several layers of plastic and stored in a freezer (at 0 degrees Fahrenheit). It is important to thaw these overnight in the refrigerator only.
So bon appetite, grill your fish and seafood and enjoy ample of healthy omega 3 fatty acids!

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Smart Diet for Stress Management

Studying could drain your energy,
so the right diet is what you need!

It’s almost summer time! But before all the care free time begins, final exams are most students’ top concern! Therefore, smart food choices can in fact help you manage your stress. There’s evidence that too much pressure is a mood killer, weakens you immune system making you more susceptible to colds and with chronic stress exposure, high blood pressure and heart diseases could be on the rise! There are many ways to cope with stressful situations such as adopting organizing skills, practicing relaxation and breathing techniques, exercising and one important strategy we’re about to discuss is having lots of “stress-fighting foods”!

So how do these stress-fighting food work?
There are various ways in which foods can help you bust stress and help you cope with hectic situations! Comfort foods, like a bowl of warm delicious oatmeal, can actually boost your levels of serotonin, a calming brain chemical. Other foods can reduce levels of cortisol and adrenaline which are stress hormones peaking during pressure times. Finally, a nutritious diet can counteract the impact of stress, by helping your immune system work at its best as well as by lowering stress-induced high blood pressure.  Now, what are these helpful foods exactly?

Complex Carbohydrates – All carbohydrates speed up the brain’s production of serotonin. For a steady supply of this feel-good chemical, it’s best to eat complex carbs, which are digested more slowly. Good choices include whole-grain breakfast cereals, breads, rice and pastas. They can also help you feel balanced stabilizing blood sugar levels.

Simple Carbohydrates – Steering away from unhealthy refined carbs such as sweets, chocolate, desserts and fuzzy soda drinks are definitely advised. Even though they sure spike your blood glucose and increase your serotonin, unfortunately this just a short term relief of stress induced irritability leading to a very sharp decrease in serotonin and thus making you feel more fatigue and energy depleted!

Summer is the season for fresh citrus fruit,
so take advantage!
Vitamin C rich fruits – Such as oranges, kiwi, strawberries and pineapples can help reduce levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, decrease blood pressure while strengthening the immune system. If you have a particularly stressful event coming up, you may want to consider pumping your diet with vitamin C rich fruits on daily basis! Nevertheless, all fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, water and antioxidants so having 3 servings of fresh fruits per day would be a great boost of energy!

Vegetables – Vegetables are pretty helpful to manage stress because of their antioxidants, fibers and mineral content. Crunchy raw vegetables can fight the effects of stress in a purely mechanical way. Munching celery, cucumbers, cabbage, bell pepper or raw carrot sticks help release a clenched jaw which can ward off tension headaches!  Moreover, veggies mineral content such as magnesium can help regulate cortisol levels and tends to get depleted when we’re under pressure. Too little magnesium may trigger headaches and fatigue and spasm your muscles, doubling the effects of stress.

Have at least 2 servings of grilled fish per week!
Fatty Fish – Omega 3 rich fish such as salmon and tuna can help in keeping cortisol and adrenaline in check! They can also prevent surges in stress hormones, protect against heart diseases, decrease inflammation, boost your immune system and help in regulating your blood lipid profile! For a steady supply of omega rich foods, aim to eat grilled fatty fish at least twice a week. 

Nuts – To start with, nuts are rich in plant based omega 3 and thus can assist fish omega 3 in fighting stress hormones peaks and inflammation. Pistachios, walnuts and almonds for example can soften the impact stress hormones have on the body. Adrenaline raises blood pressure and gets your heart racing when you’re under stress. Moreover, nuts are rich in vitamins and minerals. For one, they are rich with magnesium that decrease muscle tension you may experience during stressful periods. They are also rich in vitamin E and a range of B vitamins, which make the immune system boost!
So to make the best out of nuts, have a handful of nuts, or equivalent to a quarter of a cup of raw, unsalted nuts every day!

Bedtime Snack – A smart way to go around bedtime snacks is to stick to a light meal rather than large greasy or sugary ones! When in time of stress, most of us tend to increase our cravings to fatty or sugary meals that can comfort us! Well, on the contraire, it’s about time you know that such meals push you to become more fatigue, energy depleted and deprives you from sleeping right. Therefore, light meals that can increase your serotonin levels and help you relax, soothe your tension and reduce your muscle spasms are the right choice for you. Go for a mini- salad with a whole grain cheese sandwich for example or a glass of low fat milk rich in calcium and high fiber cereals.

Exercising during stressful times can replenish energy
drained by your hard work - even a 15 minute work out at home!
Exercise – Diets are great to help you cope with stressful situations and manage your stress hormones, but exercise work wonders as well! Most students avoid exercise during their stressful exam periods due to lack of time or if they are feeling tired. However, a quick daily 15-minute aerobic exercise can do if you so jammed on time! Exercise increases oxygen circulation, produces endorphins, chemicals that make you feel happy and relaxed as well as it can make you feel rejuvenated and full of energy! Don’t forget to stretch more often when you sitting all day studying!

Don't forget to stay hydrated: drinking a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day will help you get rid of toxins as well as replenish your energy! Just place a bottle of water next to you and sip on it regularly in case you tend to forget to drink when you're overwhelmed with work! Aaand best of luck studying!

Brought to you from WebMD

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hydration this Summer!

Summer is almost here and WATER is all we need to stay hydrated and fresh! But did you know that water does more than just hydrate your body?

To start with, dehydration can in fact make you feel drained, depleted and very fatigue. Water can help your blood transport oxygen and essential nutrients your cells need. If you are getting enough water, your health also doesn’t need to work as hard to pump your blood throughout your body, thus helping your blood pressure!

If you are trying to lose weight, waters revs up your metabolism and helps you feel full. It can actually smartly replace high caloric drinks, it can be used to attenuate cocktails and drinks high caloric content, and if you drink a glass before meals, water can help you feel fuller and hence eat less! Drinking more water also helps speed up your metabolism - especially if your glass is icy cold. Your body must work to warm the water up, burning a few extra calories in the process.

Water can also help lower your stress! Because the brain is 85% water, if you are dehydrated, both your mind and body will spike with tiredness. Now if you are feeling thirsty, bad news is that you are already dehydrated because thirst is a late sign of dehydration! If you are pretty busy at work or studying, keep a small bottle or glass of water next to you and sip on it regularly.

Drinking water helps prevent muscle cramping and lubricates joints in the body. When you’re well hydrated, you can exercise longer and stronger without feeling extra soreness or experiencing spasms!

Water will also replenish your skin! Wrinkles are prone to increase with dehydration thus water in nature’s own beauty cream. Drinking water hydrates skin cells and plumps them up, making your face look younger. It also flushes out impurities and toxins, improving circulation and blood flow and leaving your face clean, clear, and glowing.

Water dilutes the salts and minerals in your urine that form the solid crystals known as kidney stones. So drinking enough water during the day can simply help you avoid kidney stones problems!

Last but not least, to adopt healthier eating habits, along with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, aka rich in fibers, you gotta drink enough water needed for good digestion! Water helps dissolve waste particles and passes them smoothly through your digestive tract.If you’re dehydrated, your body absorbs all the water, causing an increased risk of constipation!

So, are you drinking enough water?
It is best to drink 30 mL per kilogram of your weight per day! Divide them throughout your day and know that if you are exercising, feverish, living in a humid or hot weather, you might need to increase your water intake even more!

You can also have up to 3 cups (250 mL each) skimmed or low fat milk/yogurt per day, a maximum of 1 cup of freshly squeezed juice (equivalent to 2-3 whole fruits) and 3 cups of preferably unsweetened coffee or tea per day!

Info brought to you from www.webmd.com

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Burning Calories the Wrong Way!

In order to lose or maintain your weight, calories in should not exceed calories out! A smart way is to control balance both your food intake as well as your physical activity to make sure you are burning more calories than you are eating! As long as the total calories you eat per day are less than what you burn, you are on the safe side of the balance

Pretty easy maths I admit, now put it to practice! Keep in mind that 1 pound of weight (0.5 kg) = 3500 calories >> so make sure to cut or burn around 500 calories/day out of your whole day intake to create a loss of half kilogram per week!

For many more cartoons, please visit Randy's site @ www.glasbergen.com.

Shoot for Life - in Lebanon

The Children Cancer Center in Lebanon is organizing a full healthy day of sports and entertainment under the title of "Shoot For Life" next Sunday - the 8th of May starting at 11 am! 
There will be an all-star basketball gala game featuring many Lebanese basketball players as well as Lebanese celebrities. Tickers are for 10,000 LBP.

Such events make it pretty easy for everyone to enjoy a heart-healthy weekend, bring on the best game and in the same time help alleviate cancer for children in Lebanon!

For more info, call 70351515 or visit www.cccl.org.lb! Pretty good cause!