Monday, December 27, 2010

Marbled Chocolate Bark With Mixed Nuts

It’s Christmas and New Year’s time, practically, the season of delicious food! Now most people worry about gaining weight because of the irresistible yummylicious sweets offered all over this season! So I decided to hunt down something edible and delicious for this season. Looking around in A box of kitchen blog, I found this delicious recipe of marbled chocolate bark with mixed nuts!
It’s incredibly easy to make, quick and the best part of it, nutritious!
The ingredients you’ll need for a 24 x 18 cm baking pan are:
· Dark chocolate, 50 g
· White chocolate, 90 g
· Unfried, unsalted, unsweetened nuts (almonds, cashew, macademia, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.), 80 g
· You can also try adding mixture of dried fruits, crackers, biscuits, etc.
Nutrition facts:
Dark chocolate - 70 % cocoa - is rich in antioxidants, has a positive effect on one’s circulatory system, has iron, magnesium, manganese, a bit of vitamin K, zinc and riboflavin! Whereas white chocolate contains calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin and vitamin K. Keep in mind that both types of chocolate contain saturated fats so moderation is a MUST!
As for the mixed nuts, go for the unsalted, unsweetened version of them. They are rich in “good” fats: mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, lots of vitamin E, magnesium, manganese and some riboflavin, calcium, copper and phosphorus!
·         Place the mixed nuts in the processor and blend till the consistency you desire. I prefer the nuts to stay crunchy to the taste so keep them coarse – not very finely chopped, yet not too coarse.

·         Now break the chocolate bars into small pieces and place them in SEPARATE microwaveable bowls. Don’t cover them with any plastic wrap to avoid water coming from the steam. Heat them for 1 minute.

·         After 1 minutes heating, take out the bowl and stir the softened chocolate with a spoon and check if it needs more heating.
·         Line a baking pan with parchment paper, no need to butter it according to Arudhi
·         Place dollops of dark chocolate randomly on the pan. Then, place dollops of white chocolate on remaining spaces.

·         Now, get your rubber spatula and swirl the white melted chocolate within the black. Watch out to over mix the chocolate to keep a marbled color. The more you mix, the less marbly they get.
·         So it’s time to sparkle the nuts on your chocolate. Gently push down the loose nuts so they stick well onto the chocolate.

·         Place in the fridge for around and hour and a half to allow the mixture to stick altogether.
·         After it sets, slowly dislodge the bark from the paper.
·         Break the nutty-marbled-chocolate into chunks and serve!
So instead of gulping holiday sweets full of saturated fats and refined sugars, go for these healthier snacks!
This delicious recipe and mouth-watering photos are all courtesy of A box of kitchen.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It’s the Season to be Jolly… Not to Eat à la Folie!

The holidays: the time to live your vacation, get lots of gifts and enjoy time spent with friends and family; after all, it’s the season to be jolly, no? However, it’s also the time when you eat, dine, chew, drink and then eat some more.But if you are the type of a person who watches what he/she eats or if you are following a certain diet, the huge amounts and delicious choices of foods will be a major stressor in your life. You’ll have a small bite of this, a larger bite of that and you’ll end up feeling guilty with extra 5 kilograms at the end of the jolly season!
Well, we don’t want that to happen and we don’t want you to sit around not eating anything either!

So, in order to be well equipped, know what is preferable to eat and what is not before, during and after the jolly season. This way, you’ll participate in feasts and end up guilt free!

·         Cheeses Choose white unfermented cheeses or low to medium fat cheeses  that contain less than 20% fat by weight such as Baladi, Akkawi, Double Cream, Ricotta, Majdoule, Cottage cheese, Feta, Parmesan, Sylphide, Presilege, Hochland light, Philadelphia light, Mozarella and Halloum light. Not all light cheeses are “light”, they are just lighter compared to the non-light version so reading food labels is necessary. The lighter it is, the better. You can find cheeses with 7% fat! Now, cheeses such as Boursin, Kashkawan, Cheddar, creamy cheeses, blue cheeses like Roquefort, Gouda, Gruyere, Halloum and Brie are all high in fat and avoiding them is just best. These contain more than 30% fat, just so that you know.

·         Meats & Co. – Always go for lean types of meats, also known as “habra”. Even if fats are not visible to the naked eye, trust me, they are there. So choose from chicken breasts, turkey, lean beef, fish and seafood. Don’t go for the greasy meats, goat and lamb meat, bacon, ham, deli, pork, sausages, gigot, fried eggs and fatty beef. Organ meats are also considered high fats such as liver, heart and brains. You might also want to ask how foods have been cooked because fried and sautéed meats are no good news whereas grilling, broiling, roasting, boiling or steaming them will definitely cut your calories down!

·         Vegetables – Vegetables are your ticket to feel full. When you are invited for a dinner, start with a salad of green veggies with a light dressing and then eat your main course. You should watch out for fried vegetables and in Lebanon, we are famous for the fried zucchinis, eggplants, and cabbage. Note that fried mushrooms and broccoli are also found in Chinese food, well everything is fried about Chinese food! Also know that peas and corn are not considered to be free food like other vegetables, instead they are starches. So have more parsley, lettuce, rocket, cabbage, broccoli, beet roots, carrots, tomatoes, mint, asparagus, mushroom, watercress and palmetto.

·         Fruits – All fruits and vegetables are recommended! They supply your body with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, water and lots of fiber! However, dried fruits, which you find practically everywhere during this season, should be consumed in smaller amounts because they are more concentrated. It’s also a good idea to avoid any caramelized fruits, dipped in cream, ashta, honey or sugar.

·         Fats – You’ve probably heard this many times now, but it’s true. Butter, ghee (samne), and margarine are best avoided. Instead, use “healthier” types of fat like oils such as corn oil, safflower oil, olive oil and canola oil, but in limited quantities, you know after all, they are fat. Watch out for hidden fats as well: some foods could be sautéed in butter, some sweetes like baklawas, pastries, tarts and cakes could be smothered with extra ghee!

·         Nuts – You’ll see them everywhere during the holidays! Cashew nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, “bzourat” everywhere! Well, nuts are considered as the “OK” fat in the dietetic world. But you know that everything should be in moderation, right? So if you are tempted, just take a handful of unsalted nuts and stick to that!

·         Dressings and dips – Be creative and make your own: mix tomatoes, spices, bell pepper, mustard, ketchup, vinaigrette, herbs, vegetables, lemon, oil, Tabasco, garlic, pickles, onions, even A BIT of mayo or avocado! However, buying ready made dressings like blue cheese, Caesar, sour cream or thousand island dressings are not what I recommend. They’ll just add up to your calories and increase your fat intake.

·         Drinks – It is best if you ingest your drinks before you eat by half an hour or after by an hour and a half, this is because liquids with foods could distent your stomach and decrease enzyme’s efficacy in digesting. Now the serious talk, water is what I mostly recommend but during the holidays, alcohol and soft drinks are what worry me the most. To start with, if you are to take a soft drink, always go for the diet version. But it’s not like I’m recommending you to drink as many cups as you want, try to stick to one. Now for the serious talk, alcohol. Most people relate their happy holidays to unlimited consumption of alcohol which only turns back at them in the end. Know that alcohol is directly associated with fat and thus it is not a free calorie drink like most people think. It’s quite the contraire so be wise. You can have a glass of wine, a can of beer or a small spirit shot just for the holiday’s sake, but that’s just for once or twice during all the holidays. (Just wait for a detailed article about drinks during Jan!)

·         Sweets – Yum yum yum; you see them everywhere during this jolly season: from buche de noel, cheesecakes, chocolate fondants to people insisting that you take the “mlabbas” or the holiday’s chocolate with liquor. Your strong will must take over no matter how many people insist that you’ll just restart your diet after the holidays. Have a piece of plain cake, one “mlabbas” or piece of chocolate and enjoy them, but try control your sweets intake during this season especially that they are just everywhere. Don’t dwell over a piece of cake that you missed, have it, but have the will to stick to ONE piece.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
The choice of foods is huge! If you eat a tiny bit of every high fat or high sugar food I mentioned, you’ll end up gaining unwanted weight! So it’s ok to eat a piece of cake and have a glass of wine, but know that moderation is the key!

1st Image courtesy of Cooking Confidential Blog, 2nd image courtesy of iskandals, 3rd image is from Sheknows website and the wine image is from the high field wesbite.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spinach, Strawberry & Ricotta Salad

This salad is the easiest to prepare, gorgeous to the eyes and yummylicious to your taste buds! I got it from Live to Eat Blog. Since the holidays are near, you can prepare this simple salad if you are hosting Christmas dinner or New Year's Eve party!

In order to prepare 2 servings, you will be needing:
  • 20 big sized spinach leaves
  • 20 pieces of strawberry, fresh or frozen
  • Ricotta cheese, 2 to 3 tbsp
For the dressing, it's preferable to mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate them for an hour before serving.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • honey and cinnamon powder are optional, yet they add a sharp taste to your salad
Now the preparations:
  • Wash the spinach leaves thoroughly and pat dry them. Then break or cut them into desired sizes and place them in your salad bowl.
  • Wash your strawberries if fresh and keep in mind that strawberries are very perishable, thus you should not wash them until right before preparing this salad. Don't remove their caps and stems till you are done with washing them under cool running water. Simply pat dry them to prevent them from absorbing extra water, degrading their texture and flavor. Now cut them in half.
  • Arrange the strawberries and ricotta on your bed of spinach leaves.
  • Toss them all together and when you want to serve, drizzle your bowl with the prepared dressing and serve!
You can go for rocket leaves instead of spinach or feta cheese instead of ricotta. Feta will give it a saltier taste combining it with the sweetness of those strawberries.

So when you prepare this salad, not only will you satisfy your taste buds, but you will also get lots of nutrients on the side. You will get extra fibers from both the spinach and strawberries. The spinach will also provide vitamin A, E and K along with calcium, folate and iron while the strawberries will provide you with potassium and vitamin C & A. As for the ricotta cheese, it is considered a medium fat cheese that is rich in calcium, proteins, phosphorus and Vitamin A.
Bon appetite!
I owe this delicious recipe and colorful image to Live to Eat Blog!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

How to Feel Fuller With Fewer Calories?

WThere is definitely no magic spell to get rid of those extra kilograms you have, no super quick diet, supplement nor even fad diets.
However, one promising way to help yourself lose weight is to identify factors that could make you feel fuller for a longer time. This way you are less likely to overeat later during the day and in the same time you won’t feel deprived from eating.

To start with, focus on eating slowly.
Yes, sure we have all been hearing about “Mindful Eating” from everyone but it’s actually quite true.

  • A study was done in the US to investigate slow eating. Women were 1st advised to eat as fast as they could using a tablespoon for 1 day while the 2nd they were advised to use a teaspoon, eat in a slow manner, with smaller while chewing between 20 to 30 times. The 2nd way lead women to eat less total calories per day and helped them feel fuller for a longer time.
  • Moreover, chewing itself starts signaling your body that you are reaching satiety and digestion continues that. These signals need around 20 minutes to reach your brain, so don’t rush eating because if you do, you will eat more before your body knows it’s full
  • This is why, start chewing and chewing, you will become more aware of the smell, taste and texture of your food, feel more satisfied, eat less and stay full. 
Drink water before meals. Water delays stomach emptying, it reduces hunger and helps you fell fuller for longer. In a study done on women, those who drank water ½ an hour before meals (and not directly before) were more likely to eat around 100 less calories than those who didn’t. Note that this does not work if the drink you have has calories such as juices or sodas and it has not been studied on diet drinks. So it’s best if you stick with water.

So what to eat?
Start with soups, salads and fruits. These foods are considered to be low energy dense foods and contain few calories relative to their weight or volume. Studies were done on vegetable soups, apples and vegetable salads and they all helped in decreasing around 20% of total calories intake if taken before eating. Note that, on the other hand, if you start by eating high energy dense foods, you would eat more total calories which might lead to extra kilograms in weight. So, skip the sour cream, nuts, cheese, croutons and dried fruits.

So what do we really mean by low energy dense foods?
People usually eat the same amount of food per day regardless the total amount of calories. So when you choose what you are going to eat tonight, go low dense. For example, 120 calories could be found in ¼ cup of raisins but in 1 ½ cup of grapes. So if you want to feel fuller for a longer time, go for the grapes because to be frank à la Libanaise, raisins will only “giggle your stomach”! So from now on choose foods that are high in fiber and water like fruits, vegetables, broth made soups and whole grains and decrease your intake of high fat/low moisture foods like fries, fatty cheeses and biscuits. 

How to calculate if the food you are about to eat is energy dense or not?!
Energy density= # of calories/grams per serving.
You can find these info on the back of the snack in your hand, so take a look at them!
For example if your snack has 55 calories in 1 serving that is 250 g, you will get an energy density of 0.22

Well, after you calculate that, check this table.

Energy Density
What to Do
Less than 1.2
Eat freely
Fruits and vegetables, soups based on broth and not cream, beans and grain, yogurt, milk and labne that are all skimmed
Between 1.0 and 2.0
Eat in Moderation
Tuna canned in water, sardines, pasta, chicken breast, rice, turkey breast
Between 2.0 and 3.0
Eat small portions
Bread, breakfast cereals, meats, jams, ice cream
3.0 and above
Eat scarcely
Cheeses, cakes, cookies, donuts, butter, nuts, ham, chips, salad dressings, fries

These are tips to help you feel fuller for longer without adding extra calories to your diet. However, don’t rely on these recommendations alone, you should always balance your diet and exercise to stay healthy!

You can also find this article published in Fitness Newsletter.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Heart-Healthy Diet

To protect yourself from strokes and heart attacks, GO for a "hearty-diet"

Women Health offers these simple yet effective guidelines:
  • Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits.
  • Making at least half of your daily grain consumption whole grains. These may include whole-grain barley, brown rice, whole-grain corn and oatmeal.
  • Eating low-fat dairy foods, such as yogurt, cheese and milk.
  • Getting lots of nuts and dry beans, lean meat, fish and poultry without the skin.
  • Favoring polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats via vegetable oils, fish and nuts.
  • Avoiding: saturated and trans fats, sodium (salt), cholesterol and added sugars.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Setting Healthy New Year's Resolutions

Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions are health related. There’s no doubt that New Year’s resolutions are easy to make but easier to break. But no matter which healthy resolution you choose, research suggests that some common strategies can boost your chance of making the change a habit, a part of your daily lifestyle, thus making it last.

NIH-funded scientists are learning more about how we can make healthy changes and, even more important, how we can sustain them.

Change is always possible,” says Dr. Linda Nebeling, an expert in behavioral change and nutrition at NIH. You’re never too out-of-shape, too overweight or too old to make healthy changes.
  • Set realistic goals. Goals set are often unrealistic, driving people to become frustrated and giving up real quick. Always think baby steps; instead of thinking of the 20 kg you want to lose, start with smaller goals: 3 kg per month for 6 months. This would seem easier and more achievable and know that even small improvements have great health benefits.

  • Develop an action plan. Make a solid plan and write down the steps that will help you achieve them. You may decide to increase your physical activity, to stop buying vending machine food, keep track of your total intake. Be specific.

  • Plan for obstacles. Study the challenges that you are most probable to face and figure out how to overcome them. Don’t give up just because you’ve slipped. Think of 2 things that push you to reach your goal: how important is it for you and what its benefits are. And as mentioned before, even the smallest progress will have great impact on your life. For example, overweight and obese people who lost only 7 % decreased their risk of diabetes by 60 %.

  • Track your progress. A journal or diary is one of the best tools for helping you stay focused and recover from slip-ups. You don’t have to panic or feel guilty if you slip, it happens. Just have the will and determination to get over it and start fresh. If you slipped with one meal, know that it’s just a meal and start healthy all over again. No need to go back to your old habits and give up on the change you want just because of a small set back. “Self-monitoring or tracking seems to be critical for almost every sort of behavior change,” says Hunter. That includes jotting down the foods you eat, keeping an exercise diary or making a record of your sleeping patterns.

  • Get help. Ask friends and family for support. Consider enrolling in a class or program. Setting up a supportive environment around will help you stay on track. So if your resolution is to quit smoking, throw away ashtrays and lighters. Or if you want to exercise more, buy appropriate clothing and get yourself a sports-buddy.

  • Reward yourself. Give yourself a healthy treat when you’ve achieved a small goal or milestone, You can take a vacation, go for a road trip or just do anything you find enjoyable and rewarding.

  • Add variety. Keep things interesting by adding new activities or expanding your goals to make them more challenging. If you want to make your lifestyle healthier, start by increasing your physical activity then by fixing your diet: decrease the times you eat junk food per week. Then increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, change your carbohydrates to whole, etc.
“Of course, you don’t need a new year to make healthy changes; you can make them any time of the year. But New Year’s is an opportunity to think about the improvements you’d like to make and then take concrete steps to achieve them. Set realistic goals, develop an action plan and set it in motion. Make your new year a healthy one.”

It may be 24 days too soon for New Year's, but it's always a good idea to take your time to set your new healthy goals.

Brought straight from NIH and amended by me.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Orthorexia - The Ultimate Righteous Eating Obsession

Orthorexia Nervosa, a term named by Colorado M.D. Steven Bratman, is an eating disorder characterized by excessive obsession with eating healthy foods and healthy foods ONLY!

Orthorexia, originally from the Greek words orthos meaning “correct or right” and the word orexis meaning “appetite”, giving us a total of “correct appetite”. So what is it really? Bratman explains that orthorexia is a very unusual unhealthy obsessive disorder with healthy eating. Consequently, people who have orthorexia nervosa avoid eating foods that could be categorized as unhealthy such as fats, additives, preservatives, foods with pesticides, cooked food, dairy, yeast, gluten, processed and animal products. They perceive them as dangerous and artificial and prefer biological, natural and raw foods instead. In such cases, an extreme focus can lead to severe dietary restrictions, improper management of diet, loss of muscle mass, malnutrition and rarely, this obsessive fixation can lead to death. Take a person who eats organic raw fruits and vegetables only, and yes, the urge to only consume raw enzymes and avoid “unhealthy” foods, some people might follow this type of diet and neglect any need of other necessary nutrients in their diet for the sake of “purity”.

This chronic obsession for eating healthy foods all the time could come from many factors such as family habits, society trends, economic problems, recent illness or even just hearing negative information about certain types of foods or diet trends. People suffering from this obsession may have certain feelings about food and would display some of these signs, also known as Bratman signs:
  • Spend more than 3 hours per day thinking about healthy foods
  • Plan what their healthy menu is going to be tomorrow
  • Have become stricter in their diet than before
  • Have exaggerated concern with healthy eating patterns
  • Feel the need to limit food amounts and calculate everything they eat
  • Feel self-hate and guilt if they ate foods that are not “right”
  • Feel proud of how they eat; it’s more like “someone whose days are filled with eating tofu can feel as saintly as if they had devoted their whole life to helping the homeless”.
  • Criticize others who do not eat the “right” foods all the time
  • Experience a reduced quality of social life and become more isolated because their diet makes it difficult for them to eat outside their homes especially that they don’t trust how foods are prepared
  • Refrain from eating any foods that are not “right”
  • Feel “in control” when they eat their healthy diet
Orthorexia, of itself, doesn’t pose the same health threats as other eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, but doctors and psychiatrists are concerned that it could lead to one of the more serious disorders. The severe restrictive nature of orthorexia could easily morph into anorexia even though the motives of these disorders are originally different. Anorexics have body image distortion, are afraid of gaining weight and hide their feelings and actions whereas orthorexics aim to feel pure, natural and the healthiest possible, all feeling proud.

On another hand, this limited diet also puts people at risk of binging then purging out of guilt thus leading to bulimia. So even though orthorexia is not categorized as a formal eating disorder, it is a growing health phenomenon and can become as serious.
Now, we are always told about the importance of healthy eating, and it sure makes us feel great when we do. But the key to most healthy diets is moderation. It is indeed important to change your lifestyle to a healthy one, exercise more, eat less saturated fats, sugar and junk foods and eat more legumes, fruits and vegetables. But it’s also important to recognize that these changes are made gradually in a way that fits a person’s tastes and lifestyle. Eating in a healthy way should enable you to enjoy life and the food that comes along with it, not the opposite. In fact, you should even be able to enjoy chocolate, sweets and burgers in moderation! It is great to know what you are eating and how they are made, but this “over knowledge” should not be used for obsession. Regardless of whether or not orthorexia is ever categorized as a formal eating disorder, people who are obsessed with eating only pure and natural foods and eliminating entire food groups could be putting their health at risk. After all, a balanced diet would create a balanced body and mind.

Keeping Your Food Safe during the Holidays!

It’s the season to be jolly - but mostly in your life it’s the season for having friends and family over for lunches and dinners over and over again; after all, enjoying food is one of the highlights of the season!
Everyone wants to help, but having lots of cooks in the kitchen could increase food contamination and risks of food borne illnesses, especially that most of them would be standing in front of the stove for the first time. So a smart move would be learning proper food safety techniques and passing it on to your helpers especially that cooking could get a bit hectic this time of year!

To start with, Soap up!
Make sure that people, who are going to handle food, wash their hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before, during and after food preparation. You also have to make sure that all utensils, cutting boards, appliances and countertops are well cleaned throughout meal preparations. As for cutting boards, in order to avoid any unwanted cross contamination, always have 2: one for ready to eat foods like vegetables and fruits and the other for raw meats, poultry and fish.

Take care when thawing (defrosting)
So now you have a frozen turkey (dinde), gigot (leg of a lamb) or any type of meats you wish to cook for the holidays: thawing comes first. To prevent the spread of harmful bacteria, thawing should be done using one of these steps:
  • You could use the refrigerator to thaw your meat. This requires you to put that frozen turkey in the fridge a night ahead. However, cover it well and place it in the bottom shelf so juices wouldn’t drip on other foods.
  • Thawing meats in the sink under cold running (not still) water is also safe.
  • Defrosting could be used, but in this case, you should immediately cook your meat.
  • If the meat you are about to use if of small amount, you could easily thaw it as a part of cooking.
Never thaw meats at room temperature or by putting them on the counter from day to day, in the oven or under hot water in the sink.

Cooking time
Know when your turkey is done. Use a meat thermometer to make sure that your meats have reached the safe internal temperatures within 2 hours of cooking. This way you can know if your meat is done. When using the thermometer make sure to stick it in the deepest part of the meat.
Check this table to know the right internal temperature of any meat you have in mind!
These meats should be held at their specific internal temperature for 15 seconds each.

Internal Temperature in degrees Celsius
Beef – fish – eggs
Ground beef – pork
Poultry – stuffed meats – left overs
Soups – cooked vegetables - gravies
71 - 82

As for baking cakes, bûche de noel, brownies or cookies that include raw eggs as ingredients, resist the temptation to taste raw dough or batter. Raw eggs may contain harmful bacteria that may lead to food poisoning. So it’s best to cook that cake and then taste it.

Serve it right!
Whether you decide to serve foods as a buffet or as a lovely family & friends’ dinner table, keep in mind the 2-hour thumb rule: foods can stay at room temperature for 4 hours only. After that, bacteria start to multiply fast on perishable food items. So since we all know that Lebanese festive feasts often last for more, keep some fresh food in the fridge to bring out after 2 hours.

Cool immediately!
After a big festive meal, while opening gifts or eating that delicious bûche, it’s likely to leave leftovers out on the counter for hours. But keep in mind that if this happens, bacteria will multiply and spoil those foods.  So the best idea is to divide leftovers within 4 into several small shallow (5 cm thick) containers or small airtight plastic bags.  Moreover, even though you can’t but cook large amounts of foods during the holidays, try your best not overstuff the fridge. Cold air must be able to circulate well in it so that foods can stay fresh and safe.

Dealing with leftovers
Use your refrigerated cooked turkey, meats, gigot, cooked vegetables etc. within 3 to 4 days max. As for their stuffing and gravies, they are best eaten within 1 to 2 days. When you want to reheat them, make sure to use your thermometer to reach 74 degrees Celsius. However, in any case whatsoever, keep in mind that you can only reheat food once!
As for those chilled sweet pies, cheesecakes, brownies or cakes you have left 4 to 5 days to eat them.

Now eat, drink and be merry!

You can also find this published in Moms and to Be Magazine!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Elmo Teams Up With "Superfoods"

No wonder that the media has a huge effect on kids’ choices of food preferences: they always have sparkling lollipops and colorful characters advertising a chocolate.
But starting December 8th, in just few days, the Sesame Workshop, associated with Sesame Street which we have all watched at some point of our lives, is rolling out FOUR new muppets!
·        A banana
·        A low fat cheese
·         A whole wheat bun
·        A stalk of broccoli
So as you see, each member represents a group food!
This is all as a part of a national initiative to support families who don’t have access to nutritious food thus alleviating food insecurity.

These new muppets, given the name “Superfoods”, will start off their “career” in a clip that aims to emphasize the importance of healthy snacks, eating breakfast and dining together as a family and sharing a meal together. It also shows Elmo trying new foods more than once to see if he loves them.

The exact scenario goes likes this: “The Super Foods help out by providing healthy tips, suggesting Elmo tries some of his kiwi to see if he'll like it or helping the Bear Family see that a meal together is the best way to get together. Although Super Grover finds them a nuisance, they end up helping him gain some super strength by eating some breakfast.”

Now since the show reaches around 17 million kids in the country, teaching smart budgeting skills in order to adapt a healthy and balanced lifestyle is a wonderful and effective idea.

You can read more on Health Land and Muppet Wikia.

Simple Tips for A Longer & Healthier Life

Today I stumbled upon an article from Harvard Publications discussing tips that would help you live longer, my guess - healthier too. Yes, genetic predisposition plays an important role in obesity and chronic illnesses; however you have the power to “change many of the variables that influence how long you live and how active and vital you feel in your later years.”
They are actually simple so I am quoting them verbatim here. You can always check their link for more details!
  1. Don’t smoke.
  2. Enjoy physical and mental activities every day.
  3. Eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, and substitute healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats for unhealthy saturated fats and trans fats.
  4. Take a daily multivitamin, and be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D.
  5. Maintain a healthy weight and body shape.
  6. Challenge your mind. Keep learning and trying new activities.
  7. Build a strong social network.
  8. Follow preventive care and screening guidelines.
  9. Floss, brush, and see a dentist regularly.
  10. Ask your doctor if medication can help you control the potential long-term side effects of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, osteoporosis, or high cholesterol.
Even though these are not mine, but they are quite exhaustive and straight to the point. So now, you know what will help you live longer, happier and healthier. They are simple but require commitment and effort.It’s totally your choice, but my recommendation for sure!

For many more cartoons, please visit Randy's site @