Tag Archives: healthy eating

Fresh Summer Salsa

28 Jul

The flavors of summer are ripe, juicy and bursting with colors. This season gives us sweet treats with fresh aromatic melon, juicy berries, and gorgeous tree ripened peaches. And we can’t overlook the herbs exploding in our gardens. Need a new way to enjoy the essence of sunny days and warm breezy nights? Summer salsa here we come!

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Look at this versatile summer fruit salsa!

Need some ideas as to what to do with this summer treat? This fruity delight is delicious with a spicy grilled tenderloin. Or on top of shrimp tacos. Or along side juicy chicken thighs.

Oh…you want it for an appetizer? You can do that too. This salsa is just as great with crisp yellow corn chips. It is a can’t miss with some baked brie cheese in puff pastry. The possibilities are endless!

Want more choices, more flexibility? This salsa recipe offers plenty. It’s bold flavor lends itself to endless substitutions to customize anything seasonal. This salsa is yummy with cilantro, but if your herb garden is overflowing with fragrant  rosemary or leafy basil, add that in place of the cilantro. Got blueberries? Toss those in with or in place of something else. Any firm fruit will do.

But first, lets start with the basic recipe. Where you go from there is up to you.

Begin by chopping your cantaloupe and peaches. Add them to a large bowl. Don’t crowd the ingredients as you will have more to add and a little stirring to do.

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Chop up some cantaloupe and peaches. Side bar-if you have a little leftover, sprinkle it with some bleu cheese and enjoy!

Add some luscious summer blackberries.

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Just look at those gorgeous colors!

Now it is time to jazz up the works a bit. Add in your cilantro and finely chopped onions. Give that all a good gentle stir. You are going to love how these flavors work together.

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A little salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lime, another good stir and your summer salsa is ready! This gets better over time so make it ahead of when it will be served and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. See the full recipe below.

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Amy’s Fresh Summer Salsa

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped cantaloupe or 1 cup each canteloupe and honey dew melon
  • 2 ripe peaches, chopped
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion or thinly sliced scallions including green top
  • 1/2 bunch chopped fresh cilantro (may substitute basil)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 lime cut in half
  • 1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients together and gently stir. Refrigerate until use.

Secret Ingredient-splash 1 or 2 tablespoons over tequila on the salsa. Then serve with margaritas and fish tacos! Be sure to let me know how your salsa turns out and what you love about it!

The Big Banjo

22 Feb

Eating in restaurants is a much larger part of the american lifestyle in 2015 than when I was young.  Being one of five kids in a big catholic family, it was a feat to not only get us all out, but surely it was a budget buster too.  Good thing we had the Big Banjo just a short car ride away.  When I was little, going out to the Big Banjo for pizza was a big treat.  Families lined up on picnic bench seating while old black and white films showed on the back wall.

When the movies stopped, words to sing-a-long songs appeared on the screen, and we would sing old favorites like Take Me Out to the Ball Game.  Big Banjo was a blast.  The kids got pizza and soda pop, a big treat, and the parents got a pitcher of beer with all of the other parents because, after all, it was Friday night.  The restaurant was always packed.

The Big Banjo.  A Friday night favorite for my family when I was a kid.  This picture does NOT include my parents huge evergreen colored Oldsmobile Delta 88 parked out front...

The Big Banjo. A Friday night favorite for my family when I was a kid. This picture does NOT include my parents huge evergreen colored Oldsmobile Delta 88 parked out front…

(photo Courtesy of Jean Turley)

Family restaurants are a little more sophisticated these days, and it just isn’t the big family event to dine out like it was 15 or twenty years ago.  A generation ago about 25% of the family food budget went toward eating out, and now that number has more than doubled.  Since families dine out more, it isn’t the “splurge” it was years ago.  Today when a family dines out, healthier options are available.   How do we eat healthier when we eat out?  Lets talk about that.

Healthy choices now abound at restaurants.  Here are a few tips to remember when dining out:

  • Order your protein steamed or baked instead of fried.
  • Make water your beverage of choice.
  • Ask for salad dressing on the side.  You tend to use less dressing when you dip.
  • Have tomato sauce over cream sauce.
  • Eat slowly.  Set your fork down between bites and sip your water.
  • Order veggies as a side dish with your meal.  If you are getting pizza, leave the meat off of it.

Even a small change can make a big difference toward healthy lower calorie dining options.  Do it for yourself, and be a good example to others.  At Big Banjo, we splurged with our food.  Now, eating out as a family happens more frequently, so choosing more nutrient dense food is important and getting easier at restaurants.  .

My beloved Big Banjo is long gone.  You can still find restaurants that are a splurge with the food.  But for a family, dining out is a regular event these days.  So make good choices.  What changes can you make with your family?

 

 

Portion (out of!) Control

20 Jan

When you are in the kitchen with your family, talk about nutrition. These discussions need to be done with a little strategy.  Children cannot be barraged with information. It will sound like lecturing, and the “off” button will be activated in your child.  Think of your conversations being constructed with bullet points. Brief. Light. Just the highlights. Discussions such as these can be easily conducted while working on getting a meal to the table.

Here is a starting point. Discussing portion size is a must. This country has been “super sized” into expecting huge portions that are not designed for optimum health. When discussing portion sizes, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • 1 ounce of meat (protein) is about the size of your thumb. 4 ounces is an appropriate serving and about the size of a deck of cards..
  • 1 egg or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter is about an ounce.
  • One serving of bread is usually 1 slice.
  • Fruit juice can generally count as 1 fruit serving a day. In other words, 2 glasses of fruit juice isn’t 2 fruit servings. And remember, high quality fruit juice is worth the extra expense.
  • A vegetable serving is 4 ounces. That equals a half cup.
  • A serving of milk is 8 ounces.  That is one cup.
  • One serving of Grape Nuts cereal is 4 ounces.  That is 1/2 cup.
  • One serving of crackers, such as Cheez-It crackers, is about 25 crackers

Are these serving sizes surprisingly small?  This briefly illustrates how out of control portion sizes have become acceptable in our diet. The expectation has changed to a “bigger is better” mentality with food. Portion size is included on the packaging of most food, but consumers fail to use this tool.

Hey, I get it.  Being in the grocery store juggling kids, a list, and playing beat the clock is rough.  Not a great time to stop, read and analyze a label.  How do we combat this?  Start by standing at your pantry or food cabinet at home. Education can begin at home.  When time isn’t so tight, take a minute or two to look at the food you have in your cupboard or pantry.  This is a great time to read the labels and start to formulate a healthy portion control plan. Start looking on food packaging for portion information at home, not at the store,  and share it with your children. It is a great habit to get your family into, and a good way to have discussions about portion control.

Talking of portion control, I do not allow my family to eat out of a bag of chips, for example, when snacking,  They must pour their snack into a bowl.  I expect this for a couple of reasons.  The first reason is simple cross contamination.  I am a clinical nutrition professional, so food safety is always on my mind.  It just isn’t healthy to put your hand to your mouth and then place that hand back into a big bag of snack food.

The second reason to portion foods, including snack food, is for control.  You just don’t know how much you are eating when not portioned it out.  And I think to learn self control, eating a certain portion raises awareness.  “Mindless eating” is eating without being conscientious of what you are eating.  Portioning your food helps eating be more mindful.

I am also a fan of eating meals att the table and on a schedule when possible.  It is important to enjoy meals with music on, with others, and making it a social event when possible.  If eating alone, I still think ambiance and environment are important.  Eating at a healthy pace, sipping water or other healthy beverage, and having conversation is a way to slow down eating.  The body signals when it is full, but you have to give those signals time to get front he stomach to the brain!

Portion control is important, as is variety and physical activity. It is important, though, to start with one small step, one small change.   Next start walking after dinner!  Another small change with a big impact!