Should I Eat Three Meals a Day or Six Meals a Day?

Beet Greens and a Poached Egg

Beet Greens and a Poached Egg

I’m always interested in guest posts. They add variety to this blog, and give me new ways to think about healthy eating and living a healthy lifestyle. Today’s focus is on healthy weight loss meals, and how many of them we should eat in a day.

Recently Jennifer Bell asked if I’d be interested in a guest post. She wanted to provide readers with her perspective when it comes to weight loss and eating smaller meals. The big debate between eating 3 meals per day versus 6 meals a day, had me interested to see what she had to say.

Read on to hear Jennifer’s views, and then I’ll chime in with my own opinion, and a few resources for you to do your research.
Wait! There’s more! Read on for the recipe . . .

How to Grill Healthy Meals For Your Family and Friends

Grilled Steak and Corn on the Cob

Grilled Steak and Corn on the Cob

Can you name one person who doesn’t love grilled foods during the summer? We all love grilling chicken, juicy steaks, salmon on cedar planks, and all types of vegetables and fruits that are smothered in delectable sauces and served up with salads fresh from the garden. But is grilling healthy for us? That’s the question that Jenni is going to answer for us today.

Let’s see what healthy grilling advice Jenni has for us regarding this favorite summer pastime . . .

Wait! There’s more! Read on for the recipe . . .

Recipe: Energy Bars with Oats, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chips

NuNaturals Banana Muffins

NuNaturals Banana Muffins

What is stevia?

Stevia Plant

Stevia Plant

Stevia is an herb that originates from South America and was discovered by the Europeans. For many years it has been used in Asia as an alternative to sugar, and now that the FDA has approved its use in food production, it’s available in the United States.

Is stevia safe for use?

 

The  FDA approved the use of stevia, and according to wikipedia there is preliminary evidence linking stevia to a decrease in hypertension and an increase in insulin production. HOWEVER, you should seek the advice of your physician if you have health issues prior to using stevia, or any sugar substitute.

Wait! There’s more! Read on for the recipe . . .

Is Organic the Way to Go? The Truth About Organic Food

Last month Kelly Austin emailed me saying she was interested in writing a guest post for us about purchasing and eating organic foods. Being the nutrition junkie that I am, I was interested to see what Kelly had to say. After all, when you shop at your local supermarket, the prices for organic produce and other items can be mind-blowing.

Let’s see what Kelly has to say . . .

Organic Label

Organic Label

Is Organic the Way to Go? The Truth About Organic Food

Nowadays, organic food is all the rage. Many consumers are convinced that anything labeled organic is healthier than other options. Even snack foods that claim to be organic are considered healthy. But does that organic label really make a difference? What are the differences between organic and regular options? Before buying into the craze, these are the questions that consumers need to be asking themselves.

The Difference Between Organic and Regular Food

Organic means that a food is grown naturally, without help from pesticides, ionizing radiation, synthetic fertilizers, organisms that have been genetically modified, and/or sewage sludge. If meat products are organic they have been raised without growth hormones and antibiotics. Organic foods should not contain chemical preservatives, additives, or other synthetic ingredients.

Produce

Produce

Regular produce is usually grown with the help of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and substances that sound dangerous, like sewage sludge and genetically modified organisms. Animals are given growth hormones to make them larger and antibiotics to make them healthier. Processed foods also contain a variety of synthetic additives, dyes, and chemical preservatives.

Are People Falling for Clever Marketing Ploys?

It is important for people to realize that there are three different categories of organic foods. If a food is 100% Organic, it contains all organic ingredients. Foods that are only labeled as Organic‚ contain at least 95% organic ingredients. And foods that are Made With Organic Ingredients‚ must be at least 70% organic. Products that contain organic ingredients, but not quite 70%, may advertise those ingredients without claiming that the entire product is organic.

If a consumer purchases a product labeled Organic‚ they are essentially getting a product that is 95% organic. The other 5% could be preservatives, additives, ingredients raised with pesticides, and other things that health conscious consumers want to avoid. Without knowing how to read the label, a person could easily be duped into believing that they are consuming a chemical free diet.

Organic Crops

Organic Crops

Is Organic Really the Way to Go?

Consumers should also be aware that organic farmers do use pesticides. There are around 20 different chemicals that are approved by the US Organic Standards. Organic farmers have to make money too. Without these approved chemicals, they may not have much of a crop. It is also important to note that produce raised organically is nutritionally equivalent to that raised traditionally.

It’s not easy to tell people whether or not they should choose organic foods. Sometimes purchasing organic is beneficial. Certain foods, like peaches, celery, lettuce, bell peppers, strawberries, nectarines, apples, spinach, grapes, cherries, pears, and potatoes, are notorious for containing traces of chemical pesticides. Other times, it is just a more expensive option that offers the same same benefit as regular foods.

This article was written by Kelly Austin from HigherSalary.com. Visit her site for information about the average health administration salary and pay information for other popular careers.

If you are interested in which foods are the least contaminated you can check out this list from Organic.org.

Announcing the Healthy Diet Exclusive Cookbook Giveaway

Rocco DiSpirito's Lasagna

Rocco DiSpirito's Lasagna

I don’t often sponsor giveaways on this blog. A product has to appeal to me and benefit readers, or I’m not interested.

When I was approached to do a giveaway of Rocco DiSpirito’s new diet book I was skeptical, so I asked for an advance copy. I wanted to decide for myself if his diet book offered sound advice for dieters. I was pleasantly surprised.

Rocco offers a no-nonsense approach to eating that promotes a healthy lifestyle. The book gives readers a limited calorie diet that isn’t ridiculously low in calories, meals with wholesome ingredients, simple recipes that don’t require a chef’s skills to set on the table, and exercise. Sounds like a solid approach to weight loss to me. Rocco even provides meal plans, grocery lists, and basic cooking lessons if you need to brush up on your cooking skills.

(If you are interested in an example of Rocco’s recipes, try  Rocco’s Lasagna Recipe.)

I’ll be promoting Rocco’s book from March 28th to April 1st, at which time we’ll pick 4 winners to receive this terrific resource. Good luck!

Wait! There’s more! Read on for details . . .

Safeway’s SimpleNutrition Program Can Help You

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

This is my last quarter at the American College of Health Care Sciences working on a nutrition and wellness certification. When I’ve passed my final, you can bet I’ll be dancing a jig.

As you can imagine, when a Safeway store representative offered me the opportunity to write about my experience with Safeway’s Simple Nutrition program, I couldn’t resist. This project was right up my alley.

Wait! There’s more!

Learn to be a Healthy Cook – Take Cooking Classes

Mother Rimmy 40 Pounds Lighter, 15 Years Later

Mother Rimmy 40 Pounds Lighter, 15 Years Later

I’m not a chef, or a cook who makes fancy meals and elaborate desserts. I’m a home cook who wants to be trim and fit. Having lost 40 pounds several years ago, I learned early on that the key to keeping weight off is learning to cook healthy meals. When Brian Jenkins suggested a guest post about where readers could find healthy cooking classes, I jumped at the opportunity.

Brian has some very good suggestions. I have attended cooking classes at Williams & Sonoma and Whole Foods, as well as PCC Natural Markets in the Seattle area. If you are interested in classes at PCC you can check them out here. I always come away with a new cooking skill when I attend these classes, and fresh ideas to bring to this blog.

Enough about me, on to Brian’s guest post. Enjoy!

[Read more…]

Too Expensive? How To Shop For Fresh And Affordable Produce

A few years ago we moved close to a farmers market. I was a quick convert to the benefits of locally grown produce. Fresh, immensely fragrant and boldly colored fruits and vegetables were often more affordable than their grocery chain counterparts.

While I was surprised by the reasonable prices, Jane Sanders from DebtManagement.net wasn’t. She offers us her tips for taking advantage of an abundance of fresh, delicious fruits and veggies.

Mandarin Orange and Pineapple Salsa

Mandarin Orange and Pineapple Salsa

How To Shop For Fresh And Affordable Produce

The health care industry has always emphasized the important role that diet plays in maintaining good health and preventing certain diseases. The need for vitamin supplements would be greatly reduced if people would increase their intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. The problem with trying to incorporate more fresh produce into the family meals is finding the most economical way to buy them. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables 3 to 5 times a day per family member can simply be out of the budget for most people. The following are some less expensive alternatives to high-priced grocery store produce.

Farmers Markets

Farmers markets are one of the best places to shop for vegetables and seasonal fruits. The produce is brought in by local farmers so purchasing produce here not only saves money, it supports the local farmer. A person can feel good spending money at a farmers market instead of the grocery store where produce funds support countries overseas.

Wholefood Co-ops

For those who love the organic lifestyle, whole food co-ops typically have a nice selection of pesticide-free fruits and vegetables at better prices than a grocery store. Many times the organic produce is also brought in by local farmers which lowers the cost. Hobby gardeners who grow a small harvest of seasonal produce also contribute to the fresh, organic whole foods co-ops at certain times of the year.

Chain Department Stores

Giant chain department stores like Walmart offer better deals on the price of produce items compared to a regular grocery store. In particular, Walmart can offer much lower prices for oranges, apples, bananas, lettuce, cherries and grapes. Although chain stores don’t sound as appetizing as farmers markets, families can better afford healthier choices at the produce department in chain discount stores.

Seasonal Road Side Stands

Depending upon the area of the country where you live, a seasonal road-side stand offers some of the best deals on fresh produce that can be found anywhere. It is well worth a trip out to the country to pick up large bushels of fresh peaches, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, apples and almost any other type of fresh produce you can think of.

Purchasing fruits and vegetables this way saves an incredible amount of money. Learning how to make soups, stews and preserves from the bounty goes even further in stretching the family food budget. Finding alternative places to shop for fresh and affordable produce might mean driving a little extra distance, but it will be well worth it.

This post was written by Jane Sanders from DebtManagement.net. Visit her site for advice on dealing with credit card debt problems.

Buonissimo: Italian Slow Cooking

Maria Rainier, a free-lance writer provides this remarkable guest post about a semester she spent at a farmstead in Italy. Her comparison between our American approach to food and the Italian approach to food is well worth a read.

Thank you Maria for taking the time to share your story!

Buonissimo: Italian Slow Cooking

America is the fast food nation—this is where it all started.  We’re busy, busy little bees, and the very idea of sitting down for two hours for wine and conversation with lunch is a waste of time.  We have our morning breakfast smoothie in the car ride to work, eat fast food lunches in wi-fi areas so we can read e-mails while we munch, and we come home to microwave dinners because, as two working parents with kids, no one has time to cook anymore.  We even have Bluetooths in our ears over a family dinner so that, at the push of a button, we can be “at” the office.  This is what we believe makes us productive, wealthy, and able to live worthwhile lives.

It is not America but Italy where I learned to truly live.

Wine, Conversation, and Slow Food

This isn’t to say I learned to slack.  There was much work to be done in the vineyards and farmstead on which I worked to earn my bed, and much studying to be done to learn of agricultural history and regional mythology of the Tirolean hills I called home for my semester abroad.  I worked and worked, being the busy little bee I had learned to be in America.

The first month I was in Italy, my legs itched at every meal for which I sat down to eat.  I ate quickly and found that my fellow students and I still had an hour to waste before resuming work in the vineyard or afternoon classes.  We twiddled our thumbs and sat awkwardly around the table while our Italian hosts sipped their wine and wondered if, judging by how quickly we’d finished our meals, they had overworked and starved us.

Like the manner in which it is eaten, the majority of real Italian food—the kind you find in humble trattorias and local homes, not upscale restaurants in New York—is slow food.  It comes from their own gardens and trees, so it takes years to cultivate and maintain.  It comes from local farmholds, and the trucks that bring them to the market are rickety and little.  It’s seasonal, so they use certain foods only so many months a year, when they’re cheapest and at their highest quality.  It’s made with cheap and simple ingredients with simple cooking techniques, and often takes patience on the dining company’s behalf.  Food, however, was never worth the wait more than it was in Italy.

When Food Goes Wrong

Fast food is always expensive.  Items from the dollar menu may cost you only a dollar at drive-thru, but will cost you thousands in hospital bills if eaten regularly.  Cheap corn and soy—what factory farmers feed ruminants (natural grass-eaters) that end up in burgers along with chicken feces and antibiotics—are destroying American farmers and landscapes.  Just ask the three-eyed fish popping up in cesspools you’ll find outside any CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) because the waste created by these abused cows and pigs are too toxic to give to local corn farmers as fertilizer.

In Italy, I grew used to eating beautifully austere home cooking—panzanella (bread and tomato salad with fresh mozzarella), arugula salad, and a lone, juicy sausage—with a glass of red wine or grappa in the company of friends for hours.  I never worried about chemicals in my food or my cholesterol because I didn’t have to.  We cooked our meals and local farmers raised produce and meats the healthy way—the slow way.  Eating slowly made my body happy, and conversing with friends over a meal for two hours gave me peace that no busy-bodying could.  When we left the table to return to the vineyards or to classrooms, it was always with an eagerness to return for another meal that would warm our bellies and our hearts.  I suspect the secret ingredient to our host’s cooking was love—and as everyone knows, love takes time.

Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, where recently she’s been researching and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

CSA? What is that?

Recently I was approached by Louise Baker offering to research and write a guest post on any topic I requested. After reading her articles at the Zen College Life blog (check out 99 Cheap and Easy Ways to Stay Healthy in College), I was impressed and asked her to write about community supported agriculture (csa).

Louise does a terrific job of explaining the benefits of supporting local farmers. You’ve heard me mention my csa purchases in several blog posts. The cost is $25 per week for a family of two. I receive a huge box of whatever produce is in season at the time. It’s like Christmas every Thursday when Mike walks in the door with our box and wonderful aromas waft up. Fresh tomatoes, colorful sweet carrots, earthy potatoes. I’m forced to be adventurous and try things like kohlrabi and chard. What better opportunity for a cook like me. Healthy, nutritious and delicious.

Tender Steamed Carrots

Tender Steamed Carrots

So that’s enough of my babbling. If I haven’t convinced you to give it a try. Let’s see if Louise can . . .

Nutritional Benefits of CSA

Community supported agriculture has been around since the 1980’s. It is a concept in which a group of people pledge their support to a farm or a group of farmers. The farmers, thereby, become the community’s farm. By making a financial pledge, the people become shareholders, or members. The pledges cover the farmer’s salary and the costs of the farming operation. The community, in return, receives appropriate shares of the bounty within the growing season. Farmers and community members share in the risks associated with farming such as inclement weather and insects resulting in a poor harvest.

When produce is picked commercially it is done so much sooner than it should be. This is because the produce has to have time to be picked, washed, checked, packed in containers, driven to different destinations and distributed to many stores. Only by picking the produce at an earlier date are the farmers able to keep the produce from rotting. Unfortunately, because it is picked too soon, the produce does not have time to ripen, thus, it does not reach its peak in taste nor in nutritional value. Another disadvantage with commercially picked produce is that the customer does not know anything about the history of the produce. Things such as where it was grown, what kinds of pesticides were used, whether there were farm animals being raised nearby (it might have contaminants from this) and what kinds of conditions the produce went through (was it transported in a clean truck?). You take what you get when it comes to store produce.

The nutritional benefits of community agriculture includes fresher produce, better-tasting produce and higher nutritional content. Community supported agriculture is picked at the peak of freshness and nutritional content. In fact, it is picked every day during the growing season because each vegetable or fruit needs to be picked at just the right moment. The produce is then weighed, divided and distributed to members within a day or two which results in fresh produce, great taste and high nutritional content. Members not only know the farmers, they are able to visit the farm, help out, ask questions, relate concerns, pick out their own produce and drive it home themselves. If they are not happy then members can exchange the produce. This enables members to choose only the freshest looking produce which results in the freshest possible meals.

Community supported agriculture benefits everyone; customers receive the best of the best in vegetables and fruits and farmers know that their produce will always have a customer. It is like having a backyard garden without the back-breaking work.

Louise Baker blogs about getting an online degree at Zen College Life. Her most recent post looked at the best online schools.

If you are interested in finding a csa in your area, check out Local Harvest.

Thanks Louise!

Kristi