3 of My Favorite Fall Foods

Do you find it challenging to eat healthy this time of year?

As the weather turns cool I seem to crave heavier foods and more carbs like fresh baked warm cookies! But if you are like me you can’t make those too often and still fit into your favorite jeans. So I thought I would share 3 of my favorite fall foods that are a little more waistline friendly.

All 3 of these foods are great for helping lower cholesterol, slow blood sugar rise and control hunger! iStock_000012570640Medium

#1 Apples: There is a lot of truth to the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Apparently there are several ways that the phytonutrients in apples help control blood sugar.

My favorite apple is SweeTango. Just like the name it’s a crunchy, juicy apple with a sweetness and tang all in the same mouthful. Take advantage of apple season and take a trip to an orchard where you can sample and find your favorite.

#2 Bean Soups. Chili is one of my favorites. I almost always make it in the crock pot and here’s a little tip . . . when you are browning ground beef make and extra pound, throw in freezer and when you want to make chili you just have to pull it out and dump everything in the crockpot.

Chili is packed full of body healing nutrients for your immune system, diabetes, digestion and cancer prevention.. Plus, if you are low in iron, the beef, cumin, and beans are all great sources of iron. The cumin is also a good source of manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin B1. Did you know that magnesium is a natural blood pressure medicine that helps relax blood vessels?

Here’s my favorite Chili Recipe  (with helpful hints)

1 lb lean ground beef browned  (keep a pound or two in freezer for meals like this)

1 cup chopped onion (I usually add the onion and garlic at the end of browning the meat or saute them for a short time in a little olive oil before adding to the chili – but it’s not absolutely necessary)

1 clove garlic minced (or 1/8 tsp garlic powder if you don’t have garlic cloves on hand)

28 oz canned tomatoes (chopped or pureed, or better yet home canned stewed tomatoes)

2 cans kidney beans (or whatever beans you like- I have used black beans and pinto beans also)

1 15-oz can tomato sauce

1 Tbsp chili powder (can use more or less depending on your taste preference)

1 tsp cumin

Salt and pepper to taste (I use a small amount of sea salt but you may prefer not to add salt)

Put all ingredients in the crockpot, stir and let it cook according to your crockpot instructions, usually 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

#3 Oatmeal: If you like oatmeal there is nothing better on a cold morning than a warm bowl of oatmeal with a little brown sugar and plenty of cinnamon. That’s my favorite but maybe not yours. You can add honey or fruit or any other natural sweetener but my point is to find the combination YOU like. Try to avoid the instant and find your own combination of flavors. For some great ideas check this blog post at FoodHappy.

Hope you enjoyed these tips and please share your favorite fall foods in the comments!

“True health-care reform starts in your kitchen, not in Washington” -Anonymous

Apple a Day for Blood Sugar Delay?

Well, maybe not an apple a day year round but this time of year when apples are fresh picked I can eat at least one apple a day without a problem. And just yesterday I discovered a new apple that I LOVE! In fact right now I am eating my second one for the day and will be going to the store to get more tomorrow.

It's called SweeTango. What a great name! My son's reaction after his first bite was "That's incredible!"  I describe it as juicy, crispy and a combination of sweet and tanginess.

How are apples good for diabetes?
Natural chemicals in apples work together with the fiber to help slow the digestion and absorption of the sugars so you get a slower rise in blood sugar. These nutrients also help to lower cholesterol. You can read more about how that works at World's Healthiest Foods   You can also read more about a study where women who ate dried apples had a 23% drop in cholesterol!

For an apple dessert try my favorite apple crisp recipe in one of my archived newsletters!

Quick Links for Winter Weight Loss with Great Soup Recipes!

Feels like winter here in Minnesota today with temps in the 40s, wind, and rain turning to snow! Nothing tastes better on days like this than a warm bowl of soup!

Two quick links for soup ideas  -  read my previous post Why Are Soups Great for Your Weight 

and

Check out these waistline friendly soups at dLife!

If you try the recipes be sure to come back and share with me your favorites and if they work for your weight loss plan!

 

Is Watermelon Good For Diabetes?

It's Watermelon Season!

Think watermelon is too sweet for diabetes?  Well, don't forget there are powerful nutrients in watermelon that help you fight disease also.

Antioxidants! Watermelon is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A, both nutrients that help fight disease.

You also get B6, B1, potassium and magnesium.

Low Calorie!  One cup of watermelon has less than 50 calories.  And in the summer heat, watermelon is great for hydration because it's 92% water.

For a 2 carb snack you can eat 3 cups of watermelon – not a bad snack for under 150 calories.

Watermelon could even help you fight diabetes! Watermelon contains an amino acid that makes arginine, which helps insulin resistance, the main problem with type 2 diabetes.

Worried about watermelon spiking your blood sugar? 

  • Try staying active when you eat watermelon.
  • Check your blood sugar before and 2 hours after eating to see the effect.
  • Monitor the carbohydrate portion. It's easy to overeat when snacking on watermelon. 

If you want to try a new way to eat watermelon check out this great summer recipe from Cooking Light!

Grilled Pork Chops with 2-Melon Salsa

Enjoy!

You Get Two A’s for Adding Oregano to Your Diet

Well today was the last day of school for my teenagers so I guess my brain is thinking report cards and grades.

If you have oregano growing in your garden you get an A for antibacterial and an A for antioxidant. These are two health benefits of adding this herb to your favorite dishes.

Oregano is also an excellent source of vitamin K, and a good source of fiber, iron, manganese, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and omega-3.

If you have never grown oregano it is one of the easiest herbs to grow. In fact, most herbs do well in poor soil and do not require much attention to survive.

This picture is my oregano that I planted from seed last year. I was happy to see it survived the Minnesota winter and came back this year. Now I need to start adding it to my meals to get my antioxidants.

When cooking with fresh oregano add toward the end of cooking as it may lose flavor easily if cooked too long. If you are using dried oregano add that at beginning of cooking to allow flavor to blend with other ingredients. If a recipe calls for dried oregano you probably want to use twice that amount of fresh chopped oregano leaves. Of course the amount really depends on what taste you prefer.

Oregano tastes great added to pizza sauce, omelets, frittatas, garlic bread, or salad greens.

Here are some more ideas for recipes using fresh oregano.  Or try Food Network's Feta, Black Olive & Oregano Salad.

When the fresh tomatoes are ready I think I will try the original garlic bread, bruschetta!

Bruschetta with Mozzarella and Fresh Oregano    (from The Joy of Cooking)

Place on grill or under broiler 8 thick slices crusty firm Italian bread or other country-style bread.

Grill or broil, turning once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes each side. Remove from the heat and rub the surface with 2 large cloves garlic, halved. Brush with 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.

Top each slice with shredded mozzarella cheese (about 8 oz total). Broil just until the cheese is bubbling. Top with diced fresh tomatoes (about 1 large tomato total) and chopped fresh oregano (about 2 tablespoons total).

Enjoy Eating Oregano!

Recipes for Healthy Grilling to Kick Off Summer!

Grilling for me is also out of necessity in the summer because we do not
have air conditioning. (Remember, I live in Minnesota) But my favorite
part of grilling is sitting on the deck with a cold beverage and enjoying the aroma!

With the holiday weekend coming up I wanted to share some recipes, tips and sites to help you have  delicious, yet healthy grilling fun!! Whether you have diabetes or not they are all healthy and tasty.

Planning on grilling chicken this weekend? Thrown on a little extra and make this  Easy Picnic Salad! This is one of my favorites and tastes great after you let it marinate in the fridge overnight.

Need some omega in your diet?   Try this super easy-to-make and really awesome tasting Cedar Plank Salmon! This is from one of my favorite Food Network chefs, Bobby Flay. I made this last weekend and served with steamed broccoli. Very yummy!  This was only my second time making cedar grilled salmon but it really is easy. Buy a cedar plank at your local store's grilling section or your local meat market. Instructions generally come with it but all you do is soak it and follow the recipe instructions.

For a quick look at the health benefits of omega check out this past post.

Hungry for steak?  I have to admit, as much as I love chicken and fish, a good steak on the grill is still one of my favorites!  I recently picked up some beef kabobs at my local meat market and they were melt-in-your-mouth delicious!  Kabobs are a great way to add vegetables to your meal, eat less meat, and get the grilled flavor in both at once.  

If those aren't enough food ideas for you here are more Memorial Day recipes and tips!

Have a great weekend and be sure to share your favorite recipes and tips with us.

Try the Healthy Fat & Fiber of Flax Seed to Lower Cholesterol

Diabetes or no diabetes, many people struggle with high cholesterol. If you are looking for ways to naturally lower cholesterol so you can avoid medication, this grain that has been grown for thousands of years could help. Why should you try flax seed? 

  • Nice balance of healthy omega fat and also fiber
  • Low cost. A box of ground flax can be purchased for $2 to $3
  • Nice, mild nutty flavor
  • Easy to use. Just add to cereal, casseroles, salad, yogurt, muffins, or anything you like!
  • Also helps digestion, controlling constipation, and is gluten free.

Add ground flax to your oatmeal and you've got double the power for lowering cholesterol. Today I found a recipe for Flax Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and gave them a try. They were quite tasty and turned out very much like the standard cookies as far as texture. I like the fact that they have flax seed, oatmeal and walnuts in them  -  three healthy ingredients that I love. You still need to be careful of how many you eat. I have a hard time with portion control when it comes to homemade chocolate chip cookies.

A couple more tips for flax:

  • If you take flax oil, remember that you will not get the fiber benefit.
  • Be sure to refrigerate your ground flax seed to keep it fresh. Use it up in 2-3 months.
  • For cholesterol benefit, use it daily about the same time like medicine so you don't forget. 
  • Usually found in the baking isle or health section of your supermarket.

I would love to hear your ideas on recipes using flax seed. Please share in the comments.

3 Ways to Add Immune Boosting Romaine to Your Diabetes Defense

Cold and flu season is definitely here. Along with hand washing, adequate sleep, and stress management, eating well is more important to keep your immune system strong.  Romaine lettuce beats all other lettuce varieties when it comes to immune-boosting nutrients. It's a great source of vitamin B1, B2, C and folic acid. All of these are important for keeping your immune system strong enough to fight off cold and flu viruses.

How does Romaine help fight diabetes? Well the low calorie content make it a great food for weight loss. Just remember to go easy on the salad dressing.

The most common way we tend to eat Romaine lettuce is in Ceasar salad. But you can make any other salad variety, add Romaine to your sandwich, or make a wrap!

Here's a couple recipes to get you started. Both are low calorie and contain other immune-boosting foods as well. I encourage you to share any other ways you enjoy meals with Romaine!

Walnut Romaine Salad

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chili is a recipe loaded with diabetes fighting ingredients!

Chili is one of my favorite cold weather foods. Besides tasting great and warming you up on a cold day, almost every ingredient in chili has health benefits. Here is my family's favorite recipe. It's easy and good for you too!

  • 1 lb lean ground beef, browned and drained
  • 2 cans kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans tomatoes
  • 1 medium to large onion chopped
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2-3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt to taste

My favorite way to cook chili is in the crock pot and often I do soups overnight because I cook the ground beef, onions and garlic and then throw everything in the crock pot while I am cooking another dinner. That way I cook two meals at once. When I get up in the morning I turn it off, let it cool and before I go out the door put it in the fridge. All that's left is to heat it up for supper in the evening!

The health benefits of chili for diabetes are numerous. Kidney beans are one of the best food sources of fiber providing almost half our daily requirement. Even though the beans are carbohydrate the fiber slows down the blood sugar rise after the meal. Kidney beans also have 57% of our daily need for folate, which lowers homocysteine levels and 20% of our need for magnesium, a natural blood pressure medicine.

Chili powder, ground from red chili peppers, contains capsaicin, which fights inflammation, reduces insulin needs and helps lower blood sugars.

If you go easy on the salt and choose lean ground beef, every other ingredient in chili will help you fight diabetes in one way or another.  If you are watching your weight, 1 small to medium bowl of chili will provide about 500 calories. My problem is that I love bread with my chili, which puts me well over my weight control portion.

The great thing about making chili and other soups is that you can add and subtract ingredients to your liking and create your own favorite recipe. If you have a favorite chili recipe please share!