Healthy Holidays!

HEALTH TIPS

Diabetes
This year I’ve put into practice the importance of reading labels, excercising caution to avoid trans fats, excessive sodium, high fructose corn syrup, and excessive saturated fat and sugar. I also shun refined grains in favor of whole grain products.

I blame much of the current diabetes epidemic on food additives and processing. Yes, we overeat, but why? Some of these additives confuse our bodies and trigger hunger. I proved this in 2007 by changing my diet. I’ve lost weight and have better control of my appetite.
A friend of mine has been diagnosed with Diabetes and recently met with a nutritionist. Here are the guidelines she was given, which boils down eating for diabetes in simple terms:

1400 calories per day
180 carbs per day [break down into 3-45 carb meals and 3-15 carb snacks.]
Eat NOTHING over 5 gms of fat per serving.

Men and children need more calories, so discuss this with your own doctor. I’m not a diabetic and I don’t want to become one, but I’m following these guidelines, too. Maybe I’ll lose a few more unwanted pounds!

COOKING TIP

When making your resolutions for the new year, try incorporating a new health habit, such as: To avoid excess sodium; To eliminate trans fats; To replace refined grains with whole grains. My resolution (since I succeeded in eliminating high fructose corn syrup from my diet in 2007) is to reduce my consumption of sodas. I enjoy my Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper, but all soft drinks are rough on tooth enamel and the digestive system. Much as I hate to give up soft drinks, I plan to limit my intake to one can per day. That’s a step toward eliminating all sodas, but I know me well enough to know I can’t go cold turkey!

Whatever your resolution, make it reasonable and achievable. Don’t set yourself up for failure with grandiose, difficult goals. Double-digit weight loss is the stuff of reality TV shows but not practical for the rest of us. Still, there are lessons to be gleaned from programs such as The Biggest Loser.

To help you make your cooking healthier, focus on menus with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Make your protein lean and your fats healthy (olive, safflower, canola, or flaxseed oils). For more information on healthful menus, see the December 2007 issue of PREVENTION magazine, featuring “The Biggest Loser Diet” or go to prevention.com/biggestloser .

RECIPES

Easy Holiday Cookies
Makes 4-6 dozen
Holiday cookies are a tradition, one that’s difficult to avoid during the Christmas season. I’ve tried to make up healthful cookie recipes, but let’s face it—this time of year we want a few indulgences. So here is how I make “cut out” cookies that are festive and moderately improved over the store-bought varieties (I use a “healthy” fat instead of butter or trans fats). This method is also a time-saver.
Ingredients:
One 18 oz. size cake mix, any flavor (but Lemon’s my favorite)
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup Canola or Enova® oil
1 Tablespoon water
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Combine ingredients in a medium size bowl. Batter will be stiff. Work with hands to form a ball of cookie dough. Roll out dough on a pastry board or cutting board (or cover your countertop with wax paper) to ¼” thick. Using your favorite holiday cookie cutters or a small glass, form cookies and transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet (or use parchment paper).
Bake for ten minutes or until slightly brown. Remove from oven. Using a metal spatula, carefully lift each cookie from the pan and place on a cooling rack. Serve plain or decorate, if desired.

The next recipe is our favorite, for holidays or any day!

Foolproof Salmon Fillets
Serves Two
Salmon is farm-raised now and is widely available. I buy it flash-frozen because it tastes great when cooked right—low and slow. Try one of the new Mrs. Dash marinades (I like the Mesquite flavor) or make your own. Avoid high sodium products.
Ingredients:
2 frozen salmon fillets
¼ cup marinade*
Directions:
Preheat a 10″ stainless steel skillet over med/low heat. Add salmon (do not try to move the fish once it “sticks” to the pan), top with marinade, then cover. When the lid vapor-seals (meaning moisture makes it difficult to remove the lid; on some cookware, the lid spins freely at this point), lower the heat and time for 15 minutes.
Lift the lid and check for doneness. Do not overcook. However, when starting out with frozen fish, additional time may be needed. Turn fillets, cover, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes (or in 5 minute increments until fillets are done). Remember to use the lowest heat setting possible and don’t remove lid for the first 15 minutes. This “low and slow” method keeps fillets moist and helps you avoid over-cooking.
Serve immediately.
*Marinades are easy to make yourself. Remember to include an acid and a sweetener for balance, i.e. 1 ounce lime juice, 1 Tablespoon brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon grated ginger. Or 1 Tablespoon each: pineapple juice mixed with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and honey.

Happy Holidays from Chef Cheri!

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Filed under Cookies, cooking, Recipes, Salmon

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