Wouldn’t it be ideal if fast food wasn’t full of inexpensive, fattening, sugar-filled items (not to mention the soaring sodium contents)? It would be even better if the healthier options weren’t so unreasonably priced and limited to relatively fewer options.
You may be hard pressed to find a good quality fresh fruit at most cafe chains, but even when you do, the price may be higher than you’d expect. A banana at a cafe chain may cost you a dollar when you can get the same piece of fruit (and likely a better quality) at a grocery store for much less (59 – 99 cents per lb). Considering how far your dollar may go, you”ll get much better value for a gut-bomb 3 piece chicken nuggets or a hamburger than you will for your heart-healthy choices.
Tired of spending time trying to figure out if something is indeed a healthier choice?:
Take a venture into my utopia and discover natures perfect fast food:
The new deal – grab an apple or orange or follow these tips:
Spend less time looking at the ingredients and deciphering the label. If it’s got 5 or less (real-food) ingredients, no additives, great! This means you don’t have to wonder if Vitamin A Palmitate is good or bad for you. (Nor will you have to wonder if an ingredient is produced in a lab.) And if they are real-food ingredients (fruit, vegetable, whole grains, nuts…) and no added sugars or fats, even better. That would mean the sugars and fats (and healthy fats at that) would be coming straight from your whole foods and not added in. And if its got a little honey, that’s your call – sure it’s an added sugar. But if it’s minimal enough to keep the total sugars within reason, I’d say OK. Better yet, grab a piece of fresh fruit. It’s quick and simple, tasty, truly all-natural and there’s no label.
And if you still want to read labels, here are some pointers.
Until my utopia comes into fruition, here are some heart-healthy “fast foods” you can quickly make at home or buy at a grocery store:
Q: How do you fix up a quick and easy, healthy snack? Q: What are some of your healthier “fast food finds”?
An RD Behind the Plate,
Archives for May 2012
This simple but sophisticated menu is light and beautiful… just as a spring menu should be. It will appear as though you have slaved in the kitchen for hours – but you’ll know the secret… this is all ready in less than an hour. And, of course, you can get all these ingredients year round – and you can use frozen vegetables in the main course – so you don’t HAVE to wait a full year to enjoy it again!
The seasoning in the lamb dish is za’atar which is a Middle Eastern seasoning with a slightly bitter edge which I think goes well with the sweetness of the lamb and vegetables. If you can’t get it or would prefer a different flavour then use Herbes de Provence which is a mix of thyme, marjoram, rosemary, oregano, savory, basil and tarragon which is readily available.
Asparagus, wrapped in Prosciutto, and Baked
Spring Lamb with Vegetables and Za’atar
Spinach Topped Couscous
Rhubarb Confit with Rose Flavoured Creme Fraiche (or Greek yoghurt)
Fresh Goats Cheese with (truffle) honey
All recipes serve 4
Asparagus, wrapped in Prosciutto, and Baked
8 medium asparagus spears, ends broken off (where they break naturally)
4 slices Prosciutto or Parma ham
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Lamb with Spring Vegetables and Za’atar
500 g/1 lb lamb medallions
6 spring onions/scallions
200 g/6 oz petit pois or peas, shells
200 g/6 oz broad/lima beans, shelled
2 tsp za’atar* (slightly bitter)
4 tsp olive oil
250 ml white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste
200 g/6 oz couscous
250 ml boiling water
200 g/6 oz fresh spinach
15 g/1/2 oz butter
*or Herbes de Provence
Fresh Goats Cheese with (truffle) honey
200 g/6 oz fresh goats cheese
4 tsp (truffle*) honey
*or a local honey
Rhubarb Confit with Rose Flavoured Creme Fraiche
4 medium sticks or rhubarb
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp agave nectar
100 g/3 oz creme fraiche (or Greek Yogurt)
1 tsp rose water
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Start the Rhubarb Confit. Cut the rhubarb into 3′ pieces. Place it in one layer in a skillet/frying pan just large enough to hold it. Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with agave nectar.
3. Pour over olive oil to half way up the rhubarb. Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus, wrapped in prosciutto, and baked.
5. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil (use a sheet with edges to hold the juices).
6. Cut each slice of Prosciutto in half lengthwise. Wrap the ham around the asparagus and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a little lemon juice, and set aside.
7. Meanwhile, prepare the Fresh Goats Cheese with (truffle) Honey.
8. Slice the goats cheese and place on 4 small plates. Drizzle with honey, then set aside. This is now ready.
9. Put the prepared asparagus in the oven for 10 minutes until tender (test it – it may need a bit longer depending on the thickness and freshness of the asparagus).
10. Start the Lamb with Spring Vegetables and Za’atar. Season the lamb with za’atar (or Herbes de Provence), salt and cracked pepper. Brown in the olive oil over medium heat. Add the vegetables, wine and mint. Simmer for 20 minutes.
11. CAREFULLY lift the rhubarb out of the (by now cool) oil and place on small plates. Drizzle with a very small amount of the cooking oil (you don’t want it “oily” but there is good flavour in the oil).
12. Thoroughly stir the rose water into the creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt and place a blob on each plate then serve the rest in a small bowl. Set aside, this is now ready.
13. Pour the boiling water of the couscous, cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
14. Quickly wilt the spinach in the butter (without stirring) then drain well, squeezing out all excess liquid.
15. Line 4 ramekins with cling film. Put the spinach in the base of the ramekins. Fluff up the couscous and split equally between the ramekins, press it well down.
You are now ready to serve:
Serve the asparagus with the juices poured over and a good grind of black pepper.
Tip the couscous onto the plate then serve the lamb and vegetables next to it.
The rhubarb confit is ready to serve.
The goats cheese is ready to serve.
I hope you enjoy this menu designed to showcase delicious spring produce and flavours… do let me know!
With love and joy in your cooking,
Karen Kennaby is founder and CEO of Around the Table with Karen and the Joyful Eating Club. Professionally trained and a passionate advocate for REAL food, and in particular low to medium carb, Karen loves sharing her joy of all things foodie and specifically quickly prepared, delicious, healthy meals. Check out her site at http://www.AroundtheTablewithKaren.com and sign up to gain access to FREE recipes… join the Joyful Eating Club for weekly healthy eating plans and daily inspiration.
Do you find it hard to get motivated to get moving?? When you are pressed for time, lacking sleep and energy, or tired of the same old workout routine, even putting one foot in front of the other may seem like a daunting task! Luckily, there are plenty of summer races going on throughout the country that can provide just the motivation you need to get up off your couch and get on out enjoying the summer weather…. oh yeah, and get you moving too of course!
If you’re thinking to yourself, there is nothing you could possibly do to get me to run, then you probably haven’t heard of all the amazing adventures popping up around the country. There are a whole slew of races that combine fun themes and obstacles with the heart-warming feeling of knowing you’ve helped others! And I’m not the only one giddy like a school-girl over the fun-filled motivation to get moving! Cait McDonald, from Beyond Bananas, is also partaking in the fun, and from the sounds of it thoroughly enjoyed the fitness/fun combo the race provided! Cait recently shared about her experience in her Color Me Rad Recap.
The Color Me Rad 5K is a color-explosive run that benefits various charities. Participants run through four different color stations while completing the run. At each station there are eager volunteers, patiently waiting to throw hand-fulls of brightly colored, gluten-free, corn starch on the participants. When all is said and done, you’re left with the joyful feeling of completing a color-filled 5K, or for you non-metric lovers, the most fun 3.1 miles you’ll ever run!
If you’re up for a little less frill and a little more sweat and tears, then perhaps the Warrior Dash is a different kind of race you would like to check out. The Warrior Dash certainly lives up to it’s name! The race length varies depending on the location, but generally ranges from 3.0-3.5 miles, but it’s not the distance you should be worried about. Scattered throughout the course are obstacles such as cargo nets to climb, summits to scale, waist-deep water to trudge through, and warrior flames to leap over… to name a few! It is truly a one-of-a-kind race! Where else do you see competitors who just braved the battlefield covered in mud with a beer in one hand and a giant turkey leg in the other? Participants can also earn cool swag by raising money to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital!
If you’re anything like Cait, who started her race in a crisp white tee and crossed the finish line with a giant purple smile on her face, you will probably enjoy looking into these opportunities to help others while getting you’re move on! These fun-filled memories and charitable donations aren’t the only things you’ll be walking away with. Running also comes with other health benefits you can feel good about!
Benefits of Running
- Increase or maintain your fitness level
- Helps Prevent Heart Disease (as well as many other health conditions)
- Maintain Healthy Muscles and Bones
- Fight Insomnia
- Improve Mental Health
- Reduce Stress
- Increase Energy Levels
Whether you’re a seasoned runner or a basic beginner, these races can provide the spark you need to start transforming your life and adding healthy habits one step at a time!
Which races will you be participating in this summer??
The Intern Behind the Plate,
Beyond Bananas is a blog written and maintained by Cait McDonald. Cait is one of Around the Plate’s Healthy Eating Champions and is a member of thePlate Community. As a Healthy Eating Champion, Cait shares how to move past the craziness of life and find a healthy balance of eating healthy, wholesome foods, staying fit and working out. Find other Healthy Eating Champions, Nutrition Experts, and Recipe Guru’s on our community blog network.
This year I certified as a personal trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine. During my certification process, I learned how to perform basic health-related physical fitness assessments and interpret their results. One of the baseline areas for determining physical fitness is taking a look at body composition, defined as the relative proportion of fat and fat-free tissue in the body.
Assessing body composition is important because of the strong correlation between obesity and increased risk of chronic diseases including coronary artery disease, diabetes, hypertension, certain cancers, and high cholesterol.
There are several ways to measure percent body fat; however, not all methods provide a true sense of a person’s weight related health risks. Take your Body Mass Index (BMI), for example, which assesses weight relative to height with the following equation:
BMI = [weight (lbs) / height (in)² ] x 703
By plugging in your own measurements into this equation, you can determine where you fit into the disease risk classifications below:
The major shortcoming with using BMI to determine body composition is that it does not differentiate between lean body mass versus fat mass! This means that muscular people may be miscategorized as overweight or obese. This is true for me, actually. I teach a lot of strength training classes and consider myself fit and muscular, but when I calculate my BMI, it places me dangerously close to the overweight category! BMI is also not always accurate for elderly adults, who have often lost muscle and bone mass. Although their BMI might be within a normal range, they could still be overweight. Furthermore, people with normal BMIs may still carry a lot of fat around their waists, upping their risk for metabolic conditions.
For these reasons I learned that it is better to gauage your cardio-metabolic risk with an even easier method – waist measurements. First, the waist to hip ratio (WHR) is a comparison between the circumference of the waist and the circumference of the hip. Health risk is high for men when WHR > .95 cm and for women when WHR >.86 cm.
Waist to Hip Ratio = Waist Circumference/Hip Circumference
This measurement helps predict disease risk based on body fat distribution. Individuals with more weight on the trunk or around the abdomen (android, or apple shaped) are at greater risk for adverse health outcomes than those who carry more weight around their extremities (gynoid, or pear shaped).
Waist circumference alone is also highly recommended as an accurate indicator of health risk. The risk is high when the waist circumference is >35 inches for women and 40 inches for men. The implication of a larger waist is that fat surrounds the internal organs which can lead to inflammation and insulin resistance along with the increased cardio-metabolic risk.
However, a recent article in the Huffington Post argues that measurements that take into account BOTH internal fat AND height may be the best yet. Study researcher Margaret Ashwell, with the Oxford Brookes University in England, said that “for the first time, robust statistical evidence from studies involving more than 300,000 adults in several ethnic groups shows the superiority of waist-to-height ratios over both waist circumference and BMI for detecting cardio-metabolic risk factors in both sexes.” This very well may be the direction in which the health and fitness world is going in terms of body composition assessments, but for now while this study is still in its preliminary stages, a general rule of thumb is to keep your waist circumference to less than half of your height.
Have any of you ever assessed your body composition using any of these methods? Give it a try, and find out what your body fat is telling you!
Athena Karalekas is a certified personal trainer, a wellness coach in training, and the chief blogger behind Fitness & Feta. As a full believer in “everything in moderation,” Athena blogs to help others find balance in their lives and achieve an active lifestyle through her engaging mix of wellness tips, recipes, workouts, and more. Follow Fitness & Feta on Facebook & Twitter.
Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick-off of summer. Grills come out of hibernation, sunscreen gets lathered on, and for some, trips to the beach become an everyday occurrence.
This Memorial Day weekend also marks the 50th birthday of my very own dad, which means family time enjoying cake in the warm weather. And in just a couple of weeks, we’ll get to celebrate all the fabulous dads in our family.
If you’re not quite sure what to get your dad for Father’s Day this year, you still have plenty of time. And although it may be tempting to get him something tasty, I highly urge you to look for something that he won’t only enjoy, but will be beneficial to his health as well. Afterall, good health is sort of like the gift that keeps on giving.
A few of my favorite health-promoting gift ideas include:
A round of golf.
A day of relaxation.
Healthy snacks for on the go travels.
Not sure which nutritious snack your dad might like the most? Perhaps you will find the Balance Bar BARE Father’s Day Gift Set intriguing. These gift sets are available for a limited time and include 15 BARE Balance bars in three delicious flavors – Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter, Sweet & Salty Chocolate Almond; and Blueberry Acai, an exclusive Balance Bar water bottle with built-in compartment perfect for storing a BARE bar, and a playful “BARE Hug” Father’s Day card. Really, its everything you need to say “Have a Happy and Healthy Father’s Day.”
We received a few of the bars to try ourselves earlier this week and they were quite tasty. The guy behind the plate was especially fond of the Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter BARE Balance bar. It wasn’t too sweet or too salty – it was just right. Plus, all the bars were filling and kept our hunger in check between meals. This is important, especially if you decide to send your dad out on a hike or out for a round of golf this Father’s Day.
What else will you and your dad love about these bars? BARE Balance bars are sweetened with all natural organic agave and brown rice syrup. They contain 15 grams of protein, up to 5 grams of fiber and up to 7 grams of whole grains. They have 200 calories, 19 vitamins and minerals, and are an excellent source of antioxidants. Each 1.76 oz. single serve BARE bar adheres to Balance Bar’s proven healthy 40/30/30 nutritional model (40% of calories come from healthy carbohydrates, 30% from quality protein, and 30% from dietary fat) to help stabilize blood sugar levels, satisfy hunger and provide lasting energy.
Do you think your dad would like a Balance Bare BARE Father’s Day Gift set? Well, you’re in luck! We’re giving one away to one lucky AtP reader – and that reader could be you! To enter, please follow the directions below:
The Guy Behind the Plate,
Disclaimer/Disclosure: Although we received complimentary Balance BARE bars for our review, we were not compensated for this post and the opinions are completely Aaron’s alone. We just thought you should know. For a full list of our disclosure and disclaimer policies, please check out our legal page.