This month we’re thinking more about heart health and preventing heart disease, although protecting your heart is something you can do all year long. Eating “heart-healthy” is a way to lower your risk for heart disease, especially when paired with regular physical activity.
Eating better for your heart doesn’t have to mean a dramatic change in your diet. You can start just by substituting one or two foods at first, and then move on to changing other eating habits.
As part of “heart month” in February, we’d like to offer this heart-healthy recipe. This recipe also has the following health benefits:
Last Black Friday, I jumped on the bandwagon and bought an Instant Pot®. Yes, I had to find out for myself what the craze was all about, so I actually bought in. And Instant Pot® is a programmable pressure cooker that is supposed to speed up cooking considerably. This week, I want to share what I’ve done with my Instant Pot® and how I’ve made it work for my family.
What’s the best part about an Instant Pot®?
First and foremost, what I absolutely love to make in my Instant Pot® is hard-boiled eggs. You may be asking, aren’t eggs bad for you? Despite their occasional negative portrayal, eggs are a fantastic protein source, as long as you aren’t going overboard with the number you eat.
I typically hard-boil about eight to 12 eggs a week for our family of five. The Instant Pot® makes it super-duper easy to do so. Here are the instructions:
Megan’s Hard-boiled Eggs
Put one cup of water and however many eggs you want into the pot.
Program five minutes of pressure, followed by five minutes natural release, followed by 5 minutes cold water bath.
I don’t shell them right away, but put them in a bowl in the fridge to stay fresher for longer. We shell them as we eat them.
What else can you use the Instant Pot® for?
I also have made a whole chicken with my Instant Pot®, although this is not something new to me. I usually buy whole chickens when they are on sale and freeze them. Typically, I’ll thaw the chicken and put it in the crockpot with all the seasonings I want—by the evening, we’ve got chicken. I’ll shred the leftover chicken and freeze into patches so we can use it for subsequent meals, such as chicken spaghetti, chicken tacos, white chicken chili and BBQ chicken.
How does the Instant Pot come into play? One time, I forgot to thaw the chicken the night before. I placed the whole frozen chicken in the Instant Pot® with the seasonings and a little water. In no time, the chicken was cooked. This is a definite plus of having the Instant Pot® around.
What are some of the lesser-known features of the Instant Pot®?
My last favorite I’m going to talk about today is burrito bowls. When making this recipe, I use more than just the pressure cook feature. You can make the whole burrito bowl meal in the Instant Pot® and not dirty another dish, thanks to the fabulous sauté feature.
Megan’s Burrito Bowl for the Instant Pot®
Put oil, peppers, onion and garlic into the pot.
Use the saute feature to cook, and then add beans, salsa, chicken, rice and low-sodium chicken stock.
Close the lid and pressure cook for 10 minutes.
Quick release and ladle out. Add some fresh cilantro, cheese and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and serve.
This is always a fun, full meal for my family, and it leaves behind great leftovers.
Instant Pot®: Yay or nay?
There are some great features for the Instant Pot® outside of pressure cooking. It has a learning curve, and it’s a little difficult to use and get used to. Sometimes when recipes say “10 minutes,” it’s actually longer because it takes time for the pressure to build. And, I will be honest, it takes up a lot of space if you don’t have much in your kitchen. All that being said, the Instant Pot® can be right for a lot of people and would be a good addition in your kitchen. Happy Instant Potting!!
Mornings are busy. Whether you’re headed off to work, trying to get the kids to school or both at the same time—trying to start your day can be hectic and stressful. Something that often suffers when mornings get too busy is breakfast. But there are some very good reasons why you shouldn’t skip the most important meal of the day.
What’s the Deal with Breakfast?
Eating breakfast is important because your body has gone the longest it does in a 24-hour period without eating. The key to starting the morning off right—and giving you enough energy and focus to get you to lunch—is eating within one to two hours of waking up.
Eating breakfast helps stave off illness (including serious ones like heart disease or diabetes), improves brain function and is an important step in healthy weight loss. And, it’s easier to pull off than you may think. Try this breakfast burrito recipe below: It’s good for eating right away or making on a Sunday and freezing for the whole week!
The egg and sausage in this burrito are good sources of protein. A high-protein breakfast will fill you up and give you plenty of energy to start your day!
Have you made a New Year’s resolution to drink more water? A healthy level of water in your body helps keep your temperature normal, lubricates and cushions your joints, protects your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues and gets rid of wastes. While most people know that the “recommended” amount of water per day is 8-10 cups, that is actually an arbitrary number not based on any science. As long as you are drinking water when you’re thirsty and with meals, you are drinking a healthy amount of water. However, if you think you’re not getting enough water each day, it’s a good idea to start getting into some healthy water-drinking habits.
Here are some tips from the CDC for drinking more water:
Carry a water bottle for easy access when you are at work or running errands.
Freeze some freezer safe water bottles. Take one with you for ice-cold water all day long.
Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
Choose water when eating out.
Add a wedge of lime or lemon to your water. This can help improve the taste and help you drink more water than you usually do.
If you’re one of those people who has committed to drinking more water this year but maybe doesn’t like the taste, try one of these water infusion recipes in the video below!
“Christmas” and “cookies” are words that should always be together, right? But sometimes with all the cookies we make and receive around the holidays, we want something a little healthier to offset icing and sprinkles! Try out these apple “cookies” for something nutritiously sweet!
November 14th was World Diabetes Day. To acknowledge this, it is important to understand why there is a day dedicated to diabetes awareness. The burden of diabetes has quadrupled over the past decades; the World Health Organization estimates there are 422 million adults who currently have diabetes worldwide. That is 1 in 11 adults. Data from the National Diabetes Statistics Report found that in 2017, there were 30.3 million people who had diabetes, of which 23.1 million people are diagnosed and 7.2 million people remain undiagnosed.
The burden of diabetes is not just in the numbers affected but also in health costs, and, most importantly, quality of life. Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputations. WHO projects that diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death in 2030. Currently, it is estimated that 1.6 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes and another 2.2 million deaths were attributable to high blood glucose in 2015 and 2012, respectively.
The above numbers are why we must focus on awareness, prevention and treatment of diabetes.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Diabetes can be treated. Dietary and lifestyles factors have been proven to make the largest impact on decreasing, preventing and treating the complications from diabetes. As with most progressive illnesses, diabetes onset typically goes unrecognized by the patient for a number of years, with the exception of type 1 diabetes, which is typically a sudden onset of symptoms. So what are the warning signs of high blood sugars and possibly undiagnosed diabetes?
Symptoms of hyperglycemia to look for:
Frequent thirst and hunger, even right after eating
Changes in vision
Sores that won’t heal
Gum disease, gums pulling away from teeth, red, swollen gums or changes in the way your dentures fit
Tingling, pain or numbness in hands or feet
How does a diabetes diagnosis happen?
When should someone consider getting screened for diabetes?
Are overweight (BMI >25)
Are 45 years or older
Have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
Have ever had gestational diabetes or given birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
Are African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, or Alaska Native (Some Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are also at higher risk.)
What tests will my providers/doctors order, and what will they mean?
less than 5.7%
5.7% to 6.4%
6.5% or higher
Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG)
less than 100 mg/dl
100 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl
126 mg/dl or higher
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)
less than 140 mg/dl
140 mg/dl to 199 mg/dl
200 mg/dl or higher
Your doctor will typically use two methods to confirm a diagnosis of prediabetes or diabetes.
What comes after a diabetes diagnosis?
In either case of prediabetes or diabetes, the treatment includes a healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco. It is important to incorporate these with any medication regimen your doctor may prescribe. In fact, diet and lifestyle changes have been shown to decrease your hemoglobin A1c by one to two percent!
When you are thinking of beginning a new dietary plan, you must incorporate schedule, food behaviors, and even your favorite foods. For example, if you grew up on meat and potatoes, I would not say you could never eat those foods again. Instead, it is important to discuss healthier cuts of meat or poultry or healthier types, portions and ways to prepare potatoes. Many people think a diet is depriving yourself of food—instead think of adding new foods to portion-controlled foods you enjoy. A good guideline is the USDA’s Plate Method.
Using this method, you can incorporate a controlled amount of carbohydrate sources, while increasing your non-starchy vegetable intake. The most challenging part for most individuals is making half of your plate non-starchy vegetables. It helps to get creative with your vegetables—explore zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash pasta or even eggplant pizzas! Or, try this cauliflower rice recipe: