The Great Food Debate

When it comes to food, making the best choices for your body can sometimes be a frustrating process, especially if you have seen how quickly food can flip from the good list to the naughty list. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions I get when it comes to the great food debate.

White Rice or Brown Rice?

Answer: White Rice

I know this blows everyone out of the water, but I’m thinking about digestion. White rice is easier on the tummy, so if you have any problems with irritable bowels or inflammation, white rice should always be your choice.

Yes, white rice has a higher glycemic index, but most of the time when you eat rice, you should be eating it with protein and vegetables. This helps lower the glycemic load of the entire meal. It’s virtually identical to brown rice when it comes to calories, fats, carbs and protein. Brown rice may claim that it is higher in nutrients, but in all honesty, those differences are so miniscule it doesn’t really matter.

Regular Soda or Diet Soda?

Answer: Neither

This is an answer that no one wants to hear but let’s be real for a second: Soda is soda. It’s made of chemicals, food colorings and carbonation. It should never replace water as a source of hydration. Regular soda contains an absurd amount of sugar or, even worse, high fructose corn syrup. Both of these contribute to insulin resistance and elevated blood sugars. Diet sodas are loaded with artificial sweeteners. These fake sugars are now known to contribute to digestive issues, disrupt the gut lining and also cause your body to crave more sugar in the long run.

Butter or Margarine?

Answer: Butter

I’m a stickler when it comes to more natural food items. Butter is one single ingredient. It is the fat that is rendered off of milk or cream. Previously, we thought that the saturated fat found in butter was the cause of poor health and heart disease. Today, we know that saturated fats, when derived from natural sources, can actually be part of a very healthy diet! Margarine, on the other hand, is a concoction of chemicals and processed oils. These processed oils, such as vegetable or canola oils, are highly inflammatory in the body.

Have other food questions you need answered? Send us a message and we’d be happy to answer ‘which is better’!

Make Rhubarb Happen this Summer

After patiently waiting out winter, I think it’s safe to say summer is here! A sure sign of summer, aside from 90-degree days, is the bright, glossy stalks of rhubarb that have started showing up in my garden, as well as the local farmers’ market and in the produce section at the grocery store. Rhubarb is a sweet and savory, diverse vegetable that can be incorporated into beverages, breakfasts, sides and desserts.

I highly recommend rhubarb: If you haven’t tried it, you must! Here are four rhubarb-full recipes to start.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Smoothie

Ingredients
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup frozen banana, sliced
  • 1/2 orange, juiced
  • 1 cup milk (almond, cow, soy or coconut)
  • 1–2 tablespoons protein powder, optional (whey, pea, hemp)

Instructions

  • Blend all of the ingredients until smooth.

Strawberry Rhubarb Overnight Oats

Ingredients

Oatmeal:

  • ½ cup oats
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)

Topping:

  • ¼ cup fresh rhubarb, chopped
  • 6 medium strawberries, diced
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon honey
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the oatmeal ingredients in a jar or container with a lid, stirring well. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next morning, put chopped rhubarb, strawberries and water in a small skillet and heat over medium heat.
  3. Cook 3–5 minutes, or until fruit is softened and cooked down.
  4. Add honey, and then remove from heat.
  5. Top the oatmeal with the fruit and serve immediately.

From Sinful Nutrition

Pork Chops with Ginger Rhubarb Compote

Ingredients

Pork chops:

  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4boneless pork chops that are about 6 ounces each
  • 4small fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish (optional)
  • olive oil for grilling or cooking the chops

Compote:

  • 2teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2small red onion, diced
  • 1clove minced garlic
  • 4large stalks rhubarb, cut into 1/4-inch crosswise slices
  • 1 large orange, juiced
  • 1teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon honey
  • salt
Instructions
  1. Pull the pork chops out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking and season both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high and sauté the onion until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté another minute or so.
  3. Turn the heat to low, add the rhubarb, orange juice and ginger, and then stir. Cook, stirring occasionally until the rhubarb gets tender without completely losing its shape. Add the honey and a generous pinch of salt. Stir until the compote is ready (taste and adjust seasoning if needed) and then take off the heat.
  4. Prepare your grill so it’s at a medium-high heat. Brush the grill with oil and lay on the chops. Cook to your desired doneness, about 3–4 minutes per side for “medium.” (You can also cook the chops in a heavy skillet or under a broiler.)
  5. Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs and serve with rhubarb compote on the side.

From Mom’s Kitchen Handbook

Healthy Strawberry Rhubarb Bread

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups strawberries, chopped
  • 3/4 cup rhubarb, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350o
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the almond milk, eggs, sugar and coconut oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix lightly until combined​.
  4. Mix the strawberries and rhubarb into the batter. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan.
  5. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.
  6. Cool for 10-15 minutes, then remove from the pan and allow to cool completely.

From Fannetastic Food

Alternatives to frying

Many of us grew up with fried foods, and we all know they bring a sense of comfort, can be a quick and easy way to fix the main dish of your meal and are so very yummy! However, fried foods are not the most beneficial for your health. We know now that not all fats are created equal: healthier fats (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, natural saturated) are better for you and even desirable compared to unhealthy fats (trans fat). Frying food can eliminate everything that’s healthy about a food, so here are some terrific alternative cooking methods to frying.  

Sautéing/Stir-frying

This method of cooking can be quick and easy and give foods an enriched flavor. Plus, a lot more nutrients are saved through sautéing or stir frying. Sautéing involves cooking food, typically vegetables and proteins in a pan over high heat with oil (extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, butter), liquid (broth or water added 1-2 tablespoons at a time to cook and brown food without steaming) or homemade sauce. Stir-frying is similar, except the food is cooked at higher heat and faster speed. It needs to be constantly stirred and tossed so it doesn’t burn.

Roasting/Baking

I recommend this form of cooking when you’re trying a new protein or vegetable. Roasting or baking caramelizes food with a dry heat, creating a sweet and savory flavor out of the natural sugars of the food. Season the food, add oil if you want, put on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and put in the oven.

What’s the difference between roasting and baking? Meats or vegetables that are a solid structure are roasted. Foods that don’t start as a solid structure (muffins, cakes, casseroles) are baked.

Braising/Stewing

Braising and stewing are best done with heartier vegetables and lean proteins, as the foods become soft and tender and full of flavor. You can braise in water, broth or any flavorful liquid. Put everything in a pot and cook over low heat for several hours. For the most flavor, I recommend sautéing the vegetables before adding them to the liquid. You can also use this cooking method in a slow cooker.

Grilling

I used to be afraid of grilling, as it’s easy to cook the outside and not the inside, especially with lean proteins. But, with practice, I’ve gotten much better at it. Grilling can provide a rich, deep, smoky flavor to all your foods, and vegetables caramelize as well while getting crispy. Marinate, season and place on the grill to cook. With vegetables, so they don’t fall through the slits, wrap in oiled aluminum foil.

Steaming

When I recommend steaming, many people think of bland and stringy food. However, when done right, food, especially vegetables, can become tender and flavorful while keeping most of their nutrients. Delicate foods, such as most vegetables and fish, are good candidates for steaming, but there are other possibilities. I recommend steaming over the stove or in the microwave.

Whichever method you choose to prepare your foods—if it’s not frying, it’ll be beneficial to not only your health, but also your waistline!

A Pasta Salad You Can Feel Good About!

As warm weather (finally!) descends upon us, you might find yourself attending more picnics, potlucks or other outdoor events you have to bring food to. Often, the problem with potlucks is that dishes that most people would enjoy at a party tend to not be the healthiest. But with minor substitutions, this pasta salad is sure to be crowd-pleaser while still being a healthy option.

Italian Pasta Salad
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Ingredients
  1. 12 ounces whole wheat pasta
  2. celery
  3. cucumber
  4. tri-colored bell peppers
  5. 16 ounces Olive Garden light Italian dressing
  6. 1 packet Good Seasons Italian dressing seasoning mix
Instructions
  1. Boil pasta until al dente (firm to bite), then drain, rinse and cool.
  2. Chop desired amount of veggies and put in a large bowl.
  3. Add the Italian dressing and seasoning packet and mix well.
  4. After the pasta has cooled, add it to the veggies and mix well.
  5. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  6. Serve the next day, or make ahead a few days in advance.
Something to Chew http://somethingtochew.com/
 

Italian Chicken Sandwich

In the days after big cooking holidays, you might feel like you never want to step foot in your kitchen again—or at least not until Thanksgiving. But for some reason, your kids and spouse still need to be fed, so try out this easy Italian chicken slow cooker recipe for a week’s worth of sandwiches.

Italian Chicken Sandwich
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Ingredients
  1. Tomato mixture
  2. • grape tomatoes, sliced
  3. • garlic, minced
  4. • balsamic vinegar, to taste
  5. • salt, pepper & oregano, to taste
  6. • olive oil
  7. Italian chicken
  8. • 4-6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (frozen or fresh)
  9. • 1 packet Italian dressing
  10. • 1 jar pepperoncini, juice and all
  11. Sandwich
  12. • whole wheat buns
  13. • Dijon mustard
  14. • mozzarella slices
  15. • Italian chicken
  16. • tomato mixture
Instructions
  1. Tomato mixture instructions: Heat olive oil in a skillet and add garlic.
  2. Once the garlic is sizzling, add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper.
  3. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until tomatoes are mushy.
  4. Italian chicken instructions: Line slow cooker with liner, and then spray the liner with cooking spray.
  5. Put frozen or thawed chicken breasts, Italian dressing and the jar of pepperoncini (juice and all) into the slow cooker.
  6. Note: If your family doesn’t do spice, leave the pepperoncini whole and remove after the chicken is done cooking.
  7. Cook on low approximately six hours.
  8. After the chicken is done cooking, use two forks to shred it in the slow cooker. Take the pepperoncini out.
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Making Healthy Quick and Easy: Sheet Pan Suppers

I’ve been making a lot more “sheet pan suppers” lately, as these are quick and easy and involve the three necessary nutrients to fill out the plate: carbohydrate, protein and non-starchy vegetable. These are easy to prep the day before on the sheet. Then when you get home, take the sheet out of the fridge while the oven is preheating and have a meal worthy for all taste buds in about 30 minutes.

Here are some of my best sheet pan supper tips:

  • Use the largest cookie sheet/pan you have, preferably from heavy-gauge aluminum or steel. I find these help foods to brown better.
  • I’m all about easy and quick cleanup, so make sure to line the pan you choose with foil and spray with a nonstick cooking spray.
  • Pick your protein. If you are going to use a protein that is larger than the rest of your food, I like to cook it for about 5-10 minutes before putting the rest of the ingredients on the pan.
  • Place the rest of the ingredients in a single layer, cut about the same size so they will roast properly.
  • Season the ingredients according to the recipe or your discretion.
  • Make sure protein is cooked to the proper temperature.
  • For leftovers, use the foil from the pan to wrap the food up in, and then reheat in oven later.

This pan roasted chicken and vegetable meal is one of my favorites. Like I said, I usually put everything on the pan the night before and leave it in the fridge until the oven is preheated the next day. Try it for yourself!

If you are interested in starting with just roasted vegetables, print off our handy Roasting Vegetables 101 sheet  a guide.

Pan Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Meal
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Ingredients
  1. 6 medium red potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  2. 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  5. 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  6. 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, divided
  7. 3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
  8. 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  9. 6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
  10. 6 cups fresh baby spinach
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425o F.
  2. Combine potatoes, onion, oil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon rosemary and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Toss the mixture to coat evenly.
  3. Line a baking pan or cookie sheet with foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. Pour the potato and onion mixture onto the coated baking pan and arrange the chicken on top.
  5. Mix the paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon rosemary and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and sprinkle it over the chicken.
  6. Bake about 35-40 minutes, or until the inside of the chicken is 170-175oF and the vegetables are just tender.
  7. Remove chicken to a serving platter and keep warm.
  8. Top the vegetables with the spinach and put back into the oven to roast until the vegetables are tender and the spinach is wilted, about 8-10 minutes longer.
  9. Stir the vegetables to combine and serve them with the chicken.
Something to Chew http://somethingtochew.com/