Clean Up Your Diet!

Shopping Basket Series
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It’s that time of year again to open up the windows and give the house a good scrub-down. This is also a perfect opportunity to clean out the cupboards and fridge and fill them with better choices for a healthier you this Spring! Here are a few good places to start with your cleaning:

  • Throw out the vegetable oil! A fellow dietitian of mine stated that vegetable oil should be renamed “inflammation oil”. Contrary to its name, there are no actual vegetables in this popular oil. It contains a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids, and when these occur in abundance in our diets, it can cause inflammation in the body. Vegetable oil is one of the main oils used in processed foods. Opt for olive oil with marinades and dressings and coconut oil for high temperature cooking.
  • Rid your fridge of low-fat and fat-free salad dressings and replace them with healthy vinaigrettes.
  • Canned vegetables may be economical since they have a long shelf-life, but many of the vegetables’ nutrients are lost in the canning process plus they now are packed with sodium. Clean your fridge and make room for high-nutritious, low-calorie vegetables such as: spinach, red bell peppers, asparagus, broccoli, zucchini and carrots.
  • Replace sugar-sweetened cereals with natural oats. You can dress up plain oatmeal by adding puree pumpkin and cinnamon, berries, peanut butter or apples and chopped nuts.
  • Purge those cabinets of pop-tarts, sugary granola bars and Little Debbie snacks and stock up on a variety of healthy snack options such as nuts, yogurt, raw veggies dipped in humus, hard-boiled eggs and fresh fruit.
  • Make sure you have small water bottles that can be packed for lunches instead of Capri Suns, Juicy Juice boxes or soda.
  • Swap flavored yogurt for plain Greek yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt contains less lactose, more protein and is not loaded with added sugars like the flavored varieties are.
  • Ready to take on a health challenge? Throw out your pasta noodles and begin purchasing spaghetti squash. Once cooked, the squash can be scooped out into perfect spaghetti threads. If you have a food spiralizer on hand, you can do the same with butternut squash and especially a great summer vegetable choice like zucchini!
  • Spring kicks off the start of many seasonal fruits and vegetables. During the spring and summer, produce tends to be cheaper and tastes better since its now in season. Be sure to head to your nearby Farmers Market to enjoy local seasonal produce!

 

Back In Action- Farmer’s Market Kick-Off Today

After a two-week hiatus from the Illinois Products Farmer’s Markets for the Illinois State Fair we are back in action at the market. Join us tonight from 4-7 pm at the Illinois State Fairgrounds for fresh produce, sweet treats, and more. Tonight we will be giving away salad shakers to the first 100 visitors to our booth. shaker1 shaker2 Complete with fork and a special compartment for your dressing of choice. Also tonight you can visit with our Orthopedic Group and pick up our Healthy Recipe of the Week: Chicken Pasta Salad with Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing.

Notes from Amanda Figge,” This recipe has already been approved as delicious. The Channel 20 news studio gobbled it up and when I brought the leftovers up to Lincoln this morning; they were completely gone in 30 minutes (by 8:15am!).”

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup fat-free, sugar-free vanilla yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 ounces dried whole-grain penne
  • 12 ounces cooked skinless chicken breast, cooked without salt, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 ounces spinach, cut into long, thin pieces or torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, halved and slivered
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, dry-roasted
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fat-free milk (optional)

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Set aside.

2. Prepare the pasta using the package directions, omitting the salt. Drain in a colander. Rinse with cold water until cool. Drain well.

3. In a large bowl, stir together the chicken, pasta, spinach, bell pepper, and onion.

4. Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing to coat (using two large spoons works well). Sprinkle with the almonds or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours, sprinkling with the almonds just before serving. If the salad seems dry after refrigeration, toss with the milk at serving time to add moisture.

chickenpastasaladcreamypoppyCook’s Tip – For a hearty side salad, omit the chicken and add some shredded carrots, chopped cucumber, or other vegetables.

Nutrition Information: Calories: 358.Total Fat: 7.5 g. Saturated Fat: 1.5 g. Monounsaturated Fat: 3.5 g. Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g. Trans Fat: 0 g. Cholesterol: 75 mg. Sodium: 233 mg. Carbohydrate: 37 g. Fiber: 7 g. Sugars: 4 g. Protein: 35 g.

-American Heart Association, Recipes for the Heart

Couponing- Is it Always Worth It?

We’ve all watched the show in complete awe and wonder. The shopper pushes their four loaded-down carts of groceries to the cashier and the ringing up begins; $20.00, $130.00, $650.00. Luckily, the shopper has come equipped with a binder full of coupons and the grand total is…$4.74. I’m usually left speechless for several reasons:

  • Where are they going to put all that stuff?
  • How much time did it take to prepare for that one shopping trip?
  • Did they seriously need 100 Hershey bars?

According to the show, Extreme Couponing, the shopper featured spends an average of 35-40 hours per week preparing for one shopping trip. That’s a full-time job’s worth of buying newspapers, printing online coupons, cutting, organizing and mapping out a plan of attack at the local grocery store. Some may view this as complete obsession while others see it as a way to make ends meet. But, is this type of couponing always worth it?extreme couponing

Time. This may be viewed as the biggest downfall to extreme couponing. Scouting newspapers, magazines, and online ads, then organizing it all is critical to making an extreme shopping trip work. For many of us who work full-time, these are discretionary hours that we just don’t have.

Space. In order to support these large grocery trips, you need to have the available storage space to keep and organize all your purchases. Preferably, this needs to be a pest-free, dry, climate-controlled room so your bounty is not spoiled by humidity or insects.

Expiration Dates. From a food safety perspective, this one worries me. When you see what appears to be a warehouse full of cereal, crackers, cookies, granola bars and condiments, you can’t help but think “how can they possibly eat all that food before it expires?” Expiration dates do not apply exclusively to foods.  Medications like Tylenol can become toxic if consumed after its expiration date. A good method to practice is the FIFO inventory principle-First In First Out. Remember to pull older items forward when restocking a similar item.

Nutritional Value. This is my biggest concern with most of the featured individuals’ purchases on the show. Saving hundreds of dollars on a shopping trip is definitely a commendable feat; but what will the shopper pay nutritionally? Loading up on sugary-sweetened cereal, candy bars, chips and soda comes with a hefty calorie bill. Consuming these foods on a daily basis (which you would have to do so they don’t spoil, right?) indicates a diet that is low in fiber, B-vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

I know what you’re thinking, “But Amanda, fruits and vegetables are so expensive!” I’m here to tell you, that is not always the case. First and foremost, sign up for your local grocery store’s rewards program. Often, you are only eligible for the sale prices or “deals of the week” if you have a rewards card membership. You also are entitled to store-specific coupons with many of these rewards programs. A friend of mine told me about the mPerks programs at Mejier and how she saves all the time on grocery items, meat and produce. Did you hear that? PRODUCE! Each week I log on and virtually “clip” coupons that get automatically added to my account. When checking out, I simply punch in my code and just like magic, my grocery bill goes down.

Buying fruits and vegetables in season is another excellent way to save. For a complete list of what’s in season this summer, please visit: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/whats-in-season-summer.  Shopping at your local Farmers’ Market is another great approach to purchasing fresh produce in season. In fact, Illinois Products Farmers’ Market sponsored by Springfield Clinic is providing opportunities to earn free “market bucks” for the Illinois Products Farmers’ Market. Each week a new recipe is handed out at the Springfield Clinic booth. Individuals are encouraged to make the recipe and then take a picture of the finished product. Market bucks can be earned by posting the recipe photo to the Springfield Clinic Facebook page. Come join us each Thursday from 4:00-7:00pm at the Illinois State Fair Grounds-Commodities Pavilion.

My intent of this post was not to bash extreme couponing but rather to highlight some of the pitfalls of the experience. I think it’s wise to stock up on items like Ziploc bags, diapers, or cleaning supplies, but there’s no real “savings” to experience with mass quantities of chips or soft drinks.