Monday, August 18, 2008

Soup's On.Weight's Off.

This gorgeous gigante white bean soup served with a glass of Spanish Rioja was presented to me at Meson de Candido Restaurant in Segovia, Spain. 200 year old Meson de Candido is famous for their roasted suckling you can guess where this soup gets its flavor! Actually the recipe calls for one pig's ear and one pig's foot along with chorizo sausage and some cured Serrano ham. Soups are the very essence of comfort and flavor and I've always loved them.
Steaming hot vegetable soups to warm you in winter and icy cold fresh gazpachos to cool things down in summer.
Besides being a time honored way of coaxing the flavors from foods, soups are nutrient rich and because of their high liquid content.....soups are coming into focus as an important and tasty tool in weight control. They fill you up without filling you out. Now obviously, a tomato based Manhattan Clam Chowder will have less calories and fat than a cream based New England Clam Chowder but soups in general are important to add satiety to a meal. And we all know how important controlling hunger is when we're trying to eat less to weigh less. Weight management research shows that starting your meal with a bowl of soup will help you eat fewer calories at that meal. Add to that a two hour walking tour of Segovia's magical sights after lunch at Meson de Candido and you've got the perfect recipe for food, fitness and fun.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Spice it up!

It turns out that a pinch of this and a dash of that not only boosts flavor in foods it can add a heap of health benefits to recipes, too. Nutrition research supports new reasons to season dishes with commonly used culinary herbs and spices including cinnamon, ginger, oregano, red pepper and yellow curry powder.

Blueberries, pomegranates and other deeply colored fruits may be famous for their high antioxidant content; but it turns out that some spices rank really high, too. One teaspoon of cinnamon has the disease fighting antioxidant power of a full cup of pomegranate juice or half cup of blueberries.

The specific kind of antioxidant compounds found in cinnamon called polyphenols have been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels and fight inflammation which can increase risk for heart disease and diabetes. Feel even better about the cinnamon sprinkled on your oatmeal? Just don’t use this spicy news to help justify downing one of those huge cinnamon buns at the mall. Controlling total fat and calories in your diet still reigns supreme as the most important rule in good nutrition. With that in mind, it’s interesting to note that spices might come to rescue there, too. Other studies suggest that some seasonings such as cayenne pepper, chili powder and paprika may help curb hunger pangs and boost the metabolism making it a bit easier to stick to a weight control diet.
Ginger has long been used as a natural remedy to sooth stomach upset. Now research focusing on one of its active ingredients called gingerol suggests it may work like anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Is your mouth burning from the wasabi served with sushi? Pick up that piece of fresh ginger on the plate.
Oregano has the highest antioxidant levels of the dried herbs because of its rosmarinic acid content. Used heavily in Mediterranean cuisines oregano has antimicrobial powers that can help fight bacterial growth and may help inhibit the bacteria associated with ulcers.
Red Peppers get their heat from a powerful antioxidant compound called capsaicin. Spicing up your meal may also help increase satiety so you eat less and other studies found red peppers even milder sweet red peppers boost your metabolism so you burn more calories.
Yellow curry powder is a blend of tumeric and other spices. Curcumin, the bright yellow pigment in tumeric helps fight heart disease and may boost brain health, possibly protecting against Alzheimer’s disease.

More Spice, Less Fat, Sugar and Salt.
Of course one of the best ways that spices can contribute to the enjoyment of a healthy diet is by taking the place of other seasonings that are high in fat, sugar or salt. Herbs and spices are classified as calorie free and salt free. At Spice Market restaurant in midtown Atlanta, executive chef Ian Winslade dips into a world of exciting and healthy spices used in the cooking of Southeast Asia to create dishes such as Steamed Red Snapper with Ginger, Scallion and Tarragon or Grilled Strip Steak with Garlic, Coriander and Sesame. Since each spice offers its own individual health benefits it’s a bonus to find so many used in Spice Market recipes and in the capable hands of Windslade they blend beautifully, “The dishes themselves are quite complex, using a multitude of ingredients in preparation. But when you taste the food, the nuances of all the different ingredients linger on the palate, creating a lot of memorable food.”

So the coriander in Southeast Asian foods, oregano in Greek dishes, cinnamon in the recipes of Morocco and tumeric in the curries of India and Thailand not only enhance the fragrance and flavor of foods, these seasonings are playing a small and potentially important role in the overall nutrition of your meals.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

5 Fattest Ways to Eat

Illustration by Laura Coyle from The Dish on Cheating, Chapter 6 of The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!!

Five Fattest Ways to Eat: Maybe it's not what you're eating, but HOW you're eating!!

1. Mindless Munching: You can lose track of how many you gobbled when you eat directly out of a bag of chips or package of cookies. Same goes with nuts. Sure, they’re full of heart healthy fats but enjoy a handful not a can full. When dining out at a Mexican place count out three or four tortilla chips and place on your side plate for better chip control. Use the same tactic with the restaurant bread basket. And if your favorite restaurant is famous for serving huge portions ask for half of your meal to be placed in a take out container before it comes to the table. You won’t be tempted to eat the whole thing and you’ll have lunch for tomorrow.

2. Over Accessorizing: Whether it’s a salad or a steak dinner often times it’s the add-ons that pile on the pounds not the foundation. Watch the little extras that can add up to big calories blown on garnishes that you could easily skip. Limit the fried croutons, bacon bits, blue cheese crumbles and creamy dressing on salads. Enjoy a small steak without the gravy boat filled with BĂ©arnaise sauce or onion rings on the side.

3. Super-sizing Snacks: Snacking between meals can be a healthy habit if you're consuming them in snack sized portions. Enjoying a cup of creamy cold lemon gelato during an afternoon stroll is OK. Wolfing down a giant triple scoop bowl of ice cream with chocolate and chunks of candy on top is not. Same goes for chips, cookies and crackers as snacks. Choose the 100 calorie packs to keep track and savor them slowly.

4. Gonzo Guzzling: Don't forget the liquid portion of portion control. Maybe what's making you gain weight is not on your plate. It could be what’s in your car cup holder. Watch intake of sodas, presweetened teas, fruit flavored beverages and remember that alcoholic beverages pack a caloric wallop too.

5. Silly Splurging: Be smart about eating splurge foods you crave whether it’s chocolate brownies, French fries or lasagna. Realize you love these foods and allow yourself to enjoy them in sensible portions. Feel the textures and smell the aromas to help you feel more satisfied with a smaller portion. That’s what the women in the Rhode Island University study did that helped them to feel more satisfied with fewer calories.

Friday, August 1, 2008

What color do you crave?

Add beauty to your plate with the many colors found in fruits in vegetables. The pigments are an indication of the kind of nutrients that lie within.