The Four A's of Fiber: "Remember the four A’s of fiber: apples, artichokes, apricots, and avocados. "

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day Menus

Memorial Day is a traditional time of picnics and barbecues, a celebration of early summer, when families congregate and kids run wild. As a kid, I often spent such times with my family and close friends. Below are some of my favorite ‘on the grill’ treats. Enjoy!

Lime Pineapple Sticks

Sugar-Lime Sauce:
Juice of 1 fresh lime (2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup brown sugar

Pineapple Sticks
1 pineapple, peeled and quartered lengthwise

To make the sauce, put the lime juice and sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and stir until the sugar dissolves.

Cut the pineapple quarters into 2-3 wedges lengthwise. If preferred, slice off the core sections, then cut each wedge into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Thread long metal skewers through each wedge and brush with the lime mixture.

Light an outdoor grill or preheat a broiler. Grill or broil until the fruit is tinged dark brown. Serve drizzled with any leftover sauce, accompanied by low fat vanilla yogurt.

Grilled Portobello and Spinach Burgers

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 large Portobello mushrooms, stems removed
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste
Well-washed and torn spinach leaves, for topping

1. Mix together the mayonnaise, garlic, and basil in a small bowl. Set aside to let the flavors develop and use for topping.

2. In another small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar and brush over the mushrooms thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Lightly oil the grill or a skillet over medium heat and cook the mushrooms until tender all the way through, 8 to 10 minutes per side.

Shish Kabobs

1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. vinegar, wine or sherry (I prefer red wine)
1/4 c. chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
garlic to taste

Blend ingredients together, then marinate overnight 2 lbs. sirloin tips (1 inch pieces), mushrooms (I prefer baby portabellas), green pepper cut into chunks, and onions cut into chunks.

After marinating, skewer meat and vegetables, and broil for 20 minutes (or grill outdoors), basting often. May add tomatoes for last 5 minutes if desired.

Make extra marinade, and use it to cook rice in as a side dish!This may also be used for a vegetarian kabob. Simply leave out the meat and marinate vegetable chunks such as zucchini, green pepper, etc.

Chicken and Fruit Salad with Mango Vinaigrette

2 to 3 mangos
12 ounces skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
6 cups torn mixed greens
1/2 medium cantaloupe -- cut in 1" chunks1 cup halved or sliced strawberries

Mango Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 green onions -- thinly sliced

1. Pit , peel and slice mangoes. Measure 1-1/2 cups for use in the vinaigrette; set aside remaining slices for salad.

2. Rinse chicken; pat dry with paper towels. Stir together curry, salt, and pepper. Rub chicken with curry mixture. Grill chicken on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over med. coals about 13 to 15 min. or till tender and no longer pink, turning once halfway through grilling.

3. Arrange greens on individual dinner plates. Top with chicken strips, melon, strawberries, and reserved mango slices. Drizzle with Mango Vinaigrette. Sprinkle green onion over all.

4. For vinaigrette, combine reserved 1-1/2 cups mango, orange juice, vinegar, honey and mustard in blender or food processor. Cover and blend till smooth. Cover and chill till serving time. Makes about 1-1/4 cups.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Talkin' at the Table

My grandmother, a wonderful New York Sicilian, taught me that food is more than sustanence - it's family! Now I realize that not every family that gathers around the dinner table does so with loving thoughts in mind, but even the best of families struggle to connect during meal time.

Time around the table is a great time to work on our communication skills. Where else will our children learn how to converse appropriately with others during a meal? When they grow and date and go to a potential in-law's home for dinner, will they be able to engage in lively and life-giving conversation? They will if we show them first around our own tables.

Studies show that kids who eat more family meal perform better in school. They spend more time on homework, get better grades, and spend more of their free time reading for pleasure. But there are other benefits, too. Eating together at home saves time. Eating out may save time. Eating out may save effort, but it takes more time than eating at home. Kids have homework to do on a regular basis, and as parents, we need to protect that time. They're already so busy with extracurricular activities, sports, church, and friends. School must come first if they are going to succeed. We can set them up for success by setting the dinner table as a family as often as possible.

Check out these suggestions for cultivating captivating dinner time conversation:
  • When everyone is home, require the family to sit at the table together. Sometimes even when we're all home, everyone finds a different spot to eat: Dad in front of the television, kids in the family room, and Mom in the kitchen alone. Gather around the table together, not just to avoid messes all over the house, but to focus on one another.
  • Don't discipline at the dinner table. Even if something went wrong at school or at home, deal with the infraction after dinner. Try not to associate eating together with negative experiences. Don't dish out punishments during mealtimes. If you have to address the issue, do so briefly and set a time after dinner to deal with it completely.
  • How was your day? As adults, ask one another how your day was and whether anything new or interesting happened. Kids learn about the pitfalls and pleasures of your day and will become more willing to share about their own days. This also gives them an opportunity to discover how you handled things that went wrong. These are teachable moments. How about asking the kids directly about their day? Take turns to answer "What was the best part of your day? And what was the worst part of your day?" You'll learn a lot.
  • Encourage inclusive conversation. Sometimes certain family members tend to monopolize dinnertime conversation. It's fine to briefly talk about things that are only of interest to one or two members, but when possible, try to choose topics that engage all those sitting around the table. Not only is this a great way to make sure no one feels left out, but it nurtures mealtime etiquette that children will need in future social settings.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Summer is Coming!

Summer is Coming!: A great time to get active with your kids. The hectic school year schedule is over and with a more relaxed pace, you can help you child be healthy without all the “distractions’ and lack of time excuses from during the year.

Of course you want your kids to be healthy all the time. But, starting new healthy habits is a conscious effort on your part. And let’s face it, your busy. Summertime allows more time for most of us. It’s a time to relax, go on vacation and enjoy family time. Incorporating good health habits into your schedule is essential. Don’t be over whelmed, make each step one at a time through out the summer months and your family will be on their way to healthy future.

Start by looking at your role modeling skills. Believe it or not, it all starts with you!
Do you eat a well balanced diet daily?
Do you eat breakfast every morning?
Do you choose nutritious snacks?
Do you watch portion sizes on sweets and chips?
Are you physically active at least 30 minutes of each day?
Do you eat meals with your family at home?
Do you limit “screen time” such as TV or computer work to one or two hours a day?

Look first at what you are teaching your kids by your own example. Then get moving.
Healthy habits start at home.

Super snack size. Treats are not the enemy, just the amount you have. Try buying snack size candy bars, serving soda beverages in small glasses and when eating out split the fries.
Monitor the screen. The TV and computer are screens that are constantly on in many houses. Set a daily time limit on the amount of time spent in front of the screens. And compliment that time with an equal amount of outdoor activity each day. Keep your day in balance. Play with your kids. It’s good for you too!

Smart Snacks for the Whole Family

Simple snacking for kids and parents. Kids can make these snacks on their own. Keep the house filled with easy to make and eat snacks for the kids to grab. If you have it in your home, they’ll eat it!
Ø Cup of low fat yogurt
Ø Bowl of whole grain cereal
Ø Cheese stick
Ø Handful of nuts
Ø Fruits
Ø Dried fruit
Ø Baby carrots and celery sticks
Ø Graham crackers with peanut butter
Ø Applesauce
Ø Salsa and baked tortilla chips
Ø Popcorn
Ø Grilled chicken sliced (hot or cold)