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Some wild game, such as venison, rabbit, squirrel and pheasant, are very lean; duck and goose are not.
Select lean pork such as tenderloin, loin chops, center-cut ham (fresh and cured) and Canadian bacon.
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Week of July 27, 2008

Making Your Own Spice Blends

Did you ever want to make your own spice blends? There is no set amount or ingredient list for most spice mixtures. They have evolved based on personal tastes and should always be adjusted to suit your own needs.

There are literally hundreds of spice mix combinations on the market, including the most common. Below you can find some of my favorites but please feel free to adjust amounts to suite your tastes.

FIVE SPICE POWDER
1 tsp. Ground cinnamon
1 tsp. Ground cloves
1 tsp. Fennel seed
1 tsp. Star anise
1 tsp. Szechwan peppercorns

ITALIAN HERB SEASONING
1 tsp. Oregano
1 tsp. Marjoram
1 tsp. Thyme
1 tsp. Basil
1 tsp. Rosemary
1 tsp. Sage

CINNAMON SUGAR
7/8 cup Granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. Ground cinnamon

TAMARIND PASTE
1 tsp. Dates
1 tsp. Prunes
1 tsp. Dried apricots
1 tsp. Lemon juice

CHILI POWDER
3 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. oregano
1 tsp. red or cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

CREOLE SPICE BLEND
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
2 teaspoons dried sweet basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 teaspoons sweet paprika

Week of July 20, 2008

Summer Tomatoes

A sprinkle of fresh grated Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil transform tomatoes into the perfect side dish for any summer grilled poultrty or meat. Or try sandwiching them between slices of your favorite whole-wheat country bread for a satisfying meatless sandwich.

  • 4 tomatoes, halved horizontally
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place tomatoes cut-side up on a baking sheet. Top with Parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil and bake until the tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Per Serving: Calories: 91 Fat, Total: 6g Carbohydrates, Total: 6g, Cholesterol: 4mg Sodium: 375mg Protein: 3g Fiber: 2g % Cal. from Fat: 59% % Cal. from Carbs: 26%

Week of July 13, 2008

14 Foods that Lower Cholesterol

  • Whole grains and oats - a five-year Insulin Resistance Athersclerosis Study showed that people whose diets contain the most whole grains “had the thinnest carotid artery walls and showed the slowest progression in artery wall thickness.”
  • Blueberries - a compound in blueberries (pterostilbene) may help lower cholesterol as effectively as commercial drugs with fewer side effects.
  • Pistachios, Walnuts, and Almonds - a Penn State study showed that eating pistachios significantly lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed eating walnuts after a high-fat meal might protect your heart. Omega-3 fats and antioxidants in nuts work to reverse the arterial damage caused by saturated fats.
  • Avocados, Olives, and Olive oil - 26 of the 30 grams of fat in an avocado are heart-healthy, unsaturated fats that can increase your levels of HDL cholesterol. The good fats in avocados, olives, and olive oil protect against heart disease and diabetes. Check out the Mediterranean Diet.
  • Flaxseed oil - flaxseed oil can lower blood pressure in men with high cholesterol. In a three-month study of 59 middle-aged men, those who took daily flaxseed oil supplements (with eight grams of the omega-3 fats, alpha-linoleic acid) experienced significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
  • 100% cranberry-grape juice - antioxidants in grape juice slow down LDL cholesterol oxidation, and cranberry juice raises HDL or “good” cholesterol.
  • Fish and Fish oil - a study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that people with type 2 diabetes who consumed high doses of fish oil over nine weeks lowered the size and concentration of several lipoprotein subclasses (cholesterol) in their bodies.
  • Black soybeans - a study from the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture shows that black soybeans may help prevent obesity, lower LDL cholesterol, and reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Pomegranate juice - a National Academy of Sciences study showed that pomegranate juice reduces cholesterol plaque buildup and increases nitric oxide production (nitric oxide helps reduce arterial plaque).
  • Yogurt with live active cultures (probiotics) - Vicki Koenig, MS, RD, CDN said “several studies have shown that the probiotics Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Lactobacillus Reuteri actually help lower cholesterol. They work by preventing the reabsorption of cholesterol back in to the blood stream.”

You might be a person who is predisposed to high cholesterol, or maybe your diet could use a shape-up. Here are a few key points on cholesterol to focus on:

LDL or “bad” cholesterol deposits itself on the walls of your arteries, forming plaques that make them hard and narrow. HDL or “good” cholesterol removes excess LDL in your blood and brings it to your liver for disposal. The more HDL you consume, the less LDL you’ll have in your blood.

You may need medication to help reduce your cholesterol, but eating a heart-healthy diet and getting exercise are very important.

Everyone should have their cholesterol checked-it doesn’t matter if you are young/old, female/male, or thin/overweight.

Week of July 6, 2008

Give Your Meals Visual Appeal

It doesn't take a gourmet chef to prepare nutritious meals that look as good as they taste. Even novice cooks can practice the art of a spectacular food presentation with a few simple tricks:

Keep it simple, but interesting. Presentation is about simplicity, while providing as much contrast in color and texture as possible. A meal of plain baked sole, steamed cauliflower and potatoes may be nutritious, but the bland colors blend together and aren't likely to inspire a healthy appetite. Imagine instead a plate of poached or grilled fish seasoned with paprika and freshly ground black pepper, colorful steamed carrots, red potatoes and spinach topped with sautéed onions and garlic.

Use lots of fresh fruit and vegetables which naturally lend themselves to simply prepared, tasty and healthful meals. Start with fresh, seasonal produce. When cooking veggies, use techniques like steaming, stir-frying, microwaving and grilling to keep colors bright, texture firm and to retain the most nutrients.

Pay attention to shape. You can cut peppers in elegant strips, festive rings or small triangles. Or trim away the peel and turn orange slices into squares. Slice carrots, squash and broccoli stems on a diagonal so they don't have blunt ends. You can vary shapes and sizes within a dish as well. For instance, make a fruit salad with melon balls, pineapple chunks, kiwi slices and orange sections.

Add a splash of color or contrasting texture. If you're making black bean salad, for example, toss in some crisp celery slices, shredded jicama and/or chopped sweet red peppers. A swirl of lowfat yogurt adds cool creaminess and contrasting color to vivid carrot or pea soup. Sprinkle a few toasted sesame seeds or almonds over cooked vegetables for visual interest, crunch and flavor. Or top a omelet with spicy or mild salsa. For dessert, drizzle red raspberry or strawberry purée over a scoop of lowfat frozen yogurt or a small slice of angel food cake.

Instead of spooning sauce over vegetables, pour some onto the serving dish and artfully arrange the vegetables on top. A small portion of beef or chicken looks larger when sliced into thin strips and fanned over a bed of colorful veggies and rice. To give a pasta dinner pizzazz, fill half a round platter with green-tinted spinach fettuccini and half with regular or whole wheat fettuccini. Ladle a hearty red marinara sauce across the halves and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and a bit of grated parmesan. For the kids, make a "face" of fresh vegetables - use green beans for the hair, tomato slices for the mouth, carrot coins for the eyes, etc.

Go natural with garnish. Spears of lightly cooked asparagus or slices of crispy starfruit, for instance, bring elegance and nutrients to any plate. Or garnish a fresh vegetable salad with a design of multi-colored pepper rings, carrot curls or radish roses. Use lots of fresh chopped herbs like chives, Italian parsley, mint or cilantro - they add flavor and the bright green colors really perk up a dish.Select a garnish based on the dish's ingredients - a thyme sprig if thyme is used, rosemary if it's in the dish, and so on.


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