Dec 27, 2019

Let’s Talk About Healthy Foods in the New Year

By MaryAnn Miano

January: the month to start anew in everything we do. In this month people make promises to themselves to hit the gym and start a diet. But losing weight is not about denial. It’s about taking a holistic point of view of food and healthy living. Maximum flavor combined with high-density nutrition while creating a calorie deficit is key to weight loss without denying enjoyment of your food.

There are certain guidelines to follow to successfully lose weight and implement the new you. Do not consider these as diet foods. Rather, they are food groups that help you live a healthier lifestyle.

Keep in mind that all fats are not created equal. Say “no” to saturated fat and “yes” to good fats found in nuts, seeds, avocados, fish and liquid oils to protect your heart. Stay away from fats found in animal products such as butter, meat, full-fat cheeses and hydrogenated oils; use these sparingly. Keep total oils under 30 percent of your total daily calories.

Complex carbohydrates should be eaten daily, balancing the amount and type you eat. Fiber-rich beans, whole wheat products, fresh fruits, brown rice – all provide essential vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, phytochemicals and fiber. Refined carbs like sugar, white flour and breads, and white rice should be avoided.

Protein plays a vital part in every healthy diet, so when planning your menus, be sure to include lean, satisfying protein at every meal. Studies on satiety reveal that protein reduces appetite by helping you stay fuller longer. Protein also helps to maintain your immune system, strengthens bones and maintains muscles

Fiber, both soluble and insoluble, helps you feel full faster and stay full longer. Soluble fiber ushers cholesterol out of the body while insoluble fiber is roughage that helps with regularity. So eat your oatmeal, peas and beans to add to the good foods of the newfound you.

Lastly, watch your sodium intake to keep high blood pressure at bay. The best way to incorporate lower sodium into your meals is to prepare your own nourishments, thereby controlling the salt shaker yourself. A few more tips: eat breakfast, eat non-starchy vegetables and whole fruit, drink more water, eat regular meals, and cook your own foods for better health every day. Let’s start with something for breakfast and a nice side for your dinner:



½ cup mashed banana (1 medium)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon almond extract

3 large egg whites

2 cups old-fashioned oats

½ cup white whole wheat flour

2/3 cup granulated no-calorie sweetener

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In a large bowl, combine the next five ingredients. Stir in the banana mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into prepared baking pan and smooth the top.
  3. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, cut into 12 bars and remove from the pan. Store in air-tight container.

(Recipe from Eat What You Love Everyday, page 89, by Marlene Koch)




4 teaspoons canola oil, divided

1/3 cup sunflower seed kernels

½ teaspoon salt, divided

2 teaspoons butter

1 cup thinly sliced leek (about 1 large)

2 ½ cups water

1 ½ cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

½ cup uncooked pearl barley

½ cup brown rice blend or brown rice

½ cup dried currants

¼ cup uncooked bulgur

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil, sunflower seeds and ¼ teaspoon salt to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan; set aside.
  2. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil and butter to pan. Add leek; cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add 2 ½ cups water and next three ingredients (through rice); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 35 minutes. Stir in currants and bulgur; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until grains are tender. Remove from heat; stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, sunflower seeds, parsley and pepper.

(Recipe from The New Way to Cook Light, page 327, by Scott Mowbray and Ann Taylor Pittman)