Eating for the Health of It

Enjoy the Holidays Without Guilt

By Karen Sabbath, MS, RD, CSO

The holiday season presents challenges for even the most disciplined eaters. From holiday parties, gatherings of family, friends and co-workers, treats and gift baskets at work and bags of homemade cookies, the focus seems to be food, food, food. Is it possible to eat well and get through to January without packing on the pounds? Absolutely...and here's how!

Enjoy your favorite holiday dishes in small portions...moderation is the key. Take a pass on foods that are less tempting.

Alcohol can be a source of excess calories AND it can stimulate your appetite. You can stretch your alcoholic beverage by adding club soda, fruit juice or diet soda OR avoid it altogether by having another beverage. Try to limit your alcohol to 0-1 drink/d for women and no more than 2/d for men. (1 drink=5 oz. wine, 1 ½ oz. hard alcohol, 12 oz. beer)

Try not to go to a party or family gathering if you are'll just eat more! If you have a small meal or snack before, preferably one with fiber and protein (like high fiber cereal and yogurt, or a half sandwich on whole wheat bread) you will eat less at "party time"

Fill your plate with fruits, vegetables and salad and go easy on the rich entrees or side dishes. Watch out for large portions.

Omit trans fats from your menu by avoiding processed foods.

Recipes can be made healthier by modifying for calories and fats especially if you are the chef!

Help your host or hostess by offering to bring a dish...make it healthy AND delicious. You'll know that there will be at least ONE thing you can eat.

Exercise a little more than usual to stay in shape and burn off those extra calories and pounds.

Allow yourself to eat and enjoy your food, but try to stop when you are satisfied instead of stuffed.

Look around at the foods that are available and make some decisions about what choices would be best, before digging into the first thing you see.

Talk to everyone in the room. Make family and friends the main focus instead of food. Socialize....away from the table!

Paula Recommends ...Puree of Winter Vegetable Soup

As the colder temperatures of winter approach in many parts of the country, what could be more soothing than a pureed vegetable soup? This recipe offers a robust mix of root vegetables, herbs and a touch of ginger. Root vegetables are a wonderful source of vitamin B ~ an important player in helping to lower cancer risk. At Mission, we stress the importance of balance, variety and quality and this recipe delivers on all three. One of the ways to increase variety is to try a new food as least once a month. Kohlrabi anyone?

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
½ lb. leeks (1 large or 2 small), white and green parts sliced
½ lb. carrots (2 large), peeled and sliced
½ lb. kohlrabi, trimmed, peeled and diced
½ lb. turnips, peeled and diced
6 oz. potatoes (2 medium), peeled and diced
1 medium butternut squash, about 2 lbs, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced about the same size as the squash
1 ½ quarts water, chicken stock or vegetable stock (see note)
2 fat slices fresh ginger, peeled
1 bay leaf
Couple sprigs each of thyme and parsley
12 peppercorns
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1.  Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven.
2. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until it begins to soften (about three minutes).
3. Add the leeks and a generous pinch of salt then cook, stirring often, until tender but not browned (about five more minutes).
4. Add the carrots, kohlrabi, turnips, potatoes and water or stock. Bring to a boil.
5. Meanwhile, wrap the ginger, bay leaf, thyme, parsley and peppercorns in cheesecloth. Tie them up to make a bouquet garni and add to the pot.
6. Add salt to taste (about 2 teaspoons), reduce the heat, cover and simmer one hour.
7. Remove the cheesecloth bag, and discard.
8. Blend the soup until smooth with an immersion blender, or in batches in a regular blender. (Do not put the top on tightly; Cover the top with a towel to prevent hot splashes.)
9. Pour the soup through a strainer into a bowl; press the soup through the strainer with the back of a ladle or with a pestle.
10. Return to the pot and heat through. Add lots of freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust salt then serve.

Note: Finished soup will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. Whisk before reheating.

Nutritional information: Makes about 6 servings. Per serving: 109 calories; 3 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 21 grams carbohydrate; 5 grams dietary fiber; 76 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 3 grams protein.



Primary Macronutrients and Why They Matter


The three primary macronutrients--protein, fat, and carbohydrates--all perform essential roles in the human body. Macronutrients are the main components of our diet. Our bodies require others nutrients as well, such as vitamins and minerals. However, these are needed in much smaller quantities, and thus are referred to as micronutrients. All three macronutrients are needed in the diet, as each perform vital functions in the body.

Protein should consist of about 10 to 35 percent of your diet. Protein builds, maintains and repairs body tissue. It is especially important to physically active individuals. Among its many functions, protein also aids in the immune process

2. Fat
The misconception about fat is that it is always bad for you. In fact, fat is essential for maintaining a healthy body. Your diet should consist of about 20 percent fat. The trick is to eat more of the good fats such as nuts, avocados, and olive oil and less of the bad fats.

Fat has many roles in the human body including promoting growth and development, as well as maintaining cell membranes. Additionally, Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble vitamins, meaning they need fat in order to be absorbed into the body.

Carbohydrates are the main energy source of the body. For this reason, your diet should consist of at least 45 to 65 percent carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are found in many foods. However, you should stay away from sweet foods with excess sugar. Instead, opt for healthier options like fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts, as well as whole grains.

For the complete article, click here.

Paula Recommends ...Red Lentils

Protein, as one of the three macronutrients,* is an important part of a healthy diet. Plant sources of protein such as lentils are high on the list of foods recommended by the American Cancer Society in its prevention guidelines. Lentils are hearty, convenient and cheap. They have plenty of potassium, iron and vitamin B-1 ...and every cooked cup contains a hefty 18 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber and only 230 calories! Here are two delicious ways to prepare red lentils.

Classic Red Lentils (for a hearty winter dish)
1 cup red lentils
2 cups of water
1 bay leaf
1 clove of garlic
extra-virgin olive oil
black pepper

1. Combine red lentils, water, bay leaf and garlic clove.
2. Simmer until tender, 8-10 minutes.
3. Remove bay leaf and garlic.
4. Add scant salt to taste.
5. Drizzle each serving with 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of black pepper.

Nutritional information: Makes 3 one-cup servings. Per serving: 290 calories; 1 gram saturated fat; 18 grams protein; 40 grams carbohydrate; 9 grams fiber; 300 milligrams sodium 

Greek-Style Red Lentil Salad
1 cup dried red lentils
6 cups water
1 Tablespoon oregano
1 lemon (juice + zest)
1/4  cup red wine vinegar
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup fresh Italian parsley
½ cup Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped (any tomato is fine)
1⁄4 cup red onion, finely diced
1/3 cup green bell pepper, finely diced
1/3 cup fennel bulb, finely diced
1 oz feta cheese, crumbled
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1. Bring lentils and water to a boil and cook for 5 minutes (or until lentils are al dente).
2. Drain and rinse under cold water.
3. In a bowl, toss the lentils with the oregano, lemon juice and zest, and vinegar.
4. Allow the mix to marinate for at least 2 hours.
Add the rest of the ingredients, mix and serve.

Nutritional information: Serves 6. Per serving: 150 calories; 3 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 7 grams fiber; 200 milligrams sodium; 24 grams carbohydrate; 9 grams protein  

Paula Recommends ...Sweet Potato and Black Bean Casserole

Try this delicious combo of cinnamon-scented sweet potato, layered with black beans and a crust-like spread of millet. Sweet white miso makes for the most spectacular sweet potato whip. It's wonderfully hearty, loaded with complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and protein.

4 sweet potatoes
1 Tablespoon sweet white miso
1 teaspoon Umeboshi vinegar (no Umeboshi? You can substitute with red wine vinegar)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup black beans, soaked overnight with a 1” piece of Kombu, drained
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1⁄2 cup white onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch of sea salt
1 1⁄2 cups of millet
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Bake the sweet potatoes for one hour or until a fork goes in easily. Remove to a bowl and let cool.
3. When cool, remove the potatoes from their skins and place the pulp in a large mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher until smooth.
4. Combine miso, vinegar and cinnamon with the potatoes.
5. While the sweet potatoes are baking, put the beans in a large stock pot and cover with water by 2”. Add the garlic, onion, cumin, crushed red pepper and salt and bring to a boil.
6. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45-60 min, until tender. Drain and set aside.
7. In the meantime, put the millet in a large pot with 4 cups of salted water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer over low for 40/45 min until the water is absorbed. Set aside.
8. Oil a large casserole dish and spread the millet over the bottom. Spread the black beans over that, and then spread the layer of sweet potatoes.
9. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove and let cool a bit before serving. Serve slices of the casserole over steamed kale.


Nutritional information: Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 225 calories; 6.6 grams protein; 47 grams carbohydrate; 1.6 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 8.4 grams fiber; 310 milligrams sodium 

Mineral Magic: Presenting Magnesium

From Healthline  |  10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Magnesium

Excerpt: "Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body. From boosting exercise performance, fighting depression and lowering blood pressure to reducing inflammation and more, magnesium plays many important roles in the health of your body and brain. It is actually involved in more than 600 reactions in your body, including protein formation, gene maintenance, muscle movements and nervous system regulation. Top sources of magnesium include pumpkin seeds, boiled spinach, boiled Swiss chard, dark chocolate, black beans and cooked quinoa."

For the complete article, click here.


Could Eating Spicy Food Help You Live Longer?

From CBS News |  By Ashley Welch

 "A study by an international team of researchers led by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences found that regular consumption of spicy food is associated with a lower risk of death.

...Though more data is needed to confirm the findings, previous research has suggested that spices and their bioactive ingredient, capsaicin, have anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammation and anti-cancer properties."

For the complete article, click here.


Paula Recommends ...Roasted Butternut Squash w/ Apple & Pomegranate

It is squash and apple season and what better way to enjoy them both than with this dish which is filled with antioxidants, vitamins and tons of flavor--a perfect fall side dish.  - Paula Meyer, Mission Training Center Nutritionist 

1 medium butternut squash, about 2 lbs, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced about the same size as the squash
1 medium apple, diced about the same size as the squash; any variety will do
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons herbs de provence
½ pomegranate or about ¾ cup if you are buying seeds pre-packaged

*See below for how to easily separate pomegranate seeds from the skin

1. Peel and dice squash. You can also buy pre-packaged if no time/desire to chop
2. Peel and dice onion
3. Dice apple with peel intact
4. Combine squash and onion in bowl and toss with olive oil
5. Line sheet pan with foil or parchment paper (easier cleanup) and spread vegetables in one layer for best results.
6. Sprinkle herbs de provence over mixture. Salt to taste
7. Bake at 400 to 45o degrees F (depending on your particular oven) for about 15 minutes
8. Add apple after 15 minutes
9. Continue to bake until squash and apple are tender when poked with a fork.
10. When done, add pomegranate seeds and serve.

Nutritional information: Makes about six servings. Per serving: 110 calories; 27 grams carbohydrate; 1.5 grams fat; 3 grams fiber; 2 grams protein. 


 *To easily remove pomegranate seeds from skin with no mess, fill a bowl with cool water and immerse half pomegranate under water, seed side pointed toward bottom of bowl; gently bend peel back and release seeds into the water. Seeds will fall to bottom, pith will rise to top and you will have beautiful seeds with no mess in only a few minutes. 

Foods That Fight Inflammation

From Harvard Health Publishing  |  Harvard Medical School

Excerpt: "Your immune system becomes activated when your body recognizes anything that is foreign—such as an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. This often triggers a process called inflammation. Intermittent bouts of inflammation directed at truly threatening invaders protect your health.

However, sometimes inflammation persists, day in and day out, even when you are not threatened by a foreign invader. That's when inflammation can become your enemy. Many major diseases that plague us—including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer's—have been linked to chronic inflammation.

One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from the grocery store. ...Choose the right foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process."

For the complete article, click here.