The Finest Chefs

Archive - July 2014

How to Replace White Flour in Your Diet

flour-eggs-white-bread-wheat-ears

Changing your diet is not an easy feat. Many people are trying to make healthy changes by replacing the foods they enjoy eating, but are not healthy for them, with others that are better for their overall being.

White flour is one of the most used ingredients in the foods we eat. Bread, cakes, baking goods and different types of gravy are all made with white flour.

The problem with white flour is that it is not as nutritious as you think. And it is also rich in calories. In case that you are thinking that eating a healthy sandwich, but made with white bread, is healthier than eating a slice of pizza, you are wrong. The bread in the sandwich alone basically sacrifices all the benefits from the other contents of the sandwich.

White flour has a wide array of disadvantages; it has a lot of carbs, it is not as nutritious as whole grain, it makes you fat, and your body cannot digest it very well. If you replace only white flour alone from your diet, you will get to enjoy great benefits.

Here are some ideas on how to replace white flour with other, much healthier alternatives.

Flour obtained from whole wheat

This type of flour can be used for baking and cooking with great success and it is healthier than white flour.

Almond flour

If you are on a gluten free diet, you should consider almond flour as a great alternative to white flour. It is especially used for baking, and it is not as rich in carbs as white flour.

With its help, you can make healthy pancakes, cookies and muffins. As you can see, you can enjoy some healthy treats, without worrying for your health.

Another great advantage of this type of flour is that it is also a bit sweet because of the almond flavor. This means that you will not have to add as much sugar to your baked goods as you would when using white flour, enhancing the benefits even more.

Barley flour

Barley flour can be used in many different ways. Essentially, it is a good substitute to white flour when you want to bake breads, as it makes your dough more malleable and also healthier. You can use barley flour to make gravy or for sweetening your sauces.

Just like almond flour, barley flour is a bit sweet, which makes it good for baking. However, you need to follow a little tip, if you do not want the barley flavor to come across as a bit too heavy. Roast the flour just before using, and you will not have such a problem to deal with.

Buckwheat flour

This is the best gluten free alternative, as it does not contain wheat at all. A strong flavor is one thing to keep in mind when using buckwheat flour. It is also very dense, so you need to use it in certain ways, to make sure that these do not become impediments.

It is alright to use this variety of flour for pancakes and pasta, but you should avoid using it as a sauce thickener, as it is much too dense. The flavor can be too overpowering and it may just ruin your recipes, so make sure to add other types of flours when you cook with it.

Chickpea flour

Another gluten free alternative to white flour, especially recommended for people suffering from the Celiac disease is chickpea flour, also known as garbanzo flour.

You can use this type of flour to make hummus, crepes, or flatbreads. It must be noted that it contains a lot of protein and calcium, which adds to its advantages.

Oat flour

A handy solution to white flour is oat flour. This natural alternative is found in many whole oat products.

You can choose from low gluten and gluten free varieties. You can use it with great success for making baking goods, such as cookies.

Keep in mind that gluten free does not stand for healthy always, so make your choices carefully.

A bit of gluten is alright to have in your diet every day, unless you suffer from Celiac disease. There are many other aspects of your diet to focus on, if you want to stay healthy. The most important rule of all is to maintain a healthy balance.

9 Amazing Benefits of Optimum Nutrition

optimum nutrition

It does not matter who you are, where you come from, or how you live, nutrition plays a key role in everyone’s life. The benefits of eating right are overwhelming; a diet change can alter someone’s entire life.

Many people ask the question, “What benefits can I expect if I start eating healthy?” Well, the list of the positive side effects of eating right is very long. The top ten benefits you can expect from proper nutrition are listed below, so read on to see what you have to gain.

Follow the Food Groups!

Before you see how healthy eating can benefit you; it is important to know what optimum nutrition looks like and why our body reacts in such a positive way to eating right. The truth of the matter is we need a variety of different foods in our diet; each one plays a special role and provides specific nutrients.

Examples of important nutrients:

  • Protein
  • Calcium
  • Vitamins and Minerals
  • Fiber

USDA Recommended Daily Servings:

  • Meat Group: 2 to 3 servings (includes, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts)
  • Fruit Group: 2 to 4 servings
  • Bread and Cereal Group*: 6 to 11 servings (includes, pasta and rice)
  • Dairy Group: 2 to 3 servings
  • Vegetable Group: 3 to 5 servings

*Please note that the bread, cereal, rice and pasta group is best in the form of whole grains, as white starches are not the best choices for good health. Whole grains are good for heart health and healthy weight management as well, as opposed to the white varieties that tend to pack on the pounds.

Each one of these food groups plays a crucial role in the way your body works, same as fuel and oil for your car, it is a sensitive machine that needs all of the right components to keep running efficiently!

It’s also important to watch calorie intake and stay within the appropriate limits for your body and activity level to ensure good weight management.

The Benefits Of Proper Nutrition

1. Strong bones come from eating a diet rich in calcium: Foods rich in calcium come from the dairy group, and also from green vegetables, such as, spinach. If you are going to be getting your calcium from dairy products look for something with extra Vitamin D as it will help your body take in the calcium easier.

Calcium is also an essential nutrient to prevent Osteoporosis in women as they age, that is caused by weak bones that turn brittle. Make sure to choose low fat and nonfat dairy products, such as, cheese, milk and yogurt to maintain good heart health.

2. Weight control: As long as you are eating properly with a diet rich in lean proteins, low in fat and high in vegetables and staying active you will continue to maintain a healthy body weight.

3. Heart health: If you are concerned with heart health, as all of us should be, the optimum nutrition to that end is a diet that is rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruit and low in unhealthy fats. When your heart is healthy you can avoid heart disease, high cholesterol and premature death, the fact that heart attack is one of the leading causes of death in the United States makes it one of the most important reasons to eat right.

4. Healthier immune system: When you are eating right you are increasing your high-density lipoprotein, or as it is more commonly known as, good cholesterol. This helps boost the body’s immune system. Also, regular intake of all essential vitamins and minerals goes a long way to preventing various ailments, such as, the common cold.

5. Cancer prevention: There are many triggers for cancer; many of them can be associated with an unhealthy diet. Antioxidant rich foods play a significant role in preventing various cancers. Vitamin C that is found in a lot of fruits and vegetables, including, oranges, grapefruit, bell peppers, and broccoli facilitate the prevention of the growth of cancer-causing nitrogen compounds. Additionally, berries, sweet potatoes and other antioxidant rich foods help with cancer prevention as well.

Also, foods rich in Vitamin E, such as, peanuts, almonds and various seeds have been shown through various research data to reduce the risk of stomach, colon, lung, liver, and various other cancer diseases.

6. Good nutrition improves the mood: The truth is that by eating healthy your brain is getting all of the nutrition it needs and your body is satisfied, and this improves your overall mood. Hunger is a major mood killer. Also, eating empty calorie foods, such as, cookies on the other hand, may give you a sugar rush, but when you crash you take your mood with you. Chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins in the brain and that greatly improves mood.

7. Brain health: Your brain is one of the most important parts of your body and should be cared for at all times. If you eat properly, you will be fighting off the chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders. There are also brain healthy foods, like, walnuts and salmon that can help to maintain optimal memory levels. Dark chocolate provides powerful antioxidant properties, and caffeine that promotes concentration and focus.

8. Good nutrition is good for digestion: Maintaining digestive health is another great benefit of eating a healthy diet. A diet rich in fiber helps with whole grains, and green leafy vegetables being your best sources along with drinking plenty of water each day will ensure that you will not experience the typical issues that can occur with the digestive tract.

9. Increased energy levels: When you eat right, your body is getting the fuel it needs to function properly. This means that all of your organs are working properly, and when everything is working properly, you just feel better and have more energy. Imagine how you feel after you eat a donut versus a salad, there is a noticeable difference when the food is nutritious versus empty sugar.

How to Make Veggie Recipes without Losing Flavor

vegetables

It is very important to have plenty of vegetables in your diet, because they are very good for your health. Many of them are known to play an active role in fighting cancer, heart conditions and diabetes, some of the most widespread deadly diseases in the modern world.

Vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and various nutrients, which is why they are a great energy source. There is even more; when you eat plenty of veggies, it will show on the outside, making you look younger and more beautiful.

Unfortunately, eating vegetables is seen as a burden, something that one must strive to do just to get the health benefits.

Of course, what these people do not know is that veggies can be great tasting, too. With the ideas offered in this article, they will be able to make good delicious recipes that they will love.

Veggies can be boiled, roasted, grilled, fried and so on. You just need to learn which cooking methods and recipes are best for keeping and enhancing flavor.

With the help of the following guide, you, too, will be able to cook healthy meals with vegetables.

Never overcook your vegetables. Let them cook until you notice them turning their colors from their bright hues to darker ones. This simple rule will help you keep your veggies succulent and tasty.

Let’s start learning about the best ways to cook your veggies in order to obtain heavenly tastes:

Why steaming is better than boiling

Many people choose to boil their vegetables, because it is easy and convenient. You just need to fill a pot with water, throw the veggies inside and let them boil. In case you want your recipe to be tastier, you need to add a pinch of salt and plenty of spice that work well with your veggies.

The problem with boiling is that it is not the best way to cook vegetables. When you boil vegetables, they lose some of their nutrients. Even more, they become less tasty than in their raw form. All in all, boiling is not the healthier, nor the tastiest method to cook veggies, especially if you want to combine taste with health benefits.

Instead of boiling, choose steaming. This method guarantees that the veggies you cook will retain all the nutrients inside, and you will notice how they taste much better when cooked in this manner. A little salt, garlic and spices, are enough to make a very tasty dish that even the pickiest eaters will enjoy.

Steaming is not a complicated method of cooking. What you need is a good steamer for your kitchen, or a steaming basket to place over your pot when you cook vegetables. Various recipes are also available to make your steamed vegetables taste better.

Advantages of baking

Depending on the vegetables you like eating, you will discover that there are some that maintain a lot of their antioxidants, and nutrients when you bake them. They are also tastier. This category includes asparagus, peppers, broccoli and eggplants.
If you want to cook Brussels sprouts, choose roasting as cooking method, and you will obtain a delicious meal.

Stir frying

Also knows as sautéing, this method is healthy and delivers delicious results. The key to stir frying is to keep the veggies moving in the frying pan, while maintaining a high temperature. This is a very easy and fast cooking method. You will notice how your veggies will manage to retain most nutrients and vitamins, as well as their taste.

Stir frying is considered the least invasive method when it comes to maintaining flavor. If anything, it can even enhance it, and it is considered, for good reasons, a better cooking way than steaming or boiling. Adding spices and herbs makes for great, delicious meals.

The key to good stir frying is to be there all the time and stir the veggies so they do not get burned. If this happens, you can say goodbye to the great taste, and the healthy benefits that come with it.

Using the microwave
Using your microwave to cook veggies is efficient and fast. Also, it should be kept in mind that your veggies will not lose their natural nutrients, which means that you can enjoy tasty healthy meals cooked with the microwave.

 

The Debate on Organic Eating

organic food

Organic food has come from sitting on shelves of only selective stores to be available at most supermarkets. What has fueled this journey? Is it the genuine benefits of organic produce, or the aggressive market policy?

Have the health conscious people in their eagerness to find a healthier alternative overvalued the virtues of organic food items? In this article, we are going to look at the phenomenon from different perspectives.

What Is Organic Food?

In order to measure accurately the merits of organic foods, it is important to understand what the word “organic” means. “Organic” is the word that is used for describing produce that has been grown using certain agriculture practices.

The standard and conditions that have to be met before marketing a product as organic are set by different authorities all over the world. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a certification program that requires products and produce to meet strict standards before they can be labeled and marketed as organic.

What Are The Benefits? Is Organic Food Better For Health?

A practice that is potentially important for the consumers is the prohibition on use of all artificial pesticides. However, use of natural pesticides and fungicides is allowed.

Some people do have revolting thoughts when they realize that the healthy apple they are about to eat is full artificial chemicals that might be dangerous. Hence, they opt for organic apples.

Now the question arises, is the organic apple free from pesticide residues?

In addition, are the residues in the conventional apple harmful if they are under the maximum limits set by the regulating authorities?

Even if it’s not, some people might still prefer it because of the misconception that “natural” is safer. This is not necessarily true; ingesting “natural” pesticide residues can also have negative consequences.

Some of the natural pesticides also have a greater negative impact on environment than their artificial counterpart.
Another point that needs to be taken into consideration is that a farmer might have to use several different natural pesticides to have the same effect of a single artificial pesticide.

Does this mean that organic farming is a scam?

No, it does not.

The basic idea behind organic farming is a novel one. However, just because a product is labeled as organic, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is better.

The benefits will depend on the farmer.

A farmer might have tried effective alternative methods to control pests, and the produce might actually be better in terms of harmful residues.

What Studies Have Shown

Some studies have shown that organic foods do indeed have lower pesticides residues. However, the residue levels in both organic and conventional produce were lower than the maximum permissible limit set by the authorities.

As of now, the possible health benefits of even lower residues levels in organic produce are unknown and unverified.

The Nutritional Profile Of Organic Foods

What about the nutritional profile of organic foods? Do they offer any extra nutrients?

Studies are divided on this, some have shown that they do, others didn’t come to the same conclusion. However, the difference in most nutrients overall was only marginal.

Therefore, even if they do, the positive impact of those extra nutrients will be minor, if at all.

Another misconception that some people have is that organic produce will not contain harmful microbes. This is not true.

Organically grown produce has the same percentage of contamination as conventional produce. In fact, some studies have shown that there is an additional risk of contamination in organic produce.

Therefore, don’t be casual while handling organic produce. Use the same caution you have would used for the conventional produce.

Arguments For Organic Produce

• Many nutritionists, one famous one, Ellie Krieger from the Food Network, recommend organic produce.

• Many people belong to special organic coops that are ran by farmers for locals in the neighborhoods and these are spreading in popularity.

• Major supermarkets are beginning to offer organic produce sections more and more.

• And, if you have ever bit into an unwashed fruit or vegetable, the bitterness that you get as compared to when it’s washed is quite noticeable, so, those pesticides do make a difference in taste.

• Many experts and consumers are convinced that organic is just plain better for health.

Arguments Against Organic

• Considering the issue from different topics, the conclusion is that there is insufficient evidence to claim confidently that organic is better.

• It also costs more.

• We do need better farming methods, but organic farming is not the ideal solution, and conventional farming is not truly the evil it is portrayed to be.

Bottom Line

A method that takes the best from both the worlds to maximize yield without the use of possibly dangerous substances, artificial or natural, is what is required.

In the end, the individual must choose, and go with what they believe is right for themselves and their families.

Superfood Quinoa and Its Nutritional Benefits

Quinoa

What Is It?

A quick search on the internet reveals several facts of this grain crop which is grown primarily for its edible seeds.

Simply put, Quinoa, a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium) is a pseudo cereal (that is their seeds can be ground into flour and consumed) rather than a true cereal, as it is not a member of the true grass family.

It is also closely related to species such as beetroot, spinach and tumbleweed which have shrub like growth.

Where Does It Grow?

It originated in the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, where it was domesticated 3,000 to 4,000 years ago for human consumption and found its place into the humble Indian household (albeit being an upper middle class commodity).

It gained popularity and has been cultivated away from natural distribution in places like the United States, Australia and Japan to name a few.

What are the nutritional benefits?

Essential Amino Acids

Quinoa seeds contain essential amino acids like lysine and acceptable quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron. A study showed that deficiency of essential amino acids leads to symptoms of nervousness, exhaustion, and dizziness to a greater or lesser extent and moderate consumption of Quinoa can help avoid such symptoms.

Anti-Inflammatory

Quinoa consists of a unique combination of anti-inflammatory compounds that show to an extent the decreased risk of inflammation-related problems (including obesity) when animals under study are fed quinoa on a daily basis.

The list of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in quinoa is now known to include:

  • Polysaccharides like arabinans and rhamnogalacturonans
  • Hydroxycinnamic and hydroxybenzoic acids
  • Flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol which are found in concentrated levels often higher than those of high flavonoid berries like cranberry or ligonberry
  • Saponins including molecules derived from oleanic acid, hederagenin and serjanic acid.
  • Small amounts of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), are also provided by quinoa.

Gluten Free

It is high in protein and lacks gluten which is good news for those who suffer from Celiac disease which is an autoimmune disease attacking the small intestine due to the presence of gluten for which the only remedy is maintaining a gluten free diet. While scientists are yet to confirm whether oats are a gluten free food, it is safe to say that Quinoa, like amaranth, is gluten free and good for your health as it is considered easy to digest. Because of these characteristics, it is being considered a possible crop for long-duration human occupied space flights undertaken by NASA.

Super Food

The nutrient composition of Quinoa is favorable compared with common cereals earning the Quinoa grain the title of being called a “super food”.

Nutritional evaluations indicate that quinoa is a source of complete protein, that is, it contains all the essential amino acids required in a human diet in correct proportions.

Other similar pseudo grains derived from seeds are similar in complete protein levels; buckwheat is 18% protein compared to 14% for Quinoa; Amaranth, a related species to Quinoa, ranges from 12 to 17.5%.

High In Protein

The protein content per 100 calories is higher than brown rice, potatoes, barley and millet, but is less than wild rice (Indian rice) and oats.  In comparison to cereal grasses like wheat, quinoa is higher in fat content and can provide valuable amounts of heart-healthy fats like monounsaturated fat (in the form of oleic acid).

High In Fiber

The grain is additionally a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron.

Vegan Friendly and Good For Those Who Are Lactose Intolerant

It is also a source of calcium, and thus, is useful for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.

Exactly How Does One Consume Quinoa?

The grain may be germinated in its raw form to boost its nutritional value, provided that the grains are rinsed thoroughly to remove any saponin that contains an unpalatable bitterness which in turn aids during cultivation as it wards off birds reducing the need for protecting it.

The seeds are in general cooked the same way as rice and can be used in a wide range of dishes.

The good news is processes of boiling, simmering, and steaming quinoa do not appear to significantly compromise the quality of quinoa’s fatty acids, allowing us to enjoy its cooked texture and flavor while maintaining this nutrient benefit.

The leaves are eaten as a leaf vegetable, much like amaranth, but the commercial availability of quinoa greens is limited. In some forms the seeds are softened making them suitable to be added to salads and other cold foods.

What Makes Quinoa Special?

While it may be called a “Pseudo-cereal” there is nothing fake about the health benefits of Quinoa. In fact, The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as “The International Year of the Quinoa.”

What Carbs Are Good for Cooking Healthy Meals?

carbohydrates

You may have heard plenty of times how important is to cut on carbohydrates, if you want to lose weight and have a healthier diet. However, doing so is not that easy. Carbs are found in many foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, so getting rid of carbs means to give up on the many health advantages these foods have. What conclusion can be drawn from this?

Getting rid of carbohydrates for good from your diet is not a healthy choice. Actually, while the advice to ‘cut down on carbs’ is right, it does not say to eliminate carbs completely. In fact, if you were to try a diet with zero carbs, you will severely increase your risk of mortality. Maintaining a healthy percentage of your diet in carbs is recommended by the most prestigious healthy organizations. An intake of 45%-75% in your daily diet is their recommendation.

Carbs are not all created equal. While, indeed, there are some that are bad for your health, others are not that bad. By learning which one belongs to each category, you will know more about how to choose the healthy carbs.

Carbs in a nutshell

Carbs come in many different shapes and sizes. While they are all hydrates of carbon, some are simple – monosaccharides and disaccharides – while others are complex – oligosaccharides and polysaccharides.

Simple carbs are found in glucose, sucrose and fructose. Sugar also contains carbs. The problem with simple carbs is that they do not have a high nutritious value, so consuming a lot of them will be bad for your health. Even more, they will not stave off your hunger, so you will not gain anything from them.

Complex carbs, on the other hand, contain fiber and starch. They can be found in broccoli, sweet potatoes, beans and grains.

Because the body takes a while to break them down, they do not cause you the same sugar rush as simple carbs do.

How to differentiate between good and bad carbs

The above categorization in simple and complex carbs may lead you to think that the first are evil, while the latter are good. However, this is not how things are. For instance, white bread may be rich in complex carbs, but this does not make it good for you. Fruits contain plenty of simple carbs, but, in the same time they are a great source of vitamins, minerals and other great nutrients for your body.

At this point, you may think that it is really complicated to tell the good carbs from the bad ones. Fret not; the following guide will make your job easier.

One of the simplest rules to keep in mind is that good carbs also have fiber, so this difference will tell you each and every time how to choose correctly.

Bad carbs

Among all the carbs, sugar is the worst kind, particularly the refined white sugar. Rich in sucrose, it is obtained from cane and beet root. While its sweet taste makes it loved by anyone, from children to adults, it does not have any nutritional value. Use unrefined sugar, if you must, or, even best honey, because these alternatives are much healthier. All the products with a high content of sugar should be eliminated from your diet if you want to live healthy. Artificial sweeteners and purees obtained from fruits are, also, better alternatives.

Other sources of bad carbs are sweets, candies, soda and potatoes.

Good carbs

Whole grains

Refined grains are stripped of all the vitamins and minerals they have, so it is best to choose whole grains instead for breads and pastas. The latter also make the body consume more energy to digest them and they do not cause sugar rush.

The color is not as important as you think. Make sure that you always read the labels, so that you are not tricked into believing that you are purchasing whole grains when you are actually not doing so.

Among the best whole grains you can find, add to your list whole wheat, whole grain pasta, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, wild and brown rice.

Vegetables

Veggies are great for your health. They have a lot of fiber and they are also rich in various vitamins and minerals. Leafy vegetables are the best you can find, but it is difficult to find them all year round. By eating plenty of vegetables you will live a healthier, longer life.

Vegetables high in fiber include broccoli, spinach and Brussels sprouts

Fruits

Never consume fruit juice from commercial sources, as this is usually loaded with sugar. Make your own fruit juice at home, and use dried fruits to add a bit of natural good sugar. Raisins and other varieties are also rich in vitamins and minerals.

Fruits high in fiber include apples, mango, guava, bananas, raspberries, oranges, persimmon and pumpkin.

Nuts and legumes

Beans of various kinds and legumes are rich in protein and fiber. They are great for your digestive system and they are also a good ally for regulating sugar levels in your blood.

Legumes and beans are usually found all year round because they store well and they are also cheap. Just grab some delicious recipes and make some great meals for you and your family to enjoy all the benefits offered by these nutritious foods.

Rich in leptin, a special substance that let your brain know you are full, they are great appetite suppressants. Green peas, for instance, are a great choice for any meal.

When you go shopping, do not forget to buy any kind of beans, and lentils, because they are rich in fiber and other nutrients.

Add some nuts to your diet, too, so you can get the necessary intake of carbs, but without loading on the bad kind. Almonds are delicious and great to have in any diet, but so are pecans, peanuts, walnuts and pistachios.

Most Important Things to Know about How to Cook Healthy Food

Women Cooking

A lot of people think that cooking healthy may affect the final result and the taste of their food, which prevents them from starting to eat healthier, and enjoy all the benefits that come with it.

Big question: will it taste as good?

Ingredients like oils, cheese and creams may make the foods you eat more palatable, but they are far from being good for your health.

This is why you worry that if you eat healthier, you will not get to enjoy the great taste of the foods you really like. However, since you are decided to try healthy cooking, there are certain things you need to know.

So, it is a very important decision that you need to take. You are new to this, and you have no idea where to start. You are afraid that you may end up taking the wrong decisions, and you do not know how everything will work out for you in the end. Taking such a big step can mean a lot of things, and it is the unknown that frightens you most.

Do not be afraid. Healthy eating is not rocket science and there are plenty of things you can do to take steps in the right direction. Such doubts are normal and there are plenty of other people who have taken the same road, and they are now at its end, enjoying all the benefits of a healthier life. The following guide on the most important things to know about healthy cooking will help you get started.

Alternatives to cooking with oils

Cooking with oil is not a healthy choice in general, although there are oils that are healthier than others. The problem is that most Americans get more than one third of their intake of calories from fats, which leads to an important incidence of heart conditions among them.

For a healthy diet, you need to reduce this percentage from 34% to 20%. A simple, yet effective strategy to do that is by reducing the intake of oils in your food. Deep frying should be avoided. Replace fried foods with other cooking methods, such as roasting, baking or boiling, which are much healthier. Stir frying is alright, as long as you do not use too much oil.

The importance of fats

Fats are not necessarily bad for your health, and a bit of fat in your diet is needed, because of the essential role these fats play in your diet. For instance, the human body is not capable of producing fatty acids, so they must be acquired from food. These are good fats, unlike trans fats and saturated fats, which are, indeed, responsible for the high risk of heart conditions in the US.

You should not strive for a fat free diet, as this can lead to other health related problems. 7% of your calorie intake should come from healthy fats, while the rest should be, indeed, greatly reduced.

Healthy cooking is not different from any other kind of cooking          

There is a major misconception that healthy cooking requires more time than any other kind of cooking. This is not true; actually, you only need to learn a few new things, and you will be good to go.

Boiling, grilling and baking are healthy cooking methods. These are not time consuming methods from your part, even if they, indeed, involve slow cooking time. You just need to put all the ingredients, according to the recipe, in a pot, and then just let it cook on its own, while you can do other things.

The most important fats that are good for your health

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good for your health. You can obtain these fats from consuming more nuts of all kinds, olives, tofu, seeds, and fatty fish, with a high content of healthy fatty acids (herring, tuna, trout, salmon and sardines, among others).

How to improve the taste of foods that usually go well with cheese, oil or cream?

Taste is, of course, an issue. Fats give food a special tasty flavor, and you may think that it is difficult to find a replacement. However, this is not how things are. Instead of fats, you can use herbs and spices. These do not have any calories, but they make any food taste much better, while also providing you with some great health benefits.

Oregano, basil, mint, rosemary are all herbs that can greatly improve the taste of your food. What you can do, for instance, when you are cooking meat, is to let it marinate in a mix of herbs and spices before cooking. This method makes the meat more tender, and easier to digest, besides making it extra tasty. A little lemon juice, vinegar and the spices you like best are enough for a great marinade. The trick is to let it marinate overnight, so that all the flavors are absorbed by the meat.

Cooking vegetables

The main problem with vegetables is that they must be cooked in a certain way, so they do not lose their most important nutrients. Boiling and steaming are the most recommended methods of cooking vegetables to avoid loss of nutrients.

Tomatoes and other veggies, like carrots, actually can enhance the nutrient content of a meal, when cooked, because they add to the mix, by releasing some of these nutrients in the water used for cooking.

Raw vegetables are most recommended for a healthy diet. But, if this is not an option for you, you can always cook them, and get the best of them.

What pans to choose for best cooking?

Non sticking pans are the best choice, because you do not have to add oil when cooking. You can make perfectly healthy scrambled eggs, but there are many other recipes that you can try. Another option is represented by Hard Anodized cookware. Baking sheets and special trays are also a good recommendation. Grilling can be done with utensils you have around the house.

Choosing the best foods when shopping at the supermarket

Eliminate all processed foods from your list. Aim for organic, as often as possible. Since you are at the supermarket, take your time to read the labels, this will help you stay clear of additional fat, sugar, salt and other preservatives.

The farmer’s market is always a good alternative to the supermarket, because this is where you will find plenty of organic, healthy foods available.

Here you will be able to shop for organic eggs, meat, veggies and spices. Since farmers use fewer pesticides, their produce is much healthier than what you can find elsewhere.

Alternatives to packaged foods

Packaged foods are a bad choice, because they are loaded with preservatives to prolong their shelf life. If you like jams or sauces, try making them yourself, and keep them in the freezer. They will taste better and they will be much healthier.

Dieting is about reducing the number of calories you eat every day. By eating healthy, you do this in a natural way, without starving yourself.

Slow cooking helps you combine various ingredients, such as meats, veggies, herbs and spices. This healthier way of eating will also help you shed pounds from your waist.

Making dips without the fat

If you like dips, there are ways to replace mayonnaise and fat sour cream with healthier alternatives, such as non fat yogurt and mayonnaise obtained from olive oil or canola oil.

Fried chicken can be healthy

You can make delicious fried chicken by baking it in the oven. Coat the meat beforehand with bread crumbs which will absorb the fat. You will obtain crunchy, great tasting meat. Another option for coating is to use Shake and Bake.

Healthy Burger Recipes

dairy-cheese burger

Burgers are loved by everybody and they are among the most popular foods worldwide. Because of their great taste, not many people think that they can also be unhealthy. However, if you want a healthy alternative, there are some to consider.

So, what kind of burger should you eat, if your focus is on eating healthy, even when you are indulging in a burger?

What meat is the healthiest? Chicken? Turkey? Beef?

Taking into consideration calorie intake and fat, these three options are quite different from one another. Let’s take a look at these differences, so you can make an informed choice.

Calorie count and fat comparison per 8 ounce serving

8 ounces of beef stand for 349 calories, while the same serving of chicken is 275 calories. Turkey is the least rich in calories, with only 238 calories.

Fat Content

Fat content is also important. 8 ounces of beef contain 17 grams of fat, while chicken only 6 grams and turkey only 4 grams.

Protein

Protein is an essential nutrient for the human body. Beef has 46 grams for the indicated quantity, chicken has 51 grams, while turkey has 39 grams.

As you can see, by picking chicken or turkey for your burgers, you also make a healthy choice.

It is very important how you cook your burgers, too. The best way is to separate the fat from the burger, by using an oven broiler or a BBQ grill. When you use these methods, the fat drips while the burger cooks, so it does not stay on your meat.

Add some crumbled tofu if you want to eat lean beef burgers, but you are worried that it will come out too dry. Tofu is very good at retaining moisture, exactly what you want from your recipe.

Get more vegetables

Your burgers are tasty as they are, but if you add more vegetables to the mix, you will obtain some great results, much healthier, as well. Veggies that work great with burgers are tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, cucumbers, lettuce and avocado. They are rich in vitamins, but low in calories, which is great for any recipe.

How to go about the bun

You will also need to pay attention to what kind of bun you use if you want healthy burgers. White bread is not a good option, because it is hard to digest by the body and it is also rich in calories. Whole grain bread on the other hand has a much higher content of natural fiber and it can reduce the risk for heart diseases by 20%.

A good option: lettuce

If you want to lose weight, but still enjoy your burgers, here is a great idea. Instead of using a bun, wrap the burgers in lettuce leaves, for a great combination.

Healthy dressing alternatives

You cannot have a great tasty burger, without proper dressing.

Mayonnaise is often used as dressing for burgers, but it is clearly not the best idea, because of its rich content of calories and fat. Some decide to go for low calorie mayo varieties, but they do not know that these products have some ingredients that cannot be found in the traditional mayonnaise recipe.

These low calorie varieties are rich in modified corn starch, phosphoric acid, and xanthum gum, among other things. What is even worse, these varieties do not have a lot less calories. While traditional recipe has 40 calories, low calorie types have 35, so you can see why these are not recommended.

If you are truly seeking a healthy option, you should try canola oil mayonnaise, as it has no content of saturated fat.

Fat free dressing can be found in stores, but always check the labels. 1000 Island dressing, in its fat free version, is a good choice.

Cheese options

Skim cheese is your best choice for a healthy burger, because it is not so rich in fat. Of course, if you want to reduce the intake of fat, just forget about the cheese for good.

How to Cook with the Most Important Fat Burning Ingredients

raspberries

Your body needs calories to turn into fuel in order to function. When the fuel offered to the body cannot be transformed into energy, it accumulates as extra pounds around your waist and not only there. The key is to find those fat burning ingredients that will help you eat healthy and lose weight in the same time.

Here are some of the most important far burning ingredients you can use in your recipes to increase your weight loss efforts.

Fat burning foods

Green tea – a rich source of antioxidants

Green tea is known as one of the most important fat burning foods on the entire planet. While it was seen as first as just an exotic drink, now it can be found in households everywhere. Green tea is rich in a compound called epigallocatechin gallate, as well as antioxidants and caffeine, all healthy for your body.

The combination helps your metabolism and also increases processing of carbohydrates. In the same time, green tea helps the body flush all the toxins, and contributes to boosting your immune system, as well.

Raspberry ketones – the wonder ingredient

If you are looking for a great fat burning food, then raspberry ketones are your answer. Made popular by TV personality Dr. Oz, they are now appreciated by many people.

The role of raspberry ketones is to make raspberries taste as great as they do. But this is not their only function. They also regulate abiponectic, a protein that helps your metabolism. In other words, they help you burn fat and transform it into fuel, so it can be used by the body. Plus, they taste great, so what’s not to love about them?

Kidney beans – an enemy for carbs, an ally for you

Anyone’s diet must include carbohydrates. However, they have a major disadvantage; they cause a spike in your sugar levels, so they are not so good for you. Luckily, there is a fat burning food you can include in your diet to fight the effects of carbohydrates: white kidney beans.

What happens when carbs cause a spike of sugar in your blood is that your body takes that sugar and transforms it into fat, fat that is stored in cells. White kidney beans are rich in carbohydrates inhibitors, whose main role is to stop the production of an enzyme called alpha-amylase, responsible for converting carbohydrates into glucose. According to medical studies, when there is enough carb inhibitor present in the body, you can lose a lot more weight than you would normally do.

Whole grains – natural and healthy

The main quality of whole grains is that they make your body work harder to break them down into their nutrients, in a form that can be used. This means that you are burning calories each time you eat such foods, so include rice, cereals and whole grain pasta in your diet.

It is very important to make a habit out of eating healthy foods such as whole grains. Your body gets adjusted in time to the changes, and the more you will eat healthy, the better results you will see on the long run.

Make sure that you keep an eye out on the intake of sugar, as this is your major enemy when it comes to trying to lose weight in a healthy manner. Without proper sugar intake management, you will end up with plenty of fat tissue.

Hot peppers – add something spicy to your diet

Hot peppers are rich in a compound called capsaicin. When you consume this ingredient, your body starts feeling hot, and in its effort to cool the body down, it burns calories.

Great ideas for using fat burning foods in your diet

Here are some tips on how to make the best of these wonderful fat burning foods.

Green tea with ice

Green tea is ideal for burning fat and losing weight. However, you can make even more of it, if you are playing around with some tasty recipes. For instance, you can add infusion made of dried fruits, such as blueberries, mango, or pineapple, for an exotic, amazing taste!

Where to find raspberry ketones

You can buy raspberry ketones as liquid and create some healthy and tasty beverages, such as fruit juices and protein shakes, with their help.

Great combinations for kidney beans

There are many ways to cook white kidney beans. For instance, they are great with chili. If you care about your weight, a good idea is to use turkey meat instead of beef, when making your chili sauce. You can make this recipe in larger quantities you can store in your refrigerator and eat later. White kidney beans work great with tomatoes, carrots, onions and garlic, so let your imagination guide you.

Whole grains, as a replacement for all your grains

For any type of grains in your diet, there is a whole grain option waiting for you to make a healthier choice. You can greatly improve your diet, simply by replacing all your breads, cereals, muffins, and pasta with whole grain alternatives.

How to consume hot peppers

Hot peppers can be eaten raw, dried, as powder, and cooked in various ways. The great thing about them is that they work with almost anything, from salads, to stews and soups. They can be combined with any type of meat, used for making spicy sauces, as well as with eggs.

How to Get Your Children to Eat Healthy Foods

eat healthy

If you were to leave your kids to act on their own accord, they would just go for sweets and nothing else. However, a healthy diet is very important for kids, as on it there are many things that depend, most of all their health as grownups.

Getting your children to eat only healthy foods can be a very difficult task. For them, veggies and fruits are not by far the tasty treats you know and love. Still, this does not mean that there is nothing you can do. The starting point is to get kids to develop healthy habits. Just as an example, a character from Gulliver’s Travels, is known for choosing to avoid giving children sweets until the age of 5 so they do not develop a sweet tooth.

What they do not know cannot hurt them, but your children may be already used to sweets or you find it too difficult to really keep them away from anything that is tasty and worth having. Here are some great ideas on how to replace the foods that are not good for them with healthier alternatives.

Replacements for sugar. It is a well known fact that kids are crazy about white refined sugar. This food is low in nutrients, and it also gives children sugar rush that makes them highly energetic when they should be sleeping. A good alternative to white sugar is the unrefined variety. According to scientific studies, this simple change can help your kids get the same amount of antioxidants as they would get from a serving of berries and nuts. Honey can also be used.

Ideas for ice cream. Ice cream is delicious, even adults know this very simple fact. However, ice cream bought from the store is not good for kids’ health. They are rich in preservatives, sugar and food coloring. A good solution is to start making ice cream at home, where you can keep an eye on all the ingredients used.

Make ice cream with fruits and unrefined sugar. The following proportions are most recommended: 40% fruit, 10% sugar (unrefined), and 50% heavy cream. You can use many different fruits, as they all make for a very delicious ice cream. If you are aiming for a low fat dessert, you can replace cream with yogurt.

How to get kids to eat veggies. Vegetables are probably the most abhorred of all foods when it comes to kids and eating habits. However, if you play your cards right and you make veggies more palatable, you will see that it is not really that hard. Adding some cheese and meat to the mix will make the vegetables more attractive. You can try a recipe of curry and rice, if you want a vegan diet. Also, using orange and pineapple juice to create a delicious marinade, you will have no problem serving grilled vegetables to your kids. Experiment with some seasoning as well; adding a bit of salt or something sweet can turn vegetables into something kids will like.

Here are other recipes you can try. Use whole breads for sandwiches and make pasta with veggies. Wraps are also a good idea, but go for low fat sauces, such as tomatoes with onions and herbs. The exquisite taste will make your kids ask for more!

Sauces may seem the most difficult to replace. Here is an idea: make your own mint sauce, as it works with many different foods. Adding flavor through the use of herbs and spice can make kids love healthy food tremendously.

Make your job easier. Cook some fun recipes and have the kids enjoy them.