Saturday, June 16, 2012

12 Week Health Challenge: Week 4 Update

The theme this week: EAT HEALTHIER!

Day 22 Monday June 11

Spooning up smarter fare can help you stave off illness. Make these simple tweaks today.

Take-Action Tips:
Reconsider your carbs. Look at the bread, rice and pastas in your pantry. Are they all "white foods" made with enriched flour? If so, they're lacking the all-important fiber that makes grains so protective against diseases, like diabetes, cancer and heart disease. On your next shopping trip, make a point of purchasing whole-grain foods, like brown rice and 100 percent whole-wheat bread and pasta. Check the labels to be sure the starches contain at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Each day, aim for six servings, like a slice of bread, a half-cup of pasta or rice, or a cup of cereal.

I have tried purchasing brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and bread but my kids refuse to eat it so until they move out on their own I will need to buy the white stuff. I do watch how many carbs I eat per day and make sure I am not loading them up with too many high calorie toppings.

Cut back on red meat.

We don’t eat a lot of beef because of the price but we eat lots of chicken, pork loin, ground chuck, ham, and turkey. I will try to make one Meatless meal per week. I will look into trying some of the recipes on the Meatless Monday website.

Stock up on produce.

Fruits and veggies are chock-full of plant compounds that have been shown to protect against all kinds of ailments, from cancer to heart disease. However, you'll get the most health bang for your buck by selecting the minimum five recommended produce servings you need each day from different color groups—red peppers and tomatoes, orange carrots and cantaloupe, yellow pineapple and squash, white cauliflower, green broccoli and kale, purple berries and plums—since experts say these color families contain different healthful plant compounds. Stocking your fridge with packages of precut produce and sauce-less steam-and-serve veggies can make it a snap to squeeze in your five daily servings.

I have heard of the recommendation to eat a selection of fruits and veggies from different color groups and although I agree that you should eat a variety I think this would be impossible on a daily basic sometimes. I keep fresh veggies in my fridge at all times such as lettuce, broccoli, carrots, celery, radishes, and cucumber and the fruits I always have are apples, oranges, and bananas. I do pick at least one other fresh fruit or veggie each week but I have to watch the prices and pick what is cheapest and not buy more than my family will eat since for the most part I am the veggie eater in our home. I buy corn, cream corn, carrots, peas, green beans, spinach, mixed veggies canned and broccoli, and brussel sprouts frozen. I try to eat a minimum of the five recommended produce servings each day.

How did these tips help you. Did they make you feel more energized, empowered, optimistic or excited, or overwhelmed, depressed and defeated?

I felt good about the tips this week since know I do well in this area for the most part. I just need to stop eating so many sweets and eat a serving of fruits or veggies instead.

This week is all about making small changes that will help you eat more healthfully. Which of these tips will you try first?

I will cut back on my carbs and add more fruits and veggies this will help me to lose weight along with eating less sweets.

Day 23 Tuesday June 12

Love popcorn? You’re in luck. As you aim to eat healthy carbs this week, keep in mind that popcorn counts—it’s a whole grain! Three cups of air-popped popcorn counts as one serving. For a new twist on this simple snack, sprinkle two tablespoons of Parmesan cheese on top.

I like to eat oatmeal or cereal such as Fiber One or Special K for breakfast. I eat a lot of popcorn for snacks since it is a healthy grain and it is low in calorie. My favorite popcorn is microwave kettle corn. I usually have a serving of grains for lunch and dinner such as pasta or rice.

Day 25 Thursday June 14

The goal of Week 4 is to eat right by serving up more whole grains and produce while cutting back on meat. Need a little help adopting these healthy habits? Give these lunches a try. Not only do they incorporate these building blocks for good nutrition, but they're also all 300 calories, which is perfect if you're watching your waistline.

• 1/2 cup jarred roasted red bell peppers, drained
• 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
• 1 oz. Parmesan, thinly sliced
• 2 slices whole-grain bread

Make it: Layer peppers, basil and cheese between bread slices.

• 3 cups baby spinach
• 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
• 1/4 cup canned artichoke hearts, chopped
• 1/4 cup chopped carrots
• 1 lemon, juiced
• 1 tsp. olive oil
• 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan

Make it: Toss all ingredients and serve.

• 1/4 cup canned low-fat refried beans
• 1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
• 1/4 cup chopped zucchini
• 2 Tbsp. salsa
• 1 whole-grain tortilla

Make it: Wrap beans, avocado, zucchini and salsa in tortilla. Serve at room temperature or heat in a microwave.

Let us know what you think of these dishes. Did you make them as is or put your own spin on the recipe?

I didn’t make any of the dishes since I don’t buy some of the items listed in the recipes.

Day 26 Friday June 15

What are some other ways you reduce the amount of red meat in your family’s meals?

To cut back on meat in our meals I often add beans or vegetables. If I am making Chicken Alfredo I will use less chicken and add broccoli as a replacement and a side veggie. This not only helps us use less meat but also less carbs if we bulk up the vegetables which helps with weight loss.

Day 27 Saturday June 16

What’s been the tastiest piece of summer produce you’ve eaten this week and what made it so good?

My husband bought me some fresh garden tomatoes from the farmers market they are so juicy and sweet they taste like candy. I get tired of eating tomatoes at restaurants and from the grocery that are too white or hard.

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