Saturday, May 9, 2009

Something Healthy: Katherine’s Green Drink

Because I am pursuing a master’s degree in Health Promotion, I am often asked for advice on how to eat healthy. So I thought I could devote a theme to my blog on ways to do just that. For the most part, I try to ‘healthify’ any meal I make, but some are better than others. In the future, look forward to more “Something Healthy” posts.

My advice to go along with this post is to strive to eat a serving of vegetables for breakfast. I don’t know about you, but I never crave a salad when I first wake up. Most people eat veggies for breakfast by adding them to omelets and frittatas. Not a terrible idea, but I wouldn’t recommend eating eggs every day. Other methods do exist. I’m sure you have all seen those green drinks and smoothies at grocery stores. The most common brands are Odwalla and Naked Juice. These drinks sound and look healthy (the green color), but I have a better alternative for you, I promise.

My parents came to visit me recently for my husband’s graduation. While they were here they bought me one of those huge bags of fresh spinach from Costco. I love spinach, but let’s be honest, those bags are huge. I worried I would not be able to finish it before it went bad and freezing wasn’t really an option because I do not love frozen spinach and my husband especially does not care for it. So I started experimenting with it! And this is what I came up with.

Katherine’s Green Drink

2 cups fresh spinach

8 medium strawberries (fresh or frozen), halved

1 medium banana, sliced

½-1 cup of cold water

1. Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth

2. Enjoy!

This drink/smoothie is surprisingly delicious. The banana contributes most of the calories and sugar, but it does its job well! It adds sweetness without adding extra sugar, and it also adds creaminess you would otherwise get from yogurt, milk, or cream. If you don’t want the sugar, use less of the banana or skip it altogether.

Let me now introduce you to a good friend of mine. Meet Sparkpeople’s Recipe Calculator. This allows you to input ingredients from recipes and spits out the nutritional information.

Let me point out some selling points from the nutritional information from my green drink. If you ate the amount the recipe makes (about 20 oz) you will only consume 151 calories, 6.4 grams of fiber, and 15 grams of sugars (from the banana). Let’s now compare to Naked Juice “Green Machine.” An 8 oz serving gives you 140 calories, 0 grams of fiber, and 28 grams of sugar. However, the typical bottle size is about 16 oz. If you drink the entire bottle you will get 280 calories, 0 grams of fiber, and 56 grams of sugar. In addition, the “Green Machine” only contains 100 mg of spinach whereas my version has 85 grams of spinach. I would definitely recommend my version with a slice of whole wheat toast for a quick and satisfying breakfast.

*Note: Smoothies are often the key component to many silly diets out there. I’m not advertising this smoothie as a weight loss plan. Consuming ample amounts of fruits and veggies (especially leafy greens like spinach) is strongly associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, cancers, and other chronic diseases. My goal here is to enable you to eat more fruits and veggies and to enjoy doing it!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cinco de Mayo, it's holiday time!

I'm back! I know it has been a while. Like always, my excuse is that I was busy with school. But now that it is Spring/Summer term, I am only taking thesis credits and have zero coursework! Yea!

I realized it was Cinco de Mayo while I was at work yesterday. So while I walked home, I came up with this festive meal...

Dora's Mexican rice, Refried Beans, and Chile Lime Quesadillas

I was really happy with the way this meal turned out. And it surprisingly took little time. The rice recipe is from a family friend who comes from family of excellent Mexican cooking. It is authentic, easy, and delicious. The beans and quesadillas are satisfying creations from simple ingredients that were already in my pantry. Here are the recipes.

Dora's Mexican Rice

2 cups rice
1-8 oz. can of Mexican Style tomato sauce
4 cups water
5 tsp chicken flavor bouillon
drizzle of olive oil
Pinch of salt
  1. Drizzle olive oil in a 2 qt pot. Heat oil and add rice. Cover rice in oil and heat until golden. Do not let the rice burn. This gives the rice a nice authentic texture.
  2. Add water, tomato sauce, and bouillon. Stir until well mixed.
  3. Let simmer until rice is done. Stir occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Refried Beans

I would like to make real refried beans one day, but I was short on time last night. So here is what I came up with.

1 can refried beans
1 Tbs lime juice
Sprinkle of goat or feta cheese
  1. Mix and heat through.
  2. Garnish with cheese and cilantro
The lime juice definitely spruced up the boring can of beans.

Chile Lime Quesadillas

1-16 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1-4 oz. can chiles
1 Tbs lime juice
1/4 cup salsa
1/2 cup pepperjack cheese
4 tortillas of your choice
  1. Drizzle olive oil in pan and turn heat to medium.
  2. Add beans, chiles, lime juice, and salsa.
  3. Mix and heat through.
  4. Add half of the mixture to one tortilla and the other half to another. Top with cheese and cilantro. Top each quesadilla with a second tortilla.
  5. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes or until cheese is melted.
I would recommend enjoying this meal with horchata, preferably served in a margherita glass. Enjoy!