Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Getting Back on My Heart Healthy Track

Now that Thanksgiving’s over, I’m trying to get my diet back on track. As I’ve noted before, my focus is really on heart-healthy eating. Through eating foods such as margarine, olive oil, low-fat milk, salmon and lots of beans, I’m able to reduce my risk for heart disease.

Heart disease is really at the forefront of my mind when it comes to health. Not only does it run in my family but also more and more people are dying of it everyday. In my opinion, I think people aren’t paying enough attention to their risk of heart disease and are instead obsessed with cutting out food groups or carbs or fat to lose weight.

Weight loss is extremely important but it can’t be obtained over the long run if you’re cutting out whole food groups. That’s just not sensible! Instead, it’s important to fill your diet with fresh veggies and fruit, whole grains and lean meats without eliminating any major food group. In addition, cooking with margarine and using it as a spread over butter can help reduce the saturated fat in your diet.

Common people, stop falling for this fad diets that offer a quick fix. Losing weight and living an overall healthy lifestyle takes work! Fill your diet with foods that fill you up but also offer balanced nutrition.

This article from the Mayo Clinic provides sound advice on choosing foods that will benefit you in the long haul.

Happy and heart healthy eating!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving to All

I’m off to Houston for a week so I likely won’t be doing much blogging. In the meantime, I would like to offer a few tips on keeping your Turkey Day a little healthier.

Folks, it’s all about simple substitutions. By making small changes in the diet, you can avoid gaining weight during the holidays. Experts warn against trying to lose weight during the holidays as that’s likely setting yourself up for failure. Instead, why not avoid gaining weight. That’s a much simpler concept!

Here are a few tips for a healthier and lighter holiday feast:

Try cooking with more heart-healthy liquids, rather than oil. These include lemon juice, sherry, tomato sauce, vinegar, skim or 1% milk, wine, low-fat broth, fruit juice or a combination of these.
Use skim or 1% milk when the recipe calls for whole milk.

To thicken a liquid without adding fat, use one of the following: flour, cornstarch, potato flakes, yogurt, non-fat evaporated milk.

Use an egg substitute or 2 egg whites in place of a whole egg.

Use low-fat versions of cheese, sour cream, ice cream, salad dressings, etc.

Replace butter with margarine. (Note for optimal results, be sure to cook with a margarine that has greater than 50 percent oil. This works well for most cooking. Also note that many recipes have been specifically developed for the use of margarine products. However, if a recipe calls for a precise amount of fat and moisture, such as pastry crusts and spritz cookies, you should use a margarine that contains 60 percent oil. All other margarine products are appropriate for spreading, topping and adding flavor to recipes.)

Use vegetables as the main course. Hearty (and more "meat-like") vegetables include Portobello mushrooms, artichoke hearts, eggplant, green, red or yellow peppers.
Use fresh spices to enhance your meals.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Yummy Velvet Chocolate Cheesecake

Thanksgiving is creeping upon us! I usually gain a pound or two during the holidays but it’s the one time of year when I just allow myself to sit back and enjoy the food, without obsessing about the calorie content. Below is a delicious heart healthy recipe (courtesy of Parkay) that will satisfy your taste buds. Enjoy

Velvet Chocolate Cheesecake

38 chocolate sandwich cookies, finely crushed
5 tablespoons tub margarine spread
5 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, divided
8 ounces cream cheese
1-1/2 cups dairy sour cream, divided
1/2 cup Egg Beaters® Egg Product, or 2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix cookie crumbs and Parkay in bowl. Press firmly on bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Stand 14 whole cookies around the inside edge of pan, pressing firmly into crumb mixture. Set aside.
Melt 4 ounces of chocolate in small saucepan over low heat; set aside.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Beat cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar with electric mixer at medium speed. Beat in 1/2 cup sour cream, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Blend in melted chocolate. Pour into prepared crust.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until cheesecake is slightly puffed and center is set. Blend remaining 1 cup sour cream and 2 tablespoons sugar; spread over cheesecake. Bake 5 minutes more. Cool to room temperature.
Melt remaining 1 ounce chocolate; drizzle over cheesecake. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

My Winter Cravings

I’m taking a break from margarine news today to discuss my winter cravings. Yes, I did just say (or write) winter cravings. You see, in the winter when it’s frigid outside, I crave a handful of foods constantly. I suppose it’s the same for many people – in the summer, I want fruits and veggies while in the winter I want warm and hearty foods. Below is my list of favorite winter foods:

Soups and Stews: This is a typical winter craving. Beef stew is one of my all-time favorite foods but I just don’t feel right eating it during the summer. It’s kind of like eating a popsicle during the winter – odd. I also love chicken noodle soup, minestrone soup and your basic vegetable soup. Stews and soups are great ways incorporate vegetables into your diet during the winter when the produce isn’t as good.

Mashed Potatoes: I know this is a weird thing to crave during the winter but mashed potatoes remind me of Thanksgiving. My cravings for mashed potatoes start around November 1st and don’t let up until the end of February. I love adding shredded smoked gouda or some sharp cheddar cheese to the potatoes for a little extra kick. Also, you can feel good about adding margarine to your potatoes rather than butter and reducing the saturated fat in this yummy food.

Steak: Another really strange thing to crave during the winter but I love a good steak when it gets cold. During the summer, my appetite wanes and I usually prefer a salad or something light for dinner. But in the winter, I love nothing more than a delicious steak. And, it’s a great way to get some protein in the diet!

Tea: I’m not a tea drinker. I am a fanatical coffee drinker and will refuse to pull myself out of bed in the morning without it. But something happens during the winter. At night, it’s comforting to curl up with a good book and a piping hot mug of tea. I sweeten mine with a low-calorie sweetener (Equal or Splenda) and a little milk. Some prefer to use lemon juice.

So there’s my list of winter cravings. What do you crave?

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Historical Day for Margarine

According to the Detroit Free-Press:

On Nov. 7, 1950, Michiganders marched to the polls and voted for the right to -- buy colored margarine.

The spread we call margarine was invented as a substitute for butter. In fact, some states had laws that required oleo, as it was sometimes known, to be colored pink so that consumers would not be confused. In some places, shoppers had to pay an extra tax to get yellow margarine. There was even yellow margarine smuggling! Michigan was one of seven states where the manufacture and sale of yellow margarine was a crime.

Older Michiganders remember buying margarine in bags that contained a capsule of food coloring. They broke open the food coloring and mixed it with the margarine to make it look edible.

The last state to legalize yellow oleomargarine was the dairy state of Wisconsin.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A "Margarine" Made in Heaven

Well, have I got a story for hopeless romantics! According to this BBC article, a couple recently celebrated their diamond anniversary (60 years). That in itself is amazing but listen to how they met – through a tub of margarine!

According to the article, Bette Kennedy was 16 and working at a margarine factory when she slipped her name and address into tubs destined for British forces, hoping for a reply. Her future husband, Herbie Reynolds, was on a board a minesweeper and the cook found the note from Bette and persuaded Herbie to make contact with her.

The two began communicating regularly and finally set up a place to meet. They met, fell in love and eventually married.

"It was a bit like a message in a bottle - it could have ended up anywhere. Maybe it was fate but I was a very lucky man," says Herbie.

Ahh, margarine really is good for the heart!