Millet Salad with Corn & Avocado

Millet is a nutrient-dense grain with a sweet flavor. This recipe highlights the flavor of millet and is perfect for a warm weather barbeque or picnic.

Ingredients
1 cup uncooked millet, rinsed and drained
4 cups water
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
4 cups fresh corn kernels
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
4 cups chopped tomato
1 diced peeled avocado

Preparation
1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add millet; cook 10 minutes or until fragrant and toasted, stirring frequently. 2. Add water and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until water is almost absorbed. 3. Stir in corn kernels; cook, covered, 5 minutes.
4. Remove millet mixture from pan, and cool to room temperature.
5. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, cilantro, and next 5 ingredients (cilantro through jalapeño). Add cilantro mixture to millet mixture, tossing to combine. Gently stir in tomato and avocado. 6. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information (per serving): 240 calories, 7g fat (1 g saturated fat), 7g protein, 45g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 316mg sodium

 

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

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I Have Calcified Plaque found on My HeartScan: can I stop it or make it go away?

By John A. Rumberger, PhD, MD, FACC
Director of Cardiac Imaging
The Princeton Longevity Center

The answer is Yes and NO, but it depends on a number of factors. Atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries” occurs when certain substances build up in your artery walls including cholesterol, calcium, blood cells, and muscle cells. The causes of plaque build-up include age, sex, genetics, environment, lifestyle, smoking, cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. For reasons not totally clear, these factors combine to cause a major inflammatory reaction in the artery wall which brings in more cholesterol, calcium, and blood/muscle cells, actually setting up repeated episodes of inflammation that can “percolate” years before any heart or vascular symptoms.

Your goal is to stop additional plaque build up and/or significantly slow down the ‘natural progression’ of plaque as we all age. It is unlikely that it will ‘all go away’ but possibly some of it can be removed over time.

The best way to lower your heart/vascular risk is to retard or stop the growth of further inflammation and plaque build-up in the walls of the arteries. Studies using the HeartScan [64-slice CT as we use at PLC] have shown that people who slow down or even stop calcified plaque progression cut their risk of a heart attach by 50%!

There are many things for you and your physician to help slow down plaque progression. These include working on altering the risk factors that we can control. Such as: quitting smoking, having a proper diet low in carbohydrates and high in lean sources of protein with goals for achieving an ideal body weight/composition, adequate and frequent exercise, proper vitamins/antioxidants, daily aspirin, control/lowering of cholesterol and use of the proper prescription cholesterol lowering medications to reach new goals, treatment of diabetes and control of blood sugar and blood pressure. Since you now have a baseline coronary calcium score you have the ability to repeat the scan at a later date to measure whether your plaque has stabilized or even regressed.

Your first repeat HeartScan should be in one to three years, depending on the baseline coronary calcium score and location of plaque. It is very important that you work with your doctor to stabilize plaque disease. Calcium score progression [i.e. additional plaque build-up] at or below about 15% per year indicates that your prevention program is “right on target”. Plaque build-up at between 15% and 30% per year indicates that your prevention program is having some success, but needs to be re-evaluated by you and your doctor to see if further steps can be taken to improve your program. Plaque build up at more than about 40% per year indicates that your prevention program needs to be carefully reviewed and that further steps are needed to slow the disease process.

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Healthy Snacks That Travel Well

By Staci O’Connor MS, RD, CLC, CDN

We all have very busy lives and because of this some of us either forget to eat or grab the closest food item from a vending machine or fast food restaurant. If you know that you will be traveling, plan and prepare healthy snacks that you can bring along with you. Here are a few quick healthy snacks that can be prepared ahead of time and easily transported.

I. Trail Mix

Ingredients:

1/4 cup whole shelled (unpeeled) almonds

1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped pitted dates

2 ounce dried apricots, or other dried fruit

Preparation:

    1. Combine almonds, peanuts, cranberries, dates and apricots (or other fruit) in a medium bowl.

Nutrition:

Per serving: Per serving: 156 calories; 7 g fat (1 g sat, 4 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 21 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 4 g protein; 3 g fiber; 0 mg sodium; 247 mg potassium.

II. Kale Chips (Makes 4 servings, about 2 cups each)

Ingredients:

1 large bunch kale, tough stems removed, leaves torn into pieces (about 16 cups; see Note)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation:

  1. Position racks in upper third and center of oven; preheat to 400°F.
  2. If kale is wet, very thoroughly pat dry with a clean kitchen towel; transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle the kale with oil and sprinkle with salt. Using your hands, massage the oil and salt onto the kale leaves to evenly coat. Fill 2 large rimmed baking sheets with a layer of kale, making sure the leaves don’t overlap. (If the kale won’t all fit, make the chips in batches.)
  3. Bake until most leaves are crisp, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through, 8 to 12 minutes total. (If baking a batch on just one sheet, start checking after 8 minutes to prevent burning.)

Tip:

  • If you decide to make these ahead of time store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
  • Choose organic kale when possible since nonorganic can have high pesticide residue.

Nutrition:

Per serving: 110 calories; 5 g fat (1 g sat, 3 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 5 g protein; 6 g fiber; 210 mg sodium; 642 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (767% daily value), Vitamin C (192% dv), Calcium (20% dv), Potassium (18% dv).

III. Granola Bar (makes 16 bars)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup oats, quick cooking or old fashioned
  • 1 cup shredded wheat cereal
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups dried fruit (combination of your choice of dried apricots, dried plums, dried cherries, and dried cranberries)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 ° F. Lightly oil or coat an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Place the oats, cereal, walnuts, dried fruit, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped (the dried fruit should be the size of a dried pea or lentil).

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, honey, and vanilla. Add the oatmeal mixture and chocolate chips and stir to combine. Transfer to the baking pan and flatten down gently with the back of a spoon or spatula to spread evenly.

4. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until the edges turn golden brown and the bars are done. Let bars cool completely in pan before slicing and serving. 

Nutrition

1 bar: 170 calories, 7g fat (1.5g saturated, 0.7g omega-3), 85mg sodium, 26g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 3g protein

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Healthy Eating While Traveling

By Staci O’Connor MS, RD, CLC, CDN

Whether you are planning on traveling by plane or automobile, healthy eating can be challenging, but it is certainly not impossible. Whether you decide to purchase something along the way or pack your own food, you will find some healthy options to help guide you below.

Since you never know if there will be delays when you are traveling be sure to plan ahead so that you aren’t trapped into going to the first fast-food restaurant that you can find!

  • Try not to leave hungry or you will be much more likely to make poor food choices. Start your trip off by eating a healthy meal before you leave.
  • Once you reach your destination look for healthy food options on your way to the hotel (look for options that are in and around your hotel) this way you will be less likely to run to the closest fast-food place.
  • Don’t think of traveling as a break from your healthy eating habits—calories count if they are consumed in the air, on the road, in a different state, or in a hotel.
  • Cut calories when you can—avoid sauces or ask for them on the side (i.e. order a sandwich without the mayo to save 30 grams of fat).

Airport Advice: Finding healthy food in an airport is certainly a challenge. The best strategy is to travel with your own snacks. Here are some healthy snacks that you can bring with you to the airport (or if you are driving a long distance):

  • Fresh or dried fruit
  • Individual containers of unsweetened applesauce or mixed fruit packed in 100% juice or water
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Make your own trail mix with nuts, dried fruit, and unsweetened high fiber cereal
  • Baby carrots or other chopped vegetables with natural peanut butter
  • Rice cakes with natural peanut butter
  • A Clif or Luna bar
  • Natural peanut butter and whole grain crackers
  • Pouch of water-packed tuna with whole grain crackers or chopped vegetables
  • Already popped popcorn

Here are a few tips when choosing food at the airport or on the road:

  • The most important step in eating well when you travel is to take control of your food choice. Order food items with your mind in charge, not your stomach.
  • Options for breakfast: egg white omelet with vegetables, Canadian bacon, and whole grain bread (skip the home fries and the high fat breakfast meats such as sausage and instead ask for some fruit on the side), oatmeal with fruit and nuts, whole grain cereal with skim milk and fruit, low-fat or non-fat yogurt with fruit, or whole grain toast with peanut butter and fruit.
  • Be careful in terms of what you choose at a salad bar and remember a salad that is soaked in oily or creamy dressing can be more fattening than a Big Mac. So either ask for the salad dressing on the side or go with olive oil and vinegar.
  • Aim to incorporate fruit and vegetables at every meal.
  • If you are ordering a sandwich for lunch ask for whole grain bread and choose lean meats, load your sandwich with colorful vegetables, and ask for mustard, hummus or avocado slices instead of mayonnaise. Even consider asking to have an open faced sandwich.
  • Pass on “value-size” or “super-size” servings which increase the fat, sugar, sodium, and calories of the meal.
  • Avoid sugar sweetened beverages with are high in sugar and empty calories.
  • Look for the nutritional content of food items to help you identify the healthiest choices. Some restaurants post the nutrition information near the counter or even have the nutrition information in pamphlet form for you to review before placing your order.
  • Options for lunch or dinner: Lean meat or fish that is broiled, baked, or grilled, whole wheat pasta or brown rice, and steamed vegetables. Consider picking a salad for an appetizer (choose one with a variety of vegetables, dark-leafy greens and even fresh fruit).
  • Know your beef, the leanest to fattiest cuts of beef are: strip loin, flank, tenderloin, rib-eye and T-bone.
  • Choose pork that is from the leg or loin and avoid the pork belly and bacon.
  • Stay away from processed meats such as sausage or hot dogs.
  • Choose a broth based vegetable soup or salad before your main entrée.
  • Ask for substitutions and choose fruit, a baked sweet potato, or salad instead of chips, fries, and coleslaw.
  • If possible order half portions or share an entrée with a family member or friend.
  • Avoid sauces which can increase the calorie, fat, sugar, and sodium content of a meal.
  • Only eat half of your meal and then take a break, you might not need to eat the entire meal to feel satisfied.
  • Don’t order dessert right after your meal, wait a few minutes and you may find that you are not as hungry as you thought.
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Diet Quality & Mental Health

By Debbie Jeffery, RDN LD

The question, “Can What You Eat Affect Your Mental Health?”, is the title of an article that appeared in the Health and Science section of the Washington Post on March 25, 2014. Recent research results have answered this question with a “yes” indicating a link between diet quality and mental health. Whether the impact food has on the mind is as powerful as the influence it has on the body is an area that scientists have recently begun to explore. In several studies, researchers have found lower rates of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders among those who ate a traditional diet of meat and vegetables compared to those who consumed a modern Western diet which was high in processed and fast foods.

How diet relates to mental health is unclear. One theory is that mood disorders change how and what people choose to eat. A second theory is that certain foods or their absence may contribute to poor mental health. For example, studies have shown a link between zinc deficiency and depression.   The lack of strong evidence and well-designed studies plus the fact that mental health is still not well understood has created skepticism in the research and medical community about the diet and mental health connection. However, more studies are beginning to stimulate an interest and some clinicians are advocating diet changes along with more traditional treatments as part of an integrative approach to treating depression. The entire article can be read here.

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Recipe: Tangerine Poached Chicken with Clementine-Pomegranate Relish

The chicken in this recipe is poached, a low fat, low sodium cooking method for lean proteins that tend to become dry. No oil or fat is used, and the result is moist tender chicken. The recipe includes a clementine-pomegranate relish which is a great way to get more fruit into your diet. The clementines are a good source of vitamin C and the avocado in the relish contributes some healthy fats. The pomegranate seeds boost nutrient density by contributing vitamin C & K as well as potassium, folate and copper.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 seedless clementines (4 to 5 ounces each)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced shallot
  • Flesh from 1/2 ripe avocado, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds (arils; from 1/2 large or 1 medium pomegranate; may substitute fresh red currants)
  • 1 tablespoon 100 percent pomegranate juice
  • 1 teaspoon light agave nectar
  • Juice from 4 to 5 tangerines (1 1/2 cups), plus 1 tablespoon finely grated tangerine zest
  • 1 tablespoon light agave nectar
  • 1/3 cup minced shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenderloins

DIRECTIONS:

For the relish: Peel the clementines and separate their segments. Cut each segment into 3 equal pieces, transferring them to a mixing bowl as you work. Add the salt, pepper, garlic, scallions, shallot, avocado, pomegranate seeds, pomegranate juice and agave nectar; mix well.

For the chicken: Combine the juice and zest in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the agave nectar, shallot, garlic, salt and pepper until well blended, then pour into a large sauté pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then add the chicken and turn to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low or low; cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Check one of the tenderloins for doneness by cutting it in half to make sure it’s cooked all the way through. If it isn’t, remove the sauté pan from the heat and cover to rest for 5 minutes.

Divide the chicken among individual plates. Spoon relish over each portion. Serve warm. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional Facts per serving: 270 calories; 3g total fat; 1g saturated fat; 100mg cholesterol; 250mg sodium; 21g carbohydrates; 3g dietary fiber; 41g protein

Make Ahead Note: The relish can be assembled several hours in advance and refrigerated; add the avocado just before serving. The chicken can be refrigerated for 1 to 2 days; reheat in the microwave on low or serve cold atop a salad.

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15 Ways to Add Activity Into Your Day

  1. Take the stairs.
  2. Stretch in bed when you wake up.
  3. Do squats while brushing your teeth
  4. Perform push-ups waiting for the shower to warm up.
  5. Block time off in your calendar.
  6. Walk/bike/run to work if possible.
  7. Park far from the entrance.
  8. Stretch at your desk.
  9. Walk to send messages instead of emails and the phone.
  10. Clean the house.
  11. Walk the dog.
  12. Buy a pedometer, set a goal and track your steps.
  13. Break your workout up.. 3 ten minute intervals throughout the day.
  14. Get a quick workout in during lunch–think Tabata!
  15. Perform triceps dips on your chair.
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