In all the hours I've spent in the kitchen preparing food I have never found a substitution for the avocado. You know when you stumble across a really delicious sounding recipe and you really, really want to make it at that moment? But you're tired and in your PJs so a quick trip to the store out of the question? Well, this is the ideal moment to come up with a substitution for whatever ingredients you need, but don't have. So, what can you use in place of avocado? NOTHING! Absolutely nothing. If you don't have avocado forget it. Find a different recipe. Nothing can replace it. Nothing can replace it's unique flavor, smooth texture and simple preparation! You can replace other foods with avocado though! Avocado is great in smoothies, shakes, sandwiches, baked goods, on salads, and plain. Not to mention the fact that no party is complete without guacamole dip and tortilla chips.
Nathan determined to finish the avocado all by himself -->
Avocados are also really good for you and definitely deserve a place on your weekly grocery list of staple foods. We eat avocados almost daily in my household. My two year old son, Nathan, can barely go a day without them. He's to the age now where I can give him a half an avocado with a spoon and he is thrilled to scoop it out of the shell himself. I don't mind he enjoys avocados daily in fact I'm thrilled my son loves so many nutritious foods. I know by eating avocados regularly that he is getting a great boost of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Some of my favorite ways to eat avocado:
Toast with avocado slices served with an egg cooked over easy and some simple sauteed spinach with garlic.
Avocado schmear on a sandwich filled with hummus, red pepper, lettuce or spinach and sweet onion.
Fresh avocado salsa (or chop the pieces larger and eat it as a salad) with tomato, sweet onion, nopalitas (marinated cactus), minced garlic, minced jalapeno, cilantro, and a little salt & pepper. Great served with grilled chicken or fish, or on top of tacos.
Plain sliced avocado aside some fresh fruit and whole grain crackers or pita.
Avocado half (pit removed) filled with sharp cheddar cheese and a drizzle of hot sauce - heat under the broiler until bubbly! Eat with a spoon!
Fudgesicle Frosty recipe by Blendtec. Also one of Nathan's favorites!
Avocados are definitely a super tasty food! Enjoy one today and benefit from the natural goodness of avocados! More avocado recipes and ideas can be found at www.avocadocentral.com.
Disclaimer and Disclosure:
Although I did receive financial compensation for writing this post, all views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely and entirely my own and based on my own unique experiences. For nutrition information on avocados, please be sure to visit the LoveOneToday website.
Authored by Courtney Stinson and the Chelsea Wellness Coalition.
The Chelsea Wellness Coalition and Polly’s Country Market in Chelsea are proud to announce year two of a Healthy Grocery Store partnership, intended to give Polly’s customers a heads up about healthy eating.
To kick off the 2nd year of the intervention, Registered Dietitian Courtney Stinson will lead “Label Reading 101” on Monday, October 28th. Stinson, Polly’s staff and several Eastern Michigan University Dietetics students will lead interested patrons around the store, providing customers with the educational tools they need to decipher deceptive advertising and confusing package labels so they can be knowledgeable, informed consumers.
Those interested in participating can meet near the Polly’s entrance where the blue 5 Healthy Towns banner is located. Teaching tours are FREE and start at 3, 4, 5 and 6 p.m. There’ll be free samples from Polly’s deli and tour participants will be entered into a raffle to win one of several Polly’s gift cards.
“Label Reading 101 is valuable for customers because everyone goes to shop,” Stinson said, “but few take the time to read labels and learn about what they are consuming. Understanding labels and food marketing can empower customers to make informed shopping choices.”
During the first year, Stinson worked with Polly’s staff to post 5H labels around the store to indicate healthier options and healthy lifestyle tips. She also worked closely with deli staff to improve their cooking and food prep skills to include fresh, house made items like the popular Southwestern Black Bean Salad. Stinson’s also been advising Polly’s staff on new and tasty food options. If customers have a special request, patrons can ask Polly’s staff, who will do their best to locate and stock the item.
“We’ll expand our labels, and continue distributing a quarterly Eat Better Newsletter to keep customers informed. The newsletters talk about Chelsea Wellness Coalition updates, what’s to come, and what’s happening around Polly’s,” Stinson added.
For more information about Label Reading 101 and the Healthy Grocery initiative, community members can contact Courtney at Courtney@savorlifenutrition.com.
I've been making smoothies quite frequently this summer since we've been getting a CSA box each week from Zilke Vegetable Farm in Milan, MI. We're loving all the fresh, local produce. Between what we get at Zilkes and what we pick up at Coleman's Farm Market on Carpenter Rd. in Ypsilanti we've always got a great assortment of seasonal and delicious ingredients on hand.
Nathan especially likes "smoo-nees" and asks for them frequently. He loves watching the ingredients whirl around in the blender. Something about thing that spin really get this kid's attention!
I don't measure ingredient when I make smoothies. I just add stuff to my blender in the order my blender manual tells me to (different blenders work differently). It's really hard to mess up a smoothie. And if you don't like how it turns out you can usually ad a little more of whatever you think is missing and just blend again.
I had no plans of doing a product review today. But after I polished off an entire jar of Reese Grilled Marinated Artichoke Hearts, I decided that I must write about it.
I'm a fan of keeping healthy things stocked in my pantry that are versatile and aid in getting dinner on the table, like... yesterday (as in ASAP). I always keep a can of marinated artichokes, marinated mushrooms, roasted red peppers, capers, and a variety of pesto in my cupboard. All these ingredients throw a huge flavor punch to any dish. They are great add-ins to pasta, rice, quinoa, and salads.
My most recent discovery though is one of my new favorites. I opened a jar of Reese Grilled and Marinated Artichoke Hearts to put a few on a salad but when I sampled one I decided I wasn't making my salad after-all and I ate the whole jar of artichoke hearts. The awesome thing is how nutritious artichokes are for you. Artichokes are a good source of potassium, vitamin C, folate, magnesium and dietary fiber. They are also a superb source of antioxidants in the form of phytonutrients helping with liver function and maybe even aid in curing hangover.
Give these Reese Grilled Marinated Artichoke Hearts a try. They have an awesome right-off-the-grill flavor and aren't too sweet or salty. They are void of added preservatives and other junk I don't allow in my pantry. They are delicious.
**These opinions are my own. I have not been paid by anyone to review this product.
Resource: California Artichoke Advisory Board
I'm spending a couple days each week for a few months working at Polly's Country Market in Chelsea, MI. It's been nice getting to know the management and staff at the store. Everybody is very friendly. As a part of the Chelsea Wellness Coalition's community goals to boost nutrition in and around Chelsea I'm working to bring more nutritious options to the community's main grocery store. We've already added some fresh, homemade salads to the deli case and created some grab & go salads perfect for a quick, healthy and delicious meal. If you live in the area or you happen to be driving through please stop by and sample some of the new salads. Please give us your feedback. If you have suggestions, we'd be happy to see what we can do to accommodate your requests. Also, while you're shopping if you have any food and nutrition questions please come and find me (on days I'm there) and I'll be happy to help you while you shop!
I cooked a roast tonight. My husband came to the table and had the smallest portion he could have put on his plate. If you know him, you know he does NOT need to be on a diet. He's quite a healthy size so I wondered why such a small portion. I was asking this as he takes a bite and says "well, I didn't think this was going to taste so good. I normally don't like roast". He got up and put more on his plate. Yay for another good dinner that impresses the husband and the 14 month old.
2 lb. beef chuck roast
1 - 32 oz can diced tomatoes
2 large onions, sliced
1 bulb elephant garlic, sliced (regular garlic I'm sure would be great too)
1 t. dried rosemary
1t. dried thyme
1 T. dried basil
pinch of salt and pepper (for searing meat)
1 T. grapseed/canola or other high smoke point cooking oil (for searing meat)
1 T. olive oil
Fresh parmesan cheese for grating (optional)
When I get a break from chasing my now walking one year old I've managed to work on a new workshop. I plan to offer a baby food making workshop and presentation in the very near future. I'd like to know what you would like to learn. What are your struggles in feeding your family? What about food, feeding and nutrition puzzles you the most when the time comes to start offering solids to your little ones? Do you have a picky eater and wonder how you will ever get him/her to eat a balanced meal? Please send me all your questions, comments and wisdom. I'm looking forward to working with you soon! Thank you in advance for sharing with me!
I'm really hoping that this phrase, "Know your farmer know your food", proves to define our future food culture instead of being a fun bumper sticker supporting the food fad of the decade. Here are a few reasons why I hope the local food movement and my local farmers are here to stay:
Yesterday my little family visited Zilke's Vegetable Farm Stand in Milan, MI. Twice actually. We forgot to ask if they had greens so we had to turn around and make another shopping trip back to their veggie stand. We bought a bushel of sweet potatoes. This sounds like a lot but we really love them and after talking to Vicki (farmer and farm owner along with her husband Tom), we learned that our sweet potatoes will last us a few months if we store them properly. In a cool, dry place that is. She suggested we dig a huge hole, bury a trash can, and layer our goodies between straw and cover with a lid. Our entire yard is clay and we're tired of digging holes for fence posts this year so we'll have to figure out plan B before it gets too cold out. For now our sweet potatoes, potatoes, squash and pumpkins will live in our 3 season room. Anyway, we loaded up our car with all sorts of goodies including some birdhouse gourds which my husband, Jeff, has been looking around for. He has the gourds drying so that in a year or so he can use them to design and build some sort of musical instrument. I have no idea how he'll do that but he's got great workmanship for that sort of thing so I'm sure once he's all done it will be awesome. Earlier in the summer the Zilkes gave Jeff a whole box of volunteer gourds that were "not worth selling". Those are almost dry now. The term volunteer is used to describe plants that just pop up or weren't purposely planted, so to speak. But this is what is so great about building relationships with your local farmers. The Zilkes have been at the farm stand themselves between farming and actually talking with their customers. They answer questions. They offer advice on where to find great, safe canning resources. They go out the field to pick you lettuce, turnips, cilantro and arugula in the cold, windy weather because you asked for it and you're dying for some fresh greens. These are the kind of people farmers are. Friendly, helpful and caring people.
Last winter I had a goal of visiting a hoop house in the winter. I wanted to see veggies growing in Michigan while we had snow on the ground. I visited Capella Farm in Ann Arbor. The farm owner, Jennifer, gave me a tour of her hoop houses and her barn which housed the goats, chickens and turkeys (they all roam free in pasture too). She cares for her animals. One of the little goats even had his own little goat sweater because he wasn't always allowed to "snuggle" to keep warm with the rest of the herd. These are meat goats but they are treated well and cared for. They aren't just products or goods. They are living creatures that deserve to be raised with love and care. I love that this is what small farms all around are proving can be done.
I can't wait for the next growing season to visit the farm stand again and also to start my own little backyard garden. I'm also excited to hear what the Zilkes have in store for us next year. Tom hinted towards some new CSA options that may be available next spring. I'm looking forward to the news! I get so much satisfaction from knowing where my food is from. From actually getting my hands in the dirt and harvesting my veggies. From meeting my farmers and picking my food fresh from the field. From building local relationships. It makes me happy to know I can feed fresh, nutritious food to my family. Food that is cared for by loving hands that take great care of their living creatures and land.
Do you visit a local farmer's market? Have you ever subscribed to a CSA? What would you like to thank your local farmer for?
Local (Washtenaw County) farms:
Zilke Vegetable Farm
Find local food:
Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
If you're a breastfeeding mom chances are you've worried at one point or another that you may not make enough milk to adequately feed your baby. Maybe you're back to work full time and you must pump to save milk for your baby while you're away. Whatever the reason you are looking to increase your milk supply here are a few things that may help:
This pancake recipe by Nurture Normally is a great basic recipe to start with. I like the idea of making pancakes better than cookies (which seem to be most prevalent) because they are lower in sugar and fat and they are very versatile. The author gives you ideas to alter the recipe to fit your dietary needs and preferences also. When I whip up pancakes at home I make a large batch (like this recipe) and be sure they are toaster sized. I freeze the pancakes in freezer ziploc bags and to reheat I let the pancakes sit out for about 5 minutes at room temperature to thaw and then I pop them in the toaster. You can top your pancakes with applesauce, fresh fruit, syrup or even spread them with peanut butter or other nut butters.
If you're talented in the kitchen or even have some basic baking knowledge it's easy to add some lactogenic foods to some of your favorite, go-to recipes. Find a recipe for oatmeal bread, oatmeal muffins, oatmeal cookies etc. and add 2 tablespoons each of flaxseed meal and brewer's yeast to the your dry ingredients before mixing wet and dry ingredients together.
For more information you can check out Kelly Mom.com which is a great resource itself. She has compiled a list of where you can find help too. If you live locally The Breastfeeding Center of Ann Arbor is a good resource too. It's important to get help early if you think you actually have low milk supply or other breastfeeding/lactation problems.
What is your favorite lactation support recipe? Please share!
Tried several diets and none work? Sick of eating “diet” food? No worries. “Diets” don’t work for most people anyway. The best way to a healthy body is to make small changes that you can turn into new good habits. By eating fresh fruits and vegetables regularly you’re off to a good start. Here are a few ideas you might be interested in making into your new healthy habits:
· Drop out of the “clean plate club”. Stop eating when you no longer feel hungry. That’s right. You are better off being finished with your meal before you actually feel full. You’ll eating more than your body needs and feel better too.
· Stick to high-quality H2O for your hydration needs. Liquid "food" doesn’t help you feel satiated. Besides, wouldn’t you rather eat your calories instead of drink them anyway? Avoid nutrient-void beverages such as soda or pop, fruit flavored drinks, and Kool-aid. If you must drink sweetened or flavored beverages stick with 100% fruit juice, not from concentrate, or a glass of wine (that’s one glass not several).
· Enjoy fruits and vegetables at EVERY meal. The fiber and fluid in fresh produce will help you stay full and hydrated on hot summer days without making you feel weighed down. Fruits and vegetables are chock full of important things like vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that help prevent disease and keeps us healthy. Fruits and veggies are also naturally low in calories so you can enjoy them in larger quantities with less guilt.
Procrastination got the best of me again but hey, I'm here now. I'm still working on my goals for the year as far as making lasting changes. Here is what I've done so far in 2012:
Pilates is still going well. I enjoy it and I feel so good after class. My instructors are so knowledgeable and friendly. The Movement Center in Ann Arbor is a great place if you're looking for a good pilates instructor or class.
My homemade cleaning products are proving to work well. Only problem is that the spray bottles I bought from Home Depot keep breaking. I don't know if it's the mixture making them clog or if they are just real cheap.
Nathan is keeping me busy. It's the best kind of busy though! What a fun little dude he is. Life is NEVER boring.
What are you doing to make lasting, productive changes in your life?
OK. So it isn't still February but I did fulfill my goal for the month. I started buying my spices, flour, sugar and dry beans in bulk. I take my own containers and weigh them before I put the item in them at the store. Buying these staple ingredients in bulk really saves a lot of money. I'm also not throwing away packaging when I get home so I'm feeling better wasting less.
Locally (Washtenaw County, MI) you can buy many items in bulk at: Whole Foods, The Peoples Co-op, The Ypsilanti Food Co-op, and By The Pound. I'm sure there are more. If you know of other places, please comment and let me know!
Baby update: Baby Nathan is getting so big. It's so fun to be a (mostly) stay-at-home mom. In less than 2 months he will be 6 months old and we'll get to start solid foods, purees that is. I'm looking forward to cooking for him. He smiles all the time and makes life so much fun and exciting.
Seems to be that my last blog post was last May. Life is certainly different for me now. My personal recipe has changed (although I have not applied the updates to my blog). I'm a new mom now. Our first baby was born November 10th. He's a wonderful baby and we're really enjoying him. Soon I will be adding "mom" to my list of ingredients (once I make my website updates that is).
For the last several months I set some of my work aside and focused on only a few jobs at hand and on preparing for baby. Now that I have found more of a routine and have adapted to my new lifestyle I'm ready to get back to Savor Life Nutrition and to furthering my education and professional life. I've decided since it's January (which means it's still the new year and I haven't made any New Year's Resolutions, which I never make normally), that I will make some goals for this year.
Last year I told myself I wanted to visit a working hoop house - in Michigan - in the winter. Well, I did it. More on that in another post soon. So... January is covered as far as meeting my goals goes which is good because it's almost February ALREADY. Here is a list of a few things that I might make into my 2012 goals (nothing set in stone here):
Happy Eating! Healthy Living!
I love making my own salad dressing for several reasons. I like to have control of what ingredients are in my food so I tend to buy single ingredient foods/products so I can make my own recipes and meals. I also like variety. If I had all the variety in salad dressings that I wanted, my refrigerator door would be nothing but salad dressings. That's just not gonna work. So, I keep a variety of oils, vinegars, herbs and spices on hand along with my favorite dijon mustard which is great in dressings. With a decent variety of these main ingredients the possibilities are almost endless. Below I've provided a list of must-have-at-all-times ingredients and one of my favorite summer salad dressing recipes.
variety of vinegars (balsamic, rice, flavored, wine, etc.)
variety of sweeteners (sugar, honey, maple syrup, jams, etc.)
variety of oils (walnut, almond, olive, canola, sesame, etc.)
fresh onion (I prefer sweet for using raw)
cupboard full of herbs and spices
fresh ground black pepper
glass jars (reused jam jars are great) to shake and store dressings in
Tart Cherry Vinaigrette
Recipe by Courtney Stinson
1 tablespoons red tart cherry juice concentrate
1 tablespoon fig infused white balsamic vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons honey
6 tablespoons almond oil
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons minced sweet onion
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of ground black pepper
Pinch of salt
Slivered roasted almonds
Did you know what you choose to eat also impacts our environment? It's true. Many people aren't aware of the cost and the resources that go into growing, harvesting, transporting and packaging their food. Think about this next time you buy groceries: what you put in your cart goes in your house and what goes in your house goes in your mouth. Eating fresh foods is good for your planet and your body.
A good place to start is the produce aisle or even better your local farmers market. Fill your shopping cart (or shopping bag) with fruits and vegetables of all different colors. By eating foods of different colors you are getting a variety of important nutrients that your body needs to fight disease and keep you healthy.
Try to avoid most packaged foods. Most packaged foods that come with health claims and pretty, shiny wrappers are not good for our bodies and they have more of a negative impact on our environment because it takes more energy and resources to process and package items than it does to sell the whole food without processing it.
So vote with your dollar for a healthier planet and by doing so you'll enjoy the added health benefits of these fresh, nutritious foods. If you are already making most of your meals rich in produce you can focus on making more of your purchases include local and organic foods.
If you want to learn more the book by Mark Bitman called Food Matters is a great place to start.
While thinking about what to cook for dinner tonight a thought came into my head. Why are so many people afraid of cooking. Is it fear that your special creation won't turn out right? Is it that you just don't like cooking? Are you afraid to really mess up the recipe you're following? What is it that makes so many people reach for pre-made foods or packaged dinners?
Since I've been an adult cooking for myself I find that the more I cook, the more I know about food and the more I enjoy it. The discovery of new food combinations is very exciting to me. There is also something very therapeutic about chopping fruits and vegetables and baking bread or other goodies.
Consider mastering these 3 basic skills to make cooking easier, faster and more fun:
After mastering these 3 basic skills I hope you will find some joy in cooking. I can assure you that your homemade pasta dish will taste better than a package of lipton noodles and your fruit salad will taste better than any canned fruit cocktail.
Happy Cooking! What are your hurdles to cooking a good, healthy meal from scratch?
These peppers are stuffed with ingredients that are typically found on a pizza and mixed with quinoa for a great nutritious meal that everyone will love!
4 large bell peppers
1 cup quiona
1 1/2 cup water or broth
1 can pizza sauce (approx. 14 oz. can)
1 small cooking onion
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (canned or fresh)
4 basil pesto or italian style chicken sausages, (pre-cooked), diced
2 cups shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese
1. saute onion and mushrooms in saucepan until onion is cooked through
2. add quinoa, water or broth, pizza sauce and bring to boil
3. cover and simmer 10-15 minutes until quinoa is cooked through
4. while quinoa is cooking, slice through top of peppers to make a lid then scoop out ribs and insides of peppers and discard, put tops aside
5. place peppers in a square baking dish
6. once quinoa is cooked add sausage and cheese, stir mixture together
7. fill peppers with quinoa mixture and put tops back on peppers
8. cover and bake at 375 degrees F until peppers are cooked through (about 30-45 minutes)
Taking a healthy lunch to work is one of the simplest ways to get the recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein during the day. Most meals packed at home are healthier than foods at restaurants. When we eat out, we're often faced with large portions and fattening foods, but when you pack lunch at home, you can control your portions and choose healthier ingredients.
To start, make sure your lunch is balanced. Lunches that include some lean or low-fat protein along with carbohydrates will keep your body fueled for the afternoon and stave off hunger. The combination of protein and fiber from whole grains, beans, nuts, vegetables and fruit will give you the most satisfying and nutritious combination of foods that will keep you feeling full until dinner. However, be aware of cues your body sends to warn you of being full. This will prevent overeating and the mid afternoon slump that follows.
Use a variety of whole-grain breads, pitas, and wraps for your sandwiches. Choose lean fillings like sliced eggs, tuna fish, reduced-fat cheeses or lean meats. Then fill your sandwich with assorted greens, fresh herbs, sprouts, sliced cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes.
Leftovers are great to pack and take for lunch because you can control the portions and calories in the meal to ensure it will be nutritious, filling and delicious. Try cooking in bulk. On the weekend, make a large pot of chili, soup, or rice and beans and freeze into individual portions that are ready to take to work in a flash.
10 Easy Lunch Ideas Planning ahead is a must for quick lunch assembly. A week of planned meals with all the ingredients in the kitchen will make it easy to put together tomorrow's lunch after dinner.
This grocery list is a week's worth of lunches costing $5 or less a day (assuming you already have salad dressings on hand):
On occasion you’ll see posts here on Lettuce Live Well by Kate Sobbry. Kate earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Dietetics from Michigan State University and is currently completing her Masters Degree and supervised practice experience in dietetics at D’Youville College in Buffalo New York. She is an active member of the American Dietetics Association, the Western New York Dietetics Association and in her school dietetics program. Her intended area of practice in the dietetics profession is pediatrics with an interest in preventative health and weight management. Her goal is to provide families and children with the information, tools, and help necessary to make lifestyle changes that will have a positive impact on their health and life. Kate is passionate about nutrition and wellness especially when it comes to the health of our children. Please welcome Kate and leave her comments here if you like what she has to say.
1. Enjoy at least 30 minutes a day of aerobic activity. Try activities you enjoy. Here are a few examples:
17 days until Halloween, 6 weeks until Thanksgiving, and 2 1/2 months until Christmas and other winter holidays. What does this all add up to? Extra candy, sweet snacks, indulgent meals and tight belts! Then New Years Day comes and we make a resolution to lose weight this year including the extra holiday weight we just gained in the previous weeks. Have you ever kept your new year's resolution? I don't know anyone who has.
We think all these extra goodies make us feel good. They warm our hearts and make that sweet tooth oh so happy. It's fun to enjoy food with friends and family. But wouldn't it feel even better to start the new year knowing you did your best over the holiday season and that you didn't gain any weight? Or even better, noticing you've lost weight over the holiday season...now that would be amazing! Imagine how good it would feel stepping on the scale on New Year's Day and seeing a 3 pound weight loss. Looking back, do you think you would regret choosing to eat healthy instead of indulging in high calorie meals and sugary goodies if you had actually LOST WEIGHT over the holiday season? I highly doubt it. In fact, I DARE you to take the challenge!
Welcome to my blog: Lettuce Live Well. I hope to inspire you to live well, excite you about food and share interesting facts, ideas and any other sort of information I come across and decide to share with you. Please don't forget to also follow me on Twitter: LettuceLiveWell and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SavorLifeNutrition. Thank you for taking the time to read my postings and for taking the time to cruise around my site!