As a busy professional, it is tempting to hit the drive through on those days when you may be in your car more than at your desk. But think about what you’re eating-lots of salt, fat, refined flour and calories. For most people, it may be too salty, too greasy or too stale to enjoy. And when you think about it, eating fast food daily could put a dent in your wallet.
However, like everyone’s busy schedule, you may find yourself having to either miss lunch, or eat it in your car. Though I don’t typically advocate eating and driving, I realize it’s a reality for many people. If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, here are a few quick “meals” you can make ahead and eat on the road.
- Turkey and cheese roll up. Take 2 slices of lean deli turkey and place it on a small, fajita sized whole wheat tortilla. Spread a thin layer of horseradish sauce over the turkey. Sprinkle shredded, 2% milk cheddar cheese on this layer. Roll up and pack in a bag. Pack 10-15 baby carrots and ½ cup green grapes in a bag to go with it. And don’t forget a bottle of water!
- Peanut butter on whole wheat. Spread 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter on whole wheat bread and top the peanut butter with another slice of bread. Enjoy an apple and some celery sticks on the side.
- String cheese and Triscuits. Just like it says- pack 2 low fat Mozzarella string cheese sticks and 12 Triscuits in a bag. Pack 1 cup of baby carrots and cleaned/dried blueberries to pop in your mouth at the red light.
- Hummus & veggies in a pita. Pack ½ of a whole wheat pita with 2 Tbsp. of your favorite hummus. Add a chopped cucumber and spinach leaves between to the pocket. Pack 10-15 grape tomatoes to go with it and a bottle of water.
- Nutty trail mix. Mix ¾ cup Cheerios, ¼ cup almonds, ¼ cup walnuts, ¼ cup sunflower seeds and ¼ cup raisins or dried cranberries in a bag or reusable plastic container. Grab a 4-6 oz. Greek yogurt and a spoon and run for your car!
HTN (high blood pressure) affects 29% of US Adults, which is 1 in 3 people. Having high blood pressure greatly increases the risk of developing heart disease or strokes. High BP is genetic, but there are several dietary changes that can lower it.
- Fruits & veggies. September is fruits & veggies- more matters month. People with HTN should aim for 4 servings of fruit and 4 or more servings of veggies/day. Dark green vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli are good sources of potassium as are dark orange fruits and vegetables like citrus (oranges/grapefruit), peaches, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and squash. Kiwi, bananas and tomatoes are also high in potassium.
- High calcium foods, like dairy products. Dairy is not just for strong bones and teeth. Studies show that people who have higher calcium intakes, have lower blood pressure. Choose low sodium string cheese, low fat yogurt, skim or 1% milk. Two servings/day are advised. 5% or less sodium is advised on cheese (read labels)
- Nuts, seeds and legumes. These foods are high in magnesium, potassium and fiber, all of which are heart-healthy. Aim for 4-5 servings/week (small handful, ¼ cup is a serving for nuts, ½ cup for beans or peas).
- Whole grains. Whole grains like steel cut oats, bulgur, 100% whole wheat bread are high in magnesium and fiber, which have been shown to lower blood pressure. Aim for at least 3 servings/day.
- High sodium foods. Sorry bacon and hot dogs. Your high sodium, high fat content does not make the cut here. Sodium raises blood pressure. Even “healthy” lunch meat (like turkey breast) can be high in sodium.
- Excessive alcohol intake raises blood pressure. Moderation is 1 drink/day for women and 2 drinks/day for men. Too much can cause weight gain, fatty liver and increased risk for several cancers.
- Excess caffeine. Caffeine raises blood pressure temporarily, so don’t drink in excess. Both light and dark roasts contain about the same amount of caffeine. Arabica coffee, which is more expensive, will contain LESS caffeine. One cup/day provides 250-600 mg caffeine.
- High calorie/junk food: Excess calories lead to weight gain, which affects blood pressure. An analysis of controlled studies showed that an 11 lb. weight loss would lower blood pressure by 4.44 mm systolic and 3.57 mm diastolic. The top number refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries during contraction of your heart muscle (systolic pressure). The bottom number refers to your blood pressure when your heart muscle is between beats. (diastolic pressure).
Be kaleful! Kale is in season and it’s time to embrace the leafy green. This nutritional powerhouse is loaded with vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium and vitamin K, nutrients needed to fight cancer, high blood pressure and protect your immune system. Kale is often dismissed because of its rough texture. If you massage kale before using it, it softens the texture and sweetens the flavor a bit. In this recipe, I blended corn oil with a few other ingredients to create an Asian type dressing, then added quinoa, dates and pumpkin seeds for added texture, taste and fiber. This is a great recipe for picnic or potluck.
8 cups fresh kale, cleaned and ripped
2 Tbsp. corn oil
2 Tbsp. lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon)
1 Tbsp. honey
2 ½ tsp. sesame seed oil
2 tsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds
¼ cup chopped dates
1 cup quinoa, cooked
- Cook quinoa according to directions and set aside to cool.
- Place cleaned, ripped kale in a large bowl. “Massage” the kale for 3-5 minutes to soften it up. It will look shiny after a few minutes.
- In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together corn oil, lemon juice, honey and sesame seed oil.
- Add ginger and garlic to the dressing.
- Add cooked quinoa to the kale mixture and toss in pumpkin seeds, lemon zest and dates.
- Pour dressing over the salad and toss before serving. The salad may taste better the second or third day after the kale surrenders.
Makes 10 servings. Nutrition facts per serving: 125 calories, 5.9 grams fat, 3.7 grams protein, 16.5 grams carbohydrate, 2.5 grams fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 26 mg sodium
Salads need not be boring. Adding fruit, nuts, cheese and a protein source likes beans or grilled chicken not only improves the taste and texture of salad, but can also raise the nutrient content of your favorite greens. You can also add cooked/cooled grains to make your salad a complete meal. Mix and match the following ingredients in your next salad.
September is prostate cancer awareness month. What you eat can either protect you from the disease or promote it. Below are some foods to include and those to shy away from in preventing prostate cancer.