Maundy Agape Dinner

Maundy Agape Dinner

Nothing beats a church pot luck!  We joined a new church about 3 years ago and are clearly in our element.  My husband is on the bread guild, which bakes bread for Sunday services.  I am part of “Main Dish” and the “goodie guild” to provide meals and treats to the church community and for those less fortunate.

Every Holy week, we look forward to “Maundy Thursday”, or the Thursday prior to Easter. Maundy means Holy and is derived from the word “command”.  A theme of the service is the commandment, “love one another as I have loved you”.  It is always a great reminder that no matter our differences and insults we may have endured by each other, love prevails.

My church clearly loves me.  The Maundy dinner is more like a happy hour on steroids, minus the alcohol. Plates of olives, cheese, delightful salads, fruit, hummus, bread and other savories are served. We gather for faith, fellowship and food prior to a powerful service with deep rituals and thoughtful reflection.  It may be my favorite holy day in church.

No calorie counting allowed.  And that’s just fine by me.

 

Super Simple Salmon

Super Simple Salmon

In an effort to eat more salmon, I decided to take it to the grill. Salmon is a great source of omega-3-fatty acids, which are not only good for your heart, but also your noggin.  Eating just 2 servings of fish per week may ward off dementia.  Below is a great recipe to try this spring:

Ingredients:

1 ½ lb salmon fillets (about 4 pieces), skin still on

juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup olive oil

2 tsp. dill or tarragon

Directions:

  1. Whisk lemon juice and olive oil together.  Add dill or tarragon.
  2. Marinate fish in lemon juice mixture for ~15 minutes.
  3. Line your grill with foil before pre-heating.
  4. Spray foil with cooking spray
  5. Place salmon on grill, skin side down
  6. Grill for 5-7 minutes per side until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Makes 4 servingsPer serving: 228 calories, 17 grams fat, 17 grams protein, 38 mg cholesterol, 0 grams fiber, 330 mg sodium.

Chicken in a pita

Chicken in a pita

Now that spring has sprung, it’s time to fire up the grill. I like to cook a little extra chicken or fish to “recycle” into another recipe to save time during the week.  Below is a recipe I came up with using leftover chicken.

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked chicken cut into chunks
4 (6 inch) whole wheat pitas, cut in half
2 cups fresh spinach leaves or Romaine lettuce
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup kalamata olives pitted/sliced

Ingredients for tzatziki sauce:

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 chopped cucumber
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. salt (optional)

Directions for sauce:

Place yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, salt and oregano in a small bowl and mix well.  Add chopped cucumbers and blend together.

Directions for pita:

Place cooked chicken in a pita half.  Add ¼ cup spinach, 1 tsp. feta cheese and 1 tsp. chopped olives.  Add 1-2 Tbsp. tzatziki sauce to the pita and serve.

Makes 4 pita sandwiches (2 halves each).  Nutrition Facts per serving: 375 calories, 9 grams fat, 41.4 grams carbohydrate, 34 grams protein, 6 grams fiber, 65 mg cholesterol, 800 mg sodium

Dietitians get diabetes, too

Dietitians get diabetes, too

Sometimes, the universe is telling you something.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I’d asked Fox 19 if I could do a segment on minority health in April.  They replied, “how about something on diabetes prevention”?  Sure, I said.  Having 2 parents with diabetes and clients struggling with the disease, I know diabetes prevention pretty well.  What Fox 19 didn’t know, was that I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes 2 weeks earlier.  It was time to come out.

The crazy thing is that I’ve devoted my life to health promotion and disease prevention.  I keep my weight in check, eat green leafy veggies daily and walk 4 days a week.  But, to be honest, my diet wasn’t perfect. I’d grab a cookie now and then between or after meals or take my girls out to ice cream once or twice a month and not think twice about it.  I enjoy wine, beer and chocolate like everyone else.  To me, this is living!

I suppose my genes just caught up to me.  Since my diagnosis, I’ve reduced my sugar and alcohol intake and upped my exercise to 30-40 minutes daily.  I opted to start medication because I don’t want to end up with the complications my dad suffered- heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease and amputation.  Diabetes really took a toll on his health. My mother also has diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and dementia.  Many people don’t know that diabetes can also affect your brain.

Below are some tips of what to eat and what to avoid to prevent diabetes.  #moreplantslesscow

Bite this:

Whole grains (especially those with gluten).  Cereal fiber (bran flakes, shredded wheat) has been found to be protective in preventing diabetes.  Following gluten-free (without needing it) raises risk for diabetes.

Full fat dairy– studies show that people that consume full fat dairy products (yogurt in particular) have lower rates of diabetes.  Researchers believe in part that full fat dairy helps to control weight and low fat dairy products tend to be higher in sugar.

Beans- beans and legumes have a low glycemic index, meaning they don’t raise blood sugar as quickly as other starchy foods.  Beans are high in soluble fiber, which also helps to lower cholesterol. Aim for 3 servings a week.

Veggies- more and more research points to a plant-based diet in preventing diabetes.  Green leafy vegetable intake in particular (spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale) has been found to reduce risk.  Most vegetables are also naturally low in carbohydrates.

Calorie free drinks (seltzer)– these are all the rage as people are looking for “more natural” beverages.  They are a good substitute for soda as they’re fizzy, but do not contain artificial color or flavor.

Not that:

Red meat- increasing red meat intake by just ½ serving (1-2 oz) per day raises risk of diabetes by 48%.  Reducing intake of red meat lowers risk of diabetes by 14%.  Red meat includes beef, pork, goat, lamb.

Processed meat- research shows a 19% increased risk of diabetes with processed meat intake (sausage, ham, bacon, hot dogs, etc).

Gluten-free products- gluten free products tend to be lower in fiber, which may increase risk of diabetes.  If you don’t need a gluten-free diet, don’t follow one!  Only 1% of the US population has celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Soda and other sweetened drinks- the soda industry downplays the risks of regular soda consumption, but the reality is that soda and diabetes (as well as obesity) are very strongly linked. Drinking 1-2 cans of regular soda/day raises risk for diabetes by 26%.

Heavy desserts- doughnuts- high calorie/processed desserts high in sugar and fat raise the risk of weight gain, obesity and insulin resistance.   Doughnuts = crispy crime.  Eat now and then, but not daily.

Asian broccoli slaw

Asian broccoli slaw

I’m sure everyone has tried some version of this delicious slaw at a block party or potluck. Every time I have it, I think, “I have got to get that recipe!”.  One day, I decided to just wing it. This recipe is not only pretty to look at it (remember, you eat with your eyes first), it’s also seriously nutritious. Broccoli slaw is made from the woody stalks of broccoli, which are often discarded in favor of broccoli flowerets. Don’t toss them out! They’re an excellent source of vitamin C, folate, potassium and sulforaphane- a powerful phytochemical that helps prevent cancer. Red cabbage and shredded carrots add additional color and nutrients such as vitamin K and beta-carotene. #nutrigirlapproved

I typically keep minced ginger, garlic and sesame seed oil on hand, so I all really needed was the broccoli slaw, cilantro and almonds. This slaw can be made ahead of time or could also be used in a stir fry. If used in stir fry, add the sesame seed oil and cilantro last for flavor. Sesame seed oil has a very low smoke point and should not be used for frying. It will have a rancid, off-taste when heated.

Ingredients:
2 cups (1 container) broccoli slaw
Juice from 1 lemon (~2 Tbsp)
1 tsp. sesame seed oil
¼ cup canola oil
1 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. minced ginger paste
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup slivered almonds

Directions:
Place the broccoli slaw and slivered almonds in a medium sized bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together lemon juice, sesame seed oil, canola oil, garlic, soy sauce and ginger paste.
Add the dressing to the broccoli slaw and mix. Add the chopped cilantro at the end, save a few leaves for the top for garnish

Makes 6 servings: Nutrition information per serving: 144 calories, 13.9 grams fat, 2.6 grams protein, 3.8 grams carbohydrate, 1.8 grams fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 40 mg sodium.

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