Diet (nutrition)

Essential1: Heart Health

Why I Switched from Weight Watchers to Medifast
It was like I was finally in front of the door I had been waiting for for so long. I wish I'd followed my own advice. I wanted to create the same childhood memories I have for my children, and each year I get a bit more adventurous with my menu. How to toast nuts Arrange the nuts on a baking sheet, use a single layer with plenty of space between the nuts. Never Miss a Recipe!

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Feta cheese is a particular favorite since it's strong-flavored but has fewer calories than other cheeses. Do try to purchase it in bricks, not crumbles, it's fresher and still more flavorful. Be sure to save bits of Parmesan rind, too. Just toss them into a pot of soup to add richness and flavor.

Small four-ounce cans of green chiles are wonderful! I usually buy "mild" green chiles, they add a fresh, warm fresh green-chile flavor to dishes. Power up to the "hot" green chiles!

Green chiles are a key flavor profile in the distinctive cuisine of New Mexico , usually from New Mexico's Hatch chiles. Hatch chiles are very seasonal at best and hard to find at worst, my solution is these tiny cans of green chiles. Yes, I am smitten with green chiles! See also Salsa Verde. Chipotle [pronounced chee-POTE-lay] chiles are really just the familiar jalapeño chile, dried and smoked. Inside are 10 or 15 small peppers, each one packing some powerful heat, in an adobo [pronounced uh-DOH-BO] sauce made from ground chiles, herbs and vinegar.

For a southwestern or Mexican dimension to stews or salads, remove the seeds of one pepper, mash it and use about half. The contents, if transferred to a glass jar, will last for months in the fridge. Some times recipes call for the peppers themselves, some times just a smidgen of the adobo sauce, so it's good to keep the two things separate. But in recent years, I've taken to running the entire can through a mini food processor to make a chipotle chile adobo paste.

This is good stuff, inexpensive, refrigerator-stable, with huge flavor. And heat too, use just a tiny bit at a time! Cocoa powder is one of my favorite pantry ingredients because unlike chocolate chips and chocolate bars, there's no snacking on it during a hungry moment! When cocoa powder is called for in Kitchen Parade recipes, it is always the naturally unsweetened cocoa powder, never the sweet or Splenda-sweetened cocoa used for a commercial hot chocolate mix.

I'm especially fond of the Hersheys Special Dark which is a "Dutch processed" cocoa powder with deep color and an intense chocolate flavor. I generally keep both natural unsweetened cocoa powder and Dutch-processed unsweetened powder in the pantry because they are shelf stable and recipes often specify one or the other, due to different leavening requirements.

But one can be easily substituted for the other, just use these substitution guidelines:. To keep cilantro fresh, rinse it well, then stick the whole bunch, stems down, into a cup with about an inch of water and store in the refrigerator; if needed, freshen the water every couple of days. COFFEE For years, I made special trips to buy coffee beans, then every morning took the time to faithfully grind the beans to make the "best" coffee. It's become harder to find in the last couple of years but it worth seeking out.

I did too for a long while, then learned that the proper spelling and pronunciation is "espresso". I don't have an espresso maker but have great luck with instant espresso powder from Medaglia D'Oro. TEA Red Rose all the way, baby! This is the traditional Canadian tea and in honor of my Canadian mother, this is the only tea my family drinks.

Unfortunately it is not the "real" Red Rose which can only be found in Canada. The differences between cornmeal, grits, polenta and even masa can be confusing. The one thing that's certain, each one starts with corn. After that, differences emerge depending on how the corn is treated and how finely it's ground. This conversation at ChowHound is illuminating if not definitive.

Commercial producers of these products, especially the 'quick' or 'instant' versions, blur the differences. To experience what's special with each one, purchase them directly from the mills, I've had great luck with Anson Mills , War Eagle Mill , also with the Bob's Red Mill products available in good grocery stores. CORNMEAL is field corn that's been dried and ground and thus qualifies as a 'vegetable' especially if the more healthful full-kernel stone-ground cornmeal is used, either in a coarse or a fine grind.

That said, some recipes really need the finer texture of a degerminated yellow cornmeal so I keep both on hand. GRITS are a southern specialty and are usually the most coarsely ground. Polenta is usually the most finely ground cornmeal. All whole-corn stone-ground products should be kept in the freezer so that they don't go rancid.

If you really love corn bread, you'll not want to miss the cookbook called The Cornbread Gospels. I keep a collection of my own favorite cornbread recipes. Pronounced [koos-koos], couscous is made from semolina flour a wheat flour which makes it a culinary cousin to other semolina-based products such as macaroni, spaghetti and other pastas. For pasta, semolina is mixed with egg and water.

For couscous, semolina is mixed with just enough water to form tiny grain-shaped bits. Couscous is not a grain, although often treated like one. Yes, I have a "thing" for fresh cranberries! I just love their brilliant color, their sour burst of juice.

Better yet, for calorie watchers? Fresh cranberries are the better choice. Fresh cranberries are big, because they haven't been dried, so especially when they're chopped, they go further, more berry for the buck, so to speak. And fresh cranberries are unsweetened; did you know that dried cranberries aka "craisins" are nearly always heavily sweetened? Three kinds of cream cheese are easily found. The best-known is full-fat cream cheese, calories per ounce Weight Watchers 2 points.

My favorite — there's no telling the difference — is the reduced-fat cream cheese often called 'Neufchatel', 70 calories per ounce Weight Watchers 1 point.

Avoid using non-fat cream cheese, despite its 30 calories per ounce Weight Watchers 0 points , as it is gummy and watery. Dried beans are inexpensive but require time and a little know-how to soak and then cook.

Canned beans are relatively expensive compared to dried beans and convenient albeit, even to my salt-loving taste, oh-so-salty. Do know, you can wash awash much of the salt in canned beans by rinsing them before using them.

For different reasons, both are staples in my kitchen. Different kinds of beans and peas have different textures, that's why I go to considerable effort to specify which of my recipes call for specific beans.

For example, kidney beans are quite fibrous and hold up well in chilis and long-cooking soups. In contrast, white beans can be quite creamy and so are the usual choice when making appetizers and spreads.

And of course, chickpeas are the favorite choice for that kitchen staple we call hummus. In fact, do you know that the word "hummus" means "chickpea"? Dried currants and raisins are interchangeable. That said, I prefer currants because they are smaller and thus a smaller quantity distributes more easily and slightly less sweet. Curry paste is one of my very favorite pantry ingredients. It comes as 'green curry paste' and 'red curry paste'. I've not yet tried the red because even though a jar of curry paste is small, it's used a smidgin at a time.

It keeps-keeps-keeps and is one of the best small investments a cook can make. Here are a few recipes that also use Thai curry paste:. Farro is a natural grain that once cooked, is nutty in flavor and slightly chewy in texture. It is also called 'emmer wheat' and is much-appreciated in Italian cuisine. I use the 'pearled' or 'semi-pearled' farro where some of the husk is removed so it cooks more quickly.

Farro can be hard to find in a store but can be purchased on Amazon. Always fluff flour before measuring it. You see, when flour sits, it settles. As you stir the flour for just a few seconds, you'll add air and actually feel it lighten. The result is that all your baked goods will turn out noticeably lighter -- pancakes, muffins, cakes and cookies. I keep a spoon right in the flour canister, so I never forget and rarely, rarely get out the flour sifter, which performs much the same function.

It's a miracle tip! Try it yourself, then pass it on to a friend! Or maybe not, but at least in my experience growing up, there were two kinds of flour, "all purpose" and "bread". As I make the switch from bleached flour to unbleached flour, my baked goods just don't taste the same, they're drier and tougher and the baker, well, she's plenty frustrated.

I haven't yet figured out how to make the transition more easily. So I'm beginning to record what flours I'm using and for best results, will recommend use of the same flour. Here's a photo of the brand of chopped garlic I use. Goat cheese has a lovely piquancy. It can be expensive so for every day, I use big logs of less-expensive goat cheese from Sam's Club or Trader Joe's -- or for a quick substitute, use cream cheese.

I love to keep graham cracker crumbs on hand, one of the very few convenience foods that I rely on. The less obvious reason? If a box of graham crackers were on hand, it would tempt and tantalize me.

Some night, I'd have a snack attack and eat a whole package. A box of crumbs? It's just a box of crumbs. Lately, Trader Joe's Old-Fashioned Cinnamon Grahams have become my graham-cracker of choice for a thick, sturdy graham cracker crust. The trick, I've learned, to cooking green beans is to make sure they'e cooked in a lot of water with plenty of salt.

Per pound of green beans, use two quarts of water and one tablespoon of table salt. It makes a world of difference! Watch for flat 'Romano beans' at the farmers market — they're especially tender and delicious! First introduced by native Americans to early American settlers, hominy [HOM-eh-nee] is popcorn-shaped kernels of dried corn, with the hull and the germ removed.

It is dense, chewy and nutty. Look for it in the Mexican section of grocery stores in cans like black beans or pinto beans. While I will always encourage home cooks to Never Buy Salad Dressing Again , at the same time, a bottle of Italian salad dressing can be helpful to have around. I nearly always use the non-fat house brand, it works like a charm.

These knobby creatures are also called 'sunchokes'. See a photo here. Believe it or not, ketchup is a quick and inexpensive way to add instant flavor to a dish. Check the label, however, for many favorite ketchups include high-fructose corn syrup. The kohlrabi bulb tastes like a mild, sweet turnip or broccoli stalks. Leafy greens those are the greens like kale, mustard greens, beet greens, spinach, collard greens, turnips greens along with the leafy lettuces such as red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce are some of the most healthful foods and most of us, me included, don't eat enough of them.

Leafy greens should be washed well before cooking or eating. Rinse the leaves under running water, wiping the leaves with your fingers; or let the greens soak for a few minutes in cool water, then 'swoosh' around and rinse thoroughly.

To know if the greens are free of grit, eat a leaf! My pantry is rarely without at least one of two kinds of lentils. Both are prized for hearty flavor and for holding their shape after cooking, especially compared to brown lentils or red lentils. They do take slightly longer to cook. I'm told that the dried lentils will return to the shelves but in the mean time, Trader Joe's does sell bags of pre-cooked black lentils although for a much higher price. They're also available here on Amazon.

They're also for sale on Amazon. I once pooh-poohed them but then realized the flavor and texture are much the same, only the color varies. Red Lentils — Red lentils look so pretty in the package but cook down to a pale and lentil-y mush that can really work in a recipe so long as you know what to expect! It's the maple syrup I always seek out. I am a Hellman's gal, Hellman's Light Mayonnaise, that is.

To my taste, the Light Mayonnaise tastes just as good, if not better, than the full-fat mayonnaise — all for half the fat and half the calories. For salads, I often thin the mayonnaise with buttermilk for a still lighter and tangier texture and taste. Hellman's goes by the name Best Foods west of the Rocky Mountains.

For a vegan mayonnaise, I make Almonnaise that's based on whole almonds. The thick skin of a melon, especially the rough skin of a cantaloupe, can harbor bacteria and other unsavory stuff. Please - do wash the exterior of a melon before cutting into it, so that the knife doesn't transfer it from the skin to the flesh. At least in the United States, which naturally I know best, MILK comes in several ways , skim milk having the least fat, cream having the most.

I drink skim milk every day but keep both whole milk and cream on hand nearly all the time for coffee and cooking. It pays to try milks from different producers. I love the milk from Farmers' Creamery so much, even the skim milk, that some times I drink it from a wine glass!

I credit the grass-fed cows. I love this for my morning coffee and for stirring into a milk-based soup, say. But I've learned the hard way that it has no thickening properties so can't be used for custard or ice cream, say. CREAM is heavy cream, the cream used for making homemade whipping cream. It's the "key" tee hee ingredient in Key Lime Pie. I love the distinctive flavor of molasses, dusky and dark, sweet and sour at the same time.

I'm also a fan of "blackstrap" molasses from the third boiling even though many find blackstrap molasses too bitter. Watch too for "unsulphured molasses" which has a purer, more refined sugar-cane flavor but can be harder to find. Yes, especially if they're going to be cooked, but do trim off the rough edges first. For raw mushrooms for salads, say, brush off the dirt with a small brush. Cut mushrooms in large pieces or leave whole or separate the caps and then slice the stems to avoid a 'canned mushroom soup' character.

There's one trick for stuffed mushrooms, cook them first. Kitchen Parade recipes often are no more specific than 'good mustard' -- which is to say, anything except yellow 'ballpark' mustard. The safe bet is Dijon mustard, a pantry staple. But feel free to explore the many, many mustards available now, especially the mustards from other countries, some times sold in tubes like toothpaste!

Many mustard packages bear a date -- purchase the freshest mustard possible, it loses strength sitting on the shelf. My refrigerator is rarely without a jar of Homemade Finnish Mustard , it keeps for weeks. How to store nuts Nuts can be more expensive than meat, we don't want them to go to waste! To keep nuts fresh, store them in the freezer, just 'double-bag' to avoid freezer burn. For baking, heighten the natural nut flavor by toasting the nuts beforehand.

How to toast nuts Arrange the nuts on a baking sheet, use a single layer with plenty of space between the nuts. Roast in the oven at F or F until the nuts begin to turn gold in color, stirring every 5 minutes, watching very carefully at the end.

I often start toasting nuts while the oven is preheating, it works great. Nut substitutes Nuts are often interchangeable so don't hesitate to substitute one for another. Old pecan trees still grow wild along the riverbanks in Missouri. The smaller, sweeter pecans are painstakingly harvested by hand. Read more here in the recipe for Buttered Pecan Ice Cream. Believe it or not, I buy large bags of black walnuts Missouri native walnuts, no less at Sam's Club in St.

Keep them in the freezer for lasting freshness. Kitchen Parade recipes call for the least-processed forms of oats, either steel-cut oats or what the Quaker people call "old-fashioned" oats. So-called "quick oats" may be substituted with good results but "instant oats" or any of the sweetened breakfast oat packets should not be used.

For a description of all the types of oats old-fashioned oats, steel-cut oats, etc. Store green onions in the refrigerator, all others in a cool dark place. Onions can be purchased less expensively in three-pound bags and since onions last for several weeks, this can be a real bargain.

Wash onions before slicing into them, preventing any dirt or contamination on the outside being transferred to the cutting board and to the interior of the onion. Discard or compost the root end and the leaf end, but otherwise throw the skins into a freezer bag and keep in the freezer to add to chicken stock, vegetable stock, etc.

They're typically left raw but can be quite delicious when softly cooked in butter or olive oil, as in Asparagus with Green Onion Sauce or used to add flavor to a cooking liquid as in Asparagus Scallion Salad. Yellow onions brown better so are an especially good choice when you want to caramelize onions. I've learned recently that the yellow-skinned onions are also called 'Spanish onions'. Choose white onions when you'd like onion flavor to stand out. They also have less juice so are a good choice for anyone whose eyes water when cutting onions.

Many Mexican recipes call for white onion. Unfortunately, some grocery stores label sweet onions as 'yellow onions' so be sure to watch the little stickers on the onions themselves.

Interestingly, sweet onions start off from the same plant but the soil and the climate are so different, they end up tasting much different. Sweet onions have a shorter shelf life than yellow, red or white onions. They keep a long time so are especially useful to keep on hand. Frozen orange juice concentrate is my favorite way to create intense, undiluted orange flavor. I keep a small container in the freezer nearly all the time, scooping out a spoon or two as needed.

Panko pronounced pawn-ko is a Japanese bread crumb, light and coarse and crunchy and best of all, shelf stable. I used it for crumb toppings for both sweet and savory dishes. Check out an Asian market, panko is sold in bags or boxes.

Increasingly, you can find panko at a regular grocery store but for 3x the price. If you can't find panko nearby, it's available on Amazon. Heart Health What is Essential1: If you have a fish allergy, or are pregnant, nursing, taking medications, or planning any medical procedures, consult your physician before use.

Discontinue use and consult your physician if any adverse reactions occur. It's not designed specifically for that, but healthier hair can be a benefit because it contains flaxseed oil.

You should take Super Omegas-3 for your general wellness. No, you should take Essential1: Heart Health in addition to your Healthy Fat serving s. Heart Health does not contain enough fat to count as a fat serving. Heart Health is composed mainly of fish oil - 1, milligrams - with a touch of organic flaxseed oil 50 milligrams.

No, there is not enough fat in a Essential1: Heart Health serving to prevent gallstones. Yes, we recommend this when you're in the weight maintenance phase. You do not need a multivitamin during the weight-loss phase unless instructed otherwise by your physician. Heart Health can be taken during all phases of the Medifast Plan - weight-loss, transition, or maintenance. No, the range between RDA and upper tolerance limit is huge. Vitamin E is an antioxidant with a tolerable upper limit for adults of 1, milligrams.

Medifast Meals contain an average of 60 IU Heart Health as directed, you're not getting near the upper limit. Heart Health is safe? Heart Health is third-party tested to guarantee both its purity and that the product really contains what the label states.

The vitamin E in the product is from a soybean oil base. Most people with soy allergies are allergic to soy protein, which should be removed from soybean oil.

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