Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sustainable seafood - download this helplful guide

Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood WATCH

I know... it's tough to remember which fish are OK to eat but luckily the Monterey Bay Aquarium helps us by providing the Seafood WATCH guide which you can download from their web site.

Print out this small pocket guide and keep in your wallet so next time you're out shopping for seafood or ordering at a restaurant you'll have at your fingertips a guide to help you make the right decisions.

There are actually several different guides so you can choose the one most appropriate for your region and also a sushi guide. If you have an iPhone there is a free app you can download. Actually the guides are available at my husband's company's cafeteria - I grabbed a few and distributed them to my friends to help spread the awareness on how to consume seafood that helps protect are waters and environment.

To learn about the issues about our ocean and the wildlife the Seafood WATCH Ocean Issues page is a great place to start getting educated. Here's the overview from the web page:

Ocean fish are wildlife—the last such creatures that we hunt on a large scale. And while the sheer size of the oceans is awesome, there are many signs that we have found their limits. Despite our best efforts, the global catch of wild fish leveled off over 20 years ago and 70 percent of the world's fisheries are being harvested at capacity or are in decline.

Yet there are fisheries being run in a sustainable way. We now need to improve the practices of the remaining fisheries and solve the most pressing issues, including overfishing, illegal and unregulated fishing, habitat damage, bycatch (accidentally catching unwanted species) and poor management.

Monterey Bay Aquarium has done a fabulous job on their Seafood WATCH web pages.There's a plethora of great information to educate us not just about sustainable seafood but also which are healthy for you as well.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Getting more greens into your diet

Collard greens leftovers
Originally uploaded by love_yellow

It's January, new year, so like many others, I'm much more conscious about my diet. About 5 years ago I did really well with a detox eating program for 28 days in January with the aid of a nutritionist, but I've never been able to do it on my own. It was a great experience and I learned a lot about what foods work well with my body type and also which foods are good for detoxifying.

I know that those extreme detoxification diets are not proven to help the body necessarily - and that's not the kind of program I did. The program didn't limit the amount of food that you can eat, as long as you didn't eat the foods that were on the banned list. For example foods that are known to be common allergens (like oranges, peanuts) and foods that don't digest easily, (like animal meat and dairy products). And ideally all the food eaten is raw, fresh and organic (free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers).

Trader Joe's Southern  Greens Blend
Green vegetables are one of the best foods to help in detoxification and an easy shortcut is to buy a big bag of collard greens, such as Trader Joe's Southern  Greens Blend and cook it for just 10 minutes. It's hard for me to eat a large amount of greens raw so I figure eating it cooked is better than not eating it at all. So salads for lunch and warm cooked greens for dinner is great, especially in the winter. When I look at this 1 pound bag it looks like it's enough for 10 servings but this is actually 4 servings. My husband and I each ate 1 serving the first dinner and finish it the next evening.

I'm kind of a lazy cook - I'm all about quick and easy. I want to eat healthy and high quality food, and I don't have much patience to follow recipes, especially if they are elaborate or have more than 5 ingredients. So I find simple ways to prepare high quality food at home. It's not organic (not ideal) but it's already washed and cut so it's a trade-off I consciously made.

Here's how I prepare it
- Mix some vegetable broth in about a 1/2 - 3/4 cup of hot water and pour it into a large pot. Bring it to a boil.

- Throw in the greens in, cover the pot.

- Once the liquid starts to boil, turn down the heat to medium

-  Let the boiling broth and steam cook down the greens. Stir every few minutes so the vegetables cook evenly. Takes about 10 minutes.

- Remove from the heat and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil just before serving. EVOO is good for you so if you're not too worried about calories and need a little more flavor to get the greens down, then by all means, drizzle on as much as you need. Also a little bit of lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper is nice.

- You can add a little salt to taste, but remember that your vegetable broth has some sodium, so taste it first because it may be salty enough for you.

If you have a little more time and want to experiment with other flavors then try putting different seasonings in the broth.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

TJ's Tomato & Basil Hummus

In last week's Picky Eater column in the Food section of the San Jose Mercury News the columnist, Jolene Thym, reviewed hummus.

Hummus is a staple in my house and my personal favorites are 2 from Trader Joe's: the plain organic and the tomato & basil hummus.

It's pretty easy to make but since my food processor broke last year, I haven't made it at home. I still have my "mini prep" food processor but I'm going to experiment with my blender to see if that works for larger batches.

I enjoyed reading her reviews about 3 different hummus makers and pretty much agree with her.

Jolene writes... 
"Here's what you need to know about hummus, and what your options are, should you opt not to make it yourself. First off, know that all good, authentic hummus has a small dose of fat, because of the crucial addition of tahini, a sesame-seed paste. The other primary ingredients are, of course, garbanzo beans, garlic and lemon — all good, and all good for you"

"Hummus isn't just a dip. The ultra-healthy spread is a utility player in the kitchen. It's a great substitute for mayo on a sandwich, a perfect pizza-topper and delicious as a topping for microwaved potatoes. Add a dollop to a bowl of soup, or stir it in to add body and nutritional substance. And for those looking for a quick, light appetizer for a holiday party, serve hummus with crackers, vegetables, prawns or even sliced fruit. It's fast food for healthy eaters."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

I hope your year is off to a good start!

Other than the extra weight I picked up during the holiday eat fests, I would say mine is off to a pretty good start. I cleaned cleaned my refrigerator which always makes me feel a little more organized. And organization is the key (for me anyway) to planning good and healthy meals. It's a psychological thing... a clean fridge, uncluttered, freed of old/expired condiments, jams, etc. feels like a fresh start.

Do you have any resolutions for 2010?
I don't usually make resolutions, or at least I haven't in the last few years because they're always the same... eat better, exercise more... it's just something I strive to do anyway regardless of whether there's a new year. So this year I decided to make some resolutions the change a few habits and the main one being...

Brush my teeth and wash my face by 9pm (or whenever I get home if it's later than that).
I'm hoping this will prevent me from eating past 9. Eating late at night is a recipe for weight gain. Sometimes I don't get home from the gym until after 9 so I will have to plan to eat dinner at the appropriate time. I sometimes have leftovers from lunch and it at my desk at work around 5pm or so if I have to work late.

Really this resolution is about planning my eating so I can take in the adequate amount of energy at the right time to support my activities throughout the day, especially from 3pm on. It can get so busy and if I haven't planned my meals accordingly, a late day at the office can throw off everything. Not having an appropriate snack or meal can either lead me to eat something unhealthy or cause me to be so famished that I have to skip my workout. That whole cycle is stressful and drains a lot of energy from my body.

And if I wash my face earlier, I won't tend to dilly-dally and stay up late doing non-important things. I'm hoping it'll help me to go to bed earlier so I can get more sleep and awaken more energized the next day.

Another resolution is about my biggest weakness... my sweet tooth.

No sugar after 9pm.
Yes... I am a chocoholic and I need help. I'm hoping that by writing it down and posting it to the public that I will not consume any chocolate this year after 9pm. It's calorie dense - sugar and fat - exactly what I don't need late at night while my body is trying to wind down. I'm sure the caffeine content in the dark chocolate I eat must also negatively affect the quality of my sleep. Luckily I can bypass other sweets pretty easily - I'm not a fan of sugary candies that don't have any chocolate, so they don't pose a threat. Actually, they don't even make it to my house unless it's a gift. But I think I'll allow myself a small piece of not-to-sweet fruit if I feel I need a little extra something, as long as it's not chocolate or any kind of dessert (ice cream, cookies, cake).

What are your resolutions for 2010?