Nutrition 101: Pack the Perfect Picnic Basket
With summer upon us, weekends will fill up with picnics in the park, outdoor parties, and backyard BBQs. These are great social events for friends and family, but they can be not-so-great on your nutrition. Picnics and BBQs are known for their high-fat, high-calorie foods such as fried chicken, hot dogs, potato salad, and baked goods. With some simple substitutions and easy tips, summer outdoor eating can be part of a healthy and nutritious diet!
Did you know that summer is the height of fruit and vegetable season? So why not fill up on the abundance of fresh produce that is available! The majority of your picnic basket should be filled with rainbow-colored fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables are nutrient-rich and full of fiber, so they will fill you up and keep you full longer on your picnic. Fruits such as watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, mango and pineapple can easily be cut up and packaged into your basket or tossed into a fruit salad.
Crisp vegetables like cucumbers, celery, carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli can be eaten with low-fat dressing for dipping; just remember portion control on that dressing! Have a grill? Try throwing some summer vegetables like zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, onions, or mushrooms on to add some great flavor to your picnic.
Instead of the usual high-fat picnic entrées, try substituting leaner cuts of meats such as skinless chicken breasts, pork tenderloin, or even veggie burgers on the grill. These options are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and provide plenty of protein.
If a sandwich is a staple in your basket, make sure to choose low-fat luncheon meat options like turkey or chicken and layer with vegetables on whole wheat bread to make a quick and easy nutrient-dense entrée.
As for those ever tempting pasta and potato salads, there are healthy alternatives! If the salad is mayonnaise-based, try substituting a low-fat version to cut fat and calories. For the starchy salads, take away some of the pasta and replace it with extra vegetables for a colorful kick. Substituting white pasta with a whole grain variety in a salad dish is also a smart choice with the added fiber and nutrients.
It may seem like a picnic isn't complete without brownies or cookies, but think of the added fat and calories those treats have! Not to mention, the melted mess they would be at the bottom of your picnic basket. A dessert of mixed berries atop a small slice of angel food cake would be a nearly fat-free, low-calorie option.
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Myth vs. Fact
"I don't feel myself sweating while I swim so I don't need drink fluids during my workout."
Sweating is your body's means of cooling itself down during physical activity, and though it is not as obvious when you swim, you are still sweating. It is important to stay hydrated, especially if you are participating in any outdoor sport.
Drink 16-20 oz of fluid (about one bottle water or sports drink) 2-3 hours before you swim and keep a water bottle on the side of the pool so you can continue to drink throughout your workout. The key is staying hydrated while enjoying fun in the sun!
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The Executive Health Scoop
A simple annual physical? Not in the Executive Health Program at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth!
Don't take a vacation from your health this summer! Come visit the Executive Health Program for your comprehensive physical!
The Executive Health Program takes a comprehensive approach to your health. In Executive Health, we pride ourselves in giving individualized care to each patient who walks through our door. Two physicians on the medical staff at Texas Health Fort Worth, Dr. Robert Machos, Medical Director of the Program, and Dr. Carla Castaneda work with the program's registered dietitian to provide you with nutritional information and the education necessary to help you make lifestyle changes to improve your health.
If you have an immediate nutrition or exercise question please visit www.texashealth.org/askamy and our registered dietitian will get back with you.
For more information, please contact Clint Sanders at 817-250-3877.
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Experiencing Exercise Outdoors
As the sun begins to set later throughout the summer, there is more day light for us to enjoy the outdoors. There's no need to be cooped up inside a gym working out when you could be exercising outside and enjoying the beautiful weather!
With little to no equipment involved, no lines, and the beauty of the outdoors, exercising outside is a great option! Besides, it's free and everyone could use a little fresh air!
Here are some exercises that can be performed outside at a park or in your own backyard! As with any exercise, a good warm-up, stretch, and cool-down are essential. Please consult with your physician before beginning an exercise program.
- Push-ups: The good old fashioned push-up! In the plank position, with your arms about shoulder width apart, elbows bent at a 90 degree angle, raise yourself by pushing the ground away until your arms are straight. Lower yourself back to the plank position and repeat.
- Bar pull-ups: Use the monkey bars to hang on to as you pull your chest to the bar and repeat.
- Lunges: While keeping your upper body straight and shoulders back, step forward one stride, bending both knees to 90 degrees, making sure to keep your front knee in line with your ankle. Raise up, step forward with the opposite foot and repeat.
- Bench step-ups: Step up on to an elevated surface, like a park bench or piece of playground equipment, and step down, using your arms to propel you up and down as you repeat.
- Zigzag run: Run in a wooded area of the park, testing you ability to zig and zag in different directions as fast as you can.
- Lateral strides: Pick two trees or other markers about 30 feet apart and bound between the two markers by jumping sideways using long strides and lots of power.
- Uphill sprints: Run up a steep hill as fast as you can for 20-30 feet and then slowly walk back down the hill to repeat.
- Power jumps: Using a park bench or piece of playground equipment, jump on to the flat surface with both feet at the same time. Once you have landed, stand up and carefully step down and repeat.
When exercising outside, remember to wear light weight, loose-fitting clothing that wicks moisture in the summer heat. Speaking of heat, you will probably be sweating more outside, so always have a full water bottle close by to keep yourself well-hydrated. Sunscreen and a hat will protect you on a sunny day.
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The Protein Debate: Go Lean or Go Home!
High protein diets, low protein diets? Red meat is good for you; red meat is bad for you? The debates go on and on. In the past there have been conflicting views of protein in the diet.
Sometimes it is praised, other times it is criticized. However, research has shown that having one serving of high-quality protein, such as lean cuts of meat, poultry, and fish at each meal can have a variety of health benefits ranging from satiety to weight loss.
In order to receive the benefits of protein, the key is to choose high-quality, lean options and watch your portion size.
What is considered lean protein? Boneless, skinless chicken and turkey breast are the leanest cuts of poultry. Cod, tuna, and halibut are the leanest cuts of fish. But don't throw red meat out of the picture! A lean cut of red meat that is free of visible fat can be another great high-quality protein option. Bottom round roast, 95% lean ground beef, steak and eye round roast are some of the leanest cuts of beef.
Unlike poultry or fish, beef has a nutrient advantage. One serving of lean beef is packed with iron, vitamin B12, zinc and other nutrients! What is considered a serving of lean protein? One serving of meat or poultry is 3 oz which is about the size of your palm. A serving of fish is 6 ounces or the size of a checkbook.
Reminder! Lean protein doesn't have to be meat! Low-fat or skim milk, 2% cheese, low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese are also lean protein choices that are easy to incorporate into snacks. Peanut butter and nuts or seeds also provide some protein, but are classified as a fat. And don't forget beans! They are a great source of plant protein.
Including one serving of protein at each meal and snack throughout the day can have a positive effect on weight and fat loss.
Combining protein with carbohydrates and fat helps you feel full longer and thus can aid in portion control, as well. This benefit of satiety is because protein slows down digestion and helps to curb hunger so you don't overeat at the next meal. Research has found that people who consume a diet moderately high in protein, rather than a higher-carbohydrate diet, lose more fat mass during weight loss.
Leading an active lifestyle of exercising and including lean protein in your diet may help to maintain muscle mass and a healthy weight, provide energy, and improve overall health.
Try to get your 3-5 servings of lean protein throughout the day by incorporating these meal ideas into your diet!
- 1 whole wheat English muffin with 2 Tbs. peanut butter accompanied by 2 slices lean Canadian bacon
- Omelet with 1 egg & 3 egg whites, 1 oz 2% cheese, 1 oz chopped lean ham & veggies paired with 2 slices whole wheat toast with 100% all natural jelly
- 1 small banana and 1 Tbs. peanut butter
- 6 oz low-fat Greek yogurt, ¾ cup berries & 2 Tbs. nuts
- Taco salad with lettuce, tomato, ½ cup 95% lean ground beef, ¼ cup 2% shredded cheese and salsa with one serving multi-grain tortilla chips
- Whole wheat wrap with 3 oz turkey deli meat, 1 slice 2% cheese, ¼ cup avocado, lettuce & tomato
- 6 oz baked fish with 2 cups vegetables and 1 cup brown rice
- 3 oz lean top sirloin steak with 2 cups sautéed vegetables & 1 small sweet potato
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Healthy Bites Recipe of the Month
Pasta Side Salad Made-Over... A makeover on a classic summer side dish!
Side salads such as pasta salad, potato salad, and egg salad are always a staple at summer potlucks and BBQs. Did you know that those seemingly harmless side dishes can be high in fat and calories, especially the store bought kind?
Even a small portion can still have lots of fat, and who can really eat just one portion at a BBQ? Luckily, this recipe is a new twist on a side salad that is healthier and much more nutritious!
Let's break down the "Pasta Side Salad Made-Over" ingredients.
Instead of using full-fat mayonnaise and dressing, this recipe calls for light versions of these ingredients which will significantly cut fat and calories. Whole wheat pasta is a healthier choice than white pasta because it is a good source of fiber and other nutrients. Using 2% cheese also helps to decrease the fat content and is also a good source of calcium for bone health. The vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help your body ward off disease.
Even though this makeover on traditional pasta salad is delicious and nutritious, still remember to watch your portion sizes!
"Pasta Side Salad Made-Over" Recipe
- 1/2 cup MIRACLE WHIPTM Light Dressing
- 1/4 cup KRAFTTM Light Zesty Italian Dressing
- 1 cup (whole wheat) elbow macaroni, cooked, drained
- 1 cup KRAFTTM Natural 2% Milk Colby & Monterey Jack Cheese Crumbles
- 3/4 cup match like carrot sticks
- 1/2 cup frozen peas (thaw before mixing)
- 1/2 cup chopped red peppers
- MIX dressings in large bowl.
- ADD remaining ingredients; mix lightly. Cover.
- REFRIGERATE at least 30 minutes before serving.
- Makes 6 servings, 2/3 cup each
Nutrition Facts per Serving
Calories: 170, Carbohydrate: 19 gm, Fiber: 2 gm, Protein: 8 gm, Fat: 7 gm, Cholesterol: 15 mg
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Dietitian's Product Pick
Sweet Summer Treats
As the days get longer, do you find yourself searching for something sweet after dinner? Or do your kids or grandkids have a sweet tooth in the summer?
It's possible to satisfy that craving without feeling guilty about it! These desserts are low calorie alternatives that are full of flavor and nutrients and are great for adults and kids alike! Whip up one of these easy to make and light on the waistline desserts for the family on any summer night.
- Apple Cinnamon Delight
- Chop apple in cubes & cover in cinnamon. Heat in microwave 2 minutes or so. Cover with light vanilla yogurt, stir all together and top with 2-3 Tbs. whole grain cereal.
- Graham Cracker Sandwiches
- Take graham crackers and break in half. Mix Light Cool Whip and light yogurt (flavor of your choice) in a bowl. Put yogurt and cool whip mixture on 1 graham cracker then place other cracker on top to make sandwich and freeze.
- Peanut Butter Balls
- Mix ¼ cup honey and ½ cup natural peanut butter together in a bowl. Stir in ½ cup non-fat dried milk powder and 1 cup oats. Roll into 24 balls and refrigerate. Can make smaller balls if desirable.
- Strawberry Shortcake
- Take angel food cake or angel food cake cups (individuals), top with fresh slices strawberries and Light Cool Whip
- Yogurt Parfaits
- Take light vanilla yogurt and mix in different layers of "treat" then yogurt, treat, yogurt, treat (treats = fresh fruit, dried fruit, granola, nuts, peanut butter chips, crumbled whole grain cereal, etc)
- Celery sticks cut in half, filled with natural peanut butter and top with raisins
- Waffle Dessert
- Take one KashiTM honey oat waffle and toast. Top with light vanilla yogurt and cover with colorful berries
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Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth
Executive Health Program
1325 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 50
Fort Worth, TX 76104
Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD
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