7 Tips to Make Your Vegetables Taste Better than Ever

29 Aug
Posted by Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training 0 Comment
Roasted veggies make a great snack.

Don’t like vegetables? Here are my top seven tips to make your vegetables taste great. And I’ve included my three best sauce recipes to accompany veggies, if you’re looking for extra flavor.

No matter how many times I say you should “eat your vegetables,” that can be pretty hard to do if vegetables just don’t taste good to you. When people tell me that they don’t like veggies, it’s often a combination of things. Some people don’t like the texture of vegetables, while others say it’s the taste or the odor that turns them off. And sometimes it’s all three. If the only words you associate with vegetables are “mushy” “smelly” and “bitter,” that’s a shame—because when vegetables are well-prepared, they really can taste great.

How to Make Your Vegetables Taste Great

Cook vegetables only until tender-crisp

When vegetables are overcooked, their texture suffers and they can lose a lot of their fresh flavor. On top of that, overcooking veggies can destroy the beautiful bright colors, which makes them a lot less appetizing to look at. To preserve taste, texture and color, most vegetables are at their best when they’re cooked until just tender-crisp. That means they’re heated and cooked through, and you can easily bite them—but they’ve still got a bit of a ‘snap’ to them.

A little healthy fat makes veggies taste better

Most vegetables are quite low in calories, so the addition of a little bit of healthy fat won’t drive the calories per serving up too high. You can sauté veggies in a little bit of flavorful olive oil, or drizzle on a tiny bit of sesame or walnut oil after they’re steamed. Just a sprinkle of nuts or seeds can add a lot of flavor, too. Try sesame seeds, toasted pine nuts or finely chopped walnuts or pecans.

Roasting vegetables mellows the flavor

Roasting is one of my favorite ways to cook vegetables—especially carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. The dry heat of the oven caramelizes the natural sugars in vegetables, which brings about an amazing depth of flavor. And it’s super-easy. Cut broccoli or cauliflower into florets, cut Brussels sprouts in half, and cut peeled carrots in half lengthwise and then into 2” pieces. Fire up your oven to 425 F / 220 C. While the oven is heating, toss the vegetables with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then spread out on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes or so, turning occasionally, until they’re browned and tender. Try this method with other veggies like roasted beets, asparagus or green beans are delicious, too.

Smaller vegetables have a milder flavor

Baby vegetables are often milder in flavor than their more mature counterparts. So, you might prefer baby versions of artichokes, squashes, turnips and Brussels sprouts. Smaller leafy greens are more tender and mild than more mature ones, so look for ‘baby’ greens like spinach, kale or chard—especially if you’re going to eat them raw.

Blanching vegetables can improve flavor

Blanching your veggies in hot water for just a minute takes away much of the raw taste, but minimizes vitamin losses because the process is so quick. This works really well with strong-tasting, firm vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower florets. Bring a pot of water (salt optional) to a boil, then drop in the veggies and leave them for about 45 seconds. Drain, then give a quick rinse with cold water and drain again. They’re now ready to stir-fry, or just chill and add to salads or use for dipping. Another top vegetable tip: Hot vegetables carry odors. So, if that’s what stops you from eating them, this blanch-and-chill method might work really well for you.

Give kale or cabbage a massage

I love kale and cabbage salads, but the flavor and texture can be a little strong if the greens are used raw. Try this vegetable tip: Shred your greens very fine, and then put them in the basket of a salad spinner or colander. Gently run hot water over the greens while you “massage” them for just a minute or two. Follow with a quick rinse under cold water to refresh, then drain the greens well and add your dressing. This method takes away some of the “raw” taste and wilts the greens just a bit, which gives a better texture to the salad.

The right seasonings take vegetables from drab to fab

3 recipes for delicious sauces to accompany vegetables | Herbalife Healthy Eating Advice

I’m not sure why so many people don’t season their vegetables. It’s a shame when people tell me they just can’t stand “plain steamed vegetables,” as if that’s the only way they should be eaten. The addition of herbs, spices, garlic, onion, citrus juices or vinegar can add a load of flavor with no additional calories. There are no hard and fast rules here, so feel free to experiment. Try some ‘classic’ pairings like basil with tomato, ginger with carrots and garlic with leafy greens. Sometimes a little sweet flavor can take away the bitter bite, too. I usually dress my kale salad with a little vinaigrette. But the addition of something a sweet—some diced mango, apple or fresh oranges, or a few golden raisins or dried cranberries—really takes the edge off.

My 3 Best Sauces for Vegetables

Lime-Dill Sauce

– 1 Tablespoon lime juice
– 1 Tablespoon brown sugar or honey
– ½ Tsp. dried dill weed
– Salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together in a small bowl. Lime-Dill sauce is great on steamed carrots.

Lemon-Garlic-Mustard Sauce

– 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
– 1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
– 1 Tablespoon olive oil
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– ½ tsp. sugar or honey
– Salt and pepper to taste

Mix dressing ingredients together. Try this Lemon-Garlic-Mustard sauce drizzled on steamed green beans.

Spicy Hoisin Sauce

– 2 Tablespoons Hoisin sauce*
– 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
– 1 Tablespoon rice wine* (Mirin)
– 2 tsp. sugar or honey
– 1 garlic clove, minced
– ½ tsp. chili paste*

Mix the spicy hoisin sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Good on stir-fried broccoli or asparagus.

*Available in Asian grocery stores or ethnic foods section of supermarket

Nine Food-Swap Ideas for a Healthier Diet

25 Aug
Posted by Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training 0 Comments
Replace your bowl of cereal with a protein shake.

Trying to make your diet healthier, but don’t know where to start? Just a few easy food swaps can give your diet a nutrition boost.

Knowing how to choose a healthy diet is one thing, but putting healthy eating into practice can sometimes
be a lot harder to do. This week, I’m going to show you nine food swaps that can put you on the path to
healthy eating in no time.

Sure, your diet would probably be a lot healthier if you cut back on fats and sweets, opted for leaner proteins, ate more fruits and vegetables and chose better snacks. But all that can seem overwhelming—especially when you can barely even manage to work in a banana or a side of green beans every once in a while. When you feel as if there are too many things to change all at once, you may decide it’s simpler to just do nothing. So, why not try making a food swap plan instead and in the process, make your daily diet a whole lot healthier? Here are some ideas:

Nine Easy Food Swaps to Make Your Diet Healthier

1) Protein shake instead of bowl of cereal.

A bowl of cereal with milk is quick and easy, but you can pack a lot more nutrition into an equally easy protein shake.

Why it’s better: A protein shake made with protein powder, milk or soy milk and fruit will give you more protein, which gives your meal more staying power. Plus, the fruit contributes vitamins, minerals and filling fiber. Since you’ll be drinking the milk, rather than leaving it at the bottom of the cereal bowl, you’ll get a good dose of calcium, too.

2) Plain yogurt and fruit instead of pre-mixed yogurt.

Pre-mixed fruit yogurt has very little fruit,
and often a lot of sugar. It really doesn’t take that long to slice some fresh fruit into plain nonfat yogurt and drizzle with a little honey or maple syrup. Or, zap some frozen fruit in the microwave for a minute or two, then stir in your yogurt.

Why it’s better: You’ll be getting more fruit and fiber, more protein and less sugar.

3) Spinach salad instead of iceberg lettuce.

Leafy greens are great, but some greens like spinach are nutrition superstars. Instead of lettuce, try making salads with mild baby spinach.

Why it’s better: A serving of spinach has three times more potassium, calcium and vitamin C, and
50% more vitamin A than a serving of iceberg lettuce.

4) Beans instead of rice or pasta.

Starchy sides of white rice or regular pasta don’t pack the vitamins, minerals and fiber that whole grains do. While brown rice or whole grain noodles would be better, a serving of beans offers up even more nutrition.

Why it’s better: Swapping in beans for a side of rice or pasta means you’ll get more iron and more
protein.

5) Edamame soybeans instead of chips.

When you’re craving something savory for a snack, try some edamame soybeans instead of salty chips. Look for bags of frozen edamame in the pod at your grocery store. After a five minute dip in boiling water, they’re ready to eat.

Why it’s better: A half-cup of shelled edamame soybeans has about 9 g of fiber, 11 g of protein, and around 10% of your daily needs for vitamin C and iron—all for about 120 calories. Show me a chip that can do that! Also, it takes time to remove the beans from the pods, which slows down the rate at which you eat.

6) Canned salmon instead of canned tuna.

Canned tuna is a great food, but canned salmon (which works well in most recipes calling for tuna) has a nutritional advantage since it contains more beneficial fat.

Why it’s better: Wild-caught salmon (nearly all canned salmon is wild) contains a higher proportion of omega-3 fatty acids compared to farmed salmon. Being a fattier fish, a serving of salmon has about twice the omega-3 fatty acids as a serving of tuna.

7) Avocado instead of mayonnaise or other fats.

Avocado can be a great substitute for less healthy fat sources in all kinds of dishes. One of my favorite ways to use it is to replace the mayonnaise used in tuna (or salmon!) salad. Mashed avocado can replace fatty dressings and sauces: it makes a great dip for raw veggies, and it’s wonderful on grilled fish or chicken.

Why it’s better: Avocado is a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids, similar to what’s found in other beneficial fats like olive oil and nuts.

8) Berries instead of orange juice.

If you’re trying to work more fruit into your diet, whole fruit is the way to go. The calories in fruit juice can add up quickly, and juice just doesn’t fill you up.

Why it’s better: Fiber is what makes whole fruits more filling compared to fruit juice, and berries are some of the highest fiber fruits around. Spend 50 calories on a serving of raspberries, and you get a whopping seven grams of fiber in return.

9) Veggie burger instead of beef.

If beef burgers are a menu staple, try this food swap. Go for veggie burgers made with soy protein or beans instead. When they’re crumbled on top of a salad or nestled on a whole grain bun with plenty of onion, lettuce and tomato, they’re a pretty good substitute for the real thing.

Why it’s better: You’re getting your protein from a plant source, which means a lot less fat and saturated fat than what you’d get from the ground beef.

How Long Will It Take to Lose Weight?

21 Aug
Posted by Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training 0 Comment
Weight loss is a journey and a destination.

Every time I have a new client scheduled to see me to learn how to lose weight, I have a pretty good idea of how our first conversation will go. The first thing they usually want to know is how much I think they should weigh. The answer is usually less than straightforward, and that question is inevitably followed up by a similar and equally vexing query. “How long will it take?” I’ve had this same conversation countless times over the years, and my answer is always the same: “It depends.”

I realize that’s not a satisfying response. But the rate at which a person will lose weight depends on a lot of things. It’s like a road trip. You can look at the map, determine how many miles you have to travel, figure your average speed and then estimate how long it will take you to get there. That works sometimes. But maybe you come across a traffic jam or a detour. Maybe you drive through a town you’ve never been to and decide to stop a while.

Getting on Track to Lose Weight

It’s much the same with weight loss, even though the math is also fairly simple. I can estimate how many calories you burn at rest (your resting metabolic rate), and then tack on some extra calories for your current level of activity. If you want to lose a pound in a week’s time, you’ve got to come up about 500 calories short of that number every day. That’s done by eating 500 fewer calories, or burning off an extra 500 through exercise, or preferably some combination of the two.

The problem is that there are just too many things that affect the final outcome. For one thing, estimates of how many calories you burn every day are just that—estimates. Keeping track of how many calories you eat is just an estimate, too. And most studies say that people underestimate the calories they eat by at least 20%.

What about those calories you think you’re burning? An exercise chart might tell you that swimming burns 500 calories an hour. But are you swimming nonstop for 60 minutes? Are you even swimming at all? I once spotted a client at the local pool having a lengthy conversation with a girlfriend while sitting on the steps in the shallow end. She never saw me, and I had to bite my tongue at her next visit when she told me that she’d been “swimming for an hour three times a week” and couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t losing weight.

Consistency Is the Key

So, just like that road trip, you can make a rough guess as to how long it will take you to reach your goal. But you need to accept that it’s only that—a guess. If you consistently cut 500 calories from what you need, then yes, you should drop about a pound per week. But just like when you drive your car, you may not go at a consistently steady speed or burn through your fuel at a perfectly consistent rate. And just like traffic jams and detours, things get in the way to slow us down or get us off track. But eventually we get back on the road and keep going.

So, if you’re wondering how long it will it take to lose weight, I encourage you to focus instead on all the positive changes that are made along the way. Because in the long run if you improve your diet and get more active, the weight will take care of itself—in its own time. And just like a road trip, sometimes it’s best to focus more on the trip and less on the destination.

Protein Shakes: Healthy, On-The-Go Nutrition

16 Aug
Posted by Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training 0 Comment
Customize your shake with fruits
and veggies.

Protein shakes can do more than just provide balanced nutrition. Getting into the shake habit just might improve your eating habits, too.

There are plenty of reasons why protein shakes are popular. They can provide you with balanced nutrition that can replace a meal, they’re quick to make, and you can get creative and customize them with all kinds of add-ins. Those are all great reasons, but there are other ways that protein shakes can improve your diet and eating habits.

Including protein shakes in your diet can also address many common obstacles to eating well, as well as help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Protein Shakes Can Help You…

Count your calories accurately.

Keeping track of your daily calorie intake is an important key to weight management. But it’s not easy to do; most people underestimate their calorie intake by 20% or so. Part of what makes calorie counting difficult is that it requires you to accurately weigh and measure everything you eat. Plus, you need to account for all the little details, like how the food is prepared or what condiments you eat with it. The beauty of protein shakes is that they’re usually made up of just a few ingredients that. are easy to measure. That allows you to get an accurate calorie count of the finished shake.

Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet.

Customizing your protein shake by adding fruits and vegetables allows for almost endless variety—and you can easily add a serving or two to your shake. To make this quick and convenient, keep a variety of frozen fruits on hand in your freezer. And try adding veggies such as fresh or frozen spinach, carrots, kale or winter squash to your shake.

Establish regular mealtimes.

Many people have erratic eating patterns because they just don’t make time to plan and prepare what they’re going to eat. As a result, they may end up skipping meals or snacking more. There are few things that are easier to prepare than a protein shake. When you’ve got your protein powder, your liquid “mixer” and maybe some fruits or vegetables to add, you’ve got balanced nutrition in a glass in minutes—and no excuse for skipping meals.

Control portion size at meals.

A protein shake is naturally portion-controlled, which can help you in a couple of ways. First, when you use your protein shake as a meal, your portion is defined for you. Having a protein shake at one meal might also help you control your portion size at your next meal, too. Also, if your shake is nutritionally balanced and provides protein and carbohydrates to keep you satisfied from one meal to the next, you won’t be famished when you do sit down to eat. And that can make it much easier for you to control how much food you put on your plate.

Meet nutritional needs.

No matter how careful you are with your food choices, it isn’t always easy to make sure you get all the nutrients your body needs every day. A protein shake made with milk or soy milk and the addition of a fruit or vegetable can help you meet your needs for several nutrients, including protein, calcium, vitamin D and fiber. And many protein shake mixes have vitamins and minerals added, which boosts nutrition even more.

Eat better, even on the run.

When you’re on the run and hunger strikes, you might be tempted to dart into your local fast food place for quick satisfaction. But it can be challenging to find a healthy, balanced meal when you’re on the go. If you let yourself get too hungry, you’ll probably just grab the first thing you can—which may not be the healthiest thing. The fact that protein shakes are portable is a huge plus. Once your shake is blended, it’s ready to go—whether you’re on your way to work or school, running errands, or heading back to your desk at lunch. Protein shakes can be quick, healthy, convenient and delicious. What more could you ask for?

5 Tips for a Better Diet

05 Aug
Posted by Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training 0 Comment
Simple ideas help you stick to your diet.

Now that we’re a month into the New Year, it’s a good time to assess how those New Year’s resolutions are going. Are your old eating habits sneaking back up on you? Maybe you tried to take on too many changes at once, or you set unrealistic goals, or the scale isn’t moving as quickly as you’d like. Maybe a shift in focus is in order. Rather than trying to tackle everything at once, think about a few small changes that you’re confident you can make right away, even today. That way you’ll build on each small success and rebuild a healthier and better diet, step by step.

A few small changes over the course of the day really can make a huge difference in the overall quality of your diet. Think about your typical diet, the foods you eat day in and day out, and target just one change. Just ditching soda in favor of water at one meal, for example, can cut at least 150 calories and about 10 teaspoons of sugar out of your day.

Change is hard. It’s been estimated that it takes at least six weeks or so for new habits to start to replace the old ones. If your diet is filled with fast food, devoid of fruits and veggies, or is a patchwork of unplanned quick meals or snacks, it can be overwhelming to make all the changes you know you should—especially all at once.

So, here are five simple things you can do today to vastly improve your diet.

• Have a piece of fruit for dessert. Lose the cakes and cookies at the end of a meal and reach for a piece of fresh fruit instead. Nutrition Boost: Vitamins and minerals, like potassium and vitamin C, along with fiber and antioxidants, and you could save hundreds of calories.

• Switch to 100% whole grain bread. Swap in whole grain bread instead of the usual white bread for sandwiches or toast. It’s easy to do at home, and many restaurants now offer whole grain bread as an option. Nutrition Boost: An extra dose of much needed fiber.

• Double-up your veggies at dinner. Fill at least half your plate with veggies and salads. When you’re out, skip the starch and double up on the veggies or have extras added to a sandwich. Nutrition Boost: Nutrient density—you’ll be getting plenty of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in exchange for a low-calorie cost.

• Have one calcium-rich food. Add a glass of nonfat milk, a scoop of cottage cheese, a carton of yogurt or a stick of string cheese to your day. If you can’t tolerate dairy products, many soy milks, cheeses and yogurts are calcium-fortified. Nutrition Boost: A good dose of bone-building calcium.

• Try some seafood. Canned tuna can be mixed with mashed avocado for a healthy sandwich spread, or tossed over some pre-washed salad greens for a quick meal. If you lean towards red meat or chicken at meals, try a serving of grilled fish or shellfish instead. Nutrition Boost: Fish contains heart-healthy omega-3 fats, yet it’s low in calories and high in protein.