Crunchy Cucumber Salad

Crunchy Cucumber Salad Recipe

This summer salad is full of vitamin-rich vegetables. It is dressed in a slightly spiced vinaigrette that goes well with the refreshing cucumber. A few nuts sprinkled on top supply healthy plant protein.

Yield: 2 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

3 small cucumbers, such as Persian cucumbers

1/8 tsp fine ground sea salt

2 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks

¼ tsp dark sesame oil

¼ tsp unseasoned rice vinegar

¼ tsp sriracha hot sauce

¼ cup raw cashews

Directions

Use a vegetable peeler to cut the cucumbers into thin ribbons. Place the cucumber ribbons in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and let sit for 10 minutes.

Squeeze the cucumbers to extract excess water and drain. Add the carrots to the bowl.

Add the sesame oil, rice vinegar and sriracha. Stir the salad well. Sprinkle with cashews and serve.

Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 130; Total Fat 8.3 g; Saturated Fat 1.1 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 195 mg; Carbohydrate 12.6 g; Fiber 3.7 g; Sugar 5.2 g; Protein 3.5 g

How to Keep Healthy Foods Fresh

food storage berries

Berries

Berries are one of the most fragile fruits, and moisture can cause them to spoil quickly. It is best to store them unwashed and rinse them under cold running water just before eating. Discard any damaged or spoiled berries before storing. Give your berries more space by removing them from the store container and placing them in a single layer in a loosely covered shallow container. Most types of berries will last 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Whole Grains

Whole grains still contain the germ, which is the portion of the grain with healthy oils. The presence of the germ makes the grains sensitive to heat, light, and moisture. According to the Whole Grains Council, grains like wheat berries and rice last longer than grains that have been ground into flours. Both whole grains and flours should be stored in an airtight container away from light and heat. Most grains will last 6 months in the pantry or 1 year in the freezer. Flours and meals will keep for 1 to 3 months in the pantry and 2 to 6 months when stored in the freezer.

Oils

Unrefined oils, like extra virgin olive oil and nut oils, are sensitive to air, light, and heat. When exposed, the fatty acids can turn rancid causing an unpleasant flavor. Store olive oil in a dark, cool place. Unopened bottles will last for 1 year. Once you open it, most varieties will last for 6 months. Nut and seed oils are even more sensitive than olive oil. As a result, store oils like sesame and walnut in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Onions

Like most root vegetables, onions should be stored in a well-ventilated, cool, dry place. Onions need air movement to stay fresh, so take them out of plastic bags before storing. The sweeter an onion, the higher its water content. This influences how easily it bruises and how long it will stay fresh. As a result, sweet onions like Walla Walla and Vidalia may have a shorter shelf life than other varieties. The National Onion Association suggests wrapping these onions in a paper towel or newspaper and storing them in the refrigerator to extend the shelf life. Once peeled, all onions should be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Chopped or sliced onions will last 7 to 10 days.

Sweet Potatoes

Refrigeration will cause sweet potatoes to harden in the center and develop a bad taste. Place sweet potatoes in a well-ventilated container set in a cool, dry place. A basement or root cellar are ideal, but simply keeping the potatoes away from heat will help extend their freshness. According to the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission, when properly stored, sweet potatoes will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks.

Tomatoes

Ripe tomatoes are best eaten within 2 to 3 days after purchase. Store your tomatoes at the coolest room temperature possible with the stem-side facing up, away from direct sunlight. Generally, storing tomatoes in the refrigerator can cause them to lose flavor. But according to the Division of Agriculture at the University of California Davis, if you have ripe tomatoes that you aren’t ready to eat, you can delay over ripening by placing them in the refrigerator for fewer than 3 days. Allow refrigerated tomatoes to sit at room temperature for 1 hour before eating to help improve the flavor.

Nutrition and Arthritis

Nutrition and Arthritis

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is used to describe joint pain or joint disease. According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are over 100 different types of arthritis affecting 1 in 5 people over the age of 18, and 1 in 250 babies and children. Symptoms of arthritis include joint swelling, pain and stiffness that lead to a reduced range of motion. Some forms of arthritis cause pain that comes and goes, while others result in pain that worsens over time. Arthritis can make it difficult to perform daily activities and regular exercise.

How can food influence arthritis?

Arthritis is linked to inflammation, and research has shown that some foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants may combat inflammation and reduce some symptoms of arthritis. Similarly, other foods have been found to cause inflammation and should be limited for those with arthritis. These include foods with high amounts of saturated fat, trans fats, and refined carbohydrates. Additionally, some medications for arthritis cause the body to retain more sodium, so paying special attention to sodium intake is important as a way to prevent an unhealthy rise in blood pressure.

What foods have been found to reduce the symptoms of arthritis?

The painful symptoms of arthritis can be reduced by basing your diet on anti-inflammatory foods. Antioxidants are key players making fruits and vegetables an important part of an anti-inflammatory diet. While most fruits and vegetables have unique nutrients that can be beneficial, focus on those with vitamin C, beta-carotene, and anthocyanins. Bell peppers, strawberries, citrus, broccoli, and kale provide vitamin C. Sweet potatoes, mustard greens, turnip greens, apricots, and carrots are rich in beta-carotene. Anthocyanins are found in blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, and red onions.

Reduce saturated and trans fats, and focus on incorporating more foods with hearty-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, sardines, anchovies, trout, chia seeds, and walnuts are all sources for omega-3s.

Research also shows that spices have anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, or cloves can be stirred into yogurt, blended into smoothies, and sprinkled over oatmeal or stir-fried vegetables.

Creamy Pasta with Summer Squash

Creamy Pasta with Summer Squash Recipe

Pastas with creamy sauces are satisfying, but they are also loaded with calories and saturated fat. By using part-skim ricotta cheese and seasonal vegetables, you can create a healthier meal that mimics traditional favorites.

Yield: 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ cups sliced zucchini

3 cups cooked whole wheat pasta (like linguine)

¾ cup part skim ricotta cheese

1 tsp lemon zest

¼ tsp ground black pepper

2 tsp chopped fresh basil

Directions

Heat the oil over medium-high in a large, deep skillet. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring often, for 7 to 10 more minutes, until the zucchini is slightly tender.

Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cooked pasta. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the ricotta, lemon zest, and black pepper. Sprinkle with the fresh basil and serve.

Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 245; Total Fat 8.5 g; Saturated Fat 3.5 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 22 mg; Sodium 278 mg; Carbohydrate 35.5 g; Fiber 5.9 g; Sugar 4.1 g; Protein 10.7 g

5 Popular Diet Terms Defined

Raw food diet

Raw food diet

A raw food diet is based on the belief that heating food damages valuable nutrients. As a result, the eating plan includes consuming foods that have not been heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The diet is largely composed of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Some dehydrated or dried foods also meet the raw food criteria depending on the dehydration process.

The basis of the raw food diet is somewhat controversial. While some nutrients may be destroyed when foods are heated, others are enhanced and made more available to the body.

Clean eating

Clean eating is often used to describe a diet of more whole foods in their natural form and fewer packaged, processed foods. It is not an eating plan with strict guidelines but more of an approach to eating that influences your food choices. For example, clean eating means you choose grilled fresh fish over battered frozen fish and whole fresh fruits versus canned fruits in syrup. By eating clean, you can increase nutrients while reducing your intake of excess calories, fat, sodium, and sugar found in processed foods.

Flexitarian

Flexitarian is used to describe a person who eats a heavily plant-based diet, but includes meat and other animal products from time to time. A flexitarian style of eating closely resembles a vegetarian diet by being rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, but occasionally a flexitarian may choose to eat fish, poultry, pork, or red meat.

Paleo

The Paleo diet resembles what was likely eaten during the Paleolithic era, when our ancestors were hunters and gatherers. The diet is based on the belief that chronic disease is associated with eating foods like grains, legumes, and dairy. Therefore, it is largely made up of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. The exact eating plan can vary from person to person, but sugar and sodium intake are limited because the Paleo diet does not allow processed or pre-made foods.

Gluten-free

A gluten-free diet contains no wheat products. Gluten is a protein found in wheat that must be avoided by those with celiac disease. When people with the disease eat gluten, their bodies produce antibodies that damage the lining of the small intestines, reducing the absorption of nutrients. Rye and barley are two additional grains that contain proteins similar to gluten and must also be avoided. A gluten-free diet contains fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, beans, unprocessed nuts, unprocessed meats without breading, and gluten-free grains.

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