Marianne’s Pantry

Healthy Eating and Cooking Tips / Habits
Here are some general suggestions for ways to improve eating habits and your overall health.Try one new one a week and enjoy the results! 

Please note: I am not a medical doctor or a licensed nutritionist. I am a critical thinker who is passionate about food and wants to understand how maintaining good health is related the things I ingest. I am sharing the information I have learned and encourage you to read around too, always checking your sources.

Drink 64 oz or more of filtered water every day. Drink most of it between meals to keep it from interfering with (diluting) the digestive process. Up to 20 minutes before a meal is fine, as is an hour and a half after eating. Have 8 oz when you wake up, with lunch, dinner, and as you go to bed. Have a 12 ounce glass between meals. Keep a 12 oz glass by your bed as well. If there is any left in the morning, finish it off and you are a well hydrated human! 

Sodas and other naturally and artificially sweetened drinks
For your own sake cut them out altogether, or at least cut down to no more than an occasional “treat”. Unless you make it yourself with organic sugar and the caloric intake fits into your diet, there is nothing good about the stuff. It is worth it to make the effort to find deliciousness in a glass of filtered water with a slice of cucumber, lemon, lime or orange, a strawberry, a chunk of melon, a sprig of mint or basil or a splash of fruit juice. Or try a mug of herb tea with 0-1 teaspoon honey or organic sugar to sweeten it. 

Eat fruit TWICE A DAY, every day. Eat whole fruit, not juice. Much of fruits goodness comes in its fiber, which does not always make it to the glass.  Enjoy fruit as a snack between meals or after dinner. Slice up a whole fruit, put it in a sandwich bag and take it with you when you leave the house. You’ll find this a much more satisfying pick-me-up or tide-me-over than almost anything else. Branch out and try new varieties. Buy locally grown when possible.

Are you using french grey sea salt? This gives much more flavor and less sodium. I buy it in the red and blue jars from Trader Joe’s. It is a coarse grain and still has alot of moisture in it.  I dry it in the oven at 175 F on a parchment lined cookie tray. Then I grind it to a fine grain. It is the only salt I use.

Think "colors of the rainbow" on the plate every day. You want to look down and see twice as many vegetables as meat, rice, potatoes and pasta on every plate you eat. You had a bad experience with a vegetable 5, 10 or 30 years ago? I assure you, it was neither the server’s nor the vegetable’s intention for you not to like it. Be brave; try it again! 

Experiment with new vegetables. With the internet, there are no more strangers any more. Plus most enthusiastic home cooks, restaurant chefs and growers will happily share cooking tips. Unless you are still in college, right down what they say - don’t expect to remember it.

Learn what vegetables are grown in or near your region during each season and seek out merchants that sell locally grown produce. It is usually less expensive and more flavorful.

Incorporate raw vegetables into your daily diet - cole slaw, shredded carrot or broccoli salad, celery root remoulade, thin sliced fennel with lemon and parsley, lettuce salads - or a snack of  sugar snap peas,celery and carrot sticks.

Double or triple the vegetables called for in meat soups, stews and curries. Be sure to have at least twice the poundage of vegetables than meat in the finished product.

Add vegetables to pasta. For every pound of dry pasta, add a pound (or two!) of seasonal vegetables. Cauliflower goes fantastically with a pesto sauce. Broccoli weds well with a tomato sauce, especially when there is lots of garlic. Spinach, chard, zucchini all go with tomato, garlic or cream sauces. Winter squash fit right in in thai flavored pastas - and curries. 

Vegetable Cooking Tips

Get to know and eat more legumes! Legumes offer complex carbohydrates, protein, fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Legumes are readily available, there are lots of different varieties and they are inexpensive. Did I mention that they taste good, too?!

Legumes can be used in soups and stews, salads, in burgers and mini-pancakes, in dips, casseroles, and as wonderful side dishes. Do add legumes to your repertoire.

Legume Basics and Cooking Tips

Legumes available from 
Marianne’s Pantry offers a variety of organic, high quality beans including red lentils, green lentils, cannelini, cranberry beans  and romano beans. For more information, click the link belowBuying 

Meat and Seafood
The reverse of vegetables. Eat half as much meat and seafood as vegetables. There should be two times as much vegetables on your plate as meat. If this means you are eating less meat, buy better quality meat with the savings. Consider organic meats and wild fish and seafood. Use the same seasoning tips under “Lowering the fat” to enhance the meat’s flavor if you find you tend to eat more than you might wish in order to feel satisfied.

America’s “Fat” Affair
Fats are absolutely essential to many bodily functions. Plus they are a slow burning food, so some fat in every meal helps us to maintain that “full” feeling longer. That said, sadly most Americans eat too much fat and they don’t eat the kinds that our bodies need. Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils have taken over a large percentage of the American fat intake as most processed and chain / fast foods use these types of fat. The result? We’re fat and not healthy. Please stop eating all processed and chain / fast foods!
Many home recipes contain more fat than the majority of us need. Butter makes things taste good, plain and simple. It also makes for jiggly bellies, arms and hips, and, in some cases, high cholesterol and heart attacks.
I rarely use as much oil / butter as is called for in a recipe. However, I usually use a little more than suggested in most low-fat offerings; my husband and I are quite active and we know we’ll burn it off. Also we don’t eat a plateful of high fat offerings, which is becoming the norm to offer at most take out and chain / fast restaurants and even on Food Network programs.
I find that 1T of fat will saute 3-4 cups (about a pound) of a chopped vegetable from raw to cooked quite well. Less is fine too, but none doesn’t work if the goal is to brown the vegetable and seal in its juices. Without any fat, food can’t brown, get a little crispy, or caramelize.
If you want a vegetable with no fat, steam it or cook in a little salted water as mentioned above. 

Quality Ingredients don’t need as much fat to satisfy
Fat and salt are easy ways to makes things taste better. If you want meals meals with less fat, start by using fresh, top quality ingredients and plan to get creative in your seasoning to make the flavors really “pop”.
Produce grown for the “world market” has to travel well, be picked under-ripe and be uniform in size and shape so it packages easily. Flavor, mouth texture, and a large number  of varieties of a single fruit or vegetable are not necessarily top priorities with this segment of the produce-growing world. 
Meat and most farm raised fish and seafood are experiencing the same shift in priorities, with growers focusing on the most weight gain or production out of the animals, with less focus on flavor or nutritional value, not to mention the well being of the animals themselves.
Smaller, more local growers often experiment with varieties that put flavor and texture back in the forefront. It can take some effort to find local products, but getting “closer” those who grow our food is a satisfying undertaking. Plus the food tastes good - like good fruits and vegetables are supposed to taste.
Learn when produce is grown in so you can buy things grown in season and more close to home. Of course, items vary from region to region, but Marianne’s Seasonal Produce Charts will help get you started.

Ways to wow the palate with fantastic flavors rather than fat

What can we have for dinner tonight?

. . .More Healthy Eating and Cooking Tips to come . . .


Photo courtesy Lisa Merrill

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