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Ideas and Recipes from a Healthy Kitchen

By Margaret Furtado, MS RD LDN CYT and Joseph Ewing, RD LDN

Now is the perfect time to get back on track with your weight loss goals! Re-think what you have in your kitchen and get ready for a fresh start.  We know it can feel difficult but these simple ideas for foods to have in your kitchen should get you on your way to a healthier you.
Legumes such as beans and lentils can provide about 15 grams of protein per cup and are a great source of soluble fiber. Studies have shown that a diet rich in legumes can help to reduce cholesterol levels and reduce the risk for coronary heart disease. Keep a variety of canned or dried legumes in your pantry. They have a number of uses such as adding them to soups and chili to make the recipes thicker or pureeing them to make a creamy dip.

You definitely can’t go wrong by having a variety of vegetables in the kitchen.  Your first choice should be fresh and/or frozen, but there is definitely nothing wrong with keeping a few cans of vegetables on hand as a backup.  Just watch out because canned vegetables can be high in sodium.  It is recommended to rinse them prior to using them. Vegetables are a great addition to many recipes and a healthy part of any meal. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber to support your health.

Lean Meats
Protein! Protein! Protein!  Purchase a selection of protein rich foods that include chicken, beef, turkey, and seafood.  Remember to marinate and/or tenderize your protein to be sure that it is tender and easy to swallow. Often patients have difficulty with left over protein foods because these foods can become dry. Therefore, make small portions to avoid leftovers. If you can’t avoid leftovers, foods such as chicken and seafood can be successfully prepared into a salad by adding dressing and/or low fat mayonnaise which makes the food easier to tolerate.

Fresh and frozen fruits are the perfect addition to any healthy kitchen.  If you are purchasing frozen fruit, be sure there is no sugar added.  Fruit can be used to make smoothies or added as a topping for oatmeal and yogurt.  Fruits are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and photochemicals to support a healthy body.

Whole Grains
Whole grains are full of antioxidants, vitamins such as B vitamins and vitamin E as well as minerals that cannot be found in fruits and vegetables.  Keep brown rice, whole wheat breads, and oats in your kitchen.  Whole grains have been shown to reduce risk for many types of cancer, decrease cholesterol levels, blood pressure and heart disease. Studies have also shown that eating whole grains can help to regulate blood glucose levels in people with diabetes.  Other studies have shown that people who eat whole grains consistently weigh less than people who consume non-whole grain products.

Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein.  If you’re a yogurt fan, try switching to Greek yogurt for the extra protein, rich creamy texture, and great flavor.  Greek yogurt can be found in many grocery stores and comes in a number of flavors. Be careful with Greek yogurt that contains fruit because these can be high in added sugar.
Below are two recipes that use a few of the ingredients we have listed above. Enjoy!

Broccoli & Cheddar Soup (a recipe for your slow cooker)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: ~ 2 hours 20 min
Servings: 6

3 lbs fresh broccoli, chopped with stems discarded
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
2 cups fat- free milk
1/2 cup reduced – fat cheddar cheese, cubed
Method of Preparation
1.    Place broccoli, extra virgin olive oil, black pepper, and garlic powder in 4-quart or larger slow cooker and add enough water* to cover.
2.    Cover and cook on high for 1 – 2 hours.
3.    Add milk and continue to cook for 15 minutes
4.    Finally, stir in cheese and continue cooking until cheese is melted.

* To add more flavor, try using a store bought low-sodium chicken broth.

Nutritional Information
Calories 190, protein 14 grams, total fat 7 grams, carbohydrates 20 grams, dietary fiber 6 grams, sugars 8 grams, sodium 280 milligrams
Greek Style Cucumber & Yogurt Dip
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Servings Size: 2 tablespoons
Servings: ~ 30 (can vary depending on size of the cucumbers)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt, strained
1 cup fat-free sour cream
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1 tsp fresh dill, chopped
Method of Preparation
1.    Combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl, mix well.
2.    Using a whisk, blend the yogurt with the sour cream until smooth.
3.    Next, combine olive oil mixture to the yogurt mixture.
4.    Finally, add the cucumber and chopped fresh dill.
5.    Chill for at least two hours before serving.
* Try serving as a condiment for burgers, chicken and lamb. This can also be used as a dip for warm pita bread and vegetables.

Nutritional Information
Calories 25, protein 1 grams, total fat 1 gram, carbohydrates 2 grams, dietary fiber 0 grams, sugars 1 gram, sodium 40 milligrams