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Nutrition

Perfect pantry pastas

Keep your home stocked with necessities to simplify dinner prep with dishes made using common household staples.

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Constantly seeking out recipe-specific ingredients that may only be used once or twice can be a burden. Instead, keep your home stocked with necessities to simplify dinner prep with dishes made using common household staples.

One perfect example: pastas. These recipes for Minestrone Pasta Saute with Ricotta, Creamy One-Pot Spaghetti and Pasta in a Pinch include easily recognizable seasonings and canned goods for simple dinner solutions. Plus, they all include dairy, an irreplaceable part of a balanced diet as a source of essential nutrients.

Another way to scale back on unnecessary grocery purchases is to give yourself permission to modify. Many recipes can be tweaked for personal preferences, such as using black beans rather than kidney beans or adjusting the amount of a spice used based on your family’s tastes.

Stock your pantry and refrigerator with versatile ingredients like these:

  • Canned tomatoes
  • Canned beans
  • Quick-cook rice
  • Small whole-grain pasta
  • Stock, like vegetable, chicken or beef
  • Fluid milk
  • Shredded cheese
  • Plain Greek yogurt

Minestrone Pasta Saute with Ricotta
Recipe courtesy of Lori Yates of “Foxes Love Lemons” on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

            8          ounces ditalini pasta
            1 1/2    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
            3          carrots, finely diced
            3          cloves garlic, minced
            1/2       medium onion, chopped
            1/2       bunch kale, thinly sliced
            1/2       pound green beans, trimmed and halved
            1/4       cup dry white wine
            1/2       pound lean ground beef (optional)
            1          can (15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
            1          jar (24 ounces) marinara sauce
            1/2       teaspoon kosher salt
            1/4       teaspoon ground black pepper
            1          cup Ricotta cheese
            1/4       cup grated Parmesan cheese

In large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water then drain pasta.

In large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add carrots, garlic and onion; cook 3 minutes, or until vegetables start to soften, stirring occasionally. Add kale and green beans; cook 3 minutes, or until green beans are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally.

Add wine to skillet; cook 2 minutes, or until most liquid has evaporated. Transfer vegetables to medium bowl. If including meat, return skillet to medium-high heat. Add ground beef; cook 6-8 minutes, or until meat is cooked through, breaking up with side of spoon. Spoon off excess fat.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add kidney beans, marinara sauce, salt, pepper, pasta, reserved pasta cooking water and cooked vegetable mixture to skillet with beef, if using. Cook 2 minutes, or until warmed through, stirring occasionally. Divide pasta between four pasta bowls or plates and top with Ricotta and Parmesan cheeses.

Pasta in a Pinch
Recipe courtesy of Jenn Fillenworth, MS, RDN, of “Jenny With the Good Eats” on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6

            8          ounces uncooked penne pasta
            2 1/2    cups water
            1/4       teaspoon salt
            1/4       teaspoon black pepper
            1/2       teaspoon dried basil
            1/2       teaspoon garlic powder
            1/2       cup milk 
            2          cups mozzarella cheese, grated
            1          can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
            1          can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
            1/4       cup Parmesan cheese
                        freshly chopped herbs, for garnish (optional)

In large microwavable bowl, place uncooked penne pasta and pour water over top to cover. With food-safe plastic wrap, cover bowl, leaving small section to vent as it cooks. Cook 3 minutes longer than package directs, approximately 13 minutes.

Once pasta has cooked, drain into colander then place back in bowl. Add salt, pepper, basil, garlic powder and milk; stir to combine. Begin to stir in cheese a little at a time. Microwave 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir again.

Add cannellini beans and diced tomatoes; stir. Microwave 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir. Assess if ingredients are hot and cheese is melted. If not, microwave 1-2 minutes. Top with Parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.

Creamy One-Pot Spaghetti
Recipe courtesy of Marcia Stanley, MS, RDN, on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8

            1          tablespoon vegetable oil
            1          pound lean ground turkey or lean ground beef
            1/2       cup chopped onion
            2 1/2    cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or reduced-sodium beef broth
            2          cups marinara sauce
            1/2       teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
            1/8       teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
            8          ounces spaghetti noodles, broken into 3-4-inch pieces
            1          package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed
            1 1/3    cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
                        chopped fresh basil or parsley (optional)

Using saute function of pressure cooker, heat oil until hot. Add meat and onion. Cook, uncovered, about 5 minutes, or until meat is browned, stirring to break up. Press cancel.

Stir broth, marinara sauce, fennel seeds and cayenne pepper into meat. Stir in spaghetti, making sure noodle pieces are covered by liquid. Secure lid and set pressure release to sealing function. Select high pressure and cook 5 minutes. Press cancel.

Allow pressure to release naturally 2 minutes. Move pressure release to venting function to release remaining steam. Remove lid.

Stir spaghetti mixture. Stir in cream cheese and 1 cup cheddar cheese until melted. Ladle into bowls to serve. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. Garnish with chopped fresh basil or parsley, if desired.

For more ideas to simplify family meals, visit milkmeansmore.org.

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Nutrition

Protein-rich breakfast boosts satiety and concentration

A rotein-rich breakfast with skyr (a sour-milk product) and oats increased satiety and concentration in the participants, but it did not reduce the overall energy intake compared to skipping breakfast or eating a carbohydrate-rich breakfast.

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A new Danish study has explored the link between diet and cognitive function, and the results reveal that a protein-rich breakfast can increase satiety and improve concentration. This is important knowledge in a society with increasing obesity rates and lifestyle-related diseases, says researcher.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” This is a well-worn platitude that has never had much basis in scientific evidence.

But a new Danish study has explored how different types of breakfast affect satiety and concentration and it has added new fuel to the old cliché.

The study followed 30 obese women aged 18 to 30 for three days, during which the women consumed a protein-rich breakfast, a carbohydrate-rich breakfast or no breakfast at all. The women’s sense of satiety, hormone levels and energy intake were measured at lunchtime. Their total daily energy intake was measured as well.

The participants also had to complete a cognitive concentration test during the study.

“We found that a protein-rich breakfast with skyr (a sour-milk product) and oats increased satiety and concentration in the participants, but it did not reduce the overall energy intake compared to skipping breakfast or eating a carbohydrate-rich breakfast,” says Mette Hansen, associate professor and PhD at the Department of Public Health, and one of the authors of the study.

Possible strategy to combat obesity?

The number of overweight people is increasing both in Denmark and across the globe. Obesity is often accompanied by lifestyle-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

Previous studies have shown that people who eat breakfast have a lower BMI than people who do not eat breakfast, and protein-rich foods have generally been shown to have an increased satiety effect compared to carbohydrate-rich and high-fat foods with the same calorie content.

The idea was therefore to test whether a protein-rich breakfast could be a good strategy to achieving greater satiety during the day and thus reducing daily calorie intake.

However, the solution is not that simple, says Mette Hansen:

“The results confirm that protein-rich meals increase a sense of satiety, which is positive with regard to preventing weight gain. However, the results also suggest that for this nutritional strategy to be effective, it’s not enough to just eat a protein-rich breakfast.”

Intriguing difference

The potential of replacing a carbohydrate-rich diet with a protein-rich diet can clearly be seen in the satiating effects measured in the study.

Several of the subjects had difficulty consuming the entire protein-rich breakfast consisting of skyr and oats.

“It’s intriguing that there can be such a big difference in the satiety effect of two different meals with the same calorie content. Had the women in the project been allowed to choose the size of the meal themselves, it’s likely that they’d have consumed more food and thereby more calories on the day

they were served bread and jam than on the day they were given skyr and oats,” explains Mette Hansen.

Further research needed

According to the researcher, although the study has provided important insights, it also has its limitations because only overweight young women participated in the study. The study is also based on relatively short-term observations, leaving open the question of how long-term dietary changes can affect health and weight.

Mette Hansen therefore points out that the study underlines the need for further research to understand how different types of food affect health over time.

“We already have new data incoming from a trial where participants received either a high-protein breakfast or a low-protein breakfast. The objective was to study how the different types of breakfast affect body composition and other parameters such as microbiota and cholesterol levels,” says Mette Hansen.

According to Mette Hansen, the results of these studies may result in the development of more targeted nutritional recommendations in the future.

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Nutrition

10 Vitamins and minerals needed by your body

This article will give you a quick guide on the top 10 vitamins and minerals needed by the body and the problem areas they address according to pharmaceutical experts.

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Going from place to place and chasing one task after another, you might think that you’re already doing enough to keep your body moving and your health goals on track. But having an active lifestyle does not automatically equate to living a completely healthy life. It must be supplemented with the correct vitamins and minerals for our body to function at its best. Therefore, a thorough understanding of these components is necessary. For all efforts in building an active and healthy lifestyle will be in vain if we are not knowledgeable with what kinds of vitamins and minerals must go in our body and how they correspond to our daily needs. 

This article will give you a quick guide on the top 10 vitamins and minerals needed by the body and the problem areas they address according to pharmaceutical experts.

  1. Vitamin A is known to maintain a strong heart, immunity, and eye and lung health thus addressing all problems related to these.  
  2. Vitamin B is in charge of converting macro and micronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into energy. Therefore, it is necessary for healthy metabolism as well as cell development, growth, and function. It also ensures the peak condition of our hair and nails. Vitamin B helps with problems involving the nervous and digestive system, the brain, and the skin. 
  3. Vitamin C is among the most heard vitamins on the list. It helps the immune system and increases iron absorption from plant-based foods and supplements. Since it’s an antioxidant, vitamin C protects our cells from damaging free radicals. It also aids in wound healing by helping our body produce collagen. Hence, vitamin C is helpful in maintaining healthy veins and arteries, muscles, cartilage, tendons, bones, teeth, and skin. 
  4. Vitamin D builds strong bones by helping our body absorb calcium from food and supplements. It also boosts the functioning of the immune system while supporting healthy cell growth as well as muscle and cardiovascular function. 
  5. Vitamin E helps defend our cells against the oxidative stress caused by sunlight, pollution, and stress which can prematurely age the skin. When combined with zinc, beta-carotene, and vitamin C, vitamin E also help maintain long-term eye health.
  6. Zinc is an essential mineral that plays an important role in immune function and is essential for normal growth and development during pregnancy and childhood. It is an antioxidant that plays a vital role in overall health. It is mostly involved in many processes, including metabolism, vision and skin health. Zinc also appears to provide support to other antioxidants involved in supporting visual acuity.
  7. Sodium plays a critical role in helping your cells maintain the right balance of fluid. It’s also used to help cells absorb nutrients. It’s the most abundant electrolyte ion found in the body. It is an essential mineral controlled by your kidneys and partially responsible for keeping your body’s fluids in balance. This includes blood plasma and the fluid between your cells. Sodium is also necessary to maintain healthy muscle and nerve function.
  8. Potassium allows the nerves to respond to stimulation and the muscles to tighten, which are processes especially critical to your heart function. Your body also needs potassium to build proteins and muscles. It’s required for growth throughout your body and helps regulate the use of carbohydrates. Potassium is abundant in the average diet. 
  9. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is crucial for structural support. It is necessary for healthy bones, teeth, muscle, and nerve function. It is also a critical part of many metabolic, neurological and muscular functions. 
  10. Magnesium helps more than 300 enzymes that regulate various processes in the body, including muscle and nerve function, heart rhythms and glucose control. Magnesium is critical for helping the body use calcium and vitamin D so that it can strengthen the bones. It also supports energy production and cardiovascular function.

It seems daunting to remember the importance of these 10 vitamins and minerals. But there are various sources from which they can be acquired such as meal replacement shakes. USANA Philippines offers a variety of meal replacement shakes under their active nutrition line namely: Nutrimeal, Fibergy Active, and Watermelon Electrolyte Replacement Drink. All of which takes less than a minute to prepare. In quick and easy steps, people on the go will be able to secure the nutrients they need and move with ease.  

Indeed, it is important to know what our body needs to keep us healthy and active. But the process does not stop there. It is what you do with the information you gained that will affect the results. What will you do now?

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Nutrition

Benefits of swapping some meat intake with walnuts

New research suggests that walnuts, when substituted for meat, may improve diet quality, support cardiovascular health and lower the risk for developing type 2 diabetes and overall all-cause mortality.

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Food trends are constantly evolving and one of the most exciting trends for 2024 is focused on putting the “plant” back in “plant-based”.

One easy way to include more plant-based foods in the diet is considering walnuts as a partial replacement for meat in a meal or snack for added nutrition benefits. Walnuts are a versatile, nutritious, and delicious plant-based protein option that works well with a variety of global sweet or savory flavors and pairs well with other ingredients. Walnuts also have the ability to take on the texture and consistency of ground meat, allowing for seamless integration into a variety of recipes.

New research suggests that walnuts, when substituted for meat, may improve diet quality, support cardiovascular health and lower the risk for developing type 2 diabetes and overall all-cause mortality.

In a recent modeling study published in Nutrients, an international, peer-reviewed, open access journal of human nutrition and funded by the California Walnut Commission, researchers examined the potential benefits to nutrient intake and diet quality by replacing some meat in the diet with walnuts. The researchers used data from the 2015 – 2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), to model the nutrient intake of the US population with and without walnuts. Specifically, 0.5, 1, 1.5 and 2 ounces of walnuts per day replaced 1, 2, 3 and 4 ounces of meat.

The modeling study found that the partial replacement of meat with walnuts in the diet:2

  • Improved the overall diet quality.
  • Increased intake of omega-3 ALA, fiber, magnesium and copper. 
  • Significantly decreased cholesterol and vitamin B12.
    • Important to note: all age and gender groups maintained vitamin B12 intake above the recommended daily allowance when replacing 2–3 ounces of meat with walnuts.

Notably, the study found that replacing just 1 – 1.5 oz of meat with walnuts may improve the dietary intake of some nutrients, such as dietary fiber, magnesium, and “good” polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3 ALA, and may decrease the intake of cholesterol among the US population. The study also found that all age and gender groups may benefit from incorporating walnuts into their diets.*

“It’s no surprise that there are benefits to eating more plant-based foods. What’s most encouraging to see, however, is that these benefits can occur by including something as simple, easy-to-find, and versatile as nuts, like walnuts, in the diet,” said Dr. Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RDN. “Of course, we know that the many positive attributes of walnuts are already supported by more than three decades of health-related research examining the effect of consumption on areas of whole-body health. And now, we’re seeing the impressive effects that simple swaps from animal-based products can make when nutritious and tasty walnuts are used.”

Swaps to Unlock the Walnut Effect

A few examples of plant-based meat swaps with walnuts include:

  • For meatless Mondays or plant-based taco Tuesdays, swap out ground beef or turkey for walnut chorizo, as Walnut “Chorizo” Tacos with Pickled Vegetables provide a satisfying, nutritious crumble in tacos. The combination of spicy walnut chorizo with tangy pickled vegetables is mouthwateringly good.
  • Give the classic pasta night a twist by adding flavor and texture from walnuts with this Pappardelle with California Walnut Pesto. 
  • Prepping a big batch of sweet potato walnut falafels ahead of time makes mealtime easy throughout the week with Sweet Potato Walnut Falafel Bowls. A maple tahini sauce keeps things interesting on this plant-based dish and try switching up the grains and vegetables for versatility.
  • Elevate the ultimate comfort – meatballs! These California Walnut Meatless Meatballs are great with pasta, slathered in marinara or in some California Walnut Muhammara sauce. Or Coconut Curry Lentil and Walnut Meatballs which are built with lentils and walnuts and a simple, aromatic coconut curry sauce served over hearty grains and sautéed vegetables, is a well-balanced, delicious plant-forward meal.

Some tips include:

  •  Prepare a single batch of “walnut meat” and use it across several meals throughout the week.
  • To ensure the freshness of “walnut meat,” store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days or freeze it for longer-term storage.

A 1-ounce serving of walnuts, the equivalent of a handful, provides a powerhouse of important nutrients for optimum health, including:3

  • An excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid (2.5g) – the only nut with a significant amount.
  • 4g of protein
  • 2g of fiber
  • A good source of magnesium (45mg)
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