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Archive for January, 2014

National Soup Month may officially end today, but not the lure of pipinYankee Bean Soupg hot soup on a cold winter day. With the polar vortex continuing to bear down, pull together some favorite vegetables and tasty bits of meat for a hardy fare.

A tantalizing favorite around our household is Yankee Bean Soup. It’s loaded with nutrients including antioxidants, generous protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Serve this savory dish along with wedges of cheese and fresh fruit for a hearty, healthy meal. Yummy.

Yankee Bean Soup

2                      cups ham, 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes (fat removed)

1                      cup onion, chopped

1                      cup (1 large) carrot, chopped

1/2                  cup celery, chopped

2                      tablespoons margarine

4                      cups chicken broth

2                      (15 ounce) cans white beans (Great Northern)

2                      cups diced tomatoes

1/2                   teaspoon rosemary

1/4                   teaspoon thyme

1                      large bay leaf

6                      peppercorns

                        salt to taste

In a large heavy saucepan, melt margarine. Sauté onion, carrots, and celery until onion is translucent. Add chopped ham and simmer about 1 minute. Add chicken broth, beans, tomatoes, and seasonings. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. This soup is good cooked in a crockpot. Sauté onion, carrots, and celery, place all ingredients into crockpot, simmer on high for 30 minutes. Reduce heat and cook for 2 to 3 hours.

Why not make a double batch? This soup is great to freeze and keep handy for those rushed days or evenings. Or make ahead the day before to give flavors even more time to blend. Pull from the refrigerator and cook or reheat.

Chase the chill from your bones with this nourishing, easy to make soup, and listen to family accolades. What’s not to like about soup?

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If you work better with a diet plan, check the diets for 2014 ranked by the U. S. News & World Report (January... Clip art image of a group of healthy foods for a balance diet concept 7, 2014) as the most nutritious, safe, and easy to follow.

For the past four years, U. S. News has issued Best Diets in several categories as determined by experts in the fields of dietetics, nutrition, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. From thirty-two plans, the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) once again ranked as the best diet overall. The federal government initially funded research for this diet and doesn’t consider it a diet but an “eating plan.” It consists of foods lower in sodium to help reduce blood pressure.

The TLC Diet (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes), a solid diet plan developed by the National Institute of Health, ranked second. Three diets tied for third; Mayo Clinic Diet, Mediterranean Diet, and Weight Watchers.

If you are seeking to lose weight, Weight Watchers topped the list followed by Jenny Craig, Biggest Loser, and Raw Food Diet. You can see the ranking of all thirty-two weight-loss diets at this link. Six other categories ranked the best diets for diabetes, heart, healthy eating, easiest to follow, best commercial diet plans, and best plant-based diets.

What is the best diet for you? These rankings show that no one diet plan is ideal for everyone. If you want a plan for healthy eating, the DASH and TLC diets again ranked first and second followed by the Mediterranean Diet. See the entire ranking for healthy diets here.

Continue your quest to eat healthier in 2014, and use these diets as a guide toward becoming a healthier and maybe even a happier you.

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By now, most have set resolutions for 2014, and perhaps many have broken them already. We declared what we wanted to accomplish this year. Some were far-reaching goals that needed time and commitment. Others required a change in mind-set.

Last year I delineated five positive nutrition principles to focus on in 2013, (Forget Diet Resolutions—Focus on Positives). Briefly these included:

  • Everyone eats food—we can’t live without it.
  • Sugar doesn’t make us fat—just the excess, especially when accompanied with high fat.
  • Diet isn’t a bad word—everything we eat is a part of our diet.
  • Add instead of subtract—eat more fruits/veggies, nix the salt.
  • Watch portion size—bigger isn’t better.

How did you make out? Maybe it’s time to review, remember, and remedy. If you made diet resolutions again and have already faltered, take heart. Any time is a good time to improve healthy eating. Review food choices you made last year. Remember what situation or specific foods may have caused you to go astray. Consider some of the following to remedy or improve eating habits.

  • Post a list on the refrigerator of healthy foods you need daily. A constant reminder makes it easier to remember to make wise choices.
  • Write down foods to buy before shopping using your refrigerator list as a guide. If you purchase healthy foods instead of unhealthy ones, that’s what you will eat because they’re available.
  • Eliminate the word diet from your vocabulary. Concentrate on each food instead of diet.
  • Put away the salt shaker. Be more diligent in reading food labels. Remember processed foods contain a lot more sodium/salt than most home-prepared dishes. When possible, purchase reduced-salt products. If you use convenience foods when cooking, such as condensed soup, omit additional salt in the recipe.
  • Invest in a good set of measuring utensils and measure recommended portion sizes until you visually recognize that amount on your plate or in your bowl.

It’s still about simple changes. Just as bad habits form by doing the same thing over and over, repeating small changes becomes a habit for healthier eating. Hopefully, you made strides toward improved eating in 2013. If so, good job. Keep going. If not, it’s never too late. Focus on adjustments you want to make before 2015. Get going and make it a happy healthy year.

 

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