Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mug Cake

This is such a fun presentation for an individual cake, and a lot easier to make than cupcakes! Kids will love making and eating them. They taste so good!

Mug Cake
Servings: 1 Mug (300ml or 10oz)

  • 4 tablespoons of wholewheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 tablespoon of canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter
  • granulated chocolate, M&Ms, cereal, raisins, chopped fruits or any other decoration to taste
Using a microwaveable 300ml mug, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and cocoa. Add the egg and stir well using a fork. Lastly, add the milk and oil and stir. Microwave in high power for 2 minutes, turn off the microwave. As soon as the dough lowers, turn it on again for another minute. Repeat it until the dough doesn't lower anymore.
Mix all ingredients for the topping, except the decoration. Microwave it for 30 seconds. Pour the topping over the mug. Decorate.

Source: Based on recipe from receitas.com

Finding Your Resting Channel

The ability to rest is a skill that should be cultivated throughout our lifetime. Wearing many hats (or shoes) can be exhausting. We all need to find ways to replenish our energy level, no matter the circumstances. Can't meditate? What about exercise regularly? Well, you should find your own ways to unload. Here are some helpful tips from Ph.D Rick Hanson:

"Imagine the benefits for you and others if you listen to the support and wisdom of your dear friend and innermost being. Then commit to what makes sense to you, in terms of nudging your schedule in a more restful direction, refusing to add new tasks to your own bucket, taking more breaks or simply helping your own mind be less busy with chatter, complaints about yourself and others or inner struggles. For example:
1. Upon first waking, bring to mind your fundamental purpose in life, whatever it is, and rest in the felt knowing of it, in giving yourself over to it, like resting in the warm cradling current of a great river.
2. At meals, pause for half a minute with your food before you start eating.
3. Be aware of that little space between the end of an inhalation and the beginning of an exhalation (or vice versa). From time to time each day, notice that space and rest into it.
4. When you complete a task, take a break for a few seconds or more before shifting gears to the next one.
5. Promise yourself that you'll take a minute or more each day to sit quietly and remain present with yourself while doing nothing (this is an essential type of meditation).
6. Have real times each day when you truly "clock out" -- no longer on task or accountable to anyone.
7. Encourage your mind to come to rest at least occasionally. Tell yourself you can worry/problem solve/grumble later. The mind/brain is like a muscle, and it needs to stop working sometimes to replenish and rebuild itself.
And when you rest, sink into its pleasures, its rewards, and sense them sinking into you, like a warm rain falling on thirsty ground."
Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist and author of the bestselling "Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom" (in 21 languages). Founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley

Source: Huffington Post

Perked Up Greens

Bored with the same ol' veggies? Get over your salad boredom with these up-and-coming greens to give you great health benefits and flavor:
One of the mildest mustard greens, mizuna -- often found in mesclun mixes -- is high in immune-boosting vitamin C, folate and iron. It also contains powerful glucosinolates -- antioxidants linked to decreased cancer risk, says Tanya Zuckerbrot, R.D., author of "The F-Factor Diet." Cultivated in Japan since ancient times, mizuna brings an exotic, slightly spicy flavor to the table.
Prep tip: Part of mizuna’s allure is its feathery, light appearance -- but its edges dry out easily. To get the freshest bunch, look for crisp green leaves that aren’t wilted.
Twenty years ago, San Francisco–based chefs brought mâche (a.k.a. lamb’s lettuce) seeds home from France and introduced its mild, nutty flavor to American restaurant patrons. Now it’s a Whole Foods staple.
A one-cup serving delivers 80 percent of your daily requirement of folate, which helps prevent certain birth defects and keeps your heart healthy. It also packs two grams of filling fiber, four milligrams of iron (needed for forming red blood cells) and more than 250 milligrams of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, Zuckerbrot says.
Prep tip: Rinse mâche briefly to avoid damaging its delicate leaves.
In addition to delivering high doses of vitamins A, K (needed for normal blood clotting) and C, watercress contains isothiocyanates -- compounds that boost your body’s natural detoxifying abilities. It may also lower your breast cancer risk and strengthen your bones (one cup has four milligrams of calcium).
Prep tip: Wash this peppery and pungent green carefully and thoroughly, as it tends to be sandy.
Dandelion Greens
Traditionally used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes, these greens keep the gastrointestinal tract running smoothly by promoting the growth of bacteria that aid with digestion; they also act as a mild laxative to relieve bloating and constipation, Zuckerbrot says.
One cup provides more than 100 percent of your daily dose of vitamin A -- crucial for keeping your eyesight strong -- and a whopping 103 milligrams of calcium.
Prep tip: Look for dandelions with smaller, slightly curled leaves because they’re less bitter.
It may be considered a pesky weed by many farmers, but this superfood’s a worthy addition to any salad bowl. It is lemony, succulent and crisp -- and packs up to 400 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per serving.
Purslane is also a great source of vitamins A and C, and it contains up to 15 times more of the cancer-fighting antioxidant melatonin than many other fruits and vegetables.
Prep tip: These greens don’t stay perky for long, so maximize freshness by storing them with stems in cold water in the refrigerator.

Source: health.com, thehuffingtonpost

Monday, August 29, 2011

Have you Found a Perfect Lunchbox?

During our search for ideal lunchboxes, we came across Yubo. It has many great features: fun designs, kids can change the faceplates, 100% dishwasher safe, BPA-free, Phthalate-free, made of recyclable plastic, and comes with 3 reusable food containers and a custom-fit ice pack. Is it missing anything?
Check out all designs and faceplates.

Made by Yubo

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mini Squash Shepherd's Pie

Who doens't like Shepher's Pie? It includes most "comfort food" ingredients!
This one has a little twist to make it less caloric and more nutritiousl Great (easy) recipe for the weekend!

Mini Squash Shepherd's Pie
Servings: 4 portions
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 12 ounces 93%-lean ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 ounces baby spinach, chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
  • 24oz cooked winter squash, pureed (or you can use frozen winter squash) 
  • 1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, stir in turkey, flour and tomato paste, and cook, stirring, until the turkey is mostly browned, about 3 minutes. Add water, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Stir in spinach, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder; cook until the spinach is just wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Place squash in a fine-mesh sieve and gently press on it to extract excess liquid. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. Divide the meat mixture among four 10-ounce broiler-safe ramekins. Top each with about 1/2 cup of the squash. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet.
Broil until heated through and bubbling around the edges, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and broil until it is just melted, about 3 minutes more.

Source: based on recipe from Eatingwell.com

RECALL ALERT: Papaya with Salmonella

The federal Food and Drug Administration is banning imports of all papayas grown in Mexico because of widespread and ongoing salmonella contamination, the agency announced Thursday.
More than 15 percent of fresh papayas entering the U.S. from Mexico were contaminated with the foodborne bacteria, an FDA investigation between May 12 and Aug. 18 found. That included papayas from 28 different firms and included all the major papaya-producing regions in Mexico.
Affected papayas were distributed nationwide and to Canada through retail stores and wholesalers.

Source: foodsafety.gov

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sunless Tanning: Safe?

What is your take on sunless tanning? It has been advertised as a very safe option (compared to tanning beds and massive sun exposure), but I haven't been able to find any detailed report on the chemicals behind self tanning. 

The most common formulas contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA) as the active ingredient. DHA is not a dye, stain or paint, but causes a chemical reaction with the amino acids in the dead layer on the skin surface, turning it darker. Some products use erythrulose combined with DHA. Erythrulose works identically to DHA on the skin surface, but develops more slowly. The two chemicals used together may produce a longer lasting sunless tan.
Many self tanners use chemical fragrances which may cause skin allergies or may trigger asthma. Furthermore, some of them contain parabens. Parabens are preservatives that can affect the endocrine system.
For the 24 hours after self-tanner (containing high DHA levels, ~5%) is applied, the skin is especially susceptible to free-radical damage from sunlight, according to a 2007 study led by Katinka Jung of the Gematria Test Lab in Berlin. Forty minutes after the researchers treated skin samples with high levels of DHA they found that more than 180 percent additional free radicals formed during sun exposure compared with untreated skin.

Sources: various, including wikipedia

Bacteria and Safe Foods: A Guide

I've always been a bit curious about the sanitary benefits of boiling foods. Does it kill all bacteria and make the food safe?
Here is some clarifying information from a New York Times report. "Bacteria that cause illness inevitably end up on nearly every ingredient we cook with, and even boiling won’t kill all of them.
Boiling does kill any bacteria active at the time, including E. coli and salmonella. But a number of survivalist species of bacteria are able to form inactive seedlike spores. These dormant spores are commonly found in farmland soils, in dust, on animals and field-grown vegetables and grains. And the spores can survive boiling temperatures.
After a food is cooked and its temperature drops below 130 degrees, these spores germinate and begin to grow, multiply and produce toxins. One such spore-forming bacterium is Clostridium botulinum, which can grow in the oxygen-poor depths of a stockpot, and whose neurotoxin causes botulism.
Once they’ve germinated, bacteria multiply quickly in nourishing stock. They can double their numbers every 90 minutes at room temperature, every 15 minutes at body temperature. A single germinated spore can become 1,000 bacteria in a matter of hours, a billion in a few days.
Any active bacteria are killed by holding food for a minute at 150 degrees or above, and botulism toxin is inactivated by 10 minutes at the boil. But quickly reheating a contaminated food just up to serving temperature won’t destroy its active bacteria and toxins..."
Source: NYTimes

We've Been Featured!

We've just been featured on Too Much Time on My Hands. Check it out!

Thank you Kim for your great review of our site!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Bacteria Colonies in our Pillows

According to Glamour Magazine, who reported on a study from SleepBetter.org, that looked at pillows and mattress pads from 50 college students around the country and found that they had, on average, "350,000 potential live bacteria colonies and 91,000 potential live yeast and mold colonies. 

And the mattress pads? 2 million potential bacteria colonies and 330,000 yeast and mold colonies." Germ expert, Dr. Lisa Shives, says that for most people, these levels of creepy crawlies is pretty normal, and isn't likely to pose a health risk, but for others it may. "Most of these microbes are part of the normal human condition, so if you're 25 and healthy as a horse, then this probably won't affect you," she says. "But for the millions who deal with conditions like chronic sinusitis, allergies or asthma--this is data that they should pay attention to and get rid of their old pillows and mattress pads, anything over one year old." You can also cut down on bacteria and skin cell buildup in your pillow by showering before bed, she adds. 

Personally, I like to put our pillows in the sun for a couple of hours on a weekly basis. In the Winter, I throw them in the drier for about 30 minutes. It doesn't hurt!

Source: Glamour Magazine

Monday, August 22, 2011

Vintage Paper Flowers

This weekend I came across an awesome blog: Too Much Time on My Hands. Kim creates amazing crafts, and posts super easy tutorials. Check out the Vintage Paper Flowers. Gorgeous! 

Click here to access the tutorial. And follow her blog for other super creative ideas!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dangers of Triclosan in Consumer Products

The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the safety of triclosan in hand soaps, a chemical that was created more than 40 years ago as a surgical scrub for hospitals. Triclosan is now in a range of consumer products, including soaps like Dial, kitchen cutting boards and even a best-selling toothpaste, Colgate Total. It is so prevalent that a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the chemical present in the urine of 75 percent of Americans over the age of 5.
Several studies have shown that triclosan may alter hormone regulation in laboratory animals or cause antibiotic resistance, and some consumer groups and members of Congress want it banned in antiseptic products like hand soap. The F.D.A. has already said that soap with triclosan is no more effective than washing with ordinary soap and water, a finding that manufacturers dispute.

The F.D.A. was to announce the results of its review several months ago, but now says the timing is uncertain and unlikely until next year. The Environmental Protection Agency is also looking into the safety of triclosan.

Source: nytimes.com

Friday, August 19, 2011

Making Happiness a Habit Through Mindfulness

Susan Greenland, the author of The Mindful Child, wrote this amazing article to The Huffington Post. Although the concepts are somewhat intuitive, they are profound, and very worth reading. Enjoy!
Click here to buy the book

"What if happiness was a habit that we could teach children? We can. Qualities that lead away from happiness (strong negative emotions) and qualities that lead toward happiness (ethical actions) are all rooted in habits developed in the past. Mindfulness helps children and teens recognize the habits that lead to happiness and break the ones that don't.
Habits are easy to make, hard to break and everybody has them. Some habits are physical (cracking knuckles and twirling hair), some are verbal (using certain words or phrases) and some are psychological (worrying, daydreaming, judging and over-analyzing). By repeating a habit we reinforce the brain circuits associated with it and make the habit stronger. The stronger the habit, the stronger the neural pathways, and the stronger the effort and determination required to break it. If teenagers check their Facebook pages first thing in the morning, every morning, checking Facebook will soon become their default, automatic response to waking up. If they hike or meditate first thing in the morning, every morning, hiking or meditating will soon become their default, automatic response to waking up. The more a habit is repeated the stronger it becomes and the more likely it is to become a person's automatic response to a specific experience.
There is a well-established, evidence-based curriculum that uses mindfulness to develop life-skills that make people happy. It rest on three universal qualities attention, balance and compassion. Countless parents and educators, who have tried this curriculum themselves, are now passionate about teaching mindfulness to youth. They form the basis of an emerging grassroots movement to bring mindfulness to education.
Mindfulness is a refined process of attention that allows children to see the world through a lens of attention, balance and compassion. When children learn to look at the world with attention, balance and compassion they soon learn to be in the world with attention, balance and compassion.
Making compassion a habit.
To make compassion a habit all kids need to do is promise that everything they do will be kind and compassionate and keep that promise. Sound easy? Anyone who has ever taken a vow, and then tried to keep it, knows that saying you'll speak and act in a certain way is easier said than done. The best way to keep a promise is to make it a habit and that's where mindfulness can help. Mindfulness is the mental quality by which children and teens remember to check-in with themselves throughout the day and make sure they are on track. Mindfulness helps kids remember their intention to be kind and compassionate and notice if they're acting and speaking in accordance with it. We don't expect children to be perfect, any more than we expect perfection of ourselves, but using mindfulness to notice when they swerve off track and away from their intention allows them to correct their course.
Making concentration a habit.
Concentrating on one thing and nothing else is a crucial skill in school. Students who have the capacity to direct their attention toward what they're studying, and keep it there, have an obvious advantage over those who are easily distracted. To develop concentration, and make it a habit, students use mindfulness to periodically check-in and make sure they are still paying attention to their chosen object. "Has my mind wandered or become dull?" "Am I paying attention to my homework, or am I thinking about the past or future? " "Am I alert or have I faded into a sleepy state of mind?"
Making balance a habit.
Once children and teens use mindfulness to develop compassion by remembering to check-in to make sure they're actions are aligned with their intentions, and refine their attention by checking-in to make sure they're paying attention to their chosen object, they are ready to use mindfulness to develop emotional balance. The strong and stable faculty of attention that children and teens develop practicing concentration becomes more refined when they use it to see what's happening in, to and around them clearly even when what's happening is emotionally upsetting or charged. Like developing attention and compassion, when developing balance students check-in periodically and notice what they're attending to. Mindfulness in developing emotional balance goes deeper by developing discernment a powerful quality of wisdom through which children and teens notice, among other things, patterns and habits of action and speech.
Hope motivates change.
I've worked with parents around the world and they have one thing in common: Parents want to be happy and they want their children to be happy. They're worried that the current educational system doesn't teach the life skills necessary to solve the myriad problems their children will surely inherit. Many parents feel hopeless. When they learn that mindfulness training is -- an evidenced based curriculum; with a long, reliable track record; universal in its approach; and taught in a secular way -- they feel hopeful again. Hope motivates change and explains the growing, grassroots social-action movement for mindful education."
Susan Kaiser Greenland, author of The Mindful Child and former corporate attorney, developed the Inner Kids program for children, teens and their families and teaches worldwide.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Strategic Cooking with Kids!

We all know that cooking with kids is a great experience, and the benefits are many: bonding, fun, learning, healthier eating, just to name a few. Creating a perfect environment requires a bit of planning, but it definitely enhances the experience (and prevent some accidents too!). Here are great tips from The Stir:

1. Be a Teacher. Everyday tasks that may seem routine to parents can be great learning opportunities for kids. Encourage healthy lifestyle habits by using the grocery store as a classroom to count foods, identify colors, and practice reading skills. Take a field trip to the local farmers’ market or dairy farm so kids can learn where foods come from.
2. Focus on the Three B's. Involving your kids in the cooking process lets you Bond with your child(ren),Build their self-confidence, and Broaden their food base. You get to work together as a team, help them develop their fine motor skills, and teach them about the importance of nutrition.
3. Cleanliness First. Always wash your hands before starting to cook and after touching raw meat, poultry, or seafood. It’s important to teach children not to mix raw and cooked foods. In fact, one easy way to do this is to have different colored cutting boards for various foods -- such as red for meats and green for fruits and vegetables.
4. Kids Need Space Too. Creating a small, safe workplace in the kitchen for your child gives them a sense of ownership while cooking. Make sure to set kitchen rules, and communicate those clearly, so kids are aware of their boundaries. Read each recipe together before beginning, and chop or measure your ingredients as needed before starting.
5. Never Assume. Kids don’t necessarily know that an object or utensil may be hot or sharp, so make sure to tell them and to set rules about how to use (or not use) each object. Explain as you go, demonstrate, and then let them try.
6. Prevent Mishaps. While it can be very tempting, don’t sample food until it’s done. It can be unsafe for little ones to taste-test certain raw foods. Also, clean up spills as they happen (and they will!), and keep sharp or dangerous items out of reach, such as knives, scissors, and food processors. 
7. Be the "Lifeguard" of the Kitchen. Always supervise children in the kitchen. It’s never a good idea to leave younger kids alone. For older children, identify what is and isn’t OK to do when you’re not in the kitchen.
8. Follow the Leader. The best way to teach children healthy eating and safe cooking habits is to practice what you preach. Even though you may not think your kids are paying attention, they watch everything you do and will eventually adopt the behaviors they see. By eating healthy and being active, you’re sending a powerful message to your children.

9. Explore New Foods. The more foods you introduce to children, the greater the variety of foods they’re likely to eat as adults. Preparing ethnic dishes offers a great opportunity to try new foods, flavors, and spices, as well as to learn about a new culture. Consider having a theme night, complete with music from that culture. Older kids can research that part of the world and share fun facts at dinner.  
10. Break Out of the (Lunch) Box. With school right around the corner, it can be tough to think of fresh new meal ideas outside of the classic PB&J. Involve your kids in the meal planning and preparation, which will increase the likelihood that they’ll eat the healthier lunch that’s been prepared and actually enjoy it. 
Source: The Stir

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More Evidence to Avoid Red and Preserved Meats

Check out the conclusions of this report, a collaboration of the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute of Cancer Research, about the overall relationship of diet to cancer: we should limit red meat and avoid preserved meats, commonly those that contain sodium nitrite. 

The recommendation is to avoid:

  • Deli meats preserved by smoking, salt curing or with chemical preservatives like added sodium nitrite.
  • According to the review by the WCRF/AICR, limit red meat (beef, pork, lamb and goat) and deli meat to less than 18 ounces (cooked weight) or 25 ounces raw weight meat weekly. Most restaurants serve 8-16 ounces as their standard portion. Tip: 3 ounces looks like a deck of cards.

How to know:

  • Look at the labels of packaged meats.
  • At the deli counter, ask. If the person working doesn’t know, ask to speak to someone who does!
  • Sodium nitrite is most common in red meat products, not chicken or fish.
  • Ask for fresh roasted turkey or meats that have been cooked fresh and on-site.

The most common foods to watch out for:

  • Packaged deli red meats (sandwich meats) like bologna, pastrami, salami, roast beef, or ham.
  • Sliced packaged ham, sausage and bacon
  • Hot dogs
  • Beef jerky
  • Frozen meals (including frozen pizza) with meat
  • Canned foods that include meats
  • Deli sandwiches at restaurants, schools, hotels, hospitals and theme parks
The good news is that if it has a label, you can look for it to be listed. But if you’re unsure, when possible choose otherwise for your good health!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chicken Vindaloo

Indian food is very tasty and healthy. Common ingredients such as turmeric, ginger and mustard are powerful anti-oxidants. Here is a great recipe with mild Indian flavor. Very kid-friendly and easy to make!
Chicken Vindaloo
Servings: 4-6 portions

- 1 -3 1/2 lb chicken, quartered and skinned
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- canola oil
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 cups onions, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons ginger powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1/2 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar 
- salt to taste
- 2 cups water
- cooked brown rice
- cooked broccoli

Salt and pepper the chicken quarters. Heat a large frying pan and brown the chicken in the oil. You will have to do this in two batches. Remove the chicken to a 6-quart stove-top covered casserole. Add the garlic and onion to the pan and sauté until golden brown. Add to the casserole along with the ginger, cumin, mustard, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, and paprika. Sauté all for a few minutes and add all the remaining ingredients except for the garnishes. Cover and simmer until the chicken is tender. about 45 minutes. Stir a few times during cooking; partially remove the lid during the last 10 minutes or so to thicken the sauce. Top with garnishes. Serve with cooked brown rice and broccoli.
Source: based on recipe from food.com

Healthier Pantry

Fitness Magazine published some interesting ideas of simple food swaps that will make your pantry a bit healthier. Here is a summary:

Stock up on: Canola and olive oils
Toss: Vegetable oil
Canola oil is a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. "It has a mild flavor and a high smoking point, so it's ideal for sauteing and stir-frying," says Natalia Hancock, a culinary nutritionist for Rouge Tomate restaurant in New York City. When making salad dressing, cold dips, or spreads, reach for olive oil. It's an excellent source of oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fat, which research shows suppresses hunger.
Broth and Noodles
Stock up on: Low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
Toss: High-sodium broth

One cup of the regular broth contains up to 40 percent of your recommended daily sodium intake. Choose broths that are lower in sodium -- 450 milligrams per serving or less -- and use them in mashed potatoes instead of butter or half-and-half; you'll save about 230 calories and 24 grams of fat per batch, says Jessica Fishman Levinson, RD, a nutritionist in New York City. Or swap butter or olive oil for broth in rice recipes and cut up to 36 calories and 5 to 6 grams of fat per serving. Broth also adds zing to steamed veggies. Just sub it for water and cook as usual.
Stock up on: Buckwheat noodles
Toss: Refined pasta
Trading up from white pasta to whole wheat is good, but choosing soba, made with buckwheat, is even better. These noodles are high in fiber (3 grams per 2 ounces), and they're an excellent source of plant protein (about 8 grams per cup cooked). "Buckwheat noodles are so filling and satisfying, you're less likely to eat oversize portions," says Zuckerbrot. They're also loaded with magnesium; choline, a mineral that helps keep your brain healthy; and antioxidants, including rutin, which may lower blood pressure.
Bread Crumbs
Stock up on: Panko bread crumbs
Toss: Regular bread crumbs
Not only do they contain half the calories of the Italian kind -- 110 versus 220 per half cup -- but "because panko bread crumbs are lighter and coarser, they tend to absorb less oil and fat," Levinson says. They also stay crisper after cooking, making them perfect for breaded chicken, meat, and fish dishes. Plus, panko has about one-tenth the sodium of many regular bread crumbs.
Healthier Chocolate
Stock up on: Cocoa powder
Toss: Chocolate chips
Sweet treats don't have to be off-limits, even if you're on a diet. Instead of high-calorie, high-fat chocolate chips (a half cup has 560 calories and 32 grams of fat), add 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder to cookie, cake, or muffin batter before baking. Voila, the chocolaty flavor you crave for just 37 calories and 2 grams of fat.
Beans and Tuna
Stock up on: Dried beans
Toss: Canned beans

Canned beans are convenient, but they can cost twice as much per pound as the dried kind and have 50 times the sodium. Soak dried beans in water overnight, drain them in the a.m., and freeze what you don't use. They'll last up to six months, and no defrosting is required, says Leanne Ely, author of the Saving Dinner cookbook series. A 1-pound bag of beans yields 5 to 6 cups cooked.
Stock up on: Chunk light tuna packets
Toss: Canned albacore tuna
The chunk light variety has all the nutrients and protein that fancier white-meat tuna does but about one-third the amount of mercury. Don't like the darker meat? Opt for brands of albacore that use troll- or pole-and-line-caught fish, like Wild Planet, suggests Elizabeth Brown, RD, a nutritionist in Houston. These fish are much younger and smaller, which means they've had less time to accumulate the harmful heavy metal.

Source: Fitness magazine, Shine