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There are plenty of reasons to exercise and plenty of reasons to limit sugar, but the truth is, neither would be enough to stem the obesity epidemic. Studies show that exercise, despite all its benefits, cannot compensate for poor eating habits when it comes to weight loss. For the most part, too much sugar and too little exercise sugarcoat the real issue at hand: We’re eating meat and dairy products in quantities that our grandparents never imagined. Obesity was all but unheard of a century ago in the United States. By 1970, about 11 percent of the population qualified as obese. Today, that number stands at 36 percent. So what happened?

Since 1970, our overall energy intake has risen by about 500 calories per day. Where are most of these extra calories coming from? The bulk is from meat, eggs, dairy products, and added fats, which account for an extra 287 calories every day. That adds up to about four extra pounds per year. Let’s rewind another 60 years. Compared to 1909, we now consume 60 more pounds of meat per person each year. Cheese consumption has soared from just four pounds per person in 1909 to more than 30 pounds today, making it a leading source of saturated fat in Americans’ diets.

Eating 100 more pounds of meat and cheese – along with saturated fat and cholesterol – every year has, not surprisingly, only made us gain weight and get sick. Decades of science confirm that our waistlines would benefit from simply moving the animal products off our plates. According to 15 major research studies, vegetarian diets consistently lead to weight loss, even without calorie restriction or exercise and long-term observational studies show that vegetarian—especially vegan—populations are the trimmest and healthiest on the planet.

It’s time to stop the sweet talk: Meat and dairy are the real drivers of the obesity epidemic, and setting them aside will help solve it.

Tip of the Day

Enjoy foods from many cultures. Combinations of herbs and spices often remind us of dishes from our own heritage or our favorite ethnic food. Add flavor to meals with herbs and spices, such as chili, garlic, ginger, basil, oregano, curry, cilantro or turmeric.

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Vegan Diets Protect Against Prostate Cancer

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A vegetarian diet lowers your risk for prostate cancer, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (November, 2015). Researchers compared several dietary patterns and cancer incidence rates for 26,346 participants from the Adventist Health Study-2. Those who followed a vegan diet were less likely to be obese and experienced a 35 percent lower prostate cancer risk than those following a nonvegetarian, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, or semi-vegetarian diet. Researchers suspect higher intakes of fiber, soy, and anti-inflammatory antioxidants from fruits and vegetables and lower intakes of saturated fat, animal protein, and serum insulin-like growth factor 1 from dairy products from a vegan diet contributed to lower cancer risk.

Tantamango-Bartley T, Knutsen SF, Knutsen R, et al. Are strict vegetarians protected against prostate cancer? Am J Clin Nutr. Published online November 11, 2015.

Tip of the Day

Prep in different ways! Did you know that it may take up to a dozen tries for a child to like a new food? Don’t give up. Try preparing the same food in different ways! They may like a vegetable cooked but not raw or vice versa.

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Persimmon Pear Salad

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Persimmons contain at least 20% of the daily value of vitamin C. These thin skinned fruits are an easy choice for salads and out-of-hand eating.

Slice 2 persimmons and 1 medium red pear into wedges. Toss 4 cups baby spinach with 1/2 cup crumbled feta; 4 tablespoons finely chopped toasted pecans; and fruit. Drizzle with 2 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 to 3 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.

Makes 4 servings

Per Serving: 210 calories, 16 g fat (4 g sat), 16 g carbs, 250 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 4 g protein

Tip of the Day 

Portion update! Today’s average bagel is twice the size is was 20 years ago. That also means twice the number of calories. Keep portion size in mind at your next meal to cut down on calories.

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Date-Oatmeal Stuffed Apples

Dates: Rich and sweet, they are a good source of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and health-promoting polyphenols.

 

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Mix 1/2 cup cooked cold oatmeal; 1/4 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts; 5 chopped, pitted dates; 1 tablespoon maple syrup; 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg; and a pinch of salt. Use a melon baller to make a cavity three quarters deep in each of 4 Rome apples and pack with filling. Place apples in a baking dish, pour 1/2 cup apple juice around them, cover with foil, and bake at 375 until tender, 40 to 70 minutes. Top with a teaspoon of heavy whipping cream.

Makes 4 servings

Per Serving: 270 cal, 6 g fat (1 g sat), 58 g carbs, 40 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 3 g protein

Tip of the Day

Up for a challenge? Challenge yourself to make half your grains whole. Mix white rice with equal parts brown rice and enjoy with a veggie-filled chicken stir-fry. Serve with a side of fruit and a glass of milk to include all 5 food groups.

Daily Inspiration

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Easy Vegetarian Crock-Pot Chili

Serves: 8

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1 can Black Beans, rinsed and drained

1 can Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained

1 can Garbanzo Beans, rinsed and drained

2 cans Diced tomatoes

2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste

1 cp. Frozen Corn

1 large Onion, chopped

1 Green Pepper, chopped

3 Carrots, peeled and chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tsp. Cumin

Dash of Tabasco Sauce

Dash of Worcestershire Sauce

1 qt. low sodium Vegetable Broth

1/4 tsp. Salt or to taste

Place all ingredients in a large slow-cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 2-4 hours.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 

Calories 220, Fat 1.5g, Saturated Fat 0g, Carbohydrate 42g, Fiber 12g, Protein 11g, Sodium 620mg

Tip of the Day

Are you food safe? Use a food thermometer when cooking. A food thermometer should be used to ensure that food is cooked and held at safe temperatures until eaten.

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Tofu Ceviche

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Prep: 20 minutes

Chill: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1.5 lb. firm tofu

1/2 cup cider or sherry vinegar

1 tsp. sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 scallions, sliced

1 tsp minced garlic, 1 clove

1 bunch radishes, sliced or chopped

1 cucumber, sliced or chopped

1 avocado, cubed

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  1. Cut tofu into small cubes. In a large bowl, put vinegar, sugar, 1 tsp. salt and 1 cup water. Whisk to combine, then add scallions, garlic and tofu; toss gently to coat with marinade. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 days.
  2. Drain tofu mixture, reserving pickling liquid. In a separate large bowl, put tofu mixture and add radishes, cucumber and avocado.
  3. Toss ceviche with 2 Tbsp reserved pickling liquid, plus oil and 1/2 tsp pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more pickling liquid if desired. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Per serving: 265 calories, 18g Fat (2g Sat), 0mg Chol., 3g Fiber, 17g Pro., 13g Carb., 596mg Sod., 3mg Iron, 356mg Calcium

Reprinted from Health

Tip of the Day

Think beyond breakfast. Eggs contain protein and other healthy nutrients, so enjoy them any time of the day. Try a healthy quiche recipe or top your salad with a hard cooked egg.

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Sweet Potato Crisp

 

Serves: 12

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Ingredients: 

2 lbs. sweet potatoes

5 c. water

1/2 c. sugar

3 T. all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

1 T. butter, cut into small pieces

Ingredients for topping:

1 c. quick cooking oats

1/2 c. all purpose or whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. butter, melted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400. Prepare 13 X 9 inch baking dish by spraying with vegetable oil spray (not olive oil). Peel potatoes and slice 1/4 inch thick. Add potatoes and water to saucepan. Cook potatoes until crisp tender, about 8-10 minutes. Drain potatoes, reserving 1.5 c. liquid. Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in separate bowl. Layer potatoes in pan, sprinkling flour mixture on top of each layer. Pour reserved liquid over potato mixture. Dot with butter. In another bowl combine topping ingredients and sprinkle topping on top of potato mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until top has browned.

Nutrition per serving:

Calories 190, Fat 5g, Saturated Fat 3g, Carbohydrates 34g, Fiber 4g, Protein 3g, Sodium 120mg

Original author: Barbara Hopkins MMSc RD LD

Tip of the Day

Go on a grocery field trip. Use grocery shopping to teach your child about food and nutrition. Discuss where vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and protein foods come from. Let your children make healthy choices.

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