Friday, November 12, 2010

VeganMoFo More from Jeff - Favorite Packaged Foods

OK, another day with no recipe - sorry, but it's our 33rd wedding anniversary and my husband insists on having outside food for dinner. This food is NOT going to be McDougall compliant, but will be vegan, so again I will say no more about it.

Instead, I'm going to share a bit more from Jeff Novick. The following has appeared in various forms on-line, between blogs, his DVD, Facebook and forum posts. Just keep well stocked with these items and you'll always have a healthy - and fast - meal available to eat.


The healthiest foods are the foods that come straight out of the
garden and are consumed in their natural form or as simply
prepared as possible. These foods are fresh fruits, vegetables,
starchy vegetables, legumes, and intact whole grains and should be the focus of anyones diet if they want to be healthy.

Packaged and processed foods are usually loaded with too much
fat, unhealthy fats, salt, refined sugars/sweeteners and refined
carbohydrates/grains, They are also almost always calorie dense.
However, there are some packaged and processed foods that can be included as part of a healthy diet. And in fact, keeping some of them around and on hand, can actually make following a healthy diet, easier.

Here they are.
1) Frozen Vegetables
Vegetables are the most nutrient dense food there is and including more of them in your diet is a key to improving the nutritional quality of your diet. Unlike many canned vegetables, plain frozen
individual vegetables usually have no other added ingredients.
Frozen peas and beans may have some added salt, but they usually make my 1:1 sodium/calorie guideline. They can easily be thawed and including as part of a healthy recipe and/or meal.

Caution: Be careful of all the new fancy frozen vegetable mixes as many come with added sauces that can be high in salt, sugar and or fat. Look for the plain mixes.

2) Frozen Fruits
The same reasoning for frozen vegetables also applies to frozen
fruits. Look for the ones that are just frozen fruit and avoid the
ones with added sugars. Frozen berries are one of my favorites to
keep on hand. While fresh berries are very seasonal, and often
mold and rot very quickly and easily, frozen berries do not and are available year round. In addition, you can often find wild berries, including blueberries and strawberries, which are often sweeter and more nutrient dense
3) Success Quick Cooking Brown Rice
My favorite kind of rice, is basmati brown rice. I love the taste and the aroma, especially when it is cooking. It smells like popcorn popping. However, I do not always have the 40 minutes to prepare the basmati brown rice from scratch. Nor do I always have some cooked up ahead of time. The solution, Success brand Quick Cooking Brown Rice. This has to be the simplest and easiest
version of quick cooking brown rice ever invented. Many versions
require the measurement of water and rice (which can be
troublesome for many). However, with this version all you do is
place a pre-measured bag in a pot of boiling water and in 10
minutes, perfect brown rice.

4) Eden Foods No Salt Added Canned Beans
Next to green leafy veggies, beans may be one of the healthiest
foods there is. They are rich in nutrients and fiber, very filling and relatively low in calorie density. The problem for most of us is that most beans can take hours to cook and most canned beans are extremely high in sodium. For those in a hurry, the solution is
Eden Foods No Salt Added Canned Beans. There are about 12
varieties of beans available, including Kidney, Red, Black, Garbanzo, Pinto, Adzuki, etc and not only are they available online, and in health food stores, I find most local grocery stores are now carrying them also. Just open a can, rinse the beans and add them to your favorite dish, recipe or meal. Eden Foods canned beans are all packed in PBA free cans.

5) No Salt Added Tomato Products
Tomatoes make a great base for many dressings, sauces, soups and meals (i.e., stews, chili's, etc). However, good fresh tomatoes are not always available year round and some of the one that are available are literally tasteless. In addition, most canned tomato products are extremely high in sodium. However, if you look carefully, you will find several varieties of tomato products that are no salt added and often times, they are not even labeled as such or carried in the health food store. Even some of the more well known brands, like Huntz and Heinz offer "no salt added" varieties of tomato products. While these tomato product could never substitute for a fresh "in season" tomato on a salad, they can help make excellent soups, sauces, and meals when fresh tomatoes are out of season or when you are in a pinch.

While there are no BPA free canned tomatoes on the market, you
can purchase tomatoes in glass jars or you can purchases tomatoes in aseptic packaging. The most popular brand is POMI and is widely available in most grocery stores.

6) Whole Grain Pasta
The problem with many whole grain processed products (like bread, dry cereals, bagels and crackers) is that even if they are whole grain, they are still calorie dense. The only exception is whole grain pasta. The reason is, when you cook whole grain pasta, it absorbs some of the water it is cooked in, which is absorbed into the structure of the pasta, lowering its calorie density. Foods with high water content, are lower in calorie density and generally higher in satiety.

Unlike most processed whole grains, which have a calorie density of 1200-1500 calories per pound, the calorie density of most cooked whole grain pasta is the same as most intact whole grains and starchy vegetables, which is around 300-600 calories per pound. It is also very quick and easy to cook and can be ready in under 10 minutes. Mix in some fresh or frozen vegetables and you have a healthy, nutritious and filling meal.

7) Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is natures candy. Unlike fresh fruit, it is shelf stable and will not spoil easily. Adding dried fruit to dishes can add both
nutrition and sweetness. A few raisins or dates can really sweeten up a bowl of fruit or a fresh fruit smoothie. They also go great in a bowl of whole grain cereal like oatmeal or as part of a dessert like baked apples. In addition, they make great additions by adding a little sweetness to a large vegetables salad, or even some cooked dishes like stews and rice.

However, due their high calorie density, go easy on them. A serving of dried fruit is only 1/8 to 1/4 cup (compared to 1/2 cup for fresh fruit) so they are easy to overeat on.

8) Unsalted Raw Nuts/Seeds and Nut/Seed Butter
Raw nuts and seeds, and the "butters" made from them, are rich in nutrients especially minerals. A few of them, like walnuts, flax
seeds and chia seeds are also excellent sources of the omega 3
essential fat. They are also shelf stable and will not spoil easily.
They can also add creaminess and texture to some home made
dressings and dips/spreads and/or soups. I make a salad dressing
that is made from a little tahini (sesame seed butter)mixed with
lemon and water. I also add a small amount of tahini to blended
garbanzo beans to add some texture to my homemade hummus.
However, due to their extremely high calorie density, go very easy on them. I recommend consuming no more than 1-2 oz a day at most. Also, if you are struggling with your weight, I recommend either eliminating them or limiting them even more, to no more than 1 oz, no more than 1-5x a week. And, when you do use them, make sure you mix them with something low in calorie density, like a vegetable or fruit salad.

9) Intact Whole Grains (Buckwheat, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, etc)
Whole grains that are consumed in their "intact" form are low in
calorie density, high in satiety, nutrient rich and shelf stable. They are easy to cook (just add water) and can be the base of many healthy meals and dishes. They also make great additions to soups and salads. Oatmeal, buckwheat, and barley all make a great breakfast and a great way to start the day. Brown rice, cracked wheat, quinoa, and/or millet mixed with vegetables make a great meal, side dish and or salad.

10) Salt Free Spices/Seasonings/Herbs
As you decrease the amount of salt, sugar and oil in your diet, you will begin to appreciate the wonderful natural flavors of food. However, some people still like to add a little "spice" to their life. Fortunately, there are many salt-free spices, seasonings and blends available. Probably the most popular one is Mrs. Dash, which has many varieties available. In addition, for those of you who are not a chef and not familiar with the different flavor combinations of spices, you can now buy many salt free blends that can help. There are pre-mixed blends of salt-free Italian, Mexican, Indian, Southern and many other blends available.

There you go. My favorite 10 packaged staple foods that are not
only good for you and can be included as part of a healthy diet.
And in fact, keeping some of them around and on hand, can
actually make following a healthy diet, easier.

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