How to Create the Perfect Healthy Food Spread for Birthday Parties

Special events tend to be the pitfall for any new diet plan. So much emotion is associated with food at parties that it is hard to resist the temptations of fatty finger foods and glorious cake. It is even more difficult to attempt to plan a party around a healthy new diet plan. There are a lot of decisions to be made before you make that trip to the grocery stores near you. Do you cater to your guests and ruin your diet? Will your guests enjoy your food if they are healthy and different from those they would traditionally expect? Where do you find delicious recipes for healthy party food?

Healthy Choices that are More ‘Traditional’

Before you go down the rabbit hole of new and unfamiliar recipes, first consider if there are dishes that you would usually offer that are already healthy or can be tweaked to make healthier. This gives you and your guests something familiar to eat and keeps you from derailing your diet altogether. For instance, the perennial favorite of children, Dirt Cups can be made substituting Greek Yogurt for the pudding and using organic cookies and gummy worms. The health food stores in Pembroke Pines carry a wide variety of organic, low sugar, and all around healthier snacks that can be made into great party food. Finger foods such as fresh veggies, dips, and fruit salads are healthy choices that are always beloved by party guests.

Quick Pesto Pizza

Recipe credit: Carsen Snyder
Photo credit: Carsen Snyder

Pizza is an ever-popular favorite party food! Serve this healthier variety of pizza, with the unique zing of pesto for the utter delight of guests young and old! Save even more time by buying precut vegetables at grocery stores near you! Find more recipes for your new healthier life at Delicious Living!

Ingredients:

• ⅔ cup thinly sliced red onion (about ½ onion)

• 2 cups small broccoli florets

• 8 ounces sliced button mushrooms

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 4 ounces premade basil pesto, such as Cucina & Amore or DeLallo Simply Pesto

• 2 thin pizza crusts (10–12 inches each), such as Angelic Bakehouse Flatzza, Against the Grain Gourmet (GF) or Rustic Crust

• 4 ounces buffalo mozzarella cheese, sliced

• 1 cup bottled roasted red pepper strips, drained

• 1 cup arugula

• Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. In a medium bowl, toss onion, broccoli, mushrooms and olive oil. Set aside.

3. Divide and spread pesto evenly on both crusts, leaving a ½-inch border. Place half of the mozzarella on each pizza. Evenly distribute roasted red peppers and onion-broccoli mixture over pizzas.

4. Place both pizzas on baking sheets or pizza stones. Transfer to oven, reduce heat to 425° and cook for 10 minutes. Turn on broiler and continue to cook for another 2 minutes, until veggies and cheese are browned (watch carefully).

Remove pizzas fro 3 cal, 40g fat (18g mono, 13g poly, 9g sat), 22mg chol, 750mg sodium, 49g carb (10g fiber, 10g sugars), 19g protein

Make Something New and Exotic

Don’t be afraid to toss a few new or unusual choices into your party menu. A lot of people find new food adventures to be exciting and will make your party more memorable. Peruse that fresh fruits and vegetables at your organic grocery stores near you, simply adding multi-colored carrots or some dragon fruit to a tray will garner the attention of your guests.

Fresh Cherry Tart with Cocoa Crust

Recipe credit: Karin Lazarus for Delicious Living

A unique twist on a traditional birthday cake and a fruit-filled treat for chocolate lovers, this tart uses date sugar, coconut oil and whole-wheat pastry flour for a healthier take on a classic summer dessert. You can try this with ripe, fresh-sliced plums, too. All of these ingredients should be available at a health food store near you! Find more delicious and health conscious desserts at Healthy Living!

Ingredients:

● 1/3 cup date sugar

● 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

● 2 tablespoons packed cocoa powder

● 1/3 cup coconut oil

● 1/8 teaspoon salt

● 2 egg whites

● 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

● 1 1/2 pounds fresh Bing cherries (pitted)

● 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

● 2 tablespoons canola oil

● 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

● 1 tablespoon Citrus Glaze, warmed (see link at right)

● Mint leaves, for garnish

Directions:

1. In a food processor, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, oil, and salt. Process 15—20 seconds, until mixture looks like wet sand. While machine is running, add egg whites and vanilla extract; process until mixture forms a ball. Press into a 10-inch tart or springform pan and 1 inch up the sides. Freeze for 20 minutes, then bake at 350° for 20—25 minutes.

2. While crust is baking, place cherries in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook for about 5 minutes or until juices begin to release. Cool.

3. Melt chocolate and canola oil in a bowl over simmering water. Stir until smooth, remove from heat, and stir in vanilla extract. Spread over hot crust.

4. Beginning at the outside edge, place cherries in a circular pattern, packing them closely together. Brush with glaze. Garnish and serve.

PER SERVING: Serves: 12 people. Calories per serving: 227

Citrus Glaze

Ingredients:

● 3/4 cup fresh orange juice

● 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

● 3/4 cup honey

Directions:

1. Combine 3/4 cup fresh orange juice, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, and 3/4 cup honey in a small saucepan.

2. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

3. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 20–25 minutes.

4. Skim off foam. Refrigerate; warm before brushing or spritzing onto tarts. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

Healthy Eating Doesn’t have to Stop for Parties!

With just a few tweaks and a stop at your local organic health foods store, and you are well on your way to a healthy food filled birthday party! Party food doesn’t have to lack nutritional value to be tasty and popular with your guests!

 

What are Superfoods and How Can they Help You?

SuperfoodsWith the beginning of every year, publications and even private conversations seem to be dominated by talks of dieting. The dieting industry is one of the largest industries in the United States so it’s fair to say that Americans are obsessed with food. We are obsessed with food, foods that are bad for us that we can not stay away from, foods that used to be considered bad but aren’t any longer such as eggs, and what the newest foods are that are supposed to be the best for us. The ever-evolving world of food is mutable and all around us.

The Standard American Diet is often lacking in vital nutrients, we do not get the servings and varieties of food that our bodies need to live a healthy life. Thus we are always seeking ways to boost our nutrition or supplement our diet in some way. The newest foods on the block are the oft-touted superfoods. But before we go running the nearest health food store, you should find out just what you need to know about superfoods.

So What Is a Superfood

Superfoods are foods thought to be more nutrient dense than other foods. These are often plant-based foods but some types of fish and dairy are also included in this categorization. Superfoods have extra large doses of certain vitamins and minerals that aren’t easily found in the Standard American Diet. Some of the nutrients that certain superfoods contain include antioxidants thought to ward off cancer; healthy fats, thought to prevent heart disease; fiber, thought to prevent diabetes and digestive problems; or phytochemicals, the chemicals in plants responsible for deep colors and smells, which can have numerous health benefits.

The best way to eat a balanced diet is to incorporate as many varieties of foods into your diet, including a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. This includes superfoods of all varieties. Some people believe that eating more superfoods eliminate the need to visit the vitamin shops near them, they can use their nearest grocery store to get all of their vitamins.

What Foods are Considered to be Superfoods

Organic FoodThe term “superfood” isn’t a scientific classification, so what the general populace considers a superfood can vary by time and region. It seems like every year a new exotic fruit pops up in the media and it touted as the new, best, superfood available. Acai berries, goji berries, dragon fruit, even pomegranate have all had their moments of fame as the star superfood of the moment. Generally, these exotic fruits are packed with one kind of nutrient which makes them desirable to the health conscious dieters but any organic grocery near you will have a wide variety of exotic and non-exotic superfoods for you to choose.

More common fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries, also contain many antioxidants, fiber, and nutrients in similar quantities to more exotic fruits. Nuts, legumes, and seeds are good sources of protein and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats when eaten in moderation. Choices include unsalted almonds, peanuts, pistachios, and walnuts. Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are fatty fish that are low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats, reduce triglycerides (the chemical form of fats in most foods and in your body) and slow the growth of plaque in the arteries.

Kale who hasn’t heard it lauded as a superfood? It certainly fits the bill but so does most dark, leafy greens: Swiss chard, collards, mustards (including radish greens), spinach (and others in the amaranth family), and cabbages. Add broccoli to that list, as well. It’s in the cabbage-mustard family; the modern version is merely grown for its floret instead of leaves. These dark vegetables are loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber, calcium and other minerals.

Superfoods Enhance your Lifestyle and Your Diet

A lot of foods that fall into the category of ‘superfoods’ are foods that Americans tend to lack in their diet on a daily basis. Most Americans do not get the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables in a day or even in the span of a week so concentrating on adding superfoods, adds more of these by default. The qualities in a plant food that make them colorful and fragrant are also those things that add these super nutrient dense qualities. By concentrating on a colorful, fresh, diet, you will be adding superfoods to your everyday life.

Your Pembroke Pines organic health stores can be your guide to adding more superfoods and variety overall to your diet, they usually have a large section of fresh produce as well as more shelf stable and frozen varieties of food that you can add to your diet.

 

Eating Organic – What Does It Mean?

Organic produce, meats, and other foods seem to be all the rage these past few years. You might be wondering, What is all the fuss about organic food all over the grocery stores near me? Is it really all that different from the conventionally produced food? How is it different? What are the benefits of eating organic? Are the benefits all they’re made out to be?

Organic Food 101

Organic produce Pembroke PinesSome critics of the organic food craze say that the label is meaningless and no different from conventionally produced food. While according to over 200 studies it is true that, chemically, organic foods do not have more vitamins or minerals than so-called “regular” foods, that really isn’t the goal with organic eating. It should be immediately obvious that one apple would contain the same nutritional value as another, no matter how it is produced.

However, even the USDA recognizes that there are differences between the two, so much so that they have very specific standards for foods that bear the organic label. If these foods don’t meet the standards, they cannot have “USDA Organic” or “Certified Organic” displayed on them. These standards include:

  • An ingredients list that contains at least 95% organic, meaning free of synthetic additives such as dyes, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers.
  • Not processed with the use of industrial solvents, irradiation, or genetic engineering of any kind.
  • The remaining 5% must only be foods or processed with additives from an approved list.

Other labels on organic foods include:

  • 100% Organic, in which 100% of the food must meet the above criteria.
  • Made with Organic, which means 70% or more organic ingredients, the USDA seal cannot appear on the packaging anywhere or in any form, and the remaining 30% of ingredients might not be foods, or could be processed with additives other than what appears on a special exclusion list.

If these standards are violated to any degree, the USDA could come down on the offending companies, sometimes fining them as much as $11,000. That seems like a small price to pay for false advertising and has caused many to question whether the agency is enforcing the label, inspecting the foods, or assigning penalties as seriously as it should. Fortunately, you can generally rest assured that most foods at your local grocery store are properly labeled organic, despite skeptics’ claims that the term has become an arbitrary marketing buzzword.

Why Should I Eat Organic?

There are many great reasons to eat organic. Some of the benefits are good for you, and some of them are good for everyone! The price tag can be a little bit of a turn off for some, but you’re paying for a lot of good!

No pesticides or chemical additives! Organic foods are by and large far less likely to be treated with chemicals, whether pesticides or otherwise. Conventional foods are grown on farms that use pesticides made of rather questionable chemicals that you might not want to put on the table. A bonus is that the farmers don’t have to get exposed to them either! While organic foods aren’t necessarily guaranteed pesticide free, only 7 percent of pesticides were found in Pembroke Pines organic foods vs conventionally farmed foods in one study. Plus, organic foods can only be treated with pesticides from an approved list.

Pembroke Pines organic foodsAntibiotics not included! Because of the standard that organic foods must be at least 95% free of inorganic additives, they can’t be treated with antibiotics! It has been found that organic foods are far less likely to be contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Environmentally friendly! One of the greatest things about organic foods is that a major goal of their existence is to encourage farming that is better for the environment. The growth practices, use of natural resources, and growing food without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are all determined by the environment in mind. While these practices can make organic crops a bit less stable, they are more environmentally stable, and allowances are made to ensure a good yield. Studies have shown that organic farms have a much smaller ecological footprint than conventional farms. That’s a good bet to put your money on!

They’re tasty! Of course, organic foods tend to have a fresher, more natural taste. From eggs to meat, to dairy, and of course produce, the difference is definitely palatable! Growing closer to the way nature intended gives food a clean taste that can’t be beaten by anything else on the grocery shelves!

Shopping organic can be fun! When you eat organic, you might balk at the price tag. However, going to farmer’s markets and co-ops is not only exciting but full of deals and prices much lower than the organic section at your supermarket. You can also go to health food stores, vitamin shops, and nutrition stores, which are full of tons of other interesting products to try!

 

Everyone in Your House Has the Flu. What You Can Do To Not Get Sick.

It feels like everyone in my house right now is either sick, getting sick, or coming off the sickness. It isn’t any better at my office where the coughing and sneezing are quickly becoming regular sounds over my favorite 90’s indie Pandora channel. Since my motherly duties of 18-month old twins don’t allow for any sick days I needed to find ways to boost my immunity, ASAP.

I went searching and found a pretty great article in Delicious Living that backed up what the vitamin department team at Nutrition Smart were already telling me. Here is what I found:

  1. Wash your hands – sounds simple but is soooo effective.
  2. Echinacea – There’s a reason herbalists turn to echinacea to prevent colds and flus: It works. In one study, researchers gave 755 people either echinacea or placebos for four months. People taking the herb had fewer colds and needed fewer medications. Dose: Follow label directions. If you can tolerate the taste, a tincture might be particularly effective.
  3. Elderberry – In one study, people taking an elderberry extract were completely free of flu symptoms after just two to three days, while symptoms lasted almost a week in people taking placebos. The herbal extract has broad-spectrum antibacterial and viral effects. Dose: Take a teaspoon of sugar-free syrup every three to four waking hours until symptoms disappear. Cold and Flu Elderberry
  4. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) – NAC remains one of the most potent guards against colds and flus. Researchers gave either 600 mg of NAC or placebos twice daily to seniors. Those taking NAC still caught the flu but experienced fewer symptoms. Dose: 600 mg twice daily, but you can boost it to 2,400–3,600 mg daily at the first sign of symptoms.
  5. Probiotics – New studies show our gut bacteria—and probiotics—can prevent and reduce cold and flu symptoms. For example, researchers found that supplemental Bifidobacterium bifidum reduced symptoms among stressed college students. Another study reported that Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG eased upper-respiratory-tract symptoms in children attending day care. Start taking probiotics before cold and flu season begins. Dose: Follow label directions.
  6. Vitamin D – It’s more than coincidence that the cold and flu season occurs when people get less seasonal sunlight and therefore make less vitamin D. People need the vitamin to activate a variety of germ-fighting immune factors. A study of high school students found that taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily reduced the risk of catching the flu by 83 percent. Dose: Take 2,000–5,000 IU daily. You can increase the dose to 10,000 IU daily during the first three days of a cold.
  7. Zinc lozenges – Researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland analyzed data from 199 patients who took either zinc lozenges or placebos. All cold symptoms, including nasal discharge, congestion and hoarseness, decreased substantially. Dose: Take one lozenge every two to four hours until symptoms subside.

I hope this lists helps and if you have other great remedies for boosting immunity please let us know in the comments box or on Facebook or on Instagram at @nutritionsmartofficial

Shout out to Jack Challem and the Delicious Living crew for sharing their knowledge and allowing me to share it with you! #source