About Steph Ronco

Stephanie Ronco has been editing in a professional capacity for the past 10 years. In addition to her work as an editor, Ronco has also served as a ghostwriter and writing tutor. A voracious reader, Ronco loves watching language evolve and change. When she's not delving into her latest project, Ronco can be found teaching acting classes, performing in community theater, or sailing with her husband.

 

You guys, we have reached the end of our new series, Get It Prepped. Now that we've covered such a wide range of meal planning topics, we thought you might like to see everything gathered in one place.

So, without further ado, I'm proud to present Everything You Need to Know About Meal Prep!

We start with 3 Tips for Meal Prep Success. This post covers what you need to know as you begin your meal prep journey, with a light overview of menu planning and grocery shopping. Red through to the end to find the PDF with highlights.

Next up is Get It Prepped: Kitchen Equipment Must Haves. Here, Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD, walks you through the right combination of basic tools that will make meal prep both easy and accessible. There's even a printable handout in this one too!

After that is Storing the Food You Prep. Whether you're setting aside a few hours to prepare components for a meal or simply keeping leftovers in the fridge or freezer, you'll need to put the results of your hard work somewhere. And that's where this post comes in.

Once you've got cooking and storage supplies, it's time to talk food! There are two great posts about foods to choose for meal prep ease: Meal Prep Shopping by Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD offers a great overview and then Pantry Staples for Meal Prep Success offers a closer look at what makes a staple a staple in the pantry (and for the fridge and freezer too!).

The fun continues in the post 5 Tips to Level Up Your Meal Prep. Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD is back with five fantastic tips to help bring meal and menu planning to the next level and really make it sustainable. I think you'll like what you see.

Now you wouldn't think we'd leave you high and dry without a few recipes that lend themselves well to meal prep work, do you? This Chicken Fajita Salad recipe highlights the benefits of the cook once, serve twice strategy we introduced early on, then the Summer Garden Bowl recipe illustrates another great approach: having a big chopping session so that your ingredients are ready for a few faster meals during the week. And finally, we collected 3 Pantry Meals for those days when you're relying on the staples you've stocked ahead of time. The recipes include Baked Ziti, a Vegetarian Chili Pot, and a healthier spin on Macaroni and Cheese.

And there you have it! Everything you need to know about meal prep!

Become a premium member today and get access to hundreds of articles and handouts plus our premium tools!

Upcoming Posts


September 2021

 
UP NEXT IN Cooking, Food and Health, Prevention, Kids
New Study: Eating Patterns and Childhood Obesity

 
UP NEXT IN Food and Health, Prevention, Kids
Eating Patterns and Childhood Obesity

New Products Available Now

 
Published on Categories nutrition, articles, best wellness, prevention, food shopping, food and health, weight control, nutrition education resources, ingredients, kids, healthy plate, Premium, weight calories satietyTags , , , ,

 

It's time for some fun recipes that feature pantry staples! Here are three of my favorites...

Baked Ziti:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ziti, dry - plain or whole wheat
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound extra-lean ground turkey breast
  • 26 ounces low-sodium pasta sauce
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook ziti according to package directions. Drain in colander and rinse lightly.
  3. Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onion until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the ground turkey and cook until no longer pink, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add the sauce. Bring sauce to a boil, then add the cooked noodles.
  5. Place the ziti mixture in a large baking pan. Top with cheese and oregano. Bake until cheese is melted and casserole is heated through, about 20 minutes.
  6. Serve hot.

Chef's Tips:

This dish goes very well with a fresh green salad.

Vegetarian Chili Pot:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup instant brown rice
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, no-added-salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized microwave container.
  2. Cover and microwave on high for 12 minutes.
  3. Stir and serve hot.

Chef's Tips:

Drain and rinse those beans before adding them to your dish. No one likes slimy beans!

Dorm Room Mac and Cheese:

Ingredients:

  • 1 box macaroni and cheese
  • 1 can no-salt-added peas (can also use frozen)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated or matchsticks carrots, raw
  • 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese, or use a packet that you pick up at a pizza place

Directions:

  1. Place 2 cups of water in a large glass bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. Add the noodles from the macaroni and cheese box and cook on medium for 6 minutes.
  2. Add the carrots and peas and cook 1-2 more minutes. Drain and add the milk and half the cheese mix. Stir and cook 1 minute.
  3. Top with Parmesan cheese

Chef's Tips:

Use the rest of the matchsticks carrots by mixing them with vanilla or plain yogurt and raisins to make a carrot salad.

Consider adding one can of low-sodium tuna in water -- simply drain it and add the tuna with the milk!

Become a premium member today and get access to hundreds of articles and handouts plus our premium tools!

Upcoming Posts


September 2021

 
UP NEXT IN Cooking, Food and Health, Prevention, Kids
New Study: Eating Patterns and Childhood Obesity

 
UP NEXT IN Food and Health, Prevention, Kids
Eating Patterns and Childhood Obesity

New Products Available Now

 
Published on Categories nutrition, articles, best wellness, prevention, food shopping, food and health, weight control, nutrition education resources, ingredients, kids, healthy plate, Premium, weight calories satietyTags , , , ,

 

Are you ready to Get It Prepped?

Today we're talking about staples you can keep in your pantry to make meal prep easier. After all, having the right ingredients on hand can make all the difference when it comes to making good on your cooking goals.

Whole grain foods are some of our favorite pantry staples. These can often help form the base of healthful meals or bulk up a salad to give it more staying power. Canned beans and legumes are also vital to a well-stocked pantry and play a similar role to whole grains in a range of menu plans. Unsweetened dried fruit is helpful for snacks and desserts and even the occasional salad. And where would we be without sauces? Sometimes a simmer sauce is the glue we need to hold a meal together. Or tomato sauce on a homemade pizza or in chili. Oh and let's not forget about canned broths or stocks. These are definitely staples that can be used in a wide range of recipes. Plus, foods like potatoes, onions, and garlic add so much to meals and often need to be stored in the pantry. Finally, last but not least, canned fish is an inexpensive source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients that are important for good health. Thanks to the mercury content, however, canned fish like tuna should only be consumed in moderation.

Now that we've looked at the big picture, let's zoom in a little. Here is a list of 15 great pantry staples that you can use to Get It Prepped. Later this week we'll feature a few meals that rely on these same staples.

  1. Whole grain spaghetti
  2. Brown rice
  3. Oatmeal
  4. Raisins
  5. Dried lentils
  6. Canned chickpeas
  7. Canned black beans
  8. Tomato sauce
  9. Low-sodium vegetable broth
  10. Canned salmon without bones
  11. Simmer sauces
  12. Russet potatoes
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Garlic
  15. Yellow onions

Remember, this is just a teeny-tiny snapshot of one possible set of pantry options. The possibilities are endless! In general, look for foods that are low in sodium and added sugars. It's also great to seek out options that are rich in fiber and other nutrients.

Fridge and Freezer Digression: Yes, this post is all about pantry staples, but it can be handy to have some staples in your fridges and freezers too. For the freezer, frozen fruit with no added sugars and vegetables prepared with as little sodium as possible can be handy to throw into meals and snacks. You can also look for low-sodium frozen meals that are low in saturated fat. Keep a few healthful options on hand for when you just don't feel like cooking. And presliced/pre-chopped fruits and vegetables are great for the fridge, as are things like coleslaw mix and pasteurized smoothies (check added sugar content, of course).

Become a premium member today and get access to hundreds of articles and handouts plus our premium tools!

Upcoming Posts


September 2021

 
UP NEXT IN Cooking, Food and Health, Prevention, Kids
New Study: Eating Patterns and Childhood Obesity

 
UP NEXT IN Food and Health, Prevention, Kids
Eating Patterns and Childhood Obesity

New Products Available Now

 
Published on Categories nutrition, articles, best wellness, prevention, food shopping, food and health, weight control, nutrition education resources, ingredients, kids, healthy plate, Premium, weight calories satietyTags , , , ,

 

August 2021 Newsletter and Resources for Premium Food and Health Communication Members:

Table of Contents:

  • Read-offline PDF newsletter
  • Research update for professionals
  • White label newsletter
  • Shareable articles and handouts
  • Graphic of the month
  • Special member-only discounts

Read-Offline PDF:

Here's the entire PDF edition of the August 2021 Newsletter, ready for you to download to read offline, print for your next meeting or presentation, or distribute however you see fit! You can also click the image below to download it.

August 2021 Nutrition Newsletter Cover

Professional’s Corner:

Article Links to Share with Your Clients:

  1. Fig Salad Recipe by Judy Doherty, BS, PC II
  2. Summer Muesli Recipe (breakfast or dessert) by Judy Doherty, BS, PC II
  3. Positive Resolutions: Drink Up! by Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
  4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Immunity by Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDCES, CHWC, CPT
  5. How to Get Enough Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Good Health by Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDCES, CHWC, CPT
  6. Save Your Brain with Your Gut by Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
  7. Healthful Eating Tips for Travel by Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND

August Graphic:

Editor's Note:

Let us know if you need anything! Just click “Contact Us” at the top of foodandhealth.com.

Discounts: Use 15% off all products with code 202015OFF from our online store or  TRY10NOW to save 10% on classes and memberships at foodandhealth.com!

Become a premium member today and get access to hundreds of articles and handouts plus our premium tools!

Upcoming Posts


September 2021

 
UP NEXT IN Cooking, Food and Health, Prevention, Kids
New Study: Eating Patterns and Childhood Obesity

 
UP NEXT IN Food and Health, Prevention, Kids
Eating Patterns and Childhood Obesity

New Products Available Now

 
Published on Categories nutrition, articles, best wellness, prevention, food shopping, food and health, weight control, nutrition education resources, ingredients, kids, healthy plate, Premium, weight calories satietyTags , , , ,

 

The August topic in our Positive Resolutions for the New Year project is Drink Up.  Why? Hydration is vital to good health, especially during hot summer days.

Water is an important nutrient that makes up much of your body weight. It's part of all your body’s fluids and prevents dehydration, helps get rid of waste, keeps body temperature normal, improves blood oxygen circulation, lubricates and cushions joints, and affects energy levels and brain function. 

A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that low drinking water intake was associated with other unhealthful behaviors. Nearly half of the study participants drank less than four cups of water a day and 7% reported drinking no water daily. 

Your body loses water every day through urine and sweat and these losses need to be replaced. If you’re working hard or exercising or if the weather is very hot or you’re at a high altitude, you’ll lose more. Drinking fluids with caffeine and alcohol will hasten this loss.

Watch your urine! If it’s dark yellow in color, you need to drink more water.

Your body can’t make water, so you need to put water into your body through beverages or food.  A good rule of thumb is that we need to take in at least six to eight cups of fluid every day. The amount needed does vary based on age, gender, physical activity, medical conditions, and medications taken. While water should be the main drink of choice, other beverages and foods can provide some of this fluid. Fruits and vegetables, soups, fruit juices, and decaffeinated drinks count toward your overall intake. 

Here are some positive ideas to help you Drink Up in a healthful way. Pick a few to try!

  • Start the day off right with a big glass of water as soon as you wake up (even before coffee).  
  • Put a glass by the sink and drink up after brushing your teeth.
  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you and sip throughout the day. Count how many times you can refill during the day.
  • Order water at restaurants and drink a glass before your meal.
  • Put a half-gallon (64 ounces) pitcher of infused water in your refrigerator.  Challenge yourself to drink the entire pitcher each day.
  • Set a goal for yourself to replace some of the caffeinated beverages you currently drink with plain water or a decaffeinated option. 
  • If many of the beverages you currently drink are high in added sugars, consider swapping them out with 100% fruit juice, a sugar-free latte, diet cola, water, plain coffee or fat-free milk. These simple changes have zero grams of added sugar. And, as a bonus, you’ll get vitamins and minerals from the juice and milk. If you can’t go “cold turkey” on cutting out high-added-sugar beverages completely, work to cut down on the amount you drink.
  • Order a small or medium instead of a large soda at the drive-thru (even small steps make a difference).

Take some time this month to evaluate how you hydrate your body. Then set some positive goals for yourself.  Don’t wait to be thirsty… Drink Up!

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

PS: Here are links to all the positive resolutions for the last few months:

Become a premium member today and get access to hundreds of articles and handouts plus our premium tools!

Upcoming Posts


September 2021

 
UP NEXT IN Cooking, Food and Health, Prevention, Kids
New Study: Eating Patterns and Childhood Obesity

 
UP NEXT IN Food and Health, Prevention, Kids
Eating Patterns and Childhood Obesity

New Products Available Now

 
Published on Categories nutrition, articles, best wellness, prevention, food shopping, food and health, weight control, nutrition education resources, ingredients, kids, healthy plate, Premium, weight calories satietyTags , , , ,

 

Up until now, men’s and women’s blood pressure guidelines were matched. But new research suggests that normal blood pressure is not the same between the sexes.

According to a study authored by Susan Cheng, MD, MPH, MMSc,, associate professor of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute, assuming the same guidelines could be harmful to a woman’s health. She advises the medical community to re-evaluate blood pressure guidelines that don’t account for differences in sex.

The systolic pressure measures the force of blood against the artery walls as the heart beats. It’s the first number in a blood pressure reading. Diastolic pressure is the second number, which measures the blood pressure against the walls between heartbeats. 

The normal upper limit for systolic blood pressure in adults was 120 mmHg for years, though chronic increases above this level spell hypertension, a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease including heart attack, stroke and heart failure.

Cheng and her scientific team evaluated blood pressure measurements across four community-based cohort studies of over 27,000 subjects, of which 54% were women. 

They discovered that the standard number of 120 mmHg was the threshold of risk for men but 100 mmHg or less was the threshold of risk for women. Systolic blood pressures higher than this were linked to the risk for the progression to cardiovascular disease including stroke, heart failure, and heart attack.

Investigators also found that women had a lower blood pressure threshold than men for risk of each specific cardiovascular disease type, including heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.

Cheng believes they need to reconsider what was once considered normal blood pressure to prevent men or women from developing heart disease or stroke. Cheng serves as director of Cardiovascular Population Sciences at the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center. She is also the Erika J. Glazer Chair in Women’s Cardiovascular Health and Population Science.

Previous research led by Cheng indicates that women’s blood vessels age more quickly than men’s. Her research confirms that women have different biology and physiology than men, which is why women may be at higher risk of getting certain types of cardiovascular disease throughout their lifetime.

Cheng and colleagues compared women to women and men to men instead of comparing the sexes to each other. “If the ideal physiologic range of blood pressure truly is lower for females than males, current approaches to using sex-agnostic targets for lowering elevated blood pressure need to be reassessed,” said Christine Albert, MD, MPH, chair of the Department of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute. “This important work is far-reaching and has numerous clinical implications.”

Researchers next plan to evaluate if women should be treated for hypertension when their systolic blood pressure is above 110 mmHg but still below the level of 120 mmHg for men. 

As a next step, researchers plan to study whether women should be treated for hypertension when their systolic blood pressure is higher than 110, but still lower than the systolic measurement of 120 for men.

Both men and women can help reduce their blood pressure by following the DASH diet guidelines. Below are some tips:

  1. Lose weight if overweight or obese. Losing just 10 pounds lowers blood pressure significantly.
  2. Fill up on fruits and vegetables. Go for dark green leafy vegetables and dark orange fruits or vegetables for more potassium.
  3. Choose low-fat dairy products when available. Calcium aids in blood pressure reduction.
  4. Limit intake of highly-processed foods like fast food, frozen meals, high-sodium snacks, breakfast and lunch meats, canned soup, etc. Cook without salt when possible.
  5. Include unsalted nuts and seeds and whole grains in your diet for magnesium.
  6. Move more. Regular exercise aids in blood pressure control.
  7. De-stress. Do some yoga, deep breathing exercises, or talk to a therapist. Stress raises blood pressure.
  8. Be moderate with alcohol. Alcohol is known to raise blood pressure. Aim for one drink/day for women, two drinks per day for men (or less).
  9. Get your ZZZs. Adequate sleep aids in blood pressure control.
  10. Take medication as prescribed. They call high blood pressure the “silent killer” because you may not notice symptoms until it’s too late. Heed your doctor’s advice if medicine is needed.

By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

References:

  1. Hongwei Ji, MD, Teemu J. Niiranen, MD Florian Rader, MD, MSc, Mir Henglin, BA, Andy Kim, BA Joseph E. Ebinger, MD, Brian Claggett, PhD, C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD and Susan Cheng, MD, MMSc, MPH. Sex Differences in Blood Pressure Associations With Cardiovascular Outcomes. Volume 143, Issue 7, 16 February 2021; Pages 761-763
  2. DASH Eating Plan | NHLBI, NIH
Become a premium member today and get access to hundreds of articles and handouts plus our premium tools!

Upcoming Posts


September 2021

 
UP NEXT IN Cooking, Food and Health, Prevention, Kids
New Study: Eating Patterns and Childhood Obesity

 
UP NEXT IN Food and Health, Prevention, Kids
Eating Patterns and Childhood Obesity

New Products Available Now

 
Published on Categories nutrition, articles, best wellness, prevention, food shopping, food and health, weight control, nutrition education resources, ingredients, kids, healthy plate, Premium, weight calories satietyTags , , , ,