Tina Miller, MS RD Meijer Healthy Living Advisor, www.Meijer.com/ahealthieryou
A balanced diet, abundant in plant foods, is fundamental to feeling vibrant and staying well. For women, however, there are certain foods that are especially beneficial. During May celebrate Women’s Health Month by serving up delicious super-foods found in our Grilled Chicken and Berry Salad and Blueberry-Avocado muffins.
Foods that Promote Women’s Health:
Greek Yogurt: One 6 oz. serving boosts bone health with more than 20% of your daily calcium need and 15% for vitamin D. Greek yogurt is satisfying with nearly as much protein as three eggs and is a perfect food for maintaining a healthy weight. When made without added sugars, a 6 oz. serving has about 90 calories with only 7g carbohydrate (from naturally occurring lactose-milk sugar).
Like traditional yogurt, Greek yogurt is an excellent source of beneficial probiotic bacteria that help support immune health and digestive regularity. Probiotics can also help balance body chemistry protecting against yeast and other infections.
How much: Eat one low-fat, plain or light Greek yogurt every day. Be aware of added sugar in flavored yogurts (check nutrition labels); use fruit or low calorie sweeteners, such as stevia, to flavor plain yogurt.
Almonds: Just a handful a few times a week can help women correct imbalances in many nutrients women don’t get enough of. Almonds are rich in nutrients, including magnesium, vitamin E, iron, calcium, fiber, and riboflavin.
The fat in almonds is mostly unsaturated and can help promote heart health and reduce bad cholesterol levels. Some studies, including one published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggest that almonds can prolong life and reduce risk for death from cancer and heart disease.
A skinny nut? Research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that study participants who ate 1.5 ounces of dry-roasted, lightly salted almonds every day experienced less hunger, greater vitamin E and “good” fat intake with NO increase in body weight.
My personal favorite: Meijer Dark Chocolate Cocoa Roast Flavored Almonds® taste like a decadent sweet treat but have only 1g sugar per serving! A nutritious way to curb your sweet tooth!
Spinach and Leafy Green Vegetables: Nature’s own multi-vitamin and mineral supplement! Leafy greens are packed with nutrients, for example greens like spinach are a good source of vitamins A, B6, C, E and K, as well as selenium, niacin, zinc, phosphorus, copper, folic acid, potassium, calcium, manganese, and iron. Folate (Folic acid) is especially important for women of child-bearing age, since folate can help prevent neural tube birth defects.
Multiple studies have suggested that a high intake of dark-leafy vegetables, such as spinach or cabbage may significantly lower a person’s risk of developing diabetes type 2. Greens are diet friendly providing very few calories, about 25 calories per 1 cup serving.
Blueberries: Fiber rich blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidant substances that promote healthy brains, waistlines and hearts. Research studies from Rutgers University suggest that daily consumption of blueberries (about 1 cup) promotes neurogenesis (formation of new brain cells). Studies also suggest that elderly people who eat blueberries on a regular basis have less cognitive decline, compared to other people of their age who do not.
Texas Woman’s University found that blueberries help in curbing obesity. Polyphenol substances in blueberries have been shown to increase the breakdown of fat cells while reducing the development of new fat cells.
Blueberries are also good for your heart! Regular blueberry consumption can reduce the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) by 10%, a common heart disease risk factor in post-menopausal women.
Apples: Antioxidants found in apples help you look younger by fighting free radicals-substances that can damage cells and cause undesirable changes that are involved in the aging process.
Research from The Florida State University suggests that older women who ate apples daily experienced a drop in cholesterol. Apples help to bad cholesterol (LDL) by 23% and promoted a 4% increase in good cholesterol (HDL) after just six months.
Apples naturally clean your teeth and freshens your breath, reducing plaque build-up and development of dental carries. Eating apples may also reduce risk for gingivitis, bacteria in the mouth that can migrate through the body and promote heart disease.
According to research published in the journal Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association soluble fiber (pectin) found in the white edible portions of apples and pears may help reduce the risk of stroke by as much a 52%.
Enjoy an apple a day, or at least a few times each week, to keep the doctor away!
Green Tea / Tea: The subject of multiple research studies, green tea may fight cancer and heart disease, and help prevent dementia, diabetes, and stroke. EGCG tea may also help promote weight loss through regulation of appetite hormones and metabolism, helping you to feel more satisfied and possibly decreasing storage of excess fat. Weight loss studies suggest that green tea may be beneficial, but the research is far from conclusive.
Drinking green tea will help to keep you hydrated, fighting fatigue while providing your heart with a hearty dose of antioxidants. The antioxidants in green, black, and oolong teas can help block the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol and improve artery function. According to research conducted in China (published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine) daily tea drinkers had a 46%-65% reduction in hypertension risk compared to non-drinkers of tea.
Avocado: Avocados are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C, E, K, folate, and B6. One-fifth of a medium-large avocado has 50 calories, 4 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and 2 grams fiber.
The heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) in avocados can actually help you lose belly fat, a risk factor for heart disease and even some fertility problems. Avocados also contain plant sterols that lower cholesterol levels.
How much you need: Limit yourself to one serving per day (about 1/4 of an avocado). Enjoy them on top of salads, mashed and used as sandwich spread, sliced on top of burgers, in salsas to top grilled fish or poultry, or as a substitute for saturated fats and other oils in baked goods.
Bonus: Mashed avocado also makes a wonderful face mask! Antioxidants protect skin and the healthy fats moisturize, promoting a youthful glow!
Healthy and Delicious Recipes:
2cups True Goodness® by Meijer white whole wheat flour
2 tsp. Meijer baking powder
1/2 tsp. Meijer baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 ripe, Fresh California Avocado, seeded and peeled
3/4 cup Meijer granulated sugar
1 True Goodness® by Meijer Organic egg
1 tsp. McCormick® vanilla extract
1 cup Meijer plain yogurt
6oz. (1 ¼ cup) fresh blueberries
1/4 cup Meijer white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. True Goodness by Meijer Butter, softened
1tsp. McCormick® ground cinnamon
Streusel Topping: 1.Whisk together the flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the butter, and mix in using your fingers to rub the butter into the dry ingredients. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat avocado until almost smooth. Add sugar and beat until well blended. Add the egg, beating until completely combined. Add the vanilla and the yogurt and mix well.
- Put half of the flour mixture into the batter and mix until just combined. Stir in the remaining flour and mix until just blended. Gently fold in the blueberries.
- Using a spoon or an ice cream scoop, divide the batter among the 12 cups. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the batter in the 12 cups, dividing evenly.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a wooden tester comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes before removing.
Enjoy with a hot cup of green tea!
Nutrition information per serving: Calories 192; Total Fat 6 g (Sat 2.5g, Trans 0 g, Poly 0 g, Mono 2.5 g); Cholesterol 25 mg; Sodium 250 mg; Carbohydrates 31g; Fiber 2.5g; Sugars 17g; Protein 4g.
Grilled Chicken and Berry Salad
3/4 to 1 pound skinless, boneless True Goodness® by Meijer chicken breast halves or tenderloins
1 tsp. McCormick® Grill Mates Montreal Chicken Seasoning
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2-3 Tbsp. Meijer granulated sugar
1/2 cup Meijer vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. Water
1/2 cup Vidalia or sweet white onion, small diced
1 tsp. McCormick® ground mustard
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. McCormick® white or black pepper
3 cups Dole® hearts of Romaine
3 cups Earthbound Farm® baby spinach
1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
Optional: 4 oz. crumbled goat cheese, feta cheese or gorgonzola cheese
- Preheat the grill for high heat. Lightly oil the grill grate.
- Season both sides of chicken with McCormick® Montreal chicken seasoning and grill 5 to 8 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear (internal temperature reads 165⁰F with meat thermometer). Remove from heat, set aside.
- Meanwhile, place almonds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until fragrant, stirring frequently, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.
- In a blender, combine the red wine vinegar, water, sugar, vegetable oil, onion, mustard, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth.
- Combine Romaine lettuce and spinach and arrange on serving plates.
- Slice chicken into strips and place on top of lettuce. Top with strawberries, blueberries and toasted almonds. Drizzle with the dressing to serve. If desired, top with 1-2 tbsp. cheese.
Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories 442, Fat 28g, Cholesterol 76 mg, Sodium 487 mg, Carbohydrate 19g, Sugar 13g, Fiber 4g, Protein 28g.