Tag Archives: health

Healthy Recipes and Cooking Tips for Losing Weight in 2013

Start out 2013 on the right foot! This is the time of year where the weight loss commercials start rolling in one after the other, and gym memberships skyrocket. It’s obvious that everyone would like to start losing some weight (or those extra Holiday pounds!) by the time the New Year begins.

To begin your weight loss journey, start with some healthy cooking basics. Using these techniques can get you into a routine of creating a healthy lifestyle for you and whoever else you cook for. The American Heart Association offers these simple cooking tips:Arrangement of Vegetables

  • Cook your vegetables by stir-frying or steaming them
  • Try and use herbs, fat-free or low fat sauces and salad dressings
  • If you make a big meal save some and freeze it for another time when you don’t have the time to create a new meal
  • Smoothies are an easy way to get your required daily servings of fruit
  • Don’t use pre-packaged seasoning packets – they’re usually loaded with salt. To be healthy make your own!,
  • Try to buy frozen vegetables over canned – canned contains high amounts of sodium!
  • When baking replace ½ cup butter, shortening or oil substitute with 3 ripe bananas, a cup of applesauce, fat-free/low-fat yogurt or fat-free/low-fat sour cream
  • Buy whole grain products whenever possible
  • Use fat-free milk or 1% instead of whole or 2%

Woman’s Day recommends these cooking tips for ways to cut out some calories and fat in your cooking:

  • If you’re going to make a stir-fry, use some vegetable broth in place of oil or butter
  • Take off chicken skin to skip some calories and unhealthy saturated fatblackberries
  • To add some flavor to veggies or salads squeeze on some citrus fruit!
  • If you’re going to need cheese, pick one with big flavor so you don’t have to use so much
  • Fat-free Greek yogurt is a great replacement for sour cream
  • To thicken up soup puree some vegetables to skip unwanted extra calories
  • Start adding vegetables into any dish to get your recommended daily five servings
  • Make your own marinade to save calories and skip the large amount of sodium in store-bought bottles

Everyone usually goes over their calorie limit around the Holidays. EatingWell.com has this article for foods to eat to help cleanse your body after overeating from a big meal.

Now…what should you cook to put your healthy-cooking skills to the test? There are plenty of websites that have a plethora of great recipes that makeover your traditional meals into healthy ones, and also has extra cooking tips!running


Losing weight takes dedication, motivation and hard work. Remember to keep track of what you eat and pay attention to portion size. Get help staying motivated with family and friends. Make a change at the grocery store and buy healthy produce and food, and get rid of everything that could hurt your diet at home. Finally it takes a little bit of moving to get to losing, so make exercise a part of your daily routine! Good luck and Happy 2013!

Celebrating a Healthier Cinco de Mayo in 2012

Pull out your sombreros, maracas, and get ready to listen to some Mexican folk music as you head out to your local restaurant to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  The day, May 5th, is often thought of as Mexico’s Independence Day, but it is actually a holiday called El Dia de la Batalla De Puebla (The Day of the Battle of Puebla).  Although the day is celebrated in the United States as a day of celebration of Mexican heritage and culture, it is actually celebrating the day when the Mexican army beat the French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.  The Mexican army was largely outnumbered by the French (4,500 vs. 6,040); yet, in the end, Mexico only ended up with 83 casualties, while France had 462 casualties. “The Puebla victory came to symbolize unity and pride for what seemed like a Mexican David defeating a French Goliath,” according to Time magazine.

The holiday became popular during the 1960’s and 70’s by Chicano activists who identified with Mexican soldier triumphs over the French.  It is now celebrated on a larger scale in the U.S than it is in Mexico, mainly with festivals, parades, fabulous food and lots of tequila.

Celebrating on a Healthy Note

Mexican cuisine, while amazingly tasty, has been known to be high in calories and fat.  Thankfully, you can make a change this year and create your own recipes of well-known Mexican dishes and drinks (margarita, anyone?) without feeling like you’re breaking your diet plan.

Party On With Healthier Drinks

If you go into a restaurant and order your normal, 10 oz. margarita, it contains 550 calories, which is equal to a McDonald’s Big Mac!  Margarita on Flag of MexicoDon’t lose hope though—we can help.  Thankfully, we’ve got a great low-calorie Frosty Blended Margarita recipe for you that packs in 179 calories, so you don’t have to feel guilty if you indulge after having just one.  We also have a great recipe for a tequila sunrise, if you aren’t a margarita fan.

Frosty Blended Margaritas

Calories:  179

Ingredients:  Limes, salt, Mexican limons, tequila, Cointreau, superfine sugar, ice


1. Run a lime wedge around the edge of each glass. Then dip rims into a saucer filled with the salt.

2. Put the remaining ingredients into a blender; blend until the ice cubes are chipped and the mixture becomes frothy. Pour the mixture into the prepared glasses; garnish with lime.

Tequila Sunrise

Calories: 135

Ingredients:  1-1/2 oz. Tequila Blanco, 3 oz. sugar-free orange juice, ½ oz. sugar-free Pomegranate Blueberry juice, orange slice garnish (optional)

Directions:  Place tequila and orange juice in highball glass over fresh ice.  Stir.  Pour pomegranate blueberry over top as floated sunrise.  Garnish with orange slice if desired.

Healthier Food

We all know that once we start imbibing we love to have something to munch on, especially when it comes to Mexican cuisine!  But most Mexican dishes are loaded with cheese, rice, guacamole, fat and calories.  Wouldn’t you like to swap out some calories this year while you celebrate with your friends and not have to worry about gaining another pesky five pounds over the weekend?

Luckily, our friends over at Health have come up with some great recipes that are not only healthy for you, but they actually TASTE good.  That’s right—you heard me correctly.  They don’t taste like cardboard; these are dishes your kids would devour if you’d let them.

MP900182716Ranch Guacamole

Calories:  49 per serving (serving size about 2 tablespoons)

Ingredients:  1 cup of frozen peas, 1 ripe peeled and seeded avocado, 1 juiced lemon, 1 chopped and seeded tomato, ½ cup finely chopped red or sweet onion, 1 seeded and minced jalapeno pepper, 2 to 3 minced garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, ½ teaspoon sea salt, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:  Slightly thaw frozen peas at room temperature.

2.  Place peas in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.  Set aside.

3.  Mash avocado with a fork or potato masher in a medium bowl.  Add in the lemon juice, tomato, onion, jalapeno, garlic and cilantro.  Season with sea salt and black pepper.  Add prepared peas and mix well.

4.  Cover tightly and refrigerate for several hours.  Serve with an array of fresh vegetables, such as bell pepper strips, jicama, summer squash, and cherry tomatoes.

Variation:  You could also use steamed broccoli florets, asparagus tips or edamame in place of peas.

Black Bean Soup

Calories:  215

Ingredients:  1 lb. dried black beans, 2 slices of chopped bacon, 1 cup of chopped onion, ¾ cup of chopped carrot, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 seeded and minced jalapeno pepper, 4 (14-oz.) cans of fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, 1 (28-oz.) undrained can crushed tomatoes, 1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Directions:  Sort and wash beans; put in a large bowl.  Cover with water to two inches above the beans and cover.  Let stand 8 hours or overnight.  Drain and rinse beans.  Cook bacon in a large oven over medium-high heat until crisp.  Remove from pan, keeping bacon drippings in pan.  Add onion, carrot and celery to drippings in pan; sauté for 10 minutes or until tender.  Add garlic and jalapeno; sauté for two minutes.  Add beans, bacon, broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 ½ hours or until the beans are tender.  Put 4 cups of soup in a blender; let stand 5 minutes.  Blend until smooth; return pureed soup to pan.  Stir in cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Serve with low-fat sour cream.

Baja Fish TacosMP900182711

Calories:  235

Ingredients:  Non-fat cooking spray, ¾ lb. mahi-mahi or other firm white fish fillet, 2 teaspoons fajita seasoning, 2 cups pre-sliced green cabbage (about 6 oz.), 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, ½ teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, 8 (6-inch) corn or low-carb tortillas, 2 ½ tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream (optional), ½ pitted and diced avocado, Bottled salsa, lime wedges


1.       Lightly spray grill rack with nonstick cooking spray, and preheat grill.

2.      Sprinkle both sides of fish with fajita seasoning, pressing into flesh.  Grill fish 3-4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.  Flake into pieces with a fork; keep warm.

3.      Mix together cabbage, lime juice, salt and cilantro in a small bowl.

4.      Wrap tortillas in paper towels and microwave one minute on HIGH or until they’re warm.

5.      Place taco ingredients on the table for assembly. Spread each tortilla with one teaspoon of sour cream, if desired, and top with fish, cabbage mixture and avocado.  Serve with salsa and lime wedges on the side.

Want more healthy recipes to quench your love for Mexican cuisine?  Just check out Health.com for a list of healthy Cinco de Mayo drink and food recipes, so that this year, in 2012, you’ll be able to celebrate without a guilty conscious!

Central’s Week in Brief: July 11

Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We’ll feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more. It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!

1.) A study by the Mintel Foodservice revealed “consumers believe that more healthful menu selections are pricer than standard restaurant fare, making it tougher for operators to sell nutrition-oriented items to spending-shy guests.” View more results in this Nation’s Restaurant News article.

2.) In an article from Food Safety News, they learned from the CDC that there have been 25 people infected by a strain of Salmonella that has been linked to Idaho sprouts.

3.) Good news for quick-service restaurants and convenience stores/chains.  In this article by Convenience Store News, they spoke with D.A. Davidson & Co.’s Bart Glenn who said “it appears commodity prices have peaked, at least for the near term. Although food inflation will remain an issue through 2012, it is encouraging that prices appear to be normalizing.”

4.) Gulf News revealed in an article that “the Dubai government has launched a clean-technology venture in which waste cooking oil will be converted into eco-friendly fuel.  The biodiesel will be used by fast food giant McDonald’s to operate its delivery trucks.”

5.) We are very excited our next master catalog will be hitting the streets on Monday! If you aren’t on our mailing list, click here to obtain a copy and visit us online to view the latest products and sign up for our emails.

Healthy Changes for the U.S. Military

Becoming healthier isn’t just a New Year’s resolution for many U.S. civilians, but now it’s one for the army as well.   Military training sites all over the country are making healthier guidelines for soldiers.  The change began when the Army became worried about a decrease in the fitness of soldiers.

Mess halls will see juice and milk in place of soda and junk food will begin to disappear.

The U.S. Army’s website discusses the importance of making healthy choices saying both exercise and nutrition are key for maintaining total fitness.

Just like many Americans, an article by the Associated Press says many of the newer soldiers haven’t put too much thought into their own diet.  In a quote from Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, he backs this up by saying poor food choices aren’t just an army problem but a civilian problem they are receiving and fixing.

The first step is making diet changes.

Visually, most changes will be in eating areas.  In a similar story by Binghampton, New York’s news station, Fox 40 WICZ, they spoke with Dr. Helen Battisti who said the military believes a start to producing a quality recruit begins with the food.

Photo from Free Digital Photos

But this new program will go much further than just food; it will also change the soldier’s overall health and fitness.

“The ‘soldier athlete’ initiative is designed to prepare recruits with training methods similar to those of elite athletes – including greater use of professional trainers, physical therapists, and strength and conditioning coaches,” the AP article reports.

They also discuss how fitness will change.  The new system will concentrate on preventing injury, flexibility and mobility, coordination and aerobic endurance.

“Outdated exercises such as bayonet drills are being eliminated in favor or core strength workouts more commonly practiced in the aerobics studio.”

Currently, changes are being made to basic and advanced training sites.

In sites where new guidelines have been implemented, fewer injuries have been reported and soldiers are scoring higher on physical fitness tests.

Economy to drive foodservice trends of 2009

In 2009, the (lousy) economy will be the driving force behind trends we saw emerging in 2008, including energy conservation and sustainability, health and nutrition, and new technologies like online ordering, mobile applications and social networking.

Tough times inspire change

According to a poll conducted by the National Restaurant Association, the issue that had the greatest effect on companies in 2008 was –surprise!- the economy, followed closely by rising food costs, food safety, and nutrition and calorie legislation. So, although these are not new concepts, I think they’ll be back with a vengeance in 2009.

Not just about saving the planet anymore

Foodservice operators are scrambling to improve efficiency and productivity in light of the economic downturn (can we finally just call it a recession?), so I think sustainability and energy conservation will continue to be at the forefront of foodservice trends in 2009; now, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because our livelihood may depend on it.

According to the Associated Press, restaurants, colleges and other institutions are coming up with new, innovative ways to cut waste. We’re beginning to realize that these practices are good for more than just saving the planet—they’ve also helped improve the reputation and bottom line of many dining establishments.

I think it’s kind of a shame that it took some –but not all!- of us an economic crisis to become interested in “green” business and conservation. But, regardless of the reason, it can only help keep the industry afloat during these tough times.

Healthy eating trend sparks conversation and controversy

In the same way that we’re learning about the importance of conserving energy, we’re realizing that promoting health and nutrition will be crucial to staying prosperous in the foodservice business.

The controversy surrounding menu labeling, and the efforts of restaurants to introduce more healthful menu items, are just two examples of America’s new interest in healthy eating. And a 2008 investigation that found some restaurants had published inaccurate nutrition information, shows just how seriously consumers and federal regulators are taking it.

Niche Web communities maturing

It also shows just how much the Internet, and the developing trend of social networking has affected the industry. Whereas once, an obscure report in a trade journal would be overlooked by just about everyone, most consumers now have the tools to research and share just about any piece of information that’s out there.

And whereas, in 2008, we dabbled in social media, and restaurants began publishing menus online and a few even created the capability for online ordering, in 2009, this is a trend that the lagging economy will force everyone to embrace.

Not only will businesses have a web address, but they will become more conscious of their online presence; they will be more saavy when it comes to search engine optimization and PPC marketing. They will use the Internet to promote special events, catering, promotions and merchandise. They will offer applications for customers to download to their mobile phones. They won’t do it because it’s trendy; they’ll do it because they have to.

According to Food-Management.com, “Web community is important to more than just the ‘geeks’ among us. It also matters in personal and professional group life, and the food service industry — where networking is such a critical activity — is no exception.”

In closing, I think there are tough times ahead, but I think we as an industry are innovative –and perhaps, desperate!- enough to continue to develop new ways to prosper.

The economy is forcing us to save money by eliminating waste and conserving energy; the obesity epidemic is helping us realize that we can serve healthy food and that our customers will appreciate it; and the Internet is allowing us to do it together, using our growing network of online customers, colleagues and friends.

I think 2009 is going to be a great year for foodservice.