Rice, Black Bean and Corn Salad

Going to a BBQ this weekend? Take this healthy salad. This salad gives any BBQ a unique healthy alternative to all the regular side dishes.

Rice, Black Bean and Corn Salad

1 cup cold cooked brown rice
½ cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
½ green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/3 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
½ red onion, minced
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
½ jalapeño pepper, seeded, deveined and minced (wear gloves to prevent irritation)
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine the rice, corn, bell pepper, celery, beans, onion, cilantro and jalapeno.
In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, lime juice, oil and salt.  Pour over the rice mixture; toss to coat.  Refrigerate, covered, until the flavors are blended, at least 1 hour.

Tip:  All forms of fruits and vegetables count, like frozen, canned, dried, 100% juice and fresh. Get at least 4½ cups of fruits and vegetables every day

Per serving:  119 calories, 4 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 197 mg sodium, 19 g total carbohydrate, 3 g dietary fiber, 3 g protein, 21 mg calcium.  2 points per serving.

*Makes 4 servings- Adapted from Weight Watcher’s New Complete Cookbook

What does it really mean to eat organic?

Organic. Is it just a fad that the hipsters are into? What does it mean to eat organic?  Organic” is a designation used by the USDA National Organic Program to certify food that is produced without synthetic chemicals or fertilizers, genetic engineering, radiation or sewage sludge.
Sounds like a great idea but when it comes to the price of organic do you often think twice?? If so, then here is a great suggestion for you. Only buy organic with specific items. The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated produce. This suggestion is a happy balance between price and exposure to pesticides.
Click here for the list of Dirty Dozen fruits and veggies that have the most pesticides.

Want to bring the party stopper dish? Try this!

Strawberry-Mango Salsa…. A refreshing summer salsa for those who want something not so spicy. Extremely easy and very flavorful.”

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup orange juice
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 diced fresh mango
2 pints (16 oz each) strawberries, diced
Optional: Stir in the equivalent of up to 2 teaspoons sugar or non-nutritive sweetener if not naturally sweet.

Stir together the balsamic vinegar, orange juice, lemon juice, and lime juice in a large bowl.
Gently fold in the mango and strawberries until blended.
Allow the mixture to rest at least 20 minutes before serving with tortilla chips.

Per ¼ cup serving:  50 calories, 0.3 g total fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 mg sodium, 12.5 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber, 0.7 g protein. A recipe by S. Lynch at www.allrecipes.com

Does stretching prevent injury?

No. All these years we have been told to stretch before we workout but current research says that the pre-stretching routine does not have powerful effects to prevent injury. This certainly can come as a shock to everyone. We have long thought stretching will loosen up our muscles before a workout but what we are finding is that this tends to be counter-productive and possibly harmful. Experts say it’s like expanding a rubber band to its limit and when people stretch they are more likely to pull a muscle. Stretching produces flexibility not muscle relaxation. People should consider not doing or only doing it when they aren’t about to exercise.
Instead of stretching, experts recommend warming up with brisk walking. Or light movement of whatever activity you are going to do…like volley some serves before you start to play tennis or play catch before your softball game. These types of light movements that mimic the actual activity you are about to perform increase the heart rate and blood flow to the muscles. 

Stretching is all about when you do it and how. So not doing it before you workout is a good idea and  switching to a form of active stretching which forms are commonly used in yoga can be beneficial. Instead of bending to touch your toes and performing some classic stretching moves, try using a few yoga poses instead. This type of whole body stretching focuses not only on stretching but strength training as well.
The key is to warmup and cooldown using similar movments to your activity but stay away from the stretching prior to your activity. If you do stretch wait till after and even then do specific moves and focus on active stretching like yoga.
The best and easiest warmup can be walking. A few minutes of walking before you start your workout is a great idea!

MyPyramid out MyPlate is in!

This week the USDA has replaced the MyPyramid with the new icon Myplate as the food group symbol. 
This change was brought about with the intent to give Americans a fast, easy to understand reminder of what a healthy diet should look like. Our diet is made up of each meal we eat, so why not focus on what is on our plates? This new MyPlate icon hopefully helps to give us a solid idea of what should be on our plate and how much. Half our plate should be fruits and vegetables. Half of the grains we eat should be whole wheat. The clear message is to enjoy the food you eat but EAT LESS! What is on your plate?

Some other simple general tips include:
Balance Calories
• Enjoy your food, but eat less.
• Avoid oversized portions.

Foods to Increase
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
• Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
• Make at least half your grains whole grains

Foods to Reduce
• Compare sodium (salt) in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals, and choose foods with lower numbers.
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks.