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November is National Diabetes Month.  In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in the numbers of people becoming affected by this serious disease and, even more concerning, the age of onset of those impacted by Type 2 diabetes is lower than ever before.  Part of the problem, according to medical experts, is an increase in obesity and a lack of physical activity, both risk factors for Type 2 diabetes.  While Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes (when the pancrease ceases to produce insulin)  is not preventable and has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle, managing it is very similar to Type 2 diabetes–it involves a healthy diet and regular exercise.

 

According to the American Diabetes Association, a healthy diet should consist of vegetables, fruit, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy.  In fact, they have compiled a list of Diabetes Superfoods.  Any guesses on what mainly makes up this list?  You got it–fruit and veggies!

 
  • Beans
  • Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Citrus Fruit
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Berries
  • Tomatoes
  • Fish High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Whole Grains
  • Nuts
  • Fat-Free Milk and Yogurt
 

One reason these items make the superfoods list is that they are ranked low on the glycemic index, which measures how carbohydrate containing foods can affect your blood glucose.  Foods with a high glycemic index will impact your blood glucose more than those with a low glycemic index.  It’s important to recognize the difference.  A great example is if you’re looking for an afternoon snack and you reach for a candy bar.  This has a high glycemic index and will send your blood glucose soaring.  Ever notice how you’ll get that “burst” of energy quickly and then kind of “crash” a little while later?  That burst of energy isn’t sustained.  Compare that with a snack like nuts and fruit, which has fiber, protein and carbohydrates.  This is much lower on the glycemic index and it takes your body longer to process it.  It provides you energy without sending your glucose levels soaring (and then crashing quickly).

 

 

As the wife of a Type 1 diabetic, I’ve had to be aware of carbohydrates and how they affect my husband’s sugar. The benefit of this is that by cooking healthy, it helps to keep the rest of our family in check as well.  Honestly, it’s really not that hard to do …I find it’s easiest if I follow the MyPlate guidelines and try to fill half our plates with fruit and veggies at each meal.  The remainder of the plate I fill with lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy.

 

 

Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has some featured healthy plate recipes that can help get you started like this Apple, Fennel and Chicken Salad with Couscous.  Sweet and savory is the perfect way to describe the flavor of this dish.  The lemon balsamic vinaigrette is perfect finish to this salad.

 

apple fennel chicken couscous

 

Easy Oven Packet Tilapia with Pears and Carnival Roasted Potatoes are a healthy addition to your dinner menu.  Red potatoes, green beans, bell pepper, onion and Roma tomato make up half your plate.

 

grilled tilapia

 

I love these Fiesta Frescada Lettuce Wraps and Bellafina Boats!  This is such a creative and fun way to add more veggies to your plate.  This recipe calls for using tilapia filets, but I’ve also substituted shrimp in mine.  The southwestern spices go perfectly with the veggies and seafood.

lettuce wraps

 

Even if you or someone in your household isn’t diabetic, it’s never a bad idea to start following these healthy guidelines, especially if you’ve got young children in your home.

 

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‘Tis the season for sweet potatoes!  November is Sweet Potato Awareness Month and it’s perfect timing with Thanksgiving coming up in just a few weeks.  These edible roots are a healthy edition to your diet and now is the perfect time to add them to your menu while they are at their peak of flavor.  Sweet potatoes are a powerhouse of nutrition–they are a good source of dietary fiber, high in Vitamins A and C, and a good source of potassium.  Now, for most of us, the first thing that comes to mind when we think of sweet potatoes is the traditional sweet potato casserole Grandmom served each holiday.  While that’s fine,  there are many other ways to enjoy this delicious veggie that don’t include the extra sugar and calories.  Plus, these preparations allow for the flavor of the sweet potato to shine.

 

Fruits & Veggies–More Matters features sweet potatoes in one of their healthy plate dishes.  Sweet Potato Pancakes with Balsamic Maple Mushrooms is an interesting take on the traditional potato latke recipe.  This savory, vegetarian meal is perfect for brunch or dinner.

 

sweet potato pancakes

 

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili is another delicious meat-free menu item.  This recipe uses a variety of additional veggies like onion, bell pepper, garlic and diced tomatoes added to vegetable broth and lots of spices to create a zesty chili that will warm you up on those chilly winter nights.  The added bonus is that you’ll get more than your fill of heart-healthy fiber from the sweet potatoes and black beans!

 

sweet potato chili
Photo courtesy of Alida’s kitchen

 

Who doesn’t crave fries every now and then?  If you do, you’ll want to try these Oven-Roasted Sweet Potato Fries.  Aside from being healthier than the traditional “fried” version and having extra fiber since they’re made from sweet potatoes, this recipe uses a combination of spices like garlic powder, cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper for a flavorful treat.

 

sweet potato fries
Photo courtesy of Gimme Some Oven

 

Mashed, roasted or grilled–Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has put together a Top 10 List on their favorite ways to enjoy sweet potatoes (bet you never thought of adding them to your sandwich!).  Get creative with these tasty and nutritious veggies while they’re plentiful at your local market.

 

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What do you think of when I say, “figs”?  If you answered, “Fig Newtons,” you’re missing out on the many delicious ways this tasty fruit can be enjoyed.  It’s National Fig Week and the perfect time to explore this healthy and versatile fruit.  Figs are terrific for snacking.  They can be enjoyed dried or fresh and are a good source of dietary fiber and potassium.  There are actually hundreds of varieties of figs and their color can range from white to purple-black.  While figs make for great additions to baked goods because of their sweet flavor, don’t be afraid to try some other interesting ways to add them to your healthy diet.

 

 Pizza may not be the first thing you think about when you think figs, but Proscuitto and Fig Pizza is delectable!  This recipe is a take on the common appetizer of figs wrapped with Proscuitto.  Fontina cheese, a Balsamic reduction and arugula are added to the whole wheat crust, making this a gourmet pizza you will make over and over.

 

fig pizza

 

This salad is perfect for the fall season!  Roasted Onion, Squash and Fig Salad with Maple Mustard Balsamic Dressing uses dried figs in its recipe.  The onion and butternut squash are roasted and then added to mixed greens, crumbled goat cheese, dried figs and chopped walnuts.  The entire mix is then topped with an amazing dressing made from a combination of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, garlic and whole grain mustard.  Lots of heart-healthy fat and fiber in this salad, which is hearty enough to make for a main meal!

 

fig and squash salad
Photo courtesy of yummybeet.com

 

Figs, like many fruits, are terrific when put up as a jam or preserves.  This recipe for Fig Jam is simple, the only ingredients include figs, sugar, lemon juice, red wine and cloves.  You can use this jam on toast or in baked goods.

 

fig jam
Photo courtesty of deliciousshots.blogspot.com

 

Finally, Michael Marks, Your Produce Man, has an interesting way to add figs to your dinner menu–Figatoni!  Yes, add dried figs to your pasta.  He shows you how in this step-by-step video.  Enjoy!

 

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This week I welcome Guest Blogger Katie Serbinski, MS, RD.  Katie is a Registered Dietitian specializing in nutrition and health communications.  As a public relations and food industry expert, Katie creates social marketing campaigns and customized media content aimed at engaging communities, families, and individuals in healthy and nutritious lifestyles.  Along with consulting, Katie is a Millenninial Mom blogger, writing about all things family and food related: healthy recipes, maternal and child health and musings about being motherhood at http://katieserbinski.com/.  Katie resides in Metro Detroit with her husband and young son.  This week, Katie has some smart ideas about how to have a healthy, yet fun Halloween.

 

With a chance to dress up in a favorite superhero costume and stock up on sweets, Halloween is the holiday of choice for many kids, from toddlers to teens.  While it’s easy to enjoy this festive holiday with your family, it’s also easy to overindulge on those sweet treats.  Especially since the goal of many children while trick-or-treating is to get as much candy as possible!  The key to keeping candy consumption in check is to have snacks on hand that assure healthy treats are getting into those little tummies.

 

Now I’m not suggesting you deprive your child of the traditional candy-laden Halloween experience.  But practice good guidance and show them that there is more to this spook-tac-u-lar holiday than pre-packaged candy.  A little bit of spooky and a whole lot of healthy, these family-friendly treats are options the whole family can enjoy before and/or after the biggest night of candy eating.

 

Pumpkin Hummus
Pumpkin Hummus is a twist on the classic party appetizer, perfect for holiday gatherings.  Serve with pita chips or fresh vegetable sticks.  If the idea of making homemade hummus makes you run the other way, just grab a container of pre-made hummus and mix with half a can of pumpkin puree, adding seasonings such as cinnamon, cumin, and salt to taste.  See my recipe below!

 

pumpkin hummus
photo courtesy of allrecipes.com

 

Ninja Turtle Apples
If you are looking for a new after school snack or party treat, these Ninja Turtle Apples are sure to be a hit!  Plus, October is National Apple Month–why not take advantage of this in-season produce.  All you need are green apples, glue, streamers, googly eyes, and a black marker to draw on a mouth.

 

ninja turtle apples
photo courtesy of getcreativejuice.com

 

Candy Corn Parfaits
Candy for breakfast?  That’s what your kids may be thinking when you present them with a candy corn parfait.  Inside each cup, there’s pineapple, oranges, and vanilla yogurt!  This is a perfect grab n’ go option for before or after school too!

 

candy corn parfait
photo courtesy of mysuperfoods.com

 

Halloween Day Strategies
If you let your kids indulge in some treats right after trick or treating, consider limiting their intake to a certain number of pieces each day AFTER the holiday or put the candy stash out of reach and out of sight.  Then the kids have to ask for it–that is, if they remember that it’s there!  You could also remember that a piece of candy is served up alongside something healthy.  Use your best judgment given what you know about your child’s personality and eating habits.  And lastly, before your kids go trick-or-treating, try to serve a healthy meal so they’re  not hungry when the candy starts coming in.

 

Easy Pumpkin Hummus
Ingredients:
1 10 oz. container of store bought plain hummus
1/2 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
Vegetable sticks or pita chips for dipping

 

Directions:
-Mix hummus, pumpkin and spices until combined.
-Serve immediatedly or store in refrigeratore for up to one week.

 

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