Friday, February 26, 2010

Getting Sneaky at the Grocery Store

There are a million ways to be a "sneaky mom." I choose to be a sneaky mom and wife by sneaking healthy ingredients, including pureed fruits and vegetables, into everyday foods that my family enjoys. Another way that I have found to be sneaky is to make healthier choices at the grocery store. This can be hard as everything in the store seems to scream low fat, low sugar, all natural, light or healthy and deciding what to buy can seem overwhelming. I have become a huge fan of the "Eat This, Not That" series of books to help me make more informed decisions about what to buy for my family. So, I thought that I would try to share some of that information with you. If you are interested in learning more, you can click on the "Eat This, Not That" book in my sidebar. My goal is to share some of the suggestions from the book with you, so that you, too, can make better choices at the grocery store.

First, here are several great options for yogurt:

Breyers' Yo Crunch Light
120 calories
1-2.5 g. fat
11 g. sugar
Great for a super healthy dessert

Dannon Light-n-Fit
80 calories
0 g. fat
11 g. sugar
The lightest cup of yogurt at your grocery store.
BONUS: 15% of your calcium and 20% of your vitamin D

Dannon All Natural
110 calories
1 g. fat
19 g. sugar
Made with real fruit and no chemicals.

Yoplait Kids Yogurt Drink
70 calories
1.5 g. fat
10 g. sugar
Made with REAL fruit puree.
Also, fortified with DHA.

Here are some other recommended brands that I could not find pictures of or are just not as common in my area of the country:

FAGE total 0% non-fat Greek style
FAGE total 2%
Whole Soy & Co.
Stonyfield Farm lowfat plain
Oikos Greek vanilla
Stonyfield Farm Organic YoBaby Simply PLAIN
Brown Cow Low Fat Maple

Now, look closely before you buy these yogurts:

Dannon All-Natural, Low-Fat Yogurt
150 calories
2.5 g. fat
25 g. sugar
Contains as much sugar as a Kit Kat!!!

Danimals Drinkables
180 calories
3 g. fat
30 g. sugar

170 calories
1.5 g. fat
27 g. sugar

Others to avoid:

Stonyfield Farm Organic Lowfat Caramel
la Creme by Dannon
Stonyfield Farm o'Soy All Natural
Horizon Organic Fat-Free Vanilla
Stonyfield Farm Organic Fat Free Chocolate Undercover - 35g sugar!!!
Breyers Fruit on the Bottom
Stonyfield Farm Whole Milk French Vanilla

Now, I am sure that some of these brands may have come out with better versions of their yogurts since this book was published, but at least we have some place to start when trying to shop for healthfully.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

What is wheat germ?

What is wheat germ? Until about three years ago, I had no idea. But, now, it is a staple in my pantry and while I knew it was good for me I don't think I realized just how nutritious it is until I did some research for this blog post.

According to "wheat germ is part of the wheat kernel. The germ is only a very small part of the kernal, approximately 2 1/2 percent in total. The word germ does not have anything to do with bacteria; it simply refers to germination. The germ is the reproductive part that germinates and forms the wheat. "

Here is the nutritional information. Hold on to your hats because this is pretty exciting! "Wheat germ is very high in protein. It contains around 28 percent protein and has more protein than can be found in most meat products. The human body needs protein in order to repair tissue damage and to help minerals and nutrients reach our cells."

"The nutrients that are contained within wheat germ seem endless. It contains more potassium and iron than any other food source. It also contains great qualities of riboflavin, calcium, zinc magnesium and vitamins A, B1 and B3. Vitamins B1 and B3 help to maintain energy levels and maintain healthy muscles, organs, hair and skin."
"Another important vitamin found in wheat germ is vitamin E which is an important antioxidant. It is helpful in preventing the body's aging process and heart disease. Vitamin E is also needed to prevent blood clots and strengthen the body's immune system."
The Sneaky Chef describes wheat germ as a powerhouse of nutrients, offering an excellent source of iron, protein, B vitamins, folic acid and vitamin E. It is one of othe best food sources of zinc, magnesium, manganese and chromium. The B vitamins nourish the whole nervous system and may help prevent fatigue and migraine headaches.

Now, I know you are dying to find out where you can buy this super food. Most health food stores carry it. I have found it in our local Schnuck's store and at Wal-mart. I have posted pictures below of the three brands that I have seen in several different stores and cities. I even wrote a post about where to find the wheat germ.

The Bob's Red Mill is usually found with the other health food and Bob's Red Mill section in the store. The other two brands I have found near the cereal isle. Please note that the Kretschmer's is toasted wheat germ and has a toasted or more nutty flavor than the raw wheat germ. If you are starting out using wheat germ, you might stick to the raw as it has less flavor than the toasted.
Now, you know what it is and where to find it. Your next question may be "what do I do with it?" ANYTHING! Wheat germ can be added to oatmeal, yogurt, ice cream, smoothies and as a replacement for flour in bread recipes. You will notice that I use flour blend in a lot of my bread recipes which is a combination of flour and wheat germ. The possibities are endless and so healthy.
OK, so I was going to list ALL of the recipes that contain wheat germ, but when I looked through my list of recipes it is almost all of them. So, I will just list a few of them:
Please let me know the creative ways that you use wheat germ!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Apple Muffins

Here is another recipe that I altered from my Apple Lover's Cookbook. The original recipe called for shortening, gasp, I know . . .but I was able to successfully substitute canola oil using about half of the called for amount since the canola oil is liquid. Again, I used flour blend and did not peel my apples. I have to say that I am pretty proud of myself (my mom can attest to this as I made a very excited phone call to her after tasting these yummy muffins) for the success in substitutions to make this a much healthier recipe.

These muffins also freeze well and are a great way to use apples that may be getting soft.


Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! I made these cupcakes for Seth's Valentine's party at pre-school this week. They are far from healthy, but were tasty. You can get the recipe that I used for strawberry cake and frosting here. My goal is to try to modify this recipe to make a healthier version of the cake for the future.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Apple Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I'm baaaack! So, my plan to blog more frequently in the new year has gotten off to a rough start. A minor eye procedure with a couple of complications will severly limit the time that you can spend on the computer. In fact, it will probably take me four or five attempts to complete this post. But, I have been dying to share this recipe with you.

This past summer my mom and I went to a local orchard and picked lots of fresh fruit including apples and I posted about it here. We made some applesauce and I froze a ton of apples. So my mission recently was to find some sneaky ways to use my frozen apples. Now, please understand that I am still experimenting with creating my own recipes and making sneaky adjustments to existing recipes so this was a big and exciting undertaking for me.

I found this recipe for apple oatmeal raisin cookies in the "Apple Lover's Cookbook." I loved the idea of apples combined with yummy and healthy oatmeal and raisins. But, I wanted to make a cookie so I did not mess with the butter content as I have not had great success in modifying butter content in cookies without making a complete mess and not very tasty cookies. Butter is important to maintain the consistency of the cookie as well as carry the flavor of the other ingredients. If you have found success in substituting butter in cookie recipes then I would love to hear about it.

So, now that I look at the recipe the main substitution I made was using flour blend for the white flour. Flour blend is a combination of unbleached white flour, whole wheat flour and wheat germ that you can read about here. It is a great way to sneak some whole grains and fiber and can be used in almost any recipe as a substitute for white flour.

Oh, and I did not peel the apples as instructed. I never peel apples. Never. So far, it has not affected the recipes. Why get rid of all that fiber?

You will notice that these cookies are very flat. This is my first attempt at making this recipe and substituting the same amount of flour blend as flour. Well, actually I made a an entire cookie sheet that looked like this the first time I made these cookies. Not sure what it is about this recipe, but anytime I have made it with the called for amount of flour this is what happens. Usually, you can substitute the exact amount of flour blend without any problem. Not so here, but this may happen if you use regular flour, too, but I have not tried that yet. So, this is what I did . . .

I added another 1/2 c. of whole wheat pastry flour and they got a little thicker, but not quite what I call a good result of baking cookies. So, I . . .

added another 1/2 c. of whole wheat pastry flour and finally got cookies with a great consistency and that were soft and chewy just the way that we like them around here.

So, there you have it. Apple oatmeal raisin cookies with some extra whole grains and fiber! Remember all you have to do is click on the title of this post or on the recipes tab at the side to get the entire recipe in a form that you can print out.