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Culinary Herbs

Like most bright ideas, this one was sparked while sipping a mojito – why am I not growing mint? Well, this “little project” turned into a full-blown garden last year. So my challenge this year is to share with you how to grow some culinary herbs.

Why Growing Herbs at Home is Great…

  • It’s fun. Trust me, the smell of basil straight from the ground will take your mind on a direct flight to southern Italy.
  • It’s economical. How many times have you purchased a ginormous bunch of parsley, only to use a few sprigs? Having live plants means you can take as little (or as much) as you need, when you need it. One $3 basil plant can save you well over $20. You will waste less, and likely will use herbs more frequently since they will always be available.
  • It encourages creativity. When you have an assortment of plants begging to be used, you might take a handful of each and add it to the recipe. You can create endless combinations of herbs and spices to a variety of dishes.
  • It’s easy. Whether you have an amazing boyfriend that will yank rose bushes to make room for your gardening experiment, a balcony that sees the sun, or just a naked windowsill, you really can grow herbs anywhere.

Getting Started…

Get Your Plate in Shape!

Did you know that MyPyramid is out and MyPlate is in? I love this new graphic that was adopted by the USDA last June. Dietitians have been advocating this way of eating for a long time and consumers tend to find it easier to understand. I mean, we typically eat off of plates not pyramids, right?

The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) is on board with MyPlate as well. This March, in honor of National Nutrition Month, the Academy’s theme is “Get Your Plate in Shape”.

Here are a few tips for shaping up your plate:

  • First of all, the size of your plate does matter and this is one instance where bigger is not necessarily better. Think “plate” not “platter” and aim for a 9” diameter.
  • Make half of your plate colorful fruits and/or vegetables. Plan to vary your fruits and vegetables so that you get a rainbow of color over your week or month, which then provides you with a range of different phytochemicals (beneficial plant chemicals).
  • Sometimes it is not practical to have all 5 food groups in one meal and it certainly is not recommended to overconsume just to get in all 5 groups. Instead, aim for at least 3 food groups per meal while maintaining appropriate portion control ...

My favorite seed: Quinoa


It’s NOT a grain.

Not related to wheat at all, this nutrition superstar is related to Swiss chard and spinach. Does it really matter to argue about it? No – because typically it can substitute for any grain in a recipe.

This “new” (have you been living under a cheeseburger?) food comes from the Andes Mountains of South America. It is thought to have served as a source of sustained energy for the Incas, and one of the few staple crops that was grown at these altitudes.

It’s pronounced keen-wah

Nutritional highlights

  • Complete protein – meaning that it contains the nine essential amino acids. Amino acids are those nitrogen containing building blocks that form proteins. Over 20 exist, however there are 9 that must be obtained from the diet (your body cannot make them, hence they are “essential”).

    So what is so exciting about this complete protein thing? Typically you need to seek various food groups throughout the day* in order to obtain all nine essential amino acids so your body can form complete proteins. However quinoa delivers all nine within a single bite! Not only is quinoa a complete protein, quinoa is relatively high in protein. One cup cooked provides approximately 8g of protein!

    *Side note - the notion that you must select complementary foods (beans and grains for example) within a single meal is inaccurate; rather you need to seek various complementary foods within a single day.
  • Hypoallergenic – It doesn’t contain gluten, so it serves as a wonderful alternative for people sensitive to gluten or are gluten-intolerant. For a girl like me with a gluten-intolerant gut, this is great news!
  • Headache and cardiovascular benefits:

Energizing Quinoa Breakfast

A healthy start to your day, full of fiber to keep you powered for hours without weighing you down!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup berries (blueberry, raspberry, blackberry or strawberry)
  • 1 tablespoon hempseeds

Directions:

Patient Appreciation Day Today at Swedish/Issaquah

Today's the day! Or at least one of the many days that fun things are happening at Swedish.

Today is one of our Patient Appreciation days from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Swedish/Issaquah.

If you live or work on the Eastside, we hope you'll have a chance to stop by. Our friends at Coho Café will be providing free samples of a heart-healthy dish and two Swedish dieticians will be on-hand to provide heart-healthy eating advice. (But even if you can't come in person, you'll find over 100 tasty heart healthy recipes that are dietitian approved here. If you try one out, come back & share in the comments if you liked it!)

We’re also offering 200 free blood pressure screenings on a first-come-first-serve basis. Free stress-relieving massages will also be given throughout the event.

Speaking of stress, if you're stressed that you can't stop by, you can still participate in the fun online. Between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.(Pacific Time), find and tweet the answer of this question to @Swedish:

“What is the American Heart Association recommendation for healthy blood pressure?”

Remember, you need to include "@Swedish" in your tweet so we can see your response! We'll provide the answer at noon, and one person who answers correctly will be randomly selected and awarded a Gene Juarez gift certificate for a 60-minute, stress-relieving massage. (You'll need to be local and willing to pick up the gift card in person - make sure you're following @Swedish on Twitter so we can DM you if you win!).

Focus on the Positive

This February for Heart Health Month, let's focus on the positive.

Too often when discussing eating for heart health we focus on the things we should be decreasing (sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, added sugar) rather than focusing on the many positive things we could be adding to our diets.

So what can you add to your food intake for heart health?

We know from national surveys that the majority of Americans are not consuming recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, diary, seafood, and heart healthy oils. This translates to a lack of important nutrients, such as Vitamin D, potassium, calcium, and fiber.

Think of one healthful item from each category above that you could add into your diet over the month of February. Here is a list of one of my favorite foods from each category to give you some ideas.

Simple, heart-healthy Super Bowl recipe and advice from a cardiologist

It's heart month, and with the Super Bowl this weekend (and suggestions from the media that sporting events may trigger heart attacks), I decided to whip up my low-fat, smokey, heart-healthy three-cheese fondue, as well as ask cardiologist Mark Reisman, MD, for some tips.

Low-fat, smokey, three-cheese fondue (serves 6)

Ingredients

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