The annual “Be Healthy Delaware” program is under way. Along with the fitness program, in which Wilmingtonians are encouraged to walk off the pounds, the residents of Wilmington receive information on healthier cooking and eating. The program provides information on shopping locally, reading labels, portion control and preparing fresh wholesome foods in a healthy way.
Due to busy work and life schedules, it is easy to let things go and grab for the easy packaged foods or eat out. The program helps us take back control of our health and move towards a healthier lifestyle. Here are a few tips for eating and cooking fresh and organic foods for a healthier lifestyle.
1. Shop locally at farmer markets, butchers and whole foods grocery stores can help families move from towards a healthier lifestyle by eating fresher and organic foods. Shop for seasonal foods, usually they are fresher and organic.
2. The weekend is a great time to cook for the week if time and schedules are tight. Cook more that can be frozen for meal later in the week or for sandwiches during the week. It does take a lot of work and effort to provide fresh, healthy meals for a family on a daily basis.
3. Store the fresh vegetables in large Ziplocs bags for storage in the crisper drawers of the fridge. Buy fresh whole wheat or oat bread and slice it yourself; wrap the bread in paper and Saran wrap. Buy whole hams and chickens for baking and slicing for sandwiches if you do not have a good deli that bakes fresh meats for slicing.
4. Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. The USDA recommends eating at least five portions of fruits and vegetables each day. Pick fresh, seasonal and organically grown fruits and vegetables; try new types of vegetable that is out of your normal taste routine. Try new recipes to fix old favorites.
5. Make your own stocks and sauces; canning has made a comeback with many of the Wilmington families. With the down turn of the economy and layoffs, families have turn to the old ways of growing vegetables and fruits with canning in mind.
6. Start your own herb gardens. Fresh herbs can add new taste to old favorites. Reduce or replace salt with herbs and spices. Instead of using pre-packaged seasoning mixes, use fresh or mix your own. Also, use lemon juice, citrus zest or hot chilies to add flavor.
7. Cut the amount of red meat consumed to once a week. Buy organic, free-range meats and poultry. Buy fresh fish and seafood. Eat vegetarian and fish meals several times during the week.Trim all fat from meat before cooking. Remove the skin from chicken or turkey.
8. When cooking, replace fats that contain saturated fat, such as butter and lard, with small amounts of unsaturated fat such as vegetable oil, corn oil, soybean oil, olive oil, peanut oil, or canola oil. Broil, roast, bake, steam, grill foods instead of frying them, or stir-fry with just a little added oil or broth.
Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
4 large Portobello mushrooms
1 tbsp. sunflower oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped into small dice
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped into small dice
1 red chili, chopped into small dice
1 yellow onion, chopped into small dice
2 garlic cloves, chopped into small dice
1 large free-range egg, beaten
1.5 oz of natural low fat yogurt
1.5 oz of crumbled, feta cheese
2 cups homemade breadcrumbs (used the leftover dry bread & pulsed in food processor to make the crumbs)
Salt & pepper to season
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
To prepare the mushrooms, remove the stems and using a small spoon scrape out the gills under the cap. When removing the brown gills, leave a small amount around the outer edge. This will help keep the mushroom cap intact when baking. Do not throw this away – simply chop al the stems and mix in with the scraped gills. Set both the caps and stems/gills aside.
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium setting. Throw in the bell peppers, chili, onion and garlic and cook until soft – about five minutes – seasoning with salt and pepper as you cook. Add in the chopped mushroom stems and gills and cook for an additional five minutes. Some moisture will come out of the stems so try to let that cook off. Set mixture aside to cool for a few minutes.
Put the cooked vegetable mixture into a large bowl. Add in the egg and yogurt, and mix until combined. Add the feta cheese and 1.5 cups of the breadcrumbs and mix. This is the filling.
Take the mushroom caps and lay them top side up in a baking dish. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper inside each cap. Divide the filling separately into the four caps. Sprinkle the top with the remaining breadcrumbs and place into the oven for 25 minutes.