Nurse Dodie’s 5 Convenient Healthy Meals Under 300 Calories

These are some of my favorite healthier alternative meals that are also easy to prepare.

They are relatively quick and easy to make, plus they pass that “Jack Test” for being especially delicious.

Enjoy!

4. Quick Pepper Steak

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh gingerroot
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) beef broth
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1-1/2 pounds beef top sirloin steak, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large green peppers, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1-1/2 cups sliced celery
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  1. In a bowl, combine the cornstarch, brown sugar, ginger and garlic powder. Stir in broth until smooth. Add soy sauce and molasses; set aside.
  2. In a nonstick skillet or wok, stir-fry steak in oil for 4-5 minutes; remove and keep warm. Stir-fry peppers, celery and onions until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir broth mixture and add to the vegetables. Return meat to the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Serve over noodles if desired.

The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

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Soulful Fancy-Schmancy Black- Eyed Peas

The first time I ate this at a friend’s house, it was the best soul food black-eyed peas I ever tasted. She used smoked turkey. Over the years I’ve used turkey or bacon, depending on what whim I had. It’s all good.

Ingredients

🔹4-5 green onions, chopped (or 1 medium white onion, chopped)

🔹3 cloves garlic, chopped

🔹1 (16 oz) bag dry black-eyed peas

🔹Your choice: at least 1 cup of chopped up smoked turkey or bacon

🔹7 cups of chicken broth (or enough to cover the beans)

🔹Red pepper flakes

🔹Black pepper (optional)

Instructions

1. Sort & wash the black-eyed peas. Set aside.

2. Chop onions & garlic.

3. In a large pot, add in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and saute the onions and garlic until tender.

4. Add in the chopped meat, black-eyed peas, & chicken broth.

5. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour or until black-eyed peas are tender.

6. Remove from heat and let sit covered for about 10-15 minutes.

7. Season with red pepper & black pepper if desired.

I like to serve it with this cornbread.

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Dolly Parton Pie Recipe

Here is a delicious recipe inspired by our roadtrip through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Jack was enthusiastic about stopping by Dollywood along the way. It is a beautiful area.

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When you’ve been working 9 to 5, you need a treat that will lift your spirits. Dolly Parton Pie is the world-famous singer’s favorite, a walnut pie with a rich, sweet filling you can enjoy whenever you get the Mule Skinner Blues!

Buttery, crunchy, and melodic, Dolly Parton Pie is just what you need most when it’s time to tuck into dessert. You’ll fall in love with it on the first bite!


Ingredients

• 1 (9-inch) fold-out pie crust, thawed

• 3 eggs

• 3/4 cup sugar

• 3/4 cup light corn syrup

• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1 1/2 cups walnuts, finely chopped

• 4 tablespoons butter, melted

• whipped cream, optional, to taste, for serving


Directions

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Step 2

Line a 9-inch pie pan with the unrolled crust, cutting off any overhang.

Step 3

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a hand mixer.

Step 4

Add the sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt gradually to the beaten eggs, mixing to combine.

Step 5

Add the melted butter and mix until thoroughly combined.

Step 6

Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell.

Step 7

Add the walnuts, spreading them evenly throughout the mixture.

Step 8

Bake for 10 minutes.

Step 9

Reduce the oven heat to 300 degrees F.

Step 10

Bake for 45 minutes, adding a collar of foil around the crust after 30 minutes.

Step 11

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Step 12

Serve with whipped cream.

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Foods That Have More Sodium Than a Bag of Potato Chips

Guilty was the verdict and Jack confessed.

He snacked on a small bag of delicious H-E-B brand potato chips Monday evening after such a healthy day of eating.

So how much sodium is in the average small bag of chips? In his bag, H-E-B noted 170 mg (with 150 calories). We looked at the sodium content in a small bag of chips of three leading brands: Lay’s (170mg), Ruffles (160mg), and Kettle Brand (210mg).

By taking the average of these three, we estimate that the average small bag of chips has about 178mg of salt. Here’s how other popular foods compare:

🔹One serving of Bumble Bee White Crabmeat has 260mg of sodium.

Buy the Solid White Albacore Tuna In Water with more protein and 140mg of sodium.

🔹Canned, packaged, and restaurant-prepared soups often pack a lot of sodium, though you can find reduced-sodium options for some canned varieties.

On average, canned soup has 700 mg of sodium, or 30% of the Recommend Daily Intake, per 1-cup (245-gram) serving.

Here’s a tip to save costs and reduce sodium intake: Just add rice and water to any can of soup to double or triple it for almost free. Note: This same hack can be used on other high sodium consumables like tomato sauces, chili, etc.

🔹Making a sandwich? Two slices of Oroweat’s Whole Wheat bread contains 270mg of sodium. Instead, try an Oroweat Whole Wheat Sandwich Thin Roll with just 170mg.

🔹Ham is full of salt. A 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of roasted ham averages 1,117 mg of sodium, or 48% of the RDI.

🔹One Serving of Grape-Nuts Original Cereal has 270mg of sodium so opt for Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds with 135mg instead.

🔹Instant Pudding. A 25-gram portion of instant vanilla pudding mix — used to make a 1/2-cup serving — has 350 mg of sodium, or 15% of the RDI.

🔹Jerky. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of beef jerky packs 620 mg of sodium, or 27% of the RDI.

🔹A serving size of V8 Original Vegetable Juice contains a whopping 640mg of sodium but the V8’s Purple Power Veggie Blend contains just 100mg instead. Some brands offer low-sodium versions, which means they can have no more than 140 mg of sodium per serving according to FDA rules.

🔹One Serving of Organic Valley’s Cottage Cheese contains 450mg of sodium so replace it with a Grassmilk Plain Yogurt which contains 120mg per serving. Note that one study found that rinsing cottage cheese under running water for 3 minutes, then draining it, reduces sodium content by 63%.

🔹Pizza. Yikes!A large, 140-gram slice of store-bought, frozen pizza averages 765 mg of sodium, or 33% of the RDI. A restaurant-prepared slice of the same size packs even more — averaging 957 mg of sodium, or 41% of the RDI.

Jack and I agree that since going as salt free as possible, we’ve noticed the original tastes of vegetables, fruits and other food are far more naturally flavorful.

SALT FACTS

🔹Salt is an essential part of a healthy diet. It helps our nerves and muscles function properly and help us control blood pressure and volume. But too much may lead to hypertension, a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. The FDA recommends no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, but Jack aims for under 1,000 at home.

🔹The Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for sodium of 2,300 mg — is about 1 teaspoon of salt.

🔹Table salt, known chemically as sodium chloride, is made up of 40% sodium.

🔹It’s estimated that at least half of people with hypertension have blood pressure that’s affected by sodium consumption — meaning they’re salt sensitive. In addition, your risk for salt sensitivity increases with age.

🔹The average daily sodium intake in the United States is 3,400 mg — much higher than the recommended upper limit.

This mainly comes from packaged and restaurant foods, rather than from overusing your salt shaker.

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Smart Ways to Boost Your Immune System

Our bodies are unique and incredible, especially our immune system that helps prevent illness and diseases to conquer our bodies. Having a healthy immune system is crucial for everyone . The best and most natural way to fight infections and avoid getting sick is to boost your immune system.

Dodie, a retired RN, has over 35 years of immunology, neonatal care, teaching, operating room and school nursing experience.

Here are 7 easy ways to supercharge your immune system:

1. A Good Basic Diet

Many of us are guilty of eating an unhealthy diet, eating foods that contain way too much sugar anf salt, which has the effect of restraining the immune system’s cells. These cells are responsible for carrying out attacks on harmful bacteria looking to invade our bodies.

2. Your Liver is a Large and Major Organ for Detoxifying Your Body

Detox is a must for boosting your immune system. Eating certain foods will help your liver excrete stored toxins can help repair a damaged immune system.

3. Probiotics

These beneficial bacteria in the stomach play a crucial role in building up the immune system. Probiotics can boost T-cells, the white blood cells that pretty much power the immune system.

5. Garlic

This flavorful member of the onion family is a powerful immune booster that stimulates the multiplication of infection-fighting white cells, boosts natural killer cell activity, and increases the efficiency of antibody production. The immune-boosting properties of garlic seem to be due to its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin and sulfides.

6. Juicing Veggies or Making Green Smoothies

Boost your immune system with delicious and highly nutritious smoothies and fresh vegetable juices. When you build a smoothie out of a variety of healthful ingredients, you are on the right track to having an immune system that functions well. Many of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are found in you smoothie ingredients are needed by your immune system.

7. Draining Toxins From Lymph Nodes

By doing body weight bearing exercises such as walking, running, or jumping on a mini-trampoline

6. Supplements: Magnesium, enzymes, and Vitamins (See more below)

Nutrients such as vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, and the minerals iron, selenium, and zinc are essential to fight infections or viruses. Have a look at some nutrition that can help you boost your immune system fight off the Corona Virus.

It is advised to take at least these vitamins regularly to keep your immune system strong an healthy all year round. (See breakdown of Vitamins below.)

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Vitamin A

It maintains the structure of the cell in the respiratory tract, gut, and skin. Being your body’s first line of defense, it forms a barrier, fighting infection. It also helps in making antibodies which again helps in fighting infection.

It is mostly found in cheese, nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, and vegetables such as green leafy veggies and yellow-orange veggies like pumpkin and carrots. Vitamin A helps to boost your immune system fight off the Coronavirus.

B vitamins

It is the combination of B6, B9, and B12, which contribute as the first response once an infection is recognized. They prevent the cell from getting infected and damaged.

Vitamin B6 is found in legumes, cereals, green leafy vegetables, fruits, and nuts.

Vitamin B9 (folate) is found in legumes, nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables and is added to commercial bread-making flour.

Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) is found in animal products such as milk, curd, cheese, fortified soy milk, etc.

Vitamins C and E

While fighting an infection, your body experiences oxidative stress which leads to the production of free radicals that can penetrate cell walls damaging tissues and causing inflammation.

Vitamins C and E help cells from oxidative stress. It also helps in cleaning up the cellular mess and enhance our immune system.

You will find Vitamin C in oranges, lemons, berries, limes, kiwifruit, broccoli, capsicum, and tomatoes.

While you will find Vitamin E in nuts, green leafy vegetables, and vegetable oils. All of these vitamins help to boost your immune system to fight off the Coronavirus.

Vitamin D

Some immune cells require vitamin D to help to destroy pathogens that can cause infection. It also helps against acute respiratory infection. Perhaps, staying in exposure to the sun is recommended for at least 2 hours daily.

Although vitamin D is mostly produced by sun exposure, food sources including mushrooms, and milk.

Iron, zinc, selenium

Iron, zinc, and selenium are needed for immune cell growth, among other functions. Iron kills pathogens by increasing the free radicals. It also regulates enzyme reactions. Whole grain food contains Iron.

Zinc and selenium help as an antioxidant, maintaining the integrity of the skin and mucous membranes. Zinc and selenium are found in nuts, rajma, chole, etc.

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Southside San Antonio Seven Layer Dip

Jack and I attended the same two-room first grade school and later graduated from McCollum High on the Southside of San Antonio.

Today, we live in the beautiful Texas Hill Country but are fortunate having wonderful memories of good people, fun neighborhoods and great food.

Here is our favorite Seven Layer Dip inspired by living there during those younger years.

Seven Layer Taco Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar salsa
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch chopped green onions
  • 1 small head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1 (6 ounce) can sliced black olives, drained
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, blend the taco seasoning mix and refried beans. Spread the mixture onto a large serving platter.

2. Mix the sour cream and cream cheese in a medium bowl. Spread over the refried beans.

3. Top the layers with salsa. Place a layer of tomato, green bell pepper, green onions and lettuce over the salsa, and top with Cheddar cheese. Garnish with black olives.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 66 calories; protein 2.3g; carbohydrates 3.5g; fat 4.9g; cholesterol 12.8mg; sodium 178.1mg.

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Dodie’s Herbed Pork Chops Recipe

This is one of the best comfort meals we have ever had. It is so creamy and delicious we didn’t want to stop eating.

Prep:10 mins, Cook:25 mins, Total:35 mins, 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 thick-cut pork chops
  • 1 teaspoon steak seasoning, or to taste
  • ½ cup butter, divided
  • 2 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour, or as needed
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon instant beef bouillon granules
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups milk

Directions

  • Season pork chops on all sides with steak seasoning.

  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook chops in melted butter until browned and slightly pink in the center, about 7 to 10 minutes per side. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 145 degrees F (63 degrees C). Add remaining butter to the pan as needed so that about 3 tablespoons pan drippings remain in the pan when the chops are finished cooking. Transfer pork chops to a plate and return skillet to medium-high heat.

  • Mix flour, basil, and beef bouillon together in a bowl. Stir black pepper into skillet with the pan drippings and cook for 1 minute. Add flour mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until browned, about 2 minutes. Pour milk into flour mixture; cook and stir constantly until mixture is thick and bubbly, 4 to 6 minutes. Pour sauce over pork chops and serve.

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Top 5 Plant-Based Sources of Protein

Eating enough protein is vital to staying healthy and independent in the long run. But there’s new evidence that piling protein-packed plants onto your plate can come with extra health benefits, too.

A study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that replacing just 3 percent of calories from animal protein (think red meat or eggs) with a plant protein (like nuts or beans) lowered the people’s risk of early death by 10 percent. Other research has found that plant-based diets can protect you against heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Plants also deliver nutrients such as fiber and phytonutrients that you won’t get from animal proteins. These can help stave off disease and keep gut health on point. Plus, plant-based proteins tend to be low in saturated fat, which is good for heart health.

Even if you don’t want to go completely vegetarian or vegan, plant-based proteins deserve to be a bigger part of your diet. And these picks can give you the most protein bang for your buck — and can be easily worked into the meals you’re already making.

Plant-Protein Powerhouse #1: Split Peas

These humble legumes are far from a one-hit wonder. Sure, they pack 8 grams of protein per half cup. But they also give you about 8 grams of dietary fiber in that serving, too.

Fiber helps reduce cholesterol and improves blood sugar management, which can impact heart and metabolic health. Men and women over the age of 50 should aim to consume 30 and 21 grams of fiber daily, respectively.

Another nutritional highlight of green and yellow split peas is lofty amounts of folate, This is vital for our DNA synthesis and metabolism.

In the Kitchen: Since the peas are split, they cook faster. (Plus, it eliminates the need for a pre-soak that’s needed to cook dried beans.) To get started, simmer one cup of split peas in two cups of water for about 25 minutes. Split peas can also be cooked in a slow cooker. Besides split pea soup and aromatic Indian dal dishes, use the peas to:

  • Make dips like hummus
  • Provide bulk to casseroles and veggie burgers
  • Add protein to vegetable salads

Plant-Protein Powerhouse #2: Tempeh

While tofu is made from soymilk, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans. This gives it about double the protein (about 16 grams per half cup) and more flavor. Tempeh has a mild, nutty, tangy taste, and a firm, ‘meaty’ texture that holds up well as a meat alternative.

Tempeh is also rich in other nutrients (B vitamins, iron, and fiber, to name a few). Plus, since it’s fermented, it tends to be easier to digest than beans. Translation: less gas.

In the Kitchen: Tempeh soaks up flavors from sauces and spices very well. So, try marinating plain tempeh patties just as you would steak or chicken. Then you can grill, bake, or pan-fry to cook. Add your tempeh to salads, sandwiches and tacos. Or you can make ground tempeh using the large holes of a box grater and create meat-free versions of these dishes:

  • Chilis
  • Meatballs
  • Burgers
  • Kebabs
  • Bolognese sauce

Plant-Protein Powerhouse #3: Peanut Butter

Peanuts are legumes just like split peas and beans. This means they boast a little more protein than other nut butters made with tree nuts (like almonds). In fact, they have about 7 grams of protein per 2-tablespoon serving.

Peanut butter is also a perfect mix of protein and healthy fats, which helps you stay fuller longer. Combined, these two nutrients can help you avoid spikes in blood sugar after a meal. This helps reduce your risk of diabetes — and the sugar crash that can bring on hunger pangs.

To get the most benefit, select a peanut butter that doesn’t include any added sugar or added fats, such as palm oil.

In the Kitchen: Peanut butter is a perfect grab-and-go protein source. Put some on toast with sliced bananas for a quick snack, use it as a dip for apple slices, or add a dollop to your morning yogurt. It also makes a great add-on to smoothies, oatmeal, and creamy sauces for stir-frys.

Plant-Protein Powerhouse #4: Hemp Seeds

Tiny but mighty, hemp seeds have nearly 10 grams of protein in a 3-tablespoon serving. They also contain all nine essential amino acids that your body can only get from food (a key part of keeping muscle mass as we age). And they’re a good source of the healthy fats called omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

ALA has been linked to lowering inflammation which can have heart health benefits.

In the Kitchen: Hemp seeds taste like a cross between pint nuts and sunflower seeds. (No— they won’t get you high like a marijuana plant.) For a boost of nutrition and flavor, you can blend hemp seeds into dips and smoothies, or sprinkle them on:

  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt
  • Salads
  • Soups
  • Roasted vegetables

Plant-Protein Powerhouse #5: Chickpea Pasta

No shade to regular pasta, but noodles made from chickpeas and other legumes can give you a notable protein and fiber boost. A 2-ounce serving of chickpea-based pasta supplies about 11 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. That’s nearly twice as much protein and three times as much fiber as traditional pasta made from wheat flour.

Boil up a pot of chickpea penne or rotini and you’ll also get more of several vital nutrients such as magnesium, iron, and potassium.

In the Kitchen: These new-generation noodles have definitely improved in flavor and texture over the years. But there are a couple of important things to keep in mind when preparing any legume-based pasta.

  • These pastas can go from perfectly al dente to soggy in a matter of moments. So, taste test often as you near the recommended cooking time.
  • The noodles also foam quite a bit when in boiling water, so skim it off as needed with a spoon.
  • Unlike wheat-based noodles, the legume variety should be rinsed with cold water after draining to remove the starch

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He-Man Meat and Potatoes Casserole

This He-Man Meat and Potato Casserole is a recipe our family used to keep our friends, cousins and us fired up for sports and well fed. We named it after our first son’s favorite childhood hero to entice him to try it initially. It worked and became a favorite.

Whether it was baseball, volleyball, building snowmen or swimming, we found this to be enjoyed by children and adults.

Preparation is about 20 mins and it cooks about an hour. This recipe yields 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 3 cups peeled and thinly sliced potatoes
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ¾ cup milk
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Step 2: In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef; drain fat.

Hamburger Potato Casserole

Step 3: In a medium mixing bowl, combine cream of mushroom soup, onion, milk, salt and pepper to taste.

Step 4: Alternately layer the potatoes, soup mixture and meat in a 11×7 inch (2 quart) baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until potatoes are tender. Top with Cheddar cheese, and continue baking until cheese is melted.

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16 Foods to Stock For Better Health

Nutritionally, variety helps ensure that you get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay healthy. And psychologically, variety helps make mealtimes more enjoyable and healthy eating more fun. This translates to a better chance of sticking with healthy eating for the long haul.  

Dodie is a retired Registered Nurse who also taught prenatal and nutrition classes.

Here are 16 foods to keep on hand — including fridge, freezer, countertop, and cupboard items — to make sticking to a healthy diet a little easier. 

REFRIGERATOR 

Food to Stock #1: Carrots  

High in vitamin A and fiber — which can help fill you up and prevent blood sugar spikes — carrots are nutrient-dense, versatile, easy, and convenient. That’s everything you want in a food when you’re trying to eat healthier.  

Most people eat carrots in the form of raw sticks, maybe plunged into a bowl of hummus or as an alternative to chips alongside your lunchtime sandwich. Both are good options, but you can also enjoy roasted carrot “fries” (cooked in a little heart-healthy olive oil), ribboned carrot “noodles,” or pureed carrot soup. You can even buy shredded carrots and use them in place of potatoes in a breakfast hash. The healthy, high-fiber possibilities are endless.  

Food to Stock #2: Pre-Washed Salad Greens 

Salad greens are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals, and water. That makes them especially helpful if you’re trying to lose weight. Eliminate the hassle of washing and drying greens by opting for the pre-washed versions of spinach, kale, romaine, watercress, or arugula. They all provide vitamins A, K, C, and B9 (folate), and minerals such as iron and potassium. (FYI: Iceberg lettuce is a less nutrient-dense salad green, so it’s more nutritious mixed with other greens.) 

These and other “shortcut” items — such as pre-cut vegetables, shredded cabbage, and precooked, vacuum-packed beets — are great for making quick meals in a pinch or for bulking up a frozen entrée or any meal that’s light in the veggie department. 

Food to Stock #3: Cantaloupe 

High in water and low in calories, this melon offers a sweet and satisfying way to pack in essential vitamins. Just 1 cup of balled cantaloupe delivers more than 100 percent of the recommended daily value (DV) of vitamin A and more than 75 percent of vitamin C — all for just 60 calories. 

In that same 1-cup serving, you’ll also get a decent dose of potassium, an electrolyte that helps regulate the heart and blood pressure by counterbalancing sodium. 

Food to Stock #4: Eggs 

Protein is an important part of a balanced meal that helps us stay full for longer, and it’s also essential for maintaining lean muscle mass. The average egg delivers 6 grams, making eggs a protein powerhouse. 

Eggs are also a great source of vitamin B12. This nutrient keeps nerve and blood cells healthy and protects against a type of anemia that can make you feel exhausted. That’s especially valuable when you’re trying to stay motivated to maintain a regular exercise routine.   

And remember: Eggs aren’t just for breakfast. A hard-boiled egg adds heft to salads, while a fried egg is delectable atop roasted asparagus, sautéed kale, or a variety of other veggies.  

Food to Stock #5: Low-Fat Greek Yogurt 

A cup of low-fat Greek yogurt has about 22 grams of high-quality protein. That makes it an excellent ingredient for a satisfying meal or snack — especially if you’re a vegetarian. The tangy, creamy stuff also scores points for bone-building calcium and probiotics to support healthy digestion. 

Plain Greek yogurt can be a little bland, so try topping it with berries, nuts, and/or homemade granola. If store-bought granola is your only option, make sure it has fewer than 5 grams of sugar per serving.  

More ways to use Greek yogurt: 

  • Whip it up with chopped cucumber and dill for a delicious dip. 
  • Substitute it for mayo in chicken salad or for sour cream in a burrito bowl or on top of chili. 

FREEZER  

Food to Stock #6: Frozen Vegetables 

Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, riced cauliflower, green beans, spinach … the list goes on. Whatever you choose, a stash of frozen veggies is like an insurance policy for your healthy diet. 

They’re fast, easy, and don’t spoil quickly, so you can stock up on as much as you’d like. Then they’ll be there when you realize your supply of fresh produce is completely drained or when that red pepper languishing in the crisper drawer starts feeling, well, not so crisp.  

What’s more, frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts, if not more so. That’s because vegetables that will be frozen are picked at peak ripeness, when they’re the most nutritious, and then packaged within hours. But fresh produce often travels far from the farm to the grocery store and can lose some of its nutritional value along the way.  

Food to Stock #7: Frozen Berries  

Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are excellent foods to keep on hand because they’re rich in antioxidants and fiber. But they go bad fast. A bag of frozen berries, on the other hand, can last for months.  

You can toss them into a smoothie or mix them into Greek yogurt or oatmeal for a sweet and simple nutrient boost. 

Food to Stock #8: Edamame 

These young soybeans are often served salted in their shells at Japanese restaurants, but you can also find them in the freezer aisle. One cup of cooked edamame has about 18 grams of protein along with 8 grams of fiber. 

Edamame is one of the few plant-protein sources that is considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs but cannot produce.  

You can buy them fresh and steam, or pick up the precooked frozen variety and briefly microwave to defrost before chowing down. You can also pop edamame out of the shell and add to soups or salads for an easy vegetarian protein boost.  

Food to Stock #9: Salmon 

Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, known as healthy fats. 

Omega-3 fatty acids can help tame inflammation, arthritis, and high blood pressure. They’ve also been linked to healthy aging of the brain. Research suggests that people who eat fatty fish once a week are less likely to die of heart disease.  

Not a big fan of salmon? Any cold-water fish can provide a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, including herring, tuna, and sardines. 

Food to Stock #10: Ice Cream Bars (or Your Treat of Choice) 

Yes, you read that right. Keep lower-calorie frozen treats such as ice cream bars or greek yogurt Bars in your freezer for desserts or random sweet cravings. 

Experts agree that depriving yourself of the things you love is a surefire way to derail your healthy eating habits. Keeping pre-wrapped, single-serve options on hand will help satisfy your cravings without overdoing it.  

COUNTERTOP  

Food to Stock #11: Grape Tomatoes 

When you walk into the kitchen for a snack, you’re likely to eat the first thing you see. So keeping grab-and-eat fruits and vegetables on the counter is a no-brainer. 

Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, potassium, and the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease and some cancers, including breast cancer and prostate cancer. Generally, the redder the tomato, the more lycopene it has.  

To maximize the protective benefits, pair your tomatoes with a healthy fat such as avocado or olive oil. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that eating salsa with avocado boosted the absorption of lycopene by nearly 4.5 times. 

Food to Stock #12: Avocado 

Beyond being an excellent complement to your tomatoes, avocado adds creamy texture and essential nutrients to any salad, sandwich, or bowl. They’re rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats as well as fiber and potassium. Plus, the fat gives meals and snacks staying power to keep you feeling fuller longer.

Food to Stock #13: Clementines 

Citrus fruits are best known for their abundance of vitamin C. And for good reason: A single clementine — commonly known by the brand names Halos or Cuties —provides 40 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. What most people don’t realize is that clementines can also contribute to your daily fiber needs.  

While a clementine contains about 1 gram of fiber, keeping them on your countertop and snacking on a few throughout the day is an easy and delicious way to boost your fiber intake. They’re also sweet, easy to peel, and usually seedless, making them a perfect grab-and-go snack for all ages.  

CUPBOARD 

Food to Stock #14: Oatmeal 

When you need a quick, filling, and healthy breakfast, oatmeal is hard to beat. Oats are high in a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which has numerous health benefits that include lowering cholesterol and improving digestion. 

For the biggest fiber boost per bite, opt for rolled oats (also called old-fashioned oats) instead of instant versions that are more processed. Rolled oats take only about five minutes to make on the stove, while steel-cut oats (an equally healthy choice) require about 30 minutes to cook.  

Oats not only make a tasty hot breakfast, but they can also make a great thickener for smoothies or an alternative to breadcrumbs when coating proteins for dinner. 

Food to Stock #15: Low-Sodium Canned Beans 

Beans make an excellent base for plant-protein-heavy meals. Whether it’s black beans, cannellini beans, or chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), keep some in stock. Many beans are also a good source of iron, which is great news for anyone cutting down on iron-rich meat.  

If you can’t find low-sodium or unsalted options, buy what’s available and rinse them in water before eating. This will help remove about a third of the excess sodium.  

Food to Stock #16: Nuts 

Nuts are a powerful part of a healthy diet, delivering fiber, healthy fats, protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. In a review of 29 studies, researchers found that eating nuts — including walnuts, peanuts, and hazelnuts — was linked to a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. 

All nuts have their strengths, but we especially like walnuts because they offer more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than any other nut.  

While nutritious, nuts are also high in calories, so be sure to watch your portions. Most adults should aim for four 1.5-ounce (about a handful) servings of unsalted nuts per week, according to the American Heart Association.  

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

James Morgan’s Texas Cattle Drive Wrangler Stew

Great grandfather James Allison Morgan was a real Texas Wrangler in the late 1880s and early 1900s. He taught his son-in-law (my maternal grandfather, a chef/cook in the Navy Seabees and later in Abilene), Bassett Arthur, how to make Texas Wrangler Stew.

Just about every bite features generous chunks of earthy, wholesome potatoes and onions, juicy seared beef, and tender vegetables. Savory, rich, and meaty with a few notes of sweetness and dark beer, this stew fends off the chilliest of days with good old-fashioned flavors.

Here’s the basic recipe, modernized a bit, for this hearty meal.

Time: 3 hours 25 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

recipe image


Ingredients

• 3 pounds beef chuck roast, boneless, trimmed, and cut into 1 1/2-inch thick pieces

• salt and pepper, to taste

• 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if desired

• 2 medium-sized yellow onions, chopped

• 1 tablespoon garlic, minced

• 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into thick slices

• 2 celery stalks, chopped into thick pieces

• 4 large potatoes, quartered• 1/4 cup plain flour

• 1 1/2 cups dry stout beer, such as Guinness, or dark beer of choice

• 3 tablespoons tomato paste

• 1 tablespoon brown sugar, optional

• 4 cups beef broth or stock

• 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

• 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (optional garnish)

• mashed potatoes, for serving


Directions

Step 1

Set the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Step 2

Then, thoroughly season the beef with salt and pepper. You’ll want to be generous as you are only seasoning the surface of the meat.

Step 3

Heat the oil over medium-high heat, in a heavy-based, oven-proof pot (or a dutch oven).

Step 4

Sear the beef in batches of 3 or 4, until browned on both sides. Then, move the beef to a warm plate.

Step 5

Add the garlic and onion to the pan juices, sautéing until transparent and soft. Be careful not to let the garlic burn, as it easily can if sautéd for too long.

Step 6

Add in the celery, carrots, and potatoes, cooking for an additional 2 minutes. Stir the flour into the vegetables and potatoes, evenly coating them. The flour helps to thicken the stew down the line.

Step 7

Stirring occasionally, cook for 2 minutes more. The raw flour smell should disappear. Pour in the dry stout or dark beer, mixing well to dissolve the flour.

Step 8

Then add in the brown sugar (if using), tomato paste, thyme, and broth, scraping up any brown bits at the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. These brown bits, called fond, help deepen the meaty flavors of soups and stews when incorporated into the broth.

Step 9

Bring the stew to a simmer, cooking until slightly thickened, for about 5 minutes. Return the beef back into the pot along with any juices.

Step 10

Cover the pot partially, then move to the oven and bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove it from the oven twice during the cooking process to give it a good stir, then return it to the oven still partially covered.

Step 11

After the stew has finished cooking, cautiously remove from the oven, then season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Step 12

Serve with mashed potatoes and garnish with parsley, if desired.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

More Healthy Classic, Creamy Broccoli Salad

This recipe is delicious, yet guilt-free. Try it with a sandwich for a light lunch.

Broccoli’s nutty, yet sweet, flavor is enhanced by roasting or grilling with a small amount of oil and seasoning. It is a nutrient-dense food full of potassium, protein, fiber, and vitamins C and B-6, making it an excellent choice for plant-based diets or to balance out a grilled meat.

Yield :   4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups broccoli florets cut into bite sized pieces
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup walnuts

Dressing

  • ¼ cup yogurt
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp honey

Instructions

  • Combine broccoli, onion, raisins, and walnuts in a bowl. Stir dressing ingredients together until smooth; pour over salad and toss.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve. This salad keeps well in the fridge for a few days.
Healthy Broccoli Salad
Healthy Broccoli Salad!

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey