Today’s Recipe: Spiced Eggplant

If you're used to deep-frying eggplant, you may be counteracting many of its positive nutritional benefits. As it happens, eggplant, in addition to other foods that deliver a good dose of soluble fiber, is known for its ability to bind to cholesterol in the digestive system and remove it from the body. So, cook up this vibrant dish for a tasty dinner that also promotes heart-healthy living.

Makes 4 servings as a side dish

Ingredients

1 pound eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup prepared spicy tomato sauce, heated

Directions

  1. After slicing the eggplant, sprinkle each slice generously with salt and let sit in a colander to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse under cold water. Pat dry. 
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. 
  3. In a small bowl, combine the salt, garlic, curry, ginger and cayenne. Sprinkle the eggplant slices generously on each side with the spice mixture. 
  4. Cook eggplant slices until golden brown on each side, about five to seven minutes. Drain well on paper towels.
  5. Cut the eggplant diagonally into 1-inch pieces and add to a bowl. Toss with the prepared sauce and serve.

Today’s Recipe: Banana-Oatmeal Cereal Bars

This do-it-yourself take on a cereal bar includes banana, walnuts and cereal, making it a nutrient-rich snack that is packed with protein and fiber. Wrap these bars up for a portable snack or keep them in the freezer for up to two weeks for a go-to hunger solution.

Makes 20 bars

Ingredients

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 large, ripe banana, lightly mashed

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon brown rice syrup or light corn syrup

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)

1/2 cup Kellogg’s® All-Bran® Original cereal

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1 cup banana chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a 13-by-9-inch nonstick cookie sheet with vegetable cooking spray.



  2. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the butter. Beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until smooth and creamy, about two minutes. Add the mashed banana, egg, vanilla and syrup and beat one minute longer.



  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat until just incorporated.
     


  4. Stir in the oats, cereal, walnuts and banana chips.



  5. Spread the mixture out in an even layer on the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

  6. Remove from oven and lightly score the surface of the bars with a knife to demarcate the bars. Cool completely then cut into bars and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Store in freezer for up to two weeks.

NOTE: Bake five to eight minutes longer if you want crispier bars!

Today’s Recipe: Barley and Tomato Risotto

One of the many reasons we love incorporating barley into our meals (besides its deliciousness) is its healthy fiber content. Not only does it help regulate digestion, but a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests barley's fiber has multiple beneficial effects on cholesterol. Win-win-win!

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

For the risotto:

1 quart cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup pearl barley

1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped

Salt and pepper

Parmesan crumbs, optional (recipe below)

 

For the Parmesan crumbs:

1/2 cup Kellogg’s® Special K® cereal

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 garlic clove, minced

Directions

For the risotto:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Coat the cherry tomatoes in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on a sheet tray. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are blistered and starting to darken.
  3. Pour the chicken stock in a sauce pan and put it over low heat. Keep warm.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a separate, heavy-bottomed pot.
  5. Add the onion once the oil is hot, and cook for five minutes, or until the onion is slightly soft.
  6. Add the garlic to the pot and cook for an additional minute, or until fragrant.
  7. Add the barley and stir to ensure grains are coated in the olive oil. Cook for one or two minutes to toast the barley.
  8. Add the wine to the pot and stir to incorporate.
  9. Add a ladle of the warm chicken stock (about 1/2 cup) to the pot when the wine is almost evaporated. Stir to incorporate. Allow the barley mixture to simmer gently, stirring occasionally. Cook until most of the chicken stock is absorbed into the barley. Continue adding stock in this manner until most of the stock is gone. Taste the barley to check for doneness. If the barley is still a little chewy, keep adding stock. If the barley is al dente, stop adding stock.
  10. Add the roasted tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, butter and thyme to the pot. Mix well. Add a little more stock to loosen the risotto, if needed. Taste the risotto and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, garnished with Parmesan crumbs, if desired.

For the Parmesan crumbs:

  1. Crush the cereal flakes, in a bowl, into a coarse crumb. Add the Parmesan cheese, olive oil, thyme, salt and garlic. Mix until everything is coated in oil.
  2. Toast the crumb mixture for four minutes in a skillet over medium heat, stirring continuously, or until the crumbs are golden brown. Transfer to a clean bowl and set aside to cool.

Banish the Burn

There’s no sugar coating the discomfort of heartburn: When food and stomach acid travel back up into your esophagus, it’s going to hurt. Sufferers often describe a burning sensation in the chest either just after they’ve eaten or later at night. While the symptoms thankfully subside, they shouldn’t be ignored, especially if they pop up more than twice a week. That’s because over time the esophagus could be damaged, or you might have a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Fortunately, making a few small changes to your daily habits can help prevent heartburn from happening in the first place. [1, 2]

Rethink What You Drink

Carbonated beverages, alcohol, coffee, and other caffeinated drinks can contribute to heartburn. [3] And -- surprise! -- so does decaffeinated coffee. [4] Ingredients in these beverages can relax the esophageal sphincter, allowing acid to come up. [4] Drinking water, which aids digestion, between meals can help. [3] Since it’s not easy to pinpoint one cause, experts often advise those who experience frequent heartburn to keep a food journal for a few weeks. Simply jot down what you’ve had to sip and eat at each meal, and take note of any symptoms that occur soon after. You’ll start to notice patterns that you can share with your doctor and that will help you manage the condition. [3]

Let Gravity Work for You

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, having your upper torso raised helps decrease the likelihood of nighttime heartburn. Insert a wedge between your mattress and box spring, or place blocks under the head of the bed. If you take naps during the day, try snoozing while sitting in a reclining chair. [3, 4]

No Meals Before Bed

At least 3 to 4 hours [1] before you plan to go to bed, make your kitchen off-limits. This interim gives your digestive system more time to do its job before you lie down. It’s also especially important to rein in portion size at dinnertime, because large meals and overeating can also contribute to heartburn. [3, 4]

Reconfigure Your Menu

Foods that are high in fat (like pizza) or are particularly spicy (such as chili) are common causes of heartburn. Instead, opt for high-protein, low-fat meals, such as a turkey sandwich, and turn down the heat by avoiding trigger foods. [3, 4]

Chew Sugarless Gum

If you do indulge in a high-fat meal (say at a special event), chewing sugarless gum afterward might help. A study in the Journal of Dental Research found that chewing gum for 30 minutes after a high-fat meal lessens acid reflux by generating enough saliva to make you swallow more and push acid back down. [5]

SOURCES:

1.Medline Plus: Heartburn:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/heartburn.html

Accessed 8/8/2013

2. Medline Plus: GERD

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/gerd.html

Accessed 8/8/2013

3. Cleveland Clinic: Preventing and Managing Heartburn

http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/heartburn/hic_preventing_and_managing_heartburn.aspx

Accessed 8/8/2013

4. University of Maryland Medical Center: GERD

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/gastroesophageal-reflux-disease

Accessed 8/8/2013

5. Moazzez RBartlett DAnggiansah A.

The Effect of Chewing Sugar-free Gum on Gastro-esophageal Reflux

J DENT RES November 2005 84: 1062-1065

Fresh Pickings

Even if you never deviate from your favorite breakfast cereal, your morning bowl can be anything but routine when you top it off with different fruits. For the best flavor you’re smart to choose the freshest offerings. But when berries, apples, and more are easy to find at the stores year-round, it’s tough to know what items are truly at their prime. To help you pick the tastiest, most healthful, ripest cereal toppers use this handy seasonal fruit guide*.

Apples

Peak season: August through November. [1]

Health perk: Research has shown that eating 75 g dried apples each day helped reduce inflammatory markers that are associated with cardiovascular disease. [2]

Apricots

Peak season: May through July. [1]

Health perk: Apricots are a good source of potassium (400 mg per cup), [4] which helps support healthy blood pressure. [3]

Mandarin Oranges (Tangerines) [5]

Peak season: November through March. [1]

Health perk: Citrus fruits contain important nutrients such as potassium, folic acid, vitamin C and certain types of fiber that have shown health benefits. [6]

Peaches

Peak season: May through October. [1]

Health perk: Peaches and other stone fruits have been shown to have polyphenols, compounds that may provide health benefits. [7]

Raspberries

Peak season: May through November. [1]

Health perk: A single cup of raw raspberries has 8 g fiber, [8] which makes for a satisfying power-packed snack. [9]

Strawberries

Peak season: March through November. [1]

Health perk: In addition to being a great source of vitamin C, strawberries are rich in folate, an important member of the B-vitamin family. [10, 11]

* Because climates vary throughout the country, these are approximate peak seasons.

SOURCES:

1. Fruit & Nut Seasonality Chart

http://www.cuesa.org/page/seasonality-chart-fruit-and-nuts

Accessed 8/8/2013

2. Sheau C Chai, Shirin Hooshmand, Raz L Saadat and Bahram H Arjmandi

Daily apple consumption promotes cardiovascular health in postmenopausal women

The FASEB Journal. 2011;25:971.10

3. Feng J. HeNirmala D. MarkanduRosemary ColtartJeffrey Barron, Graham A. MacGregor

Effect of Short-Term Supplementation of Potassium Chloride and Potassium Citrate on Blood Pressure in Hypertensives

Hypertension.2005; 45: 571-574

4. USDA Database apricot

http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2159?fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=&qlookup=apricot

Accessed 8/8/2013

5. USDA database Tangerine (mandarin) http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2314?fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=&qlookup=tangerine

Accessed 8/8/2013

6. Nutritional and health benefits of citrus fruits

http://www.fao.org/docrep/x2650T/x2650t03.htm

Accessed 8/8/2013

7. Cisneros-Zevallos, Luis. 2010

Promoting Stone Fruits for Protection Against the Metabolic Syndrome

An annual research report submitted to the California Tree Fruit Agreement for 2010

8. USDA Database Raspberries

http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2390?fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=Abridged&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=&qlookup=raspberry

Accessed 8/8/2013

9. Mayo Clinic: Essential for Healthy Eating

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fiber/NU00033

Accessed 8/8/2013

10. Oregon State University: Strawberries

http://berryhealth.fst.oregonstate.edu/health_healing/fact_sheets/strawberries_facts.htm

Accessed 8/8/2013

11. Office of Dietary Supplements: Folate

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/

Accessed 9/11/2013