Category Archives: Nutrition

MySisterSaid Do You Follow the Food Rules?

Eat Food, Mostly Plants, Not Too Much 

This thoughtful book of Food Rules really simplifies things.

This thoughtful book of Food Rules really simplifies things.

Have you heard of Michael Pollan, one of the gurus of the healthy eating movement?  A dear friend just gave me a beautifully bound and illustrated special edition of his book “Food Rules, an Eater’s Manual,” and if you aren’t familiar with his work, it boils down to just three things: Eat Food, Mostly Plants, Not Too Much.

The first rule,Eat Food”, sounds almost insultingly simple, but when you dig a little deeper, it really isn’t.  In addition to healthy, real food, the supermarket is full thousands of edible food-like substances. They are highly processed, often derived from corn and soy, and are chock full of chemical additives.  Sound yummy, don’t they?!?  We are continually bombarded with exposure to and advertising for these edible food-like substances.  Take a moment next time you do your grocery shopping and really look at what you are buying and what the ingredients are….wouldn’t you rather eat food?

The second rule, Mostly Plants, is one of those that intimidates gals like me from Oklahoma.  We grew up knowing that beef was what’s for dinner, and we’ll take ours medium rare, thank you.  But even this Okie is smart enough to read the writing on the wall. Populations who eat a Western Diet, one full of meat, processed foods, added fats and sugars, and lacking in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, are literally killing themselves.  Here’s a sobering quote from the book: Virtually all of the obesity and type 2 diabetes, 80% of the cardiovascular disease, and more than a third of all cancers are linked to this diet.  While the quote is sobering, it also leaves room for hope.  Shifting our diet by adding more of the healthy stuff and cutting back on the less healthy stuff is doable, and it will make a difference!

The third rule,Not too Much, is a topic many struggle with. We celebrate with food, commiserate with food, and everything in between involves food!  What it comes down to is we ought to eat only when we are hungry.  I know I can’t be the only one who has difficulties with this — food is tasty and comforting. One of his recommendations is to eat fewer snacks, and make sure the snacks you eat include a serving of fruit or vegetables. Many of us also have a tendency to equate a snack with a treat, but they aren’t the same!  A treat is an occasional piece of birthday cake or an ice cream cone on a sunny day at the beach.  A snack is something you need now and then to tide you over until the next meal.

MySisterSaid are you a Food Rule follower?  Which Food Rule do you find most challenging, and what successes have you had in changing your eating patterns?

MySisterSaid Do You Have a Holiday Game Plan?

Turkey-with-footballJust as football coaches this time of year are thinking about their game plans, I’ve been thinking a lot about my holiday game plan for eating healthfully and staying fit.  Every year, I read tips for maintaining my weight, and I try to be cognizant of them as I negotiate the field of dietary land mines I traverse from Thanksgiving through the New Year.  From buffets to candy dishes, to seasonal cocktails and pumpkin pie, the list is long!  I recently read two ideas that I hadn’t heard before, and I’m adding them to my holiday game plan:

Start early to fill up on fiber: Starting a few days before the holiday, eat a half-cup serving of high-fiber, low-sugar cereal just prior to two or three of your meals.  According to the latest Health and Nutrition Letter from Tufts University, this satiety-boost will make you feel more satisfied and in control, and that will help you want to eat less.

Gain control back quickly:  Once you’ve eaten that big meal, it’s easy to head down the slippery slope to one indulgence after another.  The experts at Tufts recommend immediately working towards recovering your satiety.  Starting with breakfast the next day, put yourself on a high-fiber regimen.  Incorporate high-fiber cereals, legumes, or low-carb high-fiber breads into each meal and snack.  Taking care of your satiety will help you lose the desire to overeat.

In addition to these two new tips, I also revisited some that are tried and true.  While these are recommendations most of us have heard, I find reading through and visualizing myself doing them yields better results:

Don’t go to a party hungry: Starving yourself all day in anticipation of eating more at a party tends to backfire and you end up hungry and out of control once you get there

Try to fit in an extra 15 minutes of exercise each day:  It will not only burn some calories, but will help keep you mindful of your body and how it feels

If you drink alcohol, be sure to alternate with water:  You’ll drink half as much alcohol, stay hydrated and make better choices

Move the candy dish as far away as possible:  Studies show that even moving it a few feet farther away can make a difference as to how much you consume

Volunteer to make a healthy dish to take to a social event:  Be sure to make something enticing and make that the first thing you put on your plate

Fill at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables:  Scope out the buffet table before you decide what to eat, then load up on the healthiest choices first

So whip out your turkey platter, and string up the sparkly lights, but find time to make your holiday game plan.  Think how much better you’ll feel about yourself heading into the new year knowing that you had a great time, and that you were in control!







MySisterSaid It Doesn’t Get Simpler than Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken is easy

Roast Chicken looks like a lot more work than it really is!

Nothing used to intimidate me more in the kitchen than a whole chicken. Unless it was a whole turkey. I just didn’t know what to do with a raw bird. And I certainly didn’t know how to roast chicken or carve it. But I live in the Netherlands and decent pre-cooked roast chicken is hard to come by. Luckily, I also have an exemplary English mother-in-law to learn from. She produces fantastic ‘Traditional Roast Lunches’. So, I bit the bullet and took the plunge into cooking Roast Chicken. What a revelation it was! Slap that bird in the oven and it takes care of itself.

Here’s Roast Chicken the easy way

  • Pre-heat your oven to 450˚F/230˚C.
  • Spray a roasting rack with Pam or lightly grease it to make clean-up easier.
  • As far as clean-up goes, I line the roasting pan with foil to catch the drippings.
  • Put your chicken on the rack.
  • Pop it in the oven.
  • Turn the oven down immediately to 350˚F/180˚C.
  • For birds up to 6 pounds/3 kilos cook for 20-25 minutes per pound.

Optional Roast Chicken extras

  • Squeeze and stuff some lemon halves or garlic cloves in the cavity. Or add some sprigs of rosemary, thyme or other fresh herbs.
  • Some people like to salt the skin before they roast the bird. I don’t because I’m trying to limit added sodium.
  • Some people swear by basting every 10 minutes or so after the first half hour. I’m lazy, I hate to clean my baster and I’ve never noticed it making much difference to the taste anyway.
  • If you like to use a thermometer, insert it into the meaty part of the thigh, but make sure it’s not up against the bone.

When is Roast Chicken roasted?

  • When you prick the skin of the thigh and the juices run clear.
  • When the temperature reaches 180˚-185˚F/82˚-85˚ on your thermometer.

Here’s what to do when your Roast Chicken is in the oven

  • Relax, read a book, go for a walk, call your Mom or Sister.
  • About 30 minutes before the chicken is ready, go make some of EatingWell’s yummy Crushed Red Potatoes with Buttermilk. A serving of these spuds only has about 88 calories!
  • We like our Roast Chicken with roast veggies like butternut squash, carrots, Brussels sprouts and onions. But generally speaking, they need to cook at a much higher temperature than the chicken. So if you’re going down this route, you may want to roast the veg to almost-but-not-quite done while your oven is very hot (before you put the chicken it). Then pop the veg into the microwave to heat them up just before serving.
  • Can’t be bothered to fiddle around with roast veggie timing? Fine. Just steam some veggies. Green beans and carrots go great with Roast Chicken.

How to carve Roast Chicken

  • Cut the drumsticks, thighs and wings off.
  • Slice from the breastbone down and remove the white meat.
  • It’s very easy when you use a sharp knife.

What else do you need to do?

  • Well around these parts, the chickens are tiny – usually only about 2.5 pounds/1.2 kilos – so I always roast 2 or 3. That way we have plenty of leftovers.
  • After your meal, remove any extra chicken from the carcasses and save the pretty pieces for a proper meal.
  • After removing the bones and skin, pre-package the rest into freezer bags in the amounts you need for your favorite produce-a-meal-fast recipes. We like:
    • Curried chicken salad pitas made with light mayo and fat-free plain yogurt, pears, celery, dried cranberries, some slivered almonds and alfalfa sprouts.
    • Chicken tacos and fajitas.
    • When we’re really in a hurry, nothing beats a kid pleaser BBQ Chicken Sandwich: mix 2 cups of shredded chicken with 1 cup of grated carrots and ½ cup of your favorite bottled barbecue sauce. Warming this chicken mix is optional, but we pop it into the microwave to heat it a bit and soften the carrots. Serve on a crusty bun with a fresh green salad. Fast as lightening and tasty, too!

      What’s your favorite chicken recipe?

MySisterSaid Here are 11 Reasons Why You Should Drink Coffee

healthy coffee

I love it that coffee is actually a superfood!

There’s nothing like a hot cup of coffee!

For a long time it was made out to be a baddie, but now science is proving coffee to be our friend. I usually skip the icky-sticky flavor add-ons from the big-name barista-run joints.  When I’m travelling I go for café au lait, caffè latte, cappuccino, café con leche, koffie verkeerd, milchkaffee. You get the picture. My cup of perk-me-up comes with milk. On a normal day at home or the office, I use coffee to help me meet my protein quota by adding one of my favorite protein sources: skimmed milk. Half a mug of the milk blasted to piping hot in the microwave and topped off with a healthy splash of dark roast and I’m good to go. If the wonderful taste isn’t enough reason to drink it, here are 11 more reasons to have a cuppa Joe:


  1. Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than anything else.

  2. Just smelling coffee could make you less stressed.

  3. Coffee could lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

  4. Coffee is great for your liver (especially if you drink alcohol).

  5. Coffee can make you feel happier.

  6. Coffee consumption has been linked to lower levels of suicide.

  7. Coffee could reduce your chances of getting skin cancer (if you’re a woman).

  8. Coffee can make you a better athlete.

  9. Coffee could reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

  10. Drinking coffee could help keep your brain healthier for longer.

  11. Coffee may make you more intelligent.

Moral of the story? Coffee is a superfood. Keep drinking it!!!

For all the steamy details and science behind the claims, check out the full story in this great article at the Huffington Post