Last updated: December 27. 2013 12:32PM - 296 Views
Sandra Cain Bladen County Cooperative Extension

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Each New Year, millions of people make resolutions to eat more healthy foods, lose weight and be more active. Many times, people try to make drastic changes that are difficult to sustain for a long period of time.

When it comes to eating more healthfully, making moderate changes may be more beneficial for long-term success. Here are several healthful eating tips that can easily be incorporated into your daily plan to help you be healthier in 2014.

Fruits and vegetables: Most people know that fruits and vegetables are among the healthiest foods available. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals and fiber essential for the normal, everyday functioning of the human body. They also are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants, which may help lower the risk for some cancers, heart disease and other chronic health problems. Adults are advised to consume about 2 cups of fruits and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables each day for optimal health.

Whole grains: The U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that Americans make half their grains whole. By that, the USDA means Americans should eat at least three ounce-equivalent servings of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice or pasta each day. Like fruits and vegetables, whole grains are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. In addition, consuming a diet rich in whole grains has been associated with reducing the risk for metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Fish: Diets high in fish, especially cold-water fish like salmon, herring, mackerel and whitefish, have been linked to a reduced risk for heart disease, stroke and some cancers. The high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are believed to be the reason. To receive the health benefits fish offers, the American Dietetic Association recommends eating fish two to three times per week

Nuts: Nuts are packed with several important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and zinc. In addition, nuts contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are considered healthier for your body than the saturated fat and trans fat commonly found in cookies and chips. Walnuts, in particular, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which, like the omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish, may help ward off certain chronic diseases. Because nuts are also high in calories, they do need to be eaten in moderation. A small handful of nuts eaten four to five times per week is all you need.

Calcium rich foods: Calcium is known to help prevent osteoporosis, the bone-crippling disease. Recent research indicates that it may help reduce the risk for colon cancer and high blood pressure. Most health professionals recommend people look first to food for their calcium because food sources of calcium tend to supply other nutrients such as phosphorus, vitamin D and lactose, which help the body absorb and use calcium. Adults are advised to drink or eat the equivalent of 3 cups of low-fat dairy products daily to help meet their calcium requirements.

Source: Colorado Cooperative Extension

Chocolate Cream Delight

1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 packs (1.3 ounces) sugar-free cook and serve chocolate pudding mix

3 ½ cups skim milk

3 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed

2 cups reduced-fat whipped topping

2 tablespoon chopped pecans

In a small bowl, combine the wafer crumbs, sugar and butter. Press into the bottom of an 8 inch square dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cover and refrigerate.

In a large saucepan, combine the pudding mixes and milk until smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Cool slightly.

Spread half of the pudding over crust. Stir cream cheese into remaining pudding until smooth. Gently spread over pudding layer. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until set.

Spread whipped topping over dessert. Sprinkle with pecans. Cut into squares.

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