News from the Tennessee Valley Food

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Better than Botox?
Look better, feel younger by
eating Fountain of Youth foods

By Patrice Stewart · 340-2446

The Fountain of Youth is as close as your refrigerator.

Plenty of magic potions are on the market, but if you want to feel better and look younger, you should look in your own kitchen first, said Mary Martin Nordness of Huntsville, registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Southeast Dairy Association.

With a sensible plan for eating and exercise, you can stretch the middle years into your 80s, she said. The key is choosing foods with the power to help protect you from chronic diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and obesity.

When Mama told you to eat your spinach and drink your milk, she was right. The "Top 10" list of Fountain of Youth foods includes low-fat and fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese; broccoli, berries, sweet potatoes, spinach; fish; melons; whole grains; nuts and seeds; and red peppers.

"Americans are living longer than ever before, and with life expectancy hitting a record high of 77.6 in 2005, anti-aging has become an enormous focus of baby boomers, and food choices play a big role," Nordness said.

All ages can benefit from choosing "Fountain of Youth" foods to help them look better, feel younger and achieve healthier diets, she said.

Select what you eat carefully, because it can make a big difference, Nordness said.

Choose whole-grain rice, instead of refined white rice, and remember that natural antioxidants and fiber in whole grains, such as oats, barley and wild rice, improve heart function and reduce the risk of diabetes.

In selecting fruits and vegetables, remember that foods such as berries, broccoli, tomatoes and cantaloupe are high in antioxidants and may help slow the aging process.

Vitamins A, C and E and selenium nourish and protect the skin to extend its youthful appearance.

Choose fish over meat at least twice a week, because the protein and omega-3 fatty acids in fish such as salmon and tuna may reduce the incidence of stroke and improve heart function, according to the American Heart Association.

Dairy choices such as milk, cheese and yogurt, all available in low-fat or no-fat options, can help build strong bones and teeth and avoid osteoporosis, Nordness said. Dairy provides four of the seven nutrients many Americans lack: vitamin A, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Research indicates that yogurt may aid the immune and digestive systems.

Some foods rich in vitamin E can help you keep a sharp mind, too. Nuts, seeds and fortified cereals may protect against dementia. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that eating such foods gets better brain-boosting results than taking vitamin E supplements.

These recipes to help you create your own “Fountain of Youth” for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks come from dairy groups, chefs and dietitians.

Turkey Burritos with Sweet Potato and Cheddar

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 14-ounce can low-sodium, reduced-fat chicken broth
2 tablespoons diced celery
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups boneless cooked turkey, cubed
3/4 cup dry stuffing mix
8 (10-inch) whole wheat tortillas
2 cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
Sliced jalapeño peppers, for garnish (optional)

In a large saucepan, place onion, sweet potato, broth, celery, salt, sage and pepper. Bring to a simmer, over medium-low heat, and cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are softened.

Stir turkey and stuffing mix into vegetable mixture and heat 5 minutes, stirring frequently or until heated through and mixture has thickened.

Heat 1 tortilla in a dry skillet over medium heat; sprinkle with 1/4 cup of cheese and top with 1/2 cup of the filling. Fold in edges of tortilla and roll up. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Top with sliced jalapeño peppers, if desired. Makes 8 servings, each with 330 calories and 7g total fat.

Balsamic Yogurt Grilled Vegetables

11/4 cups plain fat-free or low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup diced roasted red peppers
1 sweet onion, sliced in 1/2-inch rounds
2 baby eggplants, sliced in 1/2-inch rounds
3 zucchini, sliced in 1/2-inch rounds
2 cloves garlic, minced

Pour balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer to reduce to 3 tablespoons; cool vinegar. Add cooled vinegar to yogurt with oil, garlic and parsley. Divide mixture in half. Place prepared zucchini, eggplant and onion on a sheet pan and brush with 1/2 of the yogurt mixture. On a lightly oiled preheated grill, cook vegetables until golden and brown (3-4 minutes). Place cooked vegetables on a platter and sprinkle with red peppers. Drizzle remaining dressing over vegetables and serve.

Makes 4 servings, each with 180 calories and 7g total fat.

Heartfelt Tuna Melt

6 ounces sold white tuna packed in water, drained
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup low fat Russian or Thousand Island salad dressing
2 whole-wheat English muffins, split
3 ounces Cabot 50% Light Cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat broiler. Combine tuna, celery, onion and salad dressing.

Season with salt and pepper. Toast English muffin halves. Place split-side-up on baking sheet and top each with 1/4 of tuna mixture. Broil 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Top with cheese and return to broiler until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Makes 4 servings, each with 210 calories and 6g fat.

Couscous with Tomatoes, Sautéed Spinach and Two Cheeses

3 1/2 cups any flavor packaged couscous
8 ounces canned Italian-style diced tomatoes
1/4 cup red onion, sliced into rings
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
10 cups of fresh spinach (10 ounces)
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 cups grated Cabot 50% Light Cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil for garnish

Prepare couscous according to package directions. Heat tomatoes in small saucepan or microwave. In large skillet, combine onions, garlic and oil; stir over medium heat until onions are heated and fragrant. Add spinach and water; stir until spinach is wilted and tender but still bright green, about 2 minutes.

On large platter, layer couscous, spinach and tomatoes. Sprinkle with cheddar and Parmesan cheese and garnish with basil. Makes 6 servings, each with 228 calories and 7g fat.


1 cup lowfat plain yogurt
4 ounces lowfat cream cheese
1/2 cup diced, seeded cucumber
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Optional garnish:

Cucumber, sliced thin
Julienned mint leaves

Stir yogurt and cream cheese until smooth. Add remaining ingredients; stir to blend.

Serve with raw or blanched vegetables, such as carrots, celery, tomatoes or zucchini. Makes 3 servings, each with 150 calories and 8g total fat.

Berry Blast Smoothie

1 cup frozen raspberries
2 (6-ounce) containers fat-free blueberry yogurt
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1 tablespoon unsalted, natural almond butter
1 tablespoon honey

In a blender, add frozen raspberries, yogurt, milk, almond butter and honey. Cover and puree until smooth. Pour into two tall glasses and serve. Makes 2 servings, each with 230 calories and 5g fat.

TOP 10

Fountain of Youth foods


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