“To your health!”

If you love to eat, if you’re looking for healthier ways to make the foods you love, if you want to feel and look your best,  you’ve come to the right place.

My goal is to inform, inspire, motivate, and bring a smile to your face. I’ll give you the latest  nutrition news, food and lifestyle tips, easy to make recipes, video demonstrations, and much more, including a note of inspiration now and then.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter at Janet Zappala and check out my Wealth of Health webisodes at www.janetzappala.tv

I READ SOMETHING RECENTLY THAT WAS PRETTY EYE OPENING...IT SAID THAT ABOUT THREE QUARTERS OF THE POPULATION HAS AN EATING PATTERN THAT’S LOW IN VEGETABLES, FRUITS, DAIRY AND OILS. ARE THEY NOT LISTENING TO THEIR MOTHERS THAT YOU HAVE TO EAT YOUR FRUITS AND VEGETABLES EVERYDAY! AND HERE’S ANOTHER EYE OPENER...BUT NOT REALLY THAT SURPRISING...THAT "MOST AMERICANS EXCEED THE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ADDED SUGARS, SATURATED FATS AND SODIUM...HOW LONG HAVE DOCTORS BEEN SAYING THAT AMERICANS NEED TO SHAKE THE SALT HABIT?! WITH THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET, IT’S ABOUT USING LESS SALT AND REPLACING IT WITH INGREDIENTS LIKE HERBS AND HEALTHY SPICES. THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET IS NUTRIENT RICH, AND A VIABLE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE THOSE SHIFTS TO EAT BETTER AND MORE HEALTHFULLY. I KNOW EATING THIS WAY HAS HELPED ME KEEP MY WEIGHT STEADY, I HAVE, THANK GOD NO CHRONIC DISEASES, AND I KNOW THAT EATING THIS WAY HELPS TO LESSEN THE RISK FOR CHRONIC DISEASE, AND I’M MEETING MY NUTRIENT NEEDS. OF COURSE EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT, BUT IT’S HARD TO ARGUE WITH A HEART-HEALTHY DIET, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU CONSIDER THAT HEART DISEASE IS THE NUMBER ONE KILLER OF WOMEN IN THIS COUNTRY. AND IN FACT...RESEARCH SHOWS THAT THE TRADITIONAL MEDITERRANEAN DIET REDUCES THE RISK OF HEART DISEASE...AND CANCER...AS WELL AS ALZHEIMER’S AND PARKINSON’S DISEASE. AND THAT’S BECAUSE THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET INCORPORATES CLEAN, FRESH FOODS. THE BASIS FOR HEALTHY EATING. AND LET’S NOT FORGET THE OLIVE OIL, A HEALTHY MONOUNSATURATED FAT THAT OUR BODIES NEED TO FUNCTION AT AN OPTIMUM LEVEL. SATURATED FATS LIKE BUTTER AND RED MEATS ARE KEPT TO A MINIMUM...THIS WAY OF EATING PROMOTES HEALTH. OLIVES, FISH, WHOLE GRAINS, EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, FRUITS, VEGETABLES, HEALTHY SPICES, FALAFELS...IT’S ALL DELICIOUS AND GOOD FOR YOU, THAT’S A COMBINATION THAT’S HARD TO RESIST!

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Veggie Sandwich

June 14, 2012

Enjoy this especially tasty sandwich anytime you’re in the mood for a nibble or a nosh. This easy-to-make snack is low in fat and calories, yet still tastes delicious. Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 7 minutes for a hot sandwich Serves 1 Light mayonnaise and/or mustard/or a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil 2 slices whole-grain bread 2 slices roasted turkey (optional of course) 2 slices reduced-fat Swiss cheese (such as Jarlsberg Lite) 4 slices ripe Roma tomato 4 slices avocado Handful of broccoli or alfalfa sprouts Salt and pepper to taste For Cold Sandwich: Spread some mayonnaise and/or mustard on one slice of bread. Layer the bread with roasted turkey slices, cheese, tomato, avocado, sprouts, and salt and pepper to taste. Top with the remaining bread slice. Cut the sandwich in half. Serve with fresh fruit and wholegrain chips. For Hot Sandwich: Set toaster oven temperature on toast/broil. Spread mayonnaise and/or mustard on one slice of bread. Layer the bread with roasted turkey slices, cheese, and tomato. Place the sandwich in the toaster oven; set on broil for 7 minutes. After 4 minutes, place remaining bread slice in oven beside the first slice. When done, remove both slices from the oven. Add the avocado and sprouts, season with salt and pepper, and top with the remaining bread slice. Cut the sandwich in half and serve.  Light and healthy, enjoy!

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Oysters Rockefeller

April 27, 2012

I love this recipe because it features great flavors, a good amount of nutrition, and it's quick and easy to make. Oysters are an excellent source of protein, zinc, and lipids, as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and D. So enjoy them, and make sure you go to a reputable fish monger to get the very freshest oysters available. Oysters Rockefeller 24 fresh oysters on the half shell/make sure the oysters are still alive and tightly closed 4 tablespoons butter or Earth Balance 4 tablespoons fresh spinach leaves, finely minced 1 1/2 tablespoons onion, finely minced 2 tablespoons curly parsley, finely minced 3 tablespoons bread crumbs, Italian Style Tabasco sauce to taste Herbsaint/a spirit you can purchase at a liquor store (tastes like aniseed) Salt to taste Rock salt for presentation on the plate Lemon wedges for garnish To Prepare: Pry open shells with oyster knife, remove oyster to a bowl and discard top shell, saving the juice in a separate bowl. Scrub and dry the bottom half of shell. In a large saucepan melt butter, add spinach, onion, parsley, bread crumbs, tabasco sauce, Herbsaint, and salt. Cook under medium heat, stirring constantly for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and press the cooked mixture through a strainer and let cool. Then arrange mixture in individual shells. Pre-heat oven to broil Using an ovenproof plate, line and layer with rock salt, moistening the salt just a little. Arrange filled oyster shells on top of rock salt. They should be level. Add a little of the reserved oyster juice to the tops of the spinach mixture. Broil about 5 minutes, keeping a close eye on them. Topping should bubble when ready. Garnish platter with parsley sprigs and lemon wedges, and enjoy a delicious treat! Serves 4

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Nutrition is key when it comes to our health. What we put into our bodies everyday plays a crucial role in determining our health over the years, and there's no better time than the present to choose your food wisely. Honestly, I live to eat. One of my greatest pleasures is eating deliciously healthful foods, and providing my body what it needs to run at optimum levels. Which allows me to use all that great energy for the things I love, be it my work, play, exercise, cooking, whatever it is, I have an endless amount of energy to get the job done! One of my favorite newsletters is Environmental Nutrition, every issue offers up really useful information about food, nutrition and health. In the May, 2012 issue, EN features an article on the whole food movement, a topic that's near and dear to me. Whole foods vs. processed, it's really a no brainer. When it comes to good health, eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seafood and legumes fit the bill. If you do one thing to better your diet, go for whole foods. As EN reports, "Highly processed foods such as refined carbohydrates have a lower nutrient profile, and are lower in fiber." I'll add to that the fact that highly processed foods are laden with sweeteners, salt, dyes, and artificial ingredients. When selecting good-for-you foods, try to make sure you fill your basket with whole grains like quinoa, wheatberry, barley and brown rice. All important legumes like lentils, garbanzo beans and peas are also wise choices, and don't forget seeds like sunflower, pumpkin and sesame, and nuts. Walnuts for example, contain heart-healthy omega 3's, and almonds have calcium and vitamin D, and are excellent sources of fiber. Finally, drink wisely. Pure water, green, black and white teas are all good choices. So raise your glass knowing you're doing your body a big favor.      

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Wine and cheese go together like cereal and milk, but did you know that there is an art to pairing certain wines with certain cheeses? To get the biggest burst of flavor, you must know which wines go best with which cheeses. It's all about one complimenting the other. So much so that the taste experience is taken to a totally different level. Two experts on this delicate art are the wine and cheese sisters, Ronnie and Kathy, who are featured guests on my blog talk radio show, What's Cookin'? this week. They'll also be seen in two upcoming video segments of Janet's Kitchen where they'll share some simple tips on why, for example, a light white goes best with a young cheese such as goat...and they're full of great ideas on how to throw an inexpensive wine & cheese party. One that's easy to prep and bursting with flavor! Up until now, I would grab my favorite cheese and wine and that would be it. Not wrong, but there's is so much more enjoyment to be had with just a little knowledge about the pairing of this special duo we know as wine & cheese. Like strawberries dipped in chocolate, they're a marriage made in culinary heaven.    

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As we were running out of the house yesterday to spend Easter with family, my daughter asked me if we had any band aids to help with a blister she had on her foot, and for a split second I had that sinking feeling, do we? We were in a hurry and really didn’t have any time to spare running to the store. Luckily we did, and we were on our merry way. But that little moment also got me thinking. Every medicine cabinet should have band aids. That little adhesive bandage will save the day. Other necessities in your medicine cabinet should include a digital thermometer to check for fevers. If you have an older mercury model, it’s time to trade it in for a much safer digital one. There are thousands of mishaps every year involving broken glass mercury thermometers, which can cause serious health problems if the mercury enters the body. A healthy mouth can help maintain overall health, which is why dental floss is so important to use every day. Gum disease like gingivitis can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, and using dental floss is a good insurance policy against those things. Flossing helps remove bacteria from in between the teeth, and also cleans up the last vestiges of food particles that normal brushing leaves behind. Floss, for your health and your teeth. I could give up many things, but not my tweezers. My eyebrows would revolt! But even more important, tweezers can grab foreign objects from your body, like splinters and ticks. Have them on hand, they will serve you well. Once you remove that splinter or tick, or even a bee stinger, you have to make sure you clean the affected area thoroughly. That’s where the all-important antiseptic comes in. After using soap and water, you want to ensure that you keep infection at bay. I prefer hydrogen peroxide, it foams up upon contact and offers a comforting feeling with no stinging. Of course isopropyl alcohol is great too, it kills bacteria on contact. It also cleans your tweezers and scissors, not to mention thermometers, and anything else you want to get clean in a hurry. These are some of my most important go-to items in my medicine cabinet. Having them handy will make your life healthier, happier and easier.

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We are hearing a lot these days about coconut oil. Of course it's a known fact that we need to watch how much saturated fat we consume, and coconut does have a fair amount of fat, however, there is a misconception about coconut. In actuality, this tropical oil is good for the heart because it contains about 50% lauric acid which helps prevent health concerns, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A study done in Brazil, and featured in this month's issue of Reader's Digest, also showed that in populations where it's commonly consumed, high cholesterol levels and heart disease are not seen very often. Coconut oil also has a delicious, tropical taste, and can be used in place of other healthy oils like extra-virgin olive oil and expeller pressed canola oil, both heart healthy oils in their own right. Mix it up and try them all for cooking, baking and sauteing. They all serve a purpose and each one brings a different taste and texture to whatever you're cooking.

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Clean Eating

April 4, 2012

When we eat cleanly we are giving our bodies the best nutrients possible, and we're still able to enjoy the foods we love. Why give up tacos or burgers, or our favorite desserts? It's all about finding healthier ways to make these delicious treats so that we can have our "cake," and eat it too! Here's what I mean. If you love burgers for example, why not start with a whole-grain bun? Use organic, grass-fed lean beef, baby spinach, tomato, onion, avocado, and top it off with a slice of low-fat cheese? You can also make your own dressing to spice it up. How about low-fat mayonnaise, ketchup, and finely chopped dill pickles? Mix it up, and voila, a tasty topping! Add a fresh salad made with lots of goodies like cucumbers, carrots and celery, and a side of baked sweet-potato fries, and you've got a really delicious meal that's good for you, what a concept! A take on fast food that's actually chock full of nutrients. If you have a sweet tooth, how about chocolate banana bonbons? Check out the recipe in the April/May issue of Clean Eating Magazine. Also take a glance at page 24, where I'm quoted in their "New Uses for Nut Butters" feature. As the magazine says, "Clean Eating...Improving your life one meal at a time."

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I love Australia for many reasons, the people, its natural beauty, Keith Urban, and kiwi fruit. What a delicious treat, and even more important, it's packed with nutrients, many of which are believed to fend off certain cancers. A study done by Rutgers University showed that ounce for ounce, the kiwi is the most nutrient dense fruit. It's an excellent source of dietary fiber, and phytonutrients, which protect our bodies from some cancers. It has payloads of folic acid which helps to produce red blood cells. Folic acid is also an important nutrient for expectant mothers. And when it comes to vitamin C, the kiwi provides about 230% of the RDA for the immune-boosting vitamin. Minerals too, including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. So we know now that kiwi is good for us, but how do you eat a kiwi? I say dig in, just cut off the top and spoon the tasty fruit right out. You can also eat the skin, but I suggest you buy organic kiwi, and still scrub the skin to get off some of the fuzz. There is lots of fiber in the skin as well. Of course you can use kiwi in so many ways. In salads, smoothies...whatever works for you. Just try to make kiwi a part of your regular diet, your body will thank you for it!  

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Mom’s Marinara

March 30, 2012

I grew up on this sauce and now make it for my family. Mom just knew innately how to cook and make foods taste their very best. I guarantee that you too will love this simple recipe for marinara sauce. (and don't forget to add a little love when you cook, it makes everything taste better!) Prep Time: 20 minutes -- Cook Time: Approx. 30-60 minutes -- Serves 4-6 Ingredients: 2 28-oz. cans of whole peeled tomatoes, preferably Hunt's All-Natural, pureed 2 15-oz. cans tomato sauce, preferably Hunt's All-Natural 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped small handful of fresh basil leaves, torn or 1 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed 1 teaspoon dried oregano, pinch to release the oils 1/4 cup water, if needed Puree tomatoes in blender for 5 seconds leaving a few tomato bits remaining for texture To Make Sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pot over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the garlic and basil, saute until the garlic turns golden. Add the pureed tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and stir to combine. Partially cover, simmer for 30-60 minutes, and continue to season as necessary. Stir occasionally and adding any water for right consistency. Serve with your favorite whole-wheat pasta. Enjoy!

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