Doesn’t it seem like as soon as you’ve sipped the last of the New Year’s Eve bubbly, thoughts of resolutions start creeping in? Eating right is a priority for many of us, but it’s one of the hardest resolutions to stick with. According to Sohailla Digsby, an Evans-based registered dietitian, nutritionist and fitness pro, people fail because they make bandwagon statements to “eat healthier” or “lose weight.” As part of her 52-Day Best Body Countdown program, Digsby helps people set realistic goals and develop healthy eating habits, and it all starts with cooking.
But getting clients in the kitchen has been a big hurdle, so Digsby teamed up with Kim Beavers, registered dietitian and host of University Hospital’s Eating Well with Kim, to write a companion cookbook. They agreed that food must taste good and be approachable, so the recipes in The Best Body Cookbook & Menu Plan emphasize whole foods that are delicious, nutritionally balanced and easy to prepare. Arm yourself with their top tips and set yourself up for a healthy, delicious 2017!
Start seeing double
Batch cooking saves time and money, so if you’re preparing things like taco meat, spaghetti sauce and soup, make double and freeze half. Baked apricot oatmeal makes multiple servings and is so satisfying, you’ll look forward to eating breakfast (see Lagniappe for recipe).
Set specific goals
Beavers suggests identifying specific goals, like “I will try two new vegetables this month,” and then breaking them into achievable tasks. For example, “This weekend I will look up recipes on how to cook kale and select two to try.”
Menu plan and stock your pantry
Stay on track by planning what healthy meals you’ll prepare for the week. Even if you can’t cook, Beavers suggests assembling healthy meals with ingredients like rotisserie chicken, marinated meat and pre-washed lettuce. When you need a plan B, make a meal out of pantry staples, like whole grain pasta with canned diced tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts and frozen shrimp.
Rather than have a “cheat day,” Digsby suggests pre-determining three splurges per week. This is an opportunity to mindfully savor something you truly enjoy and ensures that you don’t feel deprived.
Digsby’s countdown is an easy way to set and remember daily targets:
5 grams of added sugar (to start)
4 bottles of real water
3 meals + a “strong snack”
2 veggies at two meals
1 hour of make-it-count movement
For more healthy eating tips or to get in touch with the experts, visit bestbodyin52.com and nutriwellness4health.com. You can purchase The Best Body Cookbook & Menu Plan at Fleet Feet Sports, New Life Natural Foods and Amazon.com.
“A little something extra”
Apricot Baked Oatmeal
This is delicious! It is the earthiness of the oats and the slight sweetness of the banana that make this a tasty grab-and-go breakfast.
Hands-on time: 20 minutes. Total time: 60 minutes (includes oven time).
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 pieces)
Canola oil cooking spray
2 1⁄2 cups dry rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 3⁄4 cups milk
2 large bananas, mashed
3⁄4 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons chia seeds
3⁄4 teaspoon almond extract
10 dried apricot halves, chopped
1⁄2 cup slivered almonds
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8×8-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, baking powder and cinnamon.
In a medium bowl, combine the milk, banana, eggs, yogurt, chia seeds and extract. Stir to combine.
Add the milk mixture to the oats and stir until thoroughly combined.
Fold in the apricots.
Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 10 minutes.
Add almonds and bake for 30–35 additional minutes, until done.
Allow it to cool before cutting into 12 pieces.
Kombucha isn’t a new superfood—the fermented tea beverage has been prized for its detoxifying and energizing qualities since around 200BC—but you wouldn’t guess it by its proliferation on supermarket shelves and the recent rise in home brewing. To get the scoop on ‘buch, we interviewed Steve Fountain and Tasha Alison, the dynamic couple behind Icebox Ministries (a nonprofit organization that helps communities become more sustainable), fermented food lovers and avid kombucha home brewers.
Kombucha is made by adding a SCOBY (a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) to green or black tea. The microbes (bacteria) ferment the tea, creating a drink that Fountain describes as “tea cider.” He explains that like wine, the sweet and sour flavors and fizziness vary depending on the length of time it is fermented, and that the activity of the yeasts in the SCOBY produces a very small amount of alcohol. Over the centuries, kombucha has been lauded for its curative properties, from reducing cholesterol and blood pressure to improving gut health to counteracting aging. Some people swear by it as a hangover cure, while others insist it gives them a boost of energy.
Despite its good-for-you appeal, it wasn’t love at first sip for Fountain. “I knew very little about it, but took one look at the SCOBY, which looks like a gelatinous mushroom, tasted the tea, which was very acidic, and decided I had no interest in it.” It was his medical school training that piqued his interest in microbes and their effect on the human body. “Microbes have been shown to directly affect the function of our cardiovascular, metabolic, immune, neurological and other systems, and diet directly affects our microbial abundance and diversity,” he explains. He also realized that the taste varies widely depending on ingredients and techniques. His current favorite is Alison’s twice-fermented version made with green tea, hibiscus flower and Bradford watermelon juice.
To learn more about microbes and their role in health and disease and to try your hand at brewing your own kombucha, sign up for Fountain and Alison’s Microbial Makeover Fundamentals class at microbialmakeover.com (the next one is January 21). You can also look for kombucha at the grocery store (GT’s is a popular brand) or pick up a growler at The Hive.
Our nation may be in a carb-phobia phase, but “ancient grains” like quinoa, millet and teff are finding their way into the headlines and home kitchens. Though grits aren’t billed as one of the trendy ancient grains, they’re as old a Southern staple as you can find, and Adluh Flour Company’s are particularly worthy of the spotlight. Not only is the Columbia, S.C., mill listed on the National Register of Historic Properties, the grits, flour and cornmeal are milled just as they were a century ago.
When the original founder, a Dutchman named B. R. Crooner, went out of business in the 1920s, the mill and Adluh name brand was acquired by the Allen family. The story goes that Crooner named the company after his daughter, taking her name—Haulda—and turning it around backwards to get Adluh (pronounced ad-loo). The logo depicts a Dutch girl with a drum and is purported to be Haulda herself. Today, the third-generation, family run business operates under the corporate name Allen Brothers Milling Company, but products are still branded with the Adluh Flour Company name and logo.
The Allen Brothers operate three different mills—flour, corn and stone ground grits—where they use many of the original rollers, sifters and equipment to process white and yellow corn, soft red winter wheat (a baking grade wheat) and grits. To produce the grits, they grind high quality corn (one of their main suppliers of yellow corn is in Lexington county, less than 30 miles away) to produce a product that’s consistently superior to what’s on supermarket shelves. Because the grits are stone ground, the texture is coarser than what you might be used to. “They need a little TLC, if you will,” owner Bill Allen advises. “The longer you cook them, the more flavorful and creamy they’ll become.”
Both yellow and white grits are sold online (adluhstore.com) along with flour, corn meal and baking mixes. Allen explains that white grits are typically a little sweeter due to white corn’s higher sugar content, while yellow grits have a slightly bolder flavor owing to yellow corn’s higher oil content. But he admits that when you start adding seasoning, butter and cheese, it’s hard to discern any difference in taste. To keep grits fresh for up to a year, Allen recommends storing them in the freezer in a re-sealable bag and air-tight container.
This article appears in the January 2017 issue of Augusta Magazine.