Eat That Parsley

Fresh parsley contains relatively high amounts of beta carotene and vitamin C. But you have to eat about seven sprigs of it to get 10% of the RDA for these nutrients, so try parsley as a salad green, not just as a garnish.

Marinate meat only in the refrigerator. Don’t put cooked meat or poultry back into an uncooked marinade, and don’t serve the used marinade as a table sauce unless you heat it to a boil for at least one minute. The used marinade may have been contaminated by bacteria from the raw meat.

Skip the bacon and cheese. A bacon cheeseburger averages 250 more calories than a plain hamburger— plus a good deal more saturated fat and cholesterol.

When shopping for onions, look for strongertasting varieties.

The strong taste and smell come from antioxidant compounds called polyphenols, which may reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases. Western Yellow, New York Bold, and Northern Red onions are highest in polyphenols. Shallots, though milder in flavor, also rank high.

Steam instead of boiling. Mineral loss is usually twice as great in boiled vegetables as in steamed ones.

When you eat yogurt or cottage cheese, don’t discard the whey—the watery part that separates out and sits on top. It contains B vitamins and minerals but almost no fat. Stir the way back into the yogurt or cheese.

Watch out for Japanese ramen (wheat noodles), packaged as an instant soup “lunching.” They are very high in fat because they are usually dried by deep-frying in lard or palm oil. Another drawback is the high sodium content of the accompanying seasoning packet.

Remove the skin from chicken: this can cut the fat content by three quarters and the calories by half. Choose the breast instead of the thigh: skinless dark meat has twice as much fat as skinless light meat.

Cultivate a taste for buttermilk. It actually contains no butter and usually has very little fat: most buttermilk today is made from nonfat or low-fat (1%) milk. Not just a refreshing beverage, buttermilk is also useful in cooking.

Handle ground meats carefully.

They are more perishable—and also more likely to cause food poisoning—than other meats. Once ground, the meat has a larger surface area than whole cuts, making it an easier target for bacteria.

When your mouth is “on fire” from hot pepper, one way to cool it off is to drink milk (a spoonful of yogurt will also help). Hot pepper’s burning component is capsaicin, which binds to your taste buds. Casein, the principal protein in milk, helps wipe away the fiery compound.

Speed up the ripening of most fruits by keeping them in a paper bag for a few days: this traps the ethylene gas produced by the fruit. Apples give off lots of ethylene, so you can speed the ripening of other fruits by placing half an apple in the bag with them; the apple, however, will turn mushy.

Try evaporated nonfat milk as a low-fat, low-calorie substitute in recipes calling for cream. A half-cup of cream has 400 calories, almost all from fat, while evaporated skim milk has about 100 and only a trace of fat.

When preparing lean beef, reduce normal cooking time by 20%, since it cooks faster and becomes tough when overcooked. Don’t be fooled by the redness: lean pieces cooked to a medium degree may still look rare.

It’s safe to refreeze most raw meat, provided it is handled properly and refrozen within a day of thawing. However, refreezing may adversely affect the flavor and texture of the meat.

Make sure your frozen yogurt is made from low-fat or nonfat milk. Brands made from whole milk (or those containing added fat) can contain as many calories and as much fat as ice cream.

Many fruit-containing kinds of cereal actually have little fruit in them.

For a premium price, some of them have only an ounce or two of fruit in the entire box. Add your own dried fruit—or, even better, fresh fruit.

Don’t count spinach pasta in your 9aday quota for fruits and vegetables. It contains little spinach—the equivalent of less than a tablespoon per cup of cooked pasta. Similarly, pasta made with other vegetable purées contains only enough for visual appeal and a hint of flavor.

Beware of croissants. They may seem light and airy, but they contain 12 times as much fat and 50% more calories than English muffins of the same weight—and that’s before they’re buttered.

Before you cut into a melon, wash the rind with running water to keep surface bacteria from traveling to the flesh inside. Several outbreaks of salmonella poisoning have been linked to melons.

Get extra calcium from veggies. Some contain large amounts of calcium. A cup of cooked collard greens supplies nearly half the daily RDA for calcium, and a medium spear of broccoli about one-quarter the RDA.

Alcohol: some good news.

Heavy drinking damages brain cells, but a drink a day may help maintain brain function and reduce the risk of dementia, according to several recent studies. But don’t start drinking because of potential health benefits.

And some bad news about alcohol: If you’re over 65, you probably can’t hold your alcohol as well as you used to. Older people get a higher blood alcohol concentration than younger people after consuming a given amount of alcohol and are more affected by it. Alcohol is doubly risky for hip fractures, too: not only does excessive drinking increase the risk of falls in older people, but it also decreases bone density. Alcohol can also interfere with many medications older people take, as well as increase age-related driving risks.

You don’t have to avoid all red meat. Pick lean cuts, trim visible fat, and eat small portions. Some of the leanest cuts of beef are a select-grade round tip, the eye of round, top round, top loin, tenderloin, and sirloin. A well-trimmed 3ounce serving (after cooking) has less than 180 calories and 8 grams of fat—less than in skinless dark-meat chicken.

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