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Gourmet for good health

With high-quality nutrient -rich foods, there’s no shortage of delicious options

Published: Thursday, July 3, 2014 1:55 p.m. CDT

When it comes to eating healthier, you might think you have to sacrifice taste and give up all treats. However, with the ready availability of high quality “foodie” foods, and a recent trend of eating more natural, organic and locally sourced-items, options for healthier eating are seemingly endless.

Chris Thielman, a professor in the culinary and hospitality management program at College of DuPage, says when you eat high quality food, you don’t need as much of it.

“If you are eating fresh, in season and high quality food, your body will be satiated much faster,” he says.

Among those good-for-you foods that people are turning to are things like extra virgin olive oil, red wine (in moderation), wild salmon and other wild caught fish, Greek yogurt, organic and/or all natural meats and poultry, dark chocolate and quinoa.

When it comes to extra virgin olive oil, Thielman advised there are many ways to use it. He suggests using it in salad dressings or as an ingredient in sauces, as well as sautéing with it. Extra virgin olive oil has been touted as having great anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as being full of good fats.

“If you are going to cook with it, buy a less expensive olive oil,” Thielman says. “If you are going to use it as an ingredient, use a more expensive olive oil.”

As people make their meat, fish and poultry choices, many now turn to more natural and organic choices. When given the choice, some choose wild fish, grass fed beef and organic chicken.

“People really want to get back to the basics of food. People are way more concerned with the preservatives in food,” Thielman says. “People want to have something that’s more natural, more fresh.” According to the Mayo Clinic, chocolate and its main ingredient, cocoa, appear to reduce risk factors for heart disease. Flavanols in cocoa beans have antioxidant effects that reduce cell damage implicated in heart disease. Flavanols, which are more prevalent in dark chocolate than in milk or white chocolate, also help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function.

Thielman says when relying on dark chocolate, it is important to pay attention to the purity of the dark chocolate, as illustrated in a percentage of cocoa mass on the package.

“The more pure the chocolate, the better it is for you,” he says, adding to be advised that using dark chocolate in place of another type of chocolate will change the flavor of the item you are preparing. Anytime you turn on the television, you are likely to see a commercial for some brand of Greek yogurt, the popularity of which has been on the rise as of late.

According to WebMD, while all yogurts are excellent sources of calcium, potassium, protein, zinc and vitamins B6 and B12, what distinguishes Greek yogurt is its thicker, creamier texture because the liquid whey is strained out. It also contains probiotic cultures and is lower in lactose and has twice the protein content of regular yogurts.

While eating yogurt as a snack or side is appealing to some, Greek yogurt can also be used as a substitute for sour cream, according to Thielman, yielding less fat and less calories than if you had used sour cream.

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