How Green Was My Cookie! Healthy Baked Goods From Green Plate Foods

Categories: For Your Health

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Strawberry Jam, Super Brownie, Banana Chocolate Chip Mini-Muffins

While I certainly consumed a lot of emerald-colored food and drink in celebration of St. Patrick's Day, most of what I ate and drank wasn't "green" in the sense of healthful. Nothing like, that is to say, the offerings at Green Plate Foods, which reached out to me a few days before St. Paddy's with promising information on their "nutrient-rich snacks with nothing artificial."

"Hmm," I thought. "Why not take a break from Pillsbury brownies and processed icing and eat something 'naturally' sweet'?" Other than a piece of fruit, I mean.

Founder and CEO of Green Plate Foods (and Houston resident) Lisa Pounds started this wholesale and retail catering company because she was frustrated with the unhealthy food options she found in her daughter's day-to-day life. Determined to craft a better solution, Pounds created Green Plate Foods to prove to people that craveable treats can be healthy.

The company sells a full line of salads, snacks, sandwiches, and breakfast items, but I was most interested in their baked goods, many of which are vegan, gluten-free, and/or made with fruit and vegetable purees.

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Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Five Ways

Photo by Krista
You eat with your eyes first, so mix in tons of colorful veggies and get playful with the presentation.
If you're trying to watch your weight or eat healthier, there is no doubt you've come across the chicken lettuce wrap. A big leaf of lettuce is the perfect, low-carb vehicle for chunks of lean chicken and veggies, especially when we're gearing up for swimsuit season.

But there's much more to chicken lettuce wraps than the Chinese-stir-fried chicken varieties that are popular in restaurants across the nation. From bar-food favorites to wraps that will taste like an island vacation, here are five Chicken Lettuce Wraps for your eating pleasure:

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Local Couple Seeks to Improve School Lunches With Wholesome Tummies Franchise

Photos courtesy of Wholesome Tummies
Michael Alba and his wife, Donna, launched Wholesome Tummies in Houston in August 2013.
One of the most pressing issues concerning childhood obesity deals specifically with the lunches and snacks that are served to students in schools. For years, many people have fought to force schools to serve healthier lunches. In 2010, British chef Jamie Oliver began his "Food Revolution" in America, hoping to improve school lunches and educate children and parents about healthier diets. Although he faced obstacles in public schools when he attempted to bring in fresh foods, eliminate sugary chocolate and strawberry milk, and prove fresh food tastes better than highly processed and fried food, he sparked great conversation and debate about juvenile health and nutrition.

Houston has been deemed "the fattest city in America" by Men's Fitness, and that's nothing to joke about, because the problem doesn't begin and end with adults; it affects children of this generation and generations to come, as well.

This is where Michael Alba and his family come into play. In August 2013, Alba, along with his wife, daughter and sons, began operating Wholesome Tummies, a national franchise that provides healthy lunches to schools.

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Paula Deen's Son Is Coming to Houston, and He Wants You to Buy His New Book

Bobby Deen will be signing copies of his new book on February 12 at Brazos Bookstore.
Bobby Deen is coming to Houston, and he's excited about it.

"I love Houston!" he enthused over the telephone. "I have friends in Houston and I love it -- I love Texas! I was just in Houston a few months ago, in fact, and had a lot of fun."

Tickets are on sale now for Deen's February 12 appearance at Brazos Bookstore to promote his new cookbook, Bobby Deen's Everyday Eats. The Food Network host and author (and son of Paula Deen) is eager to share his new work with the fans who made his first cookbook so successful.

"Taking these traditional Southern recipes and lightening them up is a concept that really resonated with people," he said. "Not only did it work in book form; it works in television form. My television show is really based on these very same principles, and it's really well-received."

The latest Deen offering presents 120 brand-new, health-conscious, easy-to-prepare recipes that he promises can all be ready in 30 minutes or less.

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Book Review: Giada de Laurentiis Shares Her Secrets for Healthy Eating

Screenshot from Giada's Feel Good Food via Kindle; photography by Amy Neunsinger
This cookbook is filled with light and healthy recipes.
Giada de Laurentiis released her newest cookbook, Giada's Feel Good Food, in November 2013, and it doesn't focus on Italian food. You've probably wondered, how does someone who makes heavy pasta dishes and adores chocolate look like she does. I've often wondered this same exact thing. De Laurentiis reveals in her newest cookbook how she does it. Her most important philosophy on eating is, "eat a little of everything, but not a lot of anything."

The recipes included in this cookbook are ones that she eats on a daily basis, and many fit the dietary guidelines of most readers.

"You'll find nondairy milks in my fridge at home -- from almond to coconut -- to replace some of the regular dairy," she writes. "In writing down many of my favorite dishes for this book, I realized that many are gluten-free, vegetarian and even vegan (entirely free of animal products), and I thought, this born-and-bred Italian has come a long way! But it's great, because this way I can still eat a bit of everything -- and enjoy it all!"

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Here's a Secret: Gluten-Free Doesn't Mean Calorie-Free

Categories: For Your Health

Photo by Calgary Reviews
Apparently, 'gluten-free' cookies are a smart choice...only if you can't digest gluten.
I'll never forget watching the Heisman Trophy announcement the year Robert Griffin III (RGIII) won. While my Baylor friends and I watched our quarterback on TV, hoping he would be awarded with the trophy, we were enjoying a spread of snacks, including two types of cookies. One was the peanut butter cookies I had baked, and the other was a bag of gluten-free cookies brought by someone who was not gluten-intolerant. In fact, no one at the watch party was allergic to gluten or diagnosed with celiac disease.

"I can eat as many of these gluten-free cookies as I want because they are healthier than the peanut butter cookies," one person said.

Wait, what?

I hear this logic (or lack thereof) all the time. When people see something labeled "gluten-free," they automatically assume it is lower in calories, carbohydrates, fat and sugar. Because, to them, gluten-free means free of everything deemed "bad" for your health or diet.

How many times have you heard someone say, "Oh, it's okay; it's gluten-free. It can't be that bad for you," when the person offering the food doesn't even have celiac disease? The assumption and justification are just downright illogical and, quite frankly, annoying.

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5 Ways to Lighten Up Macaroni & Cheese

Photo by cookbookman17
With a few easy adjustments, you can enjoy this without the guilt.
Don't get us wrong; every now and then we love ourselves some full-fledged fatty and buttery cheese-loaded mac 'n' cheese. But we run into a bit of a problem when we want to make it at home. After contemplating the amount of butterfat and milkfat and cheesefat that we've thrown into the pan with reckless abandon while making the dish, we start to second-guess ourselves. By the time it's ready to eat, we're scared to take more than just a bite or two.

Well, we've come up with a few ways that we can have our mac 'n' cheese and eat it, too.

Here are 5 Ways to Make a Healthier Mac:

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Top Ten Foods You Think Are Healthy But Aren't (And What to Eat Instead)

Photo by Mike Lawton
Well this is just a world of bad.
New year, new resolutions to exercise more and eat better to achieve a healthier lifestyle. These are worthy goals, of course, but many people don't realize they're sabotaging their attempts at healthy living with food and drinks that masquerade as nutritious but actually aren't. Sneaky little devils.

Eating better is often a simple matter of reading labels and nutrition information to figure out exactly what's in whatever it is you're ingesting. Many products purport to be healthy when they're actually packed with sugar, preservatives and other chemicals. Instead, aim for the fewest ingredients possible, and eat the real stuff instead of faux health food.

Here are some primary offenders.

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Fuel Up for the Houston Marathon With the Right Food

Photo by Marco Torres
If you're running in the Houston Marathon, you'll need to fuel yourself with the correct foods.
If you have been training to run in the Houston Marathon, which takes place this year on Sunday, January 19, you probably know by now that what you put inside your stomach is crucial to how well you'll do in the race. It doesn't matter if you run two miles, 13.1 or 26.2; what you eat could make or break you.

Contrary to popular opinion, you don't want to "carb up" so much that you puke all over yourself (or the person near you). Who wants to smell a combination of protein bars, bananas, peanut butter, apples and whatever else you decided to shove down your throat hours before the race? On the flip side, you don't want to eat such a small amount of food that you run out of energy before you're even a quarter of the way through the race. Water stations and food stations never seem to appear when you're running on an empty stomach.

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Wake Up on New Year's Day With Less of a Hangover

Photos by John Kiely
A two-fisted approach to drinking will save you a lot of pain.
New Year's Eve is sometimes referred to as "amateur night" by people like my friend Freddy, who refrains from going to any of his favorite bars on this occasion. I disagree, and view New Year's as a special night when many revelers enjoy champagne, spirits and cocktails for celebrations, rather than the usual beer or wine that flows on most holidays.

The only amateurs are people who view drinking as a competitive sport and keep a score of how many glasses or shots they've knocked off, before their math skills dwindle to zero. However, even if you're drinking like a pro, it's easy to lose track and wake up wishing it was January 2.

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