Do You Really Have to Wait Half an Hour After Eating to Swim?

Categories: For Your Health

Photo by Tommy Wong
Note: Falling asleep in a pool is definitely not a good idea.
We all heard it at some point in our childhood:

"You can't go in the water yet! You just ate! Wait half an hour and sit there quietly, otherwise you'll drown!"

A stern warning from mom about drowning/vomiting/mean cramps was enough to strike fear into the hearts of most children, but there were always those skeptics--the kids who swore that it was a-OK to down a hot dog and jump right back into the swimming pool.

As adults, we tend to think a little more carefully about the warnings our parents issued during our childhood. Will walking outside in the rain when it's chilly really make you get a cold? (No.) Will your face really freeze that way? (Absolutely not.) Can you die from swimming right after eating?!

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Recipe: Mediterranean Seven-Layer Dip

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Seven-layer Mediterranean Dip (small size)

Seven-layer dip (also known as "Mexican" or "Taco" dip) is awesome. Recipes vary but most involve strata of refried beans, sour cream, guacamole, cheese, tomatoes or salsa, ground beef, black olives, green onions, and/or peppers.

From the list of aforementioned ingredients, it's easy to surmise that seven-layer dip is not terribly healthful in its most traditional form. Yes, you can easily lighten it by using low-fat or lower-salt versions of the seven components; however, for a healthier albeit different spin on this classic party appetizer, go south of (French) border for inspiration.

Many of the traditional mezze, spreads, and condiments of the Mediterranean region in combination give rise a lovely, lighter-style seven-layer dip with more protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and nutrients. "It's European," you can brag to your guests, just before taking a huge honkin' scoopful and shoving in it your mouth. The recipe, after the jump.
This article continues on the next page.

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The Not-So-Secret Garden: Six Houston Restaurants That Grow Their Own Grub

Photo courtesy Coltivare
While eating on Coltivare's back patio, you might catch a chef picking produce from the garden.
In this week's cafe review, I take a look at Coltivare, the new restaurant from Revival Market's Ryan Pera and Morgan Weber. The small but alarmingly busy spot has been getting a lot of buzz not just about the unique Italian-inspired menu, but also about the ample backyard garden that supplies much of the restaurant's produce.

Back before the restaurant opened, I was treated to a media preview dinner at Coltivare. After trying a few dishes, I was taken into the backyard to see the garden. It was already dark, but in the light from nearby street lamps, I could see tiny buds poking out of rich soil.

Coltivare's public relations manager Geralyn Graham took me around the various raised beds, pointing out what each newly sprouting sliver of green would become. It was January and still quite chilly, but I could already picture how lush the garden would become under Houston's warm spring sun.

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Oscar Mayer's New Cold Cuts Are Really Spicy and That's No Bologna

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Two of the new line of "Bold" deli meats from Oscar Mayer

"That's some spicy sliced turkey," is not a phrase I ever anticipated coming out of my mouth. But, then, I also didn't anticipate really liking a sandwich involving cold cuts. While I'm a big fan of Italian deli meats, I've never really latched onto to the standard American sliced turkey, ham, etc. I generally find them rather bland, salty but not savory, with a texture akin to damp felt.

Knowing I am perpetually interested in new supermarket products, a friend of mine alerted me to the introduction of a new line of "bold" cold cuts from Oscar Mayer. I was dubious, but embracing the mantra "everything is worth trying once," I sampled the Cajun Style Turkey Breast, Chipotle Seasoned Chicken Breast, and the Cracked Pepper Turkey Breast.

All are made with no artificial flavors and colors. Good thing, as I shudder to think we are living in a world where manufacturers and consumers prefer to use fake cracked pepper.

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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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