Let’s Talk Food: Eating healthy foods

According to Cooking Light, the criteria for eating healthy foods are eating wholesome, nutritious foods that promote good health; eating more plant-based foods and less meat; eat minimally processed foods, as close to their natural state; taking account the responsibility of using our earth’s resources; highlighting foods that may improve gut health, which in turn helps prevent diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and enhance the immune system; experience new global cuisines, many of them being vegetarian; and “We believe that healthy eating is not only about the food but also about shared experiences at the table. Whether you are dining alone, taking a meal to a neighbor, making a weeknight meal, or preparing a holiday feast, health and wholesomeness come when we can slow down and savor the goodness of the food and the pleasure of gathering with those we love.”

Our daily nutrient recommendations should be at 1,600 – 2,000 calories, based on age, gender, and activity level; 20 grams or less of saturated fat or less than 10% of the total calories; 2,300 mg or less of sodium; 25-30 grams of dietary fiber; sugars which include natural sugars such as fruit sugar (fructose) and milk sugars (lactose); 38 grams of less of added sugars or less than 10% of total calories; 1,000 mg of calcium; and 4,700 mg of potassium.

Unfortunately, when we think of healthy foods, we realize that many healthy foods are more expensive and with 50 million Americans experiencing hunger, that lack of nutritious foods has seen an increase in the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. What do you do with a limited budget?

In 2011, writer Mark Bittman wrote that junk food is not cheaper than healthy food as it was widely believed. He figured that a homemade chicken dinner costs $14 versus a meal for a family of four at McDonalds. He says in that article, “Taking the long route to putting food on the table may not be easy, but for almost all Americans it remians a choice. If you can drive to McDonalds, you can drive to Safeway.”

Eating more fruits and vegetables sounds good but for a family on a limited budget, a bag of grapes that costs over $10 is a luxury and sadly, an occasional food.

Since the pandemic, I know the prices of food have gone through the ceiling. I remember when we could buy chicken for under $2 a pound I do not think we are able to have a homemade chicken dinner for $14 anymore. But there are other proteins that we could use to provide our family with a low cost meal.

This quick and easy tuna casserole may work for picky children and it takes only 20 minutes to get it on the table.

Tuna Casserole

Serves 4 to 6

8 ounces dried egg noodles

1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 cups frozen peas and carrots

1 can water-packed tuna, drained

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

8-10 Ritz crackers, crushed

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add one teaspoon of salt, followed by the noodles. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the noodles are just tender, 7 minutes. Drain and set aside. Melt the butter in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the flour and cook until it smells toasted, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the broth and milk, Add the onion powder, garlic powder and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat, add the frozen vegetables, noodles, and tuna and fold them in with a spatula.

Sprinkle with the cheese and cracker crumbs.

Bake until bubbly, the cheese is melted and the crackers are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Foodie Bites

Hawaii Community College’s Culinary Program’s Cafeteria and Da Ohana Corner Cafe is open from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays. For take-out orders call 808-934-2559 for the cafeteria and 808-934-2591 for the cafe during business hours. Please provide your name, phone number, and pick up time when you place your order. Observe the one-way signs in the cafeteria and cafe. Face masks are required.

Da Ohana Corner Cafe has breakfast selections, salads, burgers, bentos and musubi while the cafeteria offers hot plate lunches which include rice, vegetables, a fresh baked bread roll and a soup. Half orders come with 1/2 rice, 1/2 vegetables, and 1/2 entrees. Menus do change but last Last Tuesday there was Hamburger Steak with Gravy and New England Chowder for soup, and on Thursday, there was Korean Fried Chicken and Eggplant Parmesan, all for under $10. Support the culinary students so they can get the experience.

Email Audrey Wilson at [email protected].

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