Dining With Ms. Lil: Back to Health

September 3, 2009

September is back to school time. You should be very concerned about our pre-school kids to college students’ eating and exercise habits, just as much as they should be concerned about the same for the adults in their lives.

Two thirds of Americans are overweight. A May 2007 report released by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene titled “Obesity in East and Central Harlem” states that:

  • 1 in 4 children in public elementary schools is obese and more than 4 in 10 are overweight or obese.
  • About 1 in 7 public high school students is obese, and nearly 1 in 3 is overweight or obese.
  • More than 1 in 4 adults is obese, and 6 in 10 are overweight or obese.

Obesity among adults in Harlem is higher than any other neighborhood in Manhattan. Since a child learns what they are taught, we have to lead by example. We should be starting our day with a healthy breakfast, consuming at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, eating fish at least 3 times a week, and exercising 30 minutes to one hour per day.

Portion sizes need to be reduced so let your hand be your guide. One serving of protein (meat) should be about the size of the palm of your hand. One serving of vegetables could be the size of two fists, while a serving of starchy items is the size of one tightly clenched fist. If you eat out, ask for a to-go container and take half of your meal home for another day.

For healthy after school snacks buy some fresh apples and pears, which are in season this month. Fat free yogurts and nuts are great snack choices too. A yogurt parfait is an excellent snack choice to hold you over until dinner.

Here’s my recipe:

Yogurt Parfait

Stoneyfield Farm fat free vanilla yogurt
Choice of one (1) fruit such as:

Banana, sliced in medium size pieces OR
Strawberries, top center removed, and cut into slices OR

Dole or DelMonte’s diced peaches or pears, drain the liquid off

1 cup of granola (recipe follows)

how to make

Assemble the parfait in serving glasses, layer granola, yogurt, and fruit as desired. Serve immediately, or cover, and chill for up to 2 hours.


4 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups grated coconut
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

how to make

Toss all together and place onto a cooking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool.

For dinner roast a chicken seasoned with fresh herbs instead of frying it; the link to the recipe follows as well. Roast some sweet potatoes in the oven in foil and garnish with a dab of butter to eat versus having the calorie heavy candied yams dish.

How about having at least one vegetarian dinner per week? Try this delicious vegetarian pot pie recipe below and tell me your opinion. Substitute a store bought crust like Pillsbury if you don’t have the time or skills to make your own, and it will come out just as good.

Links For Recipes September 2009

For Herb Roasted Chicken recipe:


For Vegetarian Pot Pie recipe:


Remember to send in your written responses to recipes that I have shared that you have tasted or tested. I also encourage you to include photos of the recipes you’ve cooked. Send your photos and recipes to hwcontact@yahoo.com

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