Thursday, Apr 24, 2014
Nicole La Placa

Healthy food options and herbs

Published:   |   Updated: March 12, 2013 at 05:12 PM

My family and I really like sour cream but I am trying to lose weight. Is there a healthy alternative available? — Ruth, Sebring

Sour cream is definitely not a healthy food option. It is made from the cream of butter fat and is full of sodium, calories, and obviously fat. Sour cream provides little to none nutritional benefit for anyone, especially those who are trying to lose weight.

I would suggest substituting non-fat plain Greek yogurt in recipes that call for sour cream.

Greek yogurt has the same thick consistency as sour cream. The plain yogurt is also void of added sugar and because of that, some people consider the flavor is similar to that of sour cream.

Incorporating Greek yogurt into your diet is also a great way to get calcium, probiotics, and protein. This type of yogurt has twice as much protein with half the amount of sugar as regular yogurt.

You can add a teaspoon or so of Greek yogurt to soup for a creamy sour cream-like flavor. For example, try using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream on chicken tortilla soup. Greek yogurt can also be used on burritos and baked potatoes.

Many baked good recipes such as pancakes and muffins can be enhanced by using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Other fun recipes like vegetable dip can be enhanced by eliminating the sour cream and adding Greek yogurt.

I would like to start incorporating more herbs into my food but not sure where to get started. — Elsie, Avon Park

One of my favorite herbs is parsley. Parsley is one of the most commonly used herbs and ironically, one of the most overlooked as far as its health benefits.

Oftentimes, parsley is found on dinner or lunch plates at restaurants as a garnish. However, parsley is much more than a decorative plant. Parsley has the ability to instantly refresh breath by chewing on a raw sprig (the 'garnish').

In addition to being a natural breath freshener, parsley is also known for its detoxification properties. It counteracts toxins, stops bacterial growth in wounds, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and can reduce blood glucose. This is wonderful news for those with high blood glucose or following an anti-inflammatory diet.

Parsley can be used as a fresh herb or in its dried form found on your spice rack. Adding raw parsley to smoothies is a great way to experience the numerous health benefits it has to offer. Chopped fresh parsley can also be added to eggs, soups, salads, and most meat and fish dishes.

The flavor of parsley is mild compared to other spices. This makes it easy to incorporate into various meals without changing much of their flavor.

Nicole La Placa is a certified health coach and lives in Highlands County. Email or visit


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