Lakeland is blessed with a wide variety of establishments that offer healthy food choices. In this new series, we will be sampling examples from our health food stores, restaurants, grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and more. Our first stop is Anthony’s Health Hut and Restaurant at 5329 S. Florida Ave. in the Lakeland South Center.

Anthony Miller

Owner Anthony Miller, who opened her store about 41 years ago, has a large customer base, many of whom have become her friends over the years. She loves her business and says that she doesn’t consider it work. Anthony, who is highly knowledgeable and maintains a well-trained and helpful staff, adds: “Customer loyalty and the fact that I am able to help people make healthier choices gives me great satisfaction.”

Anthony’s health hut and restaurant offers supplements from A to Z, a large selection of foods, non-toxic home cleaners, and cosmetics. Her restaurant serves reasonably-priced and freshly made, soups, wholesome sandwiches, salads, smoothies, burgers (including vegetarian ones), and organic brown rice.

Lunch at Anthony’s

If you are one of the many folks who believe the myth that healthy eating is too expensive, try this: Phase out sodas and their sugar-bomb commercial cousins, cut down on around-the-clock, horizonless junk-food nibbling, and eating out more than once per week. You’ll then discover that you save a bundle on health care and food costs and have plenty of cash left for health-boosting foods.

Let’s shine the light on a couple of versatile foods that you can find at Anthony’s Health Hut, and easily incorporate into your daily meals. First, an assortment of nuts and seeds: they are part of the nuts and bolts of a healthy diet. Nutrition-dense, they offer minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, protein and mostly good fats. They can be consumed as a quick snack, added to quality low-fat plain yogurt (check labels!), mixed into a vegetable salad, a grain dish, or added to your morning cereal. Nuts and seeds should, however, be consumed in moderation because of their high fat content.

Next, brown rice: among the wide variety of whole grains, the store offers short- and long-grain brown rice. Minimally processed, whole grain rice, is packed with nutrients, including selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, B vitamins, fiber, and more. Unfortunately, too many people routinely consume dead-on-arrival highly processed white rice. In an attempt to compensate for the drastic nutritional loss resulting from extensive processing, manufacturers spray a few nutrients on the food, labeling it “enriched.” Not only are these goodies incomparable with their natural counterparts, they are washed away when the rice is rinsed before cooking, something which must be done.

Staff member Diane Filippone assists a customer.

Brown rice takes a bit longer to cook, but a lot less time than sitting in your doctor’s waiting room, or lying in a hospital bed. You can cook a larger quantity of the rice in advance and use for several different meals. Serve rice with milk, cinnamon, and raisins for breakfast. For other meals, mix with veggies and/or pieces of chopped meat, or combine with fruit, nuts, and a dressing for a delightful cold salad. A vegetarian meal may offer rice and beans topped with a sauce or sautéed veggies, and seasoned with herbs or spices. The following are some delicious, nutritious, and easy-to-make rice dishes recipes for you to try. They can be doubled, or otherwise multiplied, as needed – enjoy!

2 servings

¾ cup uncooked brown rice
¾ cup dried apricots
2 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 yellow onion, chopped
½ cup roasted cashew halves
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup orange juice

1. In a small bowl cover the apricots with boiling water. Let stand 15 minutes. Drain, let cool and chop into small pieces. Do not chop the apricots before soaking.

2. While the apricots are soaking, rinse the rice in a fine-mesh strainer. Drain. Place the rice and 1-1/2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, and cook slowly about 45 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed. Remove from the stove. Let cool.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion, cover, reduce the heat to low and cook slowly about 12 minutes until the onion is translucent, stirring once or twice.

4. Add the apricots and cashews to the onion, and cook 5 minutes. Mix in the cloves, allspice, cinnamon and orange juice. Gently stir the onion mixture into the rice. Serve hot or cold.

2 servings

3/4 cup uncooked brown rice
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced, including their whites
¼ cup chopped green pimento-stuffed olives (about 10 olives)
½ cup raw frozen, sweet peas, thawed

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons wine vinegar or lemon juice
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves (about 7 sprigs)
1 tablespoon dried dill weed
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse the rice in a fine-mesh strainer. Drain. Place the rice and 1-1/2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, and cook slowly about 45 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed. Remove the rice from the stove. Let cool.

2. Meanwhile, mix all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Add the rice and all the other ingredients. If too dry, add 1/8 cup water. Serve cold.

* TIP: You can take the leftover with you to work for lunch.
Judy E. Buss is a syndicated food columnist, blogger for the American Holistic Health Association, nutritional cooking instructor, and speaker.

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