Are Your Medications Depleting You?

IntroPicMeds

Did you know that almost 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription medication? More than half take at least two, according to a new study by researchers at the Mayo Clinic. And according to the CDC, the average American is on six different medications by the age of 65. Many of these medications are not only lifesaving, but they can help improve symptoms, ease pain and have many other positive benefits. However, they are not without side effects that may have a profound effect on our health, and more specifically, our nutrition status.

Many of us may gloss over the list of side effects from over the counter or prescription medications and may not realize that the side effects may cause depletion or even a deficiency of necessary nutrients. Poor diet alone can lead to nutrient deficiencies, add to that multiple medications and the results can be devastating. It might surface as a weakened immune system, anemia, fatigue, depression, osteoporosis, skin issues, even GI issues like gas and bloating.

Below is a list of commonly used medications grouped by use, the nutrients that are depleted and where you can find those nutrients in food.

I have made some generalities below for simplicity; each specific medication can have a different impact.
Know your medications!

NutrientsDepletedTable

Medications are a necessary component of many of our lives. However there are sometimes drawbacks. Here are some tips to follow to help ensure optimal health:

  1. Always read the package insert that comes with your medications (prescription or over the counter) to understand any side effects.
  2. Always follow your provider’s instructions on when to take medications.
  3. Eat a nutrient dense diet.
  4. Ask your Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist or Provider before starting supplements. All supplements are not created equal. You want to make sure you are taking a good quality supplement with the appropriate form and dose of certain nutrients.

If you have questions about your specific medications and the impact they may be having on your nutritional status ask your provider or a Registered Dietitian.

Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard and Turkey Sausage

Adapted from: Deliciously Organic
Serves 5

RecipeTitle_LentilSoup

This is one nutrient packed dish! The lentils, turkey and Swiss chard are great sources of folate, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, iron, B5, B6, B12 and many other nutrients. This is one of those dishes that is even better the next day, plus it’s really easy!

Ingredients

Ingredients_Collage

- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup dry lentils
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Fire Roasted)
- 3 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1 pound turkey sausage, cut into 1/4-inch thick coins (I used a turkey kielbasa)
- 1-2 bunches of Swiss chard
- Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Stir in onion, carrots and celery. Let cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent.
  3. Add sausage and cook 10 more minutes until slightly browned.
  4. Increase heat to medium and stir in tomato paste and sea salt.
  5. Add lentils, tomatoes and stock.
  6. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, cook about 10 minutes or until all veggies are tender.
  7. Stir in chard and cook 2-3 minutes more.
  8. Season with ground black pepper and adjust sea salt to taste. Serve.

ClosingPic

Nutrition Information per Serving: 370 calories, 13 g Fat, 3g Saturated Fat, 65mg Cholesterol, 1180mg Sodium, 34g Carbohydrates, 8g Fiber, 30g Protein

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Raising the Protein Bar


proteinbars2Protein seems to be everywhere these days from television ads to magazines to grocery store shelves. With all the publicity surrounding protein, you’d think Americans weren’t getting enough of it while in reality, most of us consume more than enough protein.

Protein is an essential part of every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies. It helps stabilize blood sugar levels and keeps us feeling fuller longer so it’s very important to include plenty of protein in our diets throughout the day.

Protein comes in many forms (meats, legumes, eggs, nuts/seeds, dairy, etc) and while whole-food protein sources are among the best choices for meeting your protein needs, protein bars have become a mainstay for many Americans. They’re quick, convenient and can be eaten on-the-go and many of us eat them because we believe they’ll help "melt away the pounds" or "eliminate hunger."

But before you grab your next protein bar, be careful! Many bars today contain as much fat and sugar as a candy bar and are loaded with highly processed ingredients so be sure to always READ THE LABEL and CHECK THE INGREDIENT LIST.

Check out the video below to get the scoop on what’s really inside protein bars.

videoscreenshot

All Protein is Not Created Equal

When choosing a protein bar, be sure to read the entire ingredient list to see what type of protein the bar contains.

Soy protein isolate is the most common source of protein in bars because it’s cheap and easily accessible. However, this form of soy is potentially associated with negative health effects so it’s best to limit your intake.

wheyprotein

 

Instead, look for whey protein isolate which is:

  • made from milk
  • easily digestible
  • very low in lactose or lactose free
  • utilized most efficiently by the body.

peaprotein

If you are unable to consume dairy, opt for 100% pea protein which is:

  • made from yellow split peas
  • easily digestible
  • utilized efficiently by the body.

 

 

Isolate versus Concentrate

When looking at protein sources or deciding which whey protein powder to purchase, it’s important to also consider if it is in the isolate or concentrate form.

  • Isolate is ideal because it contains 90-95% pure protein with minimal carbohydrates and fat.
  • Concentrate, on the other hand, is only 70-85% protein.

By choosing isolate, you’ll get a higher quality and quantity of protein.

Making Your Own Protein Bars

Now that you know what to look for and what to avoid in store bought protein bars, let’s explore an even better option…making your own! By making protein bars at home, you control the quality and quantity of ingredients and can save money.

Check out the difference between our homemade protein bar (recipe below) and a leading store bought bar. The nutrition profiles are basically identical, but why choose a bar with 5x more ingredients when you could have a clean, tasty alternative? Plus, you’re cutting costs by more than half…sounds like a win-win situation to me!

barcomparisonchart

Powerful Protein Bars
Makes 6-8 Bars
Recipe from: He and She Eat Clean

This recipe has 4 ingredients, 4 steps and takes less than 4 minutes to prepare!

proteinbar_2

Ingredients

proteinbar_ingred
2 cups rolled oats, dry
½ cup natural peanut butter (or other nut butter of choice)
4 scoops whey protein powder*
½ cup milk or water**

Optional add-ins: dried fruit, drizzle of honey, dark chocolate chips, etc. (options are endless!)

Directions

  1. Line an 8x8 dish with parchment paper. proteinbar_step1
  2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients by hand until well combined. proteinbar_step2
  3. Press mixture into dish, using a spatula to flatten. proteinbar_step3
  4. Freeze for approximately 30 minutes or until set. Cut into bars and then wrap individual bars in plastic wrap or bags and refrigerate.
    - Cut into 6 bars if you are planning to use these bars as a meal replacement.
    - Cut into 8 bars if you are planning to use these bars as a snack. proteinbar_step4

* You can use unflavored, vanilla or chocolate protein powder. If using unflavored, add 1 tsp vanilla extract. Choose a clean whey protein powder (whey protein isolate is ideal) with minimal ingredients. If you are unable to consume dairy, you can use 100% pea protein powder.

** I prefer to use milk in this recipe for an added boost of calcium and vitamin D and for extra flavor. You can use skim or 1% milk or almond, rice or soy milk.

proteinbar_1

Nutrition Information per Serving (meal replacement size): Calories: 280, Total Fat: 13gm, Saturated Fat: 2gm, Cholesterol: 30mg, Sodium: 146mg, Carbs: 25gm, Fiber: 5gm, Protein: 20gm

Nutrition Information per Serving (snack size): Calories: 210, Total Fat: 10gm, Saturated Fat: 1.5gm, Cholesterol: 23mg, Sodium: 110mg, Carbs: 19gm, Fiber: 3.5gm, Protein: 15gm

 

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Double Duty Kitchen Tools


kitchengadgetsThere are thousands of kitchen gadgets on the market designed to make cooking easier, quicker and more efficient. However, most of these gadgets serve one specific purpose and take up prime kitchen real estate. After a few uses they end up being thrown in the back of a drawer or cabinet, never to be seen or thought about again.

Before you consider purchasing the next "latest and greatest" kitchen gadget, stop and ask yourself if any of the kitchen tools you already own could do double duty, giving you the same end result. You’ll be surprised how often you’re already equipped with the tools you need which can save you the cost and clutter of additional, unnecessary gadgets.

Cooling Racks- Not Just for Baked Goods!

Most of us use cooling racks for one purpose- cooling baked goods. However, they can actually be used in other ways to help save you invaluable time and space in the kitchen!

Instead of purchasing an egg or avocado slicer, try this double duty trick:

  • Place a cooling rack over a large bowl.
  • Press a hard-boiled egg firmly into the rack.
  • The egg will fall into the bowl and you’ll have perfect, evenly diced eggs ready for egg salad or to use as a topping on salads.
  • You can also do this with avocados. Simply slice the avocado in half, remove the pit, and follow the same steps. Homemade guacamole has never been easier!

eggtrick_steps

Deli Lids- Not Just for Leftovers!

Do you waste precious time chasing grape tomatoes around your kitchen trying to cut them in half? I know I do! Instead, put those old deli lids (that you’ve likely lost the matching container for!) to good use with this double duty trick:

  • Place 10-12 grape tomatoes into the top of a round deli lid (make sure the side that has a raised edge is facing up so the tomatoes won’t slip out).
  • Place another deli lid, top side down, on the tomatoes.
  • Holding the lid gently in place to not bruise the tomatoes, slice tomatoes in half with a sharp knife.
  • Now you have perfectly halved tomatoes ready to be used in any recipe!

tomatotrick_steps

Tomato Basil Bruschetta Bites
Makes About 30 Servings

bruschetta_2

This recipe is a crowd pleaser and a perfect, fresh appetizer for the warmer months. Use the time-saving, double duty tip above to help prep the tomatoes!

Ingredients:

12oz grape tomatoes, diced
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh basil, sliced into ribbons
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 cup balsamic vinegar, reduced
½ cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 whole wheat baguettes, cut into 1-inch rounds (about 30 slices)

Directions:

  1. Combine diced tomatoes (try double duty trick above!), minced garlic, olive oil and basil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  3. Slice bread into 1-inch rounds. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until slightly golden brown (not completely toasted).
  4. While bread is in the oven, place balsamic vinegar in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat until vinegar has reduced by half, stirring occasionally (this will take approximately 15 minutes for 1 cup of vinegar). Remove from heat.
  5. Remove baguettes from oven. Top each round with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese and a spoonful of the tomato mixture.
  6. Return to oven and bake until cheese is melted, approximately 5-7 minutes.
  7. Before serving, drizzle with warm balsamic reduction.

bruschetta_1

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 baguette bite): Calories: 90, Total Fat: 2.5gm, Saturated Fat: 0gm, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 125mg, Carbs: 13gm, Fiber: 1gm, Protein: 3gm

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Nutritionist’s Picks for Best Food Tracking Apps

FoodDiaryScreenShotWhether you’re counting carbs for glucose management, crunching calories for weight loss or beefing up your protein intake to build muscle mass, food tracking apps can be an invaluable resource for your health and fitness goals. A novelty a few years ago, these apps are now in abundance giving us multiple options, large food databases and a myriad of features to suit any user’s needs.

These apps range in price from Free to Cheap and may come with additional fee-based options offering higher tech, upgraded features. User preferences vary from person to person so check out these top 4 apps and see if one would be a good fit for you.

Lose It
FREE

  • Sets a custom daily calorie budget to help you achieve weight management goals.
  • Tracks your food, exercise and weight.
  • Tracks major nutrients including carbohydrates, fats, protein, fiber and sodium.
  • Reports include daily and weekly summaries that can be printed or emailed.
  • Food database has thousands of restaurant, grocery store and brand name foods.
  • Has a barcode scanner for quick entry of new food products.
  • Allows you to build your own recipes and meals.
  • Can connect you with public groups for motivation and support as well as connect you with friends and family through Facebook or Twitter.
  • Integrates with Fitbit, Jawbone UP, Nike+ Fuelband, Withings and Fitbit Body Scales.

Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal
FREE

  • Gives you customized goals based on your age, gender, activity level, etc.
  • Allows you to enter your own goals if you’ve been given specific recommendations from a doctor or dietitian.
  • Food database has over 3 million foods.
  • Fast and easy food and exercise entry.
  • Remembers your favorite foods, allows you to add multiple foods at once, and allows you to enter your own recipes, foods, and meals.
  • Has a barcode scanner for quick entry of new food products.
  • Tracks the major nutrients including calories, fat, protein, carbs, sugar, fiber, and cholesterol.
  • Integrates with Fitbit, Jawbone UP and other activity tracking devices to monitor your daily step progress on the MyFitnessPal home screen.
  • Allows you to enter your own calorie amounts (if you’re using a Heart Rate Monitor).

Calorie Counter Pro by MyNetDiary
$3.99

  • Provides up to 45 nutrients including carbohydrates, all types of fats, protein, sugars, fiber, sodium, cholesterol and vitamins.
  • Tracks exercise.
  • Nutrition database of 600,000 foods.
  • Has barcode scanner for quick entry of new food products.
  • Tracks daily steps, blood pressure, hours of sleep and work.
  • Has a Food Photo feature where you can take pictures of food labels and submit them for the Pro team to add to the database.
  • Has a Community Forum supported by a Registered Dietitian.
  • Integrates with Fitbit, Withings, Jawbone UP and Twitter.

Go Meals (Powered by Calorie King)
FREE

  • Its nutrition information database is powered by CalorieKing and includes 40,000 everyday foods and more than 20,000 restaurant menu items.
  • Provides calories, carbs, total fat, and protein data.
  • Has a Restaurant Locator for browsing restaurant menus to see nutritional information on thousands of food choices. Helps you pick where and what to eat. Includes a map and location of the ones closest to you.
  • Has a feature for tracking blood glucose levels. Meal and exercise tags as well as customized entry notes can be added next to your numbers. Tracks your highs and lows and is an easy way to share your readings with your provider.
  • Food intake is displayed on a plate which gives you an easy visual of the distribution of carbs, protein, and fat you’ve consumed.
  • Activity tracker lets you browse and log cardio and strength exercises and select intensity level.
  • Syncs with Fitbit.

Roasting Vegetables

Roasting vegetables has become my preferred way of cooking them. I roast all of ‘em!! Here is one of my family’s faves- Roasted Asparagus.

You can use any thickness of asparagus for this recipe. It all comes down to preference. The thick asparagus becomes creamy on the inside with a little bit of crispness on the outside. The thin ones become crunchy. We call them "healthy French fries" at my house. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

Oven Roasted Asparagus
Makes 4 Servings

Ingredients:

asparagus_ingred

2 bunches fresh asparagus (about 2-3 pounds)
1 ½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
⅓ tsp salt or seasoned salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Directions:

asparagus_step1

-Trim the starchy bottom ends (about 2 inches) from the asparagus spears and discard. Wash and air- or pat-dry the spears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

asparagus_step2

 

-Spray a jelly roll pan with vegetable cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.

-Make 2 piles of asparagus on the pan.

-Drizzle the olive oil equally over both piles. Toss asparagus until well coated.

 

 

 

asparagus_step3

 

-Layer the asparagus in a single layer.

-Evenly season with salt and pepper.

 

 

 

 

 

asparagus_step4

-Roast in a pre-heated 400° oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. (Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your asparagus).

-For even browning, rotate the pan 180° half way through the cooking time.

 

 

 

 

roastedasparagus

Nutrition Information per Serving: Calories: 104, Carbs: 11 gm, Fiber: 6 gm, Protein: 6 gm, Total Fat: 5.5 gm, Saturated Fat: 1 gm, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 198 mg

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The Non-Toxic Kitchen: Safe Cookware

474320931_Cathy_blog_052014There has been lots of awareness-raising lately about the safety of our food supply including the tools we use to cook and store our food. Many nutritionists, health care providers and scientists agree that reducing exposure to toxins whenever possible makes good sense.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental health research and advocacy organization, suggests 3 types of cookware as your safest bets for clean, toxin-free cooking:

1) Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is considered a healthier alternative to non-stick cookware. And, chefs often prefer the performance of stainless steel over non-stick cookware. All Clad® is a well known premium brand with a reputation for great performance. Many less expensive lines make great options as well.

182657555_Cathy_blog_0520142) Cast Iron
Having been around for decades, cast iron is still considered one of the safest and most durable cookware options available. Cast iron performs beautifully and provides the health benefit of adding iron to your food. This cookware requires the unique step of “seasoning” to keep it performing properly, but, in spite of this extra maintenance, those who use it love it. You can still purchase cast iron cookware and it is now available pre-seasoned (though some say you still need to do additional seasoning). A leading manufacturer of cast iron cookware is Lodge®.

3) Enameled Cast Iron
Porcelain enamel covering cast iron makes this cookware beautiful, durable and safe. This cookware can be pricey so you could gradually build a collection by treating yourself to one piece at a time. Le Creuset® and Lodge® are two popular manufacturers of enameled cast iron cookware.

Glass Drinking Bottles

As more research is surfacing on the dangers of plastics like BPA and phthalates, another trend is emerging - glass drinking bottles. Being a fast paced person, I’ve steered clear of glass bottles in the past for obvious reasons. But, these new glass water bottles come with silicone covers to protect them from breakage which appeals to even the clumsiest of us. You can get them in a variety of styles and colors and all parts are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. Here are a few popular options:

174902626_Cathy_blog_052014Stainless Steel Drinking Bottles

If you prefer not to use glass drinking bottles, another safe alternative is BPA-free stainless steel drinking bottles. Here are a few good options:

For more information on the safety of plastics, click here for EWG’s guide to plastics.

An Alternative to Pasta - More About Vegetable Noodles

If you haven’t invested in one of the new kitchen gadgets that turn vegetables into spirals or noodles, you might want to jump on this bandwagon. Vegetables have never tasted so good!

I tend to love kitchen gadgets (at least the dishwasher safe ones) because they add some interest to the usual boring chopping of meal prep. AND, they intrigue my family members so they are willing to use them!! Help in the kitchen?.....Sweet!

I was playing around with my new Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer first introduced to me in Kelly’s Chews Strategically "Zoodles" post and decided to make zucchini noodles. I was so enamored with these beautiful "zoodles." What else could I do with them in addition to putting them under my pasta sauce? Here is what I came up with....

This is a perfect low carb breakfast that is packed with protein and a full serving of vegetables. We also eat this for dinner at my house.

Zoodles Breakfast Casserole
Makes 4 Servings

Ingredients:

zoodlecasserole_ing

4 medium zucchini squash
4 large eggs
¾ Tbsp coconut oil
¾ Tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
⅛ tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp Panko bread crumbs, optional (Gluten Free Panko crumbs available here)

Directions:

zoodlecasserole_step1

-Spiralize the 4 zucchini squash into zucchini noodles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Spray a medium sized glass casserole dish with vegetable cooking spray. Melt the coconut oil and ghee in the casserole dish.

zoodlecasserole_step2

 

-In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the salt, pepper and nutmeg until blended.

 

-Add the egg mixture to the casserole dish and blend with the oil and ghee.

 

 

 

zoodlecasserole_step3

 

-Add the zucchini noodles to the dish and toss gently using tongs until the "zoodles" are well coated and incorporated with the eggs.

 

 

 

 

 

zoodlecasserole_step4

-If you like a little crunch with minimal carbs (2 gm per ½ Tbsp) sprinkle 2 Tbsp of Panko crumbs evenly on the top.

 

 

-Bake in 400º pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

 

 

 

zoodlecasserole

Nutrition Information per Serving (with Panko crumbs): Calories: 167, Protein: 9gm, Carbs: 8.5gm, Fiber: 2gm, Total Fat: 11gm, Saturated Fat: 5.5gm, Cholesterol: 191mg, Sodium: 369mg; (without crumbs- Calories: 158, Carbs: 7gm)

If you don’t like eggs and prefer to have your zoodles as a side dish for dinner, here is a quick variation of this same recipe sans the eggs plus a little more fat.

Zoodle Bake
Makes 4 Servings

Ingredients:

zoodlebake_ing

4 zucchini squash - spiralized
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp Panko bread crumbs, optional (Gluten Free Panko crumbs available here)

Directions:

-Spray a glass casserole dish with vegetable cooking spray. Melt coconut oil and ghee in the casserole dish.

-Add the zucchini noodles, salt and pepper. Toss gently with tongs to coat with the oils.

-Sprinkle Panko crumbs evenly over the top if desired.

-Bake in 400º pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

 zoodlebake

Nutrition Information per Serving (with Panko crumbs): Calories: 104, Carbs: 8gm, Fiber: 2gm, Total Fat: 7gm, Saturated Fat: 5gm, Cholesterol: 5.5mg, Sodium: 310mg; (without crumbs- Calories: 95, Carbs: 6gm)

Note: You can add more herbs and spices to either of these recipes as desired and add garlic, onion and peppers for additional flavor. I was just going for super quick and delicious here!

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Uncommon Super Foods

Super foods have been all the rage for the past few years. We’ve all heard about certain super foods that are darlings in the media like kale, blueberries, acai berries and salmon to name a few. What about other super foods that maybe aren’t so sexy like sardines, organ meats, and fermented foods? These are definitely super foods! They just aren’t very common in the U.S. right now, although they used to be.

Sardines
Wild caught sardines are not only a good source of protein but they are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, calcium, B12, iron, and many other nutrients. Since they are at the bottom of the food chain, they are also low in mercury and other contaminates like PCB’s, making them an especially good option for kids and pregnant women!

Canned sardines are the easiest to find around here. Choose ones that are packed in water or olive oil.

Honestly, I can eat sardines right out of the can, but I understand that not everyone is like that. If you’ve never tried sardines, buy the ones that say boneless and skinless to start with. They are just like canned tuna once you mash them up.

Organ meats
Organ meats are the original super food. In some traditional cultures, only the organ meats were eaten; the lean muscle meats (what we eat now) were given to the dogs. The liver was especially prized. Eating liver was thought to give you great strength and could have magical powers. Some believe it has an “anti-fatigue factor” as well.

Well, liver IS an amazing source of many nutrients- vitamins A, D, E, K, all the B vitamins (especially folic acid), copper and iron. It is also very high in CoQ 10 which is needed for energy production in the body- maybe this is the “anti-fatigue factor”?

Organ meats like liver were very common, even in the U.S., not too long ago. I have an old cookbook of my grandmother’s from the 1930’s and it is loaded with organ meat recipes. You don’t need to eat organ meats all the time or even in large amounts to get the benefits. A few ounces a week is enough, and that’s easy to do if you are mixing it in with other foods if you don’t like the taste. The recipe below is a great place to start to get the benefits of organ meats like liver. Choose organ meats from healthy animals, like pasture raised or grass fed local beef, pastured chickens, etc. (HERE are some resources).

Fermented Foods
Fermenting has been a traditional food practice in almost every culture around the world for centuries. With the fairly recent boom in research (and media) around probiotics (and our gut microbiome), fermented foods are getting a bit of a comeback. Fermented foods are loaded with probiotics (beneficial bacteria for our GI tract). Naturally fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, and other fermented veggies are becoming more and more popular.

Probiotics have many health benefits like improving your immune system, improving your digestion, and some studies say that they can even help you lose weight.

True fermented foods will be in the refrigerated section of the store, so the majority of pickles and sauerkraut out there are NOT fermented, they are just in brine. You want to look for “live food” or “contains live cultures” on the label. Aim for a variety of fermented foods too, they all contain different strains of probiotics. You may also want to start slow, with small portions. If you’re not taking any probiotics or you’re not used to eating fermented foods, and you drink a whole bottle of kombucha, for example, you may end up with a horrible stomach ache. Go slow. Most traditional fermented foods were used like condiments with a meal, so try small amounts each day to build up a healthy microbiome. Oh, and don’t heat up your fermented foods, this will kill all the good probiotics.

Want to make your own fermented foods? Check out:

Grain Free Sardine Fish Cakes
Adapted from Ditchthewheat.com
Serves 2

sardinecakes

This quick and easy recipe is a simple way to incorporate sardines into your diet, especially if you’re a little hesitant to try them. These little cakes were so good, they were devoured just on their own. They would also be delicious over a mixed green salad with a lemon vinaigrette. Yum!

Ingredients

sardines_ingred

1 can of sardines (around 84 grams when drained)
1 egg
1 ½ Tbsp of coconut flour
1 Tbsp of Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped green onion
? tsp of salt
¼ cup almond flour for coating the cakes
1 Tbsp olive oil

Directions

  1. Place the drained sardines, egg, coconut flour, Dijon mustard, parsley, green onion, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until all combined. Roll into small or medium sized balls (about 4-6) and flatten with the palm of your hands. Dip the fish cakes in a small bowl of almond flour. Evenly coat both sides. sardines_step1
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over low to medium heat. Cook the fish cakes, turning once.
  3. The cakes are done when both sides are golden and crispy.

sardinecakes_2
 

Beef Liver and Onion Meatballs
Adapted from PrimalPalate.com
Makes 4 servings

livermeatballs

This is a good way to start loving liver! With all the spices in this recipe, you won’t even know it’s in there.

Ingredients

livermeatball_ingred

1 lb grass fed ground beef
¼ lb pastured beef liver finely diced, or ground in a food processor
½ cup onion, diced
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine ground beef and beef liver.
  3. Season with smoked paprika, garlic powder, cinnamon, black pepper, and salt. Continue to mix with hands until meat is equally seasoned.
  4. Mix in the diced onion.
  5. Form meat mixture into balls, slightly larger than an ounce, and place in a baking dish. Bake meat balls for about 25 minutes.

livermeatballs2

Note: You can increase the amount of liver to increase the nutrient content to about 50% beef/liver ratio.

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Which Nondairy Milk is the Best?

This is a question I get pretty often. It’s not an easy question to answer either. It depends on what your goal is. Do you want a milk that’s low in calories or do you want one that’s high in protein? Maybe taste is your only criteria. Luckily, if you can’t or don’t want to drink cow’s milk there are many options in the grocery store these days.

The most common nondairy milks are soy, coconut, almond and rice. But if you peruse the aisles at stores like Whole Foods you will also find hemp milk, oat milk, flax seed milk, cashew milk, and a few others.

Most of the nondairy milks have added vitamins and minerals to mimic what would be in cow’s milk. Most add calcium and vitamin D; some add other vitamins too.

Let’s take a closer look at the most common ones:

Soy Milk

  • Mild "beany" flavor
  • 80-120 calories per cup
  • Typically 5-8g protein per cup
  • Read THIS blog for info on the controversies of soy

Coconut Milk

  • Mild coconut flavor
  • 45-90 calories per cup
  • No protein
  • Not the same as the canned coconut milks

Almond Milk

  • Typically a mild nutty flavor
  • Many people prefer this nondairy milk (taste wise)
  • 30-100 calories per cup
  • Very little protein (most around 1 g per cup)

Rice Milk

  • Mild flavor
  • Some brands can be gritty
  • 90-160 calories per cup
  • No protein

Many of the nondairy milks have added sugar. If you are trying to reduce your sugar intake make sure to buy one that is unsweetened. Almost all of them have some kind of thickener and some have preservatives as well. Carrageenan is one thickener that is in many "natural" foods. Some studies implicate carrageenan in certain digestive diseases and inflammation, but other studies show no adverse effects.

One thing to keep in mind is that most nondairy milks are highly processed; loaded with sugars, preservatives and artificial ingredients to enhance flavor and extend shelf life; and not exactly a whole, real food. If you want to try some of these, at least shop in the refrigerated section; these milks will typically have fewer preservatives than the shelf stable options. Pay attention to the ingredients! If it’s loaded with things you can’t pronounce, then its best to just put it back on the shelf.

Making your own nondairy milk is actually pretty easy, and I think they taste much better than the stuff on the shelves. Also, YOU control what goes in and what doesn’t go in (sugar, thickeners, preservatives, etc.).

Almond milk is a great one to start with. You can follow this same method with most any raw nut.

Almond Milk


Ingredients

1 cup raw almonds
3 ½ cups water (more if you want it thinner and less if you want it thicker)
Cheesecloth or a nut milk bag

Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine almonds with enough water to cover by a few inches. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator overnight or up to 2 days (the longer they soak, the better the almond milk).

2. You will see that the almonds plump up!

3. Rinse and drain almonds, then place in blender or food processor with 3 ½ cups of water. Blend on low and work up to high speed for at least 1 to 2 minutes. If you are using a food processor, blend on high for 4 minutes, scraping down the sides halfway through.

4. Line another bowl with the cheese cloth and pour pureed almond mixture over the cheese cloth.

5. Gather on all corners to form a "bag" and start squeezing.

6. Continue to wring and squeeze until all the liquid is out and you are left with dry almond pulp.

7. Pour the almond milk into a glass container (with tight fitting lid) and refrigerate. You will want to use the almond milk within 3 days.

Tips:

  • If you don’t have a very powerful blender, add just a little water to start with and then once the almonds are blended add in the rest.
  • You can add vanilla, cinnamon or other flavorings. You can also sweeten the almond milk if you want to by adding honey, maple syrup or even dates while it’s in the blender.
  • You can use cheesecloth, muslin, swiss voile or special nut milk bags to filter out the pulp.

Nutrition Content: the nutrition content is hard to determine since it will depend on how much water you use, how much pulp is strained out, etc. This recipe, using 3-4 cups of water, will be about 40 calories , 4g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 5mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate (1g dietary fiber, 0g sugar), and 1g protein per cup.

What to do with the pulp? Don’t toss it!!!

  • Use it to make crackers like THESE or THESE
  • Stir 1-2 Tablespoons into oatmeal or add to a smoothie
  • Dehydrate into almond meal (and use in recipes like THIS)

For a slightly more luxurious milk try...

Lavender Infused Walnut Milk
Recipe adapted from Mountain Rose Herbs

 

Ingredients

1 cup raw walnuts
½ cup lavender flowers
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-4 cups water (depending on how thick you want it)
Honey or maple syrup to sweeten (optional)

Directions

1. Soak walnuts in water overnight. Strain and rinse well. Place walnuts in food processor or blender with 2-4 cups water, lavender, and vanilla. Blend. While the food processor is running, drizzle in a little honey or maple syrup.

2. Line a bowl with cheesecloth and pour pureed mixture into bowl. Strain off as much liquid as possible and save your lavender walnut pulp!

3. You can store the walnut pulp in the fridge and use in oatmeal, smoothies, cookies, or recipes like THIS! Yum! Your walnut milk should keep in the fridge for about one week, the fresher the better!

Nutrition Content: nutrition content is hard to determine since it will depend on various factors such as water content, added sweetener, amount of pulp left in or strained out, etc.

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The Truth About Taters

Today is American Diabetes Association Alert Day®: a one-day "wake-up call" to bring attention to the increasing prevalence of diabetes worldwide. Whether or not you have diabetes, today is a perfect time to step back and think about your current lifestyle and what you can do NOW to prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 Diabetes.

No More White Food?

When people learn they’re at risk for or have diabetes, the initial reaction is often "I can never eat white food again"- no potatoes, no pasta, no bread, etc. While there is some truth to this message, in reality we should be focusing on cutting back on the amount of refined, simple carbohydrates we consume.

Simple carbohydrates, also referred to as high-glycemic foods, are found naturally in fruit and milk and in processed and refined foods like sugar, syrup, honey, sodas, candy, cakes and sweets. They digest very quickly and provide a fast source of energy. When eaten alone, these foods cause a rapid spike in blood glucose levels, followed by an equally quick glucose crash. Over time, consuming a diet high in simple carbohydrates not only increases your risk for developing diabetes, but also robs you of energy and productivity.

In contrast, complex carbohydrates, or lower-glycemic foods, take hours to digest, allowing the glucose to slowly trickle into the bloodstream and be used more efficiently by the body. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods like whole grains, beans, oatmeal, legumes, some vegetables, etc.

Instead of completely cutting out "all things white," focus on choosing healthy sources of carbohydrates from complex carbohydrates and when you do choose simple carbohydrates, opt for naturally occurring sources like fruit and milk.

Remember to ALWAYS ANCHOR your carbohydrates with a lean protein or healthy fat! Check out our post on No Naked Carbs for more information on "anchoring."

Tame the Sugar Rush

Potatoes: to eat or not to eat? Americans consume an average of 130 pounds of potatoes a year, with white potatoes accounting for 32% of all vegetables consumed by adults. That’s a lot of potatoes and more than any of us really need!

Potatoes often get a bad rap, but in reality they’re a great source of many key nutrients including potassium, vitamin C, and vitamins B2 and B3. The problem comes in how much we eat, how we prepare them (deep-fried, au gratin) and what we pile on them (cheese, bacon, ketchup, sour cream). Most modern varieties of potatoes are also naturally high-glycemic.

However, the following tips will help "tame the sugar rush" that can be caused by potatoes:

  • Choose New Potatoes: new potatoes (small red, white or boiling potatoes) create a lower spike in blood sugars compared to old or baking potatoes like Russets, sometimes up to half as much! They also have thinner skins which make it more palatable to eat.
  • Eat the Skins: potato skins contain about half of the antioxidant activity of the entire potato and are high in fiber. Fiber slows digestion, giving potatoes a lower-glycemic value.
  • Pair with a Fat: add a source of healthy fat to your potatoes such as olive oil, canola oil, nuts or seeds. Fats help to slow the digestion process which, in turn, will lower the rise in blood sugars.
  • Let them Chill: allow potatoes to chill for at least 24 hours after cooking before eating. This process magically lowers the blood sugar response by as much as 25%! The cool temperature converts the starches into a more resistant form that is broken down more slowly. Re-heating does not impact the lower-glycemic status so bake today, chill tonight, and re-heat tomorrow!

The recipe below incorporates all of these glycemic-lowering tricks. Throw everything into a slow cooker when you get home from work and it’ll be done before you go to bed. Let it chill overnight in the fridge and re-heat for dinner the next night!

Source: Robinson, Jo. Eating on the Wild Side. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013.
 

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Recipe Adapted From: A Year of Slow Cooking
Serves 10

 
Ingredients


5 lbs purple and/or red potatoes, skin on, quartered
20 garlic cloves, peeled (about 2 heads of garlic)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 oz reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Place quartered potatoes into a crock pot (leave the skin on for extra color, texture, and fiber).
  2. Toss in garlic cloves and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour in chicken broth.
  3. Cover and cook on Low 6-7 hours or High 3-4 hours. Potato pieces should slide off a fork and garlic should be golden brown and pretty shiny. If you have a lot of liquid in the bottom of the crock pot, drain off some of the extra liquid.
  4. Add softened cream cheese and use an immersion hand blender or potato masher to mash potatoes until creamy. Stir in parmesan cheese.

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Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right

Shouldn’t you always "Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right?" Eating healthy, nutritious foods should never have to feel drab, plain, boring and tasteless. March is National Nutrition Month® and this year’s theme focuses on combining taste and nutrition to create healthy meals that not only taste good but are good for you.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, "research confirms that taste tops nutrition as the main reason why one food is purchased over another. While social, emotional and health factors also play a role, the foods people enjoy are likely the ones they eat most." So why not have the food you enjoy also be healthy? This task truly isn’t as impossible as many of us think.

To begin to enjoy the taste of eating right, START WITH YOUR SENSES:

  • LISTEN to the crunch of fresh vegetables in a hot, sizzling pan.
  • SMELL the amazing fragrances of new herbs and spices.
  • TOUCH your food, use your hands for mixing, and experiment with new kitchen gadgets. Don’t be afraid to get a little messy in the kitchen!
  • SEE a variety of colors and shapes on your plate. Try to eat as many colors of the rainbow at every meal as possible (ROY G. BIV)- make it a new family game!
  • TASTE new flavor, texture, and temperature combinations when preparing meals.

Who says broccoli always has to be steamed? Personally, steamed broccoli (while a great standby) can get boring pretty quickly. Why not toss it with olive oil, herbs and spices and let it roast in the oven or crisp up on the grill? Changing the way you typically think a food SHOULD be prepared completely changes the taste, texture, and flavor profile. You never know, you could find a new favorite vegetable that you previously had to force yourself to eat just by simply using your senses and trying new cooking methods!

Let us know 3 ways you can prepare broccoli that tastes great and is good for you. We'd love to hear your ideas!

Visit the National Nutrition Month website for more information, great tips and information, and free downloadable materials.

Source: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Nutrition Month®- March 2014

 

Mighty Mini Meatloaves
Recipe From: joybauer.com
Serves 6

Traditional meatloaf made with white bread and loads of ketchup has about 350 calories and 20 grams of fat per serving. Try this recipe for a nutritional twist on a classic that clocks in at just 160 calories and 2 grams of fat per serving. It’ll leave you "Enjoying the Taste of Eating Right" and wanting more!

The fun presentation makes this great for kids (and they’ll never suspect the hidden veggies!) and also serves as built-in portion control for kids of all ages!

Ingredients

 

1 lb lean ground turkey breast
1 small zucchini, grated
1 cup oats, dry
½ cup mushrooms, chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
¼ cup skim milk
¼ cup fresh basil or 1 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 egg whites
4 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

3. Divide meat mixture evenly and place into prepared muffin pan. You should be able to completely fill 12 full-sized muffin cups.

4. Bake for 30 minutes or until tops begin to brown and turkey is completely cooked (check this using a thermometer; once the muffins reach 165°F, they’re done).

Note: You can also make this in a traditional loaf pan. Cover meatloaf with foil and place in pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes. Remove foil and let cook another 10-15 minutes or until tops begin to brown and turkey is completely cooked.

 

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6 Nutrients That Can Improve Your Mood: Part 2

In Part 1, we reviewed 3 nutrients that help stabilize moods: Folate, Omega 3 Fatty Acids and L-Theanine. Read further to learn 3 additional nutrients that have a positive impact on our moods and energy levels.


4. MAGNESIUM

Magnesium is crucial for more than 300 body functions including anti-anxiety benefits. Though abundant in whole foods, magnesium is often stripped from packaged foods through food processing techniques. The RDA for magnesium is roughly 300-400 mg per day. However, most people obtain only 200 mg or less each day from their diets.

Food sources of magnesium include:

  • Whole grains (buckwheat, quinoa, wheat bran, millet, brown rice)
  • Beans (soybeans, pintos, black eyed peas, lentils)
  • Leafy greens (beet, collard and dandelion greens, spinach, Swiss chard)
  • Nuts (almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, peanuts, pecans)

The RDA for magnesium for adults is:
19-30 years old: 310 mg/day for women, 400 mg/day for men
31 years and older: 320 mg/day for women, 420 mg/day for men

Strive for 5-6 servings of high magnesium foods every day to achieve optimal intake and to improve your mood.
(Note that many high magnesium foods are also high in folate-another mood boosting nutrient).

Click here for a list of high magnesium foods.

Supplement Facts:
Because of its calming effect, when taken at bedtime, magnesium glycinate may assist with restful sleep. Talk to your health care provider or nutritionist about whether magnesium glycinate is appropriate for you. If so, look for a high quality magnesium glycinate supplement (like Pure Encapsulations®, Thorne®, or KAL®) at Whole Foods or on-line. In addition, magnesium glycinate can be compounded at a compounding pharmacy (prescription required).

For more information about Magnesium, check out these articles from NIH and the University of Maryland Medical Center.

5. LOW GLYCEMIC CARBOHYDRATES (high fiber, slow digesting)

Did you know carbohydrates boost serotonin, the "happy" brain chemical? Serotonin levels can decrease in the winter months due to lack of sunlight. This can cause some folks to crave carbs and over-reach for sugar and white, processed starches. Unfortunately, these high glycemic carbs (quick digestion followed by a fast spike and crash in blood glucose) can rob your energy and perpetuate a sugar craving. This scenario can also create the potential for winter weight gain.

Break this cycle by foregoing the sweets and choose low glycemic, slow digesting carbs instead. Low glycemic carbs are a healthy way to boost serotonin levels. In addition, they fill you up quicker and keep you full longer. This eliminates glucose spikes and crashes which can help prevent mood swings.

Remember to keep your portion of low glycemic, starchy carbs to ¼ of your plate.

Sources of Low Glycemic Carbs include:

  • Beans (pintos, limas, black beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, lentils)
  • Whole grains (quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, brown rice, wild rice, steel cut oats)
  • Winter squashes (butternut and acorn)
  • Sweet potatoes

 
6. CLEAN, LEAN PROTEIN

Another way to stabilize your mood and energy level is to "anchor" all of your carbs (at meals AND snacks) with a lean protein and a little healthy fat. Lean protein promotes healthy glucose levels by slowing digestion and releasing glucose slowly into the blood stream. Like low glycemic carbohydrates, lean protein prevents glucose spikes and crashes which helps prevent mood swings.

Sources of lean protein include:

  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Bison
  • Beef
  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Nuts
  • Tofu and tempeh

Digging Deeper

If healthy nutrition and lifestyle efforts (regular exercise and daily exposure to natural sunlight) do not improve your moods, have a conversation with your primary care provider about a variety of treatment options.

Resources:
-Institute for Functional Medicine, Clinical Nutrition, 2004.
-Hyman, Mark, The UltraMind Solution, 2008.
-Dietary Supplements Fact Sheets, National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, 2012.
-Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide, University of Maryland Medical Center, 2013.
-Korb, Alex, PhD, Boosting Your Serotonin Activity, Psychology Today, 2011.
-Consumerlab.com, 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash
Makes 8 Servings

Ingredients

2 lbs cubed butternut squash
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion
1/2-1 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sage
Vegetable cooking spray
1/3 teaspoon white sugar

Directions
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Slice Vidalia onion into very thin slices.
- Place squash cubes and onion slices in large zip-top bag and add olive oil. Seal bag and toss vegetables until evenly coated in oil.
- Spray baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray.
- Place squash and onions in a single layer on baking sheet and sprinkle Lawry’s salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg, and sage evenly over vegetables.
- Before putting into the oven, lightly sprinkle sugar over the top of the vegetables.

- Bake for 30-40 minutes or until squash and onions are golden brown and cubes are tender on the inside.

 

Click here to find recipes for Salmon and Sautéed Greens in Part 1.

Pinto Beans with Herbs
Makes 6 (1/2 cup) Servings
(You can also use cannellini, kidney beans or black-eyed peas)

Ingredients


3 cups cooked pinto beans from dried or canned (2-15 oz. cans rinsed and drained)
1 medium to large Vidalia onion
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp crushed rosemary
¼ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp dried sage
2½ cups water
1½ Tbsp olive oil

Directions

- Combine all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to LOW and simmer for 20 minutes until onions are tender and clear.

 

Click here to find the recipe for Sautéed Greens in Part 1.

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  • About this blog

    The Employee and Family Services group at SAS includes the Health Care Center, Recreation and Fitness Center and Work/Life. Check this blog to find interesting recipes and nutrition facts, information on staying healthy and how to keep your work life and family life balanced.
  • Health Care Center Events & Services

    To view the Health Care Center's upcoming Corporate Health Services Seminars & Events schedule, visit us here.

    SAS Health Care Center has three registered dietitians to assist employees and covered dependents with their nutritional needs. For more information on our nutrition services, please call the Health Care Center at 919-531-8809.

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