Plant-based Finds at FNCE

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As a Registered Dietitian, there are times when I get REALLY excited about food. It’s so fun to learn about foods that are healthy and delicious. And when I learn, my favorite thing to do is to educate! One of my latest favorite food lines is Daiya Foods—their products are deliciously dairy and allergen free!

This is why I will be available to chat all things plant-basedat the Daiya Foods booth at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) in Chicago Oct. 21-24. Daiya makes deliciously dairy-free foods and plant-based alternatives that are free of dairy, gluten and soy. And all of their products are free of the common allergens I mentioned above. So for those of you who are vegan, vegetarian, annoyed with food allergies, or are simply looking to eat more plant-based foods, I highly recommend Daiya.

While I am not a vegetarian or vegan, I am a big-time promoter of a plant-based diet. Hundreds of peer-reviewed, published studies have proven the incredible benefits of eating a plant-based diet from boosting your immune system to reducing your risk of heart disease and even preventing cancer.

Plant-based food is my go-to for energy and for protection from diseases. For example, when you eat more plant-based food, you are more likely to have a healthy blood-pressure and a healthier cholesterol level (your LDL and triglycerides will lower an your healthy HDL cholesterol will rise making your overall cholesterol ratio way better)! And a healthy blood pressure and remarkable cholesterol level reduces my risk of heart-disease, which is the number-one cause of death for women in the United States.

Also, did you know that plant-based food is so good for your gut? Meat-based protein takes forever to digest, but plant-based protein digests easier with the help of the fiber it contains! Also, too much meat can actually disrupt the healthy gut flora in your digestive system, which could lead to big problems down the road, including an increased risk of colon cancer. Dairy-free is actually great for your gut too because many people are sensitive to the lactose contained in dairy products.

I must also say that my skin glows from my plant-based diet. This has been true for many of my clients who have started their journey on more of a plant-based diet.  Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins such as A, C, E, and K. They also contain tons of antioxidants and phytochemicals that have been shown to be beneficial for skin health. And trust me, it shows!

If you’re attending the conference this weekend, two awesome offerings at this booth that you will NOT want to miss are their Yogurt Parfait Bar on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23 from 9-10 a.m. and their Happy Hour from 2:30-3:30 p.m. on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23. Daiya’s Yogurt Parfait Bar includes their smooth amazing coconut-based Greek Yogurt with fruit and granola and their Happy Hour includes champagne served with their Smoked Gouda and Jalapeno-Havarti blocks…AND  a heavenly  pumpkin spice cheesecake made with their dairy-free cream cheese.  Dairy Free never tasted so delicious!

So give Daiya a try—you’ll be so happy you did! If you aren’t attending FNCE this weekend you can still find their products are available more than 25,000 grocery stores across the US and Canada, including Whole Foods, Kroger, Safeway and Publix.

For more information about Daiya, please visit www.daiyafoods.com, become a fan on Facebook or follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

 

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Almondmilk rocks beyond the glass

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I love almondmilk—it has a nutty sweetness that satisfies my palate and makes me happy because it is low in calories and high in calcium. It is one of my favorite nutritious, guilt-free indulgences!almondbreeze

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze is my go-to almondmilk brand—I use it in everything but have found that most people don’t know how many uses it has! To showcase the versatility of almondmilk, Blue Diamond Almond Breeze developed the Homegrown Goodness Tour, a multi-city tour which visits food events around the country and recreates famous local dishes using almondmilk. More than a dozen recipes were specifically created to encourage consumers to cook with almondmilk in unexpectedly delicious ways – from Key Lime Pie to Tomato Polenta Bites to Chicken Sliders – each having a unique Almond Breeze take on iconic dishes inspired by their respective hometowns.

This weekend Almond Breeze attended New York City’s Wine & Food Festival and demoed two New York inspired recipes, giving consumers a tasty balance of savory and sweet with Tomato Arancini and New York Cheesecake – both made with an Almond Breeze almondmilk twist.

Those who visited Almond Breeze’s beautiful almond orchard kitchen at the New York City Wine and Food Festival experienced a hands-on cooking demo with a phenomenal west coast food expert, Patty Mastracco, who shared the many ways you can easily integrate almondmilk into your everyday cooking.

For example, at breakfast, you can go far beyond smoothies and use Blue Diamond Almond Breeze to make fluffy, delicious waffles or chia seed pudding. For lunch, you can use almondmilk to thicken any dressing or sauce and for dinner, you can add Almond Breeze to your chili or tomato bisque soup for a hearty masterpiece to impress your family and guests!

For more information about the versatility of Almond Breeze, visit www.bluediamond.com.

 

The Difference between Animal Protein and Plant Protein

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Nine times out of ten, when I get a new client, they have either tried a high protein diet, are currently on a high protein diet or are curious to learn more about a high protein diet. While protein is essential for tissue growth and repair and helpful for your cognition, digestion and metabolism, it is important to spread your protein consumption throughout the day and to incorporate plant protein into you regimen as well.

Let me highlight a couple of differences between animal protein and plant protein and give you some ways to consume protein healthfully.

Animal proteins such as eggs, meat, chicken, poultry, as well as seafood and dairy products contain all the essential amino acids you need to build proteins within your body. With the exception of dairy foods, most animal-based proteins contain few if any carbs, giving you a high percentage of your total calories from protein. Many protein-rich, animal-based foods such as red meat, egg yolks and dark-meat poultry, are also rich in zinc and heme iron, which is more readily absorbed in your body than the iron in plant-based foods.

Getting your protein from plant-based foods such as soy, quinoa, other whole grains, legumes, as well as nuts and seeds, means less unhealthy (LDL) cholesterol and saturated fat! Proteins from soy and quinoa are classified as complete proteins because they contain all essential amino acids, much like the proteins from animal-based foods.  Although not all plant proteins are complete proteins, you can still obtain all the essential amino acids by eating a variety of plant proteins during your day.

The bottom line is that you do not have to choose between animal and plant protein to maintain good health. And you don’t need mounds and mounds of it to be healthy either. Your daily protein consumption need not be bigger than a deck of cards.

Here are some healthy protein-based snack choices I recommend:

  • nitrate free jerky
  • hardboiled egg
  • cottage cheese
  • black beans and rice
  • hummus and whole wheat pita
  • Greek yogurt
  • whole wheat bread with peanut butter

I hope you found this information helpful. Keep everything in balance. Don’t consume too much of any one thing and you’ll be on your way to a beautifully healthy lifestyle.

 

The Power of Five

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How good are you at assuring that you get the five powerful foods in your diet every single day? I’m talking about protein, dairy, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains? My guess is that you may have the protein part down (specifically if it is meat), but the other groups are more challenging.

Let’s go through each group and I will provide some suggestions about how you can incorporate these essential foods into your everyday-life.

I’ll start with whole grains. Too many people turn to refined grains and this is not smart because refined grains (pasta, white bread, cookies, crackers, etc.) are devoid of nutrients. Whole grains, on the other hand, have fiber, helping you to feel full longer, not to mention protecting your heart! You are supposed to aim for 6-8 servings of whole grains a day.

  • Make sure you sandwich bread is whole grain.
  • When you cook brown rice, wild rice, or quinoa, cook extra for another meal!
  • Oatmeal is a great choice for a whole-grain breakfast.
  • There are whole grain crackers too—look at the fiber content; if there is a decent amount of fiber, it’ s likely whole grain.

Dairy isn’t too hard to work into your daily regimen and dairy is a great source of calcium and protein. Always choose low-fat or skim (otherwise, you have to worry about bad cholesterol). Use cheese as a condiment on your salads or as a flavor enhancer to your meals. Try cottage cheese or yogurt for breakfast or a snack. Smoothies made with skim milk are delicious as well.

Protein is an easy group for people. Did you know you only need 6 ounces of protein a day? My suggestion is to turn to lean options like chicken breast, lean ground beef or turkey, and definitely fish! I also recommend eggs and plant protein (nuts, seeds, beans, etc.).

As for vegetables, aim to get 4-5 servings a day! Sometimes you just do not have the energy to cook a veggie at the end of the day so stock your freezer. Frozen veggies are as nutrient-rich as fresh and they last way longer! Keep salad greens on hand and veggies that last a while in the fridge like peppers and carrots.

Fruit is the dessert of food. You should try to consume 4-5 servings of fruit a day. Always have a fruit bowl near you—at work and home! Add fruit to your lunch or dinner salads and to your breakfast cereal.

The best way to assure you get the power of five in your day-to-day life is to go for combinations, like these in your meals:

  • Strawberry spinach salad
  • Tarragon chicken salad
  • 3-bean salad with kale
  • Fresh mozzarella and tomato salad
  • Healthier cobb salad
  • Blueberry overnight oats
  • Scrambled eggs with veggies
  • Hard- boiled egg
  • Berry and yogurt smoothie

And skip the candy bar or cookies for your snack! Look to the power of five. Here are more than a dozen options:

  • Mixed nuts
  • Trail mix
  • Edamame poppers
  • Hummus dippers
  • Greek yogurt and granola
  • Tuna and whole grain crackers
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Popcorn
  • String cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Greek yogurt & berries
  • Dried fruit
  • Frozen watermelon kiwi or grapes
  • Melon kabobs
  • Cherry tomato & cheese kabobs
  • String cheese
  • Whole grain cereal dry

I hope these suggestions help you! The power of five is the best way to assure a balanced and healthy life!

 

 

Five Stress-Defeating Food Choices

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Life sure can deliver us some stressful times. Sometimes you need a little pick-me-up and other times you need some massive comfort. Don’t turn to poor food choices during periods of stress, because, honestly, those foods will make you feel worse! There are dozens of foods out there that have been researched and found to be stress-beating and mood-boosting. Here are five of my favorites!

  • Avocados

We need B vitamins for healthy nerves and brain cells, and feelings of anxiety may be rooted in a B-vitamin deficiency. Avocados are rich in stress-relieving B vitamins. They’re also high in mono-unsaturated fat, which feeds the brain, and can help boost mood. So make up your best batch of guacamole, or simply have some sliced avocado on a salad or on a piece of whole-grain toast.

  • Blueberries, Raspberries and Strawberries

I know, I cheated, these are actually three separate foods, but they fight stress the same way! These little fruits are excellent choices because they are big on antioxidants that have stress-relieving properties.  Berries are also an excellent source of vitamin C, which can keep our cortisol (a stress hormone) levels in check

  • Pistachios

Pistachios are packed with amazing nutrients, such as B-complex, healthy mono-unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, vitamin E, copper, potassium, and other minerals. All of these nutrients put together make for one amazing stress-busting team!

  • Oatmeal

Oatmeal doesn’t have to be a breakfast-only food choice; it’s a super healthy snack to have, especially during stressful times. Oatmeal helps get the calm-inducing hormone serotonin flowing. Go with thick-cut, old fashioned oats that require cooking instead of instant oatmeal. Why? Coarse oats are higher in fiber and so they take longer to digest (meaning their calming effect actually lasts longer).

  • Dark Chocolate

Last, but not least, grab a couple of squares of dark chocolate! Chocolate has an undeniable link to mood; we eat more chocolate if we are depressed to make ourselves feel better. And it works. Just be sure to stick with dark chocolate, which not only has healthy antioxidants, but can also lower blood pressure, making us feel calmer and more relaxed. Now who’s going to argue with that?

Next time you are feeling depressed or stressed, apply these nutritional food choices into your daily routine, and you will feel a whole lot better!

Settle your Milk Confusion

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17134291469_71480bd560_oThere are so many different types of milk on the supermarket shelves; it’s confusing as to which one you should drink, right? You may like a certain type in your coffee, but a different type on your cereal. Some may not settle right in your stomach; some may settle just fine.

I will review the differences with you in this blog.

Cow’s Milk

Let’s start with cow’s milk and I will explain the differences between whole, 2 percent, and skim.

An 8-ounce glass of whole milk has 8 grams of saturated fat and 150 calories per cup, while the same amount of two-percent milk has 5 grams of saturated fat and 120 calories per cup; the same amount of skim milk has no saturated fat and only 100 calories. All of these types of milk have about 8 grams of protein per 8-ounce serving.

This means that skim milk is best for your waistline.

However, 2 percent and whole milk have more calcium and vitamin D for your bones. Vitamin D is fat-soluble so you need the fat in two percent and whole milk to absorb this superstar vitamin!

And then you have the cholesterol to think about; with more saturated fat, there’s more cholesterol!

Lastly, you may very well be lactose-intolerant and unable to handle any type of cow’s milk!

Don’t fear! I have more types of milk to review!

Sheep or Goat Milk

Both of these types of milk are friendlier on the stomach, but they have a strong flavor that some find hard to acclimate to. I do recommend trying them for their rich nutrition!

Plant-Based Milks

There are a plethora of plant-based milks. The only one with a decent amount of protein is soy, but keep in mind that soy is a common food allergy. Also, go organic with soy, otherwise, there’s a strong chance that it is genetically-modified.

Almond milk is a popular choice; it is a good choice of vitamin e and magnesium, low in fat, and has a pleasant, sweet taste. The texture is nice and late too.

Coconut milk is becoming quite trendy. It is low in carbs and rich in lauric acid; this converts to monolaurin in your body, which helps your body fight bacteria and viruses.

Rice milk has a nice taste; it doesn’t have much nutritionally, but is great for people who have nut allergies!

Hemp milk is the only plant-based milk with a good amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the GOOD FATS, which your brain indulges in!

There you have it…just a few of the milk choices you have! Which will you choose?

 

 

 

Fall for Butternut Squash this Season

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Butternut squash soup

While summer is filled with delicious grilled foods and tasty entrée-size salads, fall marks the season of warming soups. Pull out your immersion blender and plan for some creamy soups from now through the holidays!

One of my favorite creamy soups is made with butternut squash….yes, creamy, but low-fat…how awesome is that?

And this soup is an excellent way to protect yourself (and your kiddos) from all those bugs traveling around. Butternut squash is high in vitamin A and vitamin C. The sweetness of this soup also helps curb your sweet tooth so I often recommend it n weight-loss menus. Enjoy!

Blissful Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds butternut squash peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil divided, extra if desired
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped into ½ inch crescents
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cubed
  • One bay leaf

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Coat a baking sheet with olive oil or use an olive oil spray. Pour the cubes of squash onto the sheet; toss with one teaspoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix to coat thoroughly and bake for 30 minutes or until fork tender.
  • Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat for 20 minutes, until caramelized.
  • Add garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes.
  • Add veggie broth, sweet potato, celery, apple, bay leaf, and nutmeg. Add the roasted squash. Stir to distribute all ingredients, cover pot and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes
  • Remove bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Uncover and use an immersion blender to blend soup until completely smooth. Alternatively, work in batches with a blender or food processor.