Happy National Picnic Day

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Like many other places across the U.S., Old Man Winter has not wanted to leave Central New York. National Picnic Day is celebrated April 23 every year because it is usually picnic weather. And how serendipitous is it that it is has actually been a sunny weekend with temperatures in the high 50s for the first time this spring! Tomorrow, April 23, National Picnic Day, is looking to be sunny and in the mid-60s!

I’m celebrating. You should too! If you fear you don’t have time, here are some quick picnic packing ideas that adults and kiddos will both love. Picnics are one of the best family bonding experiences you can have!

Whole-grain sandwiches:

Get creative with your sandwiches!

  • Choose a whole grain bread.
  • Add your protein: tuna, egg salad, nitrate-free deli meat, or hummus (great choice for vegans).
  • Load up the veggies. Lettuce and tomato are not your only veggie options. Try sliced cucumbers, alfalfa sprouts, or roasted red pepper—yum!!!
  • Add your spread. You can get more original than mayo or mustard here too! I love using mashed avocado, hummus or a low-fat Goddess dressing for a sandwich spread.

Quick Grab and Go options:

Here are some great sides:

  • Olives galore. Visit your local olive bar and choose a wide variety. Have fellow picnic-goers choose which type is their favorite!
  • Air-popped popcorn. Try different types of seasoning and again, vote for your favorite type!
  • Homemade trail mix. Mix raw nuts with dried fruit and maybe some dark chocolate chips.
  • Fruit skewers. Bring along different types of fruits like bananas, strawberries, mango, chopped watermelon and cantaloupe. The kids can choose the fruit they like to make their own fruit skewers.

Drinks:

Water of course is the best option, but for a little bit of added fun, bring a couple of different 100% fruit juice options and lemon, raspberry, or lime-flavored seltzer waters. Make sure you bring cups and you can mix half fruit juice and half seltzer for a delicious fruit spritzer drink!

C’mon, go out and have a picnic tomorrow—it will be fun. You will boost your health with delicious food, family bonding and a blessed dose of vitamin D from the sunshine!

 

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Fuel your energy with fiber, healthy fats and protein

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Depletion. Fatigue. Lack of motivation. These are three tell-tale signs that your nutrition needs a checkup. Let’s talk about three nutrients that can tackle these feelings: fiber, healthy fats, and protein. I will share examples of each. And for those of you with busy lifestyles, I will recommend a healthy treat with all three of these nutrition powerhouses that you can grab on-the-go.

Perk up because I promise you if you apply these recommendations, you will feel like a million bucks in no time!

Fiber

Only 10 percent of Americans are consuming enough fiber every day. Fiber is essential in achieving a healthy, vibrant lifestyle. It aids in weight loss, helps lower cholesterol levels, and keeps your blood sugar levels stable. Unstable blood-sugar levels will destroy your energy!

The American Heart Association eating plan suggests eating 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day. Great fiber choices include whole grains, nuts and seeds, apples, berries, peas, lentils, and beans.

Healthy Fats

Dietary fat provides you with energy, builds healthy cells, and regulates your hormones. Your brain needs fat to function properly—in fact, did you know that your brain is 60 percent fat? Studies have linked lack of dietary fat in one’s diet to depression as well as cognitive decline.

The types of fat that are super for you are monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. My favorite foods that have these types of fats include essentially all nuts; olive oil in my salads and cooking; salmon; tuna; and flaxseed or chia seeds added to my oatmeal or smoothies.

Protein

Proteins are considered a major nutrient for the body; it grows, maintain and replace tissues in our body, like our muscles. Protein makes up hemoglobin in our blood, which is what carries oxygen throughout our body. A low hemoglobin level will result in low energy levels. My favorite protein choices are eggs, nuts, seeds, lean meats like chicken breast and ground turkey.

A Powerful Nutritional Punch

If you want to pack all three of these nutrients together in a healthy snack, you must give Setton Farms’ Pistachio Blueberry Cranberry Infused Chewy Bites. These all-natural bite-sized bars packed with pistachios, antioxidant-rich cranberries, coconut, and a touch of maple brown rice syrup. They are filled with protein, potassium, and fiber and have ample healthy fats as well for that precious brain of yours! Pistachio Chewy Bites is the answer for those who need a convenient fiber/healthy fat/protein snack in between meals.

For more nutrition tips, visit www.kellyschoice.org and find Kelly’s Choice dietitians’ advice throughout social media. Click here for Facebook. Click here for instagram. Click here for Twitter, Click here for Linkedin.

Win Toby Amidor’s brand new cookbook

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Today is an exciting day! Toby Amidor’s latest cookbook, The Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook: Simple Recipes to Make Healthy Eating Delicious, hit the market. This cookbook is all about eating delicious and healthy without a hassle. We caught up with Toby to chat about this awesome resource she has created. Be sure to read this whole blog because at the end, there’s a question for you to answer for a chance to win this incredible cookbook!

Kelly’s Choice:  What inspired you to write the Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook

Toby: I’m a busy mother of three children and oftentimes I don’t have the time to shop for a ton of ingredients. I also don’t have time to spend creating complicated recipes that take hours to prep and cook. I’ve been sharing healthy, simple recipes for years on FoodNetwork.com Healthy Eats blog and various other publications I write for but I wanted to share my tips and tricks along with over 150 healthy recipes in one cookbook. Many of the recipes in the cookbook can be cooked in 30 minutes or less, in one pot or pan, in a slow cooker, or are freezer-friendly.

Kelly’s Choice: Off the top of your head, name five versatile ingredients you always keep on hand or in your pantry that readers will find often in your cookbook.

Toby: I actually have a list of SEVEN ingredients that I always have on hand that don’t count towards the 5 ingredients. These 7 ingredients are used many, many times throughout the cookbook. They include cooking spray, salt, ground black pepper, olive oil, honey, garlic, and fresh lemon (for juice and zest).

Do you have breakfast/lunch/dinner options in this book? What about dessert? Can you give us some examples?

Toby: Yes, I have options for every meal, including snacks! Sample breakfast recipes include Blueberry-Spinach Smoothie, Egg in a Hole, Banana-Chocolate Chip Waffles, and Slow Cooker Pear-Cinnamon Oatmeal. Sample lunch recipes include Green Salad with Poached Salmon, Brussels Sprout Caesar Salad with Chicken, Avocado Toast with Balsamic Glaze, Tofu Stir-Fry with Yellow Peppers, and Chicken Quesadillas. For dinner, recipes include Slow Cooker Turkey Chili, Asian Spiced Pork Loin, Meatloaf in a Pinch, Light and Simple Chicken Parmesan, Spanish-Style Chicken, and Coconut Curry Salmon.

Desserts include Coconut-Date Pudding, Berry Yogurt Trifle, Applelicious Apple Crisp, and Pomegranate Pistachio Bark.

Kelly’s Choice: How do you define healthy in terms of these recipes?

Toby: My recipes are always conscious of the ingredients selected and portion size. The ingredients used include lean protein, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fat, and low or nonfat milk and dairy. I do call for canned or frozen ingredients which I specify should be vegetables or legumes low in sodium or with no sodium added, and if it’s frozen fruit then without added sugar. I am also particular about how much salt I add to each dish, to help keep sodium under control. Each recipe also has the exact portion along with the calories and nutrition information. This helps many individuals keep an eye on calories or other specific nutrients.

This cookbook is no-doubt Kelly’s Choice approved! We will be giving away this cookbook to one lucky reader! In the comments below, tell us one of your go-to quick and easy dinner recipes by Saturday April 7 at 12 p.m. for a chance to win this book. We’ll ship it right to your door! Good Luck!

 

Toby Amidor’s Miso-Garlic Pork Chops

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I hope everyone had a fabulous Easter! With the busy week ahead, are you looking for a quick and easy dinner recipe? Look no further than Toby Amidor, one of my favorite dietitians! She is releasing her third cookbook tomorrow called The Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook: Simple Recipes to Make Healthy Eating Delicious. Tomorrow, I’m posting an interview I did with her and you will have a chance to win a copy of this amazing book. Here is one of my favorite recipes from the book!

Toby Amidor’s Miso-Garlic Pork Chops

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup white miso
  • ⅓ cup sake
  • ⅓ cup mirin
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced*
  • 4 (5-ounce) boneless, pork loin chops
  • Cooking spray or 1 tablespoon olive oil*

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix the miso, sake, mirin, ginger, and garlic into a smooth paste.
  2. Add the pork chops and turn to coat all sides with the glaze. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
  3. Coat a grill pan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Alternatively, brush the grates of an outdoor grill with the olive oil. When the pan or grill is hot, cook the pork chops for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until they reach an internal cooking temperature of 145-degrees Fahrenheit.

I hope you enjoy this entrée as much as I did! Don’t forget to check out my blog tomorrow evening April 3, for a chance to win Toby’s incredible new cookbook!

Toby Amidor’s Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad with Chicken

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One of the things I totally love about being a dietitian is connecting with other amazing dietitians across the country! Toby Amidor is a dietitian I admire and adore. She has been featured on Dr. Oz and has been quoted by dozens of health, fitness, and nutrition magazines, including: Oxygen Magazine, Dr. Oz The Good Life, Mic.com, Reader’s Digest, Shape.com, Women’s Health, Redbook, Men’s Journal, Huffington Post, Everyday Health, and more.

Last year, she published an awesome cookbook called The Healthy Meal-Prep Cookbook, which is filled to the brim of easy ways you can prepare your meals without stress. And now, she is about to publish another cookbook called the Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook: Simple Recipes to make Healthy Eating Delicious. The book will be released April 3. I’m so excited—what’s better than the duo of easy and healthy?!

Here’s one of the recipe’s in the cookbook that I have had the pleasure of trying!

Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad with Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound skinless chicken tenders
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, shredded
  • ½ cup Lighter Caesar Dressing
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. When the cooking spray is shimmering, add the chicken tenders and cook for 5 minutes on one side, then f lip and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, add the Brussels sprouts and drizzle with the dressing. Toss evenly to coat. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and top with the cooked chicken.
  4. To make the dressing: In a small bowl whisk together the g1 minced garlic clove, zest and juice, of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon yellow mustard, and ½ teaspoon anchovy paste. Whisking continuously, slowly drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil until well combined. Store dressing in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Enjoy!!!

Real Food First

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We live in a convenience society and because of this, we have turned to eating processed food and we are destroying our health in the process. This blog is all about choosing real food first! It may be a hard step to make at first, but once it becomes routine, it becomes second nature. You have to trust me here!

What do I mean by real food? I mean whole, single-ingredient food. Here are just some of the reasons why you should choose real food first.

Real food is loaded with important nutrients

Unprocessed animal and plant foods contain the vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health. For instance, one cup (220 grams) of red bell peppers, broccoli or orange slices contains more than 100% of the RDI for vitamin C. Eggs and liver are especially high in choline, a nutrient that’s essential for proper brain function. And just a single Brazil nut provides all the selenium you need for an entire day.

Real food is heart-healthy

Real food is packed with antioxidants and nutrients that support heart health, including fiber, magnesium and healthy fats.

Real food is high in antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that help fight free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage your body’s cells. They are found in all real foods, especially plant foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and legumes

Real food is low in sugar

Some research suggests that eating sugary foods can increase your risk of obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease and heart disease. Even though fruit contains sugar, it’s also high in water and fiber, so it’s much less concentrated than sugar in soda and processed foods.

Real food helps control blood sugar

Eating a diet high in fibrous plants and unprocessed animal foods may help reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and people who are at risk of developing the disease.

Real food is good for your gut

Eating real food may be beneficial for your gut microbiome, the bacteria that live in your digestive tract.

Real food promotes dental health

Sugar and refined carbs promote dental decay by providing food for the plaque-causing bacteria that live in your mouth.

Real food Is good for your skin

Eating real food nourishes and helps protect your skin from the inside out. Did you know that some foods are natural sunscreens too? Some examples are carrots, citrus fruits and strawberries.

Start thinking about healthy swaps you can make in favor of real food. Instead of candy, keep fruit on hand. Instead of sugary breakfast feel, have yogurt with nuts and fruit. Instead of granola bars with 25 ingredients in them, have a snack-size bad of raw nuts and dried fruit. There are so many ways to start transitioning to more real food. Be sure to keep some with you at all times so that you don’t need to turn to fast food or gas station snacks when you’re ravenous!

How to keep hydrated even if you loathe plain ol’ water

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I know, I know, I’m always talking about how important it is to keep hydrated and how you should be drinking a lot of water every day. For instance, if you haven’t read it already, take a peek at my hydration blog I  wrote a couple summers ago. It was geared toward summer heat, but hydration is important every single day regardless of the season.

To review some of the reasons why water is essential for us to consume every day—it helps regulate circulation, body temperature, and digestion. It also detoxifies the liver and the kidneys and carries waste out of the body. Did you know that a two-percent drop in body water can cause small but critical shrinkage of the brain, which can impair neuromuscular coordination, decrease concentration, and cause slow thinking?

Getting thirsty yet? Seriously, how much water should you drink? The general rule of thumb is to at least drink half your body weight in ounces. If you are very active, you will need much more!

Curious if you are hydrated enough as you read this? Here are two ways to know if you are hydrated enough:

Check out your urine! A large amount of light colored, diluted urine probably means you are hydrated; dark colored, concentrated urine probably means you are dehydrated.

You can also use the pinch test! Dehydration often reduces skin elasticity, so doctors often use this skin test to quickly check for dehydration. The best part is that you can do it yourself: Pinch the skin on the back of your hand and pull it upwards. Your skin should snap back rapidly. If your skin maintains its pinched shape for a few seconds and drops slowly, you may be dehydrated.

Many of my clients complain that water gets boring. I have some fun tricks for you!

Try infusing water. Keep a pitcher of water in your fridge with fruit and herbs that help give the water a refreshing taste. Here are some popular combinations:

  • Cucumber + lime + strawberry + mint.
  • Lemon + raspberry + rosemary.
  • Orange + blueberry + basil.
  • Lime + ginger root + basil.
  • Watermelon + honeydew + mint.
  • Cucumber + mint + jalapeno.
  • Lemon + thyme.
  • Orange + hibiscus + star anise.

Here are some foods to consume to help hydrate you (they all are comprised of at least 90 percent water):

  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Peaches
  • Oranges
  • Skim Milk
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce

And this time of the year, I love drinking hot cups of green tea or herb tea not only to keep me hydrated, but also, to give me an antioxidant boost!