Crazy about Cranberries at Barbecue Get-Togethers

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Cranberries are not just for Thanksgiving, dear friends. There are quite a few reasons I absolutely love cranberries.

First of all, studies show that they’re great for my heart. Turns out, the bioactive compounds found in cranberries may help maintain a healthy heart by improving blood cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure and decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress.

Secondly, cranberries are a natural way to help prevent recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). UTIs are perhaps the most uncomfortable health ailment a woman (or man) can face and I never want to experience one. If you have a history of UTIs, try consuming more cranberry products – juice, sauce, dried, fresh – you pick.  Results from a large clinical trial published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2016, showed that cranberry juice reduced symptomatic UTIs by almost 40 percent in women with a recent history of UTIs.

Last but not least, I love that cranberry products, including cranberry juice cocktail, dried cranberries and sauces, offer the same health benefits of fresh cranberries.

Given cranberries’ unique health properties and cooking versatility, I have created some ways for you to enjoy cranberries no matter what time of year – starting right now, with grilling season! Here are a few barbecue recipes to get you started!

Summer Salad:

Toss some dried cranberries into a salad. I love a simple salad of greens, diced Granny Smith apples, sliced red onion, walnuts, and a whole lot of dried cranberries.

Summer Spritzer:

Summer is a time for cocktails, but they don’t have to be alcoholic. I love mixing 3/4 cups of cranberry juice cocktail with a cup of seltzer water for a big, delicious summer spritzer.

On the Grill

You read that right—I love using cranberries on the grill. It takes one recipe, a cranberry barbeque sauce! This may be time-consuming, but it keeps for weeks in the refrigerator, so you can reuse it. I have also provided a simpler recipe for the busy bees out there; a cranberry glaze. You can slather either on almost any meat choice and impress your guests. They’re especially yummy on chicken and pork tenderloin. So sweet and delicious!

Cranberry Barbeque Sauce

Ingredients:

– 6 cups of frozen cranberries

– 2 cups of water

-1 cup of vegetable broth

-1/2 cup brown sugar

-1 teaspoon of Paprika

-1 tablespoon of tomato paste

– 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

– 1/2 cup diced onion

– ½ cup apple cider vinegar

– 1 ½ tablespoon of garlic salt

– 1 teaspoon of minced ginger

– 1 teaspoon of orange zest

Directions:

Boil all ingredients but the last two in a stock pot for 15 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to 1/3. Use an immersion blender to blend or place in small batches in a standard blender. Strain the puree through a mesh strainer. Stir in the ginger and orange zest and voila! Store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks and use whenever you’d like!

Cranberry Glaze

Here’s my recipe for busy bees! Grill chicken breasts or meat of choice simply sprinkled with salt and pepper. While meat is grilling, whip up this glaze.

Ingredients:

1 can of jellied cranberry sauce

– 2 teaspoons of cumin

– 2 tablespoons of lime juice

– 1 teaspoon of sea salt

– 1 tablespoon of dried cilantro

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking often, until you have created a smooth glaze. If you would like some heat, you can add a diced jalapeno pepper to this recipe!

There are a couple other ways you can incorporate cranberries into your summer barbeques as well.

Try these recipes this summer and I guarantee you will see how versatile cranberries are and how they can add so much deliciousness to your summer barbeques.

Try these recipes this summer and I guarantee you will see how versatile cranberries are and how they can add so much deliciousness to your summer barbeques.

To learn even more about the health benefits of cranberries, visit the Cranberry Institute.

 

Get your Engine Revin’ with Nutrition

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Yogurt I would have to say, weight-loss aside, the number one complaint I hear from my clients is tiredness. So many adults feel as though their energy is absolutely zapped. If you are sleep-deprived, of course you need to address that! Here are some nutrition-add-ons that can also help!

1.) Breakfast should be your heartiest meal of the day.

You have heard this time and time again; EAT BREAKFAST. When you have a breakfast that includes healthy fats, protein, and perhaps some complex carbs; this will help you sustain energy. It sets a great foundation for your day. Here are some ideas:

  • Omlette with some roasted potatoes (roast them the night before to save time)
  • Greek Yogurt with granola
  • Whole grain toast with avocado
  • Even pb + J on whole grain bread.

2.) Watch the sugar and caffeine consumption!

Keep an eye on how much sugar you intake. Sugar depletes nutrients and can result in low energy! Caffeine may increase your alertness, but definitely try to refrain from caffeine after 2:00 p.m. It can cause insomnia…and may even decrease REM sleep. In other words, it can affect your sleep even if you don’t realize it.

3.)Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

I can’t emphasize this enough. Water actually boosts your energy. It is crucial in the production of energy molecules. I often tell caffeine addicts to try a glass of water before reaching for their third cup of coffee of the day! If water bores you, consider infusing it with lemon, lime, or mint!

4.) Ditch the Diet.

Some people get confused hearing a dietitian advising not to diet. I’m all about eating REAL foods, NOT depriving yourself of foods. When you deprive yourself, your energy drops drastically and when your energy drops, guess what? Your body’s natural reaction is to grab something that will boost your energy rather quickly (sugary, refined foods usually) and those create a major dip in energy soon after…it’s a downward spiral!

5.)Beware of Booze!

Many people, myself included, like a nice glass of wine. For others, it may be a cocktail or a couple of beers. However, if you consume too much, it will cause fatigue. It can interfere with REM sleep just like caffeine. Alcohol also inhibits absorption of energy-boosting  B-vitamins.

Get some sleep, apply these tips, and watch your energy soar! When you feel more energetic and alive, everything in life seems brighter. Energy is essential in order to enjoy all life has to offer!

Hey Athletes, Don’t Fear Fat

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I can’t even count how often I hear athletes discuss ways to reduce fat in their diet. I am here to debunk the myth that fat in your diet will make you fat. In fact, the opposite is true—fat can make you stronger, leaner, more alert, and a better overall performer. Fat is your friend, not your enemy!

This does not give you free reign to go eat a bacon cheeseburger every day. Let me discuss the fats you should welcome into your diet daily!

Let’s start by discussing omega-3 essential fatty acids; these are found primarily in fish like salmon and tuna. They are also found in walnuts and flaxseed. Study after study has proven that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation to the point of helping to prevent chronic conditions like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and even some forms of cancer. They also help with cognition—some studies have even proven that they delay the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. What does this mean for you as an athlete? It means that omega-3s will help you be more alert on the field and will also help you to recover quickly and be on your best-game more often.

In addition to omega-3 fats, I highly encourage you to incorporate dairy into your diet. I have heard of athletes avoiding dairy because of the fat content, but truly, dairy is so awesome for you to include in your day-to-day life and right after your workouts.

One dairy product I encourage you to consume every day is yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt is the best because it is high in protein and doesn’t have a lot of added sugars like many yogurts on the market. The probiotics in yogurt help increase the healthy bacteria in your gut, which optimizes your digestion. You need optimal digestion in order to absorb the antioxidants that help you recover from tough workouts. Athletes need more nutrients than the average person and these needs are best met with optimal digestion. Go for yogurt every day!

Dairy is excellent for your recovery as well. Milk will rehydrate you after a workout—did you know that it is 90 percent water AND it has electrolytes? Milk is an excellent source of carbohydrates, which replenishes the glycogen that your muscles lose during a workout. Milk is also a great source of protein, which helps your muscles to recover. Studies show that milk may help reduce muscle damage and improve muscle recovery, which can help you perform better during your next workout.

Personally, I am a strong proponent of chocolate milk for a post-workout drink—it has that perfect ratio of 3 to 4 grams of carbohydrate for every gram of protein. This is the ratio you want for optimal recovery.

Eat your fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and the healthy fats I described here and you will come out a winner on the field, court, pool, or track!

 

 

My New Favorite Treat: Setton Farms Blueberry-Flavored Pistachio Chewy Bites

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One of my favorite things about being in the nutrition business is that I get to try nutritious foods before they hit the market.  I am so excited about a nutrient-dense treat that hits the market TODAY: Setton Farms’ blueberry-flavored Pistachio Chewy Bites. And I am going to GIVE AWAY three bags of them to one lucky reader! Keep reading to find out what you have to do to be a contender for this awesome prize!

First of all, let me get it straight about what it means for a treat to be nutrient-dense and then I will tell about how yummy these treats are, how they qualify as nutrient-dense, and I will also give you some scenarios where it would be PERFECT for you to have these treats on hand.

Nutrient-dense foods are food choices that are loaded with nutrients but relatively low in calories, saturated fat, and trans fat. It’s often difficult to find nutrient-dense snacks. Virtually all fruit and veggies would be considered nutrient-dense as would raw nuts and seeds.

But what about packaged food? Sometimes you just crave a candy bar, right?

When examining a nutrition label, some markers of a good, nutrient-dense selection in my opinion are: less than 250 calories per serving, less than 4 grams of saturated fat, at least 5 grams of unsaturated fat (these fats are GOOD for you), at least 3 grams of fiber, and at least 4 grams of protein.

I can’t think of a candy bar that qualifies as nutrient-dense, but Setton Farms’ brand-new blueberry-flavored Pistachio Chewy Bites are the perfect alternative. They’re so sweet and yummy. Made with pistachios, blueberry-infused dried cranberries, maple brown-PCB BLUEBERRIES - IMG_5843-Edit-2rice syrup, and coconut, you cannot go wrong with this treat. And here are some markers of their nutrient density!

Each serving (2 chewy bites) has:

  • 200 calories
  • ZERO trans fats
  • Only 2 grams of saturated fat
  • 9 grams of unsaturated fat
  • 4 grams of fiber
  • 5 grams of protein

Here are some scenarios where these treats would be great to have on hand:

  • Great to have in your desk drawer at work for that 3:00 dip in energy.
  • Keep them in your purse for when you are out and about longer than planned and need something to hold you over before your next meal.
  • Attention athletes! These are the perfect fueling snack and can also work effectively as a recovery snack!
  • Got kiddos? These are a great choice to add to their lunches! My girls even asked for them for dessert one night!
  • These are also perfect to pass around as an appetizer at a dinner party!

In the comments below, by Friday June 9 at 8:00 PM EST, tell me why YOU would love to try these tasty snacks for a chance to win three bags (9 servings) of Setton Farms’ blueberry-flavored Pistachio Chew Bites. I will announce the winner over the weekend!

 

 

 

 

Celebrate World Milk Day

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Today, I have chosen to #RaiseaGlass to celebrate #WorldMilkDay!

World Milk Day is a day established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to recognize the importance of milk as a global food. It has been observed on June 1 each year since 2001.

I love milk because just one glass can deliver you some awesome nutrition. Here are just a few of the nutrients that make milk amazing and what these nutrients can do for you:

One nutrient that immediately comes to mind and that many of you know about is calcium. Milk is loaded with it; this nutrient is important for your teeth and your bones!

Milk also has phosphorous, which works in tandem with calcium for strong teeth and bones.

Milk is an excellent source of protein, which is absolutely essential for muscle growth, development, and repair.

Milk also has potassium, making it a great choice for keeping yourself hydrated!

Milk is rich in iodine, which is the most important nutrient for assuring that you have a healthy thyroid; it is also helpful in keep you energized!

Speaking of energy, the B vitamins in milk (B5, B2, and B12) are great for maintain great energy levels, keeping you focused and reducing fatigue.

I choose to give my girls milk for a bedtime snack. It keeps them feeling satiated throughout the night, giving them a good night’s sleep.

I also let them have chocolate milk for a snack! In fact, it is probably the healthiest sweet drink kids can have, especially when you make it with dark chocolate syrup (sans the high-fructose corn syrup) like I do!

#Raiseaglass with me today; milk is definitely something to celebrate!

By Kelly Spring, MS, RD, CDN