Five Stress-Defeating Food Choices

Standard

Dark Chocolate and other products

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!

Advertisements

Settle your Milk Confusion

Standard

 

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

Standard

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.

 

 

 

 

The Difference between Insoluble and Soluble Fiber

Standard

You’ve heard this from me before: EAT MORE FIBER!!! In fact, only 10 percent of Americans are consuming enough fiber every day. Fiber is absolutely essential in achieving a healthy, vibrant lifestyle. It aids in weight loss, helps lower cholesterol levels, and keeps your blood sugar levels stable.

The American Heart Association eating plan suggests eating 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day.

In order to reap all of these benefits of fiber, it’s important that you consume both soluble and insoluble fiber.

When soluble fiber dissolves, it creates a gel that helps improve digestion. These fibers absorb water, increasing stool bulk, and lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Insoluble fiber helps soften the stool because it attracts water into your stool; this prevents constipation and keeps your intestines healthy.

The best types of soluble fiber are fruits like apples, grapefruits, and oranges, as well as beans, lentils, peas, oats, oat bran, and barley.

The best types of insoluble fiber include vegetables and whole grains like wheat, quinoa, stone ground cornmeal, bran, buckwheat, and brown rice.

So now you know what foods are great fiber choices. Here are some tips to get a fantastic amount of fiber in your body every day:

– Choose fruit for your snacks!

– Oatmeal for breakfast!

– Add a banana to your cereal

– Cook with brown rice instead of white rice.

– Always, always, use whole grain bread for sandwiches and toast.

– Add chickpeas, kidney beans, or black beans to your salad (one of the easiest salads every is a couple cups of mixed greens, a half-cup of black beans or kidney beans, a few tablespoons of salsa and a quarter cup of low-fat shredded cheddar cheese)

– Always have a vegetable with dinner—hey even sweet potatoes count for my “meat and potato” fans!

I hope I have inspired you to eat your fiber! Let me know any tips that have helped you!

By Kelly Springer RD, MS, CDN