Wild over whole grains

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Even though it’s the last day of September, I am not going to let this month slip on by without celebrating Whole Grains Month. Already, this month, we have celebrated National Cheese PIzza Day, National Peanut Day, and National Chicken Month,

In honor of Whole Grains Month, I am going to zero in on more uncommon ones. Sure, you’ve probably heard of barley, oats, and rice, but what about teff, farro, freekeh, millet, or amaranth? These might sound like foreign words to you, so we’re going to break them down and talk about how they could be beneficial to add in to your diet.

As a little introduction about why whole grains are awesome—they are packed with both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel during digestion, slowing down the digestion process. Insoluble fiber helps food to pass through the stomach and intestines. Simply put, fiber keeps things movin’! Whole grains also come packed with vitamins and minerals.

Moving on to teff and farro, two uncommon grains that are so worth trying!

Let’s start with teff, a species of grass, native to Ethiopia. It comes in the form of a seel much like quinoa. It has a lot of the recently discovered dietary fiber, resistant starch. Resistant starch goes un digested in the intestines, passing to the colon and feeding the good bacteria that live there. You’ve probably heard a lot lately about the importance of gut health and this is one of those things that promote good gut health! It’s also very high in calcium with 123 mg per one cup cooked. For all the Celiac and gluten sensitive people out there, this grain is gluten-free! You can buy it as a whole grain and cook it as you would rice or buy it ground into flour and use it in place of your other flours.

Another ancient grain is farro. Farro originated in Mesopotamia and is actually the name used to describe three different wheat grains. Those three grains are Einkorn, Emmer, and Spelt. Typically in the U.S., the grain that’s most commonly found is the Emmer grain. It’s much like a rice grain that is sold dry and cooked in water until soft and squishy. A typical serving of farro is ¼ cup which contains 170 calories, 34 grams of whole grain carbs, 5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of plant-based protein! It also packs in a number of minerals and vitamins including magnesium, zinc and vitamin B3. It’s also a good source of antioxidants which help prevent heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.

Have you started to notice a trend here? A lot of the ancient grains are similar to one another but each offer their own unique benefits. Whole grains are all good sources of fiber and plant based protein that helps keep you full long after you’ve eaten them. As always I like to promote a good mix of everything. So if you’re looking for a break from your usual rice or quinoa, try swapping them out for some of these ancient grains. I challenge you to try out a new grain each week for the next month and see how you feel and find some new favorites to add to your pantry!

 

Tailgate the Veggie-Forward Way

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I love going to sporting events and tailgating makes the time together with family and friends more fun than ever. Some may not be able to picture me indulging in traditional tailgating food and drinks. That’s because I don’t! I bring along healthy tailgating options and get this? My healthier choices are always a crowd favorite.

I bring along traditional favorites like veggies and hummus and tortilla chips and guacamole and I also bring along Yves falafel balls, veggie burgers, and veggie dogs.

For more than 20 years, Yves Veggie Cuisine has been dedicated to providing delicious veggie-forward foods that inspire shared moments together, from family cookouts and weeknight dinners to school lunches and healthy snacks. Yves Veggie Cuisine’s foods are perfect for complementing, completing or reinventing your favorite comfort food dishes with a plant-positive twist. Yves Veggie Cuisine is constantly evolving and innovating to provide a wide variety of veggie-forward foods with the highest quality ingredients. Their appetizer bites, burgers, dogs and deli slices contain no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors, and are Non-GMO Project Verified.

Yves falafal balls are an all-time favorite among my tailgating adventurers. Chickpeas is the first ingredient in this yummy appetizer and they boast the perfect combination of flavors including garlic, parsley, and lime.  They’re super easy to prepare and perfect for dipping into tzatziki or hummus.

Just pop the falafal balls on the grill for 10 minutes for a crispy and tasty appetizer that’s also gluten free, low in fat and a good source of fiber.

Yves Veggie Cuisine also offers an assortment of Veggie Burgers and Dogs that are a delicious plant-positive twist on the standard grilling lineup.

I particularly love Yves Veggie Dogs. They are a convenient low in fat alternative to meat options. Fully cooked, they also are a good source of protein and contain no saturated fat or cholesterol – just throw on the grill for delicious and nutritious veggie-forward hot dog option. Yves’ Veggie Dogs are made with a special blend of spice, giving them an authentic, traditional flavor. They taste just like the real thing but without the fat or cholesterol.

How are you going to make your tailgating fun healthy? Like me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram and respond to my posts about tailgating by Sunday September 30 for a chance to win three packages of Yves Veggie Dogs! Three lucky winners will each get three packages!

This blog is sponsored by Yves,

Why I Consider Chicken a Super Food

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Did you know that September is National Chicken Month? It’s definitely a food choice to celebrate! Chicken is truly amazing. It’s a great source of protein. It’s low calorie. It’s versatile and I personally consider it an ultimate super food!

You probably already know how important protein is to a diet. But why is that actually? Every cell in your body is composed of protein. Your body needs protein to repair cells and form new ones. It’s critical for development in young children as well as in pregnant women. There is so much that can be covered about protein so we’re just scratching the surface. Basically, protein is the building blocks of your life!

The best protein source come from lean meats. They have little fat content and are literally just protein. This is why chicken breast is my go-to when it comes to protein consumption.

A 4 oz portion of chicken typically has about 21 grams of protein. If you don’t own a food scale, you can look to a pack of cards for help. A 4 oz portion of chicken or any lean protein for that matter is about the size of cards.

Chicken is also chockfull of vitamins. Starting with the first letter in the alphabet, Vitamin A helps with improving your eyesight. B vitamins from chicken boost immunity, regulate digestion, and improve nervous system function, among other things. Vitamin C cannot be found in chicken; however. if you eat your chicken with some citrusy lemon (which happens to be a delicious combo- check out some lemon pepper chicken recipes!), you can get some of the Vitamin C! Finally, Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption and strengthening your bones.

There are also key minerals found in chicken It has iron, which helps with hemoglobin formation, promoting good muscle activity, and preventing anemia. Phosphorus promotes good bone health, brain function, and metabolism.

Are you sld yet?! There’s so many ways you can enjoy chicken- grill it, saute it, bake it- the choice is yours! There are tons of flavor combos that work with it too since it’s a relatively neutral flavor- Mexican spice, Indian, Thai, Italian- really the possibilities are endless here. Feel free to comment below about your favorite chicken recipe!

 

Celebrate National Peanut Day with Peanut Butter Energy Balls

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Today is National Peanut Day and this food is definitely deserving of a day for itself! Peanuts aren’t actually a nut, they’re a legume. They flower above ground but grow below ground.

Peanuts have fat and fat is bad. WHAT?! If someone ever tells you this, tell them they’re WRONG! Not all fats are created equal. Peanuts are filled with brain-boosting, heart-healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats. These fats do not lead to weight gain! In fact, the fiber, healthy fat, and protein combination found in peanuts can be part of a weight-loss diet, if eaten in moderation. You don’t need much…a quarter cup of peanuts or a couple Tablespoons of peanut butter can curb hunger for a few hours!

The unsaturated fat in peanuts is mostly monounsaturated fat, which is associated with lower cardiovascular issues. Monounsaturated fats assist in keeping your arteries clear, which allows blood to flow freely. This decreases your risk of heart attack or stroke. These fats also help to lower your LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels and raise your HDL or “good cholesterol” levels.

You want to choose “natural” when it comes to peanut butter. If you check the nutrition label and there are more ingredients than just peanuts and salt, then it’s not natural. In many brands, sugars and unnecessary ingredients are added in.

Another thing to watch out for is the “reduced fat” label on peanut butters. Like I said before, fat is not the enemy! When something like peanut butter is made to contain less fat, other ingredients have to be added, usually sugars, to fill the place of the fat. Just go for the natural peanut butters for the best and cleanest type!

Hear me out on this…my favorite way to enjoy peanut butter is on a sandwich with cucumbers. Don’t knock it until you try it! The cucumbers add a freshness and crunch that can’t be beat. If that’s not your favorite, give these Peanut Butter Energy balls a try! They’re perfect for a mid-day snack or for when that sweet tooth craving hits!

Peanut Butter Energy Balls Recipe:

  • ⅔ cup peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup oats
  • ½ cup ground flaxseeds
  • ⅓ cup mini chocolate chips

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and roll into balls. Keep them in a closed container for up to a week or in the freezer for however long you want!

Enjoy!!!

 

 

Totally obsessed with tomatoes

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I have been “big” on tomatoes the past month; every day someone I know brings me freshly harvested tomatoes! Whether you grow your own or pick up some at a local farm stand, tomatoes are an amazingly nutritious food choice. And when you choose fresh, seasonal produce, you get a higher dose of nutrients that the fruit or veggie supplies.

Why Tomatoes?

Tomatoes are a major source of lycopene, which is an antioxidant that has been proven to boost your immune system and helps prevent cancer and heart disease. Lycopene also protects your eyes—studies suggest that it may prevent or delay cataracts. Additionally, lycopene has been shown to help prevent cognitive decline and protect your bones. Pretty amazing, right?

And that’s not all, lycopene can also help protect you against sunburns!

Tomatoes are also loaded with vitamin C, also an antioxidant. Tomatoes have potassium too, which is perfect for helping to keep your blood pressure in check.

Try Heirloom Tomatoes

Step out of your comfort zone and give heirloom tomatoes a try. Several farms in the CNY area grow heirloom tomatoes. Sun golds are my favorite—they are small like grape tomatoes except they are a golden orange color; they are juicy and sweeter than traditional tomatoes. Keep in mind that the pigment of a vegetable is associated with the nutrients it contains. Eat as many colors as you can when it comes to fruits and veggies. The more colors you consume, the more nutrients you get!

I use tomatoes in every meal. Chop them up and add them into your breakfast omelets. Add them to your sandwiches at lunch. I love a good tuna fish sandwich on whole grain bread with a couple slices of fresh local tomato, and romaine lettuce. Of course, you can add them to any salad! Below is a recipe for a salad where the tomato is the super star! And it’s a quick and easy side choice.

Fall is on it’s way so I am going to try canning some of these tomatoes so I can preserve these amazing fresh, local tomatoes all yearlong!

 

Celebrate National Cheese Pizza Day

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Can you guess my favorite food? Hint: it’s not avocados, chia seeds, oatmeal or kefir. It’s PIZZA!!! There is really nothing better, in my opinion than a nice hot, crisp, and cheesy slice of pizza. This Wednesday, September 5th is National Cheese Pizza day so I will definitely be celebrating with my favorite food.

This may come as a surprise to many of you. As a nutritionist, I promote eating real food and healthy food. But many of my clients will tell you that I promote a balanced way of eating. I’m certainly not saying pizza should be an everyday food but having a slice of pizza every now and then won’t kill you or screw up your healthy lifestyle!

Our bodies recognize food for what it’s made of. When you eat a slice of pizza, your body recognizes the fat, protein, and energy content. Although many pizzas fall on the high end of fats, there is still an amount of protein that comes from your slice. Mozzarella cheese is, in fact, a source of protein, so while it’s not as good for you as a piece of chicken breast, there is still some nutritional value to it. The crust also provides you with a carb source. Your body will recognize this as a means of energy. So while pizza may not be the best choice always, it’s important to understand that it still is food that is able to be used by your body.

If you’re like me and really have that craving for pizza more often than not, I recommend finding some healthier ways of eating it. Try adding pizza toppings on a Portobello mushroom cap. You can also find cauliflower crusts at most grocery stores.

Feel free to top your pizza with whatever you like. Here you can also opt for a part skim mozzarella. If you really like the whole milk mozzarella, do a mix of the two and you won’t even notice the difference! Topping your pizza with your favorite roasted veggies also adds nutritious value and flavor to your pizza.

Hopefully these tips are helpful for all my fellow pizza lovers out there! But make sure you go out and celebrate National Cheese Pizza Day with your favorite slice!