Five Stress-Defeating Food Choices

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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!

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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!

 

 

 

 

Back to School Busyness Breakfast Recipe: Overnight Oats

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It’s been a while since I’ve written a recipe blog for you all and with back-to-school and work seriousness on our horizon, I thought “What better time to start featuring recipes?!” This recipe is made overnight! Imagine that—preparing your breakfast before bed and waking up to amazing deliciousness. What I am referring to, why Overnight Oats!

My friends at Quaker inspired me to start making overnight oats for my girls and me.

Prepared in three easy steps and enjoyed in endless flavor varieties, overnight oats are the satisfyingly chilled, on-the-go breakfast for summer mornings. Made with Quaker Old Fashioned Oats, milk, yogurt or any dairy alternative, along with some nutritious add-ons, this delicious breakfast will help you and your followers start the day with 40 grams of whole grains and 4 grams of fiber to help keep you full through the morning. Their website has a dozen of recipes. Check them out here.

But first, see what I did!

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Kelly’s Overnight Oats Rendition # 1

  • ¾ cup Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
  • ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup almonds
  • ¼ cup blueberries

Kelly’s Overnight Oats Rendition # 2

  • ¾ cup Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
  • ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup almonds
  • ¼ cup raspberries

Kelly’s Overnight Oats Rendition # 3

  • ¾ cup Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
  • ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup almonds
  • 1 banana chopped

Layer these ingredients in a mason jar and chill over night! Feel free to substitute almonds for your favorite nuts. Add a teaspoon or two of chia seeds or ground flax seeds for some extra fiber, protein, and essential fatty acids!

Enjoy!

 

 

Red, White, and Blue Healthy Food Choices

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I love getting into holiday spirits. With Independence Day just a couple of days away, I have been thinking about my favorite red, white and blue foods and why I love them so much. I cannot resist sharing them with you, so let me get this secret out.

My Favorite Red Foods

If you have already read my strawberry blog, you know that I love strawberries. Jam-packed with vitamin C, I love having them in my smoothies, salads, and as a simple, healthy snack.

I also love cherries and cherry juice.  I recommend cherries to endurance athletes often because research has shown that they can reduce muscle soreness after intense cardiovascular workouts. Cherries also reduce inflammation and pain for those who have arthritis. High in potassium, cherries are also useful for regulating blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease. The phytosterols in cherries help reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol levels so all in all, cherries are awesome for your heart!

I’m not done with my favorite reds yet. I love beets! Beets have antioxidants that are great for detoxification. If you have a juicer, they’re a great veggie choice to use. One of my favorite detox juice combinations is beet, celery, cucumber, ginger, and apple. They also have a high amount of folate, which is great for boosting energy levels. Their antioxidants are also known to help reduce inflammation.

My Favorite White Foods

Greek yogurt is by far, my all-time favorite white food.  In just one cup of Greek yogurt, you get around 20 grams of protein—how awesome is that?! Toss in a handful of walnuts and some chopped fruit and having this for breakfast keeps me energized throughout the entire morning and is a great foundation for making healthy choices throughout the rest of the day.

Another white food I absolutely love is quinoa. It cooks faster than rice and it has all essential amino acids, making it a wonderful vegan protein choice. It is also high in minerals, B vitamins, and fiber.

Last but not least, I love cannellini beans. They are high in fiber, a pretty good protein choice and they are so delicious in salads and soups.

My Favorite Blue Foods

There aren’t many blue foods that you can think of are there, but oh what we would be missing if we didn’t have blueberries. It’s blueberry season, so please indulge. The phytonutrients in blueberries are phenomenal.

First, let me tell you about ellagic acid.  Ellagic acid encourages a healthy rate of apoptosis—how the body seeks out and destroys harmful or damaged cells, like cancer cells.

Blueberries also contain salicylic acid—the natural version of aspirin.  Salicylic acid is known to thin the blood and reduce pain.

Lutein is another powerful phytonutrient that blueberries are loaded with. This phytonutrient is particularly helpful when it comes to your vision. The Eyecare Trust, a national charity devoted to raising awareness of eye health, says, ‘There is increasing evidence to show that eating vegetables containing lutein is crucial to maintaining pigment density levels in the macula.’ In other words, lutein can help prevent macular degeneration.