Five fun nutrition resolutions

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2018 has come to an end! Looking at the year ahead, why not try to boost your health through nutrition? Below, I will make five suggestions for 2019 nutrition-related resolutions that will help cultivate a healthy lifestyle that will be easy for you to hang on to for the rest of your life.

  • Commit to eating breakfast

Breakfast sets the platform for your entire day. And toast doesn’t cut it! Try to get as much protein as possible during breakfast and the odds are that you will feel more energized, be less likely to overeat later in the day, and feel sharper mentally as well. I suggest eggs (add low-fat cheese for an added protein boost), Greek yogurt, nut butter on whole grain toast, nuts tossed into your oatmeal…anything you can think of to add protein to your breakfast.

The bonus? Several studies have proven that people who eat a hearty breakfast are more likely to lose weight.

  • Swap your favorite junk food(s) for a healthier alternative(s)

Research alternatives to your favorite junk food. Are you a chip lover? Switch to popcorn—it’s a fiber-full, whole-grain, low-calorie snack if you leave out the butter! Do you have a sweet tooth? Swap candy for fruit! You can get very creative with fruit. Try frozen grapes or blueberries! If you love chocolate, try dark chocolate—it’s loaded with antioxidants!

  • Ditch fast food

Are you on the go a lot and resort to fast food out of convenience? Carry along healthy snacks with you to help deter your fast food stops. Plan easy meals like grilled cheese on whole grain bread with tomato soup so that you don’t have to rely on fast food!

  • Eat more meals at home

Eating meals at home is an easy way to cut calories, save money, and reduce salt intake (which will improve your heart health). I recognize that implementing home-cooked meals is not easy. Try to make it fun. Look up 15-minute meals and create a grocery list and a schedule for the week. It’ll take some getting use, but the benefits you will reap are worth it!

  • Eat more meatless meals

I’m not telling you to become a vegetarian, but to increase your vegetable intake! Explore vegetarian meals and try to have at least one vegetarian meal a week. Vegetarian meals tend to be lower in calories and fat, and higher in nutrients and fiber. Consider joining the Meatless Monday movement!

I wish you all a very Happy New Year! Here’s to your health!

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Sensational Autumn Parfait

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Yes, it is still autumn amidst these snow flurries!

Parfait in French means “perfect.” It’s quite fitting because a parfait can be a perfect meal!

A parfait is simple, light, and delicious. You can have it for breakfast, a snack, or even dessert. It can be pretty much anything you want, but usually consists of yogurt, fresh fruit, and granola.

This is a meal I often have for breakfast because it’s quick and easy! It’s also satiating, which can help you deny those holiday treats that are flooding into your office this time of year!

I like to use Greek yogurt in my parfaits because it packs a ton of protein: about 20 grams per cup, as opposed to the 8 grams you get from a cup of milk.

To assemble your parfait, all you need are the three ingredients I listed above. You can use any kind of fruit and any type of granola, though I do recommend using a granola with a lower sugar content as many granola may seem healthy, but when you check the nutrition label they can be packed with sugar. Find a granola with less than 8 grams of sugar per serving! A great brand I use is Barley+ granola. It provides a high fiber content with low amounts of sugar per serving.

Try out this fall parfait for a yummy treat:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sweetener (maple syrup or honey)
  • ¼ cup pumpkin purée
  • ¼ cup  granola
  • 1 apple cut into small chunks

Directions:

  1. Combine yogurt, sweetener, pumpkin, and cinnamon in a bowl.
  2. Spoon a few tablespoons of yogurt into you bowl or cup.
  3. Then add a layer of granola, followed by apples.
  4. Complete this until you’ve finished your supply of ingredients and enjoy!

 

Boost your energy throughout the day with Breakfast

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So many people I know are in such a frenzy in the morning that they rush out the door with an empty stomach. They may have sipped a cup of Joe while getting ready or grabbed a handful of dry cereal on their way out, but that will not give them the sort of energy that their body and mind so desperately need.

The number one way to boost your energy level, your ability to concentrate and your overall productivity is to start your day with a hearty breakfast. You don’t need to prepare anything elaborate; simply, be sure that the meal combines complex carbohydrates with protein and fiber.

Here are some simple, hearty, breakfasts that you can prepare in five minutes or less:

  • Whole grain toast with almond butter. Add a half of sliced banana.
  • Greek yogurt with chopped apple and walnuts.
  • Scrambled egg with low-fat cheese, spinach and mushroom.
  • Oatmeal with ground flaxseed, dried fruit, and pumpkin seeds. For extra sweetness, add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
  • A PB&J smoothie: 1 cup of frozen strawberries, 1 cup of almond milk, ½ cup of Greek yogurt and 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter. Add up to ½ cup of water to get desired consistency.

Dr. John Ivy of the University of Texas, a top nutrition researcher, has stated “Breakfast is a critical meal because it influences practically every dimension of our being during the course of the day, including how we perform physically and mentally. Breakfast immediately raises the body’s energy level and restores the blood glucose level to normal after an overnight fast.”

I urge you to break your fast with a nourishing breakfast every day and I promise you that you will notice a remarkable improvement in your energy level and productivity.

 

 

 

Get your heart healthy with a smoothie bowl for breakfast

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February is Heart Health Month and I’m going to tell you about how eating a smoothie bowl for breakfast can help reduce your risk of heart disease! Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women in the United States, so give this smoothie bowl a try!

Now, you may be wondering, what is a smoothie bowl? Aren’t smoothies supposed to be drunk from a glass? Smoothie bowls are simply smoothies you can eat with a spoon with lots of delicious toppings!

This smoothie was made with mixed berries, a frozen banana, plain Greek yogurt, and unsweetened cashew milk. It was topped with oranges, hemp seeds, and pomegranate!

Berries, oranges, and pomegranate are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, they are naturally low in calories and high in fiber and water! Fiber helps lower your cholesterol.

Bananas are a great source of potassium. Potassium can help manage high blood pressure by reducing the effects of excess sodium. When you eat more potassium, you lose more sodium in urine. Other foods rich in potassium are avocados, beans, potatoes, and more!

Greek yogurt and cashew milk are both fantastic sources of calcium. Calcium is a mineral that helps with muscle contraction!

And last but not least, hemp seeds are an excellent source of those healthy fats, omega-3 and rare omega-6 GLA. They are also packed with protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, and riboflavin! It’s really important to limit saturated and trans fats as they can damage your arteries and lead to heart disease. Load up your diet with omega-3 rich foods like hemp seeds instead!

There are so many variations of smoothie bowls you can make, so I’m going to give you a base recipe and you can create your own!

Step 1: Choose your fruit. Frozen fruit works best in smoothies because it makes it nice and cold!

Step 2: Choose your yogurt. Any kind is fine, but if you want extra protein try Greek yogurt. Try to stay away from yogurts with a lot of added sugars to cut back on calories.

Step 3: Choose your milk. Any kind of milk is fine too! I always go for nut milk because it is a lot lower in calories. If you are trying nut milk, make sure it’s the unsweetened variety to decrease added sugars.

Step 4: Pick some optional add-ins: spinach, nuts, seeds, protein powders. Add-ins like spinach are very tasteless and give you an extra serving of vegetables!

Step 5: Pour into a bowl and load up with healthy toppings like sliced fruit, coconut flakes, granola, and extra dark chocolate!

Go to Kellyschoice.org to see this recipe and more that were created by Rosemary Squires.

 

How Not to Gain Weight this Holiday Season (Blog 1 of 2)

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31244465871_f343ce0d18_o.jpgPecan pie! Honey-glazed ham! Candy cane truffles! Holiday food can inspire anxiety or ecstasy—or both—depending on your mindset.

Here’s the good news: The average weight gain for the holiday season is just one pound. Now for the bad: While that might not sound like much, research shows we don’t lose it, and that one pound adds up year after year.

Sweet treats and rich meals can be landmines for health-conscious people, yet no one wants to feel deprived during the happiest season of all. No need to fear—there are sensible ways to navigate this territory. Here are some of my favorite tips that have helped clients (and myself) NOT gain weight during the holidays!

TIP # 1: Eat a healthy and hearty breakfast.

Eating a healthy breakfast sets the stage for the entire day. If you start your day off with a doughnut or leftover pie, you can trigger a relentless sweet tooth the rest of the day.

Don’t skip breakfast either, as that will leave you dragging through your morning and more likely to overeat later because you’re starving.

Start with something that has lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and some healthy fat to give you energy and keep you satisfied until your next meal.  Think oatmeal, with nuts and dried fruit or Greek yogurt with granola, or an omelet with veggies and a sprinkling of your favorite cheese. A super easy option is almond butter on whole grain toast and this is super delicious with sliced strawberries!

Tip #2: Go to social gatherings to gather (not to eat and drink).

You go to family gatherings, work parties, and other social events to see your friends and loved ones—so see them! Use these times to socialize and be present rather than rummaging for holiday treats, wine, and cocktails.

A good idea is to “pre-eat” something with protein and vegetables to stabilize your blood sugar.

Tip # 3: Savor what you love. Stay away from what you like.

Instead of piling your plate a mile high with things that don’t really tantalize your taste buds (fruit cake, we’re looking at you!), pick only the foods that give you true enjoyment. For your food favorites, take small servings and really savor each and every bite.  If something doesn’t make you swoon, leave it on the sideline.

Tip # 4: Stick to only splurging for one event a week.

The biggest mistake people make at the holidays is making Thanksgiving a four-day feast instead of a one-day indulgence. Then the holiday parties come, and all of a sudden you’re giving yourself an excuse to have treats nearly every day. Rather than letting your holiday feast roll into pie for breakfast, limit your splurges to one event per week.

Tip # 5: Nix the guilt!

Feeling guilty after eating foods you don’t usually allow yourself to eat can breed more unhealthy behaviors. So abandon those negative voices in your head, give yourself permission to enjoy the indulgence guilt-free, and then remember to get back on track with your normal eating routine the very next day.

I hope these tips help you and be sure to check my blog on Sunday because I will be sharing five more easy-to-follow tips to help you NOT gain weight this holiday season!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cranberries for Breakfast

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In my last blog, I wrote about how I learned so much from cranberries last month at the Cranberry Institute. You better believe I’ve been trying to incorporate amazing, high-in-antioxidant cranberries in a lot of my meals. I came up with this recipe for breakfast! I have oatmeal most days, especially in the winter. This has the same warming effect as oatmeal and it’s absolutely delicious!

Cranberry Orange Breakfast Millet

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup millet
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • Drizzle of honey or maple syrup (optional)

Directions: Toast dry millet and walnuts in a pot over low heat for 3-5 minutes. Add coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add all other ingredients and reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes and you have a delicious breakfast! Drizzle with honey or maple syrup for some sweetness.

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN

Nutrition Advice for the Sandwich Generation

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Each year, more adults face the difficulty of having to take care of their parents in addition to their children all within one household. This is known as the sandwich generation. How can you meet the varying nutritional needs of everyone without going crazy?! I’ve got you covered!

Focus on hydration for everyone. Water is the key to nutrient absorption. It flushes out toxins for the times when convenient meals like pizza “pop up” with your busy schedule. It increases energy and keeps the skin clear too (great for anti-aging and teen acne). Make water fun by infusing it with cucumbers, mint, lemon, lime, or strawberries!

Have a salad a day. Green veggies are so important for the health of all your family members! It’s not too hard to throw together a salad with greens, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and carrots. Hello antioxidants!

If the kiddos don’t like salads, slice up some of the cucumbers and carrots and let them dip them in ranch dressing or hummus. If you use cherry or grape tomatoes in your salads, those are easy for dipping too.

Keep a fruit bowl. Kids, elderly adults, and busy working moms and dads get hungry at different times. Keep a colorful fruit bowl so everyone can help themselves to something healthy between meals. Include apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, and specific seasonal fruits (peaches and nectarines in summer months and pears in fall months).

Don’t skip breakfast! Mornings can be hectic for the sandwich generation. Breakfast is critical for setting the stage for a healthy day (and life really). And kids need breakfast to be able to concentrate in school. Several studies have proven that consistent breakfasts increase children’s academic performance and behavior in school. Keep easy breakfast options on hand. Greek yogurt with fruit and a low-sugar granola is an easy breakfast option. Whole grain toast with banana and nut butter is a yummy option as well.

Keep the meat lean! No offense against our parents’ generation, but many of them favor fatty meats like roasts, chicken thighs, burgers, and such. Get them hooked on lean meats! Use chicken breast and ground turkey often. Try to include fish as much as possible—fish consumption helps with heart health and may also help to combat Alzheimer’s Disease. Red meat is okay sometimes—just choose lean cuts like sirloin and with ground beef, your best option is 95/5, which means that 95 percent of the meat is lean.

Try to have sit-down family meals a couple times a week. It’s hard for everyone to eat together with busy schedules. Meals together keep family members connected and that’s so important with so many people under one roof. It lessens the stress and keeps everyone engaged!

Don’t let the sandwich generation stress you out! There are easy ways to stay healthy and happy. Take a deep breath and try implementing some of my suggestions. It will get easier, I promise!