The Power of Five

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How good are you at assuring that you get the five powerful foods in your diet every single day? I’m talking about protein, dairy, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains? My guess is that you may have the protein part down (specifically if it is meat), but the other groups are more challenging.

Let’s go through each group and I will provide some suggestions about how you can incorporate these essential foods into your everyday-life.

I’ll start with whole grains. Too many people turn to refined grains and this is not smart because refined grains (pasta, white bread, cookies, crackers, etc.) are devoid of nutrients. Whole grains, on the other hand, have fiber, helping you to feel full longer, not to mention protecting your heart! You are supposed to aim for 6-8 servings of whole grains a day.

  • Make sure you sandwich bread is whole grain.
  • When you cook brown rice, wild rice, or quinoa, cook extra for another meal!
  • Oatmeal is a great choice for a whole-grain breakfast.
  • There are whole grain crackers too—look at the fiber content; if there is a decent amount of fiber, it’ s likely whole grain.

Dairy isn’t too hard to work into your daily regimen and dairy is a great source of calcium and protein. Always choose low-fat or skim (otherwise, you have to worry about bad cholesterol). Use cheese as a condiment on your salads or as a flavor enhancer to your meals. Try cottage cheese or yogurt for breakfast or a snack. Smoothies made with skim milk are delicious as well.

Protein is an easy group for people. Did you know you only need 6 ounces of protein a day? My suggestion is to turn to lean options like chicken breast, lean ground beef or turkey, and definitely fish! I also recommend eggs and plant protein (nuts, seeds, beans, etc.).

As for vegetables, aim to get 4-5 servings a day! Sometimes you just do not have the energy to cook a veggie at the end of the day so stock your freezer. Frozen veggies are as nutrient-rich as fresh and they last way longer! Keep salad greens on hand and veggies that last a while in the fridge like peppers and carrots.

Fruit is the dessert of food. You should try to consume 4-5 servings of fruit a day. Always have a fruit bowl near you—at work and home! Add fruit to your lunch or dinner salads and to your breakfast cereal.

The best way to assure you get the power of five in your day-to-day life is to go for combinations, like these in your meals:

  • Strawberry spinach salad
  • Tarragon chicken salad
  • 3-bean salad with kale
  • Fresh mozzarella and tomato salad
  • Healthier cobb salad
  • Blueberry overnight oats
  • Scrambled eggs with veggies
  • Hard- boiled egg
  • Berry and yogurt smoothie

And skip the candy bar or cookies for your snack! Look to the power of five. Here are more than a dozen options:

  • Mixed nuts
  • Trail mix
  • Edamame poppers
  • Hummus dippers
  • Greek yogurt and granola
  • Tuna and whole grain crackers
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Popcorn
  • String cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Greek yogurt & berries
  • Dried fruit
  • Frozen watermelon kiwi or grapes
  • Melon kabobs
  • Cherry tomato & cheese kabobs
  • String cheese
  • Whole grain cereal dry

I hope these suggestions help you! The power of five is the best way to assure a balanced and healthy life!

 

 

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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!

 

 

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

 

The Power of Processing: Local Family-Owned Dairy Farms + Innovation

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Kelly-SpringerNothing is better than fresh, pure milk products (milk, cheese and yogurt). We all know the slogan, “Milk—it does a body good,” but do you know why?

A Nutritional Powerhouse

First, dairy is an amazing source of protein, which is an important building-block of healthy muscle, skin, tissues, and blood. Several studies have shown that consuming milk products helps to maintain a healthy weight, most likely because of the protein. Milk is also a great source of calcium and vitamin D, which is important for building strong bones.

And here’s a fact not many people know milk has an abundance of electrolytes—it makes a great recovery sports drink for this reason!

Local Love

Most of the milk products you love come from local farms! For folks like myself in Central New York, we are lucky to have dozens of local, family-owned dairy farms. Team these local farmers up to create Cayuga Milk Ingredients and you get the freshest, purest milk products imaginable. Allow me the honor to introduce you to Cayuga Milk Ingredients.

Cow to Carton

Cayuga Milk Ingredients (CMI) is a 108,000 square-foot milk-processing facility in Auburn, NY. Each day, 2.3 million pounds of milk comes through this facility, all from within a 25-mile radius of the plant. A range of high-quality milk products are produced expediently—from the time that the cow is milked, the finished product manufactured at CMI can take less than nine hours to produce!

Earlier this month, I had the amazing opportunity to tour the Cayuga Milk Ingredients manufacturing plant. This company, near my hometown in Central New York is the ideal representation of how to produce fresh milk products.

As I arrived at the plant, a truck load of milk from a nearby dairy farm came in. The milk is tested for antibiotics and bacteria before it even enters the plant! This assures that the milk is wholesome and clean when it enters the facility, so that contamination is not possible. The importance of hygiene in this plant was very apparent—the facility was immaculate.

Cleanliness is King

Kevin Ellis, the CEO of Cayuga Milk Ingredients, an operation with 70 dedicated employees, gave me the tour. His and his employees’ attention to detail, cleanliness and high-quality products is off the charts! To ensure superior hygiene, employees and visitors wear booties, hair nets, a smock, and remove jewelry, and are required to wash their hands and change their booties no less than four times when they move deeper into the facility.  Each increasing level of hygiene is strictly adhered to ensuring CMI’s products are of the highest quality.

Innovation

The way that the milk is processed is very innovative. Much of the production is computer-assisted to help reduce bacterial contamination and human error.

Both dried milk protein and liquid milk products are tested for quality assurance in this facility. The dried milk protein is held in the facility for 8-10 days with constant testing and retesting of microorganisms to assure that the finished product is as high-quality as possible.

At any given time, there are 2.5 million pounds of finished products, which include milk powders (used for…), and various milk protein powders. I am particularly intrigued by a product known as liquid ultra-filtered milk, which is produced with a high- pressure membrane system. This all-natural low-fat milk has double the amount of protein of standard skim milk and half the sugar! How cool is that?

I loved the approach of CMI’s CEO, Kevin Ellis: “Our employees are our most important resource. We’re dedicated to producing high-quality milk ingredients from our farmer owners’ high-quality milk, while simultaneously improving the dairy industry by raising the bar for high standards. We’re confident you’ll see that the finest products come from the finest ingredients. We promise to not only meet your expectations, but exceed them!”

To me, it is awesome to know that ultra-high-quality, nutritious and pure milk products are being produced by CMI in such a way that family-owned farms, where cows are treated humanely are part of the process.

 By Kelly Springer, RD, MS. CDN

Mitigate your Migraines through Nutrition

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June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. For those of you who suffer from migraines, I feel your pain. They can be so debilitating! But, guess what?! I have some nutrition recommendations that can help ease those pesky headaches!

Three of the most common causes of migraines are food sensitivities, chemical triggers and hormonal imbalances.

The most common food sensitivities that can provoke migraines are gluten and dairy sensitivities. Try eliminating gluten for two weeks and see if the headaches dissipate. Be careful because gluten is in a lot of foods that you wouldn’t expect it to be in like dressings, ice cream and soy sauce. See a full list of gluten-containing foods here. If the headaches still persist, try eliminating dairy for two full weeks.

Chemicals lurking in your food can also trigger migraines. Two common offenders are MSG and artificial sweeteners (yup, another reason to ditch the diet sodas). MSG is in so many processed products from soups to chips, even in most sausage! Wean off the processed foods; rid the chemicals out of your diet and you may just witness your migraines vanish!

Hormone imbalances are also common migraine triggers. Do you tend to get migraines around your menstrual cycle? If so, listen up! You probably have estrogen dominance. Load up on broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, kale, bok choy, cabbage). Get plenty of Omega-3s; befriend fish! And definitely consume foods with lots of magnesium: whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes. Reduce the refined and processed foods as well to get those hormones in balance>

Are you seeing a common theme in nutritionally treating many conditions? EAT CLEAN and RID THOSE PROCESSED FOODS first and foremost and then try the further recommendations.

I hope this helps! Migraines are the worst! Before I close, I also want to say to reduce your stress. Slow down. Go for a walk. Try yoga or meditation. Connect with friends and loved ones. Stress can definitely exacerbate migraines and many other health ailments!