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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The Difference between Insoluble and Soluble Fiber

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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

 

 

Celebrate Cherry Season

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Cherry season is upon us in Central New York and I love it! Cherries are the perfect snack and they are a nutrition-boosting compliment to every meal. Add them to your yogurt, smoothie, or oatmeal for breakfast. Toss them in a salad for lunch or dinner. The best news about cherries is their health benefits. In fact, they are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. Here are a few reasons why.

Cherries can help with weight-loss efforts.

Cherries are a high-fiber food, which is always good for weight-loss because fiber keeps us fuller longer. A lab study actually proved that cherries can in fact help prevent weight gain. In a study published in the Journal of Medical Food, rats that were given tart cherry powder mixed into a high-fat diet didn’t gain as much weight as rats consuming the same diet without cherries. The cherry powder intake was associated with lower lipid (fat) levels in the blood, percentage fat mass and abdominal fat weight as well.

Cherries can help you sleep better.

We could all use some good slumber, right? Well, cherries can help with this! Cherries are a great source of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone. Very few foods contain melatonin. Our bodies can manufacture a little bit of it through the pineal gland in our brain—consuming cherries can give us some extra melatonin to make sure we sleep soundly.

Cherries can increase your energy levels.

Of course better sleep can help with better energy levels, but there’s something else about cherries that can help boost your energy. The natural sugar and water content of cherries along with a plethora of antioxidants will no-doubt help prevent any energy dips you might experience during the day.

Cherries can protect against Diabetes

A lot of people with diabetes deter from fruit because of the sugar content. Cherries have a low glycemic index though so they don’t sky-rocket your sugar levels. Cherries have a glycemic index (GI) of 22 compared to say grapes that have a GI of 46, strawberries that have a GI of 41 or apples that have a GI of 39.

Cherries can reduce muscle and joint pain.

Hold off on the ibuprofen please! Cherries can reduce muscle and joint pain! A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that cherries helped prevent post workout pain in runners. Another study conducted at the Osteoarthritis Research Center found that cherry consumption greatly reduced the pain experienced by patients with osteoarthritis.

Cherries can protect your heart.

High in antioxidants and fiber, it should come as no surprise that cherries can protect your heart. The potassium content of cherries is particularly healthy for the heart by helping to regulate blood pressure,

Get yourself to the market and get some cherries today. They’re in season right now in Central New York through the month of July! And for a special treat, dip them in dark chocolate, which is also high in antioxidants!

By Kelly Springer RD, MS, CDN

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!

 

 

 

 

What I Mean by Real Food

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You know what my tagline is right? It’s, “We are real people who promote eating real food.”

I teach people how real food can prevent chronic conditions and I provide suggestions that work for the individual or family, sports team or corporation! This is not a diet! This is about building a healthy lifestyle. So what is real food, you ask. Here are some distinguishing facts about Real Food.

Real Foods have few ingredients,  are mostly unprocessed, and are nutritious.

There are several single-ingredient real foods. Think fruits and vegetables, low-fat cheese, lean chicken breast, plain Greek yogurt. There are so many healthy choices to choose from. There are some minimally processed real foods too, like whole grain bread or Kind bars for example. If a packaged food product has words on it you cannot pronounce, it is not real food!

The nutrition is what makes real food awesome. Whole, unprocessed foods are phenomenal for your health. Studies show again and again how these foods can prevent chronic illnesses and can help you to lose weight as well if you need to. A diet rich in nutrients helps weight loss by reducing nutritional deficiencies and preventing hunger.

Real Food is rich in protein.

Protein is absolutely essential as it is the building block to skin, cartilage, bones, and your blood. Eating a protein-rich diet helps you increase your metabolism, reduce hunger, and affects the production of hormones to help you maintain a healthy weight.

Real food sources of protein include lean meat, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and low-fat dairy.

Real Food is filled with fiber and antioxidants.

While I just promoted protein, do not misinterpret that as real food means avoiding carbs because real food carbs are good for you; in fact, they are imperative!

Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, teff, millet, or even whole grain bread are fiber-rich. Whole grains have been shown to help reduce risk of Type II diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. The combination of fiber and antioxidants makes whole grains so powerful.

Fruit, veggies, nuts and seeds are also packed with fiber and antioxidants.

When you eat fiber-rich foods, you are filling yourself up too, which helps with weight-loss efforts.

Want to give real food a go? Do you already eat a lot of real food, but fall for unhealthy indulgences a little too often? Feel free to email me at kspringer@kellyschoice.com to learn more about how I can help you. Once it becomes routine, you will find a real food way of life to be fun and easy!

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN

 

Fingerprint Cookies—My Treat to You

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Hi there! So I have made it to the half-way point of my five-week No White Flour Challenge.

If you are craving cookies, here is a “healthier cookie” recipe just for you. Using ground almonds and oats as well as whole wheat flour, a serving of these cookies boasts five grams of protein and four grams of fiber. I am not saying to indulge in these every day because they do have sugar (from the maple syrup and jam) and they have saturated fat (from the butter).

What I am saying is that these are healthier for you than most cookies you find! They are great to make with your kids too like the ones in the photo I took above (notice the different fingerprint sizes).

Enjoy!

FINGERPRINT COOKIES

Yield: 24 cookies

Serving: 2 cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup of rolled oats

1 cup of almonds

1/4 cup butter

¼ cup apple sauce

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

½ jar all fruit jam

Directions: Grind the rolled oats and nuts in a blender or food processor.  Add them to flour.  Mix the butter, vanilla and maple syrup.  Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix well.  Drop batter onto the cookie sheet using a spoon.  Make a finger print in each cookie and fill it with jam.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

Why white flour zaps your energy and makes you feel like crud

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I hope you are all enjoying the No White Flour Challenge. Are you feeling more energized? I hope so!

Reflecting on my impetus to do this challenge, I realized that I never really revealed at length exactly why white flour is so evil, Let me explain…

What Is white flour?

White flour is wheat flour that has been stripped of its two healthiest components (the bran and the germ). The bran is where the fiber is so when you take that away, you have no way to feel satiated. B vitamins are lost in the manufacturing process of creating white flour so sometimes fortified vitamins are added (this is often the case with cereal) and sometimes they are not.

The harm caused by white flour

Do you notice that it is way easier to over consume bread, crackers, are cookies than it is to consume something like brown rice, quinoa, or another whole grain? That is because refined white flour requires little chewing. So the over consumption is a part of the problem.

And the more white flour you eat, the more insulin your pancreas has to release to manage the glucose from the white-flour products. It stores as fat (especially around your waistline); it slows your metabolism; it can lead to migraines and headaches, brain fog, and an overall sluggish feeling. Long-term, it can lead to Type-2 Diabetes, heart disease, and a plethora of  inflammation-provoking ailments.

Do you have to avoid white flour all the time?

No, actually you do not, but a challenge to avoid it for a certain of period of time (in my case—five weeks) is a wonderful thing to do. Consider it like a white-flour sabbatical. When you go without it, you’re retraining your brain to crave healthy choices.

When you do decide to have, say a slice of pizza or a cookie, or anything made with white flour after the challenge, chew it slowly and savor it so you don’t over consume it. You may even notice that you won’t even want the whole thing.

Keep up the great work and stay tuned for some recipes on my next few blogs during this challenge.