Seven Tips for Vegetarians

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While my diet is pretty plant-based, I am not a vegetarian. Many of my clients are vegetarians or have children who have recently become vegetarian.  Some complain that vegetarian diets get boring or do not feel filling; parents show concern that their veggie kids aren’t getting the nutrients they need.

Let me dive into some tips that can help you maintain a vegetarian diet that is fun and healthy!

  1. Be sure to get enough protein

My number-one question for all vegetarian diets is: Where do you get your protein from? If you are a vegetarian and feel sluggish at all, it may just be that you are not getting enough protein. Protein feeds your muscles and your blood.  Consider it the fuel that keeps you moving.

Sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans include beans, nuts, nut butters, peas, tofu, tempeh, and some whole grains like quinoa. Low-fat dairy (Milk, cheese, Greek yogurt for example) and eggs are also good protein sources for lacto-ovo vegetarians.

You may have heard that you need to eat a combination of proteins in each meal to get complete proteins, but that is not true as long as you have a decent amount of protein in every meal.

  1. Eat the colors of the rainbow

One way to assure you are getting enough nutrients is to eat as many colors of fruits and veggies as possible. This blog goes into detail of what nutrients are found in each color.vege-1-1

  1. Try a new recipe each week

You don’t need to eat a salad every day to be a vegetarian. There are so many fantastic vegetarian recipes out there. Hop on to Google or Pinterest and you will certainly find hundreds of easy recipes to try!

  1. Be careful with refined flour and sugar

It’s so easy to become a junk food vegetarian. Try not to rely too heavily on boxed food; the refined flour and sugar can spike your blood sugar and cause inflammation throughout your body.

  1. Check out fortified foods

While I just told you to be careful about packaged food; there are some healthy options like whole-grain bread. Look for foods that are fortified with vitamins to give you a boost in nutrients. If you are lacto-ovo vegetarian, milk is often fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

  1. Pump some iron

Sadly, your body doesn’t absorb iron from plants as well as it does from menuts2at so it is essential that you get plenty of high-iron vegetarian foods in your diet such as beans and legumes, dried fruits, molasses green vegetables, and whole grains. Many cereals are fortified with iron just make sure that the cereal of choice is low in sugar (5 grams or less) and high in fiber ( 4 grams or more) as well.

  1. Consider a vitamin B-12 supplement

Getting enough B-12 is very difficult in a vegetarian diet. I highly encourage vegetarians to take a B-12 supplement.

If you have any questions about a vegetarian or vegan diet, please feel free to email our team and we’ll help you out!

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN

 

 

Nutrition Labels to Become Easier for you to Decipher

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So often, clients come to be confused about nutrition labels. What should they be looking for? What should they avoid? Some basics are:

  1. Be careful about serving sizes. So often you may think “Wow, this product is low in calories, but if you look at the serving size and it is 2.5, you have to multiply the calories by 2.5.
  2. Make sure your food choice has at least a couple grams of fiber. So many processed foods have 0-1 grams of fiber. Not cool!
  3. Be careful about the sugar content. Keep in mind that 4 grams of sugar equals an entire teaspoon.

I actually have good news to announce about nutrition labels. The FDA is making some changes that will make label reading easier for you!

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Old label vs. New label

Though the new nutrition facts label will not be fully implemented until July of 2018, it is good to have basic knowledge about the changes. Here are the major highlights to be on the lookout for.

  1. New format and larger font. The nutrition facts label will now make it easier to read the serving sizes and calories by increasing and bolding the font.
  2. “Added Sugars” will be clearly labeled.Grams and percent %DV of “Added Sugars” will be added to the label.
  3. “Calories from Fat” will be removed.Staying consistent with current research, the types of fat seems to be more important than amount; therefore, “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” will stay on the label.
  4. Serving and Package Sizes adjusted.Serving sizes will now be based on amounts people are actually consuming. Packaged items that have 1-2 servings will now have a food label that represents the whole package and not just the serving size or have a two columns, one column for single serving and another for the whole package.
  5. Updates for %DV.Sodium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D will have updated %DV according to recent research.
  6. Added gram amounts.Vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium will now have gram amounts on the food label, in addition to %DV.
  7. No longer required on the label. Vitamin A and C will no long be required on nutrition facts label, but can be put on voluntarily.

Feel free to contact me if you need help in deciphering nutrition labels! I am looking forward to these new labels—especially the larger font!

 

Boost your Energy with Crickets

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Shhh…I have a secret to share. I eat bugs! Yes, you read that right. I eat bugs! Before you get all grossed out on me, let me present some fascinating facts.

I’ll start with protein. Here’s what Dr. Josh Axe unravels about cricket flour:

  • By dry weight, a single cricket ranges between 65–70 percent pure protein, while beef is only 17–40 percent protein.
  • A 200 calorie serving of cricket flour contains about 31 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat, 1.8 grams omega-3, 7 grams fiber.
  • A 200 calorie serving of beef contains about 22.4 grams protein, 11 grams of fat, 0.04 grams omega-3, 0 grams fiber.
  • A 200 calorie serving of eggs contains about 19 grams protein, 15 grams of fat, 0.1 grams omega-3, 0 grams fiber.
  • To get one pound of protein, about 2,500 gallons of water is required for cattle, 800 gallons for pigs, 567 for chickens and one gallon for crickets.
  • Crickets require about six times less feeding than cattle, four times less than sheep and two times less than pigs to produce the same amount of protein.

Crickets also amazingly contain all nine essential amino acids like chicken, beef, pork, and fish!

So, you see, crickets are a good protein source and a smart choice for sustainability as well.

Wait, there’s more! Crickets are a great way to obtain magnificent minerals. A serving of cricket flour has five times more magnesium than a serving of beef. It seems like more research about the benefits of magnesium hits the peer-reviewed journal every month. For example, a recent Harvard study review suggests that increasing your magnesium intake may cut your risk of heart disease by as much as 22 percent; also, according to researchers in Japan, magnesium could help you lower your risk of type-2 diabetes by more than 30 percent.

And then there’s the iron factor. I know some people who specifically eat beef for the iron. Well, get this, cricket flour has more iron than beef! Iron ignites energy, boosts muscle function, and keeps your cognition healthy. Consuming enough iron is also very important for women who are pregnant.

Curious about how you can give cricket flour a try?

Check out Exo protein bars. You know how I always emphasize how important it is to have healthy snacks on hand? These are the perfect examples Exo makes nutritious, tasty, and sustainable food products from cricket flour. Formulated by a three-Michelin-starred chef and created with premium ingredients. Exo currently produces cricket flour protein bars in five flavors: PB&J, Banana Bread, Cocoa Nut, Apple Cinnamon, and Blueberry Vanilla. All bars are free of gluten, soy, dairy, and refined sugars.

 

 

Happy Mothers (to-be) Day: Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

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This is for all of you expectant moms out there; this Mother’ Day, give yourself the gift of a healthy pregnancy! Here are some nutrition tips to consider for the two (or more) of you!

Protein

Consuming sufficient amounts of protein is critical for women during pregnancy. Experts suggest that women should consume 75-100 grams of protein during pregnancy. Protein helps the fetal tissue, including the brain, to grow and it is also important for the blood supply. Some research shows a decreased risk of preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications with adequate protein intake. Here are some great sources of protein: grilled chicken breast (36 grams for a four-ounce serving), Greek yogurt (about 17 grams for standard container), mixed raw nuts (about 9 grams per 1/3 cup serving), green peas (about 8 grams per cup), and tofu (10 grams per quarter block).

Iron

It is very important to consume ample iron during pregnancy increase your blood volume and prevent anemia. Awesome sources of iron include leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards, and chard), lentils, beans, raw nuts, turkey, fish, and lean beef.

Folate/Folic Acid

Folic acid is the single most important nutrient to consume in order to help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. It is often recommended to take a folate supplement during pregnancy. Folate is a B-vitamin. B vitamins are water-soluble so it is near impossible to consume too much; in other words, what you do not use, you pee out.

Omega-3s

Omega-3s, particularly DHA, is critical for the healthy development of your baby’s organs and brain. The best source of DHA is fatty fish like sardines, salmon, trout, mackerel and other fish choices that are not likely to have mercury. Make your fish choices using this chart from the Natural Resource Defense Council.

Probiotics

Last, but not least, turn to fermented foods (kefir, kombucha, tempeh, sauerkraut) for their probiotics. It is your gut that determines the health of your baby’s gut. Probiotics are the absolute best way to increase the healthy flora in your gut so that baby’s gut will be healthy too!

Happy Mother’s Day! Here’s to the healthiest pregnancy imaginable!

 

Foods from the Earth: Super Fruits

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Continuing with our foods from the earth theme, let’s take a look at some powerhouse fruits. I’m not referring to bananas, apples, or other common fruits. While the fruits in your traditional fruit bowl are very good for you, try the super fruits I describe below for exceptional energy.

Pomegranates

We already have an entire blog dedicated to pomegranates. Grown for hundreds of years in the Himalayan Mountains, several research studies have confirmed that pomegranates are super high in antioxidants and are a natural anti-inflammatory. These tiny little seeds may help lower blood pressure, fight breast and prostate cancer, protect against arthritis, improve memory and exercise performance; they may even help alleviate erectile dysfunction.

Goji Berries

Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, have medicinal roots from ancient China. This sweet fruit is usually sold dry; they look like red raisins. High in vitamin C and iron, goji berries are great for energy. They contain the antioxidant zeaxanthin, which can help you to detox from radiation or smoke exposure. Studies have shown that they may help reduce arthritic pain, protect your eyes and lower your risk for heart disease.

Incan Berries

Grown in the high altitude regions of South America, Incan berries, also known as golden berries, have been eaten there for centuries. Also sold dried, they have been said to cure many ailments. Incan berries are packed with vitamins C and A, iron, niacin and phosphorous. These berries start off tasting pretty sweet but end with a sour note. Inca berries are full of fiber and protein…yes PROTEIN, a pretty unique quality for a berry to have. They are great as part of any detox regimen.

Mulberries

Like goji berries and Incan berries, mulberries are sold dried. They  originate from ancient China. Dried mulberries are a great source of protein, vitamin C and K, fiber and iron. The high levels of iron in mulberries helps your circulation, which in turn increases your production of red blood cells, bringing more oxygen to your organs to help them function optimally and to boost your metabolism. Mulberries, like red wine, are high in resveratrol, making them a great treat for heart health. Mulberries also contain alkaloids that activate macrophages. Macrophages are white blood cells that stimulate the immune system, putting it on high active alert against health threats.

When striving to get in your 2-3 fruit servings a day, choose these super fruits as a go-to. Goji berries, incan berries, and mulberries are super add-ons to any trail mix!

 

 

 

Eat Seaweed for your Health & Sustainability

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April 22nd is Earth Day. We should really celebrate Earth Day every day; within our blogosphere, we have decided to celebrate the earth all April long. We will feature several foods that are great choices to make if you care about the earth’s sustainability. Today’s entry is about seaweed.

Seaweed is becoming more sought-after than kale! It’s not just for sushi anymore. Foodies and restaurateurs have discovered phenomenal ways that seaweed can add flavor to anything from soups to meat and even dessert! The fact that seaweed is jam-packed with nutrients (iodine, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron to name a few) makes choosing seaweed as a food to learn to love, a no-brainer!

According to The Specialty Food Association’s 2016 Trend Forecast, seaweed is “set to explode thanks to its sustainability angle and umami appeal.”

Seaweed is one of the most sustainable foods you can consume; A World Bank study illustrated that seaweed farms could actually produce a negative carbon footprint because it is possible for these farms to absorb more carbon dioxide than they omit.

Umami, in Japanese, means “deliciousness.” Most people can easily point to four “tastes” they have been taught: bitter, sweet, sour, and salty; umami is the fifth taste; it is savory. Perhaps, one of the most popular ingredients that food manufacturers have used to give a umami flavor is Monosodium Glutamate (aka MSG); however, MSG has been shown to lead to a slew of health concerns. The Mayo Clinic claims that MSG can cause headaches, heart palpitations, excessive sweating, chest pain, nausea, and weakness. Who wants that, especially when you can obtain the same taste from a super-food, filled to the brim with health-boosting nutrients like seaweed?!

Reluctant to try adding seaweed to your own diet?! Are you imagining the slimy stuff you sometimes see when you swim in the ocean? Trust me, food manufacturers make it look much more appealing and its truly delicious. I love gimMe Health Food’s seaweed snacks. Their seaweed snack sheets are available in sea salt, sesame, teriyaki, and wasabi flavors. You can also add their seaweed crumbles to soups, salad, and even popcorn. Your condiments have never been so healthy; neither have your snacks!