Pack in the potassium with a Tropical Chia Parfait

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As Heart Health Month comes to a close, I am compelled to write about the mineral that is so important when it comes to your heart!

Potassium is the mineral I’m talking about. It is a mineral that cannot be produced by the body, so you have to turn to food for this important heart protector.

This mineral is also an electrolyte. You’ve probably heard that electrolytes are good for recovery after a hard workout. They also assist in a number of regulatory functions in the body like: water balance, Ph balance, nerve impulses, digestion, blood pressure, and muscle contractions.

Specific to the heart, eating a potassium-rich diet has proven to lower blood pressure, reducing your risk of heart disease.

If you get muscle cramps, there is a chance you are not getting enough potassium. Reach for a banana or another potassium-rich food if you find yourself coming down with a lot of muscle cramps or spasms.

Foods that contain potassium are those such as:

  • Fruits like bananas, apricots, kiwi, oranges, and kiwi
  • Veggies: leafy greens, carrots, and potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Lean meats
  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Nuts

So let’s pull from that list to make you a delicious and nutritious, potassium-packed dessert!

Tropical Chia Parfait

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup/ honey or coconut sugar
  • ½ banana chopped
  • Pineapple chunks
  • Shredded unsweetened coconut
  • Whole grain, low sugar granola

Instructions::

  1. Mix chia seeds, milk, vanilla, and sweetener in a bowl.
  2. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours – overnight is best
  3. Assemble: in a small bowl or mason jar spoon in ¼ of mixture then add fruit, granola, and coconut. Add another ¼ of mixture and top with remaining fruit, granola, and coconut chips
  4. Enjoy!

*recipe makes 1-2 servings. Chia pudding can remain covered in fridge for up to 5 days

 

 

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Controlling your food portions

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It is so easy to overeat when we don’t portion out our food. You know how it goes…you bring a bag of almonds to work and by the time lunchtime arrives, you read the label on the bag and realize that you have eaten close to 1,000 calories worth of almonds or seven ¼ cup servings.

Many times when you dine out, the servings are way larger than you should be consuming. For example, a serving of meat should be about 3 ounces or the size of a deck of cards. I’m sorry, but I have never seen a steak that small at any restaurant I have frequented.

So what are appropriate serving sizes? I will give you two ways to visualize servings. One will be with common objects (like the aforementioned deck of cards). The other will be with using your hands.

Common objects that represent serving sizes:

  • Tennis Ball: Medium apple, orange, peach, nectarine = 1 fruit serving
  • Baseball: ½ serving of a cooked rice or pasta dish = 1 grain serving ALSO 1 cup of salad greens = 1 veggie serving
  • 4-stacked dice = 1.5 ounces cheese = 1 dairy serving
  • Large egg = ¼ cup nuts = 1 serving
  • Deck of cards: 1 3-ounce serving of most meat
  • Checkbook = 1 3-ounce serving of fish
  • Golf ball = 2 Tablespoons of nut butter or hummus = 1 serving
  • Poker chip = 1 serving of oil, dressing, etc

How you can visualize servings with your hands:

  • Tip of your thumb = 1 serving of oil, dressing, etc
  • A fist = 1 serving of fruit or 1 serving of grain
  • The palm of one hand = 1 serving of meat
  • The palms of both hands = 1 serving of veggies

I hope these guides help you out! When bringing snacks to work, I recommend using those snack-size Ziploc bags to portion out servings. Also, think of these guidelines the next time you go out to eat. Also, never eat snacks out of the bag! Portion them out according to these visuals!

Be sure to visit Kellyschoice.org and visit  Facebook, instagram, and Twitter for more nutrition education from the Kelly’s Choice team!

 

Beat the Candy Attack with Your Own Healthy Trail Mix

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It happens every year; your kids go trick or treating; your office mates’ kids go trick or treating and candy dishes abound everywhere! Your candy of choice calls out your name. For some its peanut butter cups, for others its Smarties or tootsie rolls. Whatever candy it is, it’s going to sabotage your nutrition goals! Fear not because I have a sweet, healthy and delicious solution for you! Make your own trail mix!

Common Components you can use in your Trail Mix:

Nuts:

These nutritional dynamos are loaded with healthy unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamin E, and other essential vitamins and minerals. These should be the base of your trail mix.

Whether they’re raw or roasted, go for unsalted, unsweetened nuts to keep sugar and sodium under control.

Some of my favorites are: almonds, pistachios, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts.

Seeds:

For those with nut allergies (or just looking to mix things up), seeds provide many of the same nutritional benefits as nuts. Hemp seeds, and Chia seeds for example, are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, gamma linolenic acid, protein, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium.

Sprinkle a handful of pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax, or hemp seeds in trail mix for an extra boost of nutrients.

Grains:

Add some complex carbohydrates to your custom blend for extra fiber, which boosts overall energy and helps to keep you full .

Choose whole grains whenever possible and avoid highly processed cereals that add unnecessary sugar and sodium.

Shredded wheat cereal, pretzels, whole-grain cereals like cheerios or chex, bran flakes, whole-wheat crackers, granola, toasted oats, puffed rice cereal, and air-popped popcorn can all add a little bit of crunch.

Something Sweet:

Lastly, t’s totally acceptable to have a little something sweet in your trail mix. This will help deter you from the candy bowl.

Dried fruit can be a great source of fiber, antioxidants, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K.

Look for dried fruit options with as little added sugar and preservatives as possible.

Dried apples, cherries, cranberries, goji berries, blueberries, strawberries, apricots, raisins, banana chips, figs, pineapple chunks, mango, and dates.

Dark chocolate chips are a good source of antioxidants.

And once in a while, don’t fret adding a little bit of M&Ms.

Some of My Favorite Combos:

Hiking Power:

  • ALMONDS
  • WALNUTS
  • DRIED CRANBERRIES
  • ORGANIC TYPE OF CHERRIOS
  • CASHEWS
  • PECANS
  • RAISINS

Peanut Butter Lovers:

  • BANANA CHIPS
  • PEANUT BUTTER CHIPS
  • PEANUTS, ALMONDS
  • DARK CHOCOLATE CHIPS

Movie Night:

  • POPCORN
  • PEANUTS
  • M&MS
  • DRIED CRANBERRIES

Try some of these combos and make some unique signature recipes. You have so many options! It’s a great way to defeat the candy bowl and also the holiday sweets that are around the corner. I suggest making little baggies of them to bring to work, carry in your purse, etc. It is possible to overindulge so be careful not to do that. Depending on the ingredients< I recommend ½ cup to ¾ cup serving.

 

 

 

 

 

Fill up on Fiber!

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As part of the NO WHITE FLOUR Challenge, I want to pass along some info. about fiber. When you consume fiber, your body is so happy! Fiber helps prevent so many ailments. Here are just a few of the positive effects of flour: it can help reduce your LDL (BAD) cholesterol; it can help prevent Type-2 Diabetes; it improves your bowels, and reduces your risk of many intestinal issues like diverticulitis and even colon cancer. It helps with weight loss because it fills you up.

Because of the way fiber fills you up, your cravings for those pestering processed foods will diminish. This is why I want to talk about fiber as part of the no white-flour challenge. You should aim for at least 30 grams of fiber a day. Here are some of my favorite high-fiber food choices and their fiber content.

  • Nuts & Seeds
    • Pine Nuts: 24 grams per ¼ cup
    • Ground Flaxseed: 16 grams per ¼ cup (great in yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies)!
    • Almonds : 8 grams per ¼ cup
    • Pistachios: 6 grams per ¼ cup
    • Walnuts: 4 grams per ¼ cup
    • Brazil Nuts: 4 grams per ¼ cup
    • Sunflower seeds: 3 grams per ¼ cup
  • Whole Grains
    • Amaranth: 12 grams per ½ cup
    • Barley: 8 grams per cup
    • Faro: 8 grams per cup
    • Teff: 6 grams per cup
    • Quinoa: 5 grams per cup
    • Brown Rice: 4 grams per cup
  • Leafy Greens
    • Turnip Greens: 5 grams per cup
    • Mustard Greens: 5 grams per cup
    • Collard Greens: 5 grams per cup
    • Spinach: 4 grams per cup
    • Swiss Chard: 4 grams per cup
  • More Veggies
    • Acorn Squash: 9 grams per cup
    • Peas: 7 grams per ½ cup
    • Brussels Sprouts: 6 grams per cup
    • Jicama: 6 grams per cup
    • Broccoli: 5 grams per cup
    • Cauliflower: 5 grams per cup
  • Beans & Legumes
    • Navy Beans: 19 grams per cup
    • Adzuki Beans: 17 grams per cup
    • Lentils: 16 grams per cup
    • Kidney Beans: 16 grams per cup
    • Black Beans: 15 grams per cup
    • Lima Beans: 14 grams per cup
    • Chickpeas: 12 grams per cup
  • Fruit
    • Raspberries: 8 grams per cup
    • Black Berries: 8 grams per cup
    • Pears (1 medium size): 6 grams
    • Blueberries: 5 grams per cup
    • Orange (1 medium): 4 grams
    • Apple (1 medium) 4 grams

How’s that for you? Almost 40 food recommendations to help you through the NO WHITE FLOUR Challenge! If there are foods you have never heard of; head on over to my website for recipes that incorporate them. I’ll be adding more recipes throughout this challenge!

               

Top Five Healthy Stocking Stuffers

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Looking for some fun yet healthy stocking stuffers to make your loved ones happy this Christmas? Have I got some great ideas for you! Here are some of my absolute favorite gifts that spark smiles among old and young!

  • Fruit of course! Pears, apples, or oranges are great stocking stuffers (and they take up ample space too)!
  • Stress balls (you know those squishy, rubbery things that you squeeze)? They are phenomenal and inexpensive items that almost everyone I know could use…some more often than others!
  • Spiral Slicer Okay so this one is more for adults than kiddos, but this is a way to substitute veggies for pasta! How fun (and healthy) is that?
  • Go nuts! You can’t go wrong with shelled nuts and a nut cracker! Nuts are filled to the brim with healthy fats, protein, and fiber, not to mention a plethora of essential minerals. Think the stocking receiver won’t like putting work into cracking the nuts? Try one of my favorite nut-based treats instead—Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy bites. They are oh-so-good and satisfying for those with a sweet tooth too! They are a protein and antioxidant packed snack that is a combo of pistachios and cranberries with a hint of sea salt!
  • Journal Again, more adult-based but good for teens or tweens, especially if they are involved with sports. I recommend using a journal to track your food and exercise too. Make sure to include vitamins and meds you may take and how much water you consume. This is a great way to keep track of your health. If you have chronic pain, fatigue, digestive problems or stress. Track episodes in your journal too and you may see a pattern of how food choices relate to those ailments.

Happy Holidays to all! I hope it’s a great  (and healthy)season for you and yours!

Nutrition Tips to Diffuse Stress

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So many health problems stem from stress; stress is inflammatory and we know that inflammation is the precursor to almost every disease. As women, our many commitments and expectations cause us to feel frantic at times, anxiety-ridden, stretched, and stressed. Did you know that there are nutritional approaches to reducing stress, to uplift your spirits when you are depressed or overwhelmed? Follow these five simple tips to reduce your stress and the risk of dozens of resulting health ailments.

  1. Say no to Processed Food. Processed food steals your zest and energy; it can result in lethargy and lack of motivation.

 

  1. Limit Alcohol Consumption. Alcohol is a depressant.  Many women I know turn to wine whenever they are stressed to the max. A glass or two is completely acceptable; just don’t make it the number-one go-to whenever stress gets to you.

 

  1. Reduce your Sugar Consumption. Sugar can mess with your mood the same way processed food does. The first thing to rid is soda. For natural sugars found in fruit, balance it out by eating some protein like nuts or seeds whenever you eat fruit.

 

  1. Eat Nuts and Seeds Nuts. Speaking of nuts and seeds, they are awesome mood boosters. When you desire to reach for a processed-food snack like chips, crackers, or cookies, press the pause button and turn your attention to raw nuts and seeds.

 

Walnuts for example, which literally look like little brains, are made up of 15 to 20 percent protein and contain linoleic (omega-6 fatty acids) and alpha-linoleic acids (omega-3 fatty acids), vitamin E and vitamin B6, making them an excellent source of nourishment for your nervous system. A healthy nervous system results in clearer thinking and a happier mood.nuts2

Cashews are high in magnesium, which is also known for calming the mind and stress. Almonds are also high in magnesium and they are rich in phenylalanine, an essential amino acid necessary for the production of dopamine, one of your feel-good neurotransmitters.

 

  1. Consume Fermented Food

Do you know that your gut is connected to your mental health? Many neurotransmitters are created in your intestinal tract and in order for that creation to take place, your gut needs to have a healthy flora balance.  Fermented foods are loaded with probiotics, which will exponentially increase the “good” bacteria in your gut. Try adding kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, and kefir to your diet. Kombucha is a tasty carbonated beverage (a great alternative to soda). Tempeh is great in stir-fries and who doesn’t love a bowl of miso soup?

Kefir is my favorite fermented food; it’s like a drinkable yogurt and it’s as delicious as a milkshake!

 

Okay ladies; don’t let stress get the best of you. Follow these nutrition tips, get plenty of rest and exercise and you will notice the stress melt away!

 

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!