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

 

 

Get your Kids Excited about Eating Healthfully

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My girls love to eat healthy and this warms my heart. I have many clients who tell me that their kids are picky eaters or that they have no interest in trying new and healthy foods. Well, here are some tips they may just excite your kids about eating healthfully.

Play a game in the supermarket

Have each child pick out three snacks that they think are healthy to add to your cart. Getting them involved in the shopping process helps spark their interest in healthy eating. Empower them to make good food choices.

Get creative with cooking and let them help!

I make my girls whole grain pancakes that look like Mickey Mouse or a bowl of oatmeal with a smiley face made with raisins…little things like this get kids excited to eat healthy! There are great recipes out there that are kid-friendly and fun too—check out this website to give some a whirl.

Our government has some pretty awesome kids’ recipes too! Check them out!

Go for colorful

Kids are attracted to vibrant colors. I keep red, green, and yellow peppers on hand. My girls eat them like an apple. You can also cut them into strips and use ranch or hummus as a dip for them.

I keep frozen grapes and berries in the freezer. The perfect healthy snack or dessert. We also use them in smoothies.

Make up cool names for veggies

A 2009 study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that kids are more likely to eat food with cool names. Introduce them to power peas, x-ray vision carrots, or dinosaur trees (broccoli).

Grow your food

Kids love playing in the dirt! Easy to grow veggies like beans and tomatoes will excite them! Tomatoes in particular grow well in containers too—no big yard needed!

Eat together

Research shows that families that eat dinner together typically have healthier diets that are higher in fruits, vegetables, and calcium and lower in saturated fat.

Try these ideas out with your kiddos! I find that it actually keeps me on top of my nutrition too!

 

 

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

 

Healthy Snacks during the No White Flour Challenge

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I have been asked a lot of questions about how to maintain the No White Flour Challenge over the past week and perhaps the most frequently asked question is, “What do I do about snacking?” I know, I know, plain ol’ fruit and veggies can get boring, but you can “spice it up,” literally! This entry will give you some ideas of how to do that.

A lot of times, the white-flour food you crave can be combated if you choose a non-white-flour food with a similar texture, so I will categorize some snack choices based on texture.

Crunchy Snacks:

These crunchy snacks are way healthier than the crackers or chips that you tend to fill up on when craving a snack. Yes, I do have some fruit and veggies on this list, but they are oh-so-flavorful with the condiments or spices that I add.

– Carrot sticks, snap peas, green beans, celery, bell peppers with hummus

– Popcorn…pop it yourself…lightly salt it, and guess what? It’s a whole grain!

– Kale chips…preheat oven to 350…grab a bunch of kale, de-stem it, chop the leaves, brush olive oil on the leaves and place in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder and ¼ teaspoon of sea salt on them and bake for 12-15 minutes. Way better than chips

– Roasted chickpeas—so crunchy and fun. Check out the recipe on my website

– Organic corn tortilla chips with salsa. No white flour here, but with corn, you want to make sure it’s organic, otherwise it’s likely that it is genetically engineered!

What about cake…or cookies…or BROWNIES?

There are actually some whole grain flours you can use…or even non-grain flour like almond flour to make cake-like treats.  Try quinoa flour, brown rice flour, almond flour, or buckwheat flour.  Even whole wheat flour is an acceptable flour to make with.

Did you know that you can also make sweet treats with beans?! I kid you not. Check out the brownie recipe made with black beans that I posted on my website.

Even Harvard University School of Public Health is a proponent of making sweet treats with beans. Check out the delicious lemon-chickpea breakfast muffins! Yummier than cake!

If you are a cookie lover, you will love this “healthier” chocolate chip recipe using coconut oil and whole wheat flour.

Try these snacks anytime you are craving a white flour “delight.” If you don’t have time to bake, there are some whole grain treats you can buy at the store. There are some sweet Kind Bar flavors that combat my cookie cravings—try the Dark Chocolate Nuts + Sea Salt flavor!

Feel free to add your healthy snack ideas in my comment section below and keep rocking my NO White Flour Challenge!

 

 

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!

               

New Year’s Resolution: Convert your Kids to Healthy Snackers

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Childhood obesity is an epidemic in our country. It’s not uncommon for children to be overweight, but think about the convenience foods on the market. They are loaded with sugar…even some foods that we think are “healthy.”  And. sugar converts to fat and has even spiked incidents of type-2 diabetes in children

Start reading labels when you go grocery shopping and have your children “investigate” with you. Look at yogurt for example; it’s marketed as healthy, but many yogurts have 16 or more grams of sugar. That’s crazy—every four grams of sugar represents a teaspoon and your kids up to the age of 8 really should not be having more than 3 to 4 teaspoons of added sugar per day. This means that one container of yogurt could take up all the added sugar they should have in a day (try plain Greek yogurt instead and add fruit for sweetness).  Older kids and teenagers should limit themselves to no more than 5 to 8 teaspoons of added sugar each day.

You will find that sugar is everywhere when it comes to packaged foods, so your best bet is to try to get your kids hooked on fresh fruit for a sweet treat. Here are some other healthy snack ideas:

  • Mixed Nuts
  • Trail Mix
  • Edamame Poppers
  • Hummus Dippers
  • Greek Yogurt and Granola
  • Tuna and Whole Grain Crackers
  • Roasted Chickpeas
  • Popcorn
  • String Cheese
  • Hardboiled Eggs
  • Greek Yogurt & Berries
  • Dried Fruit
  • Frozen Watermelon Kiwi Or Grapes
  • Melon Kabobs
  • Cherry Tomato & Cheese Kabobs
  • Whole Grain Cereal Dry

Also make sure that your kids drink a lot of water, avoid soda, and when they drink juice, make sure that it is 100 percent fruit juice.

I hope these tips help you help your kids! It takes a little planning, but the snacks I listed are “almost” as convenient as sugary granola bars, yogurts and other not-so-healthy snacks that are marketed otherwise.