Back to School Blog # 2: Getting creative with trail mixes

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trail mix

Looking for a healthy snack for your child in this busy back-to-school season. Trail mixes are your answer. Below are some great mixes that your child will love. Simply choose the recipe you think your kiddos will like best. Fill up a gallon-size Ziploc bag with the ingredients and shake. You can then divvy up the mix into the small snack-size Ziplocs. These are way healthier than most snack packs you would find at the grocery store and you still have the convenience of trail mix snack packs that you can stock in your pantry!

Cranberry and White Chocolate Trail Mix

  • 1 cup Roasted Almonds
  • 1 Cup Roasted Cashews
  • ¼ cup Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
  • ½ Cup White Chocolate Chips
  • ½ cup dried cranberries

Peanut Butter Cup Crunch

  • 1 cup Peanuts
  • 1 cup pretzels
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup peanut butter chips

Superfood Plus

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup pecans
  • ½ cup coconut shreds
  • ⅓ cut gogi berries

Autumn Mix

  • 1 cup sweet potato chips
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

I hope your kids enjoy these as much as my girls do!

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Nuts about nuts!

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What food is so versatile, so delicious, high in protein, fiber, minerals, and healthy unsaturated fats? By the title of my blog, I’m sure you guessed it—nuts! And I am nuts about nuts because they are widely available, so good for you and each one tastes different, which means I never get bored with them. In this blog, I will share some nutrition information about my five favorite nuts.

Each of these nuts are amazing at possibly helping to prevent heart disease and they are great (when eaten in small serving sizes) for weight-loss efforts. Study after study find that nuts are the perfect heart-healthy food choice!

Almonds

A small handful of almonds contains roughly:

Calories: 161

Total mono and or polyunsaturated fat: 14 grams

Protein: 6 grams

Carbs: 6 grams

Fiber: 3.5 grams

Vitamin E: 37% of the RDI

Magnesium: 19% of the RD

Pistachios

A small handful of pistachios contains roughly:

Calories: 156

Total mono and or polyunsaturated fat: 12.5 grams

Protein: 6 grams

Carbs: 8 grams

Fiber: 3 grams

Vitamin E: 3% of the RDI

Magnesium: 8% of the RD

Cashews

A small handful of cashews contains roughly:

Calories: 155

Total mono and or polyunsaturated fat: 12 grams

Protein: 5 grams

Carbs: 9 grams

Fiber: 1 gram

Vitamin E: 1% of the RDI

Magnesium: 20% of the RDI

Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts originate from a tree in the Amazon and are an incredibly rich source of selenium

A small handful of Brazil nuts contains about:

Calories: 182

Total mono and or polyunsaturated fat: 18 grams

Protein: 4 grams

Carbs: 3 grams

Fiber: 2 grams

Vitamin E: 8% of the RDI

Magnesium: 26% of the RDI

Walnuts

Walnuts are a very popular nut and an excellent source of the omega -3 fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

A small handful of walnuts contains roughly:

Calories: 182

Total mono and or polyunsaturated fat: 18 grams

Protein: 4 grams

Carbs: 4 grams

Fiber: 2 grams

Vitamin E: 1% of the RDI

Magnesium: 11% of the RDI

Add nuts to your morning oatmeal or yogurt. They’re great in salads. You can crush them for a “breading” for poultry and fish. Some like cashews blend well in smoothies as well. And even just a small handful of nuts is a great snack to keep you satiated between meals!

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!

 

Food Choices to Reduce your Risk of Breast Cancer

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salmon fillet with vegetables and basil

Approximately one in eight women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.  And sadly, the death rate for women with breast cancer is higher than any other form of cancer except for lung cancer. While there is not a food recommendation that can guarantee that you will not develop breast cancer, I will discuss some food choices that will help keep your risk for breast cancer as low as possible.

#1: Eat Plenty of Fruit and Vegetables

Aim to eat at least five cups of vegetables and fruit a day. A recent study has found that carotenoids (nutrients) in fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. Make those salads as colorful as possible; experiment with fruit and veggie combos (spinach, strawberry and a sprinkling of feta cheese; diced tomatoes, avocados, and mangoes; arugula, pecans, pears, and dried cranberries). The more colorful your fruits and veggies diet, the more variety of powerful carotenoids!

#2: Load up on Fiber

A study of 99,534 women, published earlier this year, found that those who ate more fiber in early adulthood had up to a 19% lower risk of developing breast cancer, depending on how much more fiber they ate. Some great high-fiber food choices include: apples, pears, berries, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, oats, almonds, chia seeds, and sweet potatoes.

#3: Eat Foods High in Omega=3 Fatty Acids

Several studies have suggested that the higher your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, the lower your chances of getting breast cancer. Fish is the greatest source of omega-3s. If you are not a fan of fish, consider a fish oil supplement. Other food choices that have an attractive amount of omega-3s include flaxseeds and walnuts, both of which I love adding to a bowl of oatmeal!

When you are deciding what to eat, think of the return on investment you get when you make healthy food choices. Not only does that choice help you to maintain a healthy weight, but also, it may be helping to reduce your risk of developing diseases like breast cancer. Choose the apple over the candy bar and the grilled salmon over the burger and watch your quality-of-life improve!

Your Heart Hearts the Mediterranean Diet

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As February, Heart Healtmediterraneanh Month, soon comes to a close, we must not forget to take our heart health seriously. Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack. Choosing a Mediterranean diet is one of the best ways to protect your health.

Let’s take a look at some of the main items consumed by Italians, Greeks, Egyptians, and others who live near the Mediterranean Sea.

Veggies Galore:

Vegetables are very central to the Mediterranean diet.  For example, residents of Greece eat, on average, six or more servings of vegetables a day. Experiment with spices to add flavor and life to those veggies. No mushy broccoli here!

Fish:

The Mediterranean diet includes a lot of fish. Thousands of studies have proven that the Omega-3s present in fish are great at boosting heart health by decreasing triglycerides, lowering blood pressure, reducing blood clotting, and reducing inflammation in general. The research has led to the American Heart Association recommending 2-3 servings of fish a week.

Nuts & Seeds:

Nuts and seeds are heart-healthy snacks and condiments for salads.  Several of the largest cohort studies, including the popular Nurses’ Health Study, have shown a consistent 30 percent to 50 percent lower risk of sudden cardiac death or cardiovascular disease associated with eating nuts several times a week. In fact, the FDA now allows some nuts and foods made with them to carry this claim: “Eating a diet that includes one ounce of nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease.” Which nuts to choose? Almonds lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Pistachios lower blood pressure and walnuts help keep the arteries clear.

Olive Oil:

The Greeks, Italians, and Spaniards are serious about their olive oil. Abundant evidence supports the role of extra-virgin olive oil in protecting the heart. It lowers LDL cholesterol and may raise your HDL (good cholesterol).

Try substituting your red meat dishes for fish; choose nuts and seeds over cookies and pastries, and experiment cooking with olive oil as opposed to butter in your cooking and you will be doing your heart a super favor!