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

 

 

Better than Rice & Beans

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I love experimenting with different fiber-filled whole grains during this No White Flour Challenge. Millet has a nice nutty flavor and quinoa is a personal favorite because it is a COMPLETE protein source. I wanted to add a little bit of green to this recipe so I diced up a zucchini and added it. Feel free to swap that for green pepper.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of millet rinsed
  • 1 cup of quinoa rinsed
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 cans red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 jar of organic salsa of choice (I like Newmans)
  • 1 zucchini chopped in small cubes and steamed for 5 minutes

Directions: Bring quinoa, millet and water to a boil in water. Once boiling, turn to a simmer. Simmer for 25 minutes. Immediately transfer grains to a big mixing bowl and fluff with a fork. Add beans, salsa and zucchini, and voila! You can add a small amount of part-skim cheddar if you are a cheese fan. Anyway you have it; this is a tasty, easy way to get in good, hearty whole grains.

 

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!

               

Help prevent cancer this New Year

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The scary “c” word is hard to think about. Chances are you have known someone diagnosed with cancer. In fact, 40 percent of all men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime! It’s a terrible, terrible disease, one that you wouldn’t wish upon even your worst enemy.

Unless the person has been previously diagnosed with cancer, it’s rare that I have a client who creates a New Year’s Resolution about developing a cancer prevention plan. In my series about New Year’s Resolutions, I am including this because I think it’s a great one for everyone to have! Here are my top tips to help prevent cancer through your food choices.

Tip # 1: Focus on eating mostly WHOLE foods.

You don’t have to become a vegetarian on my cancer prevention plan, rather, just eat food in their most original form. Eat potatoes, not potato chips or French fries. Aim to have half of your plate be vegetables and include dairy and a lean meat. Try to kick out most of the processed food in your diet.

Tip # 2: Get serious about increasing your fruit and veggie intake!

Fruits and vegetables contain fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They contain minimal fat, sodium, and calories. These characteristics are what your immune system requires to protect against illness, including cancer! Try to get in at least five servings of veggies and fruit!

Tip # 3: Reduce your meat intake and increase your fiber!

While I mentioned that you don’t need to become a vegetarian on my cancer prevention plan, you should at least reduce your meat intake. Research does show that vegetarians are 50 percent less likely to get diagnosed with cancer. The main reason for this is that meat lacks fiber, so reduce your meat intake and increase your fiber intake.

You will automatically increase your fiber intake by following tip # 2. Another way to increase your fiber is by consuming whole grains, which in part, is what tip # 1 includes. Have oatmeal for breakfast. Have whole-grain bread when you eat sandwiches. Have brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, or millet with your dinner.

When it comes to meat, pay special attention to reducing red meat and processed meats (deli meat, hotdogs, sausage, bacon, etc.). Reduce the portion sizes of meat. Consider adding it for flavor in a casserole instead of having a whole hunk of it as the main portion of your meal—see it more as a condiment!

Tip #4: Get 30 minutes of exercise a day!

Most people don’t associate exercise with cancer prevention, but there is a huge association! Physical activity decreases the risk of colon, endometrial and postmenopausal breast cancer. As fitness improves, aim for 60 minutes or more of moderate, or for 30 minutes or more of vigorous physical activity every day. Definitely be under a doctor’s guidance if you are not used to regular exercise.

I sincerely hope you follow these tips not just for the New Year, but as a lifestyle. Not only will they help lower your risk of cancer, they will help you live a healthier life for a long time!

 

Foods from the Earth: Whole Grains

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As many of you are aware, a major dilemma with the Standard American Diet is the massive consumption of refined grains (crackers, cookies, pastries, many bread varieties, etc.). Unlike refined grains, whole grains contain the bran, endosperm, and germ of the grain; the parts where all of the nutrients “reside.” Whole grains have been consumed for centuries; these foods from the earth are rich in fiber, minerals, and even protein. Let’s take a look at just a few of my favorite whole grains…all of which happen to be gluten-free.

Quinoa

A decade ago, not many people knew about quinoa (keenwah). Now, you can’t pick up a health magazine without a recipe calling for quinoa. Quinoa originates from the Andes Mountains; it is estimated that it was first cultivated in Bolivia more than 5,000 years ago. There are over 120 different varieties. The most awesome facet about quinoa is that it has a complete amino acid profile, meaning that it is a phenomenal protein source. One serving has about 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Quinoa tastes delicious as an alternative to bulgur in tabouli.

Millet

Millet has been used in several parts of the world, such as India, South America, China, and Russia for hundreds of years. Its light flavor can be enhanced by lightly toasting it before boiling it. It can be also used to make a polenta.

Buckwheat

Like millet, buckwheat has been growing all over the world for centuries. It is the main ingredient in Japan’s soba noodles, Russia’s kasha, and French crepes. And even though “wheat” is in the word, it is gluten-free and contains no wheat; it is actually a cousin of rhubarb. I particularly love buckwheat pancakes.

Teff

If you have ever eaten Ethiopian cuisine, you have likely tried teff; it is the main ingredient in their Injera bread. The texture is so unique and absolutely delicious. Historically, Ethiopians are considered among the first civilizations to domesticate plants. It is estimated that teff was grown for food somewhere between 4000 and 1000 BC.

Don’t let grains intimidate you just because you have not cooked with them before. Several recipes can be found on the internet and they cook quickly. Research has shown that whole grains can aid in weight loss and can help prevent diabetes and heart disease. If the grains I mention are too unfamiliar to you, start with adding oats, brown rice, or wild rice into your meals. And, get this? Popcorn is a whole grain too; just skip all of the butter and go easy on the salt!

 

 

 

Fix your Gut Health and Thrive

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probioticsChances are, at some point in your life, you have experienced digestive discomfort (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation). And you are not alone! Over 100 million Americans have intestinal health problems, ranging from chronic constipation to Irritable Bowel syndrome (IBS). These discomforts are signals that you need to improve your gut health and get this? If you mend your gut (intestinal) health, you are doing way more than aiding your digestion—you are improving your overall health! How?

Your gut is actually responsible for 70-90% of your immune system. You need your gut to be healthy in order to assimilate the nutrients you need to be healthy overall. And do you realize that a healthy gut can improve your mood? Consider your gut as your “second” brain; its nervous system actually has more neurotransmitters (mood boosters) than your brain!

Your intestinal tract is home to 100 trillion microorganisms—there are 10 times more bacteria in your gut than there are cells in your entire body! In order to establish a healthy gut, you need to make sure that the healthy bacteria in your intestines are thriving and the unhealthy bacteria are not. Sadly, many factors in today’s lifestyle contribute to the production of unhealthy bacteria, including: antibiotics, stress, processed food (particularly refined grains and sugars devoid of fiber).

So the first step to improving your gut health is to improve your diet. Try the 90/10 rule, making sure that 90% of your food is wholesome and nutritious and allowing yourself some not-so healthy treats from time to time. A diet comprised of plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fruit will make your digestive flora happy. Fermented foods will even further boost your healthy gut flora; try kefir, miso, tempeh, kimchi (a delicious Korean delight), or sauerkraut. Also, keep your stress levels in check; consider yoga, tai chi, or meditation. And the best way to assure that your healthy gut flora thrive is to take a probiotic along with your healthy, wholesome food plan.

My favorite probiotic is Just Thrive. Many of the probiotics on the market do not survive in your intestinal system so they aren’t all that helpful. With Thrive, 100% of the healthy flora, in their capsules, survives and hence, you thrive quite literally. Since I have been taking Just Thrive probiotics, I feel more energetic and ready to take on any challenge! I have also noticed that I rarely catch colds, even when I am surrounded by people who have nasty bugs that are swarming around.

Get your gut health in order and you will thrive!