Six Great Dishes to Bring to a BBQ

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It’s prime BBQ season. Chances are you’ll be invited to at least a few more barbecues. Impress your friends and family with healthy but delicious dishes that will sure to be a hit! Here are my absolute favorites!

Cauliflower Deviled Eggs

It’s almost illegal to have a BBQ without serving deviled eggs? Even though deviled eggs are vegetarian-friendly and offer a good amount of protein, they can be heavy on the calories the way most people prepare them. Well, here’s a healthy swap for you! Replace the yolk and mayo with a pureed deliciously-spiced cauliflower filling. The Paleo Diet made cauliflower popular; while I’m not Paleo, I dig this recipe. Click here to grab the recipe from my website!

Tabbouleh Salad and Quinoa Salad with Black Beans

Macaroni salad is a popular BBQ dish. Sneak whole grains into the salad selections at your next BBQ. For a Middle Eastern flare, click here to try my amazing Tabbouleh Salad recipe. For a Mexican-inspired salad, click here to try my Quinoa Salad with Black Beans

Pomegranate Citrus Salad

Fruit salad is always a refreshing choice for summer get-togethers. I love the standard watermelon, grape, cantaloupe, honeydew combo, but I wanted to create a super-food fruit salad so I came up with this oh-so-delicious pomegranate citrus salad. Click here to check it out!

Triple Bean Salad

This is not your typical triple bean salad. It has edamame, Lima beans and black beans with a touch of sweetness by adding mangoes! Click here to make this phenomenal dish.

Mango Salsa

What’s a BBQ without chips and salsa? Can you tell I am obsessed with mango yet? Well, when you try this salsa, you will be too! Click here for my magnificent mango salsa recipe!

Keep on having fun this summer! And delve into the picnics and barbecues with your arsenal of healthy food dishes and you’ll stay in shape for sure!

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome whole grains

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I know, I know, you are going to tell me that you are trying the ketogenic diet, or paleo, Atkins, South Beach, or some other diet that “bans” carbs! I think each diet has merit to some degree or another, but I am actually going to tell you why you would want whole grains!

First of all, let me set things straight. I am NOT advocating refined carbs like crackers, cookies, white bread, flour tortillas or even white rice. I am suggesting you welcome whole grains—grains that contain the entire grain kernel—the bran, germ, and endosperm (for example, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, millet, and popcorn).

Whole grains are filled with fiber and almost every person I know (even healthy eaters) do not get enough fiber in your diet. Fiber helps keep things moving in your digestion system, keeps you fuller longer (so yes, it can help with weight loss), and it also lowers your risk of getting heart disease.

Whole grains also loaded with important B vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are amazing for reducing stress levels and giving you energy.

Speaking of energy—if you experience major dips in your energy throughout the day, whole grains can help prevent that! Why? They help regulate your blood-sugar levels. Lulls in your energy level often indicate that your blood sugar levels are not remaining steady throughout the day. Fix that with whole grains!

Are you unsure about how to try incorporating whole grains into your diet? Here are just a few tips:

  • Use whole wheat pasta when you would normally use regular pasta.
  • Swap white bread for whole grain bread.
  • Eat oatmeal for breakfast!
  • Look for whole grain crackers!
  • Instead of white rice, try cooking with brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, or millet.

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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!

 

 

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!