Tag Archives: protein

Superfoods!

3 Sep

Superfoods! First we covered cabbage, and now the avocado.

I am confident that you have embraced that superfood, and are ready to add another one into your diet. Ready? Here we go! Bonus…the next superfood is not a cruciferous vegetable, so no worries about the, ahem, gas issue. It is avocado. This is a fun one.

Avocados, like cabbage, are a flexible food and super easy to prepare. An avocado has about 4 grams of protein per fruit and is low in sugar. Plus, they are rich n vitamin k, b vitamins, and have more potassium than a banana. Still need convincing? Consider that an avocado also contains half of the daily recommended amount of fiber, about 11 grams. (Okay, so maybe the fiber may be a bit gas producing, but you gotta consider the benefits and not just the…uumm…possible farts). This is a nutrient dense food.

IMG_4671

This Florida avocado graced my kitchen (although not for long!). Ugly but delicious!

Some folks shy away from this powerhouse fruit because it contains fat. True, it does, so adding it in the diet needs to be in moderation. But the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated, the “good” kind of fat. This fat can actually lower cholesterol, some studies suggest. So indulge.

When shopping for avocados, do not be deterred by ugly fruit. I actually prefer ugly fruit because it is less processed or sprayed than pretty perfect fruit. Go with an organic avocado if you can afford it. And check for ripeness. The avocado is ripe when is gives slightly to pressure. It should be a bit soft. Choose a softer avocado if you want to use it right away. If it will be in your fruit bowl for a few days, then opt for a more firm fruit and give it time to ripen.
What to do with an avocado you ask? The easiest thing to do is cut it up and eat it. Or layer it on a sandwich. Or dice it up and toss it in a salad. Avocado’s are delicious any way you eat it.

I had it for breakfast one morning for a powerhouse post workout meal. How? I turned the oven to 375 degrees. I sliced an avocado in half and took the pit out. Then I added a raw egg to the “divet” where the pit was.  Yup. Sure did. Then I put it on a baking sheet into the oven while I showered.

After about 20 minutes the egg was cooked in the avocado to perfection. I pulled it out of the oven added some low fat cheese, then popped it back in the oven for a few minutes. Voila! A breakfast packed with nutrients, protein, and flavor. Treat avocados like a baked potato and load ’em up!

IMG_4711

My baked avocado breakfast. So flavorful and nutritious. A fantastic post workout breakfast.

Whats next? Predictable but never to be overlooked, the avocado is the star of guacamole. If you have the fixings, making guacamole is a must with any avocado. And it is so simple. Lime, tomatoes, cilantro, and maybe some hot peppers if you are adventurous . Thats all you need for great guacamole. One of the best things about making this is that it is totally customizable. You can make it as spicy, as creamy, or as chunky as you prefer.

IMG_4695

Stir in lime, cilantro, and tomatoes to avocado. Nothing short of delicious!

If you want a quick guacamole, you can do that too. Mash up fresh avocados, add some salt and pepper, and squeeze a fresh lime over it. Since you are in a hurry, stir in your favorite salsa, and you are done.  Then load up your chip, your taco, or spread it on your sandwich.

IMG_4698

Fresh guacamole! Fabulous and flexible!

When making anything with avocado, keeping the pit in it, such as in the guacamole, keeps it from turning brown. So does adding a bit of lemon or lime juice to it. Either way, enjoy this fantastic nutrient packed superfood in many ways. Let me know what you do with your new superfood!

If you want to check out my blog on another superfood, go here. https://busymomswellness.com/2014/05/26/blast-into-super-foods/

 

 

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Resolutions. Really?

18 Jan

So it’s the beginning of the year, and the season of resolutions.  This is the time many folks decide to make healthy lifestyle changes.  People at work are buzzing about losing weight, eating better, detox potions, and avoiding fast food.  And, of course, I am no different.

I do not make new years resolutions.  I do, however, reflect on making  positive changes in the new year.  I too have been making an effort to eat a little healthier since ringing in the new year.  Getting kind of bored with my regular “go to” recipes, I have tried to energize my normal recipe repertoire by trying to put fresh new combinations together.  The other day I came up with a real winner.

I made a super healthy quinoa salad.  One day I took it for lunch at work.  Another day I had it in the morning after my workout for a healthy protein boost.  I do not limit my meals with traditional labels.    If I feel like chicken for breakfast, I eat that.  A bowl of cereal for dinner?  Sure. Why not.  So I enjoyed my quinoa all day.  And it was delicious.

Simple fresh healthy quinoa salad!  Yum!

Simple fresh healthy quinoa salad! Yum!

How did I make it?  I had about 2 cups of leftover quinoa, a handful of shredded carrots, a green onion, a half bag of spinach, and homemade vinaigrette in the fridge.  I tossed it together with a can of rinsed canned beets and Voila!  A healthful flexible meal packed with protein and veggies.  It had a nice crunch, great flavor, and a colorful appearance.

Vinaigrettes are easy to make and even easier to customize to certain tastes.  Want to try one?  Start with this.

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 t. of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and stir vigorously with a fork.  Use to dress vegetables or your favorite salad.  Yes, it’s that simple.  I customize this recipe by using different vinegars and different mustards.  Some times I use honey instead of sugar.  If I am in a crazy mood I will add some red pepper flakes to heat things up a bit.

So anyway, this is the vinaigrette that I added to my quinoa salad.  Simple dimple.  And so good.  So as 2015 rolls on, I hope to make some more fresh and healthful dishes.  No resolutions…just a positive change or two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next…

25 Aug

I am a single mother that is short on time.  When I cook, I have to make it count for more than one meal.  Time is my most precious commodity at the moment, so cooking bigger sure helps in a time crunch.  If I have a little wiggle room during the weekend to cook, I try to fill the fridge for the upcoming week.

Okay, it’s no secret that I love leftovers.  They can be easy to eat as is for a second meal, or used as inspiration for a new dish.  I use my leftovers both ways.  If I cook a couple of extra pieces of chicken, that goes either in school lunches or to work with me for a second meal.  Using that chicken as inspiration for another meal might mean a nice chicken casserole or chicken salad sandwich.  Need some ideas?  Let me outline my leftovers from the past few days.

Night #1.  Leftover: Quinoa.  Used the next morning as an addition to breakfast oatmeal.  Quinoa powered up morning oatmeal following an 8 mile bike ride.  It was a solid “recovery” breakfast.

Leftover quinoa added a nice nutritionally punch to morning oatmeal.

Leftover quinoa added a nice nutritionally punch to morning oatmeal.

Night #2.  Leftover:  Goat cheese.  It was leftover from a beet salad.  My high schooler used it to spread on his “gourmet” sandwich, adding delicious creamy flavor to a weekday lunch.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Night #3.  Leftover:  Home made vinaigrette.  I used this drizzled over roasted veggies going into the oven.  Homemade vinaigrette is super easy to customize ingredients and flavors to make even picky eaters happy.

Leftover vinaigrette.  This isn't just salad dressing.  It has a zillion uses.

Leftover vinaigrette. This isn’t just salad dressing. It has a zillion uses.

Night #4.  Leftover: Roasted veggies.  These leftover roasted veggies made the most amazing sandwich to take to work.  I wish I also had some of that leftover goat cheese too, but it was quite tasty as is.

Roasted veggies made an awesome sandwich, panini style!

Roasted veggies made an awesome sandwich, panini style!

Night #5.  Leftover:  Pesto, shredded chicken. (Nonleftover freezer item: frozen cauliflower). I actually pulled this from the freezer to make a quick pasta dinner.  Dinner was ready in the time it took for a pot of water to boil and pasta to cook.  The cauliflower was microwaved.  Everything was tossed together for a quick and easy one dish dinner for a busy night.

By now I am sure you get the picture.  Be creative.  When cooking, cook a larger portion than you need.  Toss leftovers in both the fridge and the freezer.  And start embracing the ease of the next meal using leftovers.  Let me know what you make with your leftovers!

Superfoods – another one!

11 Aug

The last super food that we covered was cabbage.  If you missed it, read it here.  https://busymomswellness.com/2014/05/26/blast-into-super-foods/

Since that post, I am confident that you have embraced this superfood, and are ready to add another one into your diet.  Ready for another super food to try?  Here we go!  Bonus…the next superfood is not a cruciferous vegetable, so no worries about the, ahem, gas issue.  It is avocado.  This is a fun one.

Avocados are, like cabbage, a flexible food.  It is also super easy to prepare.  An avocado has about 4 grams of protein per fruit and is low in sugar.  Plus, they are rich n vitamin K, B vitamins, and have more potassium than a banana.   Still need convincing?  Consider that an avocado also contains half of the daily recommended amount of fiber, about 11 grams.  (Okay, so maybe the fiber may be a bit gas producing, but you gotta consider the benefits and not just the…uumm…possible farts). Anything with avocado is terrific in my book.

Some folks shy away from this powerhouse fruit because it contains fat.  True, it does, so adding it in the diet needs to be in moderation.  But the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated, the “good” kind of fat.  This fat can actually lower cholesterol, some studies suggest.  So indulge.

When shopping for avocados, do not be deterred by ugly fruit.  I actually prefer ugly fruit because I feel like it is less “processed” or “treated” than pretty perfect fruit.  The avocado is ripe when is gives slightly to pressure.  It should be a bit soft.  Haas avocados are smaller than other avocados, but I like them all.  This is a Florida avocado.

A recent avocado that graced my kitchen.  Ugly but delicious!

A recent avocado that graced my kitchen. Ugly but delicious!

What to do with an avocado you ask?  The easiest thing to do is slice it up and eat it.  Or layer it on a sandwich.  Dice it up and toss it in a salad.  I had it for breakfast one morning for a powerhouse post workout meal.  How?  I turned the oven to 375 degrees.  I sliced an avocado in half and took the pit out.  Then I added an egg to one half where the pit was removed.  Yup.  Sure did.  And I put it on a baking sheet into a hot oven while I showered.  After about 20 minutes the egg was cooked in the avocado to perfection.  I pulled it out of the oven added some low fat cheese, then popped it back in the oven for a few minutes.  Voila!  A breakfast packed with nutrients, protein, and flavor.  I treat avocados like a baked potato sometimes.  Load ’em up!

My baked avocado breakfast.  So flavorful and nutritious.  A fantastic post workout breakfast.

My baked avocado breakfast. So flavorful and nutritious. A fantastic post workout breakfast.

Whats next?  Predictable but never to be overlooked, the avocado is the star of guacamole.  If you have the fixings, making guacamole is a must with any avocado.  And it is so simple.  Lime, tomatoes, cilantro, and maybe some hot peppers if you are adventurous are all you need for great guacamole.  One of the best things about making this is that it is totally customizable.  You can make it as spicy, as creamy, or as chunky as you prefer.  The moanable moment is in the “add ins”, such as hot peppers, onions, or sour cream.Let me show you my guacamole.  Start with mashing up an avocado and add just a few things.  Then load up your chip, your taco, or spread it on your sandwich.

When making anything with avocado, keeping the pit in it, such as in the guacamole, keeps it from turning brown.  So does adding a bit of lemon or lime juice to it.  Either way, enjoy this fantastic nutrient packed superfood in many ways.  Let me know what you do with your new superfood!

Fresh guacamole!  Fabulous and flexible!

Fresh guacamole! Fabulous and flexible!

 

Stir in lime, cilantro, and tomatoes to avocado.  Nothing short of delicious!

Stir in lime, cilantro, and tomatoes to mashed up avocado. Nothing short of delicious!

Portion (out of!) Control

20 Jan

When you are in the kitchen with your family, talk about nutrition. These discussions need to be done with a little strategy.  Children cannot be barraged with information. It will sound like lecturing, and the “off” button will be activated in your child.  Think of your conversations being constructed with bullet points. Brief. Light. Just the highlights. Discussions such as these can be easily conducted while working on getting a meal to the table.

Here is a starting point. Discussing portion size is a must. This country has been “super sized” into expecting huge portions that are not designed for optimum health. When discussing portion sizes, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • 1 ounce of meat (protein) is about the size of your thumb. 4 ounces is an appropriate serving and about the size of a deck of cards..
  • 1 egg or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter is about an ounce.
  • One serving of bread is usually 1 slice.
  • Fruit juice can generally count as 1 fruit serving a day. In other words, 2 glasses of fruit juice isn’t 2 fruit servings. And remember, high quality fruit juice is worth the extra expense.
  • A vegetable serving is 4 ounces. That equals a half cup.
  • A serving of milk is 8 ounces.  That is one cup.
  • One serving of Grape Nuts cereal is 4 ounces.  That is 1/2 cup.
  • One serving of crackers, such as Cheez-It crackers, is about 25 crackers

Are these serving sizes surprisingly small?  This briefly illustrates how out of control portion sizes have become acceptable in our diet. The expectation has changed to a “bigger is better” mentality with food. Portion size is included on the packaging of most food, but consumers fail to use this tool.

Hey, I get it.  Being in the grocery store juggling kids, a list, and playing beat the clock is rough.  Not a great time to stop, read and analyze a label.  How do we combat this?  Start by standing at your pantry or food cabinet at home. Education can begin at home.  When time isn’t so tight, take a minute or two to look at the food you have in your cupboard or pantry.  This is a great time to read the labels and start to formulate a healthy portion control plan. Start looking on food packaging for portion information at home, not at the store,  and share it with your children. It is a great habit to get your family into, and a good way to have discussions about portion control.

Talking of portion control, I do not allow my family to eat out of a bag of chips, for example, when snacking,  They must pour their snack into a bowl.  I expect this for a couple of reasons.  The first reason is simple cross contamination.  I am a clinical nutrition professional, so food safety is always on my mind.  It just isn’t healthy to put your hand to your mouth and then place that hand back into a big bag of snack food.

The second reason to portion foods, including snack food, is for control.  You just don’t know how much you are eating when not portioned it out.  And I think to learn self control, eating a certain portion raises awareness.  “Mindless eating” is eating without being conscientious of what you are eating.  Portioning your food helps eating be more mindful.

I am also a fan of eating meals att the table and on a schedule when possible.  It is important to enjoy meals with music on, with others, and making it a social event when possible.  If eating alone, I still think ambiance and environment are important.  Eating at a healthy pace, sipping water or other healthy beverage, and having conversation is a way to slow down eating.  The body signals when it is full, but you have to give those signals time to get front he stomach to the brain!

Portion control is important, as is variety and physical activity. It is important, though, to start with one small step, one small change.   Next start walking after dinner!  Another small change with a big impact!

Edamame

22 Apr

Edawhat?  Edamame!  And it is time you try some!  Okay, so snobbish foodies are known for giving things fancy names.  Edamame is no exception.  They are simply green soybeans.  Or more accurately, young soybeans.  As asian staple for centuries, their popularity is picking up here in the good old US of A.  Which is great news for us!

Soy beans are a fruit that grow in a pod and considered a protein.  They are a legume. Besides soy, other legumes include peas, lentils, and beans.  They pack a wonderful nutritional punch.  And they are very versatile.  Soy beans, or edamame, can be prepared in so many ways!  But first, back to the nutrition.

Edamame can be beneficial to our health.  They are low in calories, and high in fiber.  Half a cup has about 9 grams of fiber (we should shoot for about 20-25 grams of fiber daily) and less than 8 grams of fat.  They are a good source of folate, vitamin k, manganese, and many other essential vitamins and minerals.  They are also low in sodium.  Fabulous news, right?

Now even more good news.  They can be prepared a million different ways!  They can be enjoyed “naked”, simply shelled and out of the package.  This is a fresh healthy way to eat edamame.  They can also be steamed with a little salt and used as a good plant protein for any meal.  Simple, quick and delicious.

Bring something new to your next get together.  Make a dip using edamame.  Introduce your friends to it, and become a hero with a savory new party food!  Alton Brown has a fabulous dip.  Here it is:

12 ounces shelled, cooked, and cooled edamame, about 2 cups, recipe follows
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup tightly packed fresh cilantro or parsley leaves
1 large garlic clove, sliced
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown miso
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon red chili paste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil

Place the edamame, onion, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, miso, salt, chili paste and pepper into the bowl of a food processor and process for 15 seconds. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl and process for another 15 to 20 seconds. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Once all of the oil has been added, stop, scrape down the bowl and then process another 5 to 10 seconds. Taste and adjust seasoning, as desired. Serve with chips or crackers. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

I have played with that recipe a little, and it is yummy!  I have also made an edamame cold dish for a dinner party when I was having both “meatatarians” and vegetarians at the same table.  I like to have several protein as well as vegetable options at my parties.  And it is easy peasy!  Here it is:

10 – 12 ounces shelled edamame (I buy them in the refrigerated produce section)

1 roasted red pepper (I have used these from a jar to save time)

1/4 cup each olive oil and vinegar of choice (i prefer balsamic, but your favorite vinegar will certainly do!)

1 clove fresh garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the red pepper into thin strips, and mix all ingredients together.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  Enjoy!

Like roasted chickpeas, edamame is also savory when roasted and makes a great snack.  Thaw some frozen edamame, drain on paper towels, toss them on a baking sheet and sprinkle a little olive oil over the top.  Next, add your favorite spices (but don’t forget the salt and pepper), and toss into a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes, stirring 2-3 times during roasting.  Warning: these are addictive!

As you can see, edamame will make a great addition to your diet.  Go ahead.  Try it.  And let me know your favorite way to enjoy this nutritionally packed food!