31 Easy Ways to Eat More Plants: Celebrating National Vegetarian Awareness Month

31 Days in October, 31 Healthy Eating Ideas… Coincidence? I think Not!

October is National Vegetarian Awareness Month. It’s a great time to focus on incorporating more plant-based foods into every meal and snack.  As part of my relationship with Silk (I’m a #SilkBlogger, one of two RDs on the team), I’m bringing you this post chock full of easy ideas to help you get more good stuff.

Why Aim for More Plants?

Eating more plants is a good choice for your health and the environment.  Plants are loaded with beneficial fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, antioxidants, and other nutrients your body needs to feel energetic, keep your digestion going “smoothly”, and fill you up. Eating more plants is environmentally friendly because it helps reduce your carbon footprint – it’s a more sustainable way of eating that you can feel good about.

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And for all the non-vegetarians, (like me), don’t worry, you don’t have to be “meat-free” to reap the benefits of eating plant-based. It’s all about balance. I love incorporating the two together. Use your eggs, fish, and meat as an ingredient in the dishes.

Improving your health can be as simple as adding an extra serving or two of fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, or soy each day.  So how can you do that in a way that’s quick and easy?

Here are 31 easy ways to eat more plants everyday:

  1. Add up to 1 cup of canned pumpkin puree to your favorite pancake or waffle recipe.
  2. Blend meat with mushrooms.  Mushrooms add fiber, potassium, and Vitamin D.  You can either swap the meat out completely like in these grilled caprese portabello caps , or you can blend them with ground meat to make meatballs.  When I make them I usually swap out 50% of the ground beef for mushrooms, but you can use up to 80% mushrooms if you’d like.
  3. Make an almond milk latte.  Try almond milk with your coffee. Silk PureAlmond Unsweetened has only 30 calories per serving which is less than half the calories of skim milk.  Plus it’s saturated fat and cholesterol-free.
  4. Make vegetables the focus of your meal instead of just an afterthought. Head to your local farmers market and look for something that grabs your interest. Acorn squash is one of my favorites.  Try it roasted and stuffed with whole grains and other veggies
  5. Legume and vegetable soups and stews are wonderful at this time of year.  They’re warm and filling – perfect for a cold night.
  6. Substitute cauliflower for cream as shown in this butternut squash soup with cauliflower cream.  You’ll save on saturated fat and calories, and get all the nutrient benefits of cauliflower.
  7. Incorporate vegetables/beans into traditionally meat-heavy dishes.  I loaded these sloppy joes with beans and veggies.  They still taste like a favorite comfort food, but each sandwich has a full serving of vegetables and lots of fiber.
  8. Make your oatmeal with new Silk Pumpkin Spice soymilk for a fabulous fall oatmeal without any artificial colors or flavors. Non-dairy milks add flavor, calcium, and protein.
  9. BLD – eggs with any veggies you have on hand make a quick and easy meal any time of day. I love mushrooms, tomato, onion, and spinach.
  10. Swap beans for meat in a salad or pasta for an easy weekday lunch or dinner.  The beans will help you feel full while reducing your intake of fats and cholesterol.  They’re heart-healthy and support good digestion thanks to their fiber content.  Just one cup of Garbanzo beans has 12 grams of fiber, about half your daily needs.
  11. Add vegetables and fruits to baked goods – my carrot quinoa bread is full of apples, carrots, nuts, and whole grains.  Tasty, filling, and good for you.
  12. Spice up a humdrum vegetable tray by serving your guests something fun and creative. My baked parmesan zucchini fries are delicious, especially with marinara or tzatziki.
  13. Make a vegetarian entrée. I like this tortilla lasagna which is a new take on the traditional noodle and cheese dish.  This one has lots of vegetables and beans, and it’s great for a group because you can prepare it ahead of time.
  14. Kids (and plenty of grown-ups) love to dip things.  Dip veggies into guacamole, black bean dip, and salsa (OK and a few tortilla chips too!)
  15. Try quince! These caramelized quinces make a delicious fruit-centered dessert. Quince is in season right now.  It looks and tastes like a cross between a pear and an apple, but make sure you cook it – it’s inedible raw.
  16. As the weather gets cooler, sip on Silk chocolate soymilk or dark chocolate Almond milk warmed up for an instant chocolately cocoa.
  17. Incorporate tofu into your meals.   Unlike most plant proteins, soy protein is “complete”, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids – the building blocks of proteins – in sufficient quantities to meet your body’s requirements. Try this recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Tofu Mushrooms and Hazelnuts.
  18. Pumpkin drinks don’t have to be served hot. Try a pumpkin pie smoothie.
  19. Stock up your pantry when you see canned fruits and vegetables on sale.  Canned fruits work well in smoothies and canned vegetables (think artichokes, mushrooms, and tomatoes) make a quick and easy weeknight pasta.
  20. Fill your tuna salad with vegetables. Start by swapping out the mayo for hummus and then add chopped spinach, celery, cherry tomatoes, and avocados.  Stuff the tuna into a whole wheat pita pocket and add more leafy greens for a satisfying, nutritionally balanced sandwich.
  21. Serve fruit for dessert. Fall and winter bring an abundance of apples and pears. Try making a fruit cobbler. I love apple cranberry crisp.
  22. Break out your slow cooker.  Lentils, beans, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and other root vegetables all cook beautifully in a crock pot.  Plus, portions are usually large, so you can cook once and eat twice. Make an entire portion of vegetable stew and freeze half for a busy weeknight when you don’t have time to cook.
  23. Make your own veggie burgers.  Instead of buying pre-made veggie burgers, I prefer to make mine with beets, sweet potato, and black beans. Make a big batch and freeze extras for later.
  24. Mason jar salads.  Try making a layered salad in a mason jar to keep all the vegetables fresh and crisp.  Put the dressing in the bottom of the jar and add your firmer, heartier vegetables next (broccoli, cabbage, radishes, beans, onions).  Then put in your leafy greens, grains, and fruit.  Seal up the jar and store in the fridge.  When you’re ready to eat, give the jar a couple of good shakes to distribute the dressing. Enjoy!
  25. Sneak beans into brownies.  It may sound crazy, but it really works! These black bean brownies are dense, fudgy, and delicious – you’d never know what the “secret ingredient” was unless someone told you.
  26. Prepare overnight muesli for breakfast.  Make it ahead of time by combining 1 C Silk soy yogurt with 1/2 C dried oats.  In the morning, enjoy the cereal with your favorite fruits (dry or frozen both work wonderfully) and nuts/seeds.
  27. Need some “crunchy” in your life? Snack on healthy homemade chips.  Try making your own beet, sweet potato, or kale chips.
  28. Be inspired by ethnic cuisines.  Many cultures throughout the world focus on plant-based diets that are linked with lower instances of heart disease and diabetes.  Try an Indian lentil daal or a stir-fry of all your vegetables.  Enjoy the dishes with brown rice or another grain of your choice.
  29. Roast your vegetables.  Roasted veggies are one of my favorite fall side dishes.  I love that you can throw just about any type of vegetable in a dish and roast them in the oven.  Their flavor develops and all the natural sweetness of the vegetables becomes really prominent.  Some of my favorite vegetables to roast are broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, mushrooms, carrots, and turnips. Try this roasted cauliflower parmesean dish.
  30. Drink your protein!  Smoothies can be an easy way to add fruits and vegetables to your diet at any time of day.  Choose soymilk for plant protein with 50% more calcium than dairy milk.  Check out Silk’s website for delicious and nutritious smoothie recipes.
  31. Above all, focus on incorporating plant foods into your diet in ways that YOU enjoy.  If you’re trying to force yourself to eat something you don’t like, it’s not going to work long-term.  There are a myriad of ways to add vegetables, fruits, soy, and nuts to your meals, so find works for you.  Try new ingredients and cooking methods – don’t be afraid to experiment!

Whew. I hope you like these ideas for how you can get more plant foods into your diet.  What are your favorite ways to incorporate vegetables, fruits, soy, and nuts into your meals?

Disclaimer:  I am one of a handful of Silk Blogger Ambassadors.  Learn more about us here. All opinions contained in this post are my own.

Learn more about Silk and their non-GMO project here.      

Healthy Eating for a Summer on the Move

Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors — whether you’re headed to the beach, the pool, a long bike ride or a picnic in the park.  When its hot out, if you’re anything like me, you don’t want to spend too many hours sweating in the kitchen, but still want to eat healthy, delicious food.  During my recent segment on Let’s Talk Live DC, I shared some summertime tips for eating well.

Check out my fun, healthy ideas for grilling, simple breakfasts, and quality snacks.  You can watch the full video here or check out highlights from my segment below.

Tip #1 Fire up the Grill!

Not only is grilling the most popular way to cook in the summertime, it is also easy, fast and healthy.  You can grill Mazola+Corn+Oil+40+oz+Imagealmost anywhere—by the side of the lake or in your backyard.

I love using heart healthy Mazola Corn Oil for grilling. It provides 4 times more of the cholesterol blocking plant sterols than olive oil and 40% more than canola oil.  It also very heat stable, making it a great choice for a hot grill.

Try grilling fresh fish (check out a delicious tilapia recipe here)—it cooks in under 10 minutes and can easily be paired with summer vegetables like squash, onions, peppers & tomatoes.  Tip: wrap the fish and veggies in foil pockets for easy clean up!

Think beyond meats– you can grill almost anything!  Some fun recipes from the Mazola website include grilled guacamole, grilled banana splits or grilled bloody mary’s! For great recipes like these just visit www.mazola.com.

Tip #2 Try Versatile Lamb

f31ec1d9187b98ee64441b2433264e83Getting bored with BBQ chicken or burgers?  Give lamb a try!  I love using lamb because it is lean, packed with flavor and adds a novel twist to summer BBQs.  In addition, you might be surprised to hear how versatile it is—lamb is great ground into burgers or cubed to stick on kebabs between vegetables (try these balsamic and rosemary kabobs).

Stuck with leftovers?  Transform lamb and vegetables from last night’s kabobs into a healthy, scrumptious Mediterranean salad– Just add arugula (or any green), feta, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, some mint and red wine vinegar, mix in a big bowl and enjoy!

For more recipe ideas like these visit www.leanonlamb.com.

Tip #3 Simplify Breakfast

59995-GreatGrainsCinnamonHazelnut1-mdEven when you’re eager to hit the road and get to the beach, don’t make the common mistake of skipping breakfast! Breakfast gives your body the fuel it needs to play hard! Breakfast is also a great opportunity to get in nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D and fiber, not to mention for preventing an emergency fast food stop 30 miles down the road.

Great Grains by Post is a great option for a nutritious cereal.  Made with less processed ingredients such as whole grain flakes from actual wheat berries, real fruit and nuts, just add milk or greek yogurt for a complete breakfast.  Their “Protein Blend” cereals have 8 grams of protein per serving and come in delicious new flavors such as Honey, Oats & Seeds or Cinnamon Hazelnut.

Want to prepare a treat to take with? Try this banana nut chocolate chip crumb cake recipe from www.greatgrains.com.  Using the Banana Nut Crunch cereal as a base, along with low-fat yogurt, bananas and chocolate chips, it is healthy with a delicious crunch!

Tip #4 Snack on Whole Foods:

It is normal to feel hungry every 3-5 hours, depending on the size of your last meal.  When out and about and there’s no time to stop for a meal, snacks provide a great bridge to the quiet those stomach gurgles.  Snack smart by choosing whole foods such as fruits, nuts & seeds that are nutrient dense and satisfying.

nuts-spices-mixed-casep-mainThere are a lot of packaged snacks out there, but some are higher quality than others.  KIND bars is one of my favorites for “on the go” energy. With simple ingredients that you can pronounce and only 5 grams of sugar, they also come in fun flavors.  Try their new “nuts and spices” line including Dark Chocolate Chili Almond (has a little bite to it!) or their Maple Glazed Pecan and Sea Salt with an awesome sweet & salty combo.

Craving dessert?  Try crumbling a chocolate KIND bar on natural vanilla ice cream—YUM!

What are you favorite summertime recipes?

I love adding to my recipe collection — leave a comment below and share your favorite summer recipes!

Disclosure: I worked with Mazola, the Tri-Lamb Group, Post, and Kind Snacks for the TV segment, but did not receive compensation for writing this blog post.

Oven-Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic, Olive Oil and Lemon Juice

Cauliflower is a low calorie, nutrient dense, and cancer-fighting food. One serving of this great side dish or snack will cost you less than 100 calories and provide plenty of flavor. Cauliflower is very low in fat and one serving provides about 5% of the recommended daily fiber intake. This vegetable is a great source of phytochemicals and antioxidants.

Emeril Lagasse’s recipe is quick and easy. It is a great option for a side dish for your family or a quick snack and has tons of healthy benefits!

Ingredients:

  • 5 to 6 cups cauliflower florets, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter (from 1 medium cauliflower)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sliced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • Chopped chives, for garnish

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Place the cauliflower florets in a large sauté pan or a roasting pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the cauliflower, and season with the garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place the sauté/roasting pan in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even roasting. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the parmesan. Garnish with chopped chives and serve immediately while still warm.

Nutrition Info per Serving (serves 6):

Calories 91 | Fat 8 g | Sat. Fat 1 g | Cholesterol 1 mg | Sodium 125 mg | Carbs 4 g | Fiber 2 g | Protein 2 g | Calcium 17 mg

Reviving the Family Meal: It’s Good For Your Health

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Time is a precious commodity nowadays. Our schedules aren’t getting any less crammed, anytime soon, and many times one of the things that gets bumped to the bottom of the priority list is the family meal.

In my recent US News “Eat + Run” blog I talked about the importance of family mealtime, and the many benefits that result from more meals eaten together. Benefits like improved grades in school, healthier eating patterns and greater emotional well-being have all been reported. Who wouldn’t want those things, right?

If you’re looking to make family meals a priority in your home, here are a few of my ideas to help make the “revival” a little easier:

1. Talk to your “significant other.” This means talking to whoever else shares in the decision-making and must agree that this is an important and necessary change. Decide together that you want to make family meals a priority.

2. Come up with a realistic plan. How often can you sit down together? And how can the family divide responsibility between planning, shopping, prep and clean up? This should not all fall on mom’s to-do list.

3. Make “the food” the easy part. There are plenty of ways to get quick, healthy meals on the table. Not everything has to be made from scratch, so don’t feel like you need to chain yourself to your stove all day if you simply don’t have that kind of time. Here a few fast meal tips and ideas that you can try:

  • Keep your “tried and true” recipes on hand, along with the necessary ingredients. That way you’ve always got a reliable, easy recipe that you’re confident about at your fingertips.
  • Boil some pasta and serve it with jarred marinara and a bagged salad. You can even add fresh or frozen veggies to your jarred sauce to jazz it up a little.
  • Heat frozen, pre-seasoned fish or frozen pre-cooked shrimp and serve with steamed frozen veggies.
  • Order your favorite take-out, but make it “half-plate healthy” by adding a bagged salad or veggies that are fresh, frozen or canned.

For more ideas, and to read the full article, click here.

What changes have you made to your family dynamic?

What other things have you done to try and improve the quality of your family togetherness time? Leave a comment below to share your stories and ideas.

Struggling With Balanced Eating Habits? Choose My Plate!

If you have ever played darts, or even if you just understand it, then you know how to use “Choose My Plate” to help you put together healthy plates at each meal. Choose my plate is the guide (and best I’ve seen) from the USDA to empower people to make healthy food choices.


Why darts?

I compare “Choose My Plate” to darts because of the “bullseye”. In darts, you strive to hit the bullseye. You aim to get as close as you can pretty much every throw, and sometimes (let’s face it) you’re happy to get on the board!

That is how I view the realities of healthy eating. There’s really nothing perfect at all about the factors that influence our decision of what goes on our plates and in our bodies. We have so much to do between work, taking care of the family, and exercise (remember that?)

I don’t know many people who get through their day effortlessly. We might forget to bring our lunch to work or race out of the house without breakfast. We need to have something very simple and memorable to help guide our food choices whether we’re at the grocery store, restaurant, or a gas station. (I have been hungry at a gas station and have had access to a banana and yogurt so it’s possible!)

Let the Plate Guide You

“My Plate” is just the kind of simple guide that can help you no matter where you’re at in healthy eating. Each meal is a chance to try to hit the bullseye. Even if you come close, and you replace some of the less healthy choices you’ve been making, you are making a difference. I bet you will feel better from an energy standpoint and feel better about eating well.

Looking at the plate, half fruits and veggies (not an or — I find many people think OR veggies — you can’t avoid ‘em, peeps) is a good visual. Some of my fave ways include:

  • “Green smoothies”
  • Eggs, spinach, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and a side of berries
  • fajita bowl with beans, brown rice, tri-color peppers, pineapple, and chicken

Be Comfortable Full

No matter what is on the plate, enjoying your food and being in touch with your fullness trump all else. You know that uncomfortable feeling – a sign you ate to much. Your body is telling you something. Oh well, you aren’t perfect, but perhaps its a learning experience.

What do YOU think of “MyPlate”?

Check ‘em out on Pinterest!

5 Habits Worth “Giving Up” This Year

For many people, New Years Resolutions are set so they “make up” for all the “bad stuff” over the holidays. Usually the resolutions involve unrealistic and irrational goals and whole categories of foods they are going to “give up”, but that backfires because you can’t do those things forever. Not only that, but some of the goals don’t even make sense because they set you up to sabotage your best intentions — like skipping breakfast — not a good idea.

Earlier this week I was on Let’s Talk Live sharing some ideas for habits you really can “give up” to trim up the holiday excess and get healthier in the process. You can watch the entire video by clicking on the image or check out highlights below:

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Tip 1: Give up on“skipping breakfast”.

31 million Americans skip breakfast every day. Yet, we know that eating breakfast is associated with weight loss and healthy weight. The main reason for skipping people tend to skip breakfast seems to be lack of time. But I’ve got an answer for that with some 2-second breakfasts that you can take anywhere!

biscuitsbelVita Breakfast Biscuits are delicious and crunchy biscuits specially baked to release energy continuously, giving you nutritious sustained energy all morning. Each individual package of 4 crunchy biscuits is portioned for breakfast and provides 230 calories, 18-20 grams of whole grains (one whole serving of whole grains!), 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. You can make a balanced breakfast by pairing them with a serving of fruit and low-fat dairy. There’s 5 flavors so there’s something for everyone – blueberry, apple, golden oat, and even chocolate. Plus, they don’t contain high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, or artificial flavors or sweeteners.

I love them with a container of non-fat Greek yogurt and seasonal fruit for a quick breakfast, even when I’m on the go. Or if you are really pressed for time but you’re like me and you gotta get your caffeine try the biscuits with a latte and portable fruit (like an apple or banana) – this would be especially great with the golden oat or chocolate flavors!

Check out www.belvitabreakfast.com to find a store near you where you can pick them up!

Tip 2: Give up “exercise on empty stomach” ProVantage

It’s great if your New Year’s Resolutions involve exercise. But so many people make the mistake of working out on an empty stomach to cut calories. All this does is make your exercise less effective. I love recommending protein rich smoothies before and after workouts, because you get hydration, energy, and replenishment for muscle recovery.

I am really excited about this line of products from Reliv that contain LunaRich, a soy powder that’s rich in lunasin. Research indicates that Lunasin may be the key to soy’s cholesterol lowering properties and that it offers other potential health benefits like increasing immunity and reducing inflammation. These products deliver the lunasin equivalent of 25 grams of soy protein, the amount the FDA says may reduce the risk of heart disease when part of a healthy diet.

Besides fueling workouts, I also love recommending smoothies for quick and health breakfasts and even dinners. If you get home late, or short on groceries, either one of these smoothies would nourish you. Here’s a quick recipe you can try at home:

Recipe/s for a fruit smoothie:

  • Combine ½ cup of berries (can be frozen) for a tasty strawberry banana smoothie; for another twist instead of berries add a handful or two of spinach for a “green smoothie”
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ fresh banana
  • ½ cup of greek yogurt
  • One scoop of your favorite Reliv product that contains lunasin

For more information on LunaRich™ soy powder visit their website at www.Reliv.com.

Tip 3: Give up “snacks are bad”

Snacks are one of those things I’m constantly needing to help people with. Not all snacking is a bad idea. Snacking can be a good way to provide energy between meals. Sometimes, we just crave a snack. It depends on what you’re snacking on and how much you’re having.

When you want something savory and crunchy, go for Pirate’s Booty instead of greasy, fried potato chips that are high in fat. It’s a great, healthier alternative. They’ve got a great taste and crunch but, they’re baked, all-natural and have half the fat and fewer calories as regular fried chips. For the same amount of calories you get a much larger portion compared to fried potato chips. Pirate’s Booty comes in a half-ounce size that is just 65 calories – the perfect for portion control and on-the-go. It’s also safe for people with allergies because they’re gluten, peanut and tree nut free

Check out www.piratebrands.com for more information and to pick some up online.

Tip 3: Give up: “9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day ”

We still need 9 servings of fruits and vegetables but who the heck has time to track and count that? Nobody. So instead, go “half plate healthy”. You want colorful, nutrient rich vegetables and fruits on half your plate.

No matter what you are eating, even notoriously “calorie heavy” foods like Chinese take out, you can follow the “half plate healthy” guideline. Just order steamed vegetables along with whatever other dish you are having, then take a fist size amount of whatever your favorite calorie rich dish is and mix it with the steamed veggies. Instant calorie reduction! Here are some other ideas to help you make 1/2 your plate healthy:

  • Lunches – fill a whole wheat wrap with broccoli slaw and your favorite protein like sliced chicken and pair with fruit.
  • Dinners out – ask your server to steam or lightly saute vegetables and bring a double portion.
  • Dinners at home – take any fresh or frozen vegetable you like paired with lean protein. Wilted spinach and already cooked frozen shrimp go great together. Literally this dinner takes 3 minutes to make — you just run the shrimp under hot water to thaw and warm up with fresh baby spinach. A little olive oil and garlic in cooking — that’s it!

What are some other ways you can make 1/2 your plate healthy???

Disclosure: I worked with belVita, Pirates Booty and ReLiv as part of the TV segment. I was not compensated for this  post.

Naturally Fuel Your Fitness Routine!

I was back on Let’s Talk Live this week sharing a plethora of ways you can naturally fuel your fitness routine. Over 60% of DC residents are active, and as I always say — if you can’t fuel it, you can’t do it! So, check out highlights from the segment and maybe you’ll find a new pre- or post-fuel idea for your next workout.

Watch the entire segment here:

For this week’s segment, I worked with recipes that are made from Pure Canadian Maple Syrup which is 100% natural and rich in carbohydrates that provide our bodies the energy we need before workouts. Just remember to check the label and make sure it says “100% maple syrup”. Most of the “pancake” brands actually use high fructose corn syrup and don’t have the same vitamins and minerals. I also shared tips for protein-rich foods like smoothies and pistachios that can be great for recovery nutrition by helping our muscles repair themselves after a workout.

Step 1 — Fill Your Body’s “Gas Tank” With Carbs 

Carbs give your body quick energy so you can go the distance — check out these great pre-fuel ideas:

  • Pre-Workout Rice Pudding: Try this pre-fuel rice pudding with pure maple syrup and berries.  It’s got the right balance of carbs and protein for workouts. You can have it warm or cold and is a cinch to put together. Because the maple syrup is unprocessed, it contains beneficial vitamins and minerals, including potassium, an electrolyte that helps regulate fluid balance and normal muscle function.

  • Anytime Maple Energy Squares: These maple energy squares are another good choice for fueling your workout — either before or after. They’re a great “make ahead” item, and have nutritious oats, eggs, sunflowerseeds, almonds, coconut, dried fruit, and Canadian maple syrup, which contains 54 different antioxidants.  Exercise increases “oxidative stress” which can lead to cell damage so the antioxidants help protect our cells.

  • No Time to Cook? No Problem! If you’re short on time before a workout, you can always opt for fruit like bananas, apples, and pears. They’re nature’s perfect on-the-go foods and are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Step 2: Hydrate As You Go

Most people can drink plain water throughout their workouts and be totally fine. Sports drinks are meant more for endurance athletes (think marathon runners) or team sports with lengthy practices. Aim for about half a cup of fluids every 20 minutes of exercise.

Step 3: Mend Those Muscles With Carbs and Protein

Smoothies are great after a workout because the carbs in them help replace what you burned so you aren’t as sore afterwards. The protein they contain helps repair and rebuild muscle tissue. Canadian maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese and zinc, two minerals that are vital for muscle recovery. It also contains the electrolyte potassium that helps with normal muscle function. You can get these nutrients in the Fruity Maple Refueler Shake that I make with strawberries, bananas, quick cooking oats, Greek yogurt, and maple syrup.

Lowfat chocolate milk is another great recovery option if you don’t have time to make a smoothie — it has a good mix of carbs and protein too.

Step 4: Smart Snacks and Meals

I love recommending pistachios as a nutritious and easy on-the-go snack.  Wonderful Pistachios are one of the lowest calorie, lowest fat, and highest fiber nuts. And they have protein, electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which are important for recovery nutrition.

Wonderful Pistachios on Let’s Talk Live set

Plus, you can’t beat the serving size — 49 kernals!! 1 serving has 300mg of potassium which is way more than a sports drink (only 30 mg potassium in sports drinks). Reach for roasted and salted pistachios to replenish the sodium/potassium you lose during your workout.

Nutrition Main Page Image

For meals, I like to keep it really simple and use whole foods – quality ingredients. This is something you can do for lunch and dinner. Combine any 2 non-starchy veggies – cucumbers and tomatoes, and 1 type of bean – chickpeas, any one type of lean protein – tuna , one herb – flat leaf parsley, any one fat – feta cheese. All you do is mix up these ingredients, and add some fresh lemon or vinegar.

You have a simple, healthy meal ready in no time, it’s packed with nutrients, and will keep you fueled all day long.

What are your favorite “go-to” pre-fuel and recovery snacks?

Disclaimer: I worked with Pure Canadian Maple Syrup and Wonderful Pistachios as part of the TV segment. I was not compensated for this post.

Lightening Up “Guy” Food

It’s no secret that men are notorious for loving those stick-to-your-ribs meals that taste amazing, but maybe aren’t the healthiest. I was on Let’s Talk Live this week talking about you can make “man food” healthier but still taste great. My two simple tips are “add in nutrition” and “don’t sacrifice flavor”. Here’s a quick rundown of the foods that I shared:

SandwichesGrilled sandwich or panini with melting cheese, tomato, and spinach leaves, on wholewheat bread. Stock Photo - 3499345

What guy doesn’t love a sandwich. The trouble is, after you fill a 12 inch hoagie roll with bacon, sandwich meat, mayo, cheese and maybe a tomato slice you’ve really dialed up the calories, and the saturated fat which we know isn’t good for our hearts. I was thrilled when Eckrich introduced me to their new line of Ekridge Farms Bacon Lovers Sandwich Meats that are actually made with real bacon, but a 2oz. serving of the Chicken Bacon Ranch has only 80 calories, 1 gram of saturated fat, and 10 grams of protein to keep your man fuller, longer. (honestly, not what I expected with a “bacon ranch” flavor). This profile is in line with other lunch meats, but let me tell ya, tons of flavor!

For the segment, I made paninis with the Chicken Bacon Ranch sandwich meat, and added in nutrition with whole wheat bread, cheddar cheese, thick slices of tomato, onion and a handful of baby spinach. It tastes great and hits all those same bacony flavor notes that they’ll love.

Go Nuts

I’ve said many times what a great snack idea pistaccios are, but I’ll say it again! For guys that love to snack, you can’t beat the 49 kernal serving of pistaccios which is the largest serving size of any nuts. They’re also great because they slow down your snacking because you have to shell them while you eat them. They’re packed with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals so they provide more nutrition than other crunchy snacks like pretzels or cheese curls.

Potato Salad

Potatoes have gotten a bad wrap because they contains carbs, but they’re extremely high in potassium which is a key nutrient in helping maintain a healthy blood pressure. A typical potato salad has around 350 calories and 20 grams of fat per serving, but by switching out the rich recipe for a vinegar based one and using herbs, you can get lots of flavor. Plus adding in nutrition in the form of red peppers and any other veggies you’d like adds crunch and even more flavor while helping to keep sodium in check.

Dessert!

Fresh summer berries with real whipped cream (yep I’m talking about heavy cream you whip yourself) and angel food cake (store bought is fine) can make the perfect light summer dessert. It can be fun to serve it in a margarita glass for a smaller party or in a big trifle dish for larger parties. Berries are packed with antioxidants which have been shown to have cancer preventing properties.

Keeping Booze in Check

Although I would never recommend for a person to drink lots of alcohol in one sitting, I understand that imbibing in booze is a part of life for many people. If you are going to drink, I always recommend trying to limit alcohol to one or less per hour and 4 or less per day/night out. One way to do this is to alternate water and alcohol in order to both limit your intake, but also to keep you hydrated. It also helps ward off those pesky hangovers!

I hope these tips and food ideas are helpful and show that “man food” can still be doable by adding in nutrition without sacrificing any flavor! What other swap outs can you share with me?

Discloure: I worked with Eckrich and Paramount Farms on the media appearance, however, I did not receive compensation for writing this blog post. 

Women — Let’s Put Wellness on the Front Burner! 4 tips For Better Self Care

D.C. women lead busy and often hectic lives. Sometimes we put our wellness needs on the ‘back burner’. So what I went on Let’s Talk Live yesterday to share some simple reminders for how we can take better care of ourselves. I was excited to get to work with the Quaker and Tri Lamb folks on this segment.

1. Get Whole Grains at Breakfast

Studies show being crunched for time can take a toll on eating wholesome meals, in particular when it comes to breakfast. The temptation might be to reach for something “easy” like a bagel or pastry, but I really like these new Quaker Real Medleys oatmeal. They are portable, portion controlled, delicious and nutritious. Hearty rolled oats and multi-grains with real fruit or crunchy nuts already in the container so all you do is add hot water or pop it in microwave with water. Each serving offers at least 30 grams of whole grains and a good or excellent source of fiber (containing 3-8 grams fiber),which helps manage a healthy weight.

2. Get Lean Protein for Lean Muscles

Choose lamb—it’s a nutrient-packed powerhouse. On average, a 3 oz. portion of lamb is only 175 calories and naturally nutrient rich. It’s packed with essential nutrients such as protein, B-vitamins, and iron. Women need over twice the iron than men. If you don’t get enough iron you could have low energy and can even develop anemia, an iron deficiency.

  • The last thing a busy woman wants is to get sick. Lamb also supports a healthy immune system. Lamb contains a significant amount of nutrients essential for immune function: zinc, selenium, protein, and iron.
  • Visit www.leanonlamb.com for great lamb recipes that your family will love. Lamb kebobs are one of my favs!

3. Reach for smart snacks

Calcium rich foods are important for strong bones. 80% of people with osteoporosis are women. Women need 1000 mg of calciuma day – that’s like three servings of dairy foods or calcium fortified foods.

  • I love greek yogurt, cheeses (goat, feta, cheddar), and low fat cottage cheese as snacks.
  • Collard greens, kale, broccoli, bok choy are all plant based sources of calcium as well.
  • Get your berries – strawberries, blueberries, cherries, etc. all contain high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C. Vitamin C allows you to keep collagen in your skin so it stays health and supple.

4. Schedule time for exercise

Exercise gives you energy, helps reduce stress, helps you sleep better, and helps lower your risk for chronic disease.

  • Less than half of women over 18 meet therecommendations for physical activity. At a minimum we should be getting 2.5 hours a week just to maintain health. Get 5 hours if you want to see substantial improvement.
  • During work week – 20 minute walk breaks – walk the stairwell, do laps around the office, hit the work gym for 20 minutes of weights and still have time for lunch. Or get up early and start your day witha heart pumping workout.

So ladies, how do you fare at these health tips? Which ones would you like to share with other busy women??

Highlights From My Soy Foods Video Shoot

I’ve been a fan of soy for a while now. It offers so many nutritional benefits: high in protein, low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and contains essential fats, fiber, iron and other nutrients.

I had the amazing opportunity recently to make a series of videos with the Soy Foods Association. I’ll update the post as soon as the videos is available on their website. In the meantime, I thought I would share some of the highlights: We did several vignettes, about 3 minutes each to cover the uses of soy for several specialty groups.

Soy and Athletes

Soy is especially great for athletes who train hard, because after muscles are broken down during exercise, we need protein to help build them back up. Soy is absorbed more slowly than other types of protein so some research studies suggest that soy can help maximize muscle building by extending protein absorption. That’s why recovery nutrition, high in protein, is so important — chocolate or vanilla soy milk is a great choice. resource: http://www.soyfoodsmonth.org/soy-and-performance

Posing with the athletes we used in the video. They loved refueling.

Why Soy is Great For Kids

Soy is an easily digestible protein for kids with sensitive tummy’s. And, the quality of soy protein is comparable to animal proteins like fish, dairy and meat. Soy foods also contain vitamins and minerals important for bone and muscle development. You can check out the soyfoods website to find recipes your kids will love.

Can It Be Good For Seniors?

Athletes aren’t the only ones who need strong muscles. Seniors need physical activity and protein to help maintain muscle mass and mobility throughout old age. It’s also packed with antioxidants which have been shown to be protective against some types of cancers. It’s so important to maintain a heart healthy diet as we age, and soy can be a great source of protein.

How Can I Eat It?

Basically soy foods can be part of a healthy plate for any age group and activity level. Following the balanced plate model, you could have a stir fry with tofu, mixed veggies and brown rice. Swap out meat for soy crumbles next time you’re having taco night. Or for lunch, a veggie burger on a wheat bun, piled with veggies and a side of fruit. Smoothies made with soy milk and frozen fruit are delicious as well.

When I see a food that is good for your heart, can lower your cholesterol, and is rich in protein and antioxidants, I can’t help but want to share it with others. I hope you’ll give soy a shot next time you’re looking to switch up your meal routine.

What is your favorite way to enjoy soyfoods?

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