Category Archives: Food

Smoothies

berries-2558_150 Ah!  Smoothies!  I love a good smoothie!  Lately, I’ve been obsessed with pumpkin smoothies that actually give me a feeling of eating pumpkin pie.  Yesterday I made a green smoothie with spinach, pumpkin, avocado, coconut milk and pumpkin spices.  It was soo  delicious and full of important fats, vitamins, minerals and protein.  Kept me full from lunch until dinner.

In keeping with the theme of quick meals, the smoothie may be the best way to get those fruits, veggies and protein in all at once.  If you’re pressed for time, you can pull a few items, throw them into your blender and voila!  Instant meal!

In reading about smoothies, I came across a post by Running To the Kitchen.  I love this blog and  Gina always has something yummy posted like her Blueberry Coconut Chia pudding.  But I digress.  Gina blogged about the ingredients to make the perfect  smoothie.  You’ll find recipes for some great smoothies as well.

What is your favorite smoothie recipe?  Share with me if you will.  Thanks.

juice-114628_150Enjoy!

Advertisements

Healthy Meals In A Flash Part 2

Image

The next part in this series “Healthy Meals In A Flash, we will move onto that mid-day meal – lunch!

Eating in the middle of the day, several hours after breakfast, re-energizes your body and can raise blood sugar levels especially when your focus and concentration are dwindling. Even if you only eat a small lunch, you can renew your energy.  Eating lunch can help you feel refreshed and ready to finish your workday.  In addition, eating lunch keeps your metabolism active, especially if you have a moderately sized meal and a snack before and afterward. “Extended periods of starvation between large meals creates gaps which keep metabolism from staying active,” says Dr. Kurt Hong, the Center for Human Nutrition director of Huntington Medical Foundation.

As much as you need to eat lunch, you also need variety.  Lunch can be one of those meals that allows people to fall into a rut.  My girls would get stuck on peanut butter and jelly for lunch for what seemed liked months on end.  But lunch can be so much more with a smorgasbord of ideas.

So what are some good options for your mid-day meal?  There are quite a few that don’t have to include a stop at the fat (oops, meant fast) food chain of your choice.  Again, making a plan is key.  As I would pack my daughters’ lunches each night, I wasn’t as prepared when deciding what I would eat at work the next day.  Without a plan, your best efforts for healthy eating can be sabotaged.

Start with some simple items you can keep on hand and remember that lunches don’t need to have sandwiches in them all the time either.  Use a variety of items packed in single servings for your family.

Leftover are a great quick meal.  Leftovers from dinner are usually better the next day anyway.  Pasta, soups, meats, roasts, and chicken make great lunches.  Pack them in containers where they can be reheated but don’t use plastics with BPA’s.  Children can also take those leftovers.  If they can’t reheat them, wrap up some chicken from the night before, a piece of fruit, grapes or fruit sliced up, and some carrots, zucchini, pepper strips or broccoli pieces and you’re set for a nutritious lunch that’s easy to eat.

Any of the foods listed for breakfast can also be used for lunch.  You can make a smoothie the night before and put it in a drink container.  When you’re ready to drink your smoothie, give it a good shake or stir and you’re set! Image

Wraps are a great way to include veggies and meat from the left over dinner findings.  You can use lettuce to wrap up any ingredient you like.  Use your imagination and try different combinations.

Here is a list of healthy lunch ideas for you to try.  Some do need a little prep but most are grab and go!

1.  Hard boiled egg, avocado and tuna mixed.  Can eat in a wrap of lettuce.
2.  Yogurt and banana
3.  Hummus, avocado, carrots and spinach wrapped in lettuce
4.  Asparagus and salmon wrapped in lettuce
5.  Stack cucumber, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and greek olives for Greek Salad bites.
6.  Tuna salad made with avocado instead of mayo.
7.  Tuna salad on tomato or cucumbers
8.  Avocado with sunflower seeds.
9.  Make ahead meatballs, freeze and pull out what you need for lunch.
10.Almond butter with apples and bananas.
11.Bake or poach chicken breasts.  Cut into strips and refrigerate in separate bags to grab and go,
12.Chicken salad – avocado, cilantro, salt and lime juice.
13.1 cup of vanilla greek yogurt, and 1/2 cup of blueberries, raspberries or strawberries.
14.Salad with veggies and hard boiled egg,
15.Turkey, avocado and hummus wrap.
16.Chicken, berries and avocado salad.
17.Baby spinach, raw apple, sliced toasted almonds, raspberry vinegarette and feta cheese salad
18.Egg salad – mix hummus with eggs instead of mayo.
19.Turkey wrap – sliced turkey, avocado, mustard, tomato wrapped in lettuce.
20.Salmon salad – can of salmon over lettuce with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Whether you make an elaborate meal or pick a few items as you run out the door, you can make a lunch that will give you that pick-me-up until your next meal.  Be sure to plan ahead so you can keep those goals you are working so hard toward achieving.
Do you have any favorite lunch recipes?

Healthy Meals In A Flash

In this rushed and busy world it’s tough to find the time for a proper meal. Our attention is divided in so many directions!  When kids call,  school,  activities and work calls, we usually grab anything we can get our hands on just to keep the hunger pains at bay.
But today is a new day! Here are some suggestions for healthy breakfast meals that won’t take too much time and energy.The first step of eating healthy is planning. With a plan in place, you’ll begin to see how healthy eating can be easier for you and your family.
BREAKFAST
Of course you’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Not to belabor the point, but it is!  Your body needs some type of nourishment since you haven’t eaten a substantial meal since the night before.  Additionally, you need to have the energy to get through the morning.  It is also a proven fact that individuals who eat a good protein based breakfast eat less throughout the day.  There are a dozen more reasons but suffice it to say that eating breakfast will give you the start to your day to keep you running.
Preparing your breakfast and lunch the night before can be a great start to eating healthy foods. When you oversleep that can blow all your well meant healthy food plans. There is no time to fix your breakfast or lunch so you grab a donut or bagel on the way with less nutritional value.  Taking a little time the night before to gather everything together can go a long way. You’ll be glad you did when you are in a rush the next morning. Here are some ideas for healthy breakfast meals in a flash.
SMOOTHIES – These look just like glorified shakes but they are power packed with good nutrition. Be sure to add fruits such as banana, strawberry, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, mango, pineapple, or pumpkin. You can also add a cup of full fat yogurt,  (greek yogurt is a great way to get good protein) protein powder, flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds as well as, hemp, coconut or almond milks to boost your vitamin, mineral and nutrition intake. Mix your ingredients together in a bowl the night before. In the morning, put them in the waiting blender and in a minute or two, you’re ready to go. You could make your smoothie even healthier by adding spinach, kale or chard.  These items will add vitamins and minerals to your smoothie not to mention the antioxidants you glean from these vegetables.

EGGS – Eggs are quite versatile. If you are in a hurry (as most of us are!) boil them! You can boil them the night before and have them ready to go. Eat one before going out the door to work or cut it up on whole grain toast for a quick sandwich.  Wrap them.  Scramble some eggs in some grass fed butter and wrap them in a whole grain tortilla.  If you have the time, make an omelet with spinach, chard, kale, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms or other veggies you prefer.  Eggs are full of protein and not the cholesterol culprit they were once touted as being.  Make sure you eat pastured eggs, which means the hens have been raised out of doors and eat a natural diet of bugs, seeds, and vegetation.  This also means they have been exposed to more Vitamin D which is then passed on to you.

FRUIT – Fruit is a great way to start your day.  You can make a fruit salad the night before using any fruit such as apples, pears, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, mango and bananas.  Make sure you know which fruits are best to buy organic to eliminate your intake of pesticides. See the EWG’s Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen list HERE. Sprinkle some lemon or lime juice on the salad the night before and then mix your fruit with some Greek yogurt in the morning.  Greek yogurt contains the highest number of protein grams so you have a vitamin rich, whole protein meal.
833102
Bananas make a great base for any type of nut butter.  Spread your almond or peanut butter on your banana and you’re set.  Make sure you use nut butters without sugar.  There are several good brands of organic nut butters all made without sugar or sweeteners.

YOGURT – Organic plain greek yogurt mixed with fruit, nuts and seeds can make a complete meal.  Mix yogurt with some flax seeds or sunflower seeds, some walnuts and almonds (use raw) or granola.  Greek yogurt has about 14 grams of protein in just 5.5 oz.

TOAST – Toast is just the beginning. Try choosing whole grain and multi-grain breads with seeds. From here, you can add a little protein to help feed your hunger and also stop mid-morning cravings. Add a piece of sliced turkey and cheese, or peanut butter or any type of nut butters such as almond butter, or scrambled egg. The eggs can be scrambled ahead of time and reheated in the morning for a few seconds. You can also pack the turkey or cheese separate from the bread and make a mini sandwich in the morning.  Make sure you add some good healthy fats such as avocado to your breakfast sandwich or cook your egg in butter or coconut oil for a complete meal.
These are just a few ideas to get you started.  What is your favorite breakfast on the run?  Use the suggestions above to help get you moving on the right track even if you are already moving fast.
Stay tuned for more ideas and recipes for meals on the run!

The Broccoli Boost

 The Broccoli Boost – A Super Food For Every Body

In our home, broccoli is one of our favorite vegetables.  Even when my daughters were little, they loved broccoli.  There’s just something about those little power ‘trees’ as my girls called them.  But when former President George W. Bush made his shocking proclamation that he didn’t like broccoli and that he wasn’t about to eat any, you could almost hear parents across the country gasping. While some kids might have praised the proclamation as an excuse to justify their own broccoli beliefs, the popularity of broccoli has really never wavered. Parents still are finding ways to get broccoli on their kids’ plates by using any means possible, even by pretending they’re trees! We’re going to peek inside and see what this versatile vegetable has to offer on the nutritional level.

What’s In It for Me

Today, broccoli remains one of the best selling vegetables in America for many reasons. This low-calorie, nutrient-rich vegetable has been praised for some miraculous health benefits. This list of benefits includes fighting cancer, boosting our immune systems, building stronger bones, and lowering the risk for cataracts. Broccoli earns its distinction as one of the top super foods in diets around the world.

Broccoli is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, B6, folate, potassium and manganese. We’re familiar with most of these, of course, but did you know that folate is linked to reducing birth defects and heart disease? Along with these nutrients, broccoli is also a good source of protein, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, and iron.

The words super-food and antioxidant often go together, and broccoli is no exception. Rich in antioxidants, those damaging free-radicals don’t stand a chance against broccoli. One of those antioxidants is Q10 which helps the body produce energy. Another specific component of broccoli’s superpower status involves a compound called sulforaphane which triggers potent anti-cancer enzymes. These enzymes are also effective in eliminating bacteria that can cause peptic ulcers. 

And, you don’t have to eat a lot of broccoli to get all these super nutrients. Just one cup of broccoli provides over 40 milligrams of calcium and almost 80 milligrams of vitamin C. That even beats milk as a nutritional food source. All this nutrition is available in only 25 calories, plus broccoli is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Choosing the Right Bunch

Selecting fresh broccoli isn’t difficult. Look for sturdy stalks with compact, dark green florets, and avoid wilted specimens with yellowing buds, as these stalks are already past their prime. Broccoli stores well in the refrigerator for up to three days before losing its vitamin content. In some supermarkets, you will even find hybrids like broccoflower or broccolini, which combine kale or cauliflower with broccoli. 

Trim any leaves from the stalk and trim the woody end of the stalk off the bottom. If you prefer to eat only the florets, or your recipe calls for just the florets, cut the broccoli florets off the stalk, rinse under running water, and drain. Save the stalks for another recipe if desired.

Cooking and Serving Tips

Broccoli is one of the more versatile vegetables you can eat, holding up well in a number of recipes and cooking methods. Of course, the closer you keep your broccoli to its raw state, the more nutrients you will maintain.

If you are cooking your broccoli to serve as a side dish, you should only cook it for a few moments, until the florets turn bright green. Cooking broccoli for more time than necessary causes the nutritional benefits to deteriorate. If the broccoli becomes mushy during steaming or boiling, it’s cooked too long. You may choose to flash-cook the broccoli in a microwave to keep the cooking time short and to maintain more of the nutrients. Although, the microwave debate still goes on about whether it reduces or destroys nutrients in broccoli. You decide.

Broccoli can be used in anything from stir-fry to casseroles, omelets, soups, and salads. The florets are a pretty, and nutritious, addition to many dishes. The stalks can be chopped and sauted, roasted, or cooked and pureed for a creamy broccoli soup. You’ll find thousand of recipes using broccoli once you start searching.

Of course, we can’t talk about broccoli and kids without talking about broccoli trees. My grandsons call them dinosaur trees. Raw broccoli florets look like little trees, so use this to your advantage when trying to get kids to eat their broccoli. With a bit of creamy dressing for ‘snow,’ make a little forest of broccoli trees and your kids will be tempted to gobble them up in no time.

It should also be noted that sprouts from broccoli have the same healthful benefits as the plant itself. Toss a handful of sprouts on top of a salad for a real boost of flavor and nutrients. Or, tuck a pile of broccoli sprouts into a tortilla wrap sandwich for a crunchy treat. Anywhere you want to add crunch, add broccoli sprouts.

No matter how you serve broccoli – raw, blanched, steamed as a side dish, or as an ingredient in a main dish, you can’t go wrong with this powerhouse vegetable. Besides the boost broccoli gives your immune system, and your overall health, broccoli is just plain tasty. This is one super food you don’t want to skip.

 
What is your favorite way to eat broccoli?   

 

 

The Great Pumpkin

 

The Pumpkin Puzzle – A Super Food Getting Its Just Desserts

Pumpkin is really a wonderful food!  It’s more than that huge round orange ball we carve out every October or the pie we eat each Thanksgiving.  Thinking of pumpkin as a nutritious super food can be a bit puzzling.  After all, isn’t the image that comes to mind sweet and smooth and covered in whipped cream?  But, according to nutritionists, we should be thinking of pumpkin more often than during the annual Charlie Brown cartoon or as a delicious way to top off a scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner.

Pumpkin is a vegetable, regardless of those images. In fact, pumpkin is a nutrient-rich super food that has a great number of health benefits. Let’s take a look at why pumpkin should get its just desserts… beyond desserts.

A Well-Rounded Vegetable

The list of nutrients in pumpkin is almost endless. Starting with the basic vitamins and minerals we all know, pumpkin has a healthy amount of vitamins C and E, and is a rich source of  potassium and magnesium. Pumpkin is also right up there with other super foods in the dietary fiber category.

Pumpkin also contains two lesser known elements called carotenoids, which are alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. These carotenoids are fat-soluble compounds that are specifically linked to decreasing the risk of a number of cancers, as well as lowering the risk for heart disease, cataracts, and macular degeneration.

Beta carotene is an important antioxidant. Foods rich in beta carotene, like pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and carrots, have the potential to lower cholesterol and to slow the aging process of our vital organs. Antioxidant rich foods, like pumpkin, are key to fighting the free radicals which attack our healthy cells and can cause many illnesses.

And, it’s not just the flesh, the insides, of the pumpkin that is healthy. The seeds from the pumpkin also earn their super food status. These seeds, or pepitas, are also nutrient-rich and beneficial, containing high concentrations of phosphorous, zinc, copper, selenium, and other nutrients. The seeds also have essential Omega 3 fatty acids and even the amino acid typtophan, known for its anti-depressant benefits. So, as you see, the pumpkin has a lot more to offer than you might think.

Thinking Outside the Pie Pan

Of course, pumpkin is associated first with pie. Beyond pie, many folks know about making pumpkin muffins or cake. These are great and delicious, but trying to branch out into more pumpkin dishes takes a little more imagination.

But, first to clarify; no, pumpkin does not taste like pumpkin pie. That flavor comes from the spices used in the pie, like nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon. Because pumpkin basically has very little flavor of its own, it will taste like whatever you want it to taste like.

Pumpkin is truly versatile enough to go into soup, chowder, stews, casseroles, and other main dishes.  You can puree pumpkin and add to soups as a thickener and to add great fiber and nutrition. Try roasting pumpkin and mashing like you would any squash. Flavor with herbs, salt, and pepper for added taste. You can steam it, boil it, or puree it to use in a variety of other recipes, like pumpkin pancakes for breakfast. The seeds, of course, can be roasted in a number of ways, then added to cereal, trail mix, or salads. 

For a real different twist, and a very pretty presentation, scoop out the flesh from several small pumpkins, chop up and add to your choice of meat, vegetables, rice or bread cubes, and seasonings. Then stuff the pumpkin shells with the mixture and bake to make an entrée that your guests won’t soon forget.

Pumpkin has definitely earned its place among the top super foods for a healthy diet. Colorful, nutritious, delicious, and oh so versatile – all the things a super food should be!

 
Try pumpkin in your next curry.  How do you like to eat pumpkin?  Share some ideas and recipes if you like.

The Omega 3 Factor

The Omega 3 Factor – A Super Food 

We have heard many reports concerning the benefits of Omega 3’s in relation to heart health.  The discussion of the world’s healthiest foods requires some basics concerning Omega 3 fatty acids.  No diet would be complete without Omega 3 fatty acids.  These fats play a vital role in our health and development throughout our entire life. This article will take a closer look at these important nutrients and the effects they have on our body.

Wellness Starts at the Top

First, we need to take a brief look at the science of our brain. The brain is made up of about sixty percent fat.  This fat is found mainly within the membranes that surround the brain’s nerve cells. The composition and chemistry of these membranes has a direct effect on chemical reactions in the brain. These chemical reactions are the brain’s signals. Extensive studies have been conducted to analyze the Omega 3 fat influence on these brain signals.  It is believed that Omega 3 fatty acids promote better and faster transfer of signals in the brain. This is important news which means that means Omega 3 fatty acids are good for you and your brain.  

When your brain signals are working optimally, your whole body benefits. Other than brain health itself, other health benefits related to Omega 3s have been discovered.  These GOOD fats are found to inhibit cancer cell growth, reduce inflammation throughout the body, prohibit excess clotting in the blood, and reduce the risk of obesity by stimulating a hormone called leptin.  Leptin is important since it helps regulate metabolism and body weight.

While we wait for any definitive studies to prove the true power of Omega 3s in treating or improving things like mental disorders, heart disease, and cancer, many researchers still claim there are significant benefits to consuming foods that contain these vital fats.

Looking for Omega 3s

If you live in Alaska, Taiwan, or Japan you may already be eating enough foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. These populations routinely consume fish that is fatty, in a good way. Diets that contain fatty fish continue to show better results with respect to less inflammatory ailments and less obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.

If you don’t live in one of these areas, you can still find plenty of the Omega 3s you need.  These fatty acids are most prevalent in seafoods, with salmon, tuna, scallops, sardines, and trout being particularly rich. Other sources of Omega 3s are algae, krill, and shrimp, as well as certain nuts and seeds, like walnuts, hemp seeds and flaxseeds (but your body must make the chains for the Omega 3’s so don’t count on seeds and nuts only for your Omega 3’s).  

Vegetables and spices like cloves, mustard seeds, cauliflower, collard greens, and cabbage are good sources for Omega 3s. Even certain berries, like strawberries and raspberries, provide at least some of the same healthy benefits.

Eating a healthy diet rich in organic green leafy vegetables, lean free range meats, seafood, as well as nuts, seeds and berries, will contribute to your overall health. This general guide just happens to include many foods that are naturally rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Eating more of these foods could be one of the simplest ways to supplement your good health!
 
The importance of Omega 3’s in your diet can’t be stressed enough.  More articles on this ‘super’ fat will be coming soon!  In the meantime, start incorporating these ‘super’ foods in your diet this week!

My Grainless Granola

My Grainless Granola.