Snack On This?

When it comes to snack food, consumers have a lot of choices. Unfortunately, many people often reach for snacks that aren’t all that healthy such as chips, crackers, or candy. In my upcoming book, I talk a lot about eating more whole food and foods that have less ingredients, as they are better for you.

In this blog, I wanted to focus on how you can make conscious choices when selecting snack foods, by taking a little time to read food labels and choosing more whole foods. Since energy bars and snack bars are popular these days, I thought we could take a look at some of the ingredients. Some energy bars contain a fair amount of protein and have other healthy ingredients, such as nuts and fruit. Other snack bars may have some healthful ingredients, but may also contain a long list of other items including sugar and other hard to pronounce words.

Let’s take a look at a few snack  bar examples, as well as whole food snacks to determine their benefits:

This Nugo Dark bar, I have to say, is quite tasty. It contains 10 grams of protein and has a salty, yet sweet taste that tastes like a chocolate covered pretzel. While it is gluten-free and a vegan option, it does contain rice, soy, cane sugar and a few other items. It does not have a huge list of ingredients, like some other snack bars, but does contain more than 5 ingredients, which is ideal. I buy this bar on occasion, as it contains 25% iron and helps me to maintain my iron level. On the down side, it does contain 15 grams of sugar.

This Kind bar also has a sweet yet salty taste, as it contains nuts, chocolate and sea salt.  It also contains a few other ingredients including honey, rice and vanilla, and is low is sugar (only 5 grams), which is good for a snack bar. Give it a try if you are looking for something crunchy to eat and don’t want to consume a whole lot of sugar.

This snack bar has an interesting name and hits the nail on the head for what I am trying to get across. It contains only 2 ingredients, apples and cherries. That’s it! It kind of reminded me of a fig newton cookie, without the cookie crumbs. It has no added sugar, but does contain natural sugars found in the fruit. It is gluten-free, kosher, vegan, raw and contains no fat. It is also non-GMO and only 100 calories.

If you are looking for something that is both sweet and crunchy, an apple is a good option. Apples are considered to be one of the healthier foods available and are rich in vitamin C and fiber. They have other healthful benefits and nutrients as well, such as magnesium, vitamin B-6, iron, vitamin A and calcium. They also come in a lot of varieties, so most likely you can find one you like.

Carrots are another healthful snack. They are sweet and crunchy and are rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium, iron, copper, manganese and more. Carrots are known to help eyesight and help prevent macular degeneration. They also can help boost your immune system, help prevent heart disease and cancer and help aid in the digestion process. Many people enjoy eating carrots raw. They also are good cooked and make any side dish more appealing.

Cherries are another whole food that makes a great snack. They are sweet in flavor and loaded with antioxidants. Cherries are rich in vitamin C and fiber and also contain potassium. Cherries are known to help relieve arthritic pain, headaches and helpful to those who suffer from gout. They can be eaten alone, or added to yogurt, smoothies and more.

Thanks for reading and happy snacking!

Barb

Fibrous Fruit—Spotlight On Bananas

In this post, I wanted to spotlight the banana.

I don’t know about you, but I love bananas. They are both delicious and nutritious. Many consumers like bananas because they are convenient to grab on the go and have a sweet taste and a creamy texture. Bananas are loaded with a bunch of nutrients your body needs and craves. They also contain a fair amount fiber, which aids in the digestion process and helps to balance friendly bacteria in the gut.

Some nutrients in the banana include the following:

  • Potassium
  • Vitamin B6
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Vitamin C
  • Protein
  • and More

While bananas do contain natural sugar, they rank low to medium on the glycemic index. This means they don’t increase your blood sugar level very fast, which is good, especially for diabetics.

Bananas have other health benefits too. Bananas are not only loaded with important antioxidants that benefit your well being, but may also support heart health. Bananas contain the mineral potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. Bananas can also make you feel full, as they contain a resistant starch, which is an indigestible carbohydrate and works like a soluble fiber in your body. Bananas and other fruit digest slower than most processed foods and trigger satiety hormones to help prevent over eating.

While most people assume bananas grow on trees, they actually are considered the largest herbaceous flowering plant and can grow 10-26 feet high.

Bananas grow in clusters with individual bunches known as hands. They kind of look like a pod that grows down from a branch and then opens with individual banana fruit.

It is a fascinating plant.

Many people eat bananas for breakfast or enjoy them as an afternoon snack. They also make a great post-work out food. Bananas can also be added to smoothies, yogurt or sliced over a piece of peanut butter toast. They also are great for baking and make delicious bread, muffins, pudding and pies.

Hope you are including the banana in your diet for its many health benefits.

Thanks for reading!

Barb

Source:

“11 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Bananas .” Authority Nutrition. N.p., 17 Aug. 2016. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.

“Bananas.” Bananas. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.

“Banana.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Feb. 2017. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.

Finally—A Movement In Our Country To Be Proud Of!

While I am not really a football fan, I did watch a little of last nights Super Bowl in between making food in the kitchen.

I  caught the half time show and some of the commercials, as well. I have to say, I was impressed. Not so much with the game or the show, but with some of the content of commercials. I don’t ever remember seeing a Super Bowl commercial for avocados, pistachios and water.

Super Bowl ads typically run the gamut for promoting junk food, fast food, soda pop and more.

Thankfully times are changing and I am happy to be part of the food movement.

Health coaches work hard to promote healthy eating and well-being and are helping drive consumers to make better food choices. In fact, it is part of the mission of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition® (IIN) to create a ripple effect of health to transform the world. There’s an obesity epidemic in this country and countless people that have health issues related to their diets, so seeing commercials for healthy food at one of the largest television venues is a real win.

Let’s take a look at some of the commercials:

Avocados From MexicoThis commercial focused on the point that everyone loves guacamole! I loved that fact that they were promoting a healthy fruit and healthy fat. Avocados are rich in a variety of vitamins, potassium, healthy fat and are loaded with fiber.

Wonderful PistachiosThis commercial focused on the fact that pistachio’s are a good source of protein. Eating a handful  or 2 of nuts is hands-down a better choice over a handful of potato chips.

Fiji WaterThis commercial focused on promoting “life’s gift” and refreshing over the seeing so many ads for soda pop over the years.

BaiThis commercial was promoting a new drink made from the coffee-fruit, which surrounds the coffee bean. It is loaded with Vitamin C and also includes white tea and other polyphenals. The beverage is sweetened with stevia and erythritol. I don’t know much about this drink, since it is new, but is sounds like it has some healthful ingredients and probably worth trying.

Life WaterThis commercial was promoting Pepsi’s new life water. Again—it was refreshing to see water being promoted over sugar-sweetened soda pop or other diet versions that contain chemicals.

Wendy’s This commercial was promoting Wendy’s fresh over frozen beef. I am not promoting fast-food here, but liked the idea of promoting fresh. Fresh, whole food is always better than processed.

There still were a few commercials shown for some junk food, but we are moving in the right direction. Promoting whole foods and fitness on a large scale is good for us all.

Here’s to your health!

Thanks for reading!

Barb

Vegetables For Vitality—Spotlight On Kale

In this post, I wanted to spotlight the vegetable kale.

Kale is a popular vegetable and powerhouse  when it comes to greens. Kale is loaded with vitamins and minerals and considered one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. It is no wonder it has become trendy to eat. I can’t think of a better way to get a healthy dose of vitamin A, C, K, B6, magnesium, calcium, potassium and more from a single 1 cup serving.

Kale also contains powerful antioxidants, such as beta carotene and flavanoids that help fight off free-radicals. Additionally, kale contains lutein and xeaxanthin, which helps protect your eyes as you age. If you are looking to build your iron, kale is a must to eat. Kale contains more iron than beef and can be added in to your diet in a variety of ways.

You can enjoy kale in a salad.

Add kale into your smoothie for a morning boost of energy.

Grab a handful or two of kale and add it to your stir fry.

You can mix it in with a pasta dish or spaghetti.

There are numerous possibilities.

Kale grows above ground and is a member of the cabbage family like broccoli, cauliflower and other collard greens. There are a variety of different types of kale available. Some kale has dark, green leaves, while other types of kale may have purple leaves. The shapes of the leaves may also vary from curly to more straight with longer stems.

Kale is anti-inflammatory, may help prevent cancer, is loaded with fiber and helps build immunity. No matter what variety you choose, rest assured you will reap the benefits by adding this vegetable to your diet.

Thanks for reading!

Barb

Source:

http://www.organicauthority.com/health/reasons-kale-is-the-new-beef-nutritious-sustainable.html

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-proven-benefits-of-kale/

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=38

Recipe: Stuffed Peppers

In this blog, I wanted to share a recipe for some stuffed peppers I made the other night. It is easy to make and has some healthful ingredients. Give it a try if you like.

Stuffed Peppers

4-6 large green
12 oz. pork sausage ( You can substitute hamburger, or ground turkey.)
2/3 cup chopped red onion
1/2 package fresh sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes (You can also substitute diced canned tomatos or a good quality pasta sauce.)
1 small can sliced olives
2 fresh cloves of garlic (crushed)
1 cup cooked rice (Choose your favorite variety.)
1 egg beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Cajun to taste
1 package grated cheddar cheese

Cut tops off peppers and scrape out seeds. Boil some water in a large pot, (enough to cover peppers,) and add the peppers for approximately 5 minutes, to cook slightly. Remove from heat, rinse and drain to cool.

Cook the pork sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently to break up the meat. Add the onion, celery, olives, mushrooms, garlic, salt, pepper and Cajun stirring occasionally until the sausage is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Transfer the sausage mixture into a large mixing bowl and allow it to cool slightly. Add the diced tomatoes and egg. Add the rice, to the cooled sausage mixture. Scoop it into the peppers. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top of the peppers. Bake until the peppers are tender and crisp in a 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Barb

Recipe: Lemon Caper Chicken

Here’s a good recipe I made over the weekend.  It is easy to make and has a really good flavor. I served it with oven fried potatos and green beans. Give it a try if you like.

Lemon Caper Chicken

lemon-caper-chicken

INGREDIENTS
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (You can also try coconut flour.)
1/4 cup butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. pepper
Salt to taste
3 Tbsp. capers, drained

DIRECTIONS
Flatten each chicken breast half to 1/4 inch thickness between sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper. Coat chicken with flour; shake off excess flour.

Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over mediium high heat. Cook chicken and garlic in butter about 6 miutes, turning once, until chicken is brown.

Add wine and lemon juice; reduce heat to medium. Sprinkle chicken with pepper and salt. Cook 8-10 minutes, turning once, until chicken is browned. Sprinkle with capers.

lemn-caper-chicken_2

Enjoy!

Barb

Paleo Pumpkin Bars

Here’s a tasty pumpkin recipe I tried over the weekend. It is pretty easy to make and is lower in sugar than some other recipes. It is also gluten and dairy free and may be a healthier option for some at Thanksgiving. Give it a try if you like.

Paleo Pumpkin Bars

paleo-pumpkin-bars_2

  • ⅓ cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp sea salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ⅓ cup organic pumpkin puree
  • ⅓ cup organic maple syrup (I used used honey)
  • 3½ tbsp unsweetened almond milk, or coconut milk, or cashew milk
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil or dairy butter, melted.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp baking soda + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, mixed in a separate bowl (will create a fizzy mix)

Crumble Topping:

  • ⅓ cup almond or pecan meal (grind up raw almonds or pecans in a magic bullet or coffee grinder)
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened organic coconut flakes.
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 ½ tbsp coconut oil or dairy butter, melted
  • 1/2 bag of pecan chunks
  1. Preheat oven at 350 F, and grease or oil an 8×8 pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine: ⅓ cup coconut flour, 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, 1 tsp cinnamon, and ⅛ tsp sea salt. Mix together thoroughly. Set aside.
  3. In a different large mixing bowl combine: 2 eggs, 3½ tbsp almond or coconut milk, ⅓ cup pumpkin puree, 2 tbsp melted coconut oil or butter, ⅓ cup maple syrup or honey, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Mix together until combined. Add the baking soda and vinegar mixture to the egg mixture. Mix together thoroughly.
  4. Add coconut flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir until combined.
  5. Pour and spread batter into greased 8×8 pan, and set aside.
  6. In a medium mixing bowl combine all the crumble topping ingredients, use a fork to mix topping until a paste forms.
  7. Take the crumble topping and scatter chunks of crumble topping all over the top of the pumpkin batter in the pan.
  8. Sprinkle with pecan chunks.
  9. Bake at 350 F for 28 to 30 minutes or until top is browned, and toothpick comes out of center clean.
  10. Cool completely. You can also refrigerate.
  11. Cut into 9 medium size bars and serve. Top with Coconut Whipped Cream if desired.

Coconut Whipped Cream

  • 1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk, chilled
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chill the can of coconut milk at least over night (better yet, 24 hours).

The fatty coconut cream will separate from the water in coconut milk. It will accumulate at the top and harden.

Using a hand mixer, whip the coconut cream with maple syrup, and vanilla extract until fluffy.

The whipped coconut cream should be stable enough to ice cake or cupcakes with.

paleo-pumpkin-bars

Enjoy!

Barb

 

Read Those Food Labels…

When it comes to processed foods, most people are aware that they aren’t always the healthiest choice, but many consumers buy them anyway because they are convenient to make, eat, and buy, and are often less expensive than most whole foods. It is no wonder consumers have no problem grabbing them off the shelves at their local grocery store, convenience store or favorite big-box store. We live in a society that is fast-paced, so it is quite common for many people to eat on the go and lean towards purchasing foods that are convenient. Think frozen pizza, frozen dinners, macaroni and cheese, soup, crackers, chips and more.

food-pizza-restaurant-eating-medium

The problem however, is that these prepared foods often lack nutrients that our bodies need and crave, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, and numerous others, which mainly come through eating whole foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, meat, grains, etc.) Many processed foods also contain added sugar and fat, which make them appealing to our taste buds, but often leave us craving more. Many are also loaded with additives and preservatives that may give them a long shelf life, but who knows what they are actually doing to our bodies? It is these additives that often wreak havoc, as our bodies don’t necessariily know how to process them.

sugar-falling-homemade-powder-medium

As a consumer, it is hard to get away from processed foods, as they seem to be everywhere and there are thousands upon thousands of choices.  We can however, make smarter choices when selecting them. The best way to do this is to start reading food labels when buying processed foods. While some consumers already read food labels, others do not. When is the last time you took a hard look at a food label? If you can’t remember, or don’t know, maybe it is time to change that.

Here are a some questions you should keep in mind:

  • How many ingredients does the product contain?
  • How many of the ingredients can you pronounce?
  • Do you know what the ingredients are?

If the list is long and involved, you should probably try to avoid the product. Consumers should shoot for 5 ingredients or less when purchasing food products. If you can’t say it, it is probably best to avoid it. It is hard to identify what you are actually eating if you are not familiar with the ingredient. By asking questions up front before buying a product,  you are taking control of your life and on your way to healthy living.

food-lable-with-ingredients

Thanks for reading!

Barb

Nutrition: Know Your ABC and D’s…

When it comes to nutrition, it’s important to know your ABC and D’s…

abcd_building-blocks

A is for Appetite…
While many people eat 3 meals a day and a snack or 2 throughout the day, others may not. Some people eat when they are bored. Other people eat when they are stressed, and still others seem to be constantly eating. While there is no hard and fast rule about how many times a day we should be eating, we should all pay attention to our appetites and what we are eating. When is the last time you asked yourself before reaching for that snack, “Am I really hungry?” The truth is that many people reach for those crackers, or chips because they are bored, or stressed out and really just want something to do, or have something to make them feel better, or satisfied for awhile. If you ask yourself if you are really hungry, you might figure out that you are really craving something else. Maybe going on a walk, or doing some quick stretches is a better option. If you really do feel hungry, try and find something that will give you some sustained energy such as an apple with peanut butter, a handful of nuts, etc.

B is for Bright Colors…
When it comes to foods, we all know that we should be eating more vegetables, as well as some fruit. Vegetables contain vital nutrients that our bodies need and we can’t get enough of them from other sources of food, or by taking vitamins, as we would have to mega-dose, which isn’t  good for you. That is why it is so important that we all eat our vegetables and plenty of them. When we sit down to eat, we should reach first for foods with more color. This should be fairly easy to do, as our eyes are typically drawn to bright colors. Think carrots, tomatoes, peppers, beets, corn, asparagus, egg plant, etc. Vegetables contain plenty of nutrients, plus include some powerful antioxidants that can help fight free radicals and their damaging effects.

We should also be adding more greens to our diets, as they are the most common missing food for most people. Many greens are rich in calcium, magnesium; phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E & K, etc. There are a variety of greens to choose from including kale, spinach, arugula, chard, etc. You can use them in salads, smoothies, make green juice with them, add them in with your main dish, saute them in olive oil and seasoning, etc. There are many options.

Adding more fruit to your diet is another way to help eat more healthfully. Fruit also contains a variety of nutrients that our bodies need, along with antioxidants. Many fruits also contain a healthy dose of fiber, which can help make us feel full. Many people prefer fruit over vegetables, as most fruit is sweet, but keep in mind that fruit does contain sugar, so you don’t want to eat too much. One to two servings of fruit a day is plenty. Fruit comes in a bright array of colors. Reach for apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, etc. Berries are also a good choice, as many of them contain anti-inflammatory nutrients—Think blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.

C is for Conscious Choices…
We live in a society that is fast-paced, so it is quite common for many people to eat on the go and lean towards purchasing foods that are convenient. The problem is that these prepared foods often lack nutrients that our bodies need and crave, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, and numerous others. People are often busy running from this meeting to that meeting, or running the kids here, or there, so many times people just don’t take the time to prepare a lunch to bring with them to work, or take the time to cook and prepare a meal at home later on. Many people often opt instead for a frozen pizza, go out to eat, or prepare some other convenient packaged food item. The truth is that even if you don’t have a lot of time to prepare a home cooked meal, you can always make conscious choices about what to eat. For example, you can choose a salad over a slice of pizza. You can also try and plan ahead and have food in your refrigerator that is more healthful. Cut up vegetables and store them in containers that can be easily transported with you. That way you can have a crunchy snack that is good for you, instead of reaching for a bag of Dorito’s from a vending machine. You can also have a variety of fruit on hand that you can easily grab, or take with you. Cooking ahead is another option. That way you have food ready to eat, or combine in with something else. For example, you can cook or grill a package of chicken breasts one day, and then cut the  chicken in slices to have ready for salads, tacos, fajitas, etc. This saves time, as well as can give you a variety of options for meals.

Make sure you have plenty of healthful snack options on hand too, to help avoid other unhealthy food choices.  Stock up on nuts such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, etc. You can also have both fresh and dried fruit, yogurt, dark chocolate, etc. Buy whatever healthy snacks work for you and your body.

D is for Destination…
Keep in mind that we all come from different ethnic backgrounds and that our ancestry can also shape our diets. Many cultures have specific foods that are unique to them and eat in a way that works well for their body and their culture. In certain regions of the world, some foods are prevalent and abundant and were naturally incorporated in the diet. For example, if your ancestors are from Japan, they most likely ate a lot of fish. Other items prevalent in their diets include rice, tofu, vegetables and fruits. If your ancestors are from Germany like mine, you might do well on a hearty diet of meat, potatoes and vegetables. Don’t be surprised if you crave some foods that are common to your ancestral background, especially if you haven’t eaten something in awhile. This is normal and for many people eating ancestral foods works well.

Thanks for reading!

Barb