Chocolate Hearts … Good for Your Heart

Written by: on Wednesday, January 24th, 2018
dark chocolate

Look for dark chocolate with a high cocoa content of 70% to 100% for best health benefits.

I love chocolate. There’s nothing more satisfying than sitting down on a cold winter’s day with a cup of hot tea and some chocolate (preferably no kids around, making demands…sorry, I love my kids but this is me time). But the big problem with milk chocolate is…you can’t stop after just a little bit. It’s like one bite makes you want, no eat, even more. (Why I’ve had a hard time resisting the chocolates in my kids’ Halloween bins — and Christmas stockings.) Enter dark chocolate—and particularly these dark chocolates from Enjou Chocolates.*

 

dark chocolate hearts

Each of these hearts has 44 calories and loads of good-for-you antioxidants.

These have 72% cocoa content, which is what you want to look for in dark chocolate. (A cocoa content of 70% to 100% is ideal.) This dark chocolate has more fiber, more minerals (like calcium and iron), and more good-for-you antioxidants. It’s also been shown in studies to help improve risk factors for heart disease, helping to decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol—due to the powerful antioxidants it contains. But the best thing about these dark chocolate hearts: I can sit down and eat just two of them—and not crave any more. At 88 calories for two, this is a snack me—and my heart—have come to love.

* Products have been purchased by me. No products have been accepted for free or at a discount to write this piece.

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No, Chipotle Doesn’t Make You Chubby

Written by: on Thursday, September 3rd, 2015
ChubbyChipotle

When you see a full-page ad attacking a business that’s been doing extremely well, become very suspicious.

So, I was catching up on the New York Post this morning—and was amazed to come across this full page ad basically bashing Chipotle. Hmm…I thought. Chipotle has been doing extremely well and businesses like McDonald’s have been doing poorly, shutting down restaurants around the country and laying off employees. “Could McDonald’s be behind this?” I thought. “Why else would anyone spend this kind of money to bash Chipotle in a way-too-obvious attempt to negate all the positive feedback Chipotle has been getting.” Or it might be Monsanto: king of the push for GMO’s that’s not doing too well either (Chipotle has vowed to go non-GMO). Some big money group is definitely behind a full-page ad, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars…if not more.

Turns out my suspicions are justified: This ChubbyChipotle ad is the work of a seemingly innocuous and “helpful” group called The Center for Consumer Freedom, a “nonprofit coalition which opposes activist interference with and legal restrictions on the sale of food and drink, etc…” (according to their website). The only problem: this group is one of many created by Washington, D.C. Public Relations (PR) executive and lawyer, Rick Berman, who heads up a PR group called Berman and Company.

No surprise as I dug deeper, Rick Berman is paid for by big money; while you would never get hold of his client list (most companies have their clients front and center on their websites; this guy supposedly firewalls his list so no one knows whom he represents). This is the same guy behind other websites opposing PETA, GreenPeace, unions, raising the minimum wage, and regulation of trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Click on this independent website to get a bit more background information on this guy (warning: it ain’t pretty).

Chipotle burrito

Burritos can be healthy for you—but don’t load them up with high-calorie cheese and sour cream.

First of all, when it comes to weight gain—eating too much of ANYTHING can make you fat. But choosing Chipotle for your meals definitely won’t make you chubby unless you’re eating 2 giant burritos, plus chips, plus a giant soda at every meal. Moderation is the key to healthy eating and keeping your weight stable. And beans, rice, avocados, tomatoes, lettuce, and a variety of other healthy ingredients that make up Chipotle’s delicious menu are good for you. (Yes, I’m a Chipotle fan—as well as being an advocate for the truth when it comes to your health and wellbeing).

And when it comes to ads like this, dig deeper because there’s some spinmaster at work behind the ad, trying to make you believe something other than what your gut is telling you is right.

Bottom line: when it comes to your health, always, always trust your gut. If you believe, for example, that organic food is healthiest for your family—don’t listen to the cacophony of negatives against organic food saying that organics are no better than foods sprayed with pesticides. If you believe that genetically modified (GMO) foods aren’t good for your health, stick to your guns because there will be plenty of these ads—and even research studies paid for by these companies not telling the entire truth—based on spinning the truth to make you believe that companies like Monsanto are good and are actually there to feed the world and help prevent hunger. (Not)

Your gut is all you have to rely on because where there’s big money, there are big lobbying groups like Berman and Company working to spin the information so they can all make big money (and you’re left with a host of diseases 10/15 years from now).

As a matter of record, I have received no money from Chipotle to write this post—and in fact, have never received anything free from Chipotle. I choose to eat there with my family because I know it’s healthy food—and the ingredients are fresh. My kids love it. And what’s more: none of us are chubby.

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Edible Seeds & Why They’re Good for You

Written by: on Monday, November 3rd, 2014

I love this chart highlighting the benefits of seeds. We’re not conditioned to think of seeds as a food here in America—but we should. (I personally love flax and chia seeds because they’re chockfull of omega-3s [I sprinkle them on my oatmeal every day] — and sesame seeds, which I sprinkle on my salads, because they’re high in calcium.) Take a look and find a seed to try in your diet.

6 Edible Seeds: Here is why you should sprinkle them into your diet
“6 Edible Seeds” on Health Perch

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Super Foods: Do They Need to be Exotic?

Written by: on Sunday, September 7th, 2014
turrmeric

Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammtory long used in Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. The yellow or orange pigment in turmeric is curcumin.

Do you ever get tired of reading yet-another headline about The 10 Best Super Foods, only be instructed to buy exotic fruits, ancient grains, and other unusual items? Do we really need chia, spelt, and quinoa? Is anything wrong with old-fashioned peanut butter, broccoli, and brown rice? Doubtful! Powerful nutrients are found in standard foods that are readily available at a reasonable cost. You know, oranges, bananas, berries, oatmeal, almonds, hummus, lowfat yogurt, brown rice, tuna … basic, wholesome foods. Are those foods exotic? No. But do they still do a great job of offering super nutrition? Yes!

To add to the confusion about exotic foods, the sports food industry touts their list of engineered super sports supplements. Ads lead you to believe you really need to buy these products to support your athletic performance. The question arises: Are there really special nutrients or components of food that can help athletes to go faster, higher or stronger? If so, can they be consumed in the form of whole foods or do we actually need special commercial supplements?

At a 2014 meeting of Professionals in Nutrition for Exercise and Sport (PINESNutrition.org), exercise researchers from around the globe discussed that topic and provided answers to these questions:

Cup of coffee

Coffee is also rich in health-promoting antioxidants.

Is there any difference between consuming pre-exercise caffeine in the form of pills, gels or coffee?

Regardless of the source of caffeine (pill, gel, coffee), it is a popular way to enhance athletic performance. Take note: High doses of caffeine (2.5 to 4 mg/lb body weight; 6 to 9 mg/kg) are no better than the amount athletes typically consume in a cup or two of coffee (1.5 mg/lb; 3 mg/kg). Hence, drinking an extra cup of coffee is unlikely to be advantageous, particularly when consumed later in the day before an afternoon workout, which is when it ends up interfering with evening sleep!

Do tart (Montmorency) cherries offer any benefits to sports performance? If so, what’s the best way to consume them?

Tart cherries (and many other deeply colored fruits and veggies) are rich in health-protective antioxidants and polyphenols. Tart cherries can reduce inflammation, enhance post-exercise recovery, repair muscles, reduce muscle soreness, and improve sleep. Athletes who are training hard, participating in tournaments, or traveling through time zones might be wise to enjoy generous portions. Yet, to get the recommended dose of cherries that researchers use to elicit benefits, you would need to eat 90 to 110 cherries twice a day for seven days pre-event. Most athletes prefer to swig a shot of tart cherry juice concentrate instead! (One study found that drinking 8 ounces of tart cherry juice twice daily helped insomniacs sleep 84 more minutes per night than when given a placebo juice.)

Blueberries

Colorful fruits like blueberries are rich in antioxidants called polyphenols as well as other nutrients; organic is always best.

What about food polyphenols such as quercetin and resveratrol?

Polyphenols are colorful plant compounds that are linked with good health when they are consumed in whole foods. Yet, polyphenol supplements, such as quercetin or resveratrol, don’t offer the same positive antioxidant or anti-inflammatory benefits. An explanation might be that once in the colon, where most polyphenols go, parts leak into the bloodstream during heavy exercise. These smaller compounds create the anti-inflammatory effect. Athletes who routinely eat colorful fruits during endurance training offer their gut the opportunity to distribute good health!

Does curcumin reduce chronic inflammation?

Curcumin (an active constituent of turmeric, the spice that gives the yellow color to curry and mustard) has beneficial properties that have been shown to help prevent cancer, enhance eye health, and reduce inflammation. Subjects with osteoarthritis (an inflammatory condition) who took curcumin supplements for 8 months reported less pain (due to less inflammation) and better quality of life. Unfortunately, curcumin is rapidly metabolized and therefore has low bioavailability when consumed in the diet. To increase absorption, supplements often contain curcumin combined with piperine (black pepper extract).

Green tea is rich in catechins, antioxidants that fight and may even prevent cell damage.

Green tea is rich in catechins, antioxidants that fight and may even prevent cell damage.

Does green tea help improve body composition? What is the best way to take it?

Green tea reportedly enhances fat oxidation and helps with weight loss, particularly when combined with caffeine. But the amount of additional fat burned is minimal, and the 10 to 12 cups of green tea needed to create any effect is a bit overwhelming. (Hence, most studies use a green tea extract.) Because green tea has not been studied in lean athletes, we can only guess that it is unlikely to offer a significant improvement in body composition.

Is watermelon juice a powerful stimulant for sports performance?

Watermelon juice is a source of L-citrulline, an amino acid that contributes to production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps relax the blood vessels and thus enhances blood flow so more oxygen can get transported to the working muscles. One study with athletes who consumed L-citrulline supplements reports they attained a 7% higher peak power output as compared to when they exercised without L-citrulline.

slices of watermelon

Watermelon contains about 250 millligrams of citrulline per cup.

Yet, when athletes were given watermelon juice (contains L-citrulline) or apple juice (that has no L-citrulline), the peak power was only slightly higher and the L-citrulline gave no significant benefits. The bottom line: Watermelon is a nourishing fruit and a welcome refreshment for thirsty athletes. You would need to eat a lot of watermelon to get the equivalent of L-citrulline found in (expensive) supplements. Your best bet is to enjoy watermelon in standard portions as a tasty addition to your diet.

What can be done with pea, hemp, or other plant protein to make them as effective as whey for building muscle?

In general, plants (such as peas, hemp) contain less leucine than found in animal proteins. Leucine helps drive the muscle’s ability to make new protein. Hence, to increase the muscle-building properties of plant proteins, you need to either eat large portions of, let’s say, hemp or pea protein (to get a bigger dose of leucine), or you can combine those plant-foods with leucine-rich proteins, such as soy, egg, or dairy foods.

The bottom line: Your best bet to optimize performance is to optimize your total diet. No amount of any supplement will compensate for lousy eating, though a few just might enhance a proper diet.

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Whole Grain Applesauce Bread

Written by: on Friday, May 9th, 2014
Applesauce bread

Top this bread with peanut or almond butter for an even healthier snack.

In honor of Applesauce Cake Day (coming up on June 6) check out my recipe on Playdate Place  for Homemade Applesauce Cake. My family gave it two thumbs up. Still feeling inspired, plus I had some leftover applesauce, I decided to lighten up my mother-in-law’s applesauce bread. She gave me her recipe 25 years ago and let’s just say, it was time for an update. For starters, I cut back on the sugar. To add fiber and grains, I used whole-wheat white flour instead of the usual all-purpose white flour. Rather than butter (I know it tastes so rich), I used heart-healthy canola oil. The makeover was worth it! Thanks to the applesauce and buttermilk, my Whole Grain Applesauce Bread is super moist and still has a buttery flavor. I have no idea who came up with National Applesauce Cake Day but I love applesauce! Check out my recipe for homemade applesauce. It’s so easy and fun to make with your kids. In the mean time, enjoy my applesauce bread. I wonder what my mother-in-law will think?

 

Whole Grain Applesauce Bread

Makes 12 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole wheat white flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

3 large egg whites

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup buttermilk

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 X 5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder together. Set aside.

Beat the egg whites, sugar and oil. Blend in applesauce and buttermilk. Add flour mixture and stir until moistened. Stir in raisins. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

 

Nutrition Information per slice 228 calories, 3.5 grams protein, 33 grams carbohydrate, 9.5 grams fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 0.5 milligrams cholesterol, 2.5 grams dietary fiber, 78.5 milligram sodium

Different type of flour to bake with

Try substituting different types of flour in this recipe: We tried substituting gluten-free flour for whole wheat and it worked great.

 

Alternative to Milk in Recipes

We also tried making this recipe dairy free by taking out the buttermilk—and it worked. We substituted rice milk (you could also use almond milk) for buttermilk and added a tablespoon of chia seeds soaked in 2 tablespoons of water.

 

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A Delicious, Super Healthy Snack

Written by: on Monday, April 28th, 2014

Chia Pod BananaI picked up some Banana Chia Pods while I was doing my weekly grocery shopping—and I have fallen in love! This convenient snack only contains three! ingredients (which follows my simple, healthy eating philosophy): chia seeds, coconut milk, and real bananas. The banana definitely tastes fresh…and there are no added sugars! Plus, one container contains 259 milligrams of potassium—a mineral key for so many things like regulating blood pressure and keeping your kidneys healthy.

These snacks are also rich in fiber and omega-3s (of course, because chias are chockfull of omega-3 fatty acids). Take a look at the ingredient label, below. Bottom line: definitely try these yummy treats—particularly as a substitute for more sugary snacks. (You can buy a 12-pack for $40, about $3 a snack, at thechiaco.com.au; just be sure to click the US flag at the bottom of the page…otherwise, you’ll be ordering from Australia!) The only downside: they use a lot of plastic for this one snack (plastic top, plastic spoon included, and plastic cup); while I do recycle plastic, I want to find a way to re-use these snack pods to make buying these worthwhile. (I think they’d make a great on-the-go snack container for kids on long car rides!) And while I’m not a fan of plastic at all, glass chia pod containers are never going to happen unless I make my own banana chia pudding…stay tuned!

Chia Pod Nutrition

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A Healthier Manhattan Clam Chowder

Written by: on Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

 

clam chowder

Did you know? Clams are mineral powerhouses, with plenty of phosphorus, potassium, copper and selenium.

This Manhattan Clam Chowder is so easy to make. Plus, it’s a broth-based soup, which means it has a lot fewer calories compared to New England Clam Chowder, which is cream-based. If you’re not digging clams, try some of my other healthy and delicious soup recipes: Turkey Tortilla Soup, Southern Corn Chowder and Slow-Cooker Chili. Soup really is good food and made the right way, it can be good for you, too!

 Manhattan Clam Chowder

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

2 (10 ounce) cans fancy whole baby clams, rinsed under running water

1 1/2 cups clam juice

1 cup celery, chopped

1 cup sweet bell pepper chopped (red or green)

1/4 cup carrot, chopped

1 green onion, chopped

2 cups finely chopped, peeled potatoes

1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock (homemade tastes best!)

1/2 cup dry red wine (optional)

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Salt to taste (optional)

Directions

1) Drain the clams but save the juice! Pour the clam juice into a measuring cup. You should have at least 1 1/2 cups of clam juice. If you don’t, add extra water until you have 1 1/2 cups.

2) In a large saucepan, combine the clam juice, celery, sweet bell pepper, carrot and green onion. Bring everything to a boil; reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

3) Add all of the remaining ingredients to the saucepan except the clams. Bring it back to a boil; reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10 more minutes.

4) Stir in the clams and return to a boil; reduce the heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes more.

Nutrition Information per serving 115 calories, 10 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrate. 2.5 grams dietary fiber, 0 grams fat, 0 milligrams saturated fat, 20 milligrams cholesterol, 370 milligrams sodium

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Eating Gluten-Free: Tips from an Iron Chef

Written by: on Tuesday, November 5th, 2013
Gluten-Free Red Kidney Beans

Beans are a great, protein-rich, gluten-free food.

It’s not hard these days to come across “gluten-free” labels—in your grocery store and in delis and restaurants around the country. And with the recent standardization of gluten-free labeling by the Food & Drug Administration, you’re sure to see even more products being labeled gluten-free moving forward.

Why it matters: almost 30 percent of Americans are avoiding or eliminating gluten from their diet—many because it just makes them feel better and many others for medical reasons.

An estimated three million Americans suffer from something called Celiac Disease—a genetic autoimmune disease that damages the small intestine, and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food when gluten (the protein in wheat, barley, and rye) is eaten. (If you suspect you might have problems digesting gluten, ask your doctor to be tested.)

AliceBlastChefMehta

Alice Blast, of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, discusses gluten-free eating at Chef Mehta’s restaurant in Tribeca.

For those with Celiac Disease—just like those who have a nut allergy—flours, doughs, pastas, and any products containing gluten, can’t touch (or even mix with) gluten-free foods because it would cross contaminate them. Some people even suffer from airborne Celiac Disease, which can be particularly dangerous if food—particularly in a restaurant—isn’t prepared properly.

And therein lies the problem, says Alice Blast, founder of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Many chefs and foodservice providers remain unprepared and uneducated on how to provide gluten-free food that’s safe, says Blast, who has Celiac Disease herself. (Blast did not find out she had Celiac Disease until she was trying to get pregnant—one reason she wrote the article, “Celiac Disease and Reproductive Health Issues.”)

That’s the reason Blast has spearheaded a Great Kitchens‘ 10-City Gluten-Free Chef’s Table Tour , which recently kicked off in NYC at Iron Chef finalist Jehangir Mehta’s restaurant, Mehtaphor, located in TriBeca. The aim of this tour: to educate people, the media, and restaurants about what exactly gluten free is—and the importance of having gluten-free options available to those with Celiac Disease.

We got a chance to catch up with Chef Mehta, who is passionate about the importance of having gluten-free options on the menu. Here are his tips on eating gluten free:

Gluten-FreeHamburger

Eating simply is often best: a beef burger and simple salad are gluten free.

1) Eat foods naturally gluten free. “One of my core beliefs as a chef is that your health and your diet are inextricably tied,” says Mehta, who adds that naturally gluten-free foods are a great option. Many ethnic dishes, he says, are naturally gluten free because places such as Mumbai, where he grew up, use a lot of rices, beans, and spices, in place of the more expensive wheat and flour.

Other foods naturally gluten free are those that are healthier for you than processed foods. These include fresh fruits (like apples, oranges, berries, and pomegranates) and vegetables (like broccoli, spinach, carrots, and cauliflower). Keep in mind that canned fruits and vegetables aren’t always gluten free; you have to check the labels. (The more ingredients, the greater risk one of them contains gluten.) Single-ingredient frozen fruits and vegetables (and simple mixes, sans sauces) are also gluten free.

Also, just because the lettuce you’re eating is gluten free doesn’t mean the dressing is, particularly if it’s bottled dressing. Be safe, and make your own with extra virgin olive oil and wine or rice vinegar (both are gluten free)—but skip distilled white vinegar and malt vinegar, which are not gluten free.

PurpleCauliflower

Fresh cauliflower (no matter what color), as well as other fresh fruits and veggies, is gluten free.

Fresh meat and fish are also typically gluten free, but be aware of meats and fish that are ready-to-cook or in ready-to-eat side dishes. These may not be safe to consume as the store may use sauces or even bread crumbs with gluten. Also be careful around processed meats like hot dogs. Many brands, like Applegate, carry the gluten-free label—but never assume if you don’t see the label.

2. Make your own. Can’t get what you want from your grocery store or local restaurant, make it. If you’re motivated to make your own gluten-free pasta, Meta recommends using chickpea flour, water, and grapeseed oil along with eggs (and an extra yolk to give taste and texture).

The best pre-made gluten-free mixed flours include Domata Living Flour, Bob’s Red Mill, and Jules Gluten Free  (which makes great cut-out cookies).

For a list of gluten-free recipes you can make at home, click here and check out this Holiday Pinterest Board, too. Also download the Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking Essentials Checklist. (Also, check out this great gluten-free website with recipes from author Elana Amsterdam.)

Mehtaphor in Tribeca

Mehta’s restaurant is located in the Duane St. Hotel in New York City’s TriBeca.

3. Become a label reader—and stay educated. Know which brands produce gluten-free (and even dairy- and nut-free) products. (Click here, for a list of manufacturers.)

4. Frequent restaurants that take gluten-free seriously. There are plenty of restaurants like Mehta’s Mehtaphor that offer plenty of gluten-free options. Click here to search for local restaurants with gluten-free menus.

For a sampling of what we tried at Mehta’s Mehtaphor, as part of the Chef’s Table Tour, scroll below (all recipes are gluten free—and delicious!).

Mustard Foie gras crostini with raspberry (using gluten-free bread)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oysters with tapioca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled tofu with green chutney, topped with a chickpea-crusted onion ring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sliced Duck served over portobello mushroom with spicy goat cheese and tomato with a mustard and onion chutney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mehtaphor sundae, including vanilla rum ice cream with Kahlua, rum raisins and lentil chip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Seeds: Why You Should Add Them to Your Diet…Today

Written by: on Thursday, July 18th, 2013
Healthy, Edible Seeds

Seeds are an oft-forgotten source of protein and key nutrients.

Times have changed from when we used to joke about people who ate “nuts and berries”. Today’s athletes routinely enjoy nuts and berries and are now looking for ways to notch up their diets with more seeds (such as flax and chia). This trend can enhance the health of both our bodies—and the planet. That is, by choosing more plant foods, we’ll end up eating less meat and animal protein. If each of us were to eat just one less pound of beef per week, greenhouse gas emissions would drop significantly.

While seeds are health-enhancing choices to include in your diet, their nutritional value can sometimes get exaggerated. The following information offers a perspective on some “trendy” foods that are getting mainstreamed.

Nuts and Seeds

Want to add a nice crunch, along with vitamins and minerals, to your diet? Sprinkle some slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, pistachios, sunflower and sesame seeds into your yogurt, cereal, salad, and smoothie. Nuts and seeds offer protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, and many other nutrients. The fact that a plant grows from a nut or seed indicates it is life sustaining.

Many nuts and seeds offer alpha linoleic acid, also known as ALA, a type of health-protective omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. While ALA from plants is not as potent as the type of omega-3s found in fish, any omega-3 fat is better than none. But dieters beware! When you nonchalantly toss a few spoonfuls of nuts and seeds into your smoothies and salads to pump up their nutritional value, you can also easily toss in 100 to 400 calories. While vegans may need this protein and calorie boost, if you’re weight-conscious, you might want to think twice.

Comparing Seeds and Nuts This chart shows how 1/4 cup of nuts and seeds (two spoonfuls or a large handful) adds a lot of calories but minimal protein towards the daily target of about 60 to 90 grams of protein. Vegans still need additional plant proteins, like beans and tofu, to get enough protein.

Seed¼ cup/30 g Calories Protein    g Fiber g Calcium mg Ironmg
Chia 140 5 10 180 8
Flax, ground 150 5 8 70 1.5
Hemp seeds 180 10 4  — 1
Sunflower 190 6 3 20 1
Pumpkin 170 9 2 50 2
Sesame 200 6 4 350 5
Walnuts 190 4 2 30 1
Daily target:60-90 g Daily target:25-35 g Daily target:1,000 mg Daily target:8 mg men18 mg women

Flax seeds, commonly consumed for their ALA omega-3 fat benefits, need to be ground before being eaten. Otherwise, they pass through your intestines whole and undigested.

Chia seeds also offer ALA omega-3 fats—but you don’t need to grind them. Just sprinkle chia on yogurt and enjoy the crunch. When soaked in water for 10 minutes, chia seeds create a gel that can be used as a thickener for smoothies and as an alternative to eggs and oils in some recipes. The slimy consistency of soaked chia seeds can be tough to enjoy for some. If you fall into the “no thank you” camp, worry not. You have many other options for enjoyably consuming similar nutrients in other seeds and nuts.

Sunflower Seed Butter

My kids love this! (And it's perfect for lunches in schools that don't allow peanuts.)

Sunflower seeds have a mild, pleasing taste when added to salads, trail mix, or cold cereals. For people with peanut allergies, sunflower butter is a popular alternative to peanut butter.

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are slower to eat when you buy them in the shell. This can save unwanted calories.

Hemp seeds are touted as containing all the essential amino acids. Hemp adds a protein-boost to vegan diets, but at a high price. Hemp seeds costs about $15 per pound, as compared to soy nuts, that also have all the amino acids, about $3.50/lb.

Healthy Sesame Seeds

Try some sesame seeds today!

Sesame seeds have a gentle flavor and make a nice addition to stir-fried tofu or chicken. Although sesame seeds are touted as being calcium-rich, their calcium is poorly absorbed.

Chopped nuts, such as walnuts or slivered almonds, add a protein boost—but not as much of a protein bonus as many people think. If you ate half a cup of walnuts (two big handfuls), you’d get only 8 grams of protein. For the same calories, you could add 1.5 cups of cottage cheese to your salad and get five times more protein (40 grams).

Copyright Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD

RECIPE: Super Spice Trail Mix

This Super Spice Trail Mix includes a yummy combination of health-enhancing nuts, seeds, grain, and spices. Pack it into into little individual baggies for snacks, sprinkle it into yogurt, or add it to cold or hot cereal. It offers a really nice crunch and flavor boost to shredded wheat and other bland cereals. (I found this recipe at www.McCormick.com. The McCormick Spice website offers lots of really nice and flavorful recipes filled with herbs and spices.)

Ingredients

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ginger

2 teaspoons paprika

3 cups nuts, such as a mix of almonds, shelled pistachios, and pecan halves

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup roasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

1/4 cup apple juice concentrate, thawed

1-1/2 cups dried fruit, suh as a mix of dried  cherries, cranberries, and golden raisins

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and paprika in small bowl. Set aside.

2. Place nuts, oats, and pepitas in a large bowl. Add thawed apple juice concentrate; toss until nuts are evenly coated.

3. Sprinkle with spice mixture, tossing to coat well.

4. Spread evenly on two 15x10x1-inch baking pans. 

Bake 30 minutes, stirring halfway through cook time. Cool completely on wire rack.

5. Stir in cherries and raisins. Store in airtight container.

Yield 24  ¼-cup servings Approximate calories per serving 200

 

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“Nonfat is nonsense…and other great weight-loss nutrition tips!”: Weight Loss Diary

Written by: on Thursday, April 19th, 2012

My first question is where did April go? I had such plans, so many goals. April got swallowed up by a series of unfortunate events in my life, but I have the reins on my weight-loss program again.

I have been eagerly awaiting my first bit of advice and direction from Lauren, my personal nutrition advisor, of FOODTRAINERS and it is here!

fresh whole strawberries in a cup

Moderation is key when eating anything, including fruit!

1. Fruit but don’t Overfruit. Fruit is low in calories and a part of any healthy regime. However, fruit is sugar and it’s possible to overdo it. I would stick to 2, max 3 1-cup portions of fruit a day. Additionally try to choose lower glycemic fruits such as berries, citrus, cantaloupe, apples, and pears. Also important given family history (and by that she means the diabetes on my father’s side).

I will struggle the most with limiting my fruit. It is just so handy, portable, and satisfying. Clearly, I “overfruit” now. 

2. Nonfat is often nonsense. I would switch nonfat yogurt to low fat. Nonfat to our bodies is higher in sugar. You also aren’t satiated with nonfat in the same way. Same for fat free half and half.

This is surprising, but not shocking. I always believed this but switched to non-fat to shave off precious calories. Fat back in my yogurt and half and half will be delightful and delectable!

3. Try a 3/4 day for portions. I told Lauren that portion sizes were difficult for me, so she recommended I pick 1 day (a non-work day) and do what she calls a “3/4 day”: Eat slowly, chew well and stop yourself 3/4 through your regular portion. Wait 3 to 5 minutes. If you can, stop the meal there. If you cannot, keep going. The goal is to stop and assess, that’s the first skill.

This piece of advice will also be tough but I am trying to model the eating behavior of my daughters who gloriously and unconsciously walk away when done —whether it is scrambled eggs or chocolate cake. I never want them to learn to clean the plate or finish it off just because it tastes  good. Somehow, I never learned to recognize or acknowledge being full enough and satisfied, but it is never too late!

how many grains you should be eating a day

This is how big your daily serving of grains should be...no more!

4. Trade off grains. Keep carbs/grains, cereal, bread, potatoes, rice, etc to 1 meal a day “fist” size (makes me wish I had a bigger hand!)

Prior to a number of stints with the Atkins Diet, I was a card-carrying carb loader. Thankfully, even though that was an impossible lifestyle to maintain, I did take a way a (nearly) firm control over grains, especially cereal. I should have no problem limiting my grains. They are more like treats to me anyway.

5. Drink plenty of water! Get 48 to 64 ounces per day plus 1 to 2 cups green tea (I will need a catheter!)

Water. Well, I guess I will just have to do it even it I don’t like it. I like unsweetened ice tea and make it by the gallons. Even my girls drink it. I will have to ask Lauren if that would be an acceptable substitute. I could always make iced green tea. Of course I don’t want to start out my nutrition tutoring with complaints!

4. Exercise. Work out 150 to 180 minutes a week (total as you go) with one day “longer” 50 to 60 min.

I have come a long, long way in terms of what I can accomplish physically and how often.  Lauren is advising I ramp it up for weight loss.  There are some days that will be very difficult to achieve but One Hour Workout on ValerieLatona.com

 

 

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