Snacking is an area of your life where you can either boost your nutrition, or sabotage your efforts. Here are some basic guidelines to help you navigate how and what to eat for the best healthy snacking.
Is Snacking a Good Thing?
When I was a kid, other than milk and cookies after school, snacking was frowned upon. My Mother would chide us about eating too much with the threat, “It will spoil your appetite!”. Depending on your eating pattern and levels of daily exertion, snacking can be an integral and important part staying properly nourished.
After a strenuous workout a light snack is essential for rebuilding stressed tissues. If you are a powerhouse at your computer, or in meetings all day, your brain could benefit from a healthy boost too. But there are pitfalls that you can fall into.
The problem with snacking is they are often enjoyed on the run, away from home and jammed into our mouths somewhere between inhale and exhale. This is a fact of life that no one can deny, so it’s important to prepare in advance so that when the hunger pangs hit you don’t reach for junk foods and load up on empty calories.
The Definition of a Healthy Snack
If you’re like most people you know little about turnips. You know that they are over in that obscure area of the market along with the rutabagas, kohlrabi, and other assorted winter root vegetables. You might be surprised at what you will learn, and this may become a new favorite vegetable. Out with the potato! In with the Turnip!
What’s a Turnip?
With so many choices in the market these days, it may be confusing when trying to eat healthily. Use these guidelines to help navigate the aisles with confidence.
1.Choose food items that are as close to their natural state as possible.
2. Think quality, not quantity. Mega farm raised food that is shipped long distances may not be the healthiest.
3. Don’t buy items that list sugar as its first three ingredients. No High Fructose Corn Syrup. Ever.
4. Shop the perimeter of the market where most of the whole foods are located: but beware, grocers are catching onto this and shelving processed foods in unlikely places.
5. Given a choice of a whole fruit or vegetable or a prepared one, choose the former. This goes for things such as fruit cups.
6. Avoid lettuce sold in plastic shells or plastic bags. The containers are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria, and the containers are unnecessary waste.
7. If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, avoid eating it. Continue Reading
Now that the Winter is upon us, I find myself searching for ways to bring life into my, well… life. In my office I have amaryllis and paperwhites blooming, along with Christmas cactus and a few dishes of succulents. They bring me peace and happiness, and some vitality amidst the paperwork and glowing computer screen. Now, in my kitchen I also have sprouts!
My home is in a small city, which offers many things, but not a variety of sprouts. In the warmer months there is a fantastic grower at the farmer’s market who produces sensation hydroponic sprouts. He has a few different mixes, one is a spicy version that I just adore. When I couldn’t get my own, I remembered an article I read (somewhere, who knows when), about using takeout containers to grow your own little counter garden. So here we are, my green thumb experiment.
How To Grow Sprouts
The process really couldn’t be easier. The first thing is to find a reliable container. I used some storage containers, those plastic shells from salad mixes, and I also used a little tin pail (seen below) that I had kicking about. I just thought it would look adorable on my counter- and it did! You just need something that will hold water- a cup, a bowl, really any vessel will do. Continue Reading
I love the holidays, but all the celebrating can make one “hungover” from all the indulgences. I live most of my life in a wholesome way, but I do enjoy the treats of the season. To me this is what living a life in balance is about. I never want any of my clients to think that they must abandon all the things they enjoy. What I do like to promote is a healthy balance of all things.
Food means so many things to all of us. It represents comfort and love and emotional nourishing. To think of food as only it’s nutritional components is missing out on the joy and pleasure of food (and eating). I often get into discussions about “evil” foods and I hear many people pontificate about the things that are MUSTS to avoid (I’m talking about you gluten and high fructose corn syrup). There is no doubt that there are some food substances well best on the shelf, however, it dismays me to think about all this negativity, angst and hatred. I would much rather look at the joys of food, and they way clean eating makes you feel.
So many look to start the New Year off with a wholesome approach. For that I say BRAVA! and I am here to help. It is my extreme joy and passion to create and pull together recipes that are nutritious and delicious. More importantly, my mission it to make you love the food you are eating and show you how to incorporate healthy food into your daily life. The good news? You don’t have to be a BoHo nymph to be healthy, nor do you have to embrace gloppy juices or obscure ingredients.
Over the next few weeks look for some free downloads to guide you through these initial transitions. ( If you sign up for the mailing list they will be sent directly to you) Or check out our weekly menu plans that are just amazing. (This week for example is Chicken Quinoa Stew, Baked Falafel, and Cioppino for New Years Eve dinner).
In the meantime, please enjoy this gorgeous lentil salad. In some cultures lentils are eaten on New Years for luck. The shape of the lentil resembles a coin and when they are cooked they swell, insinuating growth and money expansion. I say the nutritional power of lentils absolutely makes them “money”.
Happy New Year! It’s been a great year and all of you have touched my heart with your support and your desire for a healthier life. Here’s to YOU!
- 1 cup french du puy lentils
- 3 cups water
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed, or 1/4 teaspoon powder
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 3 tablespoon capers, drained
- 1/2 cup roasted chopped almonds
- 1 small head radicchio, shredded
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- In a medium saucepan bring the water to a boil and add a pinch of salt. Rinse the lentils in a sieve, then add to the saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender and most of the water is absorbed, about 35 minutes. Taste for doneness. They should be firm but not hard. Add more water if necessary and continue to cook, testing every 3-5 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid, and set aside to cool as you prepare the rest of the salad.
- In a medium bowl combine the vinegar, coriander seeds, garlic, capers and oil. Whisk smooth. Add the warm lentils and toss. Then add the radicchio, almonds and parsley. Toss together and serve.
One of the most popular health foods being buzzed about these days are Chia Seeds. Do you wonder: Are they the power food everyone is talking about? Should I be eating them? And what exactly do you do with them?
What is Chia
Chia seeds are tiny little black seeds that are grown in Central America, mostly Mexico and Guatemala. They are an ancient food and some lore talks about Aztec warriors relying on chia for strength and power for battle. In fact, these little seeds do pack a pretty good nutritional punch. They are loaded with omega 3 fatty acids, protein, fiber and high levels of antioxidants. It is believed that the antioxidants are greater than those of blueberries. A serving of 2 tablespoons of seeds contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbs and a whopping 11 grams of fiber.
How to Add Chia to Your Diet
When placed in water chia will absorb up to 12 times it’s weight and create a gel like texture. This swelling of the seeds is thought to promote a feeling of fullness and stave off hunger. Some people believe that this may promote weight loss, but there have been no studies to support that claim.
The seeds have a mild flavor which makes it easy to sneak them into dishes without you really knowing they are there. Most often they are added to porridge, yogurt, smoothies or salads. The thickening quality is a great addition to a salad dressing. For each cup of dressing you may add 2 teaspoons of chia to create a thicker consistence without adding extra fats. Chia may also be used to replace eggs in baking. Try mixing 1 tablespoon of chia with 2 teaspoons of water in a small bowl and let it thicken for 15 minutes before adding it into the recipe.
A common way to consume chia in Mexico is as an Agua Fresca, a drink made from water and a little fruit juice. This is made by adding 2 teaspoons of chia to 3 cups of water and the juice of half a lemon or lime. After 10-15 minutes the seeds will swell, resulting in a thick drink. Personally I’m not a fan of plain water with Chia, so I’ll use a base of green tea, or roobios tea and the result is the same. You may also add chia to coconut milk, or any other plant based milk. If you are not a fan of the texture but still want the benefits, you may drink it all down before the seeds swell. Even better, just add them to your smoothie, or sprinkle wherever you can. The benefits are absolutely the same.
Should you be eating Chia?
Like I said earlier there is no evidence to suggest that Chia will help you shed pounds, but adding these tiny seeds can give you a nutritional boost with little effort. Unlike flax, chia is easily digested and does not go rancid, so no special handling or storing is needed. It’s easy to keep a small packet in your lunch box and sprinkle onto a salad, or toss a spoonful or two into your morning oatmeal. There haven’t been any reports of sensitivities or reactions to chia of any kind. Chia is especially wonderful if you’re struggling to get fiber into your diet, or feel the need for some antioxidant boosting.
Chia may be a little on the pricy side, so I like to buy mine in bulk. Just make sure they are organic and from a reputable company. I keep a small container for easy access in my cupboard and store the remainder in my pantry, in a cool dark place.
One of the thing I love to do is talk to people about food and cooking. One of the most common questions this time a year is about spaghetti squash. This beautiful winter vegetable is known for is replaceability for pasta, but the question is often asked, “What exactly do I do with it?”. I’ve put together several ideas so that you can fully enjoy the versatility of this wonderful squash.
What is Spaghetti Squash?
This winter squash has a smooth often yellow or pale golden skin, shaped like a long orb. Like most squash, it is very dense and heavy for it’s size. Spaghetti Squash is a great vitamin source, including Beta Carotene, Vitamin A and Calcium. The flesh consists of tightly packed rows of stranded flesh which is hard to tell until after it is cooked. Then, with a fork, the strands magically are scraped out and resemble pasta. I’ve seen squashes in several sizes, from football sized to half of that. The size does not affect the taste and, like most winter squashes, they can be stored for a week or two. A medium sized squash can easily contain 4 generous servings.
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