After a rainy morning at the parade we had family over for brunch. I wanted to make a few light and healthy recipes for everyone to enjoy. I tossed some raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries in bowl for a festive red, white, and blue (well kind of, ha!) fruit salad. Muffins are absolutely my weakness, so I made chocolate chia oatmeal muffins from a recipe I found on the Gluten-free Gidget blog. You can find the recipe under the recipe tab of my blog or follow the link to Gluten-free Gidget above. For a healthy take on the classic deviled egg, I hardboiled eggs then filled them with mashed avocado, cilantro, a little bit of hot sauce, and fresh-squeezed lime juice. That recipe was inspired by Hostess with the Mostess. Did you make something healthy and delicious for your Memorial Day celebrations? Shoot me an E-mail, I would love to hear about it! firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether you eat them fresh, canned, frozen, dried, whole, cut up, or pureed, the benefits of adding fruits and vegetables to your diet are undeniable. Many people are on a never-ending quest for the magic cure to their weight struggles or chronic health problems…and this is it. Eating a balanced diet is so simple, yet many people don’t do it. Here are several reasons why you should eat more fruits and veggies, and tips to help you add them into your daily routine!
Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and fat, and are cholesterol free. Rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber, they aid in the prevention of obesity and many of the chronic diseases that are affecting Americans today. Consuming more veggies and fruits can protect against certain types of cancers, heart disease, including heart attack and stroke, and Type 2 diabetes. Still not convinced? Fruits and vegetables can bolster immunity, reduce inflammation, and keep energy levels up by keeping blood sugar levels steady throughout the day. The lower caloric content of many whole foods may also aid in weight loss.
Potassium rich foods such as bananas, spinach, white/sweet potatoes, tomato paste/sauce/juice, beet greens, lentils, kidney beans, white beans, and soybeans, help lower blood pressure, decrease bone loss, and reduce risk of kidney stones.
Dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and asparagus have high levels of folate, which is especially important for women who may become pregnant due to its role in preventing spina bifida, anencephaly, and neural tube defects. Folate also plays a part in the synthesis of red blood cells.
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of antioxidants vitamin A, which is good for skin and eyes and helps prevent infection, and vitamin C, which keeps teeth and gums healthy, aids in iron absorption, and helps cuts/wounds heal.
Many fruits and veggies contain fiber, which is important in preventing constipation and diverticulosis. It also helps provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.
The USDA dietary guidelines for Americans recommend making half your plate fruits and vegetables at every meal. Those eating a 2000 calorie diet should aim for eating 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables every day. For more nutrition tips and information, including portion and serving sizes, visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/
Tips for adding fruits and veggies to your life:
- You will eat what you keep in your pantry and refrigerator so make sure to stock up on whole foods, closest to their natural state including a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts/seeds, lean dairy and meat.
- Keep fruit out in a fruit bowl where you will see it.
- Keep things interesting by exploring the produce aisle and choosing something new.
- Buy produce in season to save money and enjoy the most flavor.
- Center your meals around fruits and veggies as the main component such as soups or salads. Make less pasta or rice and instead stir in extra veggies like spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, squash, or red pepper.
- While grilling out make veggie kabobs as a fresh alternative to chips or other less healthy sides.
- Make your pizza crust thin and 100% whole wheat. Limit cheese and pile on the veggies!
- Take whole fruits or cut up veggies as a snack while you’re out instead of grabbing packaged items like granola bars, candy bars, or chips.
- Keep dried fruit at your desk or in your bag for when hunger strikes.
- Add fruit to pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, or blend into a smoothie.
I have been wanting to start a garden to grow a little bit of produce and some of my own herbs, so I bought a cilantro plant at the farmer’s market this morning. Herbs and spices are a great source of phytonutrients and antioxidants, and Cilantro is no exception.
Cilantro is a leafy herb, whose seeds are used as the spice, Coriander. The plant, native to the Mediterranean and Middle East, is rich in essential oils, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant polyphenolic flavonoids. Minerals include potassium-which plays a role in cell/body fluid regulation, heart rate, and blood pressure, iron-which is essential for production of red blood cells, calcium, magnesium, and manganese. Vitamins present in cilantro are folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin K.
Here’s how Cilantro can boost your health:
- Lowers blood sugar by increasing insulin secretion
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- May relieve arthritis symptoms
- Lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol, raises HDL (good) cholesterol
- Repairs free radical damage from sun exposure
- Removes heavy metals from the body such as lead, mercury, and aluminum
- Relieves gas
- Prevents nausea
- Anti-bacterial properties against germs and viruses that may cause the common cold, protects against salmonella
- Preventative for urinary tract infections
- Good source of fiber
Cilantro is commonly used in Mexican cuisine including salsa or guacamole, mixed with avocado, tomato, corn, beans, rice, or quinoa. It can be used to add flavor to chicken, soups, or even smoothies. It complements lime, peppers or hot sauce, and onion. Heat can decrease its flavor contribution, so add at the end of the cooking process.
One of the most frequent questions that I get asked when people learn that I am an aspiring dietitian is what I have for breakfast every morning (as if there were some magic breakfast for being thin and healthy! ha!). I can never give them a clear cut answer, however, because the truth is that I usually eat something different every day! Usually, I have some combination of fruit, nuts, plain oatmeal/cereal, and plain nonfat greek yogurt. Many people eat oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast, but be aware that the flavored varieties are higher in sugar! Adding fresh fruit is a great way to add flavor to your breakfast naturally- while adding fiber and vitamins 🙂
I promise to post more pictures of my breakfasts throughout the summer. Here is what I had this morning:
I spooned 1 container of plain nonfat Oikos greek yogurt into a bowl, added fresh blueberries, pomegranate arils, chopped mint leaves, sunflower seeds, and then drizzled a little bit of organic honey on top for extra sweetness. It was DELICIOUS. Try it!
Here is what it looked like once I stirred everything together:
Not many people know what Jicama is, so let me tell you! Jicama is a root vegetable that grows in central and south America and is popular in many Mexican dishes. The vegetable ranges in size between 2-4 lbs and resembles an oversized turnip. It has a thick, inedible brown skin, which must be peeled before eating. Inside, Jicama is white, crisp, and slightly sweet in flavor. It can be eaten raw or cooked.
Jicama is low in calories (about 45 cal per cup) and high in nutrition! One cup contains 6 grams of fiber and is high in other nutrients including calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, and Potassium. It can be stored in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.
Since Jicama is popularly eaten in Mexican cuisine, it pairs nicely with lime, chile powder, avocado etc. After peeling and slicing the vegetable, I lightly coated each fry with a mixture containing about 1/2 C hot sauce, 1 Tbsp olive oil, and a dash of both salt and pepper. I baked the fries in the oven for 25-30 minutes, then squeezed fresh lime juice on them. For a dip, I mashed 1 whole avocado and combined with 1 plain nonfat greek yogurt, cilantro, diced cherry tomatoes, and a little salt.
I have been home for four days… and I’ve made four trips to Kroger. I can’t help it- I seem to feel a magnetic pull towards grocery stores! I’ve been picking up ingredients for all the new recipes I want to try. Since my last post I have tried out three new ones: a summery watermelon salad, some IRRESISTIBLE dark chocolate peanut butter cookies, and strawberry chia jam.
Next I set about making the cookies! Every now and then I get a sweet craving, but I am always looking for a healthy way to satisfy my sweet tooth without feeling crappy and sugared-out afterwards. Lindsay, a registered dietitian writing for The Lean Green Bean blog provided the perfect recipe- and I plan to make it again! I followed her recipe exactly as follows:
1/3 C mashed avocado (mash very well or cookies may have green lumps!)
2/3 C peanut butter (I used creamy Smuckers all-natural)
3 Tbsp honey
3/4 C oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 C dark chocolate chips (I used the darkest to reap the most health benefits, 88% cacao)
Combine all of the wet ingredients first, then stir in the dry ingredients, add chocolate chips, and bake @350 degrees for 12-14 minutes. Makes about 12 cookies.
What I love about this recipe is that it is made up of foods that I usually eat so I don’t feel like I am adding a lot more sugar or saturated fat to my diet than usual. The cookies do have a good amount of fat in them from the peanut butter, avocado, and dark chocolate, but it is the healthy kind, unlike most recipes that use butter. As a treat, this recipe will satisfy your sweet tooth, without compromising your nutrition goals!
The strawberry chia jam was a very simple recipe that I borrowed from instructables.com. Their recipe used blackberries, but you could substitute blueberries or raspberries too. Here is the recipe:
1/2 C chia seeds
1/2 C water
1/3 C honey
3 Tbsp lemon juice
Just mash the fruit, stir in the remaining ingredients, and store in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes!
Next up… Jicama Fries : )
Although finals were over a week ago, I had one more week of running and competing, including 37.5 laps at the Mid-American Conference, to do before I could head home for the summer. The team got home late Saturday night, then I used the rest of the weekend to pack up my room and say goodbye to friends. I finally got back yesterday morning. Ah home sweet home 🙂
After living in a less than organized and definitely not clean college house for a year, coming home to a clean and organized kitchen with all the necessary utensils made the idea of cooking irresistible- an immediate must!
I was doing a lot of pinning during my breaks between studying for finals and on the bus ride to and from MACs, so I had plenty of recipes that I was eager to try. One of my friends came over to help and we decided to make quinoa, corn, and black bean stuffed avocados, inspired by a recipe found on the blog, Bullfrogs and Bulldogs. You can find that recipe here, (although we made some changes) : http://www.bullfrogsandbulldogs.com/spicy-quinoa-stuffed-avocado/
We sliced four avocados in half and added a dash of salt, pepper, and roasted red pepper flakes. For the stuffing we combined quinoa, black beans, sliced grape tomatoes, corn, juice from 1 whole lime, cilantro, and a little bit of Frank’s hot sauce. We did not measure everything out exactly, just combine the ingredients in the proportions you prefer! There was a lot of extra stuffing, which we served alongside the stuffed avocados. We also served some freshly sliced mango on the side.