Let’s Talk About Pasta

IMG_2375For many people watching their weight, carb-ridden pasta is a taboo menu item. But the good news is a nice bowl of spaghetti doesn’t have to be the villain. As I said in my most recent post, one of my goals this summer is to plan meals ahead of time so that I have something healthy to grab in a hurry. This week I boiled some whole wheat pasta (took a mere 7 minutes!!) and froze individual portion sizes in tupperware containers.

The problem with pasta and the reason it can cause some people to gain weight is that peopleIMG_2381 often unknowingly consume 3-5 times the serving size in one sitting! A serving of pasta is 1/2 cup cooked. Do you know how much that is? Go get a measuring cup from your kitchen right now! See? It’s tiny! How are you supposed to be satisfied with such a small portion? The trick is to pump up the volume (and nutritional value) without the excessive carbs and calories. Mix in unlimited chopped veggies- some of my favorites are zucchini, yellow squash, tomato (try orange or yellow for something different!), any color bell pepper, mushrooms, olives, or spinach.

Here I mixed 2 tablespoons of pesto into about 1/3 of the box of spaghetti after boiling and draining the noodles. Instead of parmesan cheese I mixed in nutritional yeast, which has a similar cheesy flavor, but without the fat and sodium. It is also a great source of protein, as it contains many essential amino acids, and B-vitamins, including B12.

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Yes, that is a glass mixing bowl…. I am a college student.

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Back in Business

Hello All!

It’s hard to believe that Happygreenrunner launched a little over a year ago already! I know posts were sparse (if nonexistent ;)) during the school year, but now that classes are done for the year, posts will be back in full swing. I have officially finished all of my undergrad dietetics coursework! My last year of college will be devoted exclusively to my minor in entrepreneurship. All the talk about innovation and new ideas in my first class for the minor this spring has inspired me to expand the scope of my blog. I will now be posting regularly on instagram (happygreenrunner) and twitter (@happygreenrunnr). Please follow me! Both of these outlets will be updated daily, while you can expect blog posts about twice a week.

The goal of the blog last summer was just trying new recipes and increasing my knowledge/experience with food, cooking, gardening, and related topics. This will be a continued objective, but I am adding a few more goals this summer as well. For many people, the most significant obstacles to eating a healthy, balanced diet is lack of knowledge about food and cooking (last summer’s objective), cost of food, and being too busy. This summer I will focus on tracking grocery spending, ways to eat healthy on a budget, and how to prep for the week ahead of time to ensure a week full of deliciousness and vitality-no matter how hectic things get. Whether you are an athlete trying to take your performance to the next level, trying to shed a few pounds, or simply interested in giving your body the TLC it deserves, the nutrition information, recipes, and lifestyle strategies I share on my blog will help get you there. Here’s to a great summer of health, energy, and happiness ahead! : )

Light and Healthy Portobello Mushroom Pizzas

IMG_1747Ingredients:

  • 2 portobello mushroom caps
  • Tomato paste/puree (ingredients should be only tomatoes!)
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Garlic-stuffed olives
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • Asparagus

Directions: Spread tomato paste on inside of each mushroom. Slice 3-5 garlic-stuffed olives longways and place flat side down on top of tomato sauce. Sprinkle each pizza with nutritional yeast, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile steam asparagus in a covered microwave safe dish and 1/4 inch of water for 2-3 minutes. Plate asparagus and pizzas and enjoy!

Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

IMG_1739Ingredients:

  • Eggplant
  • Tomato puree
  • Nutritional yeast flakes
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: Pour apple cider vinegar into a small bowl. Add basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. The amount will depend on how heavily you usually prefer to season your food. Slice eggplant into thin discs. Dredge each slice in vinegar mixture thoroughly. Let soak about 5 minutes. Cook slices in a skillet over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, flipping half way. Cover a plate with a bed of spinach. Stack eggplant slices on spinach bed, layering tomato puree and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast between each slice. Top with a an extra pinch of oregano and you’re good to go!

Kombucha Kraze

photo (3)Kombucha, a fermented tea, originated in China as a medicinal cocktail for immortality over 2000 years ago. It has been on the shelves of health food stores such as Whole Foods and Wegman’s for years touting countless health claims. The beverage has steadily gained popularity as detox and probiotic crazes sweep the country. Today many consumers reach for kombucha as a means of increasing energy, combating aging, improving digestion and immunity, decreasing cholesterol, reversing hair loss, and even fighting cancer. How valid are these purported benefits? And is it worth the hefty price tag of $3-5 per bottle?

Made of live bacteria and yeast, kombucha has a tangy odor and taste. ‘Mother’ starter cultures are steeped in tea and sugar at room temperature for about one week, producing more cultures called ‘kombucha babies’. Cultures are visible in the drink as globs of mushroom-like microorganisms floating throughout the liquid. These mushrooms are known as a SCOBY, a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.

People consume fermented products such as kombucha, yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut because they provide probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria, such as lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, that are important for proper function of the intestinal tract. A poor diet, stress, or antibiotics may lead to an imbalance between the good bacteria and harmful bacteria in the digestive tract, which is why consuming probiotics is important. Bacterial imbalance has mainly been associated with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (resulting in constipation or diarrhea) and yeast infections. Prebiotics, found in fruits, vegetables, and legumes, are a source of carbohydrate fibers called oligosaccharides. Probiotic bacteria in the gut feeds off these oligosaccharides as a source of fuel for growth.

Different brews contain unique species of yeast and bacteria, but may include saccharomycodes ludwigii, schizosaccharomyces pombe, brettanomyces bruxellensis, bacterium xylinum, bacterium gluconicum, bacterium xylinoides, bacterium katogenum, pichia fermentans, candida stellata, or torula specias.

Each bottle of GT’s Kombucha has 60 calories, 4 grams of sugar, 14 grams of carbohydrate, 20 mg of sodium and 20-25% daily value of folate, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12. Unfortunately, to date there is no evidence that kombucha actually provides any of it’s reported health benefits. In fact, moderate consumption of 4 oz per day or less is recommended due to reports of liver damage, bacterial toxicity, and metabolic acidosis (due to kombucha’s high levels of acid in the form of acetic acid, lactic acid, ethyl acetate, and alcohol). In 1995, the CDC reported two deaths related to severe metabolic acidosis in two women who drank kombucha daily. Doctors caution pregnant women, children, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised immune system from consuming the drink. Kombucha can be brewed at home and it is these home brews that appear to be riskiest.

Kombucha is a natural, fizzy, and flavorful alternative to soda or other artificial drinks. Drink it if you like it, but not for its debatable health merits. As much as people would like to believe a quick health fix exists, a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and regular exercise is the only path to long term wellness and vitality.

New School Routine… and Vegan Tacos :)

Hello! As you may have noticed, my blog posts have become a little sparse lately. That is because Fall is here and I am back in class and at cross country practice. I will still be blogging, just not as often and mostly pictures of the food I’m making with a short description. Please bear with me and I will deliver more detailed posts when time permits:) I also may share some of the fun things I am learning and experiencing in some of my nutrition classes. Classes related to my major that I am taking this semester include Food Systems Management, Advanced Food Science, and Medical Nutrition Therapy.

Today for lunch I made vegan tacos!

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Fill two taco shells with spinach, black beans, avocado, corn, fresh cilantro, and the salsa of your choice. Nixing the meat and cheese greatly decreases calories and saturated fat, plus leaves more room for veggies! This simple swap makes this favorite meal a healthy one, while providing fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Pesto Pizza

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Choose a whole wheat crust- you can buy one that is ready-made or start from scratch. Spread with pesto and top with olives, tomato, and artichoke hearts. Add a small amount of cheese or parmesan if you prefer. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. With a ready-made crust you can have this dinner ready in 15 minutes! How about that? Try a spinach salad on the side for extra greens and nutrient power:)