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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Go Nuts . . . Even in Soup!

October 22nd is National Nut day and those that knew me as a child would be shocked at how excited I am about nuts these days.  I have learned not only to eat nuts, but to love them, and the beauty of nuts is that they love you right back.  Here are a few of the wonderful health benefits of nuts:

They are good sources of –

  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin E
  • Antioxidants
  • Heart-healthy fats
  • Fiber

They help with –

  • Reducing your risk of heart disease
  • Reducing risk of stroke
  • Weight loss and healthy weight maintenance

Truly nuts are delicious nutrition powerhouses in, well, a nutshell. I encourage my clients that if they are not allergic to nuts, they would do well to incorporate nuts into their daily routine.

My top three favorite nuts are:

1. Cashews – provides protein, iron, magnesium (critical for heart health) and copper (antioxidant), plus they're so cute with their crooked little shape!

         2. Pistachios – one serving contains as much potassium as an orange or half of a large banana and 3 grams of fiber - as much as ½ cup cooked broccoli. 

    3. Peanuts
    – have more protein than any other nut – 7 g per serving and as the cheapest nut, you get great nutritional value. 

    Ways to enjoy nuts from the commonplace to the creative:

    ·      Plain.  Nothing like a handful of nuts to satisfy a salty, crunchy craving.  

    ·      At breakfast.  Top your oatmeal, granola or yogurt with some nuts or spread some nut butter on toast to boost the nutrition of your first meal of the day and tide you over longer.

    ·      Sandwiches – beyond PB&J. A little nut butter mixed with some soy, ginger and chili paste turns a plain chicken sandwich into an Asian culinary adventure. 

    ·      Soups Yes, I just said soups as a way to use nuts.  Ok, so for the trepidatious cook, start with sprinkling some pine nuts or chopped, roasted hazelnuts on your favorite minestrone or Italian-inspired soup.  For the more adventurous, there are plenty of nut soup and stew recipes.  

         Here are links to just a couple examples:

    Cream of Walnut Soup (Taste of Home)

    Tuesday, October 6, 2015

    Part-time Vegetarian: Satisfying and Delicious

    October is National Vegetarian Awareness month and a season change is a great time to reevaluate your diet and considering how to incorporate some meatless meals into
    your routine.  Here are answers to some common questions you may consider when going meatless:

    We’ve heard a lot about meatless Monday, but does going meatless really provide health benefits?  You bet!  Here are just a few of the improvements you can expect when you decrease the amount and frequency of meat in your diet:
    •  Decrease in blood pressure
    •  Lower blood cholesterol
    •  Decreased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes
    • Decreased risk of certain cancers and death rate due to cancer.
    • Improved digestive health with increased fiber intake from fruits, veggies and legumes.

    But what about protein – can I still get enough protein by going meatless? Absolutely.  On average, we consume 1 ½ times the recommended amount of protein in this country – and the majority is coming from animal sources.  Measureable amounts of protein are found in almost every food group (fruits have very little protein), so a balanced diet full of whole grains and veggies can definitely provide enough protein.  Most individuals will do fine with 0.8-1.0 g protein per kilogram body weight as a daily guide, however, for athletes that may increase.  See the protein calculator for athletes: protein calculator

    Does this mean I can’t ever enjoy meat?  No.  I personally think that a life without smoked brisket, fried chicken and brined turkey would be bleak indeed.  Just start inching your way toward the “part-time vegetarian” mentality and plan your menu with meatless days interspersed with healthful meat-containing meals. 

    Are there any other benefits to going meatless?  Definitely.  Going meatless has an environmental impact on reducing our carbon footprint.  For example:

    What are some ways to easily make the shift to meatless without a complete diet overhaul?

    • Swap out beans for meat in soups, salads, casseroles, tacos and enchiladas. (Instead of chicken in a soup, use Great Northern beans; Instead of beef in your tacos, season some black beans the same way as you do your meat)
    • Mushrooms are the quintessential meatless substitute.  From grilled portobellas instead of a hamburger patty, to sautéed in a spaghetti sauce, the savory, umami flavor and texture of mushrooms makes them the ideal meatless superstar.
    • Try whole grains in your favorite casserole or soup recipe to add a satisfying chewiness and earthy flavor.  Brown and wild rice work wonderfully in these recipes, as does bulgur or barley.  Their versatility to blend and take on flavor makes them a healthful and cost-effective swap for meat.
    • Up your veggie intake.  If you’ve loaded your Panini with grilled zucchini, roasted red peppers and caramelized onions, you’ll never miss the meat.  Adding in flavorful and aromatic vegetables to sauces, stews and pretty much any other dish gives your mouth something to chew and savor, and that is what makes a satisfying dining experience.

    Here are links to some of my favorite meatless recipes: