Tag Archives: healthy eating

Reading Lables

Food labels can be difficult to understand and are at times misleading so it is important to be able decipher the nutrition facts and label claims to make sure you are getting the best nutrition from your food.

Common Misleading Labels

Multi-grain:  The term multi-grain is often used to describe breads or crackers that are made from multiple types of grain, this does not necessarily mean that they are whole-grains. The common misconception is that the terms multi-grain and whole-grain are interchangeable but they do not mean the same thing. Whole-grain means that all of the parts of the grain kernel are used making them a good source of fiber, vitamin B and minerals. Just because bread is multi-grain does not mean that they use whole-grains. To check if a bread or cracker that is multi-grain also uses whole-grains, look at the ingredients list and look for the first few ingredients to be “whole-oats,” “whole-wheat” or a similar type of “whole-grain.”

Zero trans fats: Trans-fats are fats that are made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil, a process used to keep the food from spoiling. The reason why is not exactly understood, but studies show that adding hydrogen to the oil increases cholesterol levels more than other fats when consumed. It actually raises your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lowers your “good” cholesterol (HDL) which increases your risk for heart disease. On the nutrition facts label, companies are allowed to claim that a product has 0g trans-fat if it less than 0.5g trans-fat per serving. So to know if a product really contains trans-fats you need to look at the ingredients list. If you see the words “partially hydrogenated” listed, the product contains trans-fats. “Fully” or “completely” hydrogenated oils are okay, unlike partially hydrogenated oils, the process to make these does not result in trans-fats.

Reduced or low fat: Reduced or low fat products can be very deceiving and are not always the better option. If a product claims to be reduced in fat that means that there is 25% less fat than the original product. If it is low fat that means there are less than 3g of fat per serving. The problem with low fat and reduced fat products is that there is often an increase in sodium and sugar to make up for missing fat. So make sure to read the rest of the nutrition facts and ingredients to see what the better option is. One product that it might be better to buy the full fat version of is peanut butter.

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Warm Brussels Sprout and Sweet Potato Salad with Agave Ginger Dressing

I remember hearing once that if someone doesn’t like green vegetables it could be because they really do taste bad to them. There apparently are some people who taste things differently. In this case for some reason green vegetables taste soapy to them. I’m not sure of the specifics, but how horrible would that be? You would be missing out of so many delicious vegetables and so many nutrients that go along with green veggies.

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For example, brussels sprouts! Brussels sprouts get a bad rep and if, like many, when you think of brussels sprouts you think of stinky, mini, boiled cabbages…. you are totally missing out on how delicious these little bit size greens can be. Brussels sprouts are not only delicious (when cooked correctly) but also packed with fiber, vitamin c, potassium and are naturally low in calories.

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Well, today was one of those days that I didn’t feel like just having roasted brussels sprouts (my usual favorite way to cook them, a little olive oil salt, pepper and lemon…oven 400 deg F. till crispy ) I decided to get a little crazy and make a brussels sprout salad (much better than boiled…eww) So, with the exception of those with taste buds that make green veggies taste like soap, if you have the above opinion of brussels sprouts, hopefully this recipes will help to change that view!

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Ingredients:

1 small sweet potato diced

2 cups chopped brussels sprouts

1/4 cup apple diced

1/8 cup toasted slivered almonds

2 green onions diced

1/2 avocado diced

1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger

1 tsp agave or honey

2 tbs apple cider or rice vingegar

1/8 tsp sesame seed oil

siracha

salt and pepper

chili powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 deg F. coat diced sweet potatoes in about 1 tsp olive oil and season to taste with salt, pepper and chili powder. Bake in oven till fork tender, remove and allow to cool.

While sweet potatoes are baking make the dressing. Combine ginger, honey, vinegar, and siracha to taste.

Once the sweet potatoes are done or close to done saute brussels sprouts in 1 tsp of olive oil till tender and starting to crisp. In a bowl combine sauteed brussels sprouts, roasted sweet potatoes, toasted-sliced almonds, diced apple, green onions, avocado, and dressing. Mix to combine and enjoy!

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Quinoa and Kale Salad

I love quinoa, it is such a versatile delicious grain, it’s quick and easy to cook, you can eat it cold or warm and it is full of nutrients, so much so that it is considered a “superfood” Just so you can see for yourself, here are just a few of the benefits of quinoa:

  • Protein rich: Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 amino acids that are essential for our complete nutrition. Complete proteins are rare in the plant world making quinoa a great source of protein for vegetarians.
  • High in fiber: Quinoa contains almost twice as much fiber as other grains.
  • Good source of Iron: Iron is essential because carries oxygen from one cell to another and supplies oxygen to our muscles to aid in their contraction.
  • Contains lysine: Lysine is mainly essential for tissue repair and growth.
  • Rich in magnesium: Magnesium also may reduce Type 2 diabetes by promoting healthy blood sugar control. Other health benefits of magnesium include transmission of nerve impulses, body temperature regulation, detoxification, energy production, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth.

Now that you know some of great health benefits of quinoa, If you have not already added it to your diet, I highly recommend it. It has a delicious nutty flavor and you can add pretty much anything to it for a great side dish or main meal. So, if you are new to quinoa or are just looking for some different ways to throw it together here is one of my favorite quinoa salad recipes!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup quinoa
  • 2 Cups water
  • 3 Cups raw kale pulled off the stem in bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup almond slivers or pine nuts
  • 3 green onions diced
  • 1/4 Cup dried cranberries
  • Juice of a 1in-1.5 in wedge of lime
  •  Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a medium sized pot add 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups of water, over med-high heat with lid on until it reaches a boil. Reduce to simmer with lid on and cook till water is absorbed.

While quinoa is cooking toast almond slivers or pine nuts in a small non-stick pan on the stove over medium heat, stirring constantly to keep from burning. Set aside when done.

Once the quinoa is done add 3 cups raw kale to a large bowl. While quinoa is still hot add it to the kale and stir it up. The heat from the quinoa will help to wilt the kale a little bit.

Add cranberries, almonds/pine nuts, green onions, lime juice and salt and pepper, stir it up till combined, serve, and enjoy!

**Note: you can always add more of less of any ingredient, if you want more nuts and cranberries or lime juice, go for it! It is all up to your individual taste.

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Clean Shopping

If you take look in the local grocery stores these days, it’s easy to get pulled into the many rows filled with shelves of boxes, packages and containers of every kind snack imaginable.  These products take center stage in our grocery stores and are the primary target for ads, discounts and coupons making them even more marketable to consumers like you and me. For so long now these products have dominated our shopping lists and have become part of our everyday diets. The problem is that many of these products are what are considered calorie dense foods. Calorie dense foods are things that are very high in calories (like a doughnut or potato chips) but contain very little nutrients like vitamins minerals that are an important part of a healthy diet.

Ignoring these calorie dense foods and opting for more nutrient dense whole foods is what I call clean shopping. I know how challenging this can be when pretty much the entire grocery store is filled with theses types of foods and when we are so use to buy3-017_S1-2_Grocery-List-for-Web_v4_MEDIAing these products. It can be hard to make this switch, but here are a few shopping tips to help you shop clean and slowly wean yourself away from those rows of calorie dense foods and ultimately help you reach a healthier diet and lifestyle.

  1. Make a grocery list- making a grocery list helps so you don’t wander all over the store just buying things on a whim. You are more likely to make healthy, smart choices if you go in prepared with a list and stick to it.
  2.  Shop the edges- Most grocery stores are set up in a similar way. The packaged and processed foods are generally in the middle ap3of the store packed into the rows of shelving. When shopping try and stick mostly to the edges of the store where you will find the fresh produce, poultry and dairy.
  3. Plan meals- Planning meals is also a great way to help you grocery shop. Plan healthy meals for the week and make your shopping list according to those meals. Check out my Healthy eats for great healthy meal ideas.
  4. Read labels If you are going to buy something that is prepackaged make sure you read the nutrition facts. Just because something may say on the cover that it is healthy doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true once you look at the ingredients. Shoot for as few ingredients as possible and make sure they are natural ingredients. Try nutrition_originalkettlecornto keep %fat below 20% and make sure you look at the serving size. A great example of an alternative healthier snack is the kettle corn produced by popcorn Indiana. The only ingredients are popcorn, sugar, canola oil and salt! just the way it should be. For more information on reading and understanding nutrition facts check out these tips from the FDA.
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