There is a misconception that eliminating carbohydrates from the diet will improve Diabetes symptoms or even prevent Diabetes. However, did you know that fiber, which can be found in carbohydrate-rich foods such as fruit, whole grains, and legumes, is actually a key nutrient in the management of diabetes?
Cereal still remains one of the most popular breakfast (or snack) options across all age groups. In fact it is estimated that 50% of Americans eat cereal for breakfast daily.
After milk and carbonated beverages, breakfast cereal is the third most popular item sold in grocery stores. With hundreds of options to choose from, it can sometimes be overwhelming to select the right variety for your health goals.
- Read the food label! The food label provides you with all the pertinent nutrient and ingredient information needed to determine whether a product is in fact healthy.
- Choose whole grain options. To know if a product is made with whole grains check the package for a) the words “100% whole grain” or b) the ingredient list to see if the first one listed is: whole wheat flour, stone wheat, durum wheat, or wheat flour. If you see “enriched white flour” the product is a refined (less healthy) grain.
- Go for the fiber. Select a cereal that provides 3 grams or more of fiber per serving.
- Be careful of the sugar. The cereal industry in the U.S. uses over 882 million pounds of sugar per year in its production! Aside from weight gain, added sugar contributes to many chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. To check for grams of added sugar, look under “total sugar” on the food label. For example, the label will read 30 grams of total sugar, 20 grams of added sugar. That means 20/30 grams of sugar were added by the food company. Don’t be fooled by the bright packaging or your favorite cereal mascots. The sugar is everywhere!
History: The common pear is probably of European origin and has been cultivated since ancient times. The pear was introduced into the New World by Europeans as soon as the colonies were established.
Nutrition Profile: Pears are roughly 100 calories each and provide fiber, Vitamins C, K, potassium, copper and tons of antioxidants. One medium-sized pear provides 22% of your daily fiber needs. Pears contain a soluble fiber called pectin, which is a prebiotic that nourishes gut bacteria and improves gut health. Because they have a high water content, they also help keep stools soft while flush toxins from the digestive system. Pears, particularly the skin, contain a variety of polyphenols, which help fight against oxidative or cellular stress inside the body. Vitamins C, K, copper, and copper help reduce inflammation and protect against certain diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure, assists with muscle contraction, and promotes kidney function.
Additional Tips: Since several health benefits are found in the skin, so be sure to include the skin in your eating and preparation methods.
Healthy Recipe Ideas: They can be eaten on their own, cut up onto a salad, made into a sauce, jam, or spread, baked into a dessert, mixed in with alcoholic drinks, topped onto a crostini, or roasted with vegetables. Popular cooking methods include roasting and poaching. They pair well with chicken, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, cheeses like Gouda and brie, and ingredients like lemon and chocolate.
History: Quinoa originates from South America, specifically Peru, Bolivia and Chile. It is often considered to be in the grain category, however it is actually a seed.
Nutrition Profile: Quinoa is not only packed with fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, but it also contains high amounts of protein and is gluten-free. It is one of the few plant foods that has all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein and a great protein source for vegans and vegetarians. Quinoa has twice the amount of fiber compared to other whole grains and is a much healthier alternative to white rice. Fiber helps lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and promotes both heart and gut health. Quinoa can be found in different colors and varieties, however they all offer the same health benefits.
Cooking Instructions: Quinoa can be prepared over the stove top or in a rice cooker. Use the ratio of 2 cups of liquid per 1 cup of dry quinoa. One cup typically cooks in about 20 minutes and yields about three cups cooked.
Additional Tips: Quinoa has a bitterness to it, which is mainly due to its outer coating. One way to get rid of this is to rinse it in a mesh strainer under cold water prior to cooking. In order to add some additional flavor, you can replace the water or add low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth as the main liquid. Additionally, you can try adding other spices, garlic, or salt and pepper to it.
Scrambles are the perfect edition to your meal options. Not only are they full of healthy protein and packed with essential vitamins and minerals, but they allow for full creativity in the kitchen.
Scrambles can be eaten any time of the day. They are not just limited to eggs or egg whites, but can also be prepared using tofu instead. Add your favorite vegetables and spices to give it your own flare and boom you are done in 10 minutes! Scrambles are a suitable dish for all cooking skill levels and are a perfect option when trying to use up any leftover produce. Not to mention, they are easy on the wallet.
Try this delicious recipe for a vegan-friendly tofu scramble. Feel free to add more vegetables/spices or change any of the options listed below to fit your taste preference. You can easily swap out the tofu for 4 eggs, or 8 egg whites, or a combo for both.
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 10 min
- 1/2 package of firm or extra firm tofu (approximately 7-7.5 oz)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- Water (to thin)
- 1/4 red onion (thinly sliced)
- 1 cup of cherry tomatoes (halved)
- 1 cup kale or spinach (loosely chopped)
- 1 cup of broccoli florets (chopped)
- Drain the tofu until it is very dry. A good trick is to place the tofu under paper towels then place something heavy on top (like a pot or pan) for about 15-20 minutes. Change out the paper towels when saturated.
- While the tofu is draining, prepare your marinade by adding the dry spices to a small bowl with just enough water to make a pourable sauce. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet with olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and broccoli. Cook about 5 minutes until softened.
- Add the kale (or spinach) for 2 minutes until it is slightly wilted.
- While the veggies are cooking, use a fork, your hands, or a potato masher to crumble the tofu into bite-sized pieces.
- Add the tofu to the skillet and sauté for 2 minutes. Next, pour your marinade mostly over the tofu and a little over the veggies. Stir immediately, making sure it is evenly distributed. Cook for another 5 minutes until the tofu is slightly browned. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes.
Staying healthy is more important now than ever as we learn to navigate through our new reality. Nourishing our bodies with healthy food not only helps us fight infection, but it also helps us: manage our weight, prevent disease, gain energy, and promote longevity.
I am so excited to share these five healthy recipes with you. Not only are they delicious, but the ingredients and spices were carefully and purposefully selected for their containment of specific nutrients that help support a healthy immune system. Every dish hits the 7 major immune boosting nutrients: Vitamins A, C, D, E, probiotics, zinc. Not to mention spices, such as garlic and turmeric, are utilized for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The main dish includes: Salmon & Vegetable Skewers with a Nonfat Greek Yogurt Tzatziki Sauce. Side dishes include: Quinoa & Spinach, Cucumber, Tomato, & Avocado Salad with a Garlic, Lemon, & Olive Oil Dressing. For dessert, you have an antioxidant packed fruit salad.
This meal is not full of immune boosting nutrients, but it is perfectly balanced as it includes foods from all five food groups. If you are vegetarian, you can always substitute tofu for salmon. If you are vegan, you can substitute the nonfat Greek yogurt with a non-dairy yogurt substitute.
I recommend batch cooking the salad, quinoa, and fruit salad to save yourself time later on in the week with meal prep.
I would love to hear your comments if you try any of the recipes. Happy cooking!
Salmon & Vegetable Skewers with Nonfat Yogurt Tzatziki Sauce
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Serves: 4 people
- Wooden skewers (any length)
- 1 pound of fresh salmon (remove the skin and bones)
- 1 medium zucchini or squash
- 2 bell peppers (choose a variety)
- 4 Tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- Pepper to taste (optional)
- 8 oz. nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
- ½ medium cucumber
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 mint leaves
- Food safe gloves
- Submerge the wooden skewers in ice cold water. Set a timer for 30 minutes
- Pour 8 oz of nonfat Greek yogurt into a bowl.
- Peel ½ a medium cucumber. Grate it using the largest-sized blades. Then squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can until the pieces feel dry. Set it aside.
- Chiffonade 10 mint leaves by stacking them on top of each other, rolling them up, then making small cuts with a knife.
- Combine the cucumber, mint, 2 tsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice, ½ tsp minced fresh garlic, and ¼ tsp kosher salt in the yogurt. Mix well until the contents are evenly distributed. Store in the refrigerator until use.
- Remove the skin and bones from the salmon using deboning tweezers. Carefully cut the salmon into 1” in cubes. The pieces need to be large enough to put through the wooden skewer. 1 pound of salmon yields roughly 25-30 1” pieces.
- Chop the zucchini and bell peppers into 1” pieces and place them into a bowl.
- Combine 4 Tbsp of olive or grapeseed oil, ¼ tsp turmeric, ¼ tsp cumin, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp paprika, and ½ tsp Kosher salt into a bowl and mix with a spoon.
- Put on food safe gloves to avoid staining your hands, clothes, linens, and surfaces.
- Pour the marinade over the zucchini and bell peppers and using your hands, ensure it evenly coats all of the contents in the bowl. Next, carefully add your salmon into the bowl and coat each piece with the marinade.
- Remove wooden skewers from ice cold water.
- Assemble your skewers as desired.
- Turn the stove top on medium heat. Place the assembled skewers on the grill pan. Grill each side of the salmon for 1-2 min/side or until fully cooked. There are a total of 4 sides. The salmon should be a bright pink color when fully cooked. Let the pieces cool before serving.
- Substitute salmon for extra-firm tofu or skinless, boneless chicken breast.
- If you are vegan, lactose intolerant, or allergic to dairy, you can substitute the nonfat Greek yogurt for a non-dairy yogurt.
- You can cook the skewers in the oven instead of grill them. Set the oven at 350 degrees and cook for 15 minutes, making sure to rotate them so that all sides of the salmon are cooked.
- You can also BBQ them.
- Use any extra mint leaves to make spa water.
Spinach, Avocado, Tomato, & Cucumber Salad with a Garlic, Lemon, & Olive Oil Dressing
Prep time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 people
- 8 cups of baby spinach
- 1 cup of cherry tomatoes (about 16 pieces) (halved)
- 1 medium avocado
- ½ medium cucumber
- Mason jar
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- ¼ teaspoon of pepper
- 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
- In a mason jar, combine ¾ cup olive oil with ¼ cup lemon juice. Add 2 garlic cloves, ¼ tsp pepper, and 1 tsp salt. Shake everything together and store it in the refrigerator.
- Place 8 cups of spinach in a bowl.
- Cut the 1 cup of tomatoes in half, chop ½ of a cucumber, and cut up 1 medium avocado. Add the tomato, cucumber, and avocado in the bowl. Set aside.
- Double up on the recipe to sneak in more vegetables or to have as leftovers.
- You can substitute baby spinach for kale, baby spring mix, or chopped romaine.
- If you suffer from kidney stones, substitute the spinach for one of the options above
- To cut the avocado, hold each end with your hands. Slide the knife directly in the center and rotate the avocado until your knife has made its way around the entire thing. Use your hands to rotate it open and remove the pit.
- You can add any extra herbs or spices to the dressing (rosemary, thyme, oregano) for added flavor
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4 people
- ⅔ cup of dry quinoa (any color)
- 1 ⅓ cups of water
- Optional: pour ⅔ cup of dry quinoa into a fine mesh colander and rinse under running water for at least 30 seconds and drain well. This step helps remove any bitterness
- Combine ⅔ cup quinoa and 1 ⅓ cup of water in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat for 10-20 minutes, then decrease the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Remove the quinoa from the heat. Let it steam on the stovetop for an additional 5 minutes keeping the lid on. This step gives the quinoa time to pop open, so it’s nice and fluffy.
- You can substitute the quinoa with a whole-grain option such as: brown rice, buckwheat, farro, amaranth, etc.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4 people
- 2 cartons of raspberries
- 1 carton of blueberries
- 1 carton of blackberries
- 4 cuties
- Rinse and dry all of the berries. Combine them in a large bowl.
- Peel the cuties, ensuring you remove any fibrous pieces.
- Add cuties to your bowl and mix the fruit together.
- You can substitute any of the berries for a different berry of your choice.
- Cuties can be substituted for oranges or grapefruit slices
These recipes were developed and are owned by Melody Sayers, MS, RDN, NASM-CPT. They cannot be published or adapted without permission from the owner. Reposting or sharing must include an acknowledgement of the original recipe owner @elevateyourplate. Please contact email@example.com to be granted permission access for republishing or adaptation.