Tag: nutrition

Food Allergy vs. Intolerance: Do you Know the Difference?

It seems like everyone has a food sensitivity these days. However, there is an increase in individuals who are self-diagnosing their food allergies and intolerances, or even worse, using a food sensitivity as an excuse to restrict important foods from their diet.

Researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children under 18. However, an expert-led survey found that almost 50 million people THINK they have one. This number was after the survey’s strict criteria for labeling a food allergy as well as its exclusion of food intolerance symptoms from the study.

In order to determine whether someone truly has an issue with food it is important to first understand the distinction between a food sensitivity/intolerance and an allergy.
  • A food sensitivity (or intolerance) = a symptomatic response to a food that is usually caused by a digestive issue, such as not producing enough of a certain enzyme to properly break down a food. This can lead to symptoms such as: bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or gas, but is NOT an immune response. (i.e IBS or lactose intolerance)
  • A food allergy = an adverse immune response to a dietary protein within a food. Basically, the body thinks it is being harmed from the particular food and causes a range of symptoms from mild (rash or itch) to more severe, life-threatening reactions such as difficulty breathing/anaphylaxis. (i.e Celiac Disease or nut allergy)
The major difference is that with a food sensitivity/intolerance you may be able to eat small amounts of the problematic food without trouble or mild symptoms, whereas with a food allergy you may be at a risk of a life-threatening reaction.
If you suspect you have a problem with a particular food(s), it is best to see an allergist or gastroenterologist. Never self-diagnose or remove key foods from the diet without consulting a Registered Dietitian first.

Are you a Cereal Pro?

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.
Here are some helpful pointers to assist you the next time you hit the cereal aisle:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Go for the fiber. Select a cereal that provides 3 grams or more of fiber per serving.
  4. 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!
Healthier cereal options provide important key nutrients such as fiber and B vitamins. However, like any food, it is very important to watch portion sizes. Typically, 1 serving of dry cereal = 1 cup.
Now you are ready to take on the cereal aisle like a pro! Which cereal do you like to eat?

Food Spotlight: Artichokes

Not only do artichokes make such beautiful centerpieces with their unique texture and flower-shape, but they also provide several health benefits.
History: Artichokes are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world. They originate from the Mediterranean and Northern African regions and have been harvested since the 5th century BC. It takes 6 months for the buds to be ready to eat, however they can be harvested as many as 30 times a season, with their peak season being in both the Spring and Fall.
Nutrition Profile: Artichokes are high in fiber and are loaded with vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, phosphorus, and magnesium. In fact, a medium artichoke contains almost 7 grams of fiber, which is a whopping 23-28% of the reference daily intake (RDI). They are one of the richest sources of antioxidants, which is particularly important with both corona virus and flu season upon us. Additionally, artichokes have been shown to: reduce both unhealthy (LDL) and total cholesterol, increase good (HDL) cholesterol, lower blood pressure for those with pre-existing elevated levels, and improve digestive issues such as bloating flatulence, and constipation.
How to Eat: Artichokes can be eaten both warm or cold. The heart, which is fully edible, is a culinary delicacy and is known for its smooth and nutlike flavor. The smaller heads, or buds, are usually the most tender and are typically served as a warm vegetable with a sauce or as a cold salad or appetizer. They can be steamed whole, cooked in a microwave, baked, roasted, grilled, or sautéed.
Additional Tips: Artichokes are typically served with butter, cream, or mayo-based sauces. Because these options are high in saturated fat, be mindful of portion sizes. For healthier options, prepare a sauce with: nonfat, plain Greek yogurt, lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt or tahini with lemon, garlic, and salt.

Reading Does the Mind & Body Good

“Some books leave us free and some books make us free.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We all need a much needed escape from reality right now so why not use the gloomy and cold wintery days to curl up on the couch with a good book.
Reading helps relax the body by lowering the heart rate and easing tension in your muscles. Not to mention, it helps transport us to an alternate world for a temporary time making us forget about everything that is going on. A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading reduces stress by up to 68%, which is a more effective method for reducing stress compared to listening to music or doing art.
With endless options, stay at home orders, and cold weather, why not pass the time with a good book or two. For the ultimate cozy experience, grab a blanket, make a warm beverage, and light a candle.
Comment below with your book recommendations.

Try 1 New Recipe Each Week

Since Covid 19 hit, almost everyone I have spoken to both personally and professionally have all told me the same thing, “I am cooking more than I ever have!”
With both limited restaurant options available as well as at-home working and schooling, we have been able to connect more with our kitchens than we previously had time or resources for. While I am so happy to see so many people put their chef hats on and learn new skills, the Catch 22 is that many of us are getting cooking burn-out.
One way to combat the cooking exhaustion is to make it a goal to find and try 1 new recipe a week. Thankfully, we have countless options available at our fingertips. These include: internet sites, Pinterest, Instagram, and Youtube. Not to mention, all of the paperback cookbooks and books that are available online.
By far, my favorite website for finding new recipes is: Epicurious. This website allows you to build recipes around a single ingredient, which is perfect for those who are wanting to try a new food but have no clue where to begin. You can filter by type of cuisine, dietary considerations, and type of cooking method. I also like the recipe comparison feature and the recipe rating system.
Another one of my favorites is Yummly. Some of the features require you to pay, however there are plenty of free recipes to choose from. The recipes are easy to read and follow and you can actually purchase all of the ingredients for a particular recipe directly from the website via Walmart, Ralph’s/Kroger, and Instacart. That to me is the coolest part!
America’s Test Kitchen is another great resource as are the Cooking Light and Eating Well websites. With the last two options be careful to review the recipe entirely as I have caught some that are listed as “Healthy” but were in fact not.
Whichever resource you choose, adding variety to your recipe library will help you “spice” things up (pun intended) in the kitchen and beat the cooking boredom.
Comment below with some other cookbooks, sites, or apps that you use to find new recipes.

Food Spotlight: Pears

With over 10 varieties to choose from in the U.S. and 3,000 varieties worldwide, pears are a perfect seasonal fruit for this time of year. Their crisp, soft texture and sweet taste make them versatile in many dishes.
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.

Healthy Cranberry Sauce

Traditional cranberry sauce recipes typically call for 1 cup of sugar per 12 oz of cranberries. That means the bigger the batch = the more the sugar. We all know what happens when we choose foods or dishes that have too much sugar.⁣
This cranberry sauce recipe cuts down significantly on the sugar while providing key antioxidants your body needs.⁣ It only has 82 calories per 1/4 cup serving, is fast and easy to prepare, and takes advantage of all the wonderful fall spices that we love.⁣
Prep Time: 2 min⁣
Cook Time: 8 min⁣
Total Time: 10 min⁣
Yields: 2 cups⁣
Ingredients:⁣
1 (12 ounce) bag fresh cranberries⁣
½ cup honey or maple syrup (use maple syrup if you are vegan)⁣
½ cup water⁣
Zest of 1 medium orange (about 1 teaspoon)⁣
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon⁣
¼ teaspoon ground cloves⁣
¼ teaspoon ground allspice⁣
Optional add-in: ¼ cup fresh 100% orange juice⁣
Instructions:⁣
1. Rinse the cranberries well and drain any excess water. Discard any squishy ones.⁣
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, honey (or maple syrup), and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have popped and the mixture has thickened, about 5-10 minutes.⁣
3. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the orange zest, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Taste and, if the mixture is too tart (keeping⁣
in mind that cranberry sauce should be a bit tart), add orange juice and/or or little more honey (or maple syrup).⁣
4. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. It will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 2 weeks.⁣
Leave a comment 👇 if you can’t wait to try this!⁣

Food Spotlight: Quinoa

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.

Food Spotlight: Cranberries

Cranberries are often known for being made into sauces and juices, but in reality fresh cranberries are extremely tart and are nowhere close to the sugary levels you may be familiar with.  
 
History: Cranberries are one of the few fruits native to the swamps of northeastern North America. Native Americans used them as a staple beginning in the 1550s. By the 1620, the Pilgrims learned from the Native Americans how to use cranberries in their cooking. They are now one of the many symbols of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S.  
 
Nutrition Profile: Cranberries are low in calories and are packed with fiber, Vitamin C, and tons of antioxidants. With both corona virus and flu season upon us, cranberries are great to incorporate into your diet to help support your immune system. If you are prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs), 100% cranberry juice can help reduce your risk and serve as a natural way to reduce severity of symptoms. Additionally, cranberries have been shown to prevent stomach cancer and ulcers, reduce unhealthy (LDL) cholesterol, increase good (HDL) cholesterol, and promote heart health.   
 
Additional Tips: When drinking juice, only drink 100% Cranberry Juice and do not have >8 fl oz. All other cranberry juice products are simply cocktails, blends, or only contain 10% juice. The rest is plain old sugar! Cranberry products contain high amounts of oxalates, so for those prone to kidney stones, be mindful of portion sizes.
 
Healthy Recipe Ideas: Add sliced raw cranberries to a spinach salad. mix them with vanilla yogurt, use them to top sirloin steak, salmon, or chicken, and use them as a dessert topping for angel food cake with cool whip.

Scrambling to Find New Recipes?

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.

Servings: 2

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 10 min

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Directions:

  • 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.

How to Create the Perfect Health Goals

Whether it is your career, finances, relationship status, health, or your life in general, goals are an important tool for helping guide you in a particular direction.

Goals serve as a blueprint for action and set standards for improvement. They help shape the purpose for what it is that you are trying to achieve and help you stay motivated and energized.

There are two types of goals: short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals are something you want to achieve in the near future (anywhere from tomorrow up to 3 years). Long-term goals focus on the bigger picture and require more planning for the future. Typically, long-term goals include those you hope to achieve in a 3-5 year time span, while short-term goals serve as the stepping stones to get there.

When creating any type of goal, it is important to ensure they follow the S.M.A.R.T parameters:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant/Realistic
  • Timely

By far, January 1st is the most infamous time for setting goals. However, the goal setting process is ongoing and ever changing, much like how life is in general. With 2020 over halfway done, why not take the midyear mark to reevaluate your old ones and/or create new ones.

In order to help you create the perfect short-term and long-term health goals, I will be walking you through each S.M.A.R.T component to help make your health goals a reality.

The first step in creating the perfect S.M.A.R.T goal is to make it SPECIFIC.
Creating a goal of “I want to lose weight,” “I want to be healthy,” “I want to make more money,” “I want to travel more,” or “I want to exercise more” are very broad statements. I like to refer to these as blanket statements, rather than directional statements.
If your goals are too general, how will you know how to accomplish them? What does “healthy,” “money,” “travel,” and “exercise” truly mean?
When working towards creating specific goals, try and answer the 5 w’s: who, what, where, when, and why:
  • Who: Who is involved in this goal?
  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Where: Where is this goal to be achieved?
  • When: When do I want to achieve this goal?
  • Why: Why do I want to achieve this goal?
Let’s practice making our examples above more specific:
  • “I want to lose weight” > “I want to lose 10 pounds in the next 6 months”
  • “I want to be healthy” > “I want to discontinue my 2 medications for high blood pressure”
  • “I want to make more money” > “I want to make a salary of $75,000 in 2020”
  • “I want to travel more” > “I want to travel to 3 new countries in Europe in 2020”
  • “I want to exercise more” > “I want to walk 30 minutes/day, 5 times/week”
Now it is your turn. Write down at least three health goals (either long-term or short-term) using the criteria for “specific” mentioned above.
The second step in creating the perfect S.M.A.R.T goal is to make it MEASURABLE.
Measurable means establishing a concrete timeline for assessing progress. A measurable goal should address questions such as: How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?
By defining the metrics that you need to determine whether you meet the goal, you will be able to make the goal more tangible.
Let’s take a look at the examples from yesterday. Notice they all contain some quantifiable number or quantity that allows us to assess progress (ex. 10, 2, $75,00, 3, 30 minutes):
  • “I want to lose weight” > “I want to lose 10 pounds in the next 6 months”
  • “I want to be healthy” > “I want to discontinue my 2 medications for high blood pressure”
  • “I want to make more money” > “I want to make a salary of $75,000 in 2020”
  • “I want to travel more” > “I want to travel to 3 new countries in Europe in 2020”
  • “I want to exercise more” > “I want to walk 30 minutes/day, 5 times/week”
Looking at your own health goals, do they all include something quantifiable? If not, edit them to ensure they meet the “measurable” criteria mentioned above.
The third step in creating the perfect S.M.A.R.T goal is to make it ATTAINABLE.
By making a goal attainable, you can determine what resources, skills, or tools you need to achieve the goal.
For example, if you have a goal to: “Go to the gym 3 days/week for 1 hour” what resources would you need to achieve this?
  • Answer: a gym membership, time to commute to/from the gym, sturdy tennis shoes, and workout clothes. If times are financially tough right now and you can’t afford a gym membership AND/OR if you are super busy and cannot set aside 1 hour/day plus driving time to go to and from the gym, this goal would not be attainable.
Instead, I would change the goal above to say: “Walk briskly for 30 minutes/day, 5 days/week.” By changing the words to accommodate the resources you actually have, you will make the goal more achievable. Now the resources you would need to make this goal a reality would be: sturdy tennis shoes, workout clothes, an outdoor walking space, and a 30-minute time commitment.
Let’s practice with one more example. The goal is: “I want to lose 10 pounds in the next 6 months.” What resources will you need to achieve this? Answer: a scale to track weight loss, a meal tracking app, knowledge of the number of total daily calories you need for weight loss, knowledge of portion sizes, basic cooking skills, and motivation. If you lack some or most of these resources, then this goal would be unattainable.
Now it is time to look at the health goals you have written down. Do you have the resources needed to achieve these goals? If not, edit them to ensure they meet the “attainable” criteria mentioned above.

The fourth step in creating the perfect S.M.A.R.T goal is to make it RELEVANT.
Oftentimes the “R” can be interchangeable with “realistic.” Making a goal realistic determines whether you are willing & able to achieve something. Relevance means making the goal meaningful to you.
Let’s take a look at how to make goals both relevant and realistic.
  • If you have a goal, “I want to lose 10 pounds in 1 month” is this truly realistic? It can be for those who need to lose a significant amount of weight to begin with, however even ten pounds in 30 days is stretching it. Instead, if you are only slighter over your goal weight, you can change it to, “I want to lose 10 pounds in the next 5 months.” This would be 2 pounds/month, which would be much more doable, achievable, and realistic.
  • If you have a goal, “I want to run 30 minutes/day, 5 days/week” but do not enjoy running would this be relevant or realistic to achieve? The answer is no it wouldn’t. Instead change the activity of running to something you actually enjoy doing such as: swimming, biking, walking, hiking, or dance, etc. This way you are more likely to be successful in achieving a goal that is enjoyable to you.
  • If you have a goal, “I want to travel to 3 new countries in Europe in 2020,” however flights are restricted due to Covid-19, is this goal realistic? It may be relevant to your needs, but it is not realistic. Instead, the goal can be changed to, “I want to travel to 3 new places in my home state by December 2020.” This goal may be more doable since it involves closer, less restricted travel.
Now is the time in the goal writing process to be the most honest with yourself in what you are hoping to achieve. In all of these examples, you can see that by changing goals to reflect your interests, needs, and enjoyment, you will enhance the goal’s likelihood of success. Take a look at your goals thus far. If they don’t seem realistic and relevant, edit them to ensure they meet the criteria mentioned above.

The fifth and final step in creating the perfect S.M.A.R.T goal is to make it TIMELY.
The purpose of putting a time constraint on a goal is to create a sense of urgency. Without a time constraint or deadline, it may be more difficult to find the motivation to work towards that goal. You always want to ensure that the deadlines you attach are realistic, meaning that they are not fast approaching nor too far away.
Let’s go back to our original examples: “I want to lose weight,” “I want to be healthy,” “I want to make more money,” “I want to travel more,” and “I want to exercise more.” Notice none of these goals have a time-frame attached. For example, how long do you want to give yourself to reach your goal weight? When do you plan to go off your medications? When do you want to make more money (1 month, 1 year, 5 years)? When do you plan to travel more (by the next month, 1 year, 5 years)? When do you plan on starting an exercise program? Without urgency, you can create a weight loss or fitness goal that could literally be for 10 years from now. On the flip side, you could create a weight loss goal of 30 days and that may be highly unrealistic.
Taking the examples above, let’s practice making them timely:
  • “I want to lose 10 pounds in the next 6 months or by December 2020”
  • “I want to discontinue my 2 medications for high blood pressure in the next 6 months or by December 2020″
  • “I want to make a salary of $75,000 by March 2021”
  • “I want to travel to 3 new countries in Europe by December 2021”
  • “I want to walk 30 minutes/day, 5 times/week”
All of these goals now have a realistic time-frame attached, so that you can spark up motivation as well as more accurately measure your progress towards them.
Looking at your own goals, ensure they each have a time-frame attached, which meets the criteria mentioned above.

Immune-Boosting Recipes

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

 

Ingredients:

  • 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

Preparation:

  1. Submerge the wooden skewers in ice cold water. Set a timer for 30 minutes
  2. Pour 8 oz of nonfat Greek yogurt into a bowl.
  3. 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.
  4. Chiffonade 10 mint leaves by stacking them on top of each other, rolling them up, then making small cuts with a knife.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. 
  7. Chop the zucchini and bell peppers into 1” pieces and place them into a bowl.
  8. 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. 
  9. Put on food safe gloves to avoid staining your hands, clothes, linens, and surfaces.
  10. 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. 
  11. Remove wooden skewers from ice cold water.
  12. Assemble your skewers as desired.
  13. 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.

Tips: 

  • 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

 

 Ingredients:

  • 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

Preparation:

  1. 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.
  2. Place 8 cups of spinach in a bowl.
  3. 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.

Tips: 

  • 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

Quinoa

 

Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4 people

 

 Ingredients:

  • ⅔ cup of dry quinoa (any color)
  • 1 ⅓ cups of water

 Preparation:

  1. 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 
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 

Tips: 

  • You can substitute the quinoa with a whole-grain option such as: brown rice, buckwheat, farro, amaranth, etc.

Fruit Salad

 

Prep time: 5 minutes

Serves: 4 people

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cartons of raspberries
  • 1 carton of blueberries
  • 1 carton of blackberries
  • 4 cuties

Preparation:

  1. Rinse and dry all of the berries. Combine them in a large bowl.
  2. Peel the cuties, ensuring you remove any fibrous pieces.
  3. Add cuties to your bowl and mix the fruit together.

Tips: 

  • 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 elevateyourplatenutrition@gmail.com to be granted permission access for republishing or adaptation.

Eat Potassium-Rich Foods

Did you know that potassium is listed as a “nutrient of public health concern” in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans?

Potassium is an essential mineral that has many functions in the body including: helping with muscle contraction, regulating fluid balance in and out of cells, supporting proper nerve transmission, and promoting kidney function. Potassium also plays a role in maintaining normal blood pressure by limiting the effects of sodium as well as helps prevent against bone loss.

Have you ever experienced muscle cramping, kidney stones, high blood pressure, or bone loss? Eating potassium-rich foods can help with that.

Adults ages 19+ need 2,600-3,400 milligrams/day (depending on gender, pregnancy, or breastfeeding). Potassium-rich foods include: apricots, lentils, squash, potatoes, kidney beans, soybeans, bananas, avocados, dairy milk, yogurt, cooked spinach, raw carrots, cooked broccoli, chicken breast, and salmon.