Chia: Not Just for Pets

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Chi chi chi Chia! Most people hear the word chia and have flashbacks of cheesy ’90s infomercials and bad Christmas gifts. Yes, chia can be used in lieu of a pet, but there is so much more that you can do with this spectacular seed! Let’s start off with a little Chia 101. Typically seen in seed form, the plant originated from Mexico and Guatemala. The word chia is derived from the word chian, which translates to the word oily, and is one of the main reasons there are so many health benefits. This gluten-free wonder can be eaten in raw seed form, ground into a fine powder or pressed into oil.

Raw Chia Seeds

Change up your morning routine and turn breakfast into your most powerful meal of the day. Mix two tablespoons of raw chia seeds into a 0 percent Greek yogurt to add four grams of fiber to your meal. Read about the amazing benefits of fiber in my previous post. You’ll also up your protein intake by five grams. That’s approximately 15 grams in total!

Chia Seed Oil

Next time you’re craving some greens, switch up the olive oil for chia seed oil. It’s loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in the prevention of heart disease, hypertension, stroke and depression. For an innovative twist on your standard green salad, mix 1/2 cup cooked quinoa with some parsley, green onion, basil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Drizzle with a 1/2 tablespoon chia seed oil for a salad that’s sure to please inside and out! Another option is to use chia as a micro green and add the sprouts to a traditional salad. It’s an effortless way to boost your protein, fiber and calcium intake!

CocoChia Living Fuel Snack Mix

A satisfying blend of coconut and chia seeds, this snack mix is an ideal option when searching for a snack on the go. Filled with antioxidants, one single-serve packet contributes to 20 percent of your daily fiber intake yet comes in under 150 calories. Opt for a pack instead of conventional, high calorie trail mix, or try swirling it into your morning oatmeal.

Chia Seed Powder

Put a little pizazz into your next smoothie and switch out conventional protein powder for chia seed powder. Start with ice, 1 cup of almond milk and 1 cup of non-fat Greek yogurt. Add in 1/2 cup raspberries,1/2 banana and 1/2 cup blueberries. Blend well and toss in three tablespoons of chia seed powder. The result? A delish summer refresher that packs in a whopping 10 grams of protein and fiber! It’s the perfect treat to recharge after a workout.

DIY Greek Yogurt Desserts: Delicious and Nutritious

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As a nutritionist I want to give you delicious, healthy recipes that won’t break your calorie bank. As I tell you in my book, Bread is the Devil, it’s crucial to live your life, not your diet. So yes, dessert is allowed! Greek yogurt has seen a recent popularity in every facet of the food world — even Ben & Jerry’s has created a frozen swirl. What’s not to love? Greek yogurt is high in protein, low in sugar and is one of the most versatile ingredients around. When it comes to sweet treats, Greek yogurt is the way to go. Here are three ways to knock out your sweet tooth while whittling your waistline.

Frozen Yogurt

Mainstream ice cream brands are pumping out their Greek yogurt lines faster than dietitians are comfortable with. It’s tempting to toss a few pints into your shopping basket and call it a day, but buyers beware! Some of these brands contain over 400 calories per half-pint, which is the same amount as regular ice cream. And let’s face it, who really eats just a half-pint anyway? I could put an entire one away before you say “30 Rock.” This doesn’t mean that you can’t partake in an icy indulgence. My best advice is to try making your own fro-yo at home. You’ll need an ice cream maker, but it’s well worth it.

To make:

Combine 2 cups of 2% plain Greek yogurt, ¼ cup honey and a ½ teaspoon of vanilla into an ice cream maker to yield one pint. If you’d like to add fresh pureed fruit, this is the time to do it. Be sure to blend well! The amount of time the yogurt will need to mix will vary by manufacturer. The key to a great consistency is the second freeze. After the yogurt is done “pre-freezing” in the machine, place the mixture in your regular freezer for at least four hours. The result will be a smooth, creamy delight!

Parfaits

One of the simplest things to make at home, store-bought parfaits can clock in at about 40 grams of sugar and 350 calories per serving. That’s one way NOT to start off your day. By switching to this homemade approach you can avoid extra calories and sugar while still getting over 15 grams of protein and six grams of fiber.  They are also a dinner host’s dream, as they can be made ahead of time and placed in the fridge to set.

To make:

Choose your favorite individual sized 0% or 2% Greek yogurt and mix well. Scoop half of the container into a parfait glass. Instead of using high-fat loose granola, crumble one half of a Kashi TLC Crunchy Granola Bar on top of the yogurt. Sprinkle a handful of berries over the granola. Repeat, and enjoy!

Creamy Popsicles

Fruit and cream is a delicious combination, and can be done in a healthy way that will still satisfy even the strongest sweet tooth. Store-bought brands are loaded with added sugar and lack fresh fruit, that’s why I prefer to make these pops at home. They take about 10 minutes of prep and then you’re done! To make six pops, puree 1 cup each of plain 0% Greek yogurt and fresh berries with 2 tablespoons of honey in a food processor. Fill 3-oz. paper cups with mixture, insert Popsicle sticks and place in the freezer for at least six hours. These are great to make in bulk and keep in your fridge for guests, kids or a simple craving!

Under the Sea(weed)

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You’ve seen it around your sushi, most likely. Not the soy sauce or the little green mound of wasabi, but the seaweed that holds everyone’s favorite food together. It makes sushi rolls delicious and portable, but it’s a lot more than wrapping paper. Did you know that seaweed has virtually no fat and large amounts of iodine? There are three main groups of seaweed: red algae, green algae and brown algae. It’s time to incorporate such a healthy food into your diet, and not just in sushi. It’s a wrap-up, if you will:

Nori

Part of the red algae family, this type of seaweed is commonly used to wrap sushi, but also sliced into strips, toasted and used as a garnish on soups and salads.  The United Nations Food and Agriculture Department touts this as the most nutritious variety of seaweed, because it’s loaded with B vitamins and iodine. Originally harvested from the ocean, it’s now produced on specialized farms to meet increasing demands.  This salty snack is typically eaten by the sheet (thin and flaky), which only contain 5 to 10 calories, yet pack a gram of fiber each. It even has more vitamin C than an orange!

Wakame

Vegan alert! It’s the leathery, green substance that’s found floating around in your miso soup. Delicious! This popular brown seaweed variety contains a plethora of nutrients that are typically lacking in the vegan diet. Not only does wakame have calcium, but it’s also full of vitamin D, which aids in the calcium absorption process. In addition, it’s loaded with folate and vitamin C, a proven dynamic duo that aids the body in soaking up iron. Ancient medicine associates this green goodness with alleviating constipation and preventing colon cancer. Beware of the sodium content though. A 50 gram serving can have over 400 mg of sodium, which may not be ideal for those prone to high blood pressure.

Ulva

Also referred to as sea lettuce or “dead man’s fingers” (yum!) this is the most common variety of green algae seaweed that resembles fresh cabbage. Ulva is the ideal substitute for regular romaine or iceberg leaves. Simply soak in cold water to remove the salty flavor, towel-dry and then use the same way you would use lettuce. Pair with Asian components such as ginger, daikon and wasabi for a refreshing salad that packs protein, vitamins and minerals. Seaweed is one of the healthiest vegetables around, and a simple addition to your menu. Toss the chips and start crunching on SeaSnax instead. They have a Grab & Go pack that’s only 16 calories! Or crumble Annie Chun’s seaweed snacks in roasted sesame flavor into your soup or salad instead of croutons. They add a hint of flavor without increasing the calories.  Mix fresh red and green seaweed with sliced carrots, rice wine vinegar and a sprinkle of sesame seeds for a low-cal side that packs fiber and fullness.

The bottom (of the ocean) line is this – you can’t go wrong with seaweed. So pick your color, and eat up.

Choosing the Right Breakfast Cereal

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The cereal aisle in a supermarket can be as intimidating as walking into a room of complete strangers. There are literally hundreds of varieties of cereal on the market in the United States, and the number continues to increase. Not to mention that food companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars marketing cereal towards consumers, specifically children. These marketing tactics often make it difficult for the average consumer to determine which brands are beneficial and which ones they should pass on. Think of this as your cereal code book. Following the criteria below will help you make better choices when it comes to your cereal bowl.

Sugar Content
One serving of cereal should contain less than 10 grams of sugar.  Trader Joe’s makes a tasty fruit and nut medley that only contains 8 grams of sugar, providing just the right amount of sweetness. It’s also sweetened with dried cane syrup instead of high fructose corn syrup, which is an added bonus.

Whole Grain
Plenty of food companies will claim that their cereal provides a serving of whole grain but unless it’s one of the first ingredients, it’s not the case. Single grain cereals like shredded wheat, puffed wheat or rolled oats are safe bets if you’re not sure. If the cereal contains milled corn, corn meal, or rice than you’re getting a mixture of whole and refined grains.

Fiber
Cereal gets a bad wrap due to it’s high carbohydrate content but as long as a portion of those carbs are coming from fiber, you’re in the clear. Most good-for-you cereals will contain anywhere from 7 to 12 grams of protein per serving. I love to take a 1/2 cup of Nature’s Path Smart Bran cereal and mix it into a flavored Greek yogurt. A half cup contains over 20% of your daily requirement. I featured Nature’s Path in my May Bestowed box, because they are a socially responsible company, and their products are free of preservatives, chemicals and additives. Remember, the fiber in a cereal is what’s going to keep you full until your next meal.

Protein
This is the missing component it most of the leading cereal brands. Some of the most popular cereals claim to contain whole grain and be great for your health but only contain a measly 1 to 2 grams of protein. Besides fiber, protein ensures that your breakfast choice will go a long way in satiating you through the morning. Brands such as Kashi Go Lean contain a whopping 9 grams of protein. That’s more than you’ll find in one large egg! Aim for brands that have at least 3 grams per serving.

When looking at nutrition labels keep in mind that all cereal companies use different serving sizes. An ideal amount of cereal is about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup. It’s tempting to fill the bowl to the brim but it’s simply too much! Implement these criteria into your cereal purchasing decision and you’ll feel satisfied with the suggested serving size.

The Anatomy of a Healthy Sandwich

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Warm breeze, longer days, a calendar full of picnics and BBQs — it’s officially springtime! With all these obligations, it can be nerve-wracking to try to stick to your diet. These events can be filled with creamy potato salad, pies, mile-high sandwiches, you name it. There is still room for the almighty sandwich in your life (and your stomach). You just have to be smart about it. So get out your checkered tablecloth, find your best basket and strap on your sundress. Here are some guidelines to making the most out of this classic picnic staple.

The bread:

Before you quiver in fear and run for the solace of the salad bar, let me explain. Following a healthy eating plan doesn’t mean that you can’t eat bread. Although my book is called Bread is the Devil, I’ll be this first to say that not all bread is bad.

Ciabatta, pumpernickel, rye… The possibilities are endless! No matter how you slice it: Whole wheat or rye is the best option. You’ll also have to forgo anything bigger than a typical piece of bread. There is no reason a sandwich should be named after a submerged sea vessel. Don’t be fooled by the enticing allure of wraps. Most are nutritional wannabes, racking up 300-500 calories full of refined grains and oil. Choose La Tortilla fiber and flax corn tortillas. They clock in at a measly 45 calories, yet have five grams of fiber.

Sandwich spreads:

Aioli, chipotle mayo, and pesto are not your friends. Despite these condiments being offered on every sandwich menu known to man, they equal major calories — as much as 200-400! I love a tasty schmear as much as the next girl, but there are smarter choices than these sinful spreads. Opt for items such as mustard, relish, pickles, hot sauce or a lite soy sauce. If you’re still craving a creamy addition to your sandwich, use a Laughing Cow Light cheese wedge instead. They come in varieties such as queso fresco chipotle and sundried tomato basil, which give your sandwich instant flavor for only 35 calories.

In between the bread:

Most would say this is the part that really matters. There are so many things that you can make a sandwich out of, it’s easy to get deterred. Grilled chicken and turkey are typical healthy options, though it doesn’t have to stop at that. Try roasted vegetables (such as eggplant and zucchini) that have been marinated overnight in balsamic vinegar topped with one slice of Alpine Lace Swiss cheese.

Or change it up with mixing canned salmon (Did you know it’s always wild Alaskan?) with low-fat mayo, celery seed and chopped onions. It’s a top-notch alternative to typical tuna or chicken. And who can resist a classic PB&J? When spread on GG Bran crackers with Justin’s Nut Butter, you have a healthy alternative to a lunchroom standard.

Bottom line:

Sandwiches can still be a part of your life and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. At my new website Bestowed, you have an opportunity to sample some of the products I’ve mentioned. Nutrition advice is available in boatloads, and if you bought everything that was recommended you’d be broke. Think of this as a monthly “fit-kit” full of snacks and treats that have been carefully selected by me for you to try.

Can’t wait to get your feedback!

I Ain’t Afraid of Food Fads

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When there’s something strange in the nutrition news… who you gonna call? Nu-Train!

Nutrition myths spread like cream cheese on a bagel, they’re all over your email inbox, splashed across magazine and paper articles and even discussed on the nightly news. Well, the time has come to debunk some of these common nutrition myths.

 

Myth #1: Eating eggs raises your blood cholesterol levels.

Contrary to popular belief, the dietary cholesterol found in eggs actually does not have a tremendous impact on your blood cholesterol levels. It’s a simple mis-”semantic”-communication; unlike the toe-may-toe vs toh-mah-toh conundrum, these two cholesterols, dietary and blood cholesterol, are not created equal. Dietary cholesterol, which is the fat-like molecules in animal-based foods like eggs, actually has little to do with the amount of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream. Since your body is capable of producing its own cholesterol, it doesn’t need you to get any from food sources so the cholesterol you ingest has little influence over the amount in your blood. However, the actual thing that may increase your body’s blood cholesterol production is specific saturated and trans fats and adversely, soluble fiber may lower blood cholesterol by inhibiting its absorption in the small intestine. One large egg contains only 1.5 g of saturated fat (such a miniscule amount compared to the butter you use to cook your egg), which means they are not a big contributor to blood cholesterol levels. Keep them on your grocery list because they’re a rich source of 13 vitamins and minerals!

 

Myth #2: The more fiber you eat, the better.

Ladies and Gentlemen: the Fiber Fad has arrived! This is a little trickier than some of the other myths because there is a lot of truth to it. Fiber does keep you full, meaning you’ll ingest fewer calories but not all fiber are created equal. The naturally occurring fiber-rich whole foods satisfy hunger, such as the fiber found in whole grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes. However, the yogurt found in your grocery aisle that contain fiber-supplements, “faux-fiber foods”, may not be equally beneficial. Manufacturers are isolating specific types of fiber and adding them to packaged foods in order to increase sales. There are so many components of fiber and they each have their own jobs- wheat bran keeps things moving, oat bran lowers cholesterol and inulin supports a healthy gut, so it’s best to get the benefits of fiber from whole foods rather than isolate aspects of fiber from “faux-fiber foods” boasting unnatural added fiber!

 

Myth #3: Organic foods are more nutritious than conventional ones.

We all do it, I am a victim of buying the 30 cent more per pound fruit just because it’s organic but truth is a good mango by any other name is still a mango. Manufacturers began promoting organics as being inherently more nutritious but this is a fallacy, there is no significant nutritional difference existing between conventional and organic crops. Of course there is the issue of pesticides and herbicides that can be found in conventional produce. Also if you opt for organic because the sustainable farming support the health of the soil, the work of small farmers, or he well-being of livestock- then you’re good in my book.

 

Myth #4: Skipping meals helps you lose weight

This is a dietitians’ biggest nightmare! Did you know that people who skip meals, particularly breakfast, and eat fewer times during the day actually tend to be heavier… yes I said heavier. When you skip a meal you slow down your metabolism and you frequently eat more at other meals to compensate, both of which work against your body trying to lose weight. Actually eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day can help you control your appetite and keep your calories burning.

 

Myth #5: You have to drink 8 glasses of water everyday.

Water, water- it’s everywhere; water bottles have become the fashion accessory and it’s for good reason too. Drinking your necessary daily water requirements is absolutely crucial but you don’t need to go crazy trying to satisfy the eight 8-oz glasses a day rule. Insider’s secret: no one is really sure where this so-called “8-by-8” mantra originated. You know the saying- “everyone’s different”? well this is where it actually applies; the amount of water you should drink daily is dependent on your diet, size and body chemistry.

 

Leaders of the Packed

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The first day of school represents more than just the embarkation of your child’s academic journey. Yes, there are new things to learn, skills to master and goals to achieve but it’s also important to remember your child’s mind is not the only thing getting bigger… they are too! No one wants their child to merely survive, you want them to thrive, and that starts with adequate nutrition. You may be able to prepare them for almost everything: freshly sharpened pencils, an endless supplies of neon highlighters, Lightening McQueen folders, Star Wars notebooks, Cinderella backpacks and anything else you can buy in the back to school section at Staples, but unless they are prepared to stay energized throughout the day they are merely objects, not the tools that will help them excel.

By now, we are aware of how preservative-, trans-fat-, sodium- and high-fructose corn syrup- laden all of the processed foods once infiltrating lunch boxes are, but kids still want these familiar tasting foods and we want the simplicity and ease of simply tossing items into a lunchbox. One thing is for certain: they definitely don’t want to be different than their peers who are still eating these chemically processed foods. We now know that these foods will only slow down your child, physically and academically, as well as contribute to the rising childhood obesity epidemic unfortunately sweeping the nation. At the end of the day, kids want what other kids are having, but whether its food allergies or adequate nutrition on your mind, you know you can’t send your kid off to school with those foods in their packed lunches. There are so many factors to keep in mind when you’re packing your child’s lunch- it needs to be fun and engaging, delicious, and healthful.  There are a few things we need to tackle, so let’s start with food allergies.

As I mentioned in Allergies: A to Z, the number of children suffering from food allergies is on the rise- eight percent of children until age 18 have a food allergy (that’s one in 12!). The most common food allergies include peanuts, milk, eggs, wheat and tree nuts, and they the peanut allergy has become so severe that some schools have started banning peanuts all together. It may take an excel sheet with pivot tables and pie charts to keep track of which friend can’t eat what at the lunch table or the classroom food policies, so why not be proactive and pack a school lunch that won’t land you in allergy detention?

Passing on Peanuts:

Does your child love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Try a peanut-free alternative like SunButter, which is made from sunflower seeds. Healthy homemade trail mixes can always been a tough one to tackle but are great snacks, try pumpkin and sunflower seeds mixed with dried fruit and flaked coconut instead of store bought trail mixes which not only have peanuts but tons of sugary chocolate. Here are some of my favorite peanut free packaged foods:

-        Snackers crackers- seedlander (free of peanuts and tree nuts)

-        Enjoy Life soft baked cookies (nut and gluten free)

-        Trader Joe’s Soft-baked Snickerdoodles (free of all of the 8 common allergies)

Peanuts may be the most dangerous and common food allergy but one of the trickier food sensitivities is excluding eggs especially since mayonnaise is a popular condiment, try switching to hummus or honey mustard in your turkey cucumber wraps (whole wheat of course) or sandwiches (have you seen this adorable whole wheat goldfish shaped bread by Pepperidge Farms?). Also these Kidekals water-restistant, washable, personalized labels are great for informing others of your kids allergies.

Aside from allergies, our biggest concern is providing healthful lunches and snacks that will give your kids the energy they need to make it through the day. Studies show that if you equip your children with healthy food to eat at school, they will be better prepared to study and learn. And it’s not all serious- lunch making can be a fun activity as well as a great way for kids to feel independent. Before we get into some specifics, some general suggestions to healthfully spice up your kids lunch box are swapping whole grains for refined, simple carbohydrates and trying flavored drinks or waters without added sugars in place of sodas and sugary juices.

Pack Pass
GoGo sqeeZ applesauce: individual sized, mess free, 100% real fruit and no sugar added. And its fun! Motts Apple Sauce or any apple sauce with added sugar and tons of preservatives
Annie’s Homegrown Organic Bunnies: the perfect fun snack that are baked with no artificial ingredients. Comes in a variety of flavors, whole wheat and pretzels! Cheez-It Crackers and Teddy Grahams (they have partially hydrogenated oils eventhough they claim to have 0 g of trans fats)
Pirates Booty, Lentil Chips, Hummus Chips, 365 Soy Crispettes or Pop Chips: all of these come in a ton of flavor combinations and are never friend. They have more fiber, are all-natural and have less fat than regular potato chips. Any potato chip!
Stretch Island Fruit Company and Annie’s fruit bites are great ways for your kids to enjoy anywhere from ½ to 1 whole serving a fruit naturally and with no sugar added. Fruit by the foot or fruit roll ups (they all have tons of high fructose corn syrup or heaps of added sugar).
Horizon Organic low moisture, part skim string cheese. Polly-O string cheeses (or any non organic, part skim string cheeses) because they contain food coloring and preservatives.

And all the while, your kid has to have the coolest lunch box in class; Parenting brings us the 12 best kids lunch boxes that are too adorable (and environmentally friendly) for words!

 

Be Selfish, Eat Shellfish!

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The summer heat makes me avoid my oven like the plague; I do anything to steer clear of over heating. This becomes extremely apparent in my summer lunch and dinner dishes. As fruits and vegetables change with the season, shifting from hearty potatoes, starchy squash, and leafy brussel sprouts to sweet melons, plump tomatoes, crunchy zucchini and deliciously tart berries, my cooking takes on the same evolution. Most obviously lacking heavy stews, lengthy meat cooking times and oven-roasted vegetables, the protein in my meals also shifts and my body happily welcomes shellfish as it steals the spotlight away from braised meats. The texture and weight of shellfish dishes easily lends to its ability to make you feel lighter.

The summer months breed the tastiest varieties of shellfish and since shellfish is the topic of this post, it should come as no surprise to you that when you prepare shellfish with health in mind (no you will not see deep fried oysters as part of this post) it can be extremely nutritious, healthful and the perfect protein source to help you slim down.

Shellfish is most well known for being a great protein source that is often low in fat; categorized into two groups: crustaceans and mollusks, both have plenty of nutrition and sustenance to offer. Crustaceans are jointed with a crust-like exoskeleton and include lobster, shrimp and crabs. Mollusks are soft-bodied but still covered by a shell and include oysters and clams. When it comes to calories, these guys definitely have our four-legged friends beat. On average, 3 oz of lean meat can equate to about 210 calories, that’s more double the calories in 3 oz of shrimp, lobster and oyster which come in at 101, 76 and 87 calories respectively. But you can’t beat the protein in red meat, right? Actually this isn’t the case. You may be surprised to find that 3 oz of lean red meat can give you about 17 grams of protein while 3 oz of lobster will give you about the same (16.5 g of protein) and 3 oz of shrimp can give you even more, about 19.5 gram of protein! Protein is necessary for growth, repair and maintenance of tissues and with RDA (recommended daily allowances) coming in at 56 g for men and 46 g for women, it’s a good idea to swap some of your red meat intake for these high protein, low fat shellfish options.

And that’s just their protein and calorie content! There are plenty of nutrients found in shellfish that are vital for optimal health. Shellfish are great sources of vitamin B12, a water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for health of nerve cells, red blood cells and is good for your metabolism. 6 oz of shrimp contains 2 micrograms of B12 and 6 oz of scallops contains 2.6 micrograms. They are also good sources of zinc and choline. Zinc is a mineral essential for growth and development, energy metabolism and immune function and choline is necessary for cell membrane structure, cell signaling, fat transport of nerve transmission. Lastly, most shellfish, and shrimp in particular, are excellent sources of iron. 6 oz of shrimp contains 4.1 mg of iron, which is nearly ¼ of the RDA for iron in women.

Now, the next most common question about shellfish is about its cholesterol content. For the record, scientists are not 100% aware of the impact that dietary cholesterol has on our blood cholesterol levels, but limiting your dietary cholesterol intake is strongly advised, especially if you have high cholesterol, are overweight or have a family history of heart disease. While “good” cholesterol is necessary for the synthesis of steroid hormones and bile, shellfish do contain higher amounts of “good” and “bad” cholesterol than most other proteins, so, again, if you have a history of heart disease or high cholesterol, it is best to limit your shellfish intake. Here is a helpful chart to see how shellfish stacks up against commonly associated high-cholesterol foods.

 

Food

Cholesterol Content (mg)

Lobster (3 oz)

75 mg

Shrimp (3 oz)

120 mg

Scallops (3 oz)

135 mg

Low-fat Cottage Cheese (1/2 cup)

5 mg

Cheddar Cheese (1 oz)

30 mg

Shrimp may be the most popular non-canned seafood in America but most people are not aware that brown shrimp, especially the large ones, contain a large amount of iodine. Iodine is found in a type of plankton that takes up a lot of real estate in the diet of brown shrimp. So, if you are sensitive to iodine or have hypo/hyper-thyroidism it would be best to consult your doctor or dietician about your shrimp intake.

 

But enough about the nutrition in shellfish, it’s time to focus on an equally important aspect of shellfish- eating it! Shellfish is extremely easy to prepare and rarely involves lengthy cooking times. Here are some of my favorite shellfish recipes, I hope you enjoy!

1. Seared Scallops with Lemony Sweet Pea Relish

2. Shrimp Boil

3. Garlic Seafood Pasta

4. Curried Coconut Mussels

5. Picnic Perfect Lobster Rolls

* While a severe allergic reaction of anaphylaxis is rate, unfortunately, minor shellfish allergies are quite common. Some of the symptoms include:

-        Hives, itching or eczema

-        Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, or other parts of the body

-        Wheezing, nasal congestion or trouble breathing

-        Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting

-        Dizzinesss, lightheadedness or fainting

-        Tingling in the mouth

Be sure to see a doctor or allergy specialist if you have possible food allergy symptoms shortly after eating.

 

I scream, you scream, we all scream for Ice Cream!

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I’m not sure about you but the summer heat seems to talk to me, saying “man, I could really go for some frozen yogurt, a Popsicle or an Italian ice right now. Go on, get one you deserve a little sweetness, you look great.” I know it’s not that hot outside but I think that it may be some verbal mirage, similar to the oasis people invasion when wandering in the desert for hours.

The truth of the matter is that you really did work extremely hard to get ready for the bikini season. But that’s more the reason to silence these voices and bite into a refreshing apple for your afternoon snack. But then something else happens; either your child wants a firecracker popsicle, you pass by an overly air-conditioned ice cream shop or that the mint chocolate ice cream sundae dessert on the menu is calling your name. This is when you have to cue your super strength restraint and make sure you have one of the options below on hand or conveniently located in your freezer at home.

 

On of my personal favorite summer deserts is sorbet. It’s icy, refreshing and sweet and is most likely going to contain less calories and fat than ice creams and gelatos because there is no dairy in them. But that’s not always the case with sorbet so you need to be careful about which brand you are choosing to eat. The best option is definitely Ciao Bella. They have a line of individual sorbet cups and sorbet bars perfect when you just have to give in. All Ciao Bella products are gluten free, all-natural and organic and the individual sorbet cups and bars are perfect for portion control so you don’t end up going back for seconds and thirds. The mini cups are great for on the go and even come with a little stick! Here are your best flavor options:

  • Blood Orange Mini Cup: At 3.5 oz you get to enjoy this icy treat for only 70 calories, 0 g of fat, 17 g of carbohydrates, 13 g of sugar and it even has 20% of your Daily Value of vitamin C!
  • Blood Orange Sorbet Bar: The delicious flavor in the mini cup is now in a popsicle version, something even your kids will enjoy! It’s only 60 calories, 0 g of fat, 16 g of carbohydrates and 11 g of sugar. It also provides 20% of your Daily Value of vitamin C!
  • Blueberry Passion Sorbet Bar: When you are craving berries this will definitely hit the spot. This 70 calorie popsicle has 0 g of fat, 18 g of carbohydrates and 17 g of sugar and also includes vitamin C and vitamin A. Plus you get the astounding antioxidant benefits from the blueberries.

 

Sometimes all you really want is a scoop of classic vanilla or chocolate. But even low-fat yogurts can be upwards of 150 calories with 3 g of fat for ½ a cup. That’s when you reach for Arctic Zero. Arctic Zero is an all natural, gluten free, dairy free, low-calorie and low glycemic frozen protein shake that satisfies your craving for ice cream. So you are not only getting that much needed scoop of vanilla but you are also getting a little protein too! Every flavor: vanilla maple, chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, mint chocolate cookie coffee, cookies and cream, and pumpkin spice are delicious. Here’s what you need to know:

  • On average, a ½ cup serving (it comes in 1 pint options) is 45 calories, 0 g of fat, 7 g of carbohydrates, 2 g of fiber, 5 g of sugar and 4 g of protein. (Not that I would ever condone eating the whole pint, but the whole pint is only 150 calories!)

 

When you’re craving chocolate popsicles that even your kids will love the flavor of, Tofutti is your brand. They are all milk free but they have even come out with a great line of fat free, no sugar added popsicles that are still sweet and delicious. The two best flavors are definitely the chocolate fudge treat bars or the coffee break bars and you’re never going to believe how low calorie they really are. This is also a great option for those who need to watch their blood sugar levels because there is 0 g of sugar in each bar.

  • One of these  fat free, no sugar added bars (either chocolate fudge or coffee break) is only 30 calories, 1.5 g of fat, 6 g of carbohydrates, 0 g of sugar and 1 g of protein.

 

But what happens you literally have NOTHING in your freezer at home, what happens then? Here are some of my favorite healthy home made icy treats:

  • Slice up a banana and lay them on a plate so they don’t overlap in the freezer for about an hour or until they are frozen. The riper the banana the better. Once our of the freezer mash them up, sprinkle with a tablespoon of cacao nibs, or crush up 1-2 tablespoons of high fiber cereal like Fiber One as sprinkles. You can even add a little packet of stevia for some sweetness.
  • In a blender mix a 1 individual 0% fage yogurt, 1 packet of stevia, some blueberries and strawberries and ice. Either pour it in ice molds or into a bowl and freeze it for an hour, then enjoy!

 

Ok, sometimes that super strength restraint just doesn’t work. If you can’t get to your freezer in time, try to find the closest pinkberry and exercise restraint there. Here’s what you should do:

  • Order a mini size and your lowest calorie and fat options are going to be original or mango flavor. These are less than 100 calories, 0 g of fat, about 21 g of carbohydrates, 20 g of sugar and 3 g of protein.
  • As far as toppings go, pick one berry and be done. 1 scoop of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or strawberries is 10 calories.

 

Have a great summer filled with all the frozen treats you love without all the guilt!

A Better Burger

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Summer is just within reach and nothing says summer more than a backyard barbecue. There’s nothing better than warm weather, hanging out with your family and friends, and most importantly, biting into a delicious burger. But nowadays why reach for your standard all ground beef burger with lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57 and French fried potatoes, a big kosher pickle and a cold glass of beer when you can steer your way down the frozen aisle section to a plethora of different burgers that can satisfy each one of your family member’s craving for a juicy burger, without compromising on flavor or your bathing-suit ready physique. Here are some of my favorites!

 

Where’s the beef?

All you want is a nice juicy hamburger but between shuffling your kids back and for to summer camps, working behind a desk all day or even relaxing on a nice Saturday with your family, who has the time to assemble all those beef patties by hand? All beef burgers are a bbq must, and will satisfy your meat cravings while giving you the highest protein content of all the burger options below, which will keep you feeling full and energized. While consuming high amounts of red meats, more specifically processed red meats, may be correlated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes mellitus, red meat provides a superior amount of heme-iron compared to white meat, as well as multiple beneficial nutrients such as zinc, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and alpha-lipoic acid. So as long as it’s unprocessed and lean, consuming moderate amount of red meat is a healthful option. When you’re in a bind, be sure to pick up these two frozen burger options:

-        Applegate Farms Organic Beef Burger: This burger only contains organic grass-fed beef so you’re getting real delicious meaty flavor. Each burger is 195 calories, 12 g of fat, 85 mg of sodium and packs 21 g of protein.

-        Great Range All Natural Bison Patties: Bison is uncommon ground for some people, but once you’ve had these all natural bison patties you may never go back to ground beef. Each 4 oz patty is 190 calories, 11 g of fat, 20 g of protein and only 60 mg of sodium. There are no artificial ingredients, growth hormones, stimulants or antibiotics and they only use a minimum of 90% lean beef so you know you’re getting the leanest cut out there.

 

Can’t Beat White Meat

Turkey and chicken burgers have become a popular option because white meats are typically considered leaner, with less calories per oz, than red meat. However, this is only the case if you purchase at least 90/10 ground turkey, otherwise 90/10 ground red meat is actually leaner with less fat and fewer calories than commerically packaged “lean ground turkey”. White meat is also favored over red meat because it does not have any associated health risks and it is a high protein source that does not cause post-meal insulin levels to rise. This is great news for individuals watching their blood sugar levels or who suffer from diabetes. With a milder flavor, white meat burgers generally have a ton of additives and artificial flavoring, so before think about ordering one in a restaurant make sure to ask your waiter what’s in that burger, because it might not actually be better for you. However, when done right, these burgers can be extremely flavorful and high in protein without the extra calories and fat that red meat provides. Here are my favorite white meat burgers:

-        Applegate Organic Turkey Burger: At only 140 calories per burger, 7 g of fat and 17 g of protein, this delicious turkey burger is also extremely low in sodium, 55 mg, and only contains organic turkey and rosemary- a perfect combination.

-        Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Chicken Burgers: The great thing about these burgers is that they are extremely flavorful, low in fat and actually have some fiber in them. 1 burger is 150 calories, 6 g of fat, 2 g of fiber and 19 g of protein. Unfortunately, they contain 310 mg of sodium but if you need to watch your sodium intake it’s best to avoid these chicken burgers.

 

A Pescatarian Affair

For those who don’t dabble in red or white meat, but haven’t fully converted to a vegetarian way of life, grilling out can be a reason to stay in. When there isn’t anything that you can eat, you fill up on chips and salsa, cole slaw and those double chocolate chip fudge brownies you had your eye on as soon as you walked into the party, which will leave you wishing you had the metabolism of a 12 year old soccer player. Now, there’s no excuse, with delicious tuna burger and mahi mahi burger options, these meat alternatives aren’t just for pescatarians. Fish burgers not only are delicious and packed with flavor, but they contain omega-3s, protein and are low in saturated fats, calories and sodium. While the summer provides some of the freshest fish you can get all year round, try these seafood burger options for all the flavor without the hassle and prep:

-        Whole Foods Wild Caught Yellowfin Tuna Burger: This yellowfin tuna burger is perfect for your next grill out. 1 burger is 130 calories, 5 g of fat, 21 g of protein and pairs well with avocado, lime and even a little kick from some wasabi for a pacific taste.

-        Whole Foods Wild Caught Mahi Mahi Burger: I can’t get enough of these wild caught mahi mahi burgers, and once you try them neither will you! 1 mahi mahi burger is 120 calories, 5 g of fat, 18 g of protein and tastes so fresh you’ll never believe it was frozen. They are great paired with grilled pineapple for a truly tropical taste.

 

Vegetarian Delight

Listen, I love meat, but veggie burgers have captured my heart. Veggie burgers used to be something even vegetarians avoided because let’s face it, they were bland and never had the consistency of a burger. Not anymore! Veggie burger making has turned into an art form, and nutritionally speaking, can be better for you than an all beef burger when done with your health in mind. Evidence shows a predominately vegetable based diet decreases your risk for obesity and its known deathly counterparts- heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes. A vegetarian burger, when done consciously with adequate amounts of protein (through lentils, beans or tofu) provides more fiber than any other burger option and promotes a thinner and healthier body weight. However, a veggie burger done wrong can actually have more fat, less fiber, more sodium and more additives and artificial flavoring that your average hamburger so be ware. The number of veggie burgers on the market is astounding, but here are the best picks for your summer parties:

-        Dr. Praeger’s California Burgers: These California veggie burgers are definitely nutritionally unbeatable. At 110 calories, 4.5 g of fat, 4 g of fiber and 5 g of protein in each burger it also contains 50% of your daily vitamin A as well as ample amounts of iron.

-        Gardenburger’s: Any of the gardenburger vegetarian burger options are delicious but I particularly love the black bean chipotle variety. They are only 100 calories and 3 g of fat and contain 5 g of protein and 5 g of fiber. They are perfectly seasoned and are the perfect addition to your Mexican themed cook out.

-        Amy’s California Veggie Burger, Light in Sodium: These veggie burgers are the best option if you are watching your sodium intake since they contain only 250 mg of sodium per patty. They also are only 110 calories and 4 g of fat per patty and contain 3 g of fiber and 5 g of protein too!

 

So the question now is, good gosh almighty which way do you steer? There’s no need to be picky, you have the entire summer to try each and every one of these delicious burgers. Luckily, they all fill you up without filling you out, but the patty is just one part of the whole burger. Try to avoid heavy sauces, salty condiments, cheese and processed buns when assembling your burgers. Load up on lettuce, tomatoes and onions, stick to just a tablespoon of mustard or low-sodium barbeque sauce and try a whole-wheat wrap/bun/bread or iceberg lettuce instead of a white bun. But more importantly, enjoy the great weather, great food and your family and friends. If this article left you wanting more, don’t worry! I’ll be filling you up with some great bbq and healthy recipes for sauces, sides, desserts and so much more!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

 

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