Homemade Almond Butter

Do you know how easy making your own nut butter can be? I LOVE making my own nut butters because they are so easy to make and you only need one ingredient… your favorite nut! Some suggestions are peanuts, almonds, cashews, etc. The list goes on! All you need is a food processor to blend the nut together for several minutes. They will become hot in the food processor and if the consistency remains thick, you can add a little vegetable oil to it (you don’t need a lot!) What better way to add some nut butter to your sandwich or to enjoy as a dip and you can create your very own jar?

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*Picture taken by Danielle Colombo, RD*

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Adding Flavor With Herbs

Herbs do not only contain vitamins and minerals, the oils in most herbs have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties that can deliver disease-fighting health benefits as well. Growing an herb garden is an easy way to access fresh herbs all year-round.

Thyme: Contains generous amounts of Vitamin C, can be used in soups and stews, and can add flavor to foods including meats, roasted chicken, fish, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and winter vegetables.

Basil: Offers a range of flavors and aromas from lemon and mint to licorice. Sweet basil pairs well with Parmesan, ricotta, and mozzarella cheeses, tomatoes, pasta, eggs, garlic, and poached fish.

Tarragon: Delivers a sweet licorice-like flavor. Tarragon can be used in green salads and goes well with eggs, chicken, fish, goat, and ricotta cheeses as well as citrus, tomatoes, parsley and vinegar.

Rosemary: Pairs well with fava and white beans, roasted meats and potatoes. This herb should be added early in the cooking process.

Mint: Pairs well with dark chocolate, cream-based dessert, lamb, cucumbers, young potatoes, carrots or peas, fruits and teas.

Chives: Pair well with eggs, cheddar and ricotta cheeses, and root vegetables (especially potatoes). Use them fresh, not cooked to maintain color and flavor.

Cilantro: Pairs well with chili peppers in salsas and curries. Commonly used in Thai, Indian, and Mexican cuisine.

Sage: Pairs well with rich and roasted poultry and meat dishes, onions, pasta and beans.

Parsley: 1 tbsp. of parsley delivers more than 50% of recommended vitamin K for adults. Pairs well with lemon and garlic, fish and soups.

Dill: Delivers a good amount of beta-carotene. Dill is a main ingredient in pickles and pairs well with cucumbers, eggs, potatoes and fish.

Food & Nutrition Magazine. July/August 2015

Popcorn — A Popular Whole Grain Snack

Many people don’t realize that popcorn is 100% whole grain, low in calories, and a source of dietary fiber. A 3 cup serving of air-popped popcorn has fewer than 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, 3.5 grams of dietary fiber and 2mg of sodium. However, popcorn can become unhealthy and an addictive treat if it is not eaten in correct portion sizes and/or if it is eaten out of a tub in a movie theater. A large bucket of popcorn found in your movie theater can contain more than 1,000 calories and several day’s worth of saturated fat (the bad fat!). So remember to keep it simple and stick to the correct portion size!

Try these simple ideas on your popcorn to add flavor (skip the butter!)

  • Sprinkle with chili powder and a little bit of lime juice
  • Mix it with roasted chickpeas or nuts
  • Toss it with Parmesan cheese and fresh rosemary
  • Add some heat with cayenne pepper or Cajun seasoning mix
  • Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic and black pepper
  • Dust with cinnamon and a little brown sugar

For more information: Food & Nutrition Magazine, July/August 2015

Gut Microbiota

A diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains allows beneficial bacteria to dominate and inhibits the growth of  harmful strains. Here are some general tips for helping microbes in our body, however more research is needed on what the optimal solution is:

  • Focus on fruits and vegetables: A plant based diet rich in vegetables, fruit, legumes and high in dietary fiber and polyphenols seems to help the microbiota. These foods offer prebiotics.
  • Fermented foods may affect microbiota by influencing the gene expression of the bacteria that already exists. Yogurt and kefir are both naturally fermented foods with live active cultures and sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and raw vinegar are high in Lactobacillus bacteria.
  • Garlic and leeks contain natural sources of prebiotic inulin.
  • Focus on minimum processed foods and limit sugar and unhealthy fats.
  • Consider taking a probiotic supplement (L. acidophilus, L. reuteri, B. longum and B. bifidium) — during and after antibiotic use to help manage antibiotic-induced diarrhea. Antibiotics kill all bacteria (good and bad!), so it is helpful to take probiotic supplements two hours before or after taking antibiotics.

Food & Nutrition May/June 2015. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Have Good Food, Eat Good Food

If you keep good food on-hand in your refrigerator, on the kitchen counter, and in your kitchen cabinets, you will eat good food. Spring cleaning can be a perfect time to rethink what you buy and what you keep in your kitchen. Some healthy food choices to keep on hand include:

  • 100% whole wheat bread/tortillas/pitas: Most of the carbs in whole-wheat tortillas are complex carbs, so you don’t have to worry about a spike in blood sugar levels.
  • Eggs: You can eat eggs many ways, such as hard-boiling them as a snack or adding them to your salad you’re packing for lunch. Scrambled, over-easy, or fried eggs make for a vitamin and protein rich breakfast!
  • Milk: Whether it’s 1%, non-fat, soy, almond, rice, or other variety, milk is full of calcium we need to build strong bones and prevent bone loss.
  • Almonds/nuts/seeds: Nuts and seeds are full of protein and healthy unsaturated fats. They make a great snack or salad topping, and are a great added punch to your oatmeal or yogurt.
  • Peanut butter: Peanut butter is packed with healthy unsaturated fats and protein.
  • Produce: Fruits and vegetables should be an essential food staple in your household, whether frozen or fresh. Always have fruits and veggies readily available to grab and go!
  • Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt is packed with 18 grams of protein per 6 oz. serving. It is a great low-calorie and low-fat substitute for recipes in place of mayonnaise or sour cream.
  • Beans: Not only are beans inexpensive, but they are also a great source of protein and fiber. One cup of chickpeas has 15 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber.
  • Quinoa: One cup of quinoa has 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. This whole grain is also full of B vitamins. It makes a great grain supplement to add to a stir-fry, vegetable, or oatmeal dish.
  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal makes a great breakfast and is known for lowering cholesterol numbers and may also help control your appetite. Add protein to your oatmeal, such as nuts, seeds, or even peanut butter.

http://nutritiondata.self.com/

Spring Clean Your Diet

As warm weather approaches us, spring is a perfect time to take advantage of seasonal spring produce! Seasonal fruits and vegetables are at their highest quality and optimal flavor during the months of March-June. There are also more fruits and vegetables available in season, so they cost less at the grocery store or farmer’s market. What is better than healthy choices at great prices? Some examples of fruits and vegetables that are seasonal during this time are apricots, asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, Swiss chard, chives, mustard greens, mangoes, oranges, spinach, and strawberries! Spring is also a great time to think about growing your own food. Have you ever thought about having your own vegetable garden? Whether you start a garden big or small, there is nothing like picking fresh produce for you and your family in the summer. It also doubles as a great activity for you and your family to do, as well. No matter what time of the year it is, you can always incorporate a lot of healthy, seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. The springtime is just a perfect time to jump start your excitement about eating and living well all year around!

http://www.sustainabletable.org/seasonalguide/seasonalfoodguide.php

Could you be Magnesium Deficient?

If you are feeling exhausted or noticing weird muscle cramps, you might be suffering from a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in your body. It affects everything from your heartbeat to your muscles to your hormones

The 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) revealed that at least half of the U.S. population had inadequate intakes of magnesium.

Loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue — the initial symptoms of magnesium deficiency. While initial symptoms can be minor, a magnesium deficiency may eventually cause noticeable problems with your muscle and nerve function such as tingling, cramping, numbness and contractions. In its worst stages, magnesium deficiency could even cause seizures, personality changes, or abnormal heart rhythms. Since only 1% of magnesium is found in your blood (most is in your bones or organs), a simple needle prick often won’t help determine your levels. Instead, diagnoses are usually made through process of elimination and by examining a patient’s lifestyle.

The main culprits seem to be soda, caffeinated beverages and alcohol. Consuming too much alcohol can interfere with your body’s absorption of vitamin D, which aids magnesium absorption. Food sources are the safest to consume of magnesium rather than supplementation. Focus on consuming leafy greens — one cup of cooked spinach provides 157 milligrams of magnesium. Legumes are a solid choice too, with a cup of cooked white beans coming in at 113 milligrams of the nutrient. And if you’re a fan of squash and pumpkin seeds, one cup packs in a whopping 649 milligrams. Other great options are nuts, including almonds and cashews, most types of fish, and whole grains.

For more information: http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/31/health/magnesium-deficiency-health/index.html?hpt=he_c2

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are a naturally sodium-free food. Every 2 tablespoon serving of hemp seeds contain about 90 calories. These seeds are a source of high quality protein containing 5 grams of total protein a serving. 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds also provide you with 3 grams of total carbohydrate including 2 grams of fiber– that’s impressive! Each serving contains 6 grams of fat (only 1 gram from saturated fat) with no cholesterol. This super food is also a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin E and provide potassium and calcium as well.

You can sprinkle these seeds over yogurt or oatmeal or try them baked in breads or in soups or stews! Toss them in a salad or stir-fry. Hemp seed oil is best in salad dressings or over soup or vegetable dishes!

For more information: Food and Nutrition Magazine: November/December 2014 by Jessica Cording MS, RD, CDN

Photo credit: guysandgoodhealth.com

Add Pears To Your Season Menu This Fall

One medium pear is 100 calories, has 5.5 grams of fiber, 10% of the daily value of vitamin C, and 5% of the daily value of potassium! The high pectin in pears makes them ideal for jams and spreads.

A member of the rose family, pears are delicious in both sweet and savory dishes and can be enjoyed raw, stewed, sauteed, baked, roasted, poached and grilled!

If you enjoy pears, here is a wonderful salad to share with family and friends during the Fall season!

Pear waldrof salad:

Ingredients;

4 large crisp, green pears, unpeeled, chopped into chunks

5 stalks of celery trimmed, coarsely sliced

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup walnuts

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1 cup low fat cottage cheese

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

Directions:

Place chopped pears, celery, raisins, walnuts and lemon rind into a large bowl and toss together. Place cottage cheese, yogurt, lemon juice, and honey into the container of a blender and process for 2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Pour cottage cheese dressing over pear mixture and stir to combine well. Chill until serving. Serves 8 people.

Nutrition information:

Serving size: 1 cup

Calories: 182

Total fat: 6g

Sat. fat: 1g

Cholesterol: 13mg

Sodium: 147mg

Carb: 29g

Fiber: 5g

Sugars: 20g

Protein: 6g

For more information: Food and Nutrition Journal September/October 2014. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Turn Your Halloween Candy Into A Nutritious Treat!

The average American eats 24.7 pounds of candy each year. Most candy contains high quantities of sugar with nothing but calories and no nutritional value. Here’s a quick little breakdown of Halloween candy calorie content that might make you rethink opening that wrapper this year …

Starbursts: 8 pieces = 160 calories — instead you could be eating one medium apple with 1 tbsp. of peanut butter!

York Peppermint Patties: 3 miniatures = 150 calories — instead you could be eating 3 cups of air-popped popcorn with 1 tbsp. of Parmesan cheese

Brach’s Candy Corn: 19 pieces = 140 calories — instead have a 6 oz. low fat yogurt with half a cup of blueberries and you will still be saving 20 calories.

Reese’s King Size Peanut Butter Pumpkins: 2 cups = 350 calories — instead try eating a nutritious meal of 6 oz. of grilled chicken, 1 cup of green beans, 2 tsp. of butter, 1 small tossed salad with 2 tbsp. of low-fat dressing,

Caramel Apples: 1 apple = 250-350 calories — instead you could be eating a whole meal of 2 oz. of tuna fish with 2 tsp. of light mayonnaise, with one 4 inch pita with 1/2 cup of spinach. This all could be served with an apple and 1 oz. of baked tortilla chips!

Hershey’s Milk Chocolate: 3 snack size bars = 190 calories — Instead you could be eating 10 baby carrots and 2 tbsp. of hummus and save yourself 20 calories.

Tootsie Rolls: 6 pieces = 140 calories –instead reach for a whole grain English muffin with 1 tablespoon of fruit spread and you will still be saving yourself 10 calories!

Skittles: 1 regular pack = 250 calories — instead you can eat an entire meal of 1 egg, 1 slice of whole wheat toast with 1 tsp. of butter, and 1 cup of strawberries.

calsPhoto credit: www.redbookmag.com