This one pot beef baked stew was always fondly referred to as “Halloween Stew” by my kids because year after year I made this for my children to enjoy after trick or treating. You can prep this ahead of time, even the day before Halloween. Head out to trick or treat for up to 3 hours while it bakes. And then, return for a yummy and nutritious one pot comfort meal. It was always a pleasure, after a raw and windy October Halloween, to come home to this nutritious and already cooked one pot meal. It is comfort food at its best, and can be enjoyed throughout the crisp fall and winter days ahead. Enjoy this baked beef stew recipe as a “prep ahead” comfort food on Halloween and all year for that matter.
Take the lean beef and cut into 1 inch cubes. Spray a large corning ware dish and the inside lid with a spray such as PAM. Place the cut up beef in the bottom of the corning ware.
Lay all the vegetables (except the peas) on top of the meat.
Pour the tomatoes, wine, bouillon cubs (dissolved in 1/2 cup water) and tapioca over all.
Bake for 3 hours, covered, in a 325° oven. Sprinkle the frozen peas on top fifteen minutes before the stew is done cooking.
NUTRITION INFORMATION:1/10 of this recipe is about 200 calories; 12 g protein, 5 g fat, 25 g carbohydrate
Now served-delicious beef baked stew
This dinner has protein and vegetables in one dish. Serve with a healthy beverage (or wine if you are the parent). Add a serving of fruit or a green salad, and this becomes a very nutritious dinner so you don’t need to feel guilty with the candy treats that will follow.
An elderly aunt passed this family recipe on to family members. Now my adult children also make this stew on Halloween for my grandchildren. My adult kids have those fond memories of this comfort food and are sharing with the next generation. That’s comforting to me, and a new type of “comfort” food!
I hope your family enjoys it as much as my family has.
Written by Tess O’Brien and Edited by Sue Rose, MS, RD, LDN
Now that you’ve been in college for a few months, you may find it challenging to eat healthy. Based on my experience, I often blamed my irregular schedule, super-tight budget, lack of sleep, and insubstantial meal plan. Adjusting to the college lifestyle is not easy and it may seem that weight gain or “malnutrition” are inevitable. However, utilizing tips for healthy college eating will help you be mindful in seeking healthier, accessible options on campus.
The first few years: dining hall tips
During your first year at college, you may be living in a 130-square foot dorm room that doesn’t provide you with many options for food storage. It is also common for 1st year and on-campus students to depend on a meal plan that is strictly valid for dining halls which are not typically recognized for providing nutritious options. Thus, the first year or two of college are probably the most difficult time to achieve a healthy eating routine, let alone adjust to a new style of eating altogether. Here are some personal tips for healthy college eating that helped me during the initial years spent eating dorm food.
Healthy college tips for dorm
Keep a loaf of whole grain bread in your dorm. Buy peanut or almond butter for your bread.
Drink plant-based milk! Milk alternatives such as almond milk can be purchased in single servings. No refrigeration is necessary until the seal is broken.
Store canned goods anywhere there’s space.
Enjoy a microwaved sweet potato. Poke holes in the skin with a fork, microwave for 5-6 minutes, and top with black beans or salsa!
Cold cereals and oats can be stored in a dry environment and last for a long time. These staples are good sources of iron and fiber, which are important nutrients for college students.
Buy apples and bananas in various stages of ripeness for snacks.
Purchase nuts in bulk. Raw unprocessed nuts are the most nutritious.
Pack your mini fridge full of fruits and vegetables!
Buy green or herbal tea bags and microwave water as the boiling/heating method.
Skip the heavier salad dressings. Instead, opt for a more vinegar-based dressing. Try red wine vinegar mixed with a small amount of olive oil and seasonings.
Add beans (kidney or black) or chickpeas to your salad as a source of protein rich fiber.
Keep your water bottle full and drink plenty. Aim to skip sugary drinks.
Stay focused on portion control to prevent overeating.
The last few years: off campus living tips
You are now living on your own and don’t have to depend on a meal plan or limiting yourself to a mini fridge for perishables. For some of you, retreating from your meal plan may be a relief. You are now free to expand your food options from outside of a dining hall. However, some of you may be uncertain on how to provide yourself with nutritious choices while dealing with a tight financial budget and time constraints. Personally, I was excited to move out of my dorm room and be in charge of my food options. However, I was a non-working, full-time student so I utilized these tips for healthy college eating that worked with my restrictive budget and schedule.
Healthy college eating tips for off campus
Find restaurants/stores that offer healthy options and student discounts. For example, Sweet Tomatoes gives students 10% off everything you can pack into your bowl at their salad bar!
Skip the dairy in your daily coffee and opt for a dairy-free option (almond, oat, coconut, soy). Tip: If there is a Whole Foods near you they don’t charge extra for dairy-free options!
Buy foods that can be prepared quickly and taken on the go (oatmeal, pre-made salads and wraps).
I ate a lot of canned soups while in college. My favorite was the Amy’s Organic Soup that was only about $2.50 per can and was enough to fill me up. Be sure to check labels for the sodium content though, as canned soup can be loaded.
Some grocery stores offer a small discount when you bring your own bags to carry your groceries (Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Target).
Obviously, alcohol consumption is not healthy and is often referred to as “empty calories” due to the lack of nutrients. If you do choose to drink alcohol, avoid sugary drinks. Instead, opt for a lighter alternative such as a vodka soda with fresh lime.
After a few evening alcoholic drinks, treat yourself well. Drink plenty of water, eat foods high in nutrients, and eat a healthy snack before bed!
Shopping tips for healthy eating at a savings
Eggs are super inexpensive- even organic and cage-free eggs can be priced around $4.00 a dozen! I’d often hard-boil an entire carton at a time and eat a few of them throughout the day to keep me satisfied.
Buy frozen fruits and vegetables! In fact, frozen fruits and vegetables are actually picked when they’re perfectly ripe so they still have all the nutritional value and flavor. They are also reasonably affordable and easy to store in your freezer for very long periods of time. Frozen fruits are perfect for a fast and nutritious smoothie recipe.
Adding a plant-based protein option to your grocery list can be significantly cheaper than buying animal products. While you don’t necessarily have to be a vegetarian to maintain a healthy diet, you can seriously save some cash by going meatless a few days a week.
Buy food in bulk such as rice, pastas, and nuts. This will not only save you money, but also save you time consuming trips to the grocery store.
If you have roommates, consider investing in a food delivery service (Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, etc.) and splitting the cost. It’s a fun activity to cook your meals together and it’s super convenient! It’s delivered every week right to you with pre-measured out ingredients and instructions on how to make every meal. Also, it will save you a trip to the grocery store, giving you more time to study or have fun with your friends.
Planning your eating at home and out
Meal prep is a key strategy! Meal prepping helped me so much in college because after spending long periods of time preparing meals for myself, I felt less tempted to eat out.
Obviously you don’t want your healthy eating getting in the way of going out to eat with your friends. I feel I’ve been most successful when I look up the menu beforehand to make sure there is something healthy that I can eat on the menu. If you find there isn’t anything on the menu, you can always suggest a different restaurant or eat a meal beforehand and just order something small. I try to never let my dietary choices get in the way of having a fun night with my friends. When I plan accordingly, I always seem to find an option that works out for everyone. Here are some more tips for healthier dining out.
Try to avoid late-night junk food snacks by keeping plenty of healthy snack options at your disposal. You will save money and feel better the next day.
Don’t 100% limit yourself to only eating super healthy foods all the time. Treat yourself to your favorites every once in a while. Everything in moderation is key.
Lastly, train yourself to bring a reusable water bottle with you everywhere. Drinking enough water and staying hydrated plays a very important role in staying healthy. It’s also great for your skin (more eating tips for great skin)!
While college is all about adjusting to a new and independent lifestyle, it’s OK to have a less than perfect diet. Being on your own and learning how to nourish yourself appropriately are important college lessons too! A healthy diet is a challenge at college, but key to preventing that feared “Freshman 15.” Knowing how to make better dorm food choices and provide for healthier food options are important in the beginning of college as you navigate your first few years on campus. As you branch out on your own as an upperclassman, shopping know how and planning are key. Learning healthy eating strategies now will be a useful lesson for your entire life.
Please share your healthy eating tips for college! And, please share this post if you learned something.
Oats, including oatmeal, can dish up some serious health benefits. When we think of oat based foods, we typically think of them as being a good source of health enhancing fiber, particularly soluble fiber. By definition, soluble fiber actually dissolves in water. In foods, soluble fiber adds a pleasing consistency. When we eat foods with soluble fiber, we can potentially decrease our blood sugar and cholesterol levels. There is scientific evidence that soluble fiber, once fermented in the gut, can reduce inflammation and even support our immune system. And fiber, in general, fills us up so it’s easier to lose weight! With so many health benefits, why would we hesitate to eat it?
Oats may have gluten
If you need to avoid gluten, not all oat cereal is gluten free. Oats do not contain gluten, but they may become contaminated with gluten if processed with other gluten containing foods. Choose brands of oat based cereals manufactured in a gluten free facility if there is a medical reason to avoid gluten. These products, such as the one in the below photo, can state they are gluten-free. They can state this because there were no other gluten containing products made at the processing facility that could contaminate the oats.
Oats and weed killer
Glyphosate is a weed killer that is sprayed on many of our conventional crops including oat crops. This compound has caused reproductive problems in animals and is thought to be a potential carcinogen in humans. The common weed killer Roundup contains glyphosate.
Published safety limits are hard to find. As is the case with a lot of controversial food topics, it’s hard to get at some of the facts. According to a Consumerlab.com. review, California has set a daily limit of 1100 mcg. In contrast, European countries set a higher adult limit of 34,000 mcg. The same review states a standard 3/4 cup serving of Original Cheerios contained only 32 mcg of glyphosate. If this is still not low enough for your healthy eating strategies, you can always opt for organic versions of your favorite oat based foods. You may not be able to totally avoid ingesting some of the glyphosate, but you can decrease your exposure by going the organic route.
Fungal contamination of oats
Ochratoxin is a fungal toxin found in foods of plant and animal origin. Molds produce the Ochratoxin when exposed to heat and moisture during crop production. Up to 70% of oat-based cereals in the United States have been reported to contain this toxin. And, it’s a compound strongly linked to cancer. According to research, choosing organic over conventional counterparts will not be helpful. Cooking does not destroy this toxin. The best practical risk reduction strategy is watching your portion sizes! This will obviously limit your exposure to the toxin if it’s in the cereal.
The good news: Oat cereal is a good source of fiber and protein
So should you skip the oat cereals? I think definitely not! Oatmeal and other oat cereals are a source of healthy complex carbohydrates and a fairly significant source of dietary fiber. A single 40 gram serving of oatmeal has 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. Choosing gluten free organic options and watching portions will go a long way in making sure the oat cereals you choose are the best possible choices for your health.
Your gut contains many bacteria that help you stay well. This is frequently referred to as the gut microbiome. The make-up of your individual gut bacteria is unique and hinges, in part, on the types of foods you eat on a regular basis. When you have the right mix of gut bacteria, your immune system is stronger and your digestion is better. While bacteria reside in the gut, people can also consume bacteria known as probiotics. The gut bacteria may be altered to improve overall health when these probiotics are consumed in adequate amounts. Certain foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut are rich sources of probiotics. Probiotics are also available as a supplement (purchasing tips).
Probiotics should not be confused with prebiotics. Prebiotics serve as food for probiotics, assuring their viability. Prebiotic foods are usually rich in fiber. While the fiber is in the digestive tract, the bacteria use it for food. Eventually, the fiber is excreted in digestion, but while in the digestive tract, it plays a crucial role in feeding the gut bacteria. Oatmeal is a classified as a prebiotic food.
As is the case with many foods, oats are at risk for pesticide and toxin contaminants. Choosing smaller amounts and organic versions of oat cereals can lessen risk from these contaminants. The good news is oats are low in sugar and iron (good for many people). They are a lower calorie source of protein and fiber. That fiber lowers your blood sugar and cholesterol levels and aids in weight loss. And, it’s critical for feeding your gut bacteria. Bottom line, oats are a pretty good fuel for both you and your gut bacteria.
The 2019 Chicago Marathon is around the corner on Sunday, October 13. If you are a non-runner sort of person, did you ever ask yourself why anyone would run that 26.2 mile distance? According to one running blog full of fun stats, there are about 570 marathons held in the United States each year and only 0.5% of the population has run a marathon. Some of those super motivated athletes just want to test themselves, improve fitness, or say they’ve accomplished a feat few athletes have achieved.
Aside from the varied personal reasons for running, some runners have goals such as raising money for charity. Team Emma, named after my granddaughter, is a marathon team with such a goal. This team raises money for pediatric brain cancer research. The marathon team has run in 2017, 2018, and runs again on October 13, 2019. All funds raised go directly to the brain tumor research program at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, IL.
Our brief story on fighting for the life of a child
My family is not really unique. We are just a normal family that never had any cases of pediatric cancer anywhere in the family. Suffice it to say that if pediatric cancer can strike my family, it can lash out at any family. But, my sincere hope is it doesn’t ever affect anyone you love. It’s devastating and it shakes the core of every family it strikes.
Ewing’s sarcoma was my 35 month old granddaughter’s cancer. Her tumor was in her brain. It was the size of a tennis ball. Over the course of 10 months, Emma had 4 surgeries, 11 rounds of chemo, 5 weeks of radiation, and 36 blood and platelet transfusions. She had countless scans, blood draws, tests, and spent 50 nights in the hospital. Even with all she has endured, she is thriving, happy, and well adjusted. She is two years disease free.
Fast facts on pediatric cancer and brain tumors
More children die of brain tumors than any other form of cancer.
Only 4% of the billions of dollars that are annually spent on cancer research and treatment are directed to treating all childhood cancers. That leaves virtually no funding for pediatric brain cancer.
More than 28,000 children are living with brain tumors.
13 new cases of pediatric brain tumors are diagnosed daily.
There are over 100 different types of pediatric brain tumors which makes diagnosing and treatment challenging.
While survival rates have improved, survivors suffer lifelong side effects caused by surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
Brain tumors of children are NOT like brain tumors in adults. Kids’ brain tumors require specific research and different treatment. It’s time to change the landscape of pediatric cancer treatment.
Research that focuses specifically on pediatric brain tumors is critical to saving kids’ lives and improving their quality of life.
Source: Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, 2016
More pediatric brain cancer research funding needed to keep kids alive
In an effort to move research forward to help others like Emma, the Team Emma Marathon and now Teamemma.org have evolved. For the marathon, all funds raised go directly into the hands of researchers that will make the difference in the outcome of a child’s brain cancer prognosis. Pediatric brain cancer is devastating. Saving a child really saves a whole family.
If you can make a donation, please know that no donation is too small. In fact, there is a “tipping point” for all things in life. Your extra dollar in the hands of researchers could be that “tipping point” for finding a cure for a child. All donations are tax deductible and will be acknowledged by Lurie Children’s Foundation. Thank you, in advance, for taking the time to read about our cancer story.
Want to make a difference with a DONATION? PLEASE CLICK HERE. Remember, every little bit helps a child, which helps a family, and then helps a community. And, on behalf of all pediatric cancer families, thank you!
Written by Tess O’Brien and Edited by Sue Rose, MS, RD, LDN
If you are what you eat, then eat beautiful food! Eating for beauty is easier than you think. There’s growing evidence to support that the food we eat makes profound changes to both our health and beauty. Our body’s beautifying process is very complex. As food digests into smaller nutrients, it affects hormone balance, inflammation, and skin health. Since eating is an everyday activity, it’s important to eat foods that your body and skin will thank you for. Glowing skin, shiny hair, and more energy will be your body’s way of expressing gratitude. And, with skin cells renewing every few days, it’s no wonder that our food selection has a dramatic impact on us both inside and outside. Eating for beauty is a possibility, if you choose foods wisely.
When eating for beauty, omega-3 fatty acids are important. Walnuts have significant amounts of this essential fatty acid. Skipping out on the recommended intake of omega-3s may give way to health complications including heart disease and diabetes. According to Dr. Lisa Drayer, MA, RD, author of The Beauty Diet, an omega-3 deficiency can also result in dry, scaly skin or eczema.
It ‘s already established that a diet filled with fruits and vegetables can help fight chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. However, greens, greens, and more greens will also aid in delivering you the most organic makeover ever. Greens are key when eating for beauty! Cruciferous vegetables, like kale, contain vitamins C and A, which are key anti-aging nutrients. Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen which is a type of protein we need for connective tissues. That collagen also strengthens your skin on your face. Vitamin A from kale is actually called beta-carotene. Vitamin A and it’s beta-carotene derivative are needed by all skin cells throughout the body. Too little vitamin A will result in both dry skin and poor vision. As a green leafy vegetable, kale is a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin (critical nutrients for preserving eye health). These two nutrients are crucial in protecting your skin as well as vision. Additionally, kale’s omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and nourish the hair follicles, favoring overall hair growth and strength. Want to get started eating this right away? Here’s a great kale salad recipe.
Citrus fruits such as limes, lemons, oranges, and grapefruit help maintain an alkaline state of the body while reducing inflammation. Additionally, the rind of a citrus fruit, such as an orange peel, contains an oil compound that provides UV-protective benefits. In fact, many nutrition experts encourage the consumption of citrus zest due to its DNA-repairing (aka skin-damage repairing) properties. Eat a citrus fruit daily when eating for beauty.
Sea vegetables such as seaweed have a high content of iodine. Iodine is essential for regulating thyroid hormones, metabolism, and growth. If iodine is deficient, thyroid hormones cannot be synthesized. And, without sufficient thyroid hormones, metabolic rate slows, causing weight gain and fatigue. Many spas and skincare companies use seaweed as detoxifying body wraps or an ingredient in skincare formulas due to the belief that it improves circulation and reduces cellulite. However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that seaweed actually reduces cellulite. We do know eating it provides trace nutrients in addition to the iodine. The fiber content is also helpful for gut health and blood sugar control.
Beauty companies around the globe are also promoting the benefits of antioxidants. These antioxidants are formulated into their topical products and marketed in such ways that leverage the glowing skin effects and anti-aging properties, Ex: Skincare by Alana’s Skin Script Acai Berry Moisturizer. “More and more scientific studies are proving their effectiveness, not only in helping to reduce wrinkles and aging, but also reducing inflammation, such as rosacea, or even helping prevent skin cancer” (Best Health). Berries contain large amounts of antioxidant rich polyphenols. These polyphenols work to visibly repair environmental damage which rejuvenates the skin’s natural defenses for a fresh-looking complexion.
Another beauty boosting food on our list is avocados. Avocados are rich in vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant for protecting cell membranes. Vitamin E works to protect lipids throughout the body by neutralizing reactive oxygen compounds before they can cause damage. This protective activity then aids to prevent collagen fibers from free-radical damage, UV ray damage, and solar radiation damage. This in turn stimulates the healing of damaged skin (such as stretch marks and scars), fights wrinkles, and improves skin elasticity.
Water is an essential but often overlooked nutrient. Delivering adequate water to your body allows your digestion to move along smoothly. Efficient delivery of nutrients to your skin’s surface occurs with proper digestion. Since your skin is the largest organ of the body, a lack of hydration can affect the skin’s appearance. Skin may appear dry, flaky, and rough. And, those little wrinkles may be more prominent without enough water.
While there are many advantages to consistent hair and skincare beauty routines, the most crucial (and often overlooked) part of any daily beauty regimen is incorporating nutrient-dense foods into your diet. And, since mother nature packages the best nutritional formulas, eating whole food for beauty is better than taking supplements! For those actually needing a supplement, choose wisely. From the oxidation-inhibiting antioxidants in berries to the hormone-regulating iodine in sea vegetables, each beauty-boosting food contains unique compounds. These compounds can produce the beautiful results of glowing skin and strong, shiny hair. Do you have a favorite food you enjoy eating for your beauty routine?
My spouse and I are health conscious because I am a dietitian and not a hypocrite, and his life depends upon it. We regularly visit an area of southwest Michigan, and recently had breakfast at a local diner with great TripAdvisor reviews. Unfortunately, we did not agree with the great reviews on TripAdvisor. Here’s why I think there’s a restaurant dining cost to your health and wallet!
Restaurant dining menu and cost
The menu was limited, but I will be the first to state that this is not necessarily a bad thing. A limited menu may end up focusing on food quality, rather than an abundance of mediocre dishes. The good news here was the staff was more than happy to substitute requested egg whites for whole eggs.
Now the bad news: the nice multi-grain bread was already buttered on the bottom of the toast (so did not realize it until it was eaten), the portions were huge (I know many people want large portions for the money being doled out), and I saw no fruit options on the menu. Other bad news: the bill was $30.00 for what we could have made at home for probably a dollar at most, and made it a lot healthier in a shorter amount of time. This is, in fact, the key issue with dining out on a regular basis.
Restaurant dining cost to health and wallet
If you make the same food at home, you can control the fat in the dish with very simple recipe tweaking. Restaurants don’t typically care about the high fat content in their meals because fat carries flavor and texture. And of course, they want you to return for another meal! You can bank on eating more calories than you anticipated due to the higher fat content. You can also assume that it will be more difficult to meet your weight loss goals.
And, let’s not forget the simple concept that larger portions, when eaten, yield more calories. Unless you can exercise a lot of self-restraint while dining out, you will most likely eat your whole meal. If you can consistently ask for healthy substitutions such as fruit for fries, you are on the right track. Also, you need to get in the habit of bringing at least half of your meal home. And who doesn’t want that yummy appetizer, dessert, or cocktail while dining out? It’s probably safe to say that if you are eating at home you are not eating those extra high calorie goodies.
If you are fortunate to find a nice restaurant meal low in fat and overall calories, the sodium is probably lurking. I have yet to see a healthy restaurant meal that is low in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, calories, and sodium. If you think the sodium content does not matter because your blood pressure is fine, you need to think again. High sodium intakes cause other health problems such as bone loss and are correlated with increased cancer risk. And, if you hop on the scale the next day, you can credit that weight gain of several pounds to fluid retention from all that salt you ate.
My husband made a lower sodium chili on Sunday, and pointed out that the entire pot of chili cost less than a few dollars. Purchasing a bowl of chili at a restaurant would have cost about $6.00. He used half a packet of low sodium chili powder and added additional beans plus veggies, creating a healthier chili.
When you must go to fast food restaurants
Ironically, thinking in terms of restaurant food chains rather than non-chain full-service restaurants may serve your health concerns more effectively. Unless you live in a cave, you have seen nutrition information is posted at your favorite fast food restaurant. In 2014, the FDA set into motion new labeling requirements for chain restaurants. By now, all that nutrition information has been available to customers for years. If you pay attention to that posted nutrition information, it can help you make better decisions while dining out. There are lots of helpful websites to start planning for healthier choices. One that I really like is HealthyDiningFinder. Put in your zip code and you can start your search for healthier cuisine.
Casual dining establishments
Consider frequenting casual dining restaurants that actually have a set calorie controlled menu with a lot of choices such as the Cheesecake Factory. While in the past I would have cringed at dining there, they have made great strides with their Skinnylicious menu options. I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty the food was from that menu and ecstatic with all the choices for under 600 calories. I can’t say the sodium was acceptable across the board with that menu, but as I stated, it’s very hard to nail the fat, calories, and sodium content of any restaurant meal.
Full service restaurants
Clearly, fast food options are not always what we want or need for social occasions. Always try and check out the restaurant menu online prior to arriving there. This will at least allow you an opportunity to avoid split second and thoughtless decisions when ordering. Socializing with friends while trying to order without some prior thought does not usually translate to a healthy choice.
When no nutrition information is available
Looking for plain menu options like a ladies’ cut filet or chicken that is not smothered in sauce might be good options. Add some steamed vegetables and plain baked potato and you’ve made some wise choices. By skipping the appetizers, cocktails, and desserts you are on your way to helping your waistline. And that bread basket is always a problem, right? Ask the wait staff to keep it in the kitchen or move it to another part of the table. And, if portion sizes of your meat based entree are larger than a deck of cards, bring the leftovers home if you are serious about managing your healthy diet. Help yourself with that action by asking for the “doggie” bag at the beginning of the meal!
While eating out is recreational for many, it should be a treat for special occasions rather than your regular diet. Eating at home more often will result in a healthier diet and bank account. With that stated, here are some additional tips to manage food choices and calories when eating away from home. Eating at home is a win-win scenario, except for the dirty dishes. With all the money you can save, you can buy a new dishwasher!
Do you have any strategies for managing your calories, fat, and sodium while dining out that I didn’t mention? And what recommendations can you share to keep restaurant dining cost to a minimum when you do splurge?
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Grogginess in the morning? You know you should eat some breakfast and not just gulp down java. But, creative and fast breakfast ideas are often limited and with tight schedules, most of us could use some help. Breakfast does not need to be complicated or labor intensive. We just need to do a little thinking a ahead and maybe outside the box. Here are some fast breakfast ideas that are easy and require very little time to pull off.
Nutritionally speaking, there are a lot of important reasons to fuel up in the morning. Research has noted that breakfast eaters have a jump-start on: maintaining a healthy weight, meeting daily nutritional requirements, and performing better physically and mentally all day. However, the issue is always what to eat, how long will it take to prepare, and how fast can it be eaten!
Fast breakfast ideas: easy and nutritious
Smoothies are a versatile and fast breakfast
Try a breakfast smoothie. The most time consuming part of making a smoothie is rinsing your blender!
For my creamy berry smoothie, blend 1.5 cups of blueberries (may start off as frozen and let thaw while in shower), ½ cup 1% milk fat cottage cheese, and ½ cup orange juice in a blender until thoroughly mixed. Yes, add the cottage cheese or cultured cottage cheese. It makes the smoothie thick and gives a very slight “cheese cake” twist to the smoothie along with some major high quality protein.
Each 12 ounce serving has 260 calories, 15 grams protein, 48 grams carb, 2 grams fat, 7 grams fiber, and 275 mg. of potassium.
Muffins are a fast breakfast idea
This is about as easy as it gets and you know what’s going into your body. Make ahead of time, freeze, and grab as needed. Let thaw as you shower. Enjoy with some orange juice or low sodium V-8 juice.
Consider making oat bran muffins as a healthy alternative to hot cereal. When evaluating an oat bran muffin recipe consider recipes without dried fruits if you are watching your waistline. Those additional ingredients will make the overall calorie value of your muffin much higher. If a recipe calls for applesauce, that allows for a moister oat bran muffin. Here’s a healthier oat bran muffin recipe.
For those needing a change of pace, I recommend this buckwheat chocolate chip muffin recipe that has gotten great personal and client reviews. The blog photo on top shows what these delicious muffins look like.
Improvise with an English Muffin
Toast an English muffin, add one slice low-fat cheese and a slice of Canadian bacon. Now you have an Egg McMuffin, sans the egg, and you don’t need to stop at the drive through and get tempted with those fatty hash browns.
What about English muffin pizza for breakfast? Toast each half to make it crispy. Spread some pizza sauce on each half, some shredded mozzarella, and zap for a few seconds in the microwave. Who doesn’t enjoy pizza for breakfast?
Improvise with a waffle for a fast breakfast
Take your favorite regular or gluten free waffle and smear on some peanut butter. Top with a sliced banana for a nice dose of potassium. Or, instead of peanut butter, melt a slice of your favorite cheese on top of the waffle.
Standby eggs always work as a fast breakfast
Consider hard boiling several to grab during the week. Each egg is a nice packet of nutrients and only about 80 calories. Or, consider making small cheese and spinach quiches in muffin pans and freezing. This is one of my favorite breakfast foods of all time for myself and if I am hosting guests. They always freeze great and can defrost in the microwave in seconds. Making that little bit of effort ahead of time in order to grab these will be worth it as you head out the door.
This takes a little effort the night before, but “little” is the operative word here. This is very easy to toss together the night before, and enjoy in the morning. To prep the basic overnight oat recipe take:
1/2 cup of oatmeal, combine with 1/2 of any type of milk (skim, 2%, soy, almond, coconut, rice, cashew), add 1/2 yogurt or skip the yogurt and use an additional 1/2 cup of milk. Add a pinch of salt and whatever sweetener you desire.This basic recipe can be modified by adding chocolate chips, Nutella, peanut butter, a mashed banana or berries. If you need more of a caffeine jolt on top of your java, add some instant coffee to your oats!
Mix your basic ingredients and your optional ingredients and place in any container with a lid. Mason jars are popular at the moment for this recipe, but any container that can be capped will work. Place in the refrigerator overnight, and you are done. The oats will be ready to eat in the morning. They can be eaten cold, or gently warmed in the microwave if warm oatmeal is your preference. Another advantage of this recipe, as it will last about 4 days in the refrigerator, so it’s not impeative to eat it the very next day.
No crust pumpkin pie
Crust free pumpkin pie is perfect to start out the day. I bet you didn’t see that one coming as a fast breakfast idea! It’s full of anti-oxidants and with some good quality protein from the eggs and milk used in this recipe. Even my crust free version that does not use splenda is healthy for the whole family. And, it would work to decrease the sugar a bit more in the conventional recipe if you like. When my kids were growing up, I often made this recipe and served it for breakfast. No one was complaining at all. As long as it doesn’t get eaten first, it will last all week. Make it on Sunday night for the work week.
If you are concerned about healthy eating, you might want to ask yourself if you are eating enough potassium rich food sources. As both a dietitian counseling private patients and former college level nutrition instructor, I have observed the difficulty that people of all ages have in getting adequate dietary potassium. Given that the daily dietary recommendation for North Americans is about 3500 to 4700 mg, it’s not that surprising that people fall short of meeting their requirements. Having an understanding of high potassium food sources can improve your diet immediately.
Why it’s important
Why is potassium so important for our health and well-being? First and foremost, it’s inside every cell. It’s a key factor in maintaining our fluid and electrolyte balance. And, it’s critical for maintaining a normal heartbeat. Sudden deaths that occur during fasting and the severe food restriction seen in anorexia are usually due to heart failure caused by inadequate intake. It’s also a key player in maintaining healthy nerve functioning and muscle contraction.
Even if the diet is very low in potassium, the body can usually handle maintaining blood potassium levels in order to maintain heart stability and nerve function. Although the body is able to maintain blood potassium levels despite eating less than the recommended amount, there are still health concerns tied to chronic low potassium diets. Low potassium diets are a trigger for hypertension. Research also suggests that diets low in potassium promote blood sugar problems, kidney stones, and increase calcium loss from bones. Calcium lost from bones can lead to osteoporosis.
Unprocessed foods are best for potassium
Knowing how important this nutrient is to overall health, a healthy diet should be packed with potassium rich foods. Since potassium is found in all plant cells, just like it’s in our own cells, all plant foods that are unprocessed will yield plenty of this nutrient! Need “unprocessed food” defined before reading on? It’s a food that has not been altered in terms of chemical treatment in order to preserve it, improve the taste, or alter the appearance of the food.
Examples of unprocessed foods
Think of the potato as an unprocessed food, but potato chips are processed. Corn is an unprocessed food, but caramel corn is a processed food. If it looks like it did as grown in the ground, then it’s unprocessed! Unprocessed fruits and vegetables will have the potassium left intact, and upon eating that food, we are able to benefit nutritionally. That’s why many excellent sources of potassium in the following list are whole fruits and vegetables that have not lost their potassium content from any processing. Some animal protein and whole grains also provide this nutrient.
Stumbling blocks to getting enough potassium
Although many health care providers think it’s an easy process to eat this much potassium on a daily basis, Americans usually eat too few servings of unprocessed foods to get the job done. As unprocessed foods are the leading dietary source of potassium, therein lies the problem. Additionally, as chronic dieters edit out calories to lose weight, they may also be editing out potassium rich foods in the process. Popular diets such as the keto diet also put the dieter at risk for a low potassium intake. With that stated, consuming enough does not have to be as difficult as one would think. The key is knowing the best food sources, and making sure these foods are consumed on a regular basis.
How do you manage to get your fruits and veggies into your diet? Do you add any toppings to certain recipes or use in smoothies? I know making smoothies is my easy way of getting my own potassium requirements met! Please share your ideas.
In the wake of America’s growing waistline, fitness trends have spread like wildfire throughout the nation. While more people are hitting the gym and attending their local HITT class, it’s just as important to pump up your diet as it is to pump up your gym time. Learning about what foods keep you lean and strong is imperative, as more processed foods flood mainstream marketplaces. When it comes to the best foods for working out, there are multiple issues to consider.
Bulking up foods for working out
When you’re ready to bulk up, foods high in protein are your friend. There are complete and incomplete proteins in the food we eat. Animal products are high in complete proteins. Lean beef, chicken, egg whites, low-fat cheese, and skim milk are all categorized as complete proteins in that they have all the essential amino acids that your body needs to build muscle mass. Because proteins we ingest are not stored, and amino acids are recycled, even proteins that are not complete-like those consumed from plant based foods- can contribute significant amounts of protein to your diet.
How much protein do you need?
Proteins should be consumed in grams per day depending on your weight. For example, if you weigh 135 pounds, you should be eating about 50 grams as a non-athlete, but as an athlete, your requirements could increase to as much as 105 grams (most Americans already eat this amount of protein and may not need to bump their intake up). Competitive weight lifters need to be mindful of not only their protein intake, but also their carbohydrate and calorie intake.
Carbohydrate foods for effective workouts
Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates can be your friend when you’re looking to be beach body ready. Carbs are essentially sugars that give you the energy to start and finish your workouts. The fiber rich complex carbohydrates in oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat pasta release their energy more slowly. Getting enough of the complex carbs in your daily diet actually spares protein to work to assist in building and repairing your muscle! In addition to sparing the protein to do its job, carbohydrates play other major roles in maintaining our health.
Stay away from simple carbs that are commonly found in candy, soda pop, pre-sweetened cereals, and some high sugar energy bars. If you think about foods your dentist would like you to skip, you can more easily identify foods higher in these simple carbs.These simple carbohydrates have little nutritional value and you are better off emphasizing nutrient rich complex carbohydrates.
Taking time to eat breakfast in the morning will help to kick-start your metabolism. Making an omelet with leafy greens or vegetables, and adding a small bowl of oatmeal is perfect for regulating your sugar levels. Even adding a glass of reduced/low fat milk or cottage cheese with fruit is a much better option than a trip to Starbucks. You’re preparing your body to face the day ahead of you and starting your digestion early in the day. This will help you transition from larger meals at the end of the day to a larger breakfast, followed by a smaller lunch and humble dinner.
As you move through your daily grind and workout, don’t just grab a Gatorade or so-called power drink! Stick with water, and stay hydrated all day long. Properly hydrated muscles will recover more quickly. The recommended daily intake for water is between 2.5 and 3 liters. Begin hydrating in the morning and continue all day long. Have a glass of water along with your glass of orange juice. Bringing a travel cup to work or school is also helpful. When you drink water throughout the day, you help your digestive system process food more efficiently. A good check for hydration is to look at your urine. It should be clear to pale yellow throughout the day. Waiting to feel thirsty means you are already dehydrated!
Gaining muscle mass doesn’t stop at the gym. Being disciplined and committed to the improvement of your overall health will only allow you to achieve your goal quicker. A regimented weight training schedule and proper nutrition will help you feel and look better in no time!
Do you wish you could make eating out a healthy experience? We all have our reasons for dining away from home. Be it business, social, or just no time to cook-Americans eat an average of 4-5 meals on the run and away from their own homes every week. Research seems to support that the more meals eaten away from home, the more likely those meals are too high in sodium, fats, and calories. Those unplanned calories from dining away from home could easily translate to a larger pants size in no time. If you find it necessary to eat out more than once a week, start some smart eating strategies to help keep your pants size in check.
As is the case with all intelligent eating, it is necessary to manage your dining experiences away from home. It is always a good idea to plan your options in advance if possible.
Planning tips for healthy eating out
Look for restaurants or carry-out options with a range of menu items. That way, those that choose to eat healthy will have more choices!
Consider reviewing menus online prior to getting to the restaurant. Even if the nutrition information is not available, you can preplan your best healthy eating options and strategies ahead of time.
When deciphering a menu, opt for entrées which are grilled, roasted, braised, poached, steamed, or baked. Avoid entrées which are described as pan-fried, creamy, crispy, buttered, and battered.
Order the regular or smaller sized options if available, since a normal restaurant entrée is usually enough food to feed 2-3 people! The large portions justify the menu price.
Split a menu item to share at the restaurant.
Consider ordering an appetizer as your entrée.
Ask that high calorie dressings be served on the side and control how much you eat.
If offered bread, ask that it not be served. We have a tendency to overdo the calories from bread prior to our meal. This translates to too much extra sodium and too many calories. Adding the fresh butter to the bread is another calorie pitfall.
Request the “people” bag or foam box come when the meal is served. Take half of the meal and put in the bag or container before you dig into your plated meal!
Practice making good food substitutions
The more often you do this, the easier and more natural it becomes. If you eat out often, it is a good idea to know how to make healthier substitutions almost instinctively. Here are some simple food substitution strategies to slash your calories and filter out the sodium and fat from your restaurant meals:
Ask if light salad dressing is available, but expect that it probably is not, and consider bringing your own pre-packaged light dressings if you enjoy salads and eat them often when dining out.
Always replace those fries and chips with fresh fruit or a baked potato. Both options will be lower in sodium, virtually fat-free, and loaded with potassium and fiber.
Remember that calories come from beverages as well. Alcoholic beverages can have a lot calories and increase your appetite to boot! Consider calorie-free substitutions such as sparkling water in a wine glass or a sugar-free soda.
With some advance planning, menu decoding, and eating action plan you can enjoy both your cuisine and physique!