Fast Breakfast Ideas: Easy and Nutritious On the Fly

fast breakfast ideas chocolate chip buckwheat muffins

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 that are easy and nutritious

Smoothies are a versatile and fast breakfast idea

fast breakfast ideasTry 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 made ahead and frozen 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 for more fast breakfast ideas

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 fast breakfast ideas

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.

Overnight oats

overnight ats fast breakfast ideasThis 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

crustless 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.

Bottom line, a better breakfast will mean a better you and better day. If you are also thinking of lunch and dinner, here are some other suggestions! 

Do you have a favorite, fast, and healthy breakfast idea? If so, please share so I can add to my blog.

 

 

Potassium Food Sources: A Dietary Challenge

getting more potassium: a dietary challengeIf 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

potassium and health

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 the best potassium food sources

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

potassium food sources

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.

Target unprocessed foods as top potassium food sources

  • 1/2 cup baked beans have 285 mg
  • 1/2 cup lima beans have 476 mg
  • 1 cup cooked spinach has 466 mg
  • 1/2 cup soybeans have 476 mg
  • A large can low sodium V-8 juice has 1180 mg
  • 1 small can low sodium V-8 juice has 700 mg
  • 6 prunes have about 290 mg
  • 1/2 cup navy beans have 376 mg
  • 1 cup orange juice has about 500 mg
  • 11.2 fluid ounce box Naked brand coconut water, about 530 mg
  • 1 cup of skim milk has about 400 mg
  • 1 banana has 420 mg
  • 1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal has about 335 mg
  • 3 oz. salmon has about 380 mg
  • 3 oz. chicken or beef has about 290 mg
  • 1/2 cup cooked carrots has about 185 mg
  • 1 cup of honeydew melon has about 400 mg
  • 1 cup cantaloupe has about 417 mg
  • 1/3 avocado has about 360 mg
  • 6-oz. baked potato has about 850 mg
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato has about 400 mg
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries have about 250 mg
  • 1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice has about 200 mg

Other benefits of potassium rich foods

The beauty of this list? Adding more of the above foods will not only increase your potassium, but also add other valuable nutrients to your diet such as fiber, and vitamins A and C. Potassium rich fruits and vegetables are also the foods with high levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants. In one large study, women who ate over five servings of fruits and vegetables had a lower risk of aggressive tumors in comparison to those who ate only two servings.

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.

Foods for Working Out: Fuel Yourself Properly

foods for working out

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.

Role of carbohydrate foods for working out effectively

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.

Breakfast

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.

Staying hydrated

staying hydrated during working outAs 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!

 

Defensive Dining: Healthy Restaurant Eating

Defensive dining: healthy restaurant eatingDo 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.

eating out healthy by planning aheadPlanning 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 choosing your restaurant after checking some valuable websites such as //www.healthydiningfinder.com
  • Consider reviewing menus online prior to getting to the restaurant. Even if the nutrition information is not available, you can pre-plan 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!

 

Concerned About Sugar in Cereal? Pick These Cereals, Not Those

sugar in cereal

When you look at a Nutrition Fact Label, you can see sugars noted on the label. The amount of sugar will be stated in grams of sugar from the product based on the serving size noted on the label. Here’s a quick fact to visualize what those grams of sugar look like if put into a teaspoon. For every 5 grams of sugar, that is equal to one teaspoon of sugar. So, if a cereal has 17 grams of sugar per serving, then that cereal contains over 3 teaspoons of sugar per serving. I think most nutrition professionals would say there is too much sugar in that cereal. At least this one would!

Checking labels for sugar in cereal

Cereal label showing sugar in cereal

So, if you take a look at the Nutrition Fact Label, you can see that a serving of this cereal has only 2 grams of sugar. That sugar content is very low in comparison to most cereal products. It would be a good choice if you wanted to limit your sugar from cereals. While limiting sugars is important, a cereal should be providing other important nutrients such as fiber and iron. For many people, the amount of iron in cereal is particularly problematic and could potentially be harmful to their health.

Drawbacks to lots of sugar in the diet

Sugar is classified as a simple carbohydrate. It is a type of carbohydrate that has virtually no nutritional value other than calories. This is in direct contrast to complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates give us so much more than just empty calories. These foods are significant sources of B complex vitamins, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Examples of complex carbohydrates include potatoes, corn, legumes, barley, brown and wild rice, and whole grain derived products. In fact, the cereal chosen to eat for breakfast should be viewed primarily as a complex carbohydrate and should not be a significant source of the other carbohydrate-the simple ones. So, what ‘s the real problem with too much dietary sugar?

The list could go on and on, but here are some highlights:

Sugar in popular cereal, 15 grams or more (3 teaspoons of sugar)

  • Frosted Flakes have 21 grams
  • Raisin Bran Crunch has 19 grams
  • Raisin Bran has 17 grams
  • Lucky Charms have 17
  • Cracklin Oat Bran has 16 grams

Options with 11-14 grams of sugar (2+ teaspoons of sugar)

  • Cheerios Oat Crunch have 14 grams
  • Kashi GoLean Cereal Crunch 13
  • Great Grains have 13 grams
  • Honey Nut Chex have 12 grams
  • Frosted Mini Wheats have 11 grams
  • Kashi GoLean Multigrain Toasted Berry Crisp has 11 grams
  • Cascadian Farm Cinnamon Crunch has 11 grams

Options with less than 10 grams of sugar (less than 2 teaspoons of sugar)

  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch has 9 grams
  • Oatmeal Squares with Hint of Brown Sugar have 9 grams
  • Honey Nut Cheerios have 9 grams
  • Life Cereal has 8 grams
  • Quaker Life Cereal has 6 grams
  • Multi Grain Cheerios have 6 grams

Cereal with 5 grams or less of sugar (1 teaspoon or less of sugar)

  • Grape Nuts have 5 grams
  • Wheat Chex has 5 grams
  • Special K (plain) has 4 grams
  • Rice Krispies have 4 grams
  • Crispix has 4 grams
  • Corn Chex has 4 grams
  • Wheaties have 4 grams
  • Corn Flakes have 3 grams
  • Kix has 3 grams
  • Rice Chex has 2 grams
  • Cheerios (plain) have 1 gram
  • Fiber One has 0 grams

Choosing the best cereal for your individual needs

So, none of us need to be loaded up with sugary cereal. It does not matter how old or young we are, we should be avoiding high sugar cereals! The one exception might be if you count it as a dessert (which I do occasionally).

However, when choosing your cereal, it is also important to consider things like the iron and fiber content. For determining your iron needs and which cereal would be best for your individual health, just check here. This is actually quite important. Iron requirements vary by age and gender, and cereal is fortified for the population needing the most iron. Those needing the most iron are women of childbearing years. The rest of us may actually be exposed to excessive quantities of iron in cereal. This is particularly true for those that like extra large servings. Knowing your iron requirements should always be a guideline for picking a healthy cereal. For other cereal purchasing considerations, refer here.

Take away messages

Sometimes it’s not an easy decision on which cereal to pick. If cutting iron is critical, you may need to be eating a tad more sugar than desired. And, if fiber is a priority, you may need to comprise once again. But, knowing the nutrition facts on your favorite cereal choices can go a long way on choosing the best option for your individual or family needs!

Do you have a great cereal that you enjoy that is low in sugar with the right amount of iron and fiber? Care to share? Speaking of sharing, please share this post if you enjoyed it.

Does Your Cereal Have Too Much Iron? Check the Label and Know Your Needs

cereal with too much iron

This is an update to a popular blog written years ago. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem much has changed with regard to the iron fortification in cereal. Iron requirements for humans have not changed, and many cereals still have way too much iron for certain people. Many people do not need a lot of iron. Those people include all adult males and women who are menopausal. Women of childbearing age require the most iron and iron fortification mandates that this be taken into consideration when setting the amount of iron added to a food in the fortification process. So, some people win on this matter (women that need iron) but, other people are eating cereal and inadvertently eating way too much iron!

Excess iron from cereal and foods in general

Iron is toxic in large amounts. Once absorbed inside the body, it’s difficult to excrete. A healthy person will be able to defend against too much iron absorption in numerous ways. Typically, the body can prevent too much iron from being absorbed by trapping in intestinal cells and then shedding it through digestion. The iron exposure to the intestinal cells can, however, pose a risk for colon and rectal cancer. In healthy people, the hormone hepcidin also swings into action to prevent too much iron from being absorbed. For some with a genetic condition, these safety measures to prevent iron absorption do not happen. Iron overload (technically called Hemochromatosis) then occurs with symptoms of fatigue, abdominal pain, depression, and eventual liver failure, diabetes, and bone damage if left untreated.

For those healthy people that can defend against too much iron, even they can experience the downside of too much iron. Excessive iron is constipating. That constipation can prevent food from moving through the digestive tract efficiently. Food moving through the digestive tract too slowly poses a risk of increased exposure to food borne pathogens and toxins that are present in our foods. As those not so nice things in our food supply linger too long in our gut, we can get sick. It’s so much better for our food to move nicely through our digestive tract rather than taking days to move along!

Gender and age will determine your iron requirements

  • Adult males aged 19 to >70 need only 8 mg/day
  • Adult females aged 19 to 50 need 18 mg/day
  • Once an adult women reaches 51 years of age and older, requirements decrease to 8 mg/day
  • Children aged 1-3 need only 7 mg/day
  • Children aged 4-8 need 10 mg/day
  • Growing adolescent males aged 9-13 need only 8 mg/day
  • Growing adolescent males aged 14-18 need 11 mg/day
  • Females aged 9-13 need only 8 mg/day
  • Females aged 14-18 need 15 mg/day to accommodate growth and menstruation

Avoiding cereal with too much iron

Nutrition Fact LabelCereals with too much iron can be avoided by first checking the Nutrition Fact Label. If you walk down the cereal aisle and start looking at the Nutrition Fact Label on cereal boxes, you will see that some of the most popular cereals are often packed with 50 to nearly 100% of “the requirement”. Remember, iron requirements vary by gender and age. So, the Nutrition Fact Label must select only the iron requirement of the part of the population needing the most iron. Therefore, all the iron percentages on the label are based off the 18 mg recommended for 19-50 year old females as their requirements are the highest!

So, what about a man or older woman who chooses to eat multiple servings of a these cereals in a given day? They would be ingesting much more iron than they need, potentially placing themselves at medical risk over the long run. The solution to this dietary dilemma is to simply know your requirements and choose the cereal that matches your needs. The Nutrition Fact Label reading can get complicated, so I’ve gone ahead and looked up popular cereals and done the calculation to note the iron content per serving so it is easier to review what can work best into your own diet.

Updated iron content of popular cereals

Cereals with less than 3 mg of iron per serving

  • Puffins have < 1mg
  • Kind Healthy Grains (all varieties) have <1 mg
  • Erewhon Brown Rice Cereal has <1 mg
  • Cascadian Farm Cereal Berry Vanilla Puffs Organic have <1 mg
  • Nature’s Path EnviroKidz Panda Puffs Cereal Peanut Butter Organic has <1 mg
  • Nature’s Path Sunrise Cereal Crunchy Vanilla Gluten Free Organic has <1 mg
  • Raisin Bran Crunch has 1 mg
  • Shredded Wheat has 2 mg
  • Kashi Whole Wheat Cereal Berry Fruitful has 2 mg
  • Nature’s Path Heritage Flakes have 2 mg
  • Kashi Golean has 2 mg
  • Nature’s Path Flax Plus has 2 mg

Cereals with 5-9 mg of iron per serving

  • Cracklin Oat Bran has 5 mg
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal has 5 mg
  • Fiber One has 5 mg
  • Frosted Flakes have 5 mg
  • Golden Grahams have 5 mg
  • Honey Nut Cheerios have 5 mg
  • Life Cereal has 7 mg
  • Cornflakes have 8 mg
  • Smart Start has 8 mg
  • Regular Cheerios have 8 mg
  • Kix has 8 mg
  • Wheaties has 8 mg
  • Great Grains Cereal Raisins, Dates, & Pecans have 9 mg

Cereals with greater than 10 mg of iron per serving

  • Corn Chex has 11 mg
  • Special K has 11 mg
  • Rice Krispies have 11mg
  • Cheerios Oat Crunch has 14 mg
  • Grape Nuts have 16 mg
  • Frosted Mini Wheats have 16 mg
  • Quaker Oatmeal Squares Cereal with Hint of Brown Sugar have 16 mg
  • Total Cereal has 18 mg

Serving sizes and cereal with too much iron

It’s important to take note that the serving sizes of most cereals are only 1/2 to one cup. If someone eats, say double, the above iron numbers double as well. Another little known fact is that if iron rich foods are eaten with a source of vitamin C, the absorption rate of the iron is tripled! Think orange juice with breakfast cereal. And, note that all fruit has vitamin C, so eating berries or melon with your cereal will also triple the iron absorption. This is great for those that have iron deficiencies, but not so great for those that need less iron. And remember, other popular foods are also either fortified with iron or are natural sources of iron. Pasta, bread, lentils, dried fruits, beef, and fish all contain iron. And, the more calories consumed, the greater the dietary iron consumed.

Key points on cereal with too much iron

Know your individual iron requirements. If you are male or an older female, you need much less iron than a younger woman. If you like large amounts of cereal (like me), then make sure you are eating within your recommended limits by picking a lower iron cereal. Cereal is really a healthy breakfast (and can be a creative good dinner, if I’m honest). It can be a great source of fiber and B vitamins, but also a source of too much iron for many except the anemic. Besides the iron content of a cereal, fiber and sugar content should be evaluated when you buy cereal.

If you want to see how your favorite popular cereal stacks up for sugar, click here.

Do you have any favorite low iron cereals you enjoy? If you found this blog post helpful, please share comments and the post itself!

Summer Salad: Kale with Quinoa & Penne Pasta with Feta

A summer entree salad is perfect if you are tired of BBQ cuisine at this point and want to swap your grilled burger for some interesting lighter food fare like a nutritious summer salad. These are two summer salads, kale with quinoa and penne pasta with feta are delicious. I have not personally made the kale salad, but have certainly enjoyed eating it! My friend served this kale salad at a recent gathering, and I asked for the recipe because it was not only delicious, but also loaded with anti-oxidants and potential health benefits. This salad is a wonderfully tasty way to consume kale and well worth the 45 minutes of prep time. Serve the kale salad with a slice of whole grain bread and a beverage and call it dinner. For a special dinner treat, consider making ice cream roll cake ahead of time and serving with your summer salads.

Kale quinoa summer salad- adapted from La Grande Orange Cafe in Pasadena, California

Champagne vinaigrette

1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallots

Pinch kosher salt

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon chopped chervil

Ground black pepper, to taste

(Makes 4 servings, each serving has 420 calories)

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, shallots and salt; set aside for 20 minutes to soften the shallot. Slowly drizzle in the oils while whisking to emulsify the vinaigrette. Whisk in the chervil and pepper. This makes a scant one-half cup vinaigrette; the vinaigrette will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 4 days.

1/2 cup quinoa

Salt

4 cups loosely packed julienned kale, from 1 large bunch

Champagne vinaigrette

3 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

2/3 cup red seedless grapes, halved

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1/4 cup grated Manchego cheese

10 to 12 strips finely julienne preserved lemon

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a simmer. Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse well, then drain, and add to the simmering water. Cook the quinoa until the grains are translucent and tender and the germ has spiraled out from the grain, about 15 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Remove from heat and drain any remaining liquid. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a baking sheet to cool. The quinoa can be made ahead of time and stored, covered and refrigerated, up to 3 days before using.

In a large bowl, place the kale and one-fourth cup of the vinaigrette. Using your hands, massage the vinaigrette into the kale until the kale is softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

To the bowl, add the cooled quinoa, the sunflower seeds, bell pepper, grapes and Parmigiano Reggiano, tossing to combine.

Divide the salad among serving plates, evenly sprinkling over the Manchego cheese and garnishing with the preserved lemon strips. Serve immediately.

Penne summer salad with chickpeas, feta, and tomatoes. This recipe is from Cooking Light and modified by the chefs in the Rose household!  

8 ounces uncooked penne pasta (try the tricolor version)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup shallots

3 cloves minced garlic

1/2 cup chopped red pepper

1 15 ounce can chickpeas

3 cups cherry tomatoes

3/4 cup crumbled fat-free feta cheese

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind

pinch of freshly ground pepper

(1.5 cup serving has 350 calories)

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the liquid, reserving 1/4 cup for later. Heat a large skillet, add oil and then shallots and garlic; saute for one minute or less and constantly stir to avoid burning. Stir in bell pepper and chickpeas, saute 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes and saute an additional 2 minutes. Stir in cooked pasta and the 1/4 cup reserved liquid. Cook for 1 minute until heated through.  Add the fat-free feta and remaining ingredients; toss to combine and serve on your favorite serving platter.

I hope you enjoy my kale and quinoa and penne pasta with feta salads as an alternative to summer BBQ meals.

Guest Blog: How to Avoid Vacation Weight Gain

 

Avoid weight gain on vacation

Don’t bring home extra weight from vacation!

Vacations are a time to relax and forget about everyday stresses. Invariably, clients going on vacation mention they are concerned about avoiding the dreaded and frequently occurring vacation weight gain. For those who are working on losing weight and living healthy, vacations are riddled with challenges. Temptations are common on vacations, and sticking to your daily caloric intake can be difficult. However, there are some simple steps vacationers can take to ease these common travel challenges. Here are a few surefire tips to avoid vacation weight gain:

Avoid air travel temptations to avoid weight gain

Before leaving for the airport, many travelers forget to eat. As a result, travelers often pick up snacks at the airport or eat food on the airplane. By setting aside time to eat a meal before heading to the airport, it is possible to avoid these temptations. In addition, healthy high fiber snacks can often help alleviate hunger on long flights. It should be noted, however, that most airports now have healthy options for travelers. The key issue is to be mindful of those healthier options and then keep your health goals in mind as you select your airport food.

Be careful in hotels 

Hotels often make it easy to sabotage your diet. Minibars do not stock healthy options so steer clear of them. Consider planning a trip to a local grocery store to purchase some basic foods. Assemble simple meals in a small crock pot or instapot. Zap a healthy frozen dinner in the microwave which will be lower in calories and sodium than most restaurant food. Or, make a sandwich made with whole grain bread and lean meat. Add fruit for a healthy meal.

Prepare for restaurants

Dining out is an essential and pleasant aspect of vacations, and travelers want to ensure that they take advantage of local cuisine. Before leaving for a restaurant, it may be wise to find the menu online and determine what you want to order beforehand. Check nutrition information if it is published online. Being aware of menu “watch” words is also very important. Avoid foods labeled as battered, bottomless, or buttered to help your waistline. Reading reviews of local restaurants from other travelers in the area can tip you off as to restaurants that might provide healthier options. Those who do some research can enjoy dining out without having to worry about eating too many calories. When researching menus, don’t forget to pay attention to alcohol calories as they can add up quickly.

Take intentional walks and plan your activities to avoid weight gain on vacation

Explore the area. Walk the beach or visit several local towns. Charge your Fitbit and go the extra steps. It’s usually more fun to get those steps on the beach or in a new area, so go for the experience. Consider packing light weight travel equipment. A jump rope, varying weight bands, and massage balls are the perfect light weight workout equipment to toss in your suitcase.

Vacations are essential for both mental and physical health. But, those looking to eat well to stay healthy will need to prepare. Fortunately, vacationers now have a number of tools to help them along the way, and travel does not have to mean that extra weight will follow you home.

How do you eat smart while traveling?

(Updated 2019 by Sue Rose, MS, RD, LDN) The previous guest blogger Cole Millen is an avid traveler and self-described “foodie” who never forgets that life’s best memories are made through real life apprehension of legitimate “experiences.”

 

 

Color of Food: Hidden Secrets to Health?

Color of food: hidden secrets to health?

What does colored food mean to your health?

The color of food you eat can be a huge factor in determining the quality of your diet. The quality of your diet can hold the secret to great health. Foods can range in color from white to black, and everyone should think about how to utilize color when planning healthy meals. The types of chemicals found naturally in foods often determine the color of the food. These compounds are called phytochemicals, which is Greek for plant chemicals. What scientists have come to believe is that these natural plant chemicals serve to protect plants from disease. If we eat the plant, we also get some sort of health benefit. In fact, these phytochemicals are emerging in scientific research as key players in regulating health.

Phytochemicals color your food

The roles of phytochemicals are wide ranging- from protecting our genetic material to fighting inflammation, aging, and disease. In addition to imparting color to our food, they often confer the specific smell a food emits upon cooking, such as that distinctive odor from cooked broccoli or cauliflower. Like hot peppers or the flavors of onions and garlic? It’s all about the phytochemicals present in these foods.

Although we can use color to do a basic “decode” as to which phytochemicals are present in a particular food, it’s important to note that a given food item may have thousands of phytochemicals. For instance, a tomato may have 1000 or more identifiable phytochemicals. Scientists also feel that the phytochemicals found naturally in food actually work together. This would be an argument against taking individual phytochemical supplements. Additionally, it is unclear if supplemental forms of phytochemicals are absorbed as well as the compounds from food.

Color of food: a closer look at what the colors mean

Color of food: secret to your health

 

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Red foods

Lycopene colors foods red. All tomato based foods, pink grapefruit, guava, and watermelon contain lycopene. By acting as a very strong anti-oxidant and cancer fighter, lycopene protects your health. Early research studies have found that men who ate ten or more servings of tomato based foods or other pink/red foods weekly had a significant reduction in prostate cancer. Some studies also suggest lycopene protects against other cancers such as liver, skin, breast, and lung cancers. Newer research suggests the lycopene derived from tomatoes helped human subjects improve their cholesterol levels.

Heat and oil aid in increasing lycopene absorption. Therefore, Italian cuisine that has both tomatoes and oil is a great way to boost your dietary lycopene absorption.

Blue foods

Anthocyanin colors foods dark red to blue. Cherries, blueberries, purple grapes, raspberries, red cabbage, and cranberries are sources of anthocyanin. In addition to being anti-oxidants, anthocyanins also appear to reduce cholesterol production to help keep our arteries clear. Aiding immunity and boosting production of detoxifying enzymes are other possible benefits of anthocyanins.

Blueberries, in particular, have been evaluated for their impact on the brain. Years ago researchers fed chow rich in blueberry extracts to rats, and fewer age related mental changes were exhibited in contrast to rats that ate regular chow. This was the beginning of the “brain superfood” called blueberries. Current research continues to support adding anthocyanin rich foods to the human diet. One recent study supported incorporating blueberry juice concentrate into the diets of older adults of to aid brain function.

Black foods

Polyphenols, along with anthocyanins, help color foods black. Foods rich in polyphenols are also rich in anti-oxidants. Examples of black foods include prunes, dates, blackberries, figs, raisins, black beans, chocolate, and coffee. Dark chocolate is particulary high on the anti-oxidant chart. News every chocoholic loves to hear. And, our morning coffee? Studies have found that coffee polyphenols seem to protect against diabetes and certain cancers such as pancreatic cancer. If you need other beverages high in polyphenols, there is green tea and wine.

Orange foods

Beta-carotene colors foods orange. Beta-carotene is the plant derived form of vitamin A. Once eaten, it’s converted to vitamin A that can be used by the body. Beta-carotene rich foods include cantaloupe, acorn squash, carrots, pumpkin, guava, mango, sweet potatoes, and apricots.

Key health benefits are that it’s another anti-oxidant. It protects the skin, fights infection, regulates genes, and impacts reproduction. In particular, beta-carotene rich foods offer health benefits against various age related eye diseases.  

White foods

White foods like garlic, scallions, onions, and leeks contain the phytochemicals allicin and diallyl sulfide. The smell of garlic after cutting is due to the allicin.. Allicin may protect against certain cancers as well as decrease blood pressure. Diallyl sulfide also seems to offer protection against certain cancers such as stomach cancer.

Green foods

Green foods contain chlorophyll which may mask other colors such as the orange color of beta-carotene. It is safe to say that green colored foods contain a wide array of many types phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, green cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts) all contain sulforaphane. This phytochemial may act by detoxifying cancer causing compounds, limiting production of cancer causing hormones, and preventing tumor growth. Green fruits and vegetables are also sources of phytochemicals known to prevent macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the US in those over 60 years of age.

Color of foods: a menu planning tool

Menu planning for a healthy future must include a rainbow of colors. By making sure there is a lot of color in your diet, you are making sure you get a wide spectrum of phytochemicals into your body. As you age, you then decrease your chances of heart disease, cancer, infection, eye diseases, and cognitive decline. You can’t go wrong with a plate full of color. Its the easiest way to improve the quality of your diet.

Ice Cream Calories: 6 Tips to Lighten Up

tips to decrease your ice cream calories and not increase your waistlineIce cream is a special summer treat. For many of us, summer is the time we went to the local ice cream shop for a special treat on a hot summer day. We did this as kids, and now with your own kids, you may be repeating family traditions. But, if you are like many Americans, it might be advantageous to know how to lighten the calories to help your waistline. If you are not careful, you can easily end up with an ice cream calorie equivalent of a whole day’s worth of calories!

Here are six tips to carry on with your ice cream tradition without increasing your waistline:

Avoid premium ice creams altogether 

A single 6 oz. scoop of premium ice cream can cost you 500 calories. Oberweis chocolate chocolate chip, chocolate marshmallow, chocolate almond, butter pecan, butter brickle, chocolate caramel crunch, cookie dough, and strawberry cheesecake flavors can all claim that calorie content! After you decide on your ice cream, you need to pick a cone or cup. Waffle cones generally have more calories (120-160 calories) than sugar cones (60-130). Pick the paper cup instead and you’ve saved yourself some calories without sacrificing much of the flavor!

Eat like a little kid to lower your ice cream calories

kids eating ice creamCalories and fat will always follow portion sizes, so you can either have a bite of someone else’s treat, or get yourself a kid scoop. A kid scoop is roughly 2.5-3 oz., so you can assume the calories are slashed 50% from the adult version, translating to much more calorie and fat control.

Exercise caution with low-fat and dairy free options

Don’t assume because the ice cream is low-fat that it is fine to have a double scoop! The Oberweis single scoop low-fat flavors range in calories from vanilla at 250 calories to chocolate marshmallow at 300 calories. Do the math and you can see how you might still get into a calorie bind by having a double scoop.

Dairy free ice creams are the current hot rage as the demand for healthier frozen treats has spiraled. These dairy free ice cream treats are made from almond, soy, and coconut milk and some also contain pea protein. While the dairy has been removed, the calories have not. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream roasted peanut butter and strawberry jam flavor yields 17 grams of fat and 270 calories per 2/3 cup. Ben & Jerry’s almond milk chocolate chip cookie dough flavor has 16 grams of fat and 350 calories for 2/3 cup. A better choice would be Talenti brand dairy and fat free mango sorbetto which will satisfy your sweet tooth for only 160 calories.

Avoid the final touches to lower those ice cream calories

Dipping your DQ vanilla cone in chocolate will add anywhere from 100-200 calories to your treat, depending on the size of cone you opt for. Adding  the candy pieces, whipped cream, and nuts will also give you some additional “energy” to the tune of at least 100 calories.

Go for cold alternatives 

Most ice cream franchises have healthier lower fat and calorie options for consumers.Better options include sorbet, low-fat frozen yogurt, and sherbet. Single scoop servings of these frosty alternatives may also be significantly lower in calories. A 4 oz. serving of sorbet can run your calorie tab 80-150 calories. Many frozen yogurt flavors are 150 calories or less per 4 oz. serving. While sherbet is virtually fat-free, the calories can start adding up as a 4-6 oz. single scoop of orange sherbet can run as high as 260 calories. If slashing fat is the objective, sherbet is a good way to go, but the calorie tab may run higher than anticipated.

Go to the supermarket instead 

There are so many frozen treats at your supermarket to take advantage of if you are trying to stay slim this summer. Spend a few minutes looking at the nutrition fact labels and pick a product that suits your palate and nutritional goal. There are many ice cream-like products hitting the mainstream and specialty grocery stores all the time that are both tasty and fit into anyone’s eating lifestyle.

If your full fat treat is a once in awhile treat, enjoy it! But if you frequent ice cream shops, then you’ll help your waistline by paying attention to the type and portion size of treats selected.

What do you opt for at the ice cream store? Can you share the nutrition information of your favorite frozen treat?