energy boosting snacks

Little twinges of hunger can strike at nearly any point during the day, and it’s nice to be able to enjoy a snack between meals to maintain energy and keep that nagging hunger at bay.

Unfortunately though, most of the “quick fix” foods we have available to us today are filled with empty calories, excess sodium, high fructose corn syrup… and basically none of the things that your body actually needs out of a snack!
Because a key part of snacking is convenience, it’s so much easier to reach for those corner-store treats or processed, pre-packaged foods that will stave off hunger, but do very little for providing you with nutrition.

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healthy recipes

Do you want some quick and easy tricks and recipes for staying healthy this Fall?

Check out my friends at EPICURIOUS.COM and their tasty suggestions.

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juicing

I am often asked, “which is healthier: juicing or smoothies?”

In fact, smoothies and juices serve different purposes. The health benefits of juices vs. smoothies depend entirely on your desired nutritional outcome.

I make smoothies when I need a nutritious snack, filled with protein and fiber, to hold me over. On the other hand, when I need a boost (especially in the morning) I turn to juicing. Fresh pressed juice is essentially a direct shot of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes into your system – a great coffee substitute for those looking to ditch caffeine.

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meal prep hacks

 

So, You’re on board with a “whole foods” lifestyle, great! Now if you could only find the time to make it happen…

My secret to success is meal prep. That means I designate a time to cook large amounts of healthy food ahead of time, with a plan to use it throughout the week. That way, when I’ve spent the afternoon running my darlings from tae-kwon-do to dance lessons, I don’t have empty plates staring me in the face when I get home, or feel the temptation to fill them with something quick and processed.

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healthy mind

Often times when we talk about fat in our foods we cast fat as the indelible bad guy—clogging arteries, elevating blood pressure, and generally ruining bathing suit season. However, it is important to note that not all fat is bad fat. In fact, our brain tissue is made of 60% fat, which means we need fat in our diet to support our brain tissue.

High quality fats, like monounsaturated fats, can address cognitive issues, and are actually heart healthy! The real villains are processed fats, like trans fats, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, and canola oil. These “bad fats” can be found in fruit rollups and processed Dannon yogurts, Nabisco cookies, donuts, muffins, and many other commonly consumed processed foods. Watch out for these fats because they are not food for the brain, or the rest of your body. Many processed foods that claim to be “fat free” are anything but. Manufacturers can claim a product is trans fat free, when in reality it contains up to .5 grams per serving.

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smoothies

We all know that after school snack time is critical. Somehow, that time of day transforms your kitchen into the set of The Walking Dead, where you might find yourself hurling pizza bagels at the snapping jaws of your 4th grader – just to stay alive.

While it is easy to rely on the convenience of processed, microwavable foods, there are healthy alternatives that are just as quick to prepare, and tastier too. Why not try a smoothie to curb that afternoon hunger?

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Homemade Nutella

Nutella has advertised for many years that their gooey, chocolatey, sugar loaded spread is healthy. The makers of Nutella, Ferrero, Inc. has sold their spread as a nourishing breakfast option but neglected to mention that in a teaspoon there can be up to 21 grams of sugar. This is far beyond the recommended daily intake for sugar, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO recommends, Americans should limit their sugar intake to 25 grams per day.

Well, since we all cannot just have one teaspoon on our morning toast, we will have exceeded our sugar intake at breakfast! Read more

Teenage Snacks

I have three teenagers living in my house. I am sure you can relate to what that is like trying to keep them satiated and happy at all hours of the day and night. They all seem to be on different schedules and somehow I can never manage to coordinate their meals. I have come up with my top favorite easy snacks to hold them over till lunch or dinner so we can eat a meal together. These are guaranteed to be a hit.

Nachos, Salsa and Guacamole

I use baked corn chips and lay them on a baking sheet with some beans, a jar of salsa and sprinkle some cheddar cheese and bake until the cheese melts.

I add my homemade guacamole to serve this delicious treat. Easy, peasy…

Avocadoes are a nutrient all-star in my home as they are rich in monounsaturated fat, B Vitamins, fiber and low in sugar.

My go to guacamole recipe:

Guacamole
Courtesy of 21-Day Sugar Detox                                          

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 small jalapeño, minced (*optional, omit for nightshade-free)

Preparation:

  • Slice each avocado in half lengthwise around the pit, remove the pit, then scoop the flesh into a mixing bowl. Mash the avocado with a fork.
  • Stir in the lime juice. Add the shallot, cilantro, salt, and pepper and stir until well combined. If you like spicy guacamole, add the jalapeño and stir to combine.
  • Serve chilled or at room temperature

Other serving ideas:

  • use sliced veggies of any kind to dip into this delicious guacamole
  • check out your local organic grocer or Whole Foods for plantain chipscooked in either coconut or palm oil
  • top on a burger

Protein and More Protein:

Protein is satiating and regulated blood sugar levels. This snack will hold over any starving teen and they are super simple to make.

Chocolate Protein Balls
recipe courtesy of sweat and oranges

Scrumptious and decadent but without the added sugar. They pack a punch and make it tempting to eat more than one. Gluten free and vegan

Ingredients:

Preparation:

  1. Chop dates and walnuts. Mix all the ingredients in a food processor except the shredded coconut. Form balls then coat with shredded coconut.

WALNUTS: contain cancer fighting properties, rich in polyphenol antioxidants, aid in weight control (due to increased satiety) and contribute to brain health because of the omega-3 fats.

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FLAX: rich in omega-3 and insoluble fiber and contains anti-inflammatory properties. You may not even realize it but we all tend to have some silent inflammation…

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COCONUT BUTTER: rich in potassium, magnesium, iron and fiber.

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Mid-Morning Breakfast :

I like to scramble some eggs, place in a wrap with some salsa and poof! Your teens are good to go till lunch.

or

Cheesy Spinach Frittatas: protein rich that are a great grab and go to snack. The kiddos won’t even notice there is spinach in them.
Recipe courtesy of I Quit Sugar

Ingredients

  • coconut oil, butter or ghee for greasing.
  • 1 small zucchini, grated.
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves.
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt.
  • 375 g full-fat ricotta cheese.
  • 3/4 cups shaved or grated parmesan.
  • 2 green shallots, finely chopped.
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed.
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped dill.
  • zest 1 lemon.
  • 2 large eggs, well beaten.
  • 85 g crumbled feta.

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and grease a 12-tray muffin tin with oil.
  1. Grate the zucchini using a hand-held grater. Combine the zucchini and salt in a colander or sturdy sieve and let sit for 15 minutes. Use your fingers or a spoon to press out as much moisture possible. Meanwhile place spinach in a saucepan with 1/4 cup water. Cover and steam until wilted. Drain spinach, chop roughly and set aside.
  1. Combine the ricotta, 1/2 cup of Parmesan, feta, shallots, garlic, dill and lemon zest, then stir in the eggs, zucchini and wilted spinach.
  1. Divide mixture into the pre-greased muffin tray and bake for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and return to the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven and allow the cupcakes to cool completely so that they

set properly.

Trail Mix Powerhouse:

I like to make my own and have it on hand in my car, my purse or in the kids backpacks. Trail mix can be a great source of protein and low in sugar if you make your own. Many of the store bought mixes can have candy, and sugared fruit in them so they somewhat defeat the purpose of a clean protein, high energy snack.

I will mix raw almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, goji berries and some cacao nibs. All these ingredients can be found in any grocery store. The goji berries and cacao are rich in nutrients and minerals and antioxidants and add a bit of “sweetness” to the mix.

Crackers and Nut Butter:

 There are so many different crackers on the market. I like to find the ones made with quinoa, whole grains, brown rice and flaxseed. You can pair this with packets of almond or cashew butter. Many grocery stores sell individualized packets that make it easy to travel with. They are even great to eat by itself. These are all low in sugar and rich in essential fatty acids that provide fuel for the brains of our teenagers. Now that is what we want!!

Yogurt Sundae:

This is not your typical sundae but one that will be devoured in seconds. No kidding!

I add plain yogurt, some berries, banana, coconut water and mix in a blender. Place in a bowl and top with extra berries, shredded coconut, nuts and seeds or even some nut butter. To add some extra special treat to this you can add a sprinkle of cocoa powder.

All flavored sugar yogurts are packed with added sugar. Plain yogurt does not have added sugar and by adding berries you get natural sugar that has the benefits of their antioxidant properties and their rich source of fiber.

 

 

 

 

coffee conundrum

The subject of coffee and health has been a topic discussed forever in the media. Is it a healthy addition to your daily diet?

I have a love-hate relationship with coffee. I did not start drinking it until after I had my three children. I then became quite obsessed with my daily coffee intake. Then moving forward a few years and my diagnosis with IBS. UGH!! So, there is so much trial and error involved in finding your individual triggers when you have IBS. I have come to the conclusion that coffee is taxing my system right now and decided to do a trial 30 day detox from my daily coffee. The thought seems quite daunting but at the end of the 30 days I will reintroduce coffee into my morning regime and notice any reactions that my body may or may not have.

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TO EAT IS A NECESSITY, BUT TO EAT INTELLIGENTLY IS AN ART

francois de Rochefoucauld

Do your kiddos not like greens?

There are so many wonderful ways to CROWD IN leafy greens on a daily basis.

I like to blend them into my morning smoothies. It is a nourishing way to start the day with the kiddos. Breakfast sets your metabolic tone for the day so the sugar filled cereals and muffins packed with hidden sugars give you a sugar surge and then a late morning brain fog and fatigue.

One trick for making a morning smoothie is to prepackage your ingredients the night before in a baggie. Place in the freezer and then take out in the morning and add your liquid- coconut water, coconut milk, almond milk or cashew milk.

My favorite green smoothie:

  • 1 cup homemade cashew/almond milk
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1-2 pieces fruit- apple, pear, berries or banana
  • handful of spinach- slightly steamed
  • stevia to taste
  • 1 tbs chia seeds

cashew milk

Spinach is loaded with:

vitamin A: for healthy mucus membranes and eyesight

vitamin K: for strengthening bones

1 cup(30 grams) of spinach= 145 mcg of vitamin K

the adequate intake of vitamin K for women age 19-70 is 90 mcg (160% )

the adequate intake of vitamin K for men age 14-70 is 120 mcg (121%)

vitamin- B complex– especially B6, riboflavin, folate and niacin which help us process fats, carbs and proteins for fuel.

vitamin C- a powerful antioxidant that helps in fighting infectious agents and free radicals that cause damage to our cells.

iron- a trace element that is important for red blood cell production.

omega-3 fatty acids– reduces inflammation and important for brain, hair and skin health.

minerals- potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper and zinc.

Note: Spinach is high in oxalic acid which can interfere with calcium absorption unless it is steamed. 

OTHER SUGGESTIONS TO ALTER THE TASTE AND TEXTURE OF YOUR SMOOTHIES:

  • Try changing the consistency of the shake by adding more liquid and less fiber
  • Try adding an organic whey protein powder
  • Add a tablespoon of almond butter
  • Try adding different berries
  • Vary the liquid- coconut milk, cashew milk or coconut water
  • Add unsweetened raw cacao for a sweeter taste
  • Add kale instead of spinach

Since I have been recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid, I avoid certain foods that are referred to as goitrogens, which are foods that inhibit the thyroid from metabolizing iodine. These foods include: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, mustard greens, radishes, spinach, strawberries, peaches, soy-based foods and peanuts. I now alter my favorite smoothie and leave out the spinach and add a little more avocado and almond butter. Still amazingly delicious!!

For those of you who do not have thyroid issues, eating goitrogens is A-OK!

Here are some helpful links:

http://iquitsugar.com/recipe/mixedberry-protein-smoothie/

http://ohsheglows.com/2014/03/31/green-warrior-protein-smoothie/

http://minimalistbaker.com/hide-your-kale-smoothie/

http://sugarscience.org/sugar-sweetened-beverages/#.VGIju_TF9x8