Posts Tagged: Nutrition

Smoothies-Smooth or Stupid Move?

Should you be a smoothie monster? It’s true that you can hide a whole bunch of fruits and vegetables in any blender, even disguising spinach in this trendy drink. But while a few sips of this stuff may be worth a whole serving or two of fruits and vegetables, are they all they are still a healthy food?

It depends upon your goals.  While many weight loss regimes are touting smoothies as the holy grail amongst the myriad of weight loss tips, if you’re using a smoothie diet as your weight loss regime, you may actually be working against yourself.  Most contain 400 + of liquid calories and liquid calories are not processed by the brain as effectively as food that needs to be chewed.  You are made to sit down and work for your fuel, chewing sends the right satiety message to your body and brain.

Another issue with drinking your calories is that even healthy smoothies can be high in sugar.  Many have jumped on the green smoothie as a part of a healthy breakfast but most people put a high serving of fruits in their green drinks to disguise the taste of the veggies. All of that fruit equals sugar-(yes,even if it is all natural and from fruit). And fruit smoothies without veggies, can be high in calories and will spike blood sugar even higher. For healthy smoothie recipes, keep portions small and focus on proteins as well as nutrients from low cal vegetables.  Munch on handful of nuts to engage your brain and help beat the satiety odds, or add them to your smoothie.

If your goal is to smack as much into a kid’s mouth before rushing out the door, then the story is slightly different.  You still want to make sure they are only getting 1 or 2 servings of fruit, but because they can be very high in sugar you also want to focus on protein source.  Whey powder seems to be the most palatable for kids and many brands are now lactose free.  For vegetarian recipes, be sure to choose organic if you are using soy protein otherwise you are likely getting a genetically modified soy. Brown Rice and Pea protein are growing in popularity and are terrific sources too, albeit more expensive. Hemp protein can be gritty and green but it is a very nourishing option. It would be great to rotate your type of protein powder so you don’t get too much of a good thing, just be sure you choose a brand that doesn’t have sugar or other sweeteners since they add empty calories.

Another way to make healthy breakfast smoothies is to sneak in a few leaves of baby spinach, kale or even parsley or mint for some chlorophyll, fibre and phytonutrients. Add cinnamon for its anti-inflammatory properties and plain, unsweetened cocoa powder (great if you need to hide a color- if it looks chocolate, it is more likely to be accepted). Feel free to blend in some yogurt, Greek is best with its high protein count for protein smoothie recipes, but be sure to choose an unsweetened brand.

Here is a list of ingredients to make healthy smoothie recipes. Ask your child to circle their own concoction. You can’t really go wrong with mixing and matching fun and the process gives them some control over the outcome. And you know how I feel about giving the eating power back to the one who will have to manage it for life…right?

Follow these tips and a green smoothie really will be a part of a healthy breakfast. Bottoms up!

Liquid

Protein

Fruit

Veg

Flavourings

Milk Whey powder Berries Spinach Cinnamon
Almond milk Organic soy Banana baby kale Cocoa powder
Rice Milk Pea protein Pineapple parsley Vanilla extract
Greek Yogurt Hemp Protein applesauce carrot juice nutmeg
Coconut water Rice protein Cherries fennel fronds

 

About the Author:

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

Sick of chicken? Try cooking lentils!

Protein packed lentils are one of the most ancient crops known to have been cultivated even as much as 8500 years ago! Loads of varieties are available and they are cheap and easily found at any grocery store.  They are one of the few beans that don’t require soaking or any other preparation which makes them perfect for making healthy meals at a low cost.

Getting your family to include lentil nutrition as part of an enjoyable, healthy meal may take some work but the effort is well worth it.  Studies abound on the benefits of lentils, which include the ability to reduce blood pressure and reverse heart disease.  Break the kids in early with mashed lentils as a first food.

Some of the more common varieties include:

Puy Lentils-these small blackish green, lower starch lentils are great for creamy side dishes

Green Lentils-firm, larger pods are ideal for cold salads

Red Lentils- these are actually the hulled inside of other lentils, and are perfect for soups as they disintegrate when cooked.

All lentils rank very highly on the protein scale and when paired with cheese and/or nuts make a complete protein just as effective at building muscle as animal protein. They are also one of the best forms of fibre. A one cup serving meets the requirements for just over half of your day’s needs. Just remember when cooking any lentils, pulses or beans not to add any acid like lemon or vinegar until the very end. Doing so stops the breakdown of the fibre so that they will not cook fully. Well this can be a good thing to prevent them from becoming too mushy at the end of cooking add it at the beginning and you’ll be crunching on pebbles! Here is one of my healthy lentil recipes for delicious homemade soup.

Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup

Preparation time: 25 minutes                                      Servings: 4                 

You can feed a family of four for under $2.00 with a soup of high-protein lentils, nutrition-packed sweet potatoes and onions. Cheese is optional and will cost a bit extra. I know it seems weird not to peel the sweet potatoes but the skins are full of nutrients and are just as delicious as white potato skins.  Just give them a good scrub and chop!

1 tsp                butter

1                      onion, chopped

1 cup               red lentils

1                      small sweet potato, scrubbed and cubed, skin on

4 cups              chicken or vegetable broth

1 tbsp              dried basil

½ tsp               black pepper

pinch               dried red chili peppers

1 tbsp              molasses

8 tbsp              grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Warm a large pot over medium-high heat and melt butter. Add onions and sweet potato; stir. Add broth and water; then lentils. Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer and cover. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in basil, chili peppers, pepper and molasses. Grate cheese if using and serve at the table.

About the Author:

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

Practice barbecuing and food safety!

It’s burger season! And every burger season we hear about ground meat being pulled off the shelves due to contamination with E. coli. The reason burgers are more at risk than other meats is because the flesh is ground which increases the surface area. Proper cooking of ground beef is the only way to make sure all illness causing bacteria is killed. Chicken, fish, lamb and beef burgers should always be cooked well done.

Stay safe during BBQ season!

Burgers are such a pleasant part of the season that they are worth having, as long as you keep a few grilling safety guidelines in mind. (Also remember to choose lean meats and your binders and side dishes wisely to avoid derailing your diet in one barbeque.)

Here are some tips to minimize the risks of barbequing while maximizing safety and taste.

  • Always use a meat thermometer on ground meats. Insert it horizontally and check a couple of spots in the thickest part of the burger.
  • Use your thumb to create a dimple in the middle of each burger. This will fill in as the meat shrinks during cooking and ensure that the heat reaches the risky middle.
  • Chicken, beef and salmon all need to be fully cooked to well done. One small speck of E. coli or salmonella can cause tremendous illness.
  • Use moist and nutritious toppings to enhance flavour and juiciness.
  • Gourmet ingredients can elevate your burger: ricotta cheese, blue cheeses, pesto sauce, a variety of mustards, fresh vegetables, baby lettuces and sprouts all add a burst of taste.
  • Go beyond the bun! Paleo friendly lettuce wraps, kale or nappa cabbage leaves make great bases. If you do choose bread, keep the burger to bun ratio in check and don’t be afraid to try different grains and flavours.

So now that you are armed with these food safety tips get out there and grill!

About the Author:

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

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