Posts Tagged: Theresa Albert

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

Is All Pizza Bad for You?

When thinking about healthy eating one doesn’t necessarily think of pizza, though some are still convinced that it is the ultimate food offering something from all food groups. So does pizza have anything to offer nutritionally? Well unfortunately, any nutrients that you might get from the toppings are cancelled out by the high sodium, high sugar, high fat delivery system. No matter how much we try to count the tomato sauce as a vegetable, and the cheese as protein, most pizza recipes aren’t healthy recipes.  Does that mean you have to avoid pizza forever? Naw…

Don’t avoid pizza – make it healthy!

It is all about the nutritional ratio. H=N/C or Health = nutrients over calories. If you can keep the nutrients high and the calories low, you will indeed have a quintessential kid food that doesn’t derail your efforts at healthy eating.

For pizza delivery try these tips:

  • Thin crust beats thick or deep dish crust
  • Whole grain is only better if it is thin crust, the amount of fibre isn’t worth the extra dough
  • Chicken is the best meat, all other meats are too fatty
  • One cheese is plenty  but if you have to add some, add goat’s cheese, it is lower in fat
  • Add as many vegetables as possible to a veggie pizza; olives, sundried tomatoes and capers count
  • Ask for double the tomato sauce
  • Order double the salad and half the pizza that you think you will need
  • Skip all appetizers, they are never worth the calories

When opting for frozen pizza keep these things in mind:

  • Choose whichever thin crust pizza has the lowest sodium count
  • Avoid all meats other than chicken
  • Spread extra tomato paste on frozen top before baking and sprinkle extra herbs, ground flax or chia seeds
  • Add a shake of grated parmesan to keep your new toppings in place
  • Top with arugula or spinach after you remove from the oven
  • If you just can’t cope without a little meat, choose lean prosciutto into small pieces and add after baking

If you would like a crust dip, consider:

  • Tomato or marinara sauce or another healthy pizza sauce
  • Avoid all creamy or cheesy sauces
  • Salsa is low fat and high flavour nutrient dense dip, it goes with everything

So if you want pizza go for it! By following some of these nutritional tips to enhance pizza recipes you can still make this Italian treat a part of healthy eating.

 

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

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