Monthly Archives: January 2017

Snack attack

Almost every day there are times when I am hungry but don’t really want a whole meal. This generally occurs mid-morning and especially mid-afternoon around 4 pm. Our bodies have a natural cycle and eating every 4 hours meets the needs. For those who are early risers and thus eat their breakfast early in the morning, naturally their bodies are ready for more fuel by mid-morning, others not so much. Most people find the mid-afternoon snack time the most challenging, including me unless I plan for it.

Depending on where I will be at that mid-afternoon snack time dictates what I eat. Especially if I am going to be out and about, I want to have my snack with me. Otherwise this snack attack will take me straight to a coffee shop for pastry. That pastry will definitely give the “pick me up” calories but I know it won’t last. Not to mention all of those calories will come from refined grains, sugar and fat. To avoid giving in to such impulse snacks planning is key.

Here are some snacks I plan:

  1. A granola/cereal bar: as a snack I want to make sure it has 200 calorkindbarsies  or less, some protein and some fiber. Some my favorites are Kind (nut and spice ones), Lara Bars and even the Nature’s Path Macaroon Crunch.
  2. An apple and some nuts (fistful) or low-fat cheese stick: a no-prep snack that is easy to carry and delivers the right crunch, taste and nutrients.
  3. Dried Apricots and Almonds: a snack-bag size zipped bag works perfect to tote these around. A serving would be 4 apricots and a fistful of almonds.
  4. Lightly salted cashews (fistful) and 2 dates: Again, a wonderful mix of taste, texture and nutrients.
  5. Greek Yogurt: Especially if there is refrigeration available, keeping greek yogurt handy is so easy. siggisorangegingerThere are lots of flavors and it lasts a while if you don’t happen to eat it right away. My favorite is Siggi’s Orange Ginger or just plain vanilla.
  6. Need something warm? A mocha using skim milk does the trick. Sip away and enjoy the warmth.coloredpeppersticks
  7. Cut up colored peppers and take some along with low fat cheese stick or light spreadable cheese wedges. They are so handy!
  8. Keeping a jar of nut-butter around is also helpful as it can be paired witappleandnutbutterh fruit or vegetables. I love the combination of apple and peanut butter.
  9. Boiled eggs can also make an easy snack. I keep them unpeeled so they are easy to tote around. Pair them with a few Triscuit crackers to add a variety of texture and taste.
  10. When it comes to vegetables my personasugarsnappeasl favorites are sugar snap peas and edamame. Fresh sugar snap peas don’t much prep other than washing. Edamame is available frozen, either whole bean pods or shelled beans. Either way a minute in the microwave oven and you have a snack ready.

Be prepared for the snack attacks. Expect them. It’s natural.


We all scream for…

Last weekend we were celebrating my husband’s birthday. His favorite Blueberry Pie was on the menu. Blueberry Pie is best when served warm with simple vanilla ice cream. I am not a person who will buy ice cream routinely but for special occasions I give in. Especially when I know that there will be enough people to eat it up and there will not be any or much leftover in my fridge.

So I make sure to add it to my grocery list. When at the grocery store, I start looking at all the Vanilla Ice Cream possibilities. It was mind boggling. When did so many ice cream or ice cream-like items take up an entire aisle of the store? Anyway, I was looking for the simplest. Just Vanilla Ice Cream! Well, so I thought. That did not simplify my task. So what does a Registered Dietitian do? Check out all the Nutrition facts labels, including the ingredient lists. You may be surprised to know that ice cream can contain a lot more than milk, cream, sugar and vanilla.

Here’s what I found. There were three different kind of “Vanilla” in just one brand. French, Natural and Homemade Vanilla. Let’s take a look at each one.

Here’s French Vanilla. I personally like to see the specks of Vanilla Bean so I am not a fan of French Vanilla. I wanted to check it out anyway for the nutritional facts.

With claims of no hormones and gluten free, it seems promising. Check out the ingredient list: corn syrup, egg yolk, rum, gums, natural flavors and so on. What is “Natural Flavor” anyway?

And here is Homemade Vanilla. It says “It’s how homemade should taste”. Let’s see if the ingredients are what would be in a homemade recipe.

In addition to the milk, cream and sugar there’s also corn syrup, egg yolk and gums. I can see egg yolks in a homemade recipe but I would definitely not consider corn syrup.

Then there’s Natural Vanilla, with great claim of No Artificial Growth Hormones. And I have to flip it to see the ingredients. The front of the box claims “made with fresh cream, sugar and milk”.

The ingredients list has a few more like vanilla bean, natural flavor, tara gum and natural vanilla flavor. This is the only one I found with the least umber of additives. Looks like a good choice for the day. I did not have the patience to check out all other brands in the freezer.

You get the idea. Check out the ingredients in addition to the claims on the front label and the calorie, fat content. Look for the least number of additives and words you can pronounce. I scream, you scream, we all scream for Ice Cream!


Mindfulness: Listen to your tastebuds

Being mindful includes listening to your body. When we are hungry (or sometimes just think we are) we need to ask ourselves “what am I hungry for?”. Answers can be hot, cold, sweet, spicy, salty, crunchy etc. These are all descriptions that speak to our senses. If we can satisfy this need we can gain satiety with much smaller amount even when it may no be the healthiest option. Plus, while exploring the answer to “what do I really want to eat?” it gives us time to make better decisions than succumbing to the impulse.

There are times when I want something crunchy to accompany my meal. Chips are commonly served with sandwiches to add the variety in texture. There are so many options for chips these days. No matter what, almost all potato chips are “empty calories” meaning they are providing only calories and not any nutrients. There are healthier options and they are simpler than you think to implement.

Two of the nutrient packed chips that are easkale-chipsy to prepare are: Kale Chips and Sweet Potato Chips. The only equipment you need is a knife and oven. Both provide a healthy dose of nutrients (Vitamin A, Vitamin K, B Vitamins, Folate, Calcium, Iron, and antioxidants).

To make Kale Chips, buy fresh kale (I prefer organic greens), wash and let the water drain from the leaves. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the leaves in half crosswise, remove the rib portion if too hard. Place all the leafy pieces in a large zipped bag.
Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 tsp sea salt and shake to coat all the leaves. Place the coated leaves in a single layer on a cookie sheet, bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and enjoy!sweet-potato-chips

To make Sweet Potato Chips, wash and peel sweet potatoes, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices. Put the slices in zipped bag, add the olive oil and salt. Shake to coat the slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes, turn and bake for another 8 minutes. Enjoy!

Both of these can be altered by adding garlic powder, thyme, rosemary or chili flakes. Listen to your taste buds and choose the flavor.

A muffin, many ways

Our family has a breakfast rule; “You cannot leave home without eating breakfast.” When everyone is in a rush to leave home in the morning having quick breakfast available to all is critical. As the kids were growing up, taking into consideration their ability to feed themselves breakfast was also important. So I got into the habit of making muffins over the weekend and keeping them ready in the refrigerator for busy mornings. I have used a basic recipe and tweaked it over the years. Here it is:

Banana Flaxseed Muffins

2 ripe Bananas, mashed (I keep ripe bananas in the freezer and defrost them in the refrigerator the night before I am going to make the muffins)

2 Eggs

1/3 cup oil (I uspumpkin-muffinse peanut oil)

1/3 cup nonfat Greek Yogurt

1/3 cup Brown Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla

1 cup  Whole Wheat flour

1/2 cup Oat Flour (I just grind quick oats)

1/4 cup Flaxseed meal (you can grind flax seeds or buy flaxseed meal)

1 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1/4 cup mini, semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend together bananas, eggs, oil, yogurt and brown sugar. Add vanilla and mix well. Add whole wheat flour, oat flour and flaxseed meal to the wet ingredients. Add baking powder and baking soda, mix well. Stir in mini chocolate chips.

Lightly grease a 12 muffin pan. Divide the batter equally in the muffin tins. Bake in the preheated oven for 18 mins. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on wire racks. Store cooled muffins in airtight container. These muffins can be frozen.

Variations: There are many variations you can try. One of my family’s favorite is to add 1 cup of canned pumpkin, 1 tsp of pumpkin spice. You can also add 1/4 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans), 1/4 cup craisins instead of chocolate chips, 1 chopped apple and 1 tsp cinnamon or even 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots. Give it a try, make it your own. Enjoy!

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