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Cilantro-Lime Quinoa with Black Beans

May 5, 2018
This is a super easy, gluten free recipe that goes great with any Mexican dish-tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, quesadillas, etc. It’s also a great side dish to serve with those grilled summer kabobs, and it pairs well with a spinach salad for an easy, healthy lunch. Enjoy!

Ingredients

• 1 cup of quinoa
• 2 cups of vegetable broth (You can use water if you don’t have vegetable broth, however, I think the broth gives more flavor)
• 3 garlic cloves
• 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
• ½ cup fresh cilantro
• 1 (15oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
• ¼ teaspoon granulated Swerve sweetener
• salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1. In a medium sized pot, add the broth and the quinoa. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes, or until all the broth has evaporated
2. Remove from heat and let stand for 5-10 minutes
3. Remove lid and fluff quinoa with a fork.
4. Stir in garlic, lime juice, cilantro, black beans, Swerve
5. Season with salt and pepper as desired
6. Serve warm
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Hodgson Mill....Premium Quality Whole Grains

August 12, 2017

This past week, I had the opportunity to visit the Hodgson Mill headquarters in Effingham, IL. I have to admit; I live in IL and had no idea that Hodgson Mill products were created in a small rural town about an hour east from where I grew up. If I knew about this information sooner, I can guarantee I would have already made the trip. Below, I will discuss some of the delicious whole grain products you can purchase from Hodgson Mill as well as some of the health implications of eating whole grains.

Whole grains…should you eat them or should you avoid them? The subject of whole grains is a heavily debated topic in the nutrition field. People who are low carb advocates say you don’t need to eat whole grains in a healthy diet, while people who are vegan say you can’t live a long and healthy life without sufficient whole grains. Who is correct? Well I can tell you that both sides of the whole grain argument have valid truths. It’s true that you technically don’t need whole grains to live or produce glucose; our bodies are able to burn fat for fuel in the absence of significant carbohydrates in the diet and this can be done in a healthy, nutritious way. However, being a person who has followed a low carb diet with tremendous success, I do believe there are wonderful benefits to eating whole grains at times to enhance health. One of the biggest reasons why I think everyone needs to eat some whole grains from time to time is to promote better gut health. A lot of research is showing a strong correlation between gut health and increased risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, and type 2 diabetes etc. The microbes that are created from eating whole grains enhance the good, healthy bacteria in the gut. While research is still ongoing in this area, the results look promising. As I said before, I am a person who has followed a low carb diet for various reasons and I don’t intend on drastically increasing my carb intake based on the latest gut research. However, a few times a week I have added a small serving (1/2 cup) of whole grains to my diet to promote better gut health while still minimizing carbohydrate cravings and blood sugar fluctuations. Which whole grains do I eat? Well you will have to continue reading to find out.

Hodgson Mill offers a variety of whole grain products. You can find various ready-to-eat cereals, oatmeal, and pastas as well as pancake, cake, bread, and flour mixes for those who like to get a little creative in the kitchen. I have personally tried the Ancient Grain Medley, Brown Rice and Quinoa, Sorghum with Rosemary and Garlic, and Organic Cracked Kamut. I eat a ½ cup portion of these products as a side dish to accompany my protein, healthy fats, and non-starchy vegetables at my evening meal. You simply bring 1-2/3 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan, add 1 cup for example of Ancient Grain Medley, and within 15 minutes you’ll have a delicious and nutritious whole grain that’s approximately 150 calories and 2-4 grams of fiber per serving.

I personally haven’t tried the pancake, biscuit, and bread mixes, but I know several clients and registered dietitians who really enjoy them and eat them regularly. I have created a few recipe ideas using the Hodgson Mill bread and biscuit mixes so look for those results in the near future. Hodgson Mill also offers numerous gluten free products for those who are celiac or avoid gluten to reduce inflammation. You can order all products online at www.hodgsonmill.com. You can also go online to www.hodgsonmill.com and type in your zip code and they will send you a full list of stores within a 50-mile radius of you location where you can buy the products. They also have great customer service so please don’t hesitate to reach out for questions or comments.

If you’ve personally tried some Hodgson Mill products, feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below. You can also check out my Instagram page at username: speakingofnutrition for more information.

And always remember… “ A healthy lifestyle takes confidence, knowledge, and persistence to achieve, but never disappoints when it finally arrives”.



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Meez Meals...Reclaim Your Dinnertime!

July 26, 2017
Meez Meals is a Chicago based company that sells DIY meal delivery kits that are delivered directly to your door with all ingredients chopped, prepped, and measured to make healthy cooking easy and fun! A representative from Meez Meals reached out to me last week and asked if I would sample some of the products and provide my feedback. As a dietitian, I certainly love food and love to cook, so I was very excited and pumped for this opportunity, and surprisingly…I have never tried a DIY meal delivery kit before. Sure, I see and hear commercials constantly for companies such as Blue Apron, HelloFresh, GreenChef etc. and many of my clients have used or currently use a home delivery meal service and I think it’s wonderful and innovative. I personally have never pulled the trigger for myself, not because I think they’re bad or unnecessary in our time demanding, unhealthy society, but because I’ve always enjoyed my time in the kitchen as cooking is therapeutic for me. Well thanks to this positive and enjoyable experience from Meez Meals, this dietitian may soon jump on the DIY meal delivery bandwagon with much delightment, ease, and creativity as it provides me with another beneficial tool in maintaining my unwavering lifelong commitment of good nutrition and overall health.

Meez Meals provides you the opportunity to select meals that are customizable to you and your dietary needs/preferences. Whether you’re gluten free, vegan, or have allergies to tree nuts, etc. Meez Meals has got you covered. I selected the All American BBQ Chicken Burrito, Farmers Market Salad, and the Ultimate Oreo Cheesecake. A recipe card accompanied each item as well as simple cooking instructions that turned my meal into a delicious and satisfying experience. Also included on the recipe card are the nutrition facts (including Weight Watchers Smart Points) and a dinner hotline number to call for questions/concerns. Below I discuss each item in greater detail.

All American BBQ Chicken Burrito:

This item took me approximately 30 minutes to cook and included 5 items: cabbage and carrot slaw, cage-free chicken breast, flour tortillas, coleslaw dressing, and BBQ sauce. I ordered enough for 2 servings and it was plenty for 2 people, especially if you eat additional side items such as a salad or dessert. I really enjoyed this item and found it provided a different and refreshing taste to my normal dietary cuisine. I would certainly order it again.

Farmers Market Salad:

This was my absolute FAVORITE item that I ordered. I love salads and can generally be quite picky in the types of salads I eat, but this salad certainly delivered and surpassed my expectations. The ingredients included: Arcadian lettuce blend, Persian cucumbers, sugar snap peas, green beans, red and yellow peppers, and Green Goddess dressing. It tasted so fresh and contained huge amounts of vitamins, minerals, and an abundance of antioxidants and phytochemicals. I also fell in love with the Green Goddess dressing and will find a way to make my own version in the very near future. The only negative I will say about this item (and it’s not really a negative) is that I would have preferred the peppers to be chopped or sliced smaller than what was presented. The slices were a little large for my personal taste, however I understand that many people enjoy eating large slices of red and yellow peppers so “to each his own” I guess!

Ultimate Oreo Cheesecake:

Cheesecake… you are the great love of my life! I adore sweets and cake is my absolute favorite food, but I have embraced the low carb lifestyle for several years so I really only ordered this item for my family to enjoy. I am not a dietitian that encourages sweets or baked goods very often in the diet as I find many people struggle with moderating sugar, however I am not opposed to the occasional treat now and then. This item included 3 ingredients: Eli’s Original Cheesecake, Oreo cookie crumbles, and caramel sauce. The only prep involved was drizzling caramel sauce over the cheesecake and topping it with Oreo cookies. I only had one bite of the cheesecake and I can tell you that it tasted amazing. My dad’s birthday is today and he reported that he very much enjoyed his piece of Ultimate Oreo Cheesecake for breakfast this morning.

My first experience into the world of DIY meal delivery kits was exciting, intriguing, and highly enjoyable. Meez Meals provides a variety of meal options that can accommodate any number of dietary needs/preferences. Another advantage of Meez Meals is there is NO COMMITMENT OR SUBSCRIPTION to try it out and experience the process. If you try it once and for some reason don’t like it, you can rest assured knowing that you only paid for that one experience. I don’t know about you, but that is a huge advantage in my opinion.

We live in a fast paced, stressful, and often unhealthy society. Clients are always asking me “ How can I plan my meals during the work week?” While meal planning is still going to be required with this approach (you still need to take time to log onto the website and select your menu), it can really provide an easier avenue and solution to meal planning while keeping your diet healthy, nutritious, and most importantly…delicious! While you may or may not feel you need this service every week, I encourage you to keep Meez Meals in mind when you have a super busy week filled with homework, kids activities, work deadlines, and other life demands that can negatively impact your eating habits. Because after all, an organic, cage-free All American BBQ Chicken Burrito, and a super nutritious, organic Farmers Market Salad will certainly be preferable… and sometimes necessary… than another stop at your local area drive-thru.

For more information on Meez Meals, you can access their website at www.meezmeals.com. You can also see my pictures of the experience on Instagram at username: speakingofnutrition. Feel free to share any of your experiences with the DIY meal delivery kits in the comments section below.
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Nutritional Yeast...Where Have You Been All My Life?

July 7, 2017
Nutritional yeast is a magical substance found in the bulk or supplement section of health food stores. It’s an inactive yeast made from sugar cane and beet molasses and provides amazing flavor and variety to those who follow the vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free, and paleo diet. Nutritional yeast is wildly known for its delicious, cheesy flavor and replaces milk-based cheeses in most standard dishes; which is a welcomed alternative for those who avoid dairy.

On average, 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast provides 60 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrate (4 grams coming from dietary fiber). A serving also provides 9 grams of protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids the human body cannot produce. Since vitamin B12 can be of concern for those who are vegan, nutritional yeast does not contain a significant source of vitamin B12 unless it’s been fortified. It does contain 180%, 160%, and 140% the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin B6. Since it’s a dry product, it’s best to place it in a mason jar with the lid tightly sealed to keep moisture out. As long as nutritional yeast stays dry, it can last for 2 years.

Nutritional yeast is a vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly ingredient. You can find numerous recipes, cooking tips, and suggestions for using nutritional yeast when you explore websites, blogs, and cookbooks proving it’s possible to eliminate dairy from the diet, without sacrificing flavor and enjoyment. Below are some simple ways you can incorporate nutritional yeast into your diet:

1) Sprinkle it on popcorn or snack mixes for added flavor and zest

2) Add it to soups and stews for increased flavor, texture, and thickness

3) Stir into mashed potato or mashed cauliflower dishes

4) Add a teaspoon to bean dishes for enhanced flavor

5) If you enjoy eating pesto, adding nutritional yeast to your next batch will certainly not disappoint

6) Make decant macaroni and cheese, lasagna, and appetizers without missing the traditional flavor and taste of cheese

7) It’s a terrific salt alternative for those who are salt sensitive or following a salt-restricted diet

If you have any additional ideas or questions for using nutritional yeast, feel free to comment below. If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment, feel free to email me at stephanie@speakingofnutrition.com.

“ A healthy lifestyle takes confidence, knowledge, and persistence to achieve, but never disappoints when it finally arrives”.

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Prosciutto Wrapped Greens

July 2, 2017
Prosciutto, an Italian thinly sliced ham that’s used in many dishes and appetizers, is considered one of the best-known Italian foods with a history that dates back to pre-Roman times. Prosciutto is often added to Italian salads since it pairs well with fresh greens and olive oil. This recipe incorporates the same concept of a salad but the greens are wrapped around a slice of prosciutto instead of eaten with a fork. Feel free to experiment with different seasonings and ingredients than listed below, as I sometimes add thin slices of avocado to these wraps for an interesting twist. This recipe also makes a delicious, healthy appetizer for a party or small gathering, or it can be prepared ahead of time for an easy snack during the busy week.


Ingredients:

• 4 Tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
• 2 teaspoons of red-wine vinegar
• 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 2 teaspoons rosemary
• ½ lb. arugula or fresh greens. (I normally buy the pre-washed brands
to save time)
• ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
• 4 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
• 12 thin slices of prosciutto. (Most pre-packaged brands of prosciutto
will be thinly sliced. If you shop at an Italian meat market, ask the butcher for thin slices that resemble the packaged brands)

Directions:

1). In a small bowl, combine the oil, red-wine vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and rosemary. Mix well.

2). Add the arugula to the bowl and mix throughout so all the arugula is covered well with the dressing. Sprinkle in the black pepper and Parmesan cheese, mix thoroughly. Taste the arugula to see if it’s seasoned to your liking. Sometimes, I add additional black pepper, rosemary, and Parmesan cheese to enhance the flavor. Set aside.

3). Take a cutting board or a clean flat surface and lay down a slice of prosciutto. (Be careful taking the prosciutto out of the package to avoid tearing)

4). Place a generous portion of the arugula mix on one end of the prosciutto. Slowly roll up the arugula until you reach the other end of the slice. Continue these steps for the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately or place wraps in a sealed container and store in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Facts:

Serving Size: 1 wrap

Calories: 66.5
Carbohydrates: 0.75
Protein: 1.8
Fat: 6.0

For additional tips and ideas, feel free to email me at stephanie@speakingofnutrition.com.

"A healthy lifestyle takes confidence, knowledge, and persistance to achieve, but never disappoints when it finally arrives".



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How to Pack a Nutritious Salad in a Mason Jar

May 14, 2017
I love eating salads and they make for an excellent weekday lunch. There are endless possibilities for the perfect combinations of protein, grains, fruits and vegetables to make your salad both interesting and nutritious. Preparing and packing the salad, however, is where the process gets a little tricky. Dress the salad too early, and the salad becomes soggy. Transporting salad dressing in individual containers requires additional preparation and increases the possibility of leakage. For an easy meal planning solution, try packing your salad in a mason jar to simplify prep, without sacrificing flavor and quality. The layering steps to packing a salad in a mason jar are listed below:

1. Salad dressing goes at the bottom. I normally use about 2-3 Tablespoons of salad dressing

2. Hard, crunchy vegetables. Add 1/2 -3/4 cup of vegetables such as celery, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, tomatoes, onions, etc.

3. Beans or lentils. Add ¼ cup black beans, lentils, chickpeas, green beans, etc.

4. Protein: Add ½ cup of chicken, shrimp, beef, etc.

5. Leafy greens: Top salad with 1-2 cups of spinach, arugula, kale, etc.

6. Seal the jar tightly with the lid and store in refrigerator until time of use

7. When ready to eat, shake the salad in the jar and pour into a bowl.


As I said above, there are endless possibilities for salads that don’t require hours of preparation time but can enhance your overall nutrition. For additional questions or ideas, feel free to comment below or contact me at stephanie@speakingofnutrition.com. You can also follow me on Instagram at speakingofnutrition.

“A healthy lifestyle takes confidence, knowledge, and persistence to achieve, but never disappoints when it finally arrives.”


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