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Are Pumpkins and Gourds More Than Just Decoration?

October 1, 2018
As a decorative front porch ornament or a relaxing and homey fireplace mantel accent piece, pumpkins and gourds are more than just eye appeal. Yes, I’m talking about the edible benefits of adding some green, orange, and yellow colors into your diet. Feeling intrigued, yet?

Pumpkin and gourds are a type of winter squash that are a significant source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. This nutrient density better supports the immune system, as well as benefiting the heart. Pumpkin and gourds are also high in the antioxidant beta-carotene, which supports eye health and helps to prevent the development of cancer. They're also low in calories (approximately 50 calories per serving), which can be a delicious addition to a weight management plan.

The types of pumpkins bred for Jack-O-Lanterns may be a little less flavorful and a bit stringier than pumpkins bred for pies, however any type of pumpkin or gourd is edible and usable for more than just decoration. If a pumpkin or gourd has been sitting on your porch but is still firm and intact with no evidence of insects or animal tampering, then these can be safely used for cooking. However, once a pumpkin has been carved, it needs to be discarded after use to avoid the potential for contracting food borne illness.

You’ve eaten pumpkin pie before, but what are some other fun recipes for you to try? Some recipe ideas for incorporating more pumpkin and gourds into your diet include:
Pumpkin chocolate Greek yogurt
Blueberry pumpkin oat muffins
Pumpkin hummus
Pumpkin ravioli
Baked Parmesan pumpkin fries
Pumpkin pancakes
Pumpkin bread
Pumpkin soup
Pumpkin waffles
Stuffed squash
Squash lasagna
Roasted squash
Squash cheesecake bars

If you make or have made some delicious recipes with pumpkin or gourds, feel free to share your ideas below or comment on my Speaking of Nutrition Facebook page. Happy Decorating and Happy Cooking!!!
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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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Mediterranean Frittata

March 24, 2018
Frittatas are super easy to assemble, and are a delicious and nutritious way to get your greens first thing in the morning. It's a versitale dish where the possibilities for flavor combinations are endless. Now you have another reason to enjoy Sunday mornings!

Mediterranean Frittata

Ingredients

• 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 Tablespoon salted butter or Ghee
• 10 large eggs
• 1 cup of purple onion, chopped
• 1 cup of baby portabella mushrooms, chopped
• 6 cups baby spinach
• ½ cup artichoke, chopped
• 1 cup of tomatoes, chopped
• ½ cup of crumbled feta cheese
• Fresh basil leaves for garnish


Instructions

1. Preheat the oven broiler to high heat

2. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk until all the yolks are
broken up. Set aside

3. Add olive oil and butter to a heated cast iron or stainless steel skillet. Sauté chopped onions and mushrooms until soft

4. Add spinach and artichoke and sauté until spinach has wilted. Should only take 1-2 minutes.

5. Spread the vegetable mixture evenly over the bottom of the skillet. Pour the egg mixture on top

6. Cook the frittata on the stove until the egg sides stiffen and the bottom is starting to brown.

7. Place the skillet in the oven for a few minutes until the frittata finishes cooking and starts to brown on top. You may need to add a cover or a sheet of foil on top to prevent it from browning too much

8. Remove from oven and top with chopped tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, and fresh basil

9. Serve immediately


Nutrition Facts/Serving
Recipe makes approximately 7 servings

Total calories: 230 calories
Fat: 13 grams
Carbohydrates: 10 grams
Dietary Fiber: 4 grams
Protein: 13 grams
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Baked Butternut Squash Chips

January 27, 2018
Ingredients

• 1-large butternut squash
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Fresh or ground sage
• Fresh or ground rosemary
• Fresh or ground basil
• Grated parmesan cheese
• Salt
• Pepper

Instructions

1. Cut off the top of the squash and remove the peel

2. Slice the squash into thin chip like pieces using a mandolin or a knife. They should be about 1/8 inch thick

3. Boil a small pot of water. Place the chips in the boiling water for about 5-10 minutes

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

5. Pat chips dry with paper towel

6. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

7. Spread the chips on the parchment paper

8. Coat the chips with extra virgin olive oil

9. Season with sage, rosemary, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper

10. Bake in the oven for 10-20 minutes depending on your oven

11. Remove from oven when crispy and add additional seasonings, as desired

12. Serve immediately and store leftovers in an sealed container






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Vegan Vegetable Soup

January 6, 2018
This delicious vegan vegetable soup is a excellent way to add volume and bulk to meals, without consuming a bunch of extra calories. Plus…it’s versatile and highly nutritious. Enjoy!


Ingredients:

• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• 1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 32oz. carton of vegetable broth. Buy an extra carton of broth in case you need extra.
• 1/2 of a red onion, diced
• 3 celery stalks, diced
• 3 medium carrots, diced
• 1 small head of broccoli, broken into florets
• 1 cup chopped tomatoes
• 2 cups spinach, de-stemmed and torn in pieces
• 6 stalks of asparagus
• 1 cup purple cabbage, chopped
• a handful of pea pods, any type, halved if large
• several mushrooms, sliced
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)
• fine-grain sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

1. Heat olive oil in pan. Gently sauté the shallot and garlic for a few minutes until softened.
2. Add the broth to the pan, along with the onion, celery, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, and asparagus. Sauté for several minutes until vegetables are soft. Add the pea pods, purple cabbage, and mushrooms. Sauté a few minutes longer.
3. Add turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.
4. Add any extra water or broth if too much evaporates.
5. Pour into bowls and serve.

Recipe produces 6-8 servings



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Quit Throwing Away Those Broccoli Stems

December 3, 2017
Broccoli… it’s often considered one of the world’s healthiest foods due to it’s abundance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that enhance health and fight disease. It’s enjoyed worldwide in a variety of dishes and cuisines, and it’s versatility and great taste makes this a cruciferous vegetable that shouldn’t be ignored. Broccoli florets or the broccoli crown are what’s most often used in recipes as they are more aesthetically pleasing, while the less desirable, but yet highly nutritious broccoli stems are almost always thrown in the trash. The broccoli stem is just as nutritious as the broccoli crown, and is simple and easy to prepare and cook. In fact, one broccoli stem contains more vitamin C than an orange, and each stem contains only 32 calories. And with food prices on the rise, eliminating any food waste is often an effective and necessary step in making your grocery dollar go further. To help expand your nutrition and culinary knowledge, I provided a few easy and nutritious ideas for eating and benefiting from broccoli stems, instead of just filling your trash can:

1) Spiralize Broccoli Stems Into Broccoli Noodles-I spiralize a lot of veggies, especially because I live the low carb life and spiralizing veggies allows me to enjoy a variety of pasta and casserole dishes without consuming excessive carbohydrates. All you need is a good spiralizer and within minutes you can have several cups of broccoli noodles that can be a great substitute for pasta in many traditional dishes.


2) Broccoli Chips-Use a mandolin or food processor to cut the broccoli stems into slices. Place broccoli slices into a bowl and drizzle with oil and desired spices. Mix throughout and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes at 400 degrees.

3) Broccoli Broth-Cooking broccoli stems on low heat creates a delicious and highly nutritious broth that enhances the flavor of soups, stews, and a variety of other dishes.

4) Broccoli Stem Fries-Peel and slice broccoli stems into long sticks resembling French fries. Place broccoli sticks on a greased baking sheet and coat sticks with olive oil and season with desired spices/herbs. Place baking sheet into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

5) Broccoli Stem Soup-Yes, its possible to make a delicious and nutritious soup where the main ingredient is a broccoli stem. Most recipes for broccoli stem soup is pretty easy and can serve as a great way to add volume to meals without a lot of added calories.

I hope these nutritious recipe ideas make you think twice about throwing away your broccoli stems. There are numerous ways to consuming broccoli stems that provide an added health benefit. For additional help on recipe modification or how Speaking of Nutrition, LLC can help you reach your health goals, contact Stephanie 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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Eggplant and Sage Stuffing

November 19, 2017
Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. Not only is it a time to give thanks and express gratitude for our blessings, but it’s also about enjoying good food while having entertaining conversations with family and friends. My favorite dish at Thanksgiving is the stuffing. Although I’m not that big of a ‘bread person’, my aunt Kathy has always made the most delicious stuffing. However, in my quest to improve my health and the health of Americans however, I’ve discovered a new and satisfying way to enjoy stuffing without all the sugar and carbohydrates. The key ingredient to this successful outcome is eggplant. Yes, this highly nutritious and versatile vegetable provides a fantastic alternative to traditional homemade stuffing in both flavor and texture. While I will always love eating my aunt’s homemade stuffing at Thanksgiving, I’m happy to know that healthier alternatives exist for those who are interested.

Ingredients:

• 2 cups celery, chopped
• 1.5 cups onion, chopped
• 1 medium eggplant peeled and cubed, 4 cups
• 1 stick of salted butter
• 2 cups chicken broth
• 1/4 cup of ground sage
• 1 Tablespoon dried rosemary
• 1 Tablespoon celery seed
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 2 eggs, beaten
• black pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a medium size baking dish

2. In a large cast iron skillet, melt ½ of the stick of butter. Sauté the celery and onion until celery is tender and the onions are translucent.

3. Add in the eggplant and the remainder of the butter. Sauté about 4 minutes

4. Pour in the chicken broth. Simmer until some of the liquid has evaporated

5. Add the ground sage, dried rosemary, celery seed, and cumin to the mixture. Simmer a few extra minutes.

6. Remove half of the eggplant mixture from the skillet and transfer to a blender

7. Add the eggs to the blender and blend until smooth

8. Add the eggplant puree to the eggplant skillet mixture. Mix together

9. Stir in fresh ground pepper

10. Pour mixture into the greased baking dish and cover

11. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Enjoy!



This recipe can be made 3 days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, heat the stuffing in the oven until warmed through.


Nutrition Facts:

Serving Size: ½ cup. Recipes makes approximately 10 servings

Calories: 43.5

Fat: 1.5 grams

Carbohydrates: 6.37 grams

Fiber: 2.4 grams. Net carbs: 3.97 grams

Protein: 2.4 grams

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Is This Multivitamin Worth My Time and Money?

October 7, 2017
Oh the multivitamin (dietary) supplement industry…you never fail to constantly bombard consumers with a plethora of new products containing miracle and must-have ingredients that promise health, vitality, and the elimination of chronic disease. You print fancy and enticing claims on your packages such as ‘supports your immune system’, ‘maintains health’, or ‘elevates mood’, without requiring any research or government regulation to do so. Now, I’m not putting down the multivitamin industry, far from it. As a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), I’ve seen plenty of situations where someone could really benefit from taking a multivitamin to meet daily nutrient needs. However, the important questions we all have to ask ourselves regarding multivitamins is this...”Who benefits the most from taking a multivitamin and which multivitamins are legit?”

I know money is tight for the majority of Americans, and I know that achieving and maintaining health, while a valuable and worthwhile endeavor, is expensive and overwhelming. Besides advocating for healthier eating, better lifestyles, and disease prevention, I’m equally passionate about looking out for the pocket books of my clients and fellow Americans. Dietary supplements and multivitamins can be expensive! The absolute last thing I want to see is someone spending their hard earned money on a multivitamin that uses artificial ingredients, proprietary blends, and/or cost significantly more, without providing any additional nutritional benefit beyond consuming an 89 cent apple or a 3oz. serving of lean protein.

A representative from Reviews.com reached out to me last week and presented me with their latest review of store-bought multivitamins for me to share. I really appreciate people taking the time to critically and fully review vitamins and supplements as this is a challenging area for RDN’s to keep abreast due to the accelerated pace of new products hitting the market. They analyzed 289 different multivitamin varieties from capsules, gummies, chewables, and liquids. They also closely examined each multivitamin for its use of proprietary blends, inactive or artificial ingredients, and those that didn’t have third-party verification. “The best multivitamins have independent certifications for label accuracy and purity, plus a well-rounded formula that hits the majority of FDA-recommended ingredients.” Based on their analysis, five multivitamins came out as “legit” and nutritionally worth your time and money, if you so desire to take them. However, is taking a multivitamin necessary?

If you’re someone who values good nutrition and makes a conscious effort to consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins, there probably isn’t any dire need for you to take a daily multivitamin. However, if you’re someone who regularly eats fast food, consumes lots of refined carbohydrates, added sugars, processed meats, and eats very little fruits and vegetables, then your biggest concern isn’t going to be the lack of essential vitamins and minerals in your diet, but more so in the significant increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. For the elderly, those in a catabolic state such as cancer patients, or other individuals that suffer from malabsorption problems, a daily multivitamin could provide an added benefit. The majority of Americans still have a very long way to go with improving their overall diet before we need to worry about whether or not a daily multivitamin is necessary.

As an RDN, I see nothing wrong with taking a daily multivitamin to boost a healthy diet. However, I want you to choose and spend wisely, so I’m encouraging you to read this thorough review by Reviews.com so you purchase the highest quality multivitamin that benefits your health and your pocket book.

I want to thank the people at Reviews.com for a wonderful job with the research and with compiling the information in an easy-to-read format for consumers. The important and valuable content presented in this review is appreciated by both consumers and health care professionals alike.

Click HERE for the article from Reviews.com

Please let me know if you have any questions/concerns about anything discussed in the article. Feel free to share any comments below.

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

September 24, 2017
It’s game day, and who doesn’t love sitting in front of the TV, eating a big plate of nachos, while watching your favorite team attempt a victory? I know I love eating nachos, but what I don’t love is eating excessive calories and experiencing intestinal discomfort that sometimes happens from traditional nacho recipes containing large amounts of meat and cheese. I’m not vegan, but I wanted to create a vegan queso dip for my clients who are vegan, while also providing alternatives for anyone else who wants to “lighten up” their snacks or “think outside the box” from their traditional cuisine. This queso dip is not only delicious, but also versatile. If you’ve never tried vegan food, your first bite of this queso dip may taste a bit different, as vegan queso will have a slighter sweeter taste compared to dairy varieties. Different doesn’t necessarily mean bad or unappetizing…just interesting and unique. I hope you enjoy this queso dip and that you’re inspired to explore more vegan options in your diet.

Ingredients:

• 1 ½ cups raw salted cashews
• ½ cup + 1 Tablespoon tapioca flour
• 2/3 cup nutritional yeast
• 2 ½ cups unsweetened cashew or almond milk
• 3 Tablespoons avocado oil
• 1/3 cup lemon juice
• 4 Tablespoons pickle juice
• 1 Tablespoon white miso paste
• 2 1/2 teaspoons paprika
• 3 teaspoons onion powder
• 2 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
• 2 tablespoons garlic powder
• 1 teaspoon ground sea salt
• 5-6 drops of stevia glycerite. May add more if prefer a sweeter taste
• 1-4.5oz can of mild green chilies
• 1-10oz can of mild Rotel
• Dash of cayenne pepper if you desire a spicier queso dip
• Fresh cilantro for garnish

Instruction:

1. Fill a medium sized saucepan with water. Bring the water to a boil on the stove over medium heat. Add in the cashews and cook for 10-15 minutes or until softened. To avoid cooking the cashews they can be soaked in water overnight.

2. While the cashews are cooking, add the remaining ingredients (minus the green chilies, Rotel, and cilantro) to a high-powered blender.

3. Drain the cooked cashews in a strainer to remove excess fluid

4. Add the cashews to the blender. Blend the queso on high for about 1 minute. It’s normal for the queso to look watery at this point.

5. Add the queso to a large saucepan or small stockpot and place on the stove over medium heat. Heat queso throughout while stirring regularly to avoid burning. The queso will go from watery to a clumpy appearance, and then smooth. When the queso resembles the look of cheese sauce, you will be finished.

6. Stir in the green chilies and the Rotel. Place queso on tortilla chips and serve immediately. Garnish with fresh cilantro, a dash of cayenne pepper, or any other desired toppings.

7. The remaining queso can be stored in a jar and kept in the fridge for up to a week. It reheats well and tastes great on potatoes and other vegetables.

8. If you desire a sweeter taste, you can add a few more drops of stevia glycerite. Some people also prefer to add more salt to the recipe.





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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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Black Rice: The Forbidden Rice

July 19, 2017

Black rice is considered a popular super food and was once only consumed by royalty and emperors in Asian cultures. Black rice is actually a purple grain that is cultivated throughout Asia. Its dark, rich color contains numerous health benefits, which makes it a far superior choice compared to traditional white, brown, and basmati rice. One-half cup serving of black rice contains 160 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of protein. Black rice is also a good source of iron so it’s a great addition to the diet for vegans and vegetarians who rely on plant based foods for protein. Below are some additional health benefits of black rice:

1) High in Antioxidants: The outermost layer of black rice is high in anthocryanin-a powerful antioxidant known to fight diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Black rice contains the highest amount of anthocryanin compared to other whole grains.

2) Can Help the Liver with Detoxification: Studies have shown that black rice can help detoxify the body due to its high antioxidant content. These antioxidants help the liver function more effectively by removing toxins from the body.

3) Source of Fiber for Digestive Health: Fiber aids proper digestion, which is why many people need to aim for eating 25-35 grams of fiber per day. One ½ cup serving of black rice is 2-3 grams of dietary fiber. Combine this with large amounts of high fiber vegetables at your next meal and it will certainly help boost your fiber intake.

4) Protects Heart Health: A few studies have shown that black rice has reduced dangerous plaque build up in arteries. This is from the large amounts of anthocryanins found in black rice and it helps reduce LDL cholesterol.

5) Reduce Blood Sugar and Prevent Diabetes: Black rice is a whole grain that is considered low on the glycemic index. Foods lower on glycemic index have less impact on blood sugar when digested. People with diabetes, or those trying to prevent diabetes, can greatly benefit from eating foods lower on the glycemic index.

6) Naturally gluten free: Black rice is a safe whole grain for those who have celiac disease or choose to avoid eating gluten to control inflammation.

Let me know if you have tried black rice and feel free to share your cooking and eating experiences in the comments below. Black rice has a rich, nutty flavor, which adds a dynamic flavor and dimension to many dishes compared to traditional rice. If you give black rice a try, I don’t think you will be disappointed with the outcome.

“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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Sauteed Spinach with Garlic and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

April 30, 2017
This recipe is an easy and delicious side dish that can accompany any meal. Spinach and leafy greens are excellent sources of many vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants that help prevent and fight disease. Feel free to use fresh or canned diced tomatoes instead of sun-dried tomatoes for this recipe.

Ingredients:

• 10 cups of baby leaf spinach
• 3 Tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 Tablespoons grass fed better
• 4 Tablespoons minced garlic
• 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 2 teaspoons ground sea salt
• ¾ cup of sun-dried tomatoes

Directions:

1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and butter. Sauté the minced garlic and cook until soft.

2. Add in the spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. Sauté for 3-5 minutes or until the spinach is wilted.

3. Add in salt and pepper to taste as desired.

If you have any ideas to enhace this recipe, add your comments below.

"A health lifestyle takes confidence, knowledge, and persistence to achieve, but never disappoints when it finally arrives."
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What To Do With A Jar Of Tahini?

April 22, 2017
Tahini, what’s that? How does one cook with tahini?

Tahini is a sesame seed paste that’s similar to a nut butter, but without the sweetness and thick texture. It also has a mild, neutral flavor that can be used in a variety of sauces and dishes. The most common use for tahini is in hummus. However, that’s not the only way to cook with tahini. Below are some additional tips and ideas for eating and cooking with tahini without limiting yourself and making good use of that entire jar of tahini in your cupboard:

1) Spread tahini on toast: On sprouted bread, spread 1-2 tablespoons of tahini for a savory flavor

2) Tahini and vegetables: A variety of raw vegetables taste great dipped in tahini

3) Stir it in a soup: Tahini is a great alternative soup thickener

4) Make a vinaigrette: whisk tahini with sesame seed oil, white wine vinegar, and lemon juice to make a great vinaigrette for salads

5) Add it to marinades or dipping sauces: Mix tahini with garlic or soy sauce to enhance a marinade or create a creative dipping sauce

6) Tahini in cookies: Replace peanut butter or other nut butters with tahini in cookies and other baked goods

7) Add it to side dishes: Include tahini in coleslaw, deviled eggs, and other side dishes for a added earthy, savory flavor

If you have other creative ideas for using tahini, post them in the comments section below. If you have questions or would like to book an appointment, please email me at stephanie@speakingofnutrition.com . You can also follow me on Instagram.

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

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Avocado Toast

April 9, 2017
Avocados are very nutritious and contain 20 different vitamins and minerals. They actually contain more potassium per serving than a banana. Avocados are also high in healthy, monounsaturated fat, which is anti-inflammatory. Avocado toast is a simple and nutritious breakfast choice with endless possibilities. The recipe below provides a quick and easy way to prepare avocado toast. I used mashed avocado in this recipe, but you can slice the avocado if you prefer that method. I also have added a fried egg or 2 strips of bacon on top of the mashed avocado and it tastes great!

Ingredients:

• ½ half ripe Haas avocado
• ½ tablespoon of butter
• 1-2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice, whatever taste you prefer
• 1/8 teaspoon ground sea salt
• 1 slice of sprouted bread such as Ezekiel bread
• ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
• Pinch of fresh ground pepper if desired

Directions:

1. Scoop out the avocado into a bowl. Add in the lemon or lime juice, ground sea salt, and ground pepper, mash together with a fork until mixture is slightly chunky

2. Toast the bread. When finished toasting, spread butter on toast and place mashed avocado mixture on top of butter.

3. Drizzle olive oil and red pepper flakes on top of avocado

4. Serve immediately

If you have other ideas for avocado toast, please share in the comments below. To book an appointment at Speaking of Nutrition, you can email me at stephanie@speakingofnutrition.com. You also can follow me on Instagram at speakingofnutrition.

" A healthy lifestyle take confidence, knowledge, and persistence to acheive, but never disappoints when it finally arrives!"

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Turmeric...Colorful Spice and a Powerful Antioxidant

March 25, 2017
Turmeric is a new trendy superfood that’s hitting the nutrition scene. It’s a bright yellow, colorful spice that’s native to India and has the scientific name Curcuma longa. It’s mostly used in savory dishes such as soups, sauces, and curries; however it can also be used in sweet dishes such as breads, cakes, and ice cream. Besides its versatility in cooking, turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, which provides numerous health benefits throughout the body. Turmeric also promotes heart health by preventing the development of atherosclerosis-the hardening and narrowing of arteries from plaque formation. You can find ground turmeric in the spice section of any grocery store. Fresh turmeric root is mostly found in specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods or Fresh Thyme. The flavor of turmeric can be intense the first time you try it, so start with adding a small amount to your dishes and increase once you get use to it. Below are a few cooking tips for how to add both ground and fresh turmeric to your diet:

• Add 1-2 teaspoons ground turmeric to any soup
• Blend it into smoothies. Start with only 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
per smoothie
• Add 1 teaspoon ground turmeric while sautéing vegetables
• Stir freshly grated turmeric into homemade salad dressings
• Add 1-2 teaspoons of freshly grated turmeric to stir-fry’s
• Sprinkle freshly grated turmeric into egg dishes such as omelets,
frittatas, and quiches
• Add ½ teaspoon ground turmeric to homemade or store-bought
hummus

I hope you have fun exploring and experimenting with this colorful superfood. If you have any additional ideas for using either ground or fresh turmeric, feel free to share by commenting below. If you have additional questions or would like to book an appointment, please send me an email at stephanie@speakingofnutrition.com. You can also follow me on Instagram at speakingofnutrition.

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

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Cauliflower...A Nutritious and Versatile Vegetable

March 18, 2017
Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family. It's high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, and contains only 57 calories in 1 cup serving. It's also an excellent source of dietary fiber. Cauliflower is a "white" food that shouldn't be avoided due to its many health benefits. However, like other vegetables, people aren't fully aware of the dishes you can create using cauliflower. The taste and texture is extremely versatile so it can be used in a variety of dishes. Below are some ideas for using cauliflower at your meals that I think you might enjoy:

Cauliflower Fried Rice-Traditional rice is higher in carbohydrates and often leads to an uncomfortable, heavy feeling after eating. Cauliflower rice is an excellent alternative to higher carbohydrate dishes that doesn’t sacrifice flavor or texture. Preparation and cooking time is about 10 minutes, however I recommend using a food processor to reduce preparation time and to obtain a similar texture to traditional rice. Cauliflower rice can be seasoned to your liking with a variety of sauces, spices, and herbs.

Cauliflower Mash-Yes, it's possible for cauliflower to mimic the taste of potatoes! Most recipes for cauliflower mash are simple and easy to create. A food processor is recommend to obtain a similar texture to potatoes. I like to add garlic, butter, and chives to my cauliflower mash recipe. Kids also really like cauliflower mash.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust-A trendy, popular, and delicious alternative for pizza lovers of all eating styles and preferences. There are numerous online recipes for cauliflower pizza crust. It won't look and feel like traditional pizza crust, however I promise with practice and an open mind, you won't be disappointed. When making cauliflower pizza crust, I recommend making a double-batch so you can eat one, and save one for later. It freezes quite well.

Cauliflower Tots- An excellent way to get the entire family, including your kids, to eat more vegetables. They also are excellent appetizers to serve at parties. Search the internet for cauliflower tot recipes and you will find many ideas. Don't be afraid to season any recipe to your liking.

I hope you've enjoyed these ideas on how to incorporate more cauliflower into your diet. If you have any questions or ideas to share, feel free to comment below. You can also send me an email at stephanie@speakingofnutrition.com and follow me on Instagram at speakingofnutrition.

And always remember: "A healthy lifestyle takes confidence, knowledge, and persistence to achieve, but never disappoints when it finally arrives!"





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