Dates, the Natural Candy!
I use to think that raisins were the best dried fruit to satisfy my sweet tooth...until I discoverd Dates! I've been eating them off and on for a few years now. I only purchase mine at my local health food store. Although, you can find them in grocery stores. What I enjoy about dates is the texture of the fruit, flavor, and level of sweetness. They are soo good I eat them like candy! I also blend them into smoothies! Dates can be used in salads,cereals, cakes, cookies, breads, just about any recipe that calls for dried fruit.
Aside from the awesome taste, they do have health benefits. Just 5 dates provides 3g of both soluble and insoluble fiber, dates are able to fill you up and keep your digestive system regular. They are fat free and an excellent source of potassium and other important vitamins and minerals. Dates also make a good pre-workout snack!
Nutrition Facts Serving Size 5, Amount Per Serving Calories 120, Carbohydrates 30.0g Dietary Fiber 3.0g Sugars 26.0g
Legumes & Grains
If you want to add an inexpensive vegetarian meal to your meal plan go with legumes and grains. These foods together create a complete protein plus fiber!Depending on your calorie needs it is recommended we consume 6 to 11 servings of grains and 2 to 3 servings of legumes a day. Now, combine each with a serving of vegetables and nuts and you've got a complete healthy meal.
Replacing 2 of your meals with a vegetarian dish doesn't have to be difficult! It's a healthier way to increase vitamins, minerals, and fiber in their natural state while reducing the use of vitamin and fiber supplements.
The Incredible Edible Egg!
Eggs are a high-quality protein. Each one contains 6g of protein, 5g of fat, at 70 calories. I like eggs because they are inexpensive and easy to cook. Individuals on a strict low-cholesterol diet must limit their use of egg yolks for they contain over 200 milligrams of cholesterol, while a person with a heallthy lipid profile, can eat up to one egg a day. The best way I've found to cook an egg is in a vegetable steamer. They come out perfect everytime and I also like that I don't have to watch them. (Click link for vid)
I had banana peppers for the first time last week at Subways! I am now a fan of this mild pickled pepper. I like the mild hot flavor without the burn that normally comes from spicy hot peppers. I chop them up and mix them in scrambled eggs, grits, tuna fish, or I'll eat them whole in salads and on sandwiches. You can put these in anything where you want to add mild heat and alittle bit of salt to a food.
Don't buy that from the store!
For the past 15 years I've been making my own soymilk with a soymilk maker and baking bread with a bread machine. Most recently I've been preparing yogurt in a crockpot! I've always been drawn to making things from scratch. I guess it's in my DNA.
I save a lot of money making these foods myself. I also have the added confidence of knowing what's in them and how old they are.
*Click on the link to learn how to make soymilk and yogurt.
My Favorite Beverages
Before I start my day or head out to the gym I always prepare a quick beverage. I always use fruit, soymilk, yogurt, almonds, or flax seeds. Just mix in a high powered blender and enjoy =)
1 c. soy milk or yogurt
1/4 c. soaked almonds
1 c. soy milk or yogurt
1 tbs soaked flax meal
*this drink really moves your bowels!
I don't believe more is better when it comes to making green drinks. Keep it simple (K.I.S.S) is how this drink should be made. It's not meant to break your wallet buying foods you normally don't buy or can't find at your local grocery store.
Green Salad Drink
Handful romain lettuce
1 tomato or orange
1/2 c. water
4 ice cubes
Use a high power blender (vita-mix)
*Don't make more than 2 cups
If you need your drinks to be sweet add more fruit
Protein Oatmeal Burger
I've been looking for a meatless pattie recipe for years! And I finally found one that actually tastes great. I call it the Protein Oatmeal Burger!(click to see vid) The original recipe is low in protein so I added plain protein powder to boost the amount of protein per serving. I used soy protein, but you can also use whey powder. To increase fiber I added psyllium, which also helps with binding and improved the texture. The instructions call for frying in a skillet with oil, but I opted to use my countertop grill and got great results.
I experimented with different seasonings and left out the vegetables to get great results. I tried a sage sausage, I liked it! I just have to get use to eating patties that are light in color. Perhaps I will use a dark vegetable juice in place of the water. Let's face it if it doesn't look right we are hesitant to eat it, even when it tastes good.
Probiotics for Digestive Health
Have you seen those yogurt commercials promising that the probiotics in their product will make your digestive system regular in 2 weeks? These advertisers must be crazy, who wants to wait that long to move their bowels! The quickest way to get a healthy dose of probiotics into your system is through supplementation. I have used **Nature's Bounty Probiotic Acidophilus for 2 years. You can expect results within in 24 hours. The label claims that "Acidolphilus supports a favorable enviroment for the absorption of nutrients, encourages intestinal microflora balance, and promotes the healthy functioning of the intestinal system". Each capsule contains 100 million active lactobacillus acidophilus.
The instructions are to take one capsule a day...But, if this is your first time using the product take one with each meal, this builds up the bacterial concentration in your body. Once you've become regular, you may opt to reduce the dosage.
The convience of taking the capsule, is that it doesn't add to your calorie intake. The best time to purchase supplements is when they are on sale, 2 for 1. Every grocery store and drug store offers this deal. That's when I buy mine =)
Let's face it, the American diet is the main reason for irregularity.The best way to correct this problem is to eat more fiber rich foods such as beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, plus drink plenty of water.
**I do not endorse this product. Choose a brand that works for you.
Wheat Bran the Fiber Powerhouse
Wheat bran is the by-product of milling white flour (all purpose flour). It contains the fiber which is abundant in whole wheat flour. Our love for white bread and many other products made with white flour has rendered the American diet extremely low in our daily dietary fiber. In response, The American Dietetic Association suggests a consumption of 20 to 35 grams of dietary fiber a day in order to reduce diseases caused by obesity. But lets face it, you'd have to be a herbivore to reach that amount each day. Wheat bran to the rescue! I discovered wheat bran 26 years ago and have been using it ever since. I add it to baked foods, hot cereal, pasta sauce, practically anywhere it can't be detected by my family.
Wheat bran is very inexpensive, it can be found in the health food bulk section. I usually can find Bob's Red Mill at the better local grocery store. Caution must be taken when adding wheat bran to your diet. Too much can cause gas! But then again beans cause gas as well. To be safe start out small and drink lots of water. For example I add 1 tsp to my oatmeal with good results. You can find recipes at this link to get you started. Also, checkout my flax waffle & pancake recipe, my family loves it!
I would prefer that we all consume a balanced diet full of fruits, grains, legumes, and vegetables, but I'm a realist. Adding alittle wheat bran to foods that you know have no fiber is a better option than none.
As a child I ate popcorn cooked on the stove. Then jiffy pop came along, as a kid I enjoyed watching that large dome of foil swell up as the popcorn popped. When the microwave became a household appliance, so too came microwave popcorn. Yes, I ate that too. Fast forward 10 years, we have become a health conscious society and as a result, the air popper. I thought I was doing something good eating that dry popcorn, with no flavor! Manufactures came out with spray on butter to meet the cry of the consumer. Yep, I bought that too. One day I got tired of buying that spray and came to my senses to realize that we need fat in our diets. The benefit of cooking popcorn on the stove is that I can control the type and amount of oil I put in the pot, and the amount of flavoring I add to my popcorn. Today, the only popcorn in my house is the loose kernals! I measure out 1/4 cup, 1 tbs of oil, and pop away! Popcorn always fills my stomach and leaves me satisfied! This is my junk food =)
When to Eat?
We've all heard that we should eat 5 to 6 small meals a day and eat every 2 to 3 hours to keep our metabolism going. But how do you keep track of the time? A kitchen timer. I use one everyday to remind myself to eat, it also keeps me from eating before my time limit. If I find that I am hungry an hour before the timer has gone off, I evaluate what I ate to determine if it was a balanced meal (protein, fat, carbs) or enough food. If I know I'm going to be away from home for 2 of my meals, I will set the alarm on my cell phone. I will either bring a meal or order a healthy meal at a fast food restaurant. Yes, you can actually find healthy meals at fast food places.
Waffle & Cottage Cheese
For a quick source of protein I eat cottage cheese. I like it because there is no cooking and it's a high-quality protein. A half cup provides 12g of protein only 1.5g of fat.I stay away from fat free because our bodies need fat to survive.
I serve it on top of waffles (homemade of course) with sliced bananas. Instead of putting cheddar cheese on my baked potatos I use cottage cheese. One last use is in my morning drinks, for this I only use a 1/4 cup. It adds a tang to the flavor and increases thickness.
My Favorite Breakfast
After my morning drink I wait a few hours and then have my breakfast (except when I go to the gym). On weekdays I eat the same breakfast, but weekends are my family day and I eat whatever I prepare for them. I guess you could call this my cheat day.
1/2 c. dry oatmeal prepared w/ 1 c. water
2 tbs raisins
1 tbs peanut butter
4-5 egg whites
*If I don't use peanut butter I will eat a whole egg.
1/4 c. dry grits prepared w/ 1 c. water
4-5 egg whites
1 whole egg
season to taste
I am not afraid of eggs! They have received a bad rap by many health professionals and health gurus. As a child I ate hard boiled eggs for Easter and the kids in my day weren't overweight. Today, the Easter egg has been replaced with CANDY! And kids are bigger because of it. The protein, fat, and micronutrients of the egg provided a balance of nutrients that candy can't replace.
Everything in life must be consumed responsibly and with balance. So, I eat my whole eggs, within reason...because my body is older now =)
Juicing is a big hit with individuals that are trying to increase their consumption of vegetables. I personally support eating or blending my fresh produce instead of juicing. Because juicing removes the fiber, which is lacking in the American diet. For those that like to juice, I came up with a solution! Dry the pulp in a food dehydrator and use it in your cooking. For example, the dried pulp can be added to breads, soups, and loafs. You can add it to anything! If you don't have a food dehydrator store the pulp in the freezer and thaw when ready to use. I created a Carrot Apple juice (click to see vid) that you may like to try. I show you how to freeze fresh carrot juice for later use and then how to dry the pulp. Hope you enjoy it!