nutrition

Holiday Survival Tips

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As the holiday season is upon us and your schedule gets extra busy! Here are some tips to help you through the holiday whirlwind.

Holiday Preparation Burns Calories

Holiday Preparation Burns Calories

Schedule time and sneak in time to stay active throughout the holidays! Although, also embrace the other ways that you will burn calories during the holiday season preparing for gatherings. For example, one hour of wrapping presents burns about 90 calories, one hour of cleaning burns about 150+ calories, one hour of cooking burns about 240 calories.

Calorie counts based on 150-pound person. Click here for a calorie calculator.

Stock up on healthier snacks!

Stock up on healthier snacks!

Sure there will be extra snacks and treats around throughout the holidays. Also stock up on healthier staples like: almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, etc. They are perfect to put out at holiday gatherings or grab to take with you to keep your energy up while running errands.

Other quick and easy ideas to have on hand: clementines, bananas, fruit and nut bars (opt for lower sugar varieties), popcorn, whole grain fig bars

It’s all about balance!

It’s all about balance!

Holiday celebrations often come along with drinks! Balance out alcohol by mixing in a glass of water or club soda between drinks. It will help to keep your overall intake in check, hydrate you, and leave you feeling better the next day.

Plus remember the calorie count that comes along with drinks to help balance out your intake! For example: long island iced tea (8 ounces) 780 calories, eggnog with rum (8 ounces) 370 calories, gin and tonic (7 ounces) 200 calories, light beer (12 ounces) 95 - 135 calories, red or white wine (5 ounces) 120 calories,

If you are throwing a party, serve up a fun non-alcohol “mocktail” like a Sparkling Holiday Mule! See the recipe below.

Sparkling Holiday Mule Mocktail

Sparkling Holiday Mule Mocktail

Sparkling Holiday Mule Mocktail

Ingredients:
Ice
Poland Springs Ginger Lime Mule Seltzer
Fresh Lime Slices
Whole Cranberries (for garnish)
Sprig of rosemary (for garnish)

Directions:

  1. Muddle a lime slice in a copper mug (or other serving glass).

  2. Add ice and fill with ginger lime mule seltzer.

  3. Garnish with whole cranberries and a sprig of rosemary.

Cheers!

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Quick Dinner Recipe: Coconut Skillet Chicken

coconut skillet chicken

Coconut Skillet Chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds) or firm tofu
1/4 teaspoon sea sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup red onion, sliced
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (adjust to taste preference)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon corn starch mixed into 1 tablespoon water
2 cups cooked brown rice

Directions:
1. Season each side of the chicken with salt and pepper.
2. In a large skillet, melt the coconut oil over a medium high heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook each side for 5-7 minutes or until browned on each side.
3. In the same skillet, add the chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes to soften. Add the vegetable stock, lime juice, cilantro and chili flakes. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, continue to simmer for 5 – 10 minutes to let the sauce reduce down.
4. Stir in the coconut milk and bring to simmer again for another 5 minutes. Add the prepared corn starch and bring to a boil to thicken the sauce.
5. Add the chicken back to the skillet and let the chicken continue to cook until it is cooked through (about 5 – 10 minutes).
6. Serve over the brown rice.

Click here to watch a the recipe video.

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Lunch Ideas to Switch it Up!

Tired of the same old lunches? Here are some nutrient-rich ideas and product tips to switch up lunches either for yourself or the little ones in your life! Happy lunch packing!

Crunch + Protein

When you are looking to add something crunchy to a lunch, rethink-it and add-in roasted chickpeas. They come in a wide variety of flavors and some treat-like flavors too (e.g. milk chocolate!). What I love about these - each serving is about 130 calories plus it delivers 6 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. The fiber is important because it will help to slow down blood sugar level increases, in turn providing better long lasting energy.

Click here to buy some today or check your local stores like Target or Wegmans for them as well!

Click here  to buy roasted chickpeas!

Click here to buy roasted chickpeas!

Add a Protein Boost

Pack along a milk box to add a boost of 8 grams of protein to lunch! I love these Horizon Organic milk boxes, they are also available in flavored options like chocolate and strawberry, which are perfect for refueling after practices, workouts and games. Plus for an added bonus these milk boxes are shelf-stable and they don’t have to be refrigerated, which makes them really portable and easy to bring along.

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Salads for Lunch

If your little ones are tired of sandwiches, switch it up with a salad! They can be really quick and easy to make. Start with a base of leafy greens, then top it with sliced veggies or fruit, sunflower seeds for crunch, and some sliced cheese. Or even add some baked chicken or tofu for a protein boost. Drizzle it with your favorite salad dressing.

Note - also pictured here is a mini yogurt parfait, which are great to pack along with a salad or even with a sandwich. Check out the Back to School Lunch Favorites for more on parfaits - click here.

Warm Up with Soup

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Soup can make a great addition to lunches. Plus choosing a vegetable-based soup like Tomato Soup, is a great way to squeeze in extra vegetables. Remember to send the soup warm in a thermos style container so it will still be warm to enjoy at lunch time. Send along the soup with a half of sandwich, salad, or a parfait to complete the meal.

Pictured here is Pacific Foods roasted red pepper & tomato soup, a favorite at our house! Also check out the Pacific Foods new line of bone broth soups.

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Quick Salad: Mexican Quinoa Salad

This salad recipe has a homemade jalapeno vinaigrette dressing that is absolutely delicious and not too spicy! Plus it is really beautiful and colorful. 

Grab this recipe and watch the recipe video from Molly's cooking project with Olums: https://youtu.be/oJPCQnuarBQ

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Jalapeno Vinaigrette

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Jalapeno Vinaigrette

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I Love Beets!

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I love beets! They are truly a favorite. Plus they are loaded with nutrition benefits. Specifically beets are rich in nitrates, betaine, and the B-vitamin folate; these nutrients in beets can help your health in many ways!

Nitrates in your body are converted into nitric oxide which helps to relax and dilate blood vessels which in turn can boost blood flow. Betaine (a plant compound found in beets and other foods) has been shown to protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, and enhance performance. While folate helps to drive down levels of homocysteine in the blood, which can reduce the risk for artery damage and heart disease. 

When you are short on time to peel and cook beets, Love Beets has you covered with packages of cooked, ready to eat beets (pictured above). Look for them in a refrigerated area of the produce section of the grocery store. Also look for delicious baby beets too in flavors like honey + ginger and sweet chili. 

Check out this delicious Greek Cucumber Beet Salad recipe (See below) and some other favorite picks like: Beet and Salmon Nicoise Salad, Strawberry Rhubarb Beet Scones, or Beet Caprese Salad with Lemon Basil Dressing

Note: This isn't a sponsored post, just products I love! 

Photo from LoveBeets.com 

Photo from LoveBeets.com 

Greek Cucumber Beet Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients:

½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved

1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced (2 cups)

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

½ red onion, thinly sliced (1-½ cups)

1 green bell pepper, cored and sliced

1 ripe (but firm) avocado, peeled and diced

1 (8.8-ounce) package Love Beets Cooked Beets, chopped

⅓ cup fresh feta cheese, cubed

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1-½ teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon sea salt, to taste

Directions:

1. Add the first 8 ingredients to a mixing bowl.
2. Whisk together the remaining 5 ingredients in a bowl.
3. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss everything together until well-coated. Taste the salad for flavor and add more sea salt and/or vinegar to taste.

Click here to visit Love Beets.com for more recipes and information.

References:

Betaine in Human Nutrition, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/80/3/539.full, Accessed August 15, 2017

Homocystine Lowering with Folic Acid and B Vitamins in Vascular Disease, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa060900#t=article, Accessed August 15, 2017

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Holiday Tips: Survival & Challenge

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Lunch Box Quick Tips

With back to school comes packing lunches! Here are some quick tips for quick, easy, and tasty (healthy too!) lunches.

Tip 1: Simple Sides/Snacks

Stock up on simple sides and snacks that require minimal preparation like: grapes, baby carrots, whole grain pretzels, cheese sticks, trail mix, or popcorn.

Check out snack size reusable lunch bags from lunchskins, which are a perfect size for packing sides and snacks!

Tip 2: Sandwich Fun

If you have little ones that get tired of 'regular' sandwiches, try sandwich cutters (pictured right). Somehow this seems to turn the basic sandwich into something more fun! 

Check out sandwich cutters from pottery barn kids

Tip 3: Use leftovers

Making wraps out of leftovers is a great sandwich option. Pictured right are baked chicken fingers, simply slice them up and wrap them in a wheat tortilla. Finish the wrap with some sliced veggies, cheese, and a drizzle of dressing.

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Balance

Balance Is the Key to Success In All Things

When it comes to your health, the quote "Balance is the key to success in all things." comes to mind. This is especially true when it comes to nutrition! Let's look at two examples: water and food. Water A large percentage of our body is and should be water and most all things in our body need water to work. Too little water results in dehydration and too much water can result in issues like, hyponatremia as a result of flushing sodium from the body, which can be dangerous and even deadly.

The same holds true for food and food is literally fuel for the body providing calories (aka energy). Too few calories can be damaging to our health and too many calories adds excess weight which overtime can lead to obesity, heart disease, etc... When it comes to food the idea of balance holds true even when we breakdown nutrition into nutrient groups: carbohydrates, protein, and fats - each nutrient plays integral roles within the body and too little of any particular nutrient overtime can negatively impact our health.

For example - protein helps build muscles, nerves, etc... without it overtime muscle mass would decrease and our body won't work the way it should. My tip of the week is when it comes to food and water is think about balance.... Investing the time to plan your meals and balance your food intake will help your overall health and well-being. If you need help striking that balance, work with a registered dietitian, you can find one near you at www.EatRight.org.  

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