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Healthy Food Swaps

If you are trying to make changes in the way you eat, chances are there are some foods that you really like or crave, and you are wondering what you could swap that food for that would be a little healthier.

There are tons of snack swaps that you can make that are healthier, better choices. There are also ingredients you can swap out in your favorite dishes, and even the way you prepare or cook a dish can be adjusted with a swap of one or two ingredients to make it healthier.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Pasta: consider trying vegetable noodles instead. Zucchini and other squashes can be cut into shreds as a substitute. Spaghetti pasta makes its own “noodles” and is a great substitute in any pasta dish. If you have never cooked spaghetti squash, take a look at this helpful article which will show you two different ways to prepare it: http://www.kitchentreaty.com/how-to-cook-spaghetti-squash-two-different-ways-in-the-microwave-or-in-the-oven/
  • Chips and salsa: love the crunch of tortilla chips with your salsa, dip, or guacamole? Consider carrot sticks instead. You still get that crunch that you love, but also a healthy dose of Vitamin A and Beta-carotene, instead of a carb and sodium load that chips can pack.
  • Salty snacks: put down the potato chips and pick up some lightly salted nuts instead. Walnuts and almonds give you healthy Omega 3 fats and you get that salty taste you crave. Raw nuts are best and pack the healthiest punch.
  • Sweet tooth: instead of reaching for a candy bar or a piece of cake, try an all natural nut butter mixed with dark chocolate. You will get the sweetness you need, along with Omega 3 fats and powerful antioxidants which are great for cardiovascular and brain health.
  • French fries: opt for sweet potato fries instead. Most restaurants offer these little powerhouses as an option instead of regular French fried potatoes. Loaded with Beta-carotene and Vitamin A much like carrots, these are widely available in frozen form for baking, and some stores carry them already peeled and sliced in the produce department ready to cook.

For a list of some healthy snack options, click here for a FREE download with 20 ideas for healthier snack choices: https://s3.amazonaws.com/fnc30dayjumpstart/20+Healthy+Snack+Ideas.pdf

And for some ideas about how to make healthier choices when eating out, submit the form below to check out my FREE eBook on the subject:


Health & Happiness,
~ Doneane

Nutrition Labels — So What’s New About the “New” FDA Rules?

We have all seen them: Nutrition labels. They come in all shapes and sizes, in all sorts of different places on packaging, and most of them are in such tiny print that you need a magnifying glass to read them! Do YOU pay attention to them at all? Should you?

The answer is YES! But what is most important to look for? And why has the FDA come up with new requirements for these labels?

Seems like the obesity epidemic is what is driving the new requirements, which deal mostly with added sugars and servings size. These new guidelines are meant to make it easier to make healthier choices, if the consumer is aware of the calorie and sugar count in the entire package as well as in a serving size. Changes regarding serving size and what information is included in that area of the label are also coming into effect soon.

Here is a link to a recent article regarding the new FDA labeling requirements:http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/05/new-fda-rules/483653/

But to a nutritionist like me (whose main concern is what is REALLY in the foods we consume), what is MOST important is what the ingredients list contains, along with other labels that will either make you purchase the product or place it back onto the grocery store shelf and walk away.

To receive a copy of my FREE eBook on this subject, complete and submit this form and it will be sent to your inbox immediately:


Just remember to take your time in the grocery store and READ the nutrition facts panel AND the ingredients list. Have a good pair of reading glasses or a magnifying glass (I am SERIOUS here!!), and pull your cart over to the side so that you do not impede traffic in the aisles. Once you get the hang of it, it will not take you as long to glean all the information you need, but it is a learning process to be able to identify what is good — and not so good — for you and your family on a nutrition label.

Health & Happiness,

~ Doneane

Proper Storage for Produce

Produce can be finicky.  Most fruits and vegetables are not meant to last more than about 5 to 7 days beyond their purchase date, so knowing the best ways to store them will help you to prevent waste and save you money.

A good deal of fruits and vegetables can be left out on the kitchen counter. If it is not kept refrigerated in your local produce department, then chances are you do not need to do so at home (unless it is your personal preference).  Fruits and vegetables with a thick peel can generally be left out (bananas, oranges, grapefruits, avocados, and cucumbers for example).

Grapes and berries do not need to be kept cold, but if it is your personal preference to have these treats cold, then pop them in the fridge. Berries and grapes also keep well when portioned into small baggies and placed in the freezer, which makes for a nice treat on a hot day or provides convenience for making fruit smoothies.

Leafy greens that are “spritzed” at the store can be treated like cut flowers — trim the stems, place them into a jar with a bit of water, cover with a Ziploc bag, and place in the fridge. Things like bunch spinach, kale, mustard greens, and asparagus can be treated this way. Herbs like humidity, so they can be bagged and left out on the counter (they will keep for about 5 days this way).

Fruits like the humidity low, whereas vegetables like it a bit more humid. So for whatever you place into the crisper drawer, if you are able to adjust the humidity be sure and do so for whatever you are storing.

Those “green bags” and other things claiming to keep produce fresher longer: don’t waste your money! You want your fruits and veggies to be able to breathe, and not close them up in plastic bags. Use these tips and tricks to keep your produce fresher longer and save money at the same time!

Here is a link to my recent TV segment showing you these helpful tips: https://youtu.be/7Tg41Pg0NEk

And, my thanks to HGTV  for inspiring this idea for a topic. Here is a recently posted short video from their Facebook page on the same topic: https://www.facebook.com/HGTV/videos/10153856652254213/?pnref=story

So be sure and treat your produce in they way that it will stay fresh longer, so that you save money from going right into the compost pile!

~ Doneane

What Snacks Does a Nutritionist Eat?

As a nutritionist I am always asked questions about what I eat. People stop me at the grocery store to see what is in my basket, ask me in restaurants what I have ordered, and most often ask me what snacks I eat during the day.

Healthy snacking is VERY important to a good eating plan, because it is important to stay fueled all day long. And the way to do that is to have healthy snacks in between the larger meals of the day. Those snacks need to be nutritious, filling, and satisfying so that when the next meal comes, you are not famished to the point of over eating or eating the wrong things.

Planning ahead is also key to healthy snacking. Along with your healthy meals for the day, you also need to prepare snacks. When you do your meal prepping for the week, be sure that you also include these in your plan so that you do not go hungry between meals and have to resort to the vending machine or whatever non-healthy snack or dessert item a co-worker may have brought to share with the office!

It is a good idea to have some non perishable snacks with you at all times (things like nuts, protein bars, granola, or fruit). These snacks should fit easily into a small Ziploc bag, and into a purse, briefcase, backpack, or in the drawer at your desk at work. You can also keep some in the car, in case you are traveling or stuck in traffic and need a quick snack. Other snacks which require refrigeration are also great, just be sure that they stay at a constant temperature all day either in a fridge or lunch bag with an ice pack (cheese, boiled eggs, yogurt and cottage cheese are great examples).

For a short video on some of MY favorite snack items, click here: https://youtu.be/On_XeVG2K2U

Just remember, snacking is a GOOD thing, so long as you are prepared and your snacks are healthy (and not just tasty!).

~ Doneane

Indoor Plants to Clean the Air

If you are like me, you are concerned about the air quality in your home and office. And especially in the bedrooms of your home. Did you know that there are about 15 varieties of plants that can clean the air, and a few that can help you sleep?

Some very common house plants that really clean the toxins from the air and give a fresh burst of oxygen are the Snake Plant, Spider Plant, and English Ivy. These plants are known for their ability to “scrub” the air of impurities and give back in return clean oxygen. More oxygen in the air leads to better focus and concentration, and better sleep! So put a few of these plants in and around the house, office, and in the bedroom.

The aroma of some plants can also help lull you to sleep. Lavender and Jasmine are two popular plants whose sweet aroma can help you drift off to sleep and help you stay asleep. If you can find a potted lavender plant, place it in the windowsill of the bedroom so that it can get some filtered light during the day, and then move it close to the bedside at night. A few sprigs cut from a jasmine plant can be placed in a vase of water next to the bed, so that the aroma will fill the room.

For a listing of other plants that help keep your environment clean, check out this article: http://www.mnn.com/health/healthy-spaces/photos/15-houseplants-for-improving-indoor-air-quality/a-breath-of-fresh-air

For a quick video which shows the plants of which I spoke in this blog, click here for my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLpFE3qgvj8&feature=youtu.be

Most of the plants I mention are widely available, and are not necessarily seasonal. Check with your local nurseries to get the freshest varieties.

~ Doneane

Foods that Fight Fatigue

If you find yourself looking like the gal depicted in the photo around 3:00 in the afternoon, then you may need to add some fatigue-fighting foods to your nutrition plan.

The number one cause of fatigue is dehydration. Failure to drink enough water daily can cause really bad fatigue, especially in the afternoons when your brain has been pumping out work product all day long. So be sure to drink plenty of water (50% of your weight in ounces) every day.  Or, eat foods loaded with water, like watermelon.

Other fatigue fighters include foods containing polyphenols (like dark chocolate) and magnesium (try pumpkin seeds). Vitamin C found in brightly colored vegetables (red bell peppers) and citrus fruits like oranges will also fight off the afternoon slump. Foods high in fiber will also help you to feel full and keep energy levels up (like oatmeal, whole grain cereals, and breads). Omega 3 oils found in walnuts are also a great energy booster.

Here is a short YouTube video explaining these and a few other food groups that you can try to see if they help you stay alert all day:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVBiXJdQxtA

The best thing you can do to stay energized all day is to keep your body fueled all day, so that your blood sugar stays at a constant level and does not drop off in the afternoon. Eating 5 to 6 small meals per day (every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day), each containing some protein and complex carbs, will do just that. And the key to being able to eat this way is preparation — see last week’s post about meal prepping for some tips!

So consider adding some of these little fighters to your daily intake, and see if you can stay alert at 3:00 slump time!

~ Doneane

Weekly Meal Prepping: The Ultimate Time and Money Saver!

For anyone who has not tried weekly meal prepping, the task seems daunting at first. I know it did for me. But now that I have been doing this for about 10 years, I have honed my meal prep skills and have it down to an art form! My kitchen looks like an assembly line for a small army, and when I am done, my freezer and fridge are so organized Martha Stewart would be jealous!

It really is about time management. To prep an entire week’s worth of meals — breakfast, lunch, and dinner, together with snacks does sound time consuming. But in reality, the time you spend prepping for the week you will get back tenfold during the week when all you have to do is open the fridge or freezer and grab what you need for the day and you are out the door.

Meal prepping also saves money. Prepping in advance prevents a good deal of waste, especially of produce. When it is prepared and packaged, chances are it will be consumed and not end up in the compost pile or the garbage can, which will save your family money in the long run.

And, being prepared prevents you from indulging in whatever unhealthy thing your office mate brought to share, or from going to the vending machine in the break room. Having your own stash of healthy prepped meals and snacks will help you stay on track when changing your eating habits, trying to lose weight, or just wanting to eat clean.

I do all of my shopping, cooking, and prepping on the weekend, usually on Saturday, but sometimes I will wait until Sunday afternoon just depending upon what activities are going on in my life. Pick a day that is good for you and your family — it an be any day of the week, so long as you can try and do it that same day each week.

Here is a guide to help you get started:

Some things that you will need, if you do not have them already:

Good quality plastic food storage containers with lids (at least 15 or more)

Glass mason jars with lids (about 5 is all you need)

Ziploc bags (variety of sizes)

Steamer or crock pot/muffin tins/cooking pots, pans, utensils/smoothie maker (optional)/juicer (optional)

Here is a snapshot of my meal prep day:

Hit the local farmers’ markets to get the freshest local produce, eggs, and other wonderful things!

Stop by the grocery store to pick up proteins and other items not available at the markets

Chop, season, and prep everything for cooking

Load up steamer with proteins and veggies (stackable steamer by Oster will cook an entire week’s worth of meals in under an hour!) See the steamer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGDQCvvCEKU

Broil other veggies in the oven or on the grill (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, and cauliflower all are awesome broiled or grilled in olive oil and garlic)

Boil and peel a dozen eggs (great for snacks or breakfast)

Make 5 or more salads in a jar (sealed in a glass jar keeps them fresh all week, just put your lettuce on the top so that it does not get soggy). Watch the YouTube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eulb27Q-2vQ

Make breakfast egg muffins (eggs, spinach, onions, turkey bacon, cheese, poured into muffin tins sprayed with coconut oil and bake until eggs are done. These keep well in an airtight container or Ziploc bag all week!)

Make a small pot of oatmeal (portion into small containers and add fruit, granola, honey, and freeze. Great for breakfast or a bedtime snack)

Wash, slice, and portion out greens and fruits for smoothies and juices into Ziploc bags and place them in the freezer for use during the week (yes, you can freeze the greens also!)

Once everything is cooked, I portion all of my meals into plastic containers. About half goes in the freezer for later in the week, and the rest goes in the fridge for the earlier part of the week. Be sure to let everything cool to room temperature before sealing and placing in the fridge or freezer!

This schedule may look like it takes all day, but I can do all of this in about 2 hours (cooking/prepping time). Add the farmers market and grocery store time and it is maybe a total of 3 – 4 hours tops.  I am typically out the door Saturday morning around 7:30AM to get started. If you feel like you do not have that large of a block of time to set aside in one day, consider doing your shopping on one day and your prepping on the next.

Meal prepping is a skill that you can perfect over time, with your own personal twist on how to get things done. Once you have it down as part of your healthy eating routine, you will want to do it every week!

Health and Happiness,

~ Doneane

 

The Wonderful World of SALT

Have you noticed that there are just about as many varieties of salt on the store shelves as there are varieties of sugar and flour? So what about them, are they all the same? Should you be concerned about which type to use?

No, they are not all the same, and yes, you should be concerned about which type to use. Some salt varieties are loaded with sodium while others have less, some have mineral content that is healthy for our body. And if you suffer from high blood pressure or heart disease, or have been told by your doctor to limit your sodium intake, your choice should be for a lower sodium variety.

Regular table salt, with iodine, is 99% sodium. It also has been chemically processed to appear white and have tiny grains, and may also contain preservatives or other additives. Kosher salt is not chemically processed and has no additives, but still is high in sodium content.

Mediterranean Sea salt and pink Himalayan salt have much less sodium (about 85%) and contain other healthy mineral content, but typically contain none of the artificial stuff you find in other varieties (but be sure to read the label just to be certain there are no additives). Pink Himalayan salt especially: it has 27 different minerals along with sodium, and these minerals help your tissues to become more alkaline. These types of salt add interesting flavor to any dish, and it does not take much!

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for sodium is 1500 mg, which is about 1/4 teaspoon. This is not much, but the problem is not in the extra salt we add to our foods, but the salt that is already present in them. If you eat a lot of packaged or processed foods (frozen dinners, lunch meat, canned vegetables, canned meats) then you are getting probably well over the RDA for sodium on a daily basis. This is where label reading becomes SO important, especially if you need to watch your sodium intake.

Salt is one of those things that we love on our foods, but we tend to take it for granted as just another spice and do not keep up with how much or how often we are using it. Mindful sodium intake could be the key to your healthy journey, so start reading labels for sodium content and try a different variety of salt with less sodium.  You may notice a difference right away!

~ Doneane

(c) 2016

All Natural Coffee Creamer

Do you love a little cream in your coffee but hate all of the unnatural ingredients you find in your favorite brand of non-dairy creamer, or all of the fat you get from things like half-and-half or cream? Additives like carrageenan, xantham gum, or lecithin are found in almost every non-dairy creamer brand out there. If you do not want these ingredients in your coffee, then there is an alternative: learn how to make your own!

This simple recipe is easy to use, is creamy and mildly sweet, and has no artificial ingredients. In fact, it only has three main ingredients: Coconut milk, coconut oil, and vanilla! You may already have these in your pantry, but if not, be sure that the brands you buy are organic and contain no artificial ingredients. Another bonus is that coconut milk and coconut oil contain the healthy fats that will give you an energy boost throughout your morning!

Next, choose your sweetener, if you like your coffee sweet: local honey, agave nectar, or stevia. Local honey has the added benefit of fighting seasonal allergies. Agave nectar is high in sugar, so if you are watching your sugar intake, this might not be the best choice for you. Stevia is a zero calorie sweetener made from the leaves of the stevia plant and is a great natural alternative to sugar. It tastes sweeter than sugar, so go sparingly with it until you find the right amount for your taste.

Here is the easy recipe:

2 cups coconut milk

1 – 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1 – 2 tablespoons vanilla

choice of sweetener, to taste

Place all ingredients into a blender or smoothie maker and blend until well mixed and creamy. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. Shake well before using to remix ingredients.

You can also add a natural flavor to this recipe by adding a flavor syrup to taste, but again just read the label and be sure what you are adding has no artificial ingredients in it for the best and healthiest coffee creamer!

Enjoy!

~ Doneane

Healthy Gut = Healthy Immune System = Fighting Seasonal Allergies

Did you know that the key to fighting off seasonal allergies lies in your gut?

Your immune system “lives” in your digestive tract, where all of the healthy bacteria live. If the balance of healthy bacteria gets out of whack, your immune system is compromised. Which means, for those of us who suffer from seasonal allergies, we cannot fight them off on our own and might resort to taking OTC meds (and have the resulting side effects like brain fog!).

In order to keep your gut in tip top shape for allergy season (and all year long!), try these:

Probiotics

Foods containing probiotics will help your gut replenish its supply. Especially if you have been on medications, some of which can kill both bad and good bacteria and get your system off kilter. Things like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese with live active cultures, Kefir, and fermented foods like Sauerkraut and Kim Chee.  Apple Cider Vinegar also contains probiotics.

Omega 3 Fats

Olive Oil, avocados, wild caught salmon, and fish oil tablets all contain the healthy fat Omega 3, which also keeps your gut in good function. If probiotics do not appeal to you, then add more healthy Omega 3 fats to your daily intake.

Supplements

There are a number of probiotic supplements on the market, all containing varying levels of these good little fighters. If you have never taken a probiotic supplement, or if you are on any prescription medications, please check with your doctor before you begin a supplement regiment.

So, to help your body to make its own antihistamines, and avoid the brain fog associated with some OTC meds, consider these tips to keep your gut healthy and your immune system strong.

Hoping your allergy season is not too bad,

~ Doneane

(c) 2016