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

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

 

What you need to know about FISH

Every healthy eating plan should include several servings of healthy fish per week. If you are wondering how to best purchase this healthy protein for your family, read on . . . .

Most supermarkets have a great variety of fish, from fresh to frozen, breaded and stuffed, wild caught and farm raised, you name it. But what does a savvy consumer need to know about how to purchase the healthiest fish for your family? Let’s review just a few basic rules . . . .

First rule of thumb: WILD CAUGHT.

Fish caught in the wild eat what fish eat – plankton, algae, other small fish. And because of this they develop Omega 3 fats – the healthy fats that our bodies need. You may have read about mercury contained in wild caught fish – but recent studies have shown that mercury levels in wild caught fish are not enough to be concerned about.

Farm raised fish, on the other hand, are grain fed – mostly corn. We all know about the issues surrounding corn (pesticides, GMO’s, etc.). And, this diet causes the fish to develop Omega 6 fats – the unhealthy trans fats that clog up arteries and are not good for our bodies. Interestingly, farm raised fish often contain MORE mercury that wild caught fish.

Second rule of thumb: FROZEN/PREVIOUSLY FROZEN IS OK, BUT . . .

Be SURE that there are no additives to preserve color or freshness. If you are purchasing pre-packaged frozen fish, READ the label. Look for “wild caught” and also look in the ingredients list for additives (they will be among the last of the ingredients listed on the label).

If you are purchasing fish from the fish market or counter, the tag on the fish variety may say “previously frozen,” which is fine, but do not be afraid to ask the person behind the counter if they douse it with salt or pump it with carbon dioxide when it gets to the store. Also, be sure the tag says “wild caught,” and if it does not, ASK!

Third rule of thumb: FRESH FISH DOES NOT SMELL FISHY!

Ask to look at a sample of the fresh fish you want to purchase. It should NOT smell fishy, and should not be slimy. It should be shiny, and should bounce back when you press your finger into the flesh. If purchasing a whole fish, the scales should be shiny, not slimy, the eyes should not be sunk in or bulging out, and the skin should bounce back when depressed with your finger.

To get the most benefit of the Omega 3 fats, wild caught salmon will be the best choice. Wild caught halibut and tuna are also high on the list of Omega 3 content. The fish to stay away from: Tilapia. This variety of fish is probably the MOST farmed fish in the world, rarely will you see “wild caught Tilapia” on a label, at least in the United States. While it is easy to find and relatively inexpensive compared to other varieties of fish, recent studies show that this fish is the worst choice in an otherwise healthy eating plan.

So spend some time at your local fish market, and read the labels to see what is available in your area. And don’t get caught up in the marketing on the package of frozen fish – just because the brand name is “wild something” does NOT mean it was wild caught. Flip that package over, and if the first ingredient is NOT “wild caught whatever fish” then do not purchase it.

Happy fishing!

~ Doneane

The Alkaline Eating Plan

Along with drinking alkaline water, switching to foods which are more alkaline forming than acid producing is also beneficial to your overall health.

Research shows that diseased cells prefer to live in an acid environment, and when the environment becomes more alkaline, those cells can no longer thrive. If you make your body more alkaline, your immune system will be stronger and your chances of becoming ill go down greatly.

Everything we eat and drink is either basic (alkaline), neutral, or acidic. Some foods that taste tart or sour are no necessarily acid forming, so some of the things on this comprehensive list may surprise you. Below is a link to one of the most exhaustive articles I have come across on alkaline and acidic foods:

http://www.angelfire.com/az/sthurston/acid_alkaline_foods_list.html

Use this list as a guide to determine if your current eating plan is more acidic than it is alkaline, and try to make some changes. Your eating plan should be about 75% alkaline and only 25% acidic.

As always, if you are suffering from any type of chronic condition or take medications, please check with your doctor before making and changes to your eating plan.

~ Doneane

What About Lemon Water?

After last week’s blog and TV segment on the benefits of alkaline water, I had a few people ask about lemon water. Is it good for you? Is it better than alkaline water? Why drink it at room temperature?

I hope this post answers some of these questions, and more!

Yes, it is good for you. Not necessarily better/worse than alkaline water, but has different benefits. Room temperature water gets down to the cellular level faster than ice-cold water. So keep your water, and your lemons, at room temperature for the best effect of your body.

Here are some reasons why to drink lemon water:

1) Clears Skin

Plain water can help flush out toxins to keep skin clear, but the added vitamin C in lemons helps purge toxins from our blood more effectively to make skin appear clear and younger!

2) Balances Your PH

Lemons taste and appear to be very acidic, but they actually have a very alkalizing effect on our bodies. Keeping your body in an alkaline state also prevents diseases and pathogens from surviving (see last week’s blog on the benefits of alkaline water)

3) Boosts Immune System

The potassium in lemon juice helps control blood pressure, stimulate brain and nerve function. Vitamin C also helps fight colds.

4) Weight Loss

Drinking lemon water helps boost your metabolism, fight cravings, flush out water weight and curb hunger.

5)  Boost the Brain and Nervous System

Lemons contain potassium (see above). Low levels of potassium can cause depression, anxiety, forgetfulness and brain fog. The dose of Vitamin C in lemons can replenish what gets depleted when you’re under a lot of stress.

6) Helps Respiratory Problems

If you have asthma or infections, lemon water has antibacterial properties which can help get rid of infections of the chest and eases coughs.

7) Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation can hurt, especially if you have it in various parts of your body. Lemon water helps reduce inflammation and can calm down most irritations.

8) Energy Boost

Do you need a pick-me-up in the afternoon? If you drink a cup of hot water with lemon in it instead of coffee, not only will you cut your caffeine, but you will not have that sinking feeling!

9) Great Source of Potassium

If you do not like bananas, but are still low on your potassium levels, try a few glasses of lemon water per day.

~ Doneane

 

Alkaline Water — Why?

What is the first thing you think about when you consider the most important food or nutrient? Think on this: your brain is about 70% water, and your body is about 80% (even your bones contain water!). So one of the most important things you consume daily should be good, filtered water. Every morning, you actually wake up slightly dehydrated.

Just one simple thing will give you more energy, help you focus, and reduce cravings: upon awakening, drink at least 2 cups of filtered alkaline water. Most of us reach for coffee or tea (or worse, soda!) first thing in the morning, but these caffeinated drinks act as diuretics, leading to further dehydration. So start with water first, then move on to your other preference for morning beverages.
Our local tap water is generally a mixture of chlorine, anti-biotics, hormones and metals which go straight into your system. Unfiltered and impure water can weaken your immune system and make your body vulnerable to disease. When we become too acidic, we experience low energy, fatigue, digestive issues, weight gain and other side effects that can be remedied with pure water and fresh organic vegetables with a healthy acid/alkaline balance.
Alkaline filtration systems can be costly (ranging up to many thousands of dollars for a whole-home system); however, personal alkaline filters are widely available at health food stores at a reasonable cost ($50 – $500). The internet is full of sites designed to help you find the right filtration system for you. Most grocery stores now carry bottled alkaline water, but it is also a bit costly when compared to regular bottled water.

 

So, make your own! Here is a simple recipe to make your very own gallon of alkaline water in your kitchen:

  • 1 pitcher (64 ounces) of clean filtered water
  • 1 organic lemon, washed, cut into eighths
  • 1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
Directions: Fill pitcher, add in Lemon wedges (do not squeeze!). Then add 1 tsp. Himalayan Pink Salt, cover, and let sit overnight (8-12 hrs.) at room temperature.
It is best to drink alkaline water at room temperature, especially first thing in the morning, for better absorption into the digestive tract.
~ Doneane