Quick & Healthy: Chicken Breast Served Over Roasted Tomatoes & Chickpeas

Chicken Breast Served Over Roasted Tomatoes & ChickpeasWith all this talk of “low” carb diets  being the best method for weight loss, made me stop and think about where the majority of carbohydrate intake comes from. Typically side dishes like rice, potatoes and pastas is where our carb overload starts. One of my favorite quick fixes to lowering carbohydrate intake of any meal is to use beans and lentils as a substitute for pasta, rice and potatoes. This swap gives your meal that extra protein punch, with high fiber on the side. Whenever I do this the meals is so much more filling and satisfying. Also with this recipe you could skip the chicken all together and now you have a lovely vegan meal that you could serve over hearty salad greens like baby kale or spinach.

For this recipe I swapped out roasted potatoes for Chickpeas.  Chickpeas are another one of those superfoods.  One cup of chickpeas provides you with 12g fiber and 15g protein. But this beans is not just about fiber and protein, which is amazing for appetite control  but theses beans are rich in vitamins. minerals and phytochemicals or saponins, which are extremely helpful in the prevention of breast cancer and osteoporosis. At your next meal try swapping our your transnational carb loaded side for a protein and fiber packed bean!

Chicken Breast Served Over Roasted Tomatoes & Chickpeas

 

Ingredients:Chicken Breast Served Over Roasted Tomatoes & Chickpeas

  • 6 Tbps Olive Oil
  • 4 cloved of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp red peperflakes
  • 1 tsp cayne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp paprika (favorite Chicken spices)
  • 4 Chicken breast with skin, deboned
  • 2-3 cups grape tomatoes
  • 1 can chickpeas (15 oz) (strained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • Salt/pepper to taste

 

Steps:

Step 1: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Whisk olive oil (5Tbps), garlic, pepperflakes, cayne pepper, cumin and paprikia together.Chicken Breast Served Over Roasted Tomatoes & Chickpeas

Step 2: Place Chickpeas and grape tomatoes in a large bowl. Pour olive oil mixture over and coat completely. Chicken Breast Served Over Roasted Tomatoes & Chickpeas

 Step 3: Place chicken breast on a roasting pan, rub 1 tbps olive oil all over the chicken breast. Then add the chickpeas and grape tomatoes to the pan. Chicken Breast Served Over Roasted Tomatoes & Chickpeas

 Step 4: Sprinkle pan with cilantro.  Plan pan in over set at 450 degrees and cook for 20-30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Enjoy!  Chicken Breast Served Over Roasted Tomatoes & Chickpeas

Chicken Breast Served Over Roasted Tomatoes & Chickpeas

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How Much Sugar is Too Much?

Eat Less Sugar Sugar, sugar is every where, the headline on the latest news story, all over our social media feds, featured in documentaries like Fed Up and most importantly in your food! So I think we all have gotten the message, we eat too much sugar. In fact we eat about 22 tsp of added sugar per day, the equivalent to about 350 calories per day. It is very important to make the distinction between added sugars and sugars that occur naturally in foods like fruits and vegetables. Added sugars is exactly what it sounds like, sugar the food industry will add to foods to make your food appear more tasty and more addicting, so you keep coming back for more. 

The American Society for Nutrition published a paper in 2011 showing American are starting to get the sugar bomb message, at least when it comes to what we drink.  According to this study, sugar consumption went down by 23% between the years 2000 and 2008, mainly because people drank less sugar-sweetened beverages.

But what about everything else in your day? Is there hidden sugar lurking? You betcha! So what are you going to do about it? I say take one of the most effective awareness exercises yet, The No Added Sugar Challenge. The No Added Sugar Challenge, was created to help make you aware of all the “health” food you are eating that is actually just junk food in disguise. The idea behind this challenge is to commit for 2 weeks to avoid all added/hidden sugars in your life. I am not asking you to never eat sugar again, but I guarantee during these 2 weeks you eyes will be opened to some poor food choices that you probably thought were healthy!  

Here are the The No Added Sugar Challenge, 10 Commitments: 

  1. No desserts of any kind

  2. No added sugar drinks

  3. No sugar substitutes such as Splenda, Stevia, Equal (they don’t have calories but they do cause the same food cravings that sugar does)

  4. No refined carbs (white bread, white potatoes, white pasta, white rice, etc.)

  5.  Read the label every package, the food must pass the Altman Rule or have 2g sugar or less per serving.

  6.  No sweet condiments. (ketchup, salad dressing, etc.)

  7.  No alcohol

  8.  Avoid restaurant food, limit yourself to 1 time eating out this week

  9.  If it occurs in nature, it is ok (enjoy any fruits, vegetables, sweet potatoes, brown rice, etc.) 

  10. Dairy contains some natural sugar. Low fat milk is fine. Unsweetened and low-fat yogurt with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving is fine.

I’ll be honest the first few days of The No Added Sugar Challenge, you are not going to feel great. You will probably get a headache, maybe feel a little tired and grouchy. But after those first 2-3 days, most people report feeling amazing, more energy, better sleep, less bloated and more in control around food. From there it is up to you what part of the The No Added Sugar Challenge, you would like to keep in your daily lifestyle, but based on how you feel I bed you will slash your daily intake of added sugar in half! 

 Eat Less Sugar

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Superfood Salad… Quinoa Salad with Corn & Edamame

Quinoa Salad with Corn & EdamameMy last few post have been about the power of Superfoods and importance of getting the right balance of protein with my 40-30s Rule. When we think protein we often think meat, poultry and fish. However plant based proteins are not just for our vegetarians and vegans. My Quinoa Salad with Corn & Edamame happens to combine 2 of my favorite superfoods that also happen to be packed with protein, QUINOA and EDAMAME! 

What make Quinoa so SUPER? 

Quinoa is derived from the seed of a plant that is related to spinach. It is a gluten free grain that also happens to be a complete, vegan source of protein. Because of this many people have refereed to it as the world’s healthiest food. Here are a few fun facts about why you want Quinoa in your diet: 

  • One cup cooked quinoa has 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.
  • The year 2013 was actually called “The International Year of Quinoa” by the United Nations (UN).
  • It has a gentle nutty, pleasingly earthy taste, with a crunchy texture that still manages to be light.
  • University of Milan found that quinoa was effective at controlling appetite and helping study participants consume less food throughout the day.
  • Quinoa is very high in all 4 minerals that the modern diet is lacking in Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc and (for women) Iron.
  • Using quinoa instead of typical gluten-free breads and pastas significantly reduced blood sugar, insulin and triglyceride levels. 
  • Quinoa is high in fiber, protein and has a low glycemic index. These properties have all been linked to weight loss and improved health.

What make Edamame so SUPER? 

Edamame is just a fancy name for young soy beans! They have been popular in China and Japan for thousands of years and are now available in most grocery stores throughout the United States. Edamame are sold fresh, frozen, as individual soybeans and in the pod. Edamame is one of the few plant sources of complete protein and our a powerhouse of nutrition. Here are a few fun facts about why you want to include Edamame in your diet: 

  • Half-cup serving of shelled edamame provides 11g protein and 9g fiber. 
  • The name is Japanese for “twig bean”. 
  • Edamame has a high concentration of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that your body can convert to EPA and DHA, compounds linked to lower blood cholesterol and a decreased risk of stroke and heart disease.
  • They are appreciated for their sweet, mild and slightly “beany” flavor
  • Soy protein may help reduce insulin resistance, kidney damage, and fatty liver in people with diabetes. 

Quinoa Salad with Corn & Edamame

Ingredients:Quinoa Salad with Corn & Edamame

  • 1/3 cup dry quinoa
  • 3 ears of corn
  • 1 ½ cup edamame
  • 1 16 oz can black beans
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced

Dressing:

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil 

Preparation:

Step 1: Prepare quinoa according to package (typical adding 2/3 cup water and bringing to a boil and then simmer covered for about 15 minutes)Quinoa Salad with Corn & Edamame

Step 2: Chop all vegetables, cilantro, green onions, bell pepper and garlic.Quinoa Salad with Corn & Edamame

Step 3: Prepare 3 ears of corn, and cut off the cob.Quinoa Salad with Corn & Edamame

Step 4: Rinse and strain black beans. Combine corn, black beans and edamame in a large bowl.Quinoa Salad with Corn & Edamame

Step 5: Add red pepper, cilantro, green onions, garlic and prepared quinoa.Quinoa Salad with Corn & Edamame

Step 6: Whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour over the salad. Chill for an hour to allow flavors to develop.Quinoa Salad with Corn & EdamameQuinoa Salad with Corn & Edamame

 
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
Posted in Dinner, Lunch, Meatless Mondays!, Quick & Healthy, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What to make of this call for following a Low-Carb Diet?

“What the heck am I suppose to eat? I watched Forks Over Knives and thought being a vegan would be the cure for all my alignments and weight problems. Then at my gym I saw my workout buddy lose 30 pounds fallowing Paleo and eating like a caveman.  My doctor told me Atkins died from eating too much meat so I better fallow a low fat diet. Katie Couric said sugar is going to kill me in the documentary”Fed up.” I did a 5 day juice cleans and 2 weeks later I was 10 pounds heavier than when I started. I’m just afraid to eat and am ready to just throw my hands up in the air and say forget it! ” 

To be honest this is a typical conversation that I have on a daily basis with many of my clients coming to see me for weight management. Recently this conversation has been happening more due to the latest piece published in The New York Times titled “A Call for a Low-Carb Diet That Embraces Fat.”  Who wouldn’t be frustrated with all that mixed nutrition messaging that we get day in and day out. From our facebook news feeds to the lead store on CNN, we are bombarded with snippets and soundbites of the next miracle diet, and if we want to be thin and live forever we better get on board!

Guess what, I bet ALL those ways of eating and diets work for someone out there. Even more I bet there is research (maybe not good research, but research) to support every diet we have heard in the news recently. I have personal experience with this “frustration” as well.  I have clients that are vegans that walk through my door shocked they have pre-diabetes and then I’ll have another client eating a diet of just red meat and potatoes, who has never exercised a day in his life, and has the lowest cholesterol I have ever seen walk though my door next.  Explain that one!?!

Well science is trying to! I tell my clients, nutrition is powerful but also to keep in mind it is a “young” science that is changing everyday and we don’t understand the whole picture completely to give you a “final” answer of exactly how to eat. One area of nutritional science that I think has the potential to help us find this “final” answer is Nutrigenomics. Nutrigenomics is the study of how foods affect our genes and how individual genetic differences can affect the way we respond to nutrients (and other naturally occurring compounds) in the foods we eat. This may explain why their is so much variation in success from one eating style to the next. Right now this science is still in it’s infancy but I think is potential for prevention could be infinite.

In the meantime what are you suppose to do? I jokingly say to my clients we are doing our own individualized clinical trail and you are our main subject. My method which I call the “40-30s Rule” I use with many of my weight management clients. It is all about finding a balance between your ratios of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.  Many of my conclusions I have draw are inspired and based on the research of Stefan M. Pasiakos a researcher at U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine and Dr. David Ludwig a pediatrician and endocrinologist at Children’s Hospital, Boston. Also the Zone style diets also align greatly with this principle.

Most people don’t get the right ratio of protein in their meals, and often end up loading up on carbs (around 60%). This leads to spikes blood sugar, intense hunger, cravings and the body storing the extra sugar as fat. All of this can occur, resulting in uncontrollable weight gain despite eating less calories. Blood Glucose Control

40-30s Rule implies: 

  • 40% of your calories should come from complex carbohydrates
    40-30s Rule

    40-30s Rule

    • 3g fiber or more per serving
    • Whole grains, not processed
  • 30% of your calories should come from lean proteins
    • Lentils, beans, fish, poultry, seeds, and nuts
  • 30% of your calories should come from healthy fats
    • Plant based fats: avocados, nuts, oils
    • Fatty fish: salmon, tuna, sardines

No matter what food principles you fallow: Vegan, Paleo, Pescetarian, the 40-30s Rule can always apply. This is not a NO carb diet this is a smart carb lifestyle that is balanced with lean proteins and healthy fat. That is the message that I preach the most, eat what’s right for your body and everything can fit especially if you can choose whole, unprocessed foods.

40-30s Rule

 

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What’s all this buzz about Superfoods?

Super foodsIs Superfoods just another fad that has a lot of media hype around it? I actually don’t think so! I know my opinion may not be popular with some dietitians, who think this is just another marketing ploy. But any “buzz” word that promotes the eating of unprocessed, whole foods that are nutrient dense and calorie sparse, shouldn’t be a fad but something we all embrace and promote. Especially when we are battling a billion dollar food industry, and their promotion of highly processed foods disguised as “health foods”.

Superfoods is a word designed to describe foods that are believed to have multiple disease-fighting and athletic performance-enhancing nutrients. They are also meant to fill you up, so you can enjoy plenty of food without excess calories. If adding the word “Super” in front of blueberries or Chinese cabbage makes it more appealing to the masses then I am on board!

The science behind the term Superfood is also getting stronger. This summer the Center for Disease Control (CDC) just released their first nutrition guidelines that emphasize consumption of these powerhouse fruits and vegetables. The foods were all scored by their content of fiber, potassium, protein, calcium, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D and other nutrients, all considered important to health and prevention of disease.

Majority of Americans go day in and day out eating supposed “health” food that is just junk food in disguise. The problem with these “health” foods is they actually make you tired, hungry and gain weight in the belly, due to all types of additives you probably can’t pronounce and hidden sugars that your probably had no idea were even there. What makes Superfoods, “SUPER” is when you start to include them at all your meals and snacks, your energy levels sky rocket, you feel less bloated, you hungers in control and if you stick with it you will lose weight and reach your athletic potential. If that is not enough many of the nutrients and antioxidants found in these foods fight and prevent a variety of disease.

However here is the yellow CAUTION tape. Anything “healthy”, the food industry is going to play up and package. Be very weary of marketing claims. You need to proceed with caution on knowing what is a superfood and what is just junk food in disguise. You won’t find fortified potato chips in the superfood category and if you do then you should always question it.

How to distinguish a Superfood from the Junk in Disguise?   

  • The food high in fiber (providing 3g or more fiber per serving) and/or high protein (providing 10g protein or more per serving).

  • The food falls in one of the following categories: fruit, veggies, leafy greens, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish.

  • It contains NO artificial ingredients, food additives or contaminants.

  • There is very little packaging, boxes or wrappers.

  • The food is whole and unprocessed.

  • Typically it is single ingredient product but not more than 5 ingredients total.

To summarize and keep the message simple… Superfoods are WHOLE, UNPROCESSED FOOD!

Looking for a list of Superfoods to get your started, check out dietitan Joy Bauer’s  Top 10 Superfood list. And if you are looking to take your Superfood intake to the next level consider joining me for My Nutrition Upgrade’s Fall Detox with Superfoods. This is an online program that will help you get back on track towards healthier eating with fresh, seasonal recipes and tools to remove the stress out of your diet and Superfoods into your kitchen.

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100 Foot Journey… Create Food Memories!

What was the first thing you remember eating? What’s the first thing your remember cooking? When we talk about favorite, comfort foods the conversations almost always turns to foods from our childhood. Those yummy dishes that our mom’s and grandmothers, use to make for us. These food memories shape our path’s as eaters and predict where our stomachs will lead us in the future. This past month this idea of food memories was brought to light for me in both in film and a cooking class.

Yesterday afternoon I saw 100 Foot Journey a film produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey. Let’s call it, what it is, a feel good food movie! It doesn’t hurt that it was set a in picturesque French countryside, with gorgeous food shots, from bubbling, spicy Indian delicacies to perfectly composed French plates of pigeon and truffles and an all star cast. The plot was simple, but the beautiful food shots and message is what made me fall for this movie. In the end adding mom’s special spices to traditional dishes proves to be a sensation and where all food memories begin and end.

Chef Edward Lee at Stonewall Kitchen

Chef Edward Lee at Stonewall Kitchen

I am a huge Iron Chef, Top Chef and Stonewall Kitchen fan, and recently attended Chef Edward Lee‘s New American Cuisine cooking class at Stonewall KitchenChef Lee is self described, one part Southern soul, one part Asian spice, and one part New York attitude. He embraces this concept food memories in his cookbook Smoke & Pickles. His recipes, restaurants and cookbook reflect that overlapping flavors and techniques from his Korean background and combined with traditional yet unique southern cuisine, this unlikely combination is a winning one. Chef Lee is not just an amazing cook, he also has a knack for story telling. All his recipes are combined with entertaining stories of his life and culinary journey.

(1) Top Left: Braised Beef Short Rib Kalbi with Soft Grits and Scallions Collards with Country Ham and Kim Chi (2) Top Right:  Buttermilk Affogato: Creamy Buttermilk Ice Cream with Warm Espresso (3) Bottom: Chilled Yellow Squash Soup with Sour Cream and Salt and Sugar Cured Strawberries

(1) Top Left: Braised Beef Short Rib Kalbi with Soft Grits and Scallions
Collards with Country Ham and Kim Chi
(2) Top Right: Buttermilk Affogato: Creamy Buttermilk Ice Cream with Warm Espresso
(3) Bottom: Chilled Yellow Squash Soup with Sour Cream and Salt and Sugar Cured Strawberries

 

Chef Lee left a mark in me with one piece of advice and one recipe that will become part of my food memories.  First his advice is a simple, sarcastic and straight forward as he is. Good food is meant to take time.

Finally the food! The Yellow Squash Soup with Cured Strawberries brought back a flood of memories for me. Chef Lee described the dish as a refreshing soup that tastes like Summer in a bowl and for me that is exactly what it was.

Lake winnipesaukee

Lake Winnipesaukee

Yellow summer squash is the first vegetables that I can remember that I truly loved and enjoyed. Part of that comes from my summers spent at lake Winnipesaukee. My mother would always be taking us for walks and you could guarantee ever morning she would be walking “the loop”  that would end at Melvin Village’s Country Store or Hansel & Gretel’s gift shop. We usually would be buying a treat, or a staple food item like milk for our cereal or marshmallows for the S’maores. On our walk back was a small, rickety vegetable stand set up in someone’s front yard. It was an old red wagon with a tattered green and white awning shading the fresh vegetables.  The stand was self serve. You would drop your money in the tin jar and pick out the best looking summer squash and pattypan to enjoy with dinner. As a kid I was fascinated by the idea of trusting everyone to pay and not swipe the jar, but the system worked summer after summer! My mom would prepare the squash so simply. Thinly sliced, salt, pepper and a touch of butter, wrapped in tin foil and cooked on the grill. This Yellow Squash Soup with Cured Strawberries is simple just like my mom’s summer squash and it perfect on a hot summer night.

Simple ingredients, bold flavors, spices, stories and people are the key ingredients in making food memories.

 Yellow Squash Soup with Cured Strawberries

Ingredients: 

Soup:SUMMER SQUASH SOUP AND CURED STRAWBERRIES

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 pounds yellow squash, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

 Strawberries:

  • 1 lb fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Steps:

 1) To make the soup: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the yellow squash and thyme and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the squash is soft all the way through. Take off the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

 2) Transfer the soup to a blender, add the sour cream and salt, and puree on high until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Check the consistency; if the soup is a little gritty, strain it through a fine mesh sieve. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight.

 3) About 1 hour before serving, make the strawberries. Slice the strawberries into 1/2 inch slices and place them in a glass bowl. Sprinkle the salt and sugar over the strawberries and gently toss them with your fingers—making sure not to crush them. Let them cure for about an hour at room temperature; no longer; or they will get too soft.

 4) To serve, ladle the chilled soup into bowls. Top each one with a few cured strawberries. Crack some fresh black pepper over the top and serve immediatelySUMMER SQUASH SOUP AND CURED STRAWBERRIES

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“Nature’s candy in my hand or can or a pie”… PEACHES!! Quick & Healthy Grilled Peach Salad

Movin' to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches

Movin’ to the country,
gonna eat a lot of peaches

Think all the way back to 1995… what was your favorite song? As 7th grader my music taste was impeccable and a great alternative rock band named The President’s of the United States of America, released a song entitled PEACHES! This was way before I knew I wanted to be a dietitian but even back then my obsession with yummy health food had started in song. If you don’t remember this amazingly talented band, who had a knack for catchy, meaningful lyrics, I suggested you watch their video below. But let me warn you, once you do you will be humming this tune and thinking about peaches all day long!

 

I have to say my favorite line from this song is “Peaches come from a can, they were put there by a man“!   That may be true for many of us during the cold northeast winters, but summer is the perfect time to pick sweet, fresh, juicy and flavorful peaches. Not only are they natures candy but they are full of vitamin C, potassium and fiber!

The newest way I have been enjoying peaches is grilled, which intensifies their natural sweetness and color. You can serves grilled peaches as a dessert with fresh whip cream and  a sprinkle of cinnamon or enjoy them first thing in the morning for breakfast with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, a touch of honey and fresh sprigs of mint. However my go to way to serve grilled peaches is in a salad.  This Grilled Peach Salad is perfect dish to make ahead of time and dazzle all your friends with, with hardly any work at all!

Grilled Peach Salad

Ingredients:Movin' to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches

  • 5 ripe peaches, cut in half, pits removed
  • Fresh baby kale (about 5 cups)
  • Fresh arugula (about 5 cups)
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup silvered almonds
  • 4 Tbps extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

 

Steps:

(1) Make dressing by whisking together olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, honey and salt and pepper. Grilled Peach Salad

(2) Pre heat the grill and brush the peach flesh with the dressing.Grilled Peach Salad

(3) Place peaches, cut side down, on the hot grill. Grill for about five minutes, or until the peaches are soft and have grill marks. Let cool and then slice.Grilled Peach Salad

(4) While peaches are grilling toast the almonds in a cast iron skillet until golden brown and let cool.Grilled Peach Salad

(5) In a large bowl or plate combine baby kale, and arugula. Sprinkle salad with blueberries and toasted almonds and add your yummy grilled peaches. Grilled Peach Salad

Grilled Peach Salad

Movin’ to the country,gonna eat a lot of peaches!

 

So you don’t have to move to the country to eat a lot of peaches, just throw them on the grill and enjoy!

 

Posted in Brunch, Dinner, Lunch, Quick & Healthy, Uncategorized, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment