healthy eating

Slow and Easy Ratatouille


Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 3 to 6 hours

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
2 medium zucchini, halved and sliced
1 eggplant (about 1 1/4 lbs.), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium fennel bulb, quartered and thinly sliced (white base only)
1 small red pepper, seeded and diced
1 small yellow pepper, seeded and diced
1 (29-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
1 tsp each: dried basil, rosemary and thyme
1 tsp sea salt or to taste
Ground or smoked pepper to taste
Snipped fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion; cook and stir over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Add zucchini, eggplant and garlic; cook for 5 more minutes. Transfer to a slow cooker with all remaining ingredients except fresh basil and Parmesan. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours or on LOW for 6 hours. Serve hot or at room temperature topped with fresh basil and Parmesan. Makes 8 servings.

Quick Stovetop Variation: Prepare as directed above, cooking in a large pot instead of a slow cooker. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 to 45 minutes or until vegetables are cooked to your liking.

(Reproduced with permission of http://www.tomatowellness.com/)

What Does Organic Mean?


The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows:
Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled "organic," a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.

There are four categories of labels relating to the product being “organic”: 

  • “100% Organic” means the product contains all organic ingredients, with the exception of salt and water as these are not certifiable. These products cannot be affected by the “big three”: irradiated, contains genetically engineered organisms (GEO’s), or grown with sewage sludge fertilizer.

  • If the label only says, “Organic,” 95% of the ingredients in the product are organically grown.

  • A label that says, “Made with Organic....,” means that 70% of the ingredients within the product are organic. The “big three” rules apply here, for the 70% organic ingredients as well as the 30% non-organic. The supplier may list up to 3 ingredients that are organic on the front of the label.

  • Labels that list organic ingredients on the side panel of the package contain less than 70% organic ingredients. There can be no organic claims on the front of the label. The “big three” are allowed to be in the non-organic ingredients.

Tropical Avocado “Margarita” Pops

Recipe serving size: 1 pop

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe, fresh avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and mashed

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

  • 1 cup of orange juice

  • ¾ cup lime juice

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

  • 1 cup of frozen mango, chopped

  • 8 lime slices

  • 8 popsicle sticks

  • 8 paper cups

Instructions:
Combine avocado, coconut milk, orange juice, lime juice, and sugar in a blender and puree until smooth. Add mango and pulse until combined.
Divide evenly between 8 paper cups. Top each with a lime slice and popsicle stick.
Freeze until firm.

Watermelon Poke Bowl


This raw fish salad is one of the best of Hawaiian cuisine. It is also rich in the omega-3 fats that are good for your brain and heart. The word "poke" comes from the Hawaiian word for "slice or cut."

Ingredients:
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup watermelon juice

  • 1 teaspoon sriracha chili sauce

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 2 green onions, cut on the diagonal with whites and greens separated

  • 3 medium cloves garlic or 2 large cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 tablespoon minced ginger root

  • 1/3 white onion, thinly sliced

  • 3/4 pound ahi tuna, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

  • 1 small avocado, diced

  • 2/3 cup diced watermelon

  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds

  • serving pickled ginger (sushi ginger or gari)


Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, mix soy sauce, watermelon juice, chili sauce, oil, the white portion of green onions, garlic, ginger root, and onion. Add tuna, toss and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

  • 10 minutes before serving, add avocado and return to refrigerator.

  • Plate as *desired and top with watermelon and green onions, then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with pickled ginger.

* Watermelon Poke Bowls can be served as individual portions over rice (seasoned with a touch of rice wine vinegar) as a main dish, in small serving bowls as an appetizer or side dish, or on a large platter for a buffet. Garnish with dried seaweed for extra Hawaiian flare.

Recipe by: https://www.watermelon.org/

California Avocado Red, White and Blueberry Salsa California Avocados

Add some color to your summer holiday party menu with festive fruit salsa. It’s an excellent source of Vitamin C and a good source of Vitamin A.

Serves: 4
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 sweet white onion, minced

  • 2 ripe, red tomatoes, diced

  • 2 Serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced

  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh mint, cilantro or basil

  • 1 ripe, fresh California Avocados, peeled, seeded and diced

  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

  • 1/4 tsp sea salt



As with all fruits and vegetables, wash avocados before cutting. Check out our tips for how to choose and use California Avocados.

Instructions:

  • Gently combine all ingredients. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to merge.

5 Reasons Not to Go on a Diet

Before diving into all the reasons to stop dieting, let’s clarify the difference between a diet and dieting. 


According to Merriam Webster dictionary, diet is defined as food and drink regularly provided or consumed; habitual nourishment; the kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a special reason. Whereas the act of dieting is defined as: to cause to take food; to cause to eat and drink sparingly or according to prescribed rules.


The dieting mentality is associated with a variety of physical and emotional health risk that won’t lead to lasting weight loss and in the long run, could be more detrimental to your health. This month I’m sharing a few reasons not to go on a diet and how you can shift typical diet mentality thoughts into creating a healthy relationship with your daily diet, ultimately creating a healthy lifestyle. 

Here are the reasons:

  1. Dieting actually leads to weight gain. As counterintuitive as it sounds, dieters are more likely to gain weight after the diet than non-dieters. Dieting (aka restricting), triggers an increase in stress hormones which is also linked to weight gain. The rules and restrictions that come with diets have you ignoring and suppressing your body’s natural hunger cues. Over time, this can make you more vulnerable to binge eating and less intuitive about listening to your body’s internal hunger and fullness cues that help naturally regulate weight.

  2. Dieting can slow down your metabolism. Restricting calorie intake can lead to weight loss, however, the drop is due more to a loss in metabolically active muscle mass than actual fat loss. By losing muscle, there is a decrease in the amount of energy the body needs to maintain its weight, meaning a slower metabolism. A slow metabolism burns fewer calories at rest and therefore you have to eat less to avoid gaining weight.

  3. Dieting often means numbers trump nutrition. When following a diet, you are often most concerned about calories than anything else. This leads to eating foods based off a number rather than actual nutrition, and let’s face it, not all calories are created equal. A hundred calories of Swedish fish isn’t the same as a hundred calories of Greek yogurt and fresh berries. Foods labeled as “reduced-fat” often means more sugar or other additives to make it palatable. Taking out the fat means taking out some of the flavors, and eating foods with less flavor often leads to consuming more to feel satisfied. By just focusing on calories, you lose sight of the nutrition your body needs. However, eating a balanced diet takes into account the nutrition that is essential for regulating hormones, fighting diseases, managing cravings, and giving your body energy to thrive.

  4. Dieting sets off a self-shaming cycle. Beyond the negative physical and health consequences, dieting can have a negative impact on your psychological health and wellbeing. You start your new plan feeling good and optimistic that these rules and restrictions will help you reach their goals. During the first week, you lose a few pounds and you are motivated this will continue. Then you hit a plateau, the scale does not budge. You begin to feel frustrated that your weight is not changing as fast as promised or expected. This leads to feeling upset and maybe a little depressed, feelings of deprivation start to creep in and eventually you give up. You eat something “off limits” from the diet rules, this leads to a binge followed by feelings of despair, shame, and frustration. These feelings lead back to the cycle of dieting -> deprivation -> overeating -> feelings of shame and unworthiness. Over time this cycle can be extremely detrimental to your mental and physical health and this is a big reason diets don’t work!

  5. Dieting can lead to eating disorders and disordered eating. “Diets” have you depending on rules telling you what, when, and how much to eat. While this works for a short period of time, eventually you will fall off the diet. Falling off your diet intensifies the feelings of guilt and shame, which contributes to the cycle of restricting, purging, bingeing or excessive exercise. Over time this can develop into a serious eating disorder, leaving you with long term disordered eating habits. Other side effects of dieting include increased risk of depression, decrease in self-esteem, emotional distress and more weight gain.

Greek Egg Mug

Prep Time: 1 minute, Cook Time: 3 minutes, Yields: 1 serving

This delicious Greek egg mug cup is packed with protein and ready in just 4 minutes!

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup chopped spinach

  • 1 tablespoon onion, chopped

  • ½ cup Eggland's Best Liquid Egg Whites

  • 2 tablespoons diced tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

  • Basil, garnish


Instructions:

  1. Spray a large microwave-safe mug with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. Add spinach and onion; microwave for 1-2 minutes, until softened.

  3. Dry up any excess liquid from the spinach with a paper towel.

  4. Add Eggland’s Best Liquid Egg Whites and microwave for 1 minute.

  5. Stir in remaining ingredients. Microwave again for 1 minute or until egg whites are just set.

  6. Stir and allow to slightly cook before enjoying!


Recipe by Eggland’s Best 

Daily Mantra: "I am Enough"

Here is a list of short mantras you can repeat to yourself to empower yourself to love yourself just as you are.

  • I am perfectly imperfect. My imperfections make me unique in this world. I embrace my imperfections and embrace the imperfections of my loved ones.

  • I choose my path. My path may include bumps, uphill climbs, and even a few detours, but these obstacles make me stronger and wiser as I continue on the journey.

  • I choose to be grateful for all of it.

  • I have done enough for today and I did the best I could today.

  • I have everything I need.

  • I am worthy of love. I am worthy of being cherished by others.

  • My gifts are worth sharing with others.

  • I will not compare myself to my family or friends, I am on my own journey.

  • I will walk my path and support my loved ones as they walk their path.

  • I am strong enough to handle whatever is given to me.

  • I trust that I will find the strength within me to do what I need to do if an obstacle feels too overwhelming for me.

  • I am tougher and braver than I appear.

  • I got this!

  • I am enough.

Beyond a Sweet Treat: 7 Perks of Dark Chocolate

Beyond simply tasting delicious, a dose of dark chocolate adds a variety of health perks that are sure to have your body (and taste buds) thanking you! The good-for-you properties actually come from the minerals and antioxidants found in the cocoa, hence why the darker the chocolate (think 70% or higher), the better for your health. 

7 Perks of Dark Chocolate


1. Enhances Brain Function.
 Yup, it’s true - a small dose of dark chocolate may help you think better. Dark chocolate is naturally rich in the stimulants caffeine and theobromine, two compounds that can add a short term boost to overall brain function. Theobromine has been found to improve focus, concentration and visual processing of information. Dark chocolate may also improve blood flow to the brain.

2. Rich in Antioxidants including Polyphenols, Flavanols, and Catechins. The darker the chocolate, the more antioxidant power, which means the more perks for your health!

3. Decreases Cancer Risk. The antioxidants found in dark chocolate have been found to neutralize free radicals that increase the risk of cancer. Therefore, enjoying a dose of dark chocolate can help decrease cancer risk.

4. Improved Heart Health. Researchers have linked the flavonols in cocoa to decreasing cholesterol levels, blood pressure and arterial plaque.

5. Lowers Blood Pressure. The flavanols in chocolate have been found to support the production of nitric oxide, which in turn helps relax blood vessels and improve blood flow.

6. Mood-Boosting. This one comes as no surprise, but there is scientific evidence that supports the fact that dark chocolate really does make people happier. Not only does it add a sweet treat, but it will help boost endorphins, lifting your mood.

7. Bonus Nutrients. While dark chocolate doesn't provide a significant amount of essential nutrients, it is rich in iron, fiber, copper, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus.

And don’t forget there is no BAD food. Everything can be enjoyed in moderation.

One Sheet Pan Tuscan Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs chicken breasts skin on, cut into halves if needed to make each piece equal in size (For a healthier version, remove the skin before cooking)

  • 12 oz small new potatoes, sliced 

  • 8 oz button mushrooms

  • 1 yellow onion, sliced

  • 3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

  • 1 cup green, or black olives, pitted

  • 2 Tbsp avocado oil, or olive oil, divided

  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • 1 Tbsp raw honey

  • 1 tsp oregano

  • 1 tsp thyme

  • 2 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped for garnish

  • sea salt & pepper, to your taste 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350f.

  2. Line a baking tray with foil, then place the chicken breast in the middle and the potatoes on the sides.

  3. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp oil, and season generously with sea salt and pepper.

  4. Roast in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes.

  5. In a large bowl, add in the mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, sliced onion, garlic and sun dried tomatoes.

  6. Drizzle remaining oil, balsamic vinegar, raw honey and add all the seasonings. Mix well to get all veggies coated.

  7. Once the chicken is almost cooked, add the veggies mixture to the sheet pan, and roast for an additional 10 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown and fully cooked.

  8. Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh thyme and season to your taste.

  9. You may keep it in the fridge for a max of 4 days for food prep.

Enjoy!

by Rachel Maser @ cleanfoodcrush.com

Tips for Creating Healthy Dining Habits

  1. Fill up on fiber and lean protein. 

    A meal high in protein and fiber can help keep you satisfied and prevent overeating. Use the Fast Casual Cheat Sheet in this newsletter, to help identify best meals to fill you up!

  2. Be stingy with the extras. 

    Things like bacon, cheese, mayo, and salad dressings will not only add to your food bill but also add unnecessary calories and fat to your meal.

  3. Watch out for the sneaky salad toppings. 

    While salads can be a nutrient-packed meal, they can also be higher in calories, fat and sodium than a hamburger. Fancy toppings like cheese, bacon, salad dressing, dried fruit, nuts, and croutons can really add up.

  4. Substitute sides. 

    Most restaurants default to serving fries, chips, onion rings, bread or mashed potatoes as their side. Often these are eaten out of habit and not because you are really hungry and need the extra food. Ask if you can substitute the high-calorie side dish with a side salad and light dressing, steamed veggies, baked sweet potato or a fresh fruit cup.

  5. Embrace the flavors of baked, broiled, grilled chicken or roasted lean meats.

    Avoid fried and battered foods as they are high in calorie, fat and sodium. By shifting your mindset to embrace the flavors of baked, broiled, grilled chicken or roasted lean meats you are opening yourself to a new relationship with food.

Vegetable Minestrone Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)

  • 2 stalks celery, sliced (about 1 cup)

  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

  • 4 cups Vegetable Broth

  • 1 can (about 15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained

  • ¼ cup uncooked pearl barley

  • 2 cups firmly packed chopped fresh spinach/Kale


Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery, and onion. Cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally. Stir in the broth, beans, tomatoes, and barley and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the barley is tender. Stir in the spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted. Season to taste.

Yes, you can enjoy the Holiday Season eating healthy!

The holidays are a time for family, friends, good food and creating great memories. Our schedules are filled with shopping, decorating, and holiday party hopping. The busy days can make it challenging to maintain healthy exercise and sleep habits, making it easy to turn to food for a quick energy rush or comfort when feeling sad or lonely. 

When you combine lack of sleep with skipped workouts and poor food choices, it is easy to see why so many people complain of weight gain over the holidays. However, with a few simple strategies, you can fend off the unwanted holiday weight gain and prevent unhealthy habits from sabotaging the season!

Here are some of my favorite tips:

#1 Sip on soup. Soup is a low energy dense food, which means it provides fewer calories per gram - therefore you can eat a nice serving of soup, relatively low in calories. Having a cup of broth-based soup before a meal can help fill you up, so you don't overindulge in higher-calorie foods.

Bonus Tip: eat soup 30 minutes before your main meal to let your stomach register your food, helping to eat smaller portions of the more calorie-dense foods being served.

#2 Move away from the munchies. When socializing, avoid positioning yourself close to the appetizer and hors-d'oeuvre spread. This will not only help keep you more engaged in the conversation, but you will also not be tempted to eat between every other word. By stepping away from the food, you can focus on the people you are with.

Bonus Tip: When you eat, serve yourself on a plate. Think about the food you are eating, enjoy the smell, taste, and flavors of the meals. When talking, talk.

#3 Stock up on healthy foods. Prepare for your success by planning in advance. Be aware that life will get busy, you will get hungry, and your body will need food to function. Therefore, empower yourself by stocking up on nutritious and portable foods you can stash in your desk, car, gym bag, briefcase or purse.

Bonus Tip: Avoid going shopping or to a party on an empty stomach. Keep office goodies out of view or in an inconvenient location.

#4 Delay satisfaction. What should you do if you are at an office party? Instead of depriving yourself, which will probably lead to overindulging later, take it home for later. Often times delaying satisfaction can lead to realizing you did not need another serving or save it for when you can you can slow down and savor it.

Bonus Tip: Allow yourself to be more flexible this time of year. By giving yourself permission to savor holiday foods you'll be less likely to overeat and binge when your favorite foods are offered to you.

#5 Maintain a health and wellness journal. Food journaling has long been known as one of the most useful tools for helping people manage their weight. However, sometimes a food journal can get mentally exhausting if you are only thinking about the calories you consumed. Instead, shift the focus to health and wellness journaling. Track sleep habits, physical activity, mindful food moments, holiday joy, and if you choose to track food intake, pay attention to hunger and fullness cues along with your enjoyment of the foods.

Bonus Tip: Use the journal to explore what makes you feel both mentally and physically healthy.

Happy Holiday Season!!!

Yours in health,

Juliana

Don't Let Halloween Treats Scare You Into An Unhealthy Obsession

Halloween is here and there are savory and sweet treats everywhere. It is becoming more and more common for people to make comments about “healthy” and “unhealthy” food everyday - from the media, to your family, friends, and everyone in between. As a nutrition expert, I understand and agree with some of these comments. However, living a healthy and balanced life also means learning to enjoy food while also enjoying the experience of being with friends and family.

Heading into any social situation, especially during Halloween time, can sometimes be a little scary if you have struggled with food issues, disordered eating, or your inner food police screaming “eat this, not that”. If you have suffered from an eating disorder, you know these words and situations can trigger you back into old habits and behaviors, if you are not equipped both mentally and physically. This issue is designed, to help you enjoy the tricks and treats of the seasons without letting the food police creep into your life and take control of the fun!

Here are a three things you can start doing today to keep yourself mentally and physically strong while not getting spooked about all the “food rules” you may read about. 

  1. Avoid skipping meals. Whether it's breakfast lunch dinner snacks skipping meals is a surefire way to find yourself in a place you might eating beyond comfort a popular Halloween treat. Everyone, every once in awhile, will find themselves in a situation where they may overeat, remember you're human. However, as part of recovery, it important to practice self-care and fuel properly throughout the day. When you fuel right throughout the day, you are equipping yourself to go to a social gathering feeling satisfied and not deprived. Practicing this step can help enjoy the event while also helping you stop eating beyond comfort.

  2. Taste your treats. When deciding to enjoy a Halloween treat, like your favorite candy, cookie, or chips and dip, take the time to actually taste what you're about to eat. If you're eating out of boredom, stress or pure mindlessness this is not the time to grab that peanut butter cup. Instead wait to enjoy your treat when you have the time to sit down, taste & savor it - without any guilt!

  3. Don’t be scared to serve it up. Instead nibbling on random Halloween candy and treat throughout the evening, make a conscious decision on what you want to eat. After you make the conscious decision on what you actually want, then take the next step and serve yourself a portion on a plate. Once you have served your portion, find a place where you can sit, taste, and enjoy your food. This simple act of conscious eating will help you stay in tune with your body. As you are eating, refer back to step #2 and make sure to taste your treats...without any guilt!


Does this issue make you want to discover how you can make peace with food and enjoy more guilt free social situations? Contact me and let’s explore working together!