Monday, January 20, 2014

Chia Seeds

Since getting a bag of chia seeds in my basket of goodies from the Today Show I have gotten hooked on this so called "ancient-grain" and superfood! So what are Chia seeds you ask? They are an unprocessed whole grain that contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, anti-oxidants and calcium. The high fiber and protein content can help suppress your appetite, keeping you fuller longer! Preliminary research on these seeds have shown positive weight loss and heart health benefits. My challenge to you is to add 1 tablespoon to your diet each day!

 Here are some ideas and recipes using Chia seeds..
  • Sprinkle on your morning cereal or yogurt
  • Add to smoothies
  • Add to baked goods
  • Add  to homemade salad dressings or vegetable dips

Banana Chia Oatmeal 
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking steel cut oats or 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup milk, faat free
  • 1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 small banana

1. In a medium sauce pan boil water or milk. Once liquid starts boiling, add in steel cut or old fashioned oats. Cover, and turn down heat to low and cook for 5 minutes.
2. Add in chia seeds. Stir to combine and cook another 2 minutes, or until liquid absorbed.
3. Stir in cinnamon, sliced banana and maple syrup.

Servings: 1
Nutrition Information: 378 calories, 60 grams carbohydrate, 18 grams fiber, 18 grams protein, 7.5 grams fat

Chia Pudding

  • 1 cup milk, fat free
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt, fat free
  • 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Chia seeds
  • 1 cup fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries)
  • 1/4 cup roasted sliced almonds
  • 1/8 cup dark chocolate chips
1. Whisk together the milk, yogurt, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
2. Whisk in the Chia seeds.
3. Let stand in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, mix to combine seeds as they may have settled to the bottom.
4. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.
4. Top with 1/4 cup of your favorite fruit, chocolate chips and roasted nuts!

Servings: 4
Nutrition Information: 200 calories, 21 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams fiber, 11 grams protein, 8.5 grams fat

Chia Fruit Smoothy

  • 5.3 oz container of vanilla Greek yogurt, fat-free
  • 1 small banana
  • 3/4 cup frozen fruit
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Chia seeds

Blend all ingredients until smooth and enjoy! Split with a friend for a great afternoon snack or make for yourself for an easy breakfast.

Whole Recipe
Nutrition Information: 350 calories, 42 grams carbohydrate, 9 grams fiber, 18 grams protein, 5 grams fat

Half Recipe
Nutrition Information: 175 calories, 26 grams carbohydrate, 4.5 g fiber, 9 grams protein, 2.5 grams fat

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Top 10 Healthy Ingredient Alternatives for 2014

Looking for ways to cut calories, fat and sugar from your diet? Here are my top 10 healthy ingredient switches for you to start using this year!

1. Avocado for Mayo 

 Avocados are a great source of "healthy" monounsaturated fatty acid which has been found to provide anti-inflammatory benefits. This healthy switch will also cut the calories, saturated fat, and sodium from your meal! Mash up 1/4 an avocado (~2 Tablespoons) and mix with tuna or chicken salad or add slices to your turkey sandwich instead of mayo.

2. Non-Fat Greek Yogurt for Mayo or Sour Cream

Greek yogurt provides the same great flavor and texture as mayo or sour cream but is lower in fat and calories and higher in protein! Next time a recipe calls for mayo or sour cream swap it out for Greek yogurt.
Other Ideas for Greek Yogurt:
-Add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt to your favorite Mexican dish, baked potato or soup.
-Combine Greek yogurt and lemon juice and mix with your chicken, tuna or seafood salad.

3. Olive Oil for Butter or Margarine

Butter is high in saturated fats which have been linked with increased  LDL or "bad" cholesterol and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Olive oil on the other hand, is high in monounsaturated fatty acids which have been linked with decreased LDL cholesterol and  risk of cardiovascular disease. Next time dip your bread in olive oil instead of spreading on a slab of butter, or use olive oil to roast or saute your vegetables.

4. Fruit Puree for Syrup

Puree your favorite fruit to use as syrup on pancakes, waffles or French toast! You will decrease the amount of sugar and calories and add vitamins, minerals and fiber to your breakfast!

5. Mashed Banana for Sugar, Butter or Fat

Bananas are not only great on your cereal, but make for a great sugar and fat substitute in baking. Bananas are loaded in potassium which can help lower your blood pressure and normalize your digestive system!  The next time you bake substitute a banana for some of the fat and sugar in the recipe. You may also have to cut down on the liquid to keep the same consistency.

11. Unsweetened Applesauce for Oil or Sugar

Unsweetened applesauce also makes for a great fat and sugar substitute in baked goods. By using applesauce in baking you can significantly cut down on added sugar and even omit all of the butter or oil from the recipe making for a low fat and low calorie treat!

6. Mashed Cauliflower for Mashed Potatoes

Cauliflower is a great alternative to potatoes. Not only does cauliflower provide a similar consistency to potatoes when mashed but is lower in calories and carbohydrates!  Blend steamed cauliflower with fat-free evaporated milk or plain Greek yogurt and Parmesan cheese for a creamy low calorie side dish!

7. Spaghetti Squash or Zucchini Ribbons for Pasta

Next time you are cooking up your favorite pasta sauce, roast a spaghetti squash or medallion and saute some zucchini instead of boiling pasta. Spaghetti squash and zucchini are both low calorie, low carbohydrate alternatives to pasta but provide the same great texture as pasta! For added benefit zucchini and spaghetti squash are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals!

8. Egg Whites for Whole Eggs

Use two egg whites instead of 1 whole egg in baking and cooking to cut back on cholesterol, fat and calories!

9. Lettuce for Flour Wrap 

Next time you are making a sandwich go for a piece of lettuce instead of a slice of bread or wrap. You will drastically cut the calories and carbohydrates from your meal!

10. Fat Free Evaporated Milk for Cream

Evaporated milk is a great substitute for cream in baking, cooking and even in your morning cup of coffee! Evaporated milk is just dehydrated/concentrated milk which makes for a creamier low calorie, non-fat milk product similar to cream or half-and-half.