Breakfast Habits to Keep

Breakfast should start your day off on the right foot. Making good choices at breakfast can help sustain your healthy lifestyle and keep you on the right track. Plus, don’t forget about your daily coffee. You breakfast and totally make or break your day! My breakfast habits are hard to break and I hope you can make these your habits too. Try my Quinoa Breakfast Oats, Easy Egg Bake or check out my other breakfast recips for new breakfast ideas!

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5 Breakfast Habits to Keep

  1. Actually eat breakfast. Don’t skip the opportunity to kickstart your metabolism and add all sorts of nutrients to your day! Set some time aside to make a quick breakfast or have some options ready to go.
  2. Make breakfast at home. Props to your for eating breakfast. Now the challenge is making sure to make it yourself! Grabbing breakfast out on the go can pack in extra sugar, too much fat and not enough nutrients.
  3. Add extra protein. Don’t settle for boring cereal or a granola bar. Add some eggs, milk, breakfast meat or protein packed grains to keep you feeling full until lunch. Even protein powder or yogurt in a smoothie will give you an extra boost.
  4. Incorporate fruits and veggies. A side of fruit or veggies can sometimes be hard to add at breakfast, but get creative! You want all the extra fiber they provide. Berries, bananas, citrus fruit and tropical fruit are good with waffles, pancakes and yogurt. Fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, etc. are great with eggs. Plus avocado on the side adds healthy fats.
  5. Make your coffee smart. Don’t overload your coffee with sugar and fat. Lattes, flavored coffees and mixed coffee drinks will pack on the calories. Aim for low fat milk or milk alternative and a sugar substitute or limited sugar for a healthier option.

Raquel

Three Things

TT - Kind Snacks

1. Kind Snacks becomes the first national snack brand to publish added sugar content on all its snacks! What an awesome achievement! Soon (in two years) added sugar will be mandatory on the nutrition facts label so this is a great move. All of their products will have between half a teaspoon to two and a half teaspoons of added sugar per serving. I really am excited about added sugar coming to the nutrition facts label and Kind being the first to add it makes me like them even more!

2. How about a prescription for vegetables? A nutrition prescription could be fruits and vegetables five to nine times per day and people would be able to take it to the farmers market or grocery store. Nutrition is essential for preventing chronic diseases. Many doctors don’t focus on prevention, however this may be changing soon! I would love to see people taking their diets more seriously with the encouragement of their physicians. What do you think?

3. I saw an article this week that I had to share because of how ridiculous it is. “10 Vegetables That Aren’t Actually Good For You.” Excuse me, what? All vegetables have way more pros than cons. There is no sense in telling people vegetables aren’t good for you because that’s simply not true! Yes, some vegetables may cause gas and bloating, but if you can tolerate it there are plenty of nutrients that outweigh that. Plus if you’re worried about pesticides you can always choose the organic options. Check out my guide to eating organic. Please ignore articles like these! Love, your friendly dietitian.

Raquel

Roasted Potatoes with Basil Butter

Potatoes are usually one of the first things cut out when someone goes on a diet. But, when eaten in moderation with a general, healthful diet they can be a great addition. There are many varieties of potatoes and they are all high in potassium, fiber, vitamin C and vitamin B6. Eating potatoes on occasion as your starch with some other veggies on the side is the way to go. These mini potatoes covered in delicious basil butter go perfectly with some chicken or beef and some greens.


Roasted Potatoes with Basil Butter

Ingredientsroasted potatoes 3

  • 1 lb mini potatoes
  • 4 tbsp butter at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place rinsed and scrubbed potatoes in a large bowl. In a food processor combine butter, olive oil, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add basil butter to potatoes and toss to coat. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray. Place potatoes in one layer in dish. Roast until potatoes are tender and golden or about 1 hour. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese when warm.

Number of servings: 6 servings | Serving size: 1/2 cup
Calories: 167, total fat: 13 g, total carbohydrates: 11 g, dietary fiber: 1 g, sugars: 1 g, protein: 2 g

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What’s you favorite way to eat potatoes (besides french fries!)? Tell me below!

Raquel

Keys to the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is heart healthy and based on typical foods and recipes found in Mediterranean cooking. There is research to support that the Mediterranean diet helps to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) which decreases the risk for heart disease. More than 50% of the fat calories in this diet comes from unsaturated fats, specifically monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, fish and nuts. In addition, the Mediterranean diet is also associated with a reduced incidence of cancer and other chronic diseases.

Med Diet

The Mediterranean Diet

  • Plant based foods – this includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Making these foods the main stay of this diet introduces extra vitamins, minerals and fiber. Try to eat 8-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Eat nuts in small amounts. Legumes include beans and lentils which adds protein and fiber.
  • Healthy fats – olive oil, fish and nuts are all high in unsatruated fats. Use olive oil instead of butter to cook with. Fish is a lean protein to be eaten once or twice a week.
  • Herbs & spices – cooking with fresh herbs and spices in place of salt. This naturally creates a low sodium diet. Dried herbs are also used. Look for salt-free herb and spice mixes. Garlic, onions and citrus can also be used to give food flavor.
  • Lean proteins – this includes chicken, turkey and fish and limits red meat to once or twice a month. Avoid high fat red meats such as sausage, bacon and other high fat cuts. Choose low fat dairy such as 1% milk or skim milk and nonfat or low fat yogurt.
  • Red wine – this is clearly my favorite part of the diet. Drink red wine in moderation. It has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease if consumed in moderation meaning 5 ounces of wine daily.
  • Exercise – lifestyle factors such as exercise and social support also play a role. Savor the time you have with friends and family and making eating a social experience. Make sure to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise per week.

Raquel

Three Things

whole grain benefits

1. Whole grains can help you live longer. A study at Harvard found that people who ate 70 grams of whole grains per day had lower risk of premature death than people who ate little to no whole grains. This is not surprising as a diet high in whole grains is generally more nutrient dense than one lower in whole grains. Whole grains are high in fiber, magnesium, potassium, and selenium. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 48 grams of whole grains per day. Good source of whole grains include whole wheat bread and pasta, oats, brown rice, and quinoa.

2. Do you have healthy habits that are part of your daily routine? These eight things are absolutely something I try to do everyday. I try to drink at least 75 ounces of water everyday. I try to stay active and get outside as much as I can. I eat my veggies and enjoy every meal I eat. I absolutely treat myself and avoid depriving myself of things I love. I try to get enough sleep (that one can be tough!) and I try to be grateful for my health and what I have.

3. Yoga and meditation may be good for the brain by strengthening thinking skills and helping to stave off age-related mental decline. Practicing yoga and meditation weekly can help reduce stress and increase physical activity. A study found that yoga and meditation topped the benefits of 12 weeks of brain training. When I’m feeling especially stressed yoga helps me to relax and it is a goal of mine to start meditating everyday!

Raquel

How To: Get Back on Track

Memorial Day Weekend is coming up and soon after that summer vacations. There are always days, weekends, and weeks when we fall off track and need to get back to working towards our goals. Having a “bad” meal or “bad” weekend isn’t the end of the world! There are many times I need to remind myself what my goals are and take a breather to get back to my healthy routine. Yes, even dietitians fall off the wagon occasionally! (I rarely can resist a cupcake.) I’m sharing with you how I get back on track (after those cupcakes) and how you should too.

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5 Steps to Bounce Back

  1. Hydrate! Your body is likely dehydrated after traveling, drinking, and having so much fun you forget to drink water. The easiest way to rehydrate is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water throughout the day. Fruits and veggies can also assist in the hydration process.
  2. Eat whole foods. Your body is craving all those nutrients that you’ve been missing while eating all those not-so-good foods. Go for fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates for a balanced diet of nutrients that are easy for your body to absorb. All that fiber and water after hydrating will help you reset.
  3. Sweat it out. Get back to the gym! Those first couple workouts will be tough, but you’ll feel amazing afterwards. All that extra glycogen stored in your muscles wants to get out. So help yourself by doing some intense cardio, a boot camp class, or something similar.
  4. Rest and reboot. Take some time for yourself to figure out why you got off track. Also, take time to remember what your goals are and why you set them in the first place. Writing down attainable goals is always a good idea. Think of it as a to do list and be specific!
  5. Take it easy on yourself. It happens to everyone. Treats are okay! Just because you “slipped up” once doesn’t mean you need to give up. Think positively and know that you can keep up this healthy lifestyle you have chosen for yourself!

Raquel

Three Things

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1. One. I love wine. Two. I love chocolate. Looks like both things may be good for your gut! Two new studies have linked some species of good bacteria to lifestyle factors. Plus, they have found some factors that are associated with a negative impact on bacteria diversity. These include antibotics and other medications. These studies are following many that are looking into the gut microbiome and the possible link to helping diagnose and treat diseases using them.

2. Fancy juice doesn’t cleanse your body of toxins. Duh! Shout out to New York Times for writing this article. “The human body is well designed to eliminate wastes and toxins, and a number of organs play a role.” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – your kidneys and liver will do the work of “detoxifying” your body for you! Now, if you enjoy fancy juices and drinking them for pleasure (while paying attention to the amount of sugar they contain) then drink away!

3. There are many vegetables that are overlooked. We also think about the basics, right? Broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, mushrooms, etc. But, what about artichokes, fennel, collard greens, and kohlrabi, among others. I love when nontraditional vegetables are highlighted as nutrition powerhouses because it allows us to explore other flavors and nutrient profiles. Try some of these veggies next time you want to change up your vegetable routine!

Raquel

Spring Vegetable Pasta

Whole wheat pasta may not be the prettiest, but it sure does have some great qualities! It has more fiber and protein than your average pasta. One cup of whole wheat pasta has 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. Plus, it has B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B6. This is one of the easiest swaps you can make for a healthier dish. I always use whole wheat instead of regular in any recipe that calls for pasta. It does have a slightly nuttier flavor, but it’s nothing you can’t get used to.

Add a protein to this dish like chicken or shrimp and you’ve got the perfect dinner. Or add some mushrooms to keep it vegetarian. Spring and summer produce some of my favorite vegetables so take advantage of all of them with dishes like this!


Spring Vegetable Pasta

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta, cookedDSC_0838
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 head of broccoli, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Juice 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. While pasta is cooking heat olive oil in a medium pan. Add all chopped veggies and basil to the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute for 8-10 minutes until soft. Squeeze lemon juice over the top. Add reserved pasta water and shave Parmesan cheese over top. Combine with cooked pasta and serve.

Serves: 4 | Serving size: 1/2 cup pasta, 1/2 cup veggies
Calories: 215, total fat: 9 g, total carbohydrates: 28 g, dietary fiber: 3 g, sugars: 3 g, protein: 8g

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What is your favorite transitional dish from winter to spring? Tell me below!

Raquel

How To: Store Produce

Throwing away unused produce that has gone bad is a huge waste. I always try to use every piece of the produce I’ve bought. One of the best ways to do that, besides meal planning, is to store your groceries properly! Check out these tips and tricks to make your groceries last longer.

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How To: Store Produce

Fruit

  • Apples – refrigerator drawer; I like to let them come to room temp before eating
  • Pears – counter top or fruit basket
  • Citrus – refrigerator shelf; half of a citrus fruit will last in plastic wrap for a few days
  • Bananas – counter top; half a banana will last in a plastic bag for a few days
  • Berries – refrigerator drawer; only rinse berries immediately before using
  • Avocados – ripen on counter top, refrigerator shelf when ripe; half an avocado can be kept by spraying with cooking spray, wrapping in plastic wrap on refrigerator shelf

Vegetables

  • Asparagus – refrigerator shelf; stems in water if possible or loosely in a plastic bag
  • Bell peppers – refrigerator shelf in plastic wrap
  • Broccoli – refrigerator shelf in plastic wrap; I love using frozen broccoli for a quick veggie side
  • Carrots – refrigerator drawer in a plastic bag; I tend to keep baby carrots in their original bag
  • Cabbage – refrigerator drawer in plastic wrap
  • Celery – refrigerator drawer
  • Cucumber – refrigerator drawer in plastic wrap or plastic bag
  • Leafy greens – refrigerator drawer in a plastic bag lined with paper towels
  • Mixed greens – refrigerator shelf in plastic container lined with paper towels
  • Garlic – pantry, unwrapped; I love using jarred minced garlic for convenience
  • Mushrooms – refrigerator shelf in brown paper bag or box
  • Onions – pantry, unwrapped; half an onion can be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
  • Potatoes/sweet potatoes – pantry in brown paper bag; don’t forget to separate onions and potatoes as they will make each other go bad faster
  • Summer squash – refrigerator shelf in a plastic bag

Don’t forget to clean out your refrigerator regularly! You never know what you’ll find hiding in the back. Always remove anything with mold. Remember, the freezer is your friend. You can freeze banana halves for smoothies, cut up avocado for later, and of course chicken, turkey, beef, or fish!

Raquel

How To: Build a Better Salad

The salad bar can be your best friend or a stealthy enemy. Knowing how to build a healthful salad is key to a nutritious meal. All those add ons may seem like a good idea – some croutons, bacon bits, dried fruit, cheese, and creamy dressing – but they pack on the calories, sugar, and fat. Even a salad loaded with vegetables can be missing a few key nutrients (i.e. protein, iron). My tips are fool proof. Build a nutritious salad at any salad bar or at home!

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Step 1: Choose your base. Mixed greens, spinach, romaine, and iceberg lettuce are the usual suspects. Always choose the darker greens as they have more potassium, iron, and calcium than the lighter options.

Step 2: Add all of the colors. More colors means more nutrients! Red vegetables (tomatoes, red bell peppers) have lycopene and anthocyanins. Orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes) have vitamin C and beta-carotene. Green vegetables (broccoli, cucumbers, green bell peppers) have folate, potassium, and calcium. White vegetables (mushrooms, onions, cauliflower) have potassium and magnesium.

Step 3: Protein please. This step is more versatile than you may think! Plant protein is perfectly acceptable on a salad, as long as you don’t forget to add it. You options may include chicken, shrimp, beans, quinoa, and eggs. P.S. Don’t be fooled by protein “salads” made with mayonnaise or other heavy ingredients. Skip those.

Step 4: Add a crunch. A small portion of croutons can be acceptable. If there are whole wheat croutons that’s even better. Seeds or crunchy chickpeas are a better option. The crunch will be the smallest addition to your salad.

Step 5: Dress it up. This step is crucial! Any salad can take a turn for the worse on the last step. Your best option is simply olive oil and your favorite vinegar or lemon. If you need a little more than that a mixed balsamic vinaigrette also works. Stay away from creamy calorie bombs and you’ll be in the clear.

What’s your favorite salad combo? Tell me below!

Raquel