Starch Free Back To School Lunch Options

“Back to school…back to school…” Anyone else remember this song from Billy Madison? It’s finally that time of year again. School supply shopping is at its peak, new backpacks and wardrobes are picked out and the everyday decision of what to pack for your child’s lunch returns. kid_school_03B41076Too often, our children’s lunches are overflowing with starches and processed carbohydrates (bread, pretzels, chips, crackers, cereal bars and sweets). Excessive consumption of processed carbs can cause insulin and glucose spikes in the blood stream as well as provide a continuous craving for carbohydrates. This school year, try experimenting with some lower processed meal options. Below are a few ideas to help your child consume a well-balanced, bread-less meal.

  1. ½-1 cup cottage cheese + red and yellow bell pepper and cucumber slices + unsweetened applesauce and grapes.
  2. ½ cup hummus + carrot, celery and sugar snap peas + 2 deviled eggs + fresh berries
  3. ½ cup chicken salad + 1 oz nut thins + apple slices + 2 tbsp peanut butter
  4. 6 oz Greek yogurt + blueberries and fresh peach slices + walnuts + cheese stick + broccoli and cauliflower florets with ranch dressing dip
  5. Turkey, cheese, chopped tomato + (mayo made with olive oil or mustard) roll-ups + spinach salad + 2 cuties
  6. 2 egg muffins  + banana + 2 tbsp almond butteregg muffins
  7.  1/2 – 3/4 cup taco seasoned ground turkey + fresh spinach + sautéed peppers and onions + pinch of shredded cheese + mango slices (pack a small bowl so turkey taco ingredients can be combined together)
  8. 1 chicken or turkey sausage + sweet potato salad  + 1 kiwi
  9. 1 gluten-free protein bar (Quest Bar or Larabar for example)+ mini fruit kabobs (pineapple, blueberry and strawberry slices) + mini caprese kabob (tomato + basil + hard mozzarella)
  10. Lettuce boats (big leaf lettuce topped with diced chicken, diced avocado, tomato and shredded cheese) + apple sandwich (slice apples with almond butter spread in between and sprinkled with a few chocolate chips)

Fruit: Is there really a good and bad choice?

fruit_woman_iStock_000019680537XXXLargeWhen it comes to fruit, numerous patients have asked me if there is such a thing as good and bad fruit. Many will read on the internet that bananas are bad for you and grapes are too high in sugar. Messages like this can be quite confusing because after all, isn’t fruit supposed to be good for you?  The perk of eating fruit is that it is low in calories and contains a bundle of vitamins and minerals. The downfall of fruit is that it also contains natural sugars and like we know, too much sugar (even natural) is not a good thing.

I don’t really like to say that there are good fruits and bad fruits, but I do try encouraging some fruits over others based on their glycemic index. Glycemic index is a value assigned to foods that indicates what type of affect that food may have on one’s blood sugar and insulin level. A low glycemic food such as broccoli will have a minimal effect on blood sugar and insulin whereas a high glycemic food like a white potato will make both levels skyrocket. This information is especially important for someone who is diabetic or even pre-diabetic. In fact, a recent meta-analysis in the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition suggests that high intakes of foods with a high glycemic index can greatly increase one’s risk for developing diabetes. Elevated levels of insulin can also increase LDL (the bad cholesterol) as well as promote fat storage. It is understood that elevated insulin levels can make it more difficult for the body to burn stored fat; therefore, choosing foods with a lower glycemic index can help reduce insulin levels and thus, may help the body burn more fat and promote weight loss. Other consequences of chronically elevated insulin levels can include increased sugar cravings, elevated triglyceride levels and hypertension.

The glycemic index is a scale of 0-100. Foods with a score of 70 or higher are considered high glycemic foods and are encouraged to be limited. Foods with a medium score of 50-70 are considered moderate glycemic foods and should be eaten in moderation while foods with a score of less than 50 are lower on the glycemic index and should make up the bulk of one’s dietary choices. Below is a list of common fruits and their GI values.

Where does your favorite fruit fall on the list?

Fruit GI Value
Cherries 22
Grapefruit 25
Prunes 29
Apricot, dried 30
Apple 38
Pear, fresh 38
Peach, canned in juice 38
Plum 39
Orange 40
Peach, fresh 42
Grapes 46
Mango 51
Banana 52
Fruit Cocktail 55
Papaya 56
Raisins 56
Apricots, fresh 57
Kiwi 58
Figs, dried 61
Cantaloupe 65
Pineapple 66
Watermelon 72
Dates 103

Remember, just because a fruit has a high glycemic index doesn’t mean that you have to cut it completely out of your diet. It’s perfectly fine to enjoy some of these fruits from time to time guilt-free but at least try to mix up your choices with a variety of GI values.

Dad’s Choice

Serious Senior ManFather’s Day is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate those special men in your life than with a little bacon! There is always a big debate on if we should consume regular bacon or turkey bacon.

Turkey bacon is generally considered a more heart healthy substitute primarily because it contains less fat; however, you will also find that turkey bacon often contains a lot more sodium than regular bacon. Personally, I’m about flavor and moderation so I stick to regular bacon. Bacon is certainly not a regular part of our meals so it’s perfectly fine to indulge every once in a while, especially if it’s celebrating a special occasion!

This recipe requires only a few ingredients and is easy enough for the kids to help out with. Be sure to serve these with some green veggies for Dad too!baconwrappedchickenskewers

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Skewers

• 3-4 chicken breasts, cut lengthwise about 1 1/2 -2 inches thick
• 1 slice of bacon for each chicken skewer
• 1 tbsp Garlic powder
• 2/3 cup Brown sugar
• 2 tbsp Cumin
• 2 tbsp Chili powder
• Wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 15 minutes
1. Pre-heat grill to medium heat. Meanwhile, mix all seasonings together in a small, shallow bowl.
2. Slice chicken breasts lengthwise. Take a skewer and thread it through the long part of the chicken breast or you can fold the chicken back and forth over the skewer like an accordion.
3. Wrap one slices of bacon around each chicken on the skewer. Dip bacon-wrapped chicken into seasoning mix and generously coat all sides.
4. Place skewers on grill and cook for about 15 minutes, turning chicken once half-way through. *Skinnier/smaller chicken skewers will require less cooking time.
This recipe also doubles for a great appetizer. Cut bite-size pieces of chicken and wrap a small portion of bacon around each bite. Secure with a toothpick, coat in seasoning and prepare on grill.

A is for Apple Nachos!

Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and less foods that are manufactured in plants.applenachos

Pizza rolls, hot pockets and bagel bites…these should be our after-school treats or snacks used for entertaining friends, right? Well, at least that’s what the commercials on TV lead us to believe. Unfortunately, all of these common items are nothing but processed starchy, unhealthy menu items. The next time you have the kids or friends over; entertain them with this simple, nutritious and fun snack treat.

Apple Nachos

  • Apples, thinly sliced
  • Lemon juice
  • Almond butter
  • Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • Dark chocolate chips
  • Slivered Almonds or chopped walnuts

1. Arrange apples on plate/serving platter. To keep your apples from browning, squirt a small amount of lemon juice over the apples (or you could even toss the sliced apples in a small bowl with the lemon juice for even coverage).

2. Scoop some almond butter into a Ziploc bag. Cut the tip-off of one of the corners and squeeze a thin drizzle of almond butter over apples. Top with shredded coconut, dark chocolate chips and nuts.

3. One may also add sliced bananas or any other fruit to the dish.

*Try to avoid using caramel as this would make the dish less healthy with all the added sugar. Remember the focal point is the apples and fruit, so the chocolate chips should just be used sparingly.

Happy Blog-a-versary!

imagesIt’s been one year since we launched Something To Chew On! Thank you for continuing to stop by and read, comment, or share my blog posts!

What better way to celebrate than with cake, right? After all, we can have “everything in moderation.”  Before I get to my amazing gluten-free cake recipe, I want to address a few concerns regarding the definition of moderation. The whole “moderation rule” implies that you can eat anything you want, as long as you consume the less healthy foods “in moderation.” One big flaw with this statement is that everyone seems to have a different definition of what moderation actually is. For example, many think that moderation is having only a couple of chocolate candies every day instead of the entire bag. I’ll note that this is showing better portion control; however, this isn’t necessarily moderation. This is a habit. You have to look at the big picture,when analyzing your moderation skills. I’ve had patients state they only have cookies a couple of times per week, but they also had pancakes, ice cream, pizza, fast food burgers, chicken tenders “a couple times per week” as well. Try to limit unhealthy foods to no more than 2-3 times per week. This encompasses all unhealthy foods combined, not individuals foods as mentioned previously. This may be somewhat strict for some people, but it will really help open  your eyes to how much unhealthy food we are accustomed to consuming on a regular basis.

Another problem with this is that there are some really bad foods out there that we should try to limit as much as possible, such as sugar substitutes, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats and processed white grain products, to name a few.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a perfect diet, but I do practice good moderation with less-healthy food items. I do enjoy ordering French fries when I dine out; however, my husband and I only dine out about once a month. We both also love pizza, but typically only have pizza once every 2-3 months. We didn’t always practice this type of moderation; believe me, when you start eating clean, unprocessed home cooked meals on a regular basis, your body will feel on top of the world. When we go out for something that is unhealthy, I almost immediately feel bloated, sluggish and experience abdominal pains.

This is a gluten-free chocolate cake that I made for a celebration. Like all sweets, this is something that should only be enjoyed occasionally and good portion control should still be practiced. This is certainly not the healthiest recipe I have submitted, but if you have children that have celiac disease, then you know how hard it is to find a good gluten-free celebration recipe.chocolate_cake

Chocolate Gluten-Free Cake-Brownies

  • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand is preferred)
  • 1 stick of butter (grass-fed is preferred)
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

1. Pre-heat oven to 375oF.

2. In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and butter together. Heat for short intervals and stir together until melted.

3. Stir cocoa powder, honey, eggs and vanilla into melted chocolate and whisk together until smooth.

4. Pour mixture into a small baking dish (8″x8″),or smaller if you desire a thicker cake/brownie.

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes (cooking longer will make the cake set more).

6. Remove from heat and set aside for cooling.

7. Enjoy a 2”x2” inch square with friends and family.

Living and Breathing What I Teach

Living healthy, active lifestyles is not only something that I encourage on all my patients, it’s something that I value in my own life. I strive to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle, not only to set a good example for my patients but more importantly to lead a long, healthy life for myself and my family. To show proof, here is how I spent my Friday.

5:15am:Alarm clock! Yes, I did snooze for 9 minutes then quickly got up, dressed, brushed my teeth and out the door we go to Crossfit.

6:00am: CrossFit WOD

Bench Press (close grip) 4-3-2-1
    (75 lbs, 85 lbs, 95 lbs, 100 lbs)

Thruster 8 min EMOM (every minute on the minute) 3-5 reps
(4 reps @ 83 lbs)

5 Minute AMRAP- 1 Turkish get up (each arm), 3 strict pull-ups, 10 wall balls (14 lbs)
3 rounds

7:15am:1 scoop of whey protein powder + 8 oz of almond milk.

9:30am:Breakfast (in between patients) of 5 eggs whites sautéed with mushrooms and spinach and ½ cup sweet potatoes + ½ avocado. I always make my breakfast and lunch meal the night before so I am stocked up and ready for the day.

photo 2

12:30pm:Lunch. Typically I have leftovers that consists of meat and veggies but since the leftovers are used up at the end of the week, I threw together a salad and plan on cooking tonight. Salad ingredients: mixed greens and baby spinach, artichokes, craisins, mushrooms, avocado, grilled chicken and walnuts with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.photo 4

2:30pm: Snack time. Gala apple with peanut butter.

photo 5

5:00pm:Pack up and head home but not before having a little fun after clinic-hours. Who doesn’t do a handstand after work to celebrate on Fridays? I also munched on some mixed nuts on my ride home and to the grocery store.

handstand

6:30pm:Dinner is fixed. Kept it simple tonight with my rosemary herbed chicken, garlic-roasted butternut squash and garlic mashed cauliflower. Can you tell my love for garlic??

photo 3

9:30pm:8 oz of chocolate almond milk–delish!

10:30pm:Lights out. Early morning Crossfit workout and lots to do on Saturday!

Eat clean, move more, spend time with family, value your sleep and make a point to have a little fun each day!