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.

A New Kind of Breakfast Muffin

egg muffins“I don’t have time to make breakfast in the morning” “I don’t know what I can eat for a healthy snack.” I am going to knock out two birds with one stone for this one: egg muffins.

This is one of the easiest recipes that will have you stocked up with healthy breakfast and snack options throughout the week. Cooked eggs will stay good for 5 days, so if you make a batch of these on Sunday night, you will be good to go for the week.

Eggs are like a blank canvas when it comes to adding additional ingredients. I feel almost all vegetables go great with eggs, so the possible flavor combinations are endless! I have provided a suggested mix of my favorite veggies to go with eggs, but you can certainly substitute with other items like zucchini and yellow squash, diced carrots, red onion, tomatoes, you name it! Try to avoid adding cheese if you can. Typically, most Americans already consume too much cheese in their diets.

This is a healthy protein-packed, low-carb dish. Grab two with a piece of fruit for breakfast or take them to work to help fight that afternoon sugar craving!

 

Egg Muffins

6-8 eggs
½ bell pepper, diced
½ onion, diced
½ cup chopped mushrooms
½ cup chopped spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
Coconut oil
1. Pre heat oven to 350 F. In a sauce pan, melt 1 tbsp of coconut oil for 2-3 minutes. Once heated, add chopped vegetables and sauté for about 5 minutes. Once cooked, set aside and let cool.
2. Meanwhile, whisk eggs together in a medium-sized bowl. Add sautéed vegetables into whisked eggs and then pour about 1/3 cup mixture into each cupcake container.
3. Place in oven and cook for 15-20 minutes until eggs have puffed up. Use a butter knife to stick into egg muffin to make sure it comes out clean.
4. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy as a quick on the go breakfast or protein-packed snack choice.
5. Variations to the vegetable mix can include zucchini, carrots, red onion, meat, tomatoes, etc.

On The Road Again!

travel“On the road again…just can’t wait to get on the road again.” Surprisingly, I learned all the lyrics to Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” in my 4th grade music class. For many, traveling can be disastrous when trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle. Long miles = fast food stops and long periods of inactivity. My husband and I are about to hit the slopes and enjoy some spring snowboarding in Colorado. The only thing that stands between us and the beautiful Rockies is a 14-hour car ride. Luckily for my husband, I have nominated myself as the road DJ, so we’ll be listening to jams from Hootie and the Blowfish, Ke$ha and Fleetwood Mac the whole way there. Okay, maybe not the whole way…but most of the way.

The best thing you can do to stay on track with your healthy habits while traveling is plan, plan, plan.

Plan your snacks. Nuts and homemade trail mixes that include dehydrated meats, dried fruits and nuts make great non-perishable snacks for long car rides. Another idea is to pack a small cooler or lunch box with items that need to be kept cool like fruit, hard-boiled eggs or cheese. Try to avoid foods of low nutritional value such as chips, pretzels and cookies.

  • Another tip: Try not to pack sweets for long car trips. We may have good intentions of practicing  portion control, but this often gets pushed aside when one is bored just sitting for hours upon hours. A friend of mine said she had packed a bunch of cookies to for a trip to Florida. They consumed all of them before they had even left Illinois.

Pack adequate fluids. Keep a cooler packed with extra water bottles so you’re not tempted to grab a soda or sweet tea during gas stops.

Plan your dining stops. My husband and I always have a discussion on types of restaurants we will stop for. This really helps if you know your menu items well. Chipotle is always a great go-to for us because we can load up on a good protein source and lots of veggies. If you are a Chipotle-goer yourself, then you know how awesome their guacamole is. The downfall is the price of it! I typically pack a small avocado and slice it on my burrito bowl to save money and load my meal with a heart healthy omega-9 fat. Other times, I’ll pack some veggies ahead of time, order a sandwich and just use the meat to put with my vegetables.

clock_MP900289613Watch the clock. Be mindful of how often you’re snacking. Sometimes we eat out of pure boredom when driving, so it’s especially important to pay attention to how often  you’re consuming your meals or snacks. If you’re eating every hour, it’s definitely not because of physical hunger cues.

Steer clear of high-calorie menu items. Watch out for high calorie meals, considering you haven’t exercised all day. Ways to cut back on calories include not ordering cheese on sandwiches, taking off one or even both buns from sandwiches, opting for salads or soup as side items instead of fries and the obvious–go with grilled menu items over breaded, fried options.

Start Making Healthy Changes Now

Woman Tying Measuring Tape Around Her WaistI am not an advocate for “quick fixes” like weight loss supplements, juice cleanses and the like. While quick fixes may result in fast weight loss, these results are only temporary and chances are, your depressed metabolism will cause you to rapidly gain the weight back…and then some. Seven-day or 21-day weight loss plans typically instruct you to drastically cut caloric intake and often severely limit the variation of food in your diet. Once these week-long or month-long fast diets are over with, most people resume their previous eating habits and unfortunately circle right back to square one with their weight loss efforts.

What’s unfortunate is these quick diet plans do not teach you how to eat for the long-run. You can’t drink a “body by Vi” shake forever; eventually you’re going to have to learn how to make real food for your meals. Research has shown that a multitude of different diets such as low-calorie/low-fat, high-fat/low-carb, Mediterranean diet, vegetarian diet, paleo dietetc., can all help individuals lose weight. Sometimes, losing weight is not the problem; it’s keeping the weight off. This fact stresses the importance of lifelong habits that one must take on, not quick diet fixes, in order to maintain their weight loss efforts. Here are some “quick” healthy changes that you can make today and turn into lifelong habits.

1. Start your day with protein. Breakfast is the most commonly missed meals reported by Americans of all ages. And when we think of breakfast, we typically think of a large bowl of sugary-sweetened cereal and a tall glass of orange juice. Breakfast meals high in these simple sugars can lead to a quick drop in energy come 9:00 a.m. Try to find ways to incorporate more protein with your breakfast meal. Add nuts into oatmeal, make a veggie omelet or pair fruit with high-protein Greek yogurt.

imgres2. Switch to water. Water is essential to one’s health and its benefits far surpass the simple purpose of hydration. Drinking more water is a habit I have been working on for quite some time now and it’s really sticking. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I previously was consuming about 4 diet sodas per day. To wean myself off of the diet soda, I would tell myself for every soda I consumed, I would have to drink a bottle of water. Now I keep a water bottle with me at all times so there are no excuses for not drinking enough water.

3. Stop serving multiple starches with meals. This is an easy fix that will help you naturally control your carbohydrate intake with your meals and make them more well-rounded. Our typical American western diet revolves around meat, potatoes, bread or some other starch like noodles and rice or corn and peas with most of our meals. Begin your meals by choosing a healthy lean protein, add one starch (preferably a healthy starchy vegetable like sweet potatoes or butternut squash) and fill the rest of your plate with non-starchy vegetables and fruit, if preferred.

4. Bring your own snacks to work. It seems almost every week, someone brings in a new “Pinterest-inspired” sweet treat to share with everyone at work. Sure, these decadent treats look great, but consuming these items regularly as snack choices can lead one to a spike in blood sugar followed by a drop in energy. Plan ahead and make sure you always have healthy, nutrient-dense snacks packed with you for your workday. If you feel bad about turning down your co-worker’s cheesecake bites, you can politely decline by saying you had already packed an apple with almond butter for your snack today. Or a simple, “No thanks, but thanks for asking,” always does the trick too!

exercise_02F026015. Exercise. Daily physical activity is one of the most important keys for a healthy metabolism and weight management. It’s time to put the “excuse book” away and start moving today.

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!

Figge’s Favorite Groceries

grocery shoppingWith the success of  Figge’s Favorite Things blog post, I thought I would follow up with a list of some of my favorite foods that frequently occupy my shopping list. Years ago, my diet heavily consisted of processed luncheon meats, frozen dinners and snack bars. Today, fresh fruits, vegetables and meats are typically what fill up my grocery cart. This was no overnight process, but slowly, I began to step outside my comfort zone and taught myself how to prepare and cook with fresh ingredients. To stay healthy, I rely on clean, minimally processed foods. Combined with a healthy dose of physical activity each week, clean eating helps keep my cholesterol down, energy up and promotes a good night’s sleep.

  1. Eggs. Eggs have been hounded over the years for their fat and cholesterol content. However, with today’s research on eggs, we are learning that 1) the cholesterol found in eggs is not what is causing high cholesterol in individuals and 2) the benefits of the yolks include a Vitamin B12 source, eye-healthy lutein , zeaxanthin antioxidants, and choline, which is essential for cardiovascular and brain function.
  2. fresh-spinachSpinach. This green giant gets sautéed in with my eggs each morning and makes several appearances in other meals throughout the week.
  3. Peanut or almond butter. If I could eat almond butter every day, I would; but because the cost of it is often more than peanut butter, I tend to go back and forth between these heart-healthy fat and protein snack additions.
  4. Cauliflower. My kitchen often looks like a cauliflower war zone. For those of you that regularly cut up cauliflower, you know what I’m talking about! My preferred way of cooking it is steaming in a sauce pan and then mashing it in my food processor. Add a pinch of salt, garlic powder, onion powder, butter and garnish with chives and you have a great vegetable side dish (not to mention for the cost of $3 or less!)
  5. Spaghetti Squash. We have been having a lot of fun with spaghetti squash this winter. It is a great substitute for pasta in recipes. To me, it is not very tasty when served plain, but if you add mixed vegetables, seasonings, sauces or a homemade mayo to the mix, you’re set-to-go for a delicious meal.
  6. Chicken. This is the most popular protein consumed in our household. For that reason, I am constantly finding new ways to season and prepare it. We also consume beef, pork and fish but chicken definitely takes the podium for most consumed.
  7. Apples. This fruit is a good source of antioxidants and soluble fiber. I usually have at least one and sometimes two apples a day with my peanut or almond butter for heart-healthy, filling snacks.
  8. Whey protein powder. Since both my husband and I do Crossfit, we need a quick source of protein for our post-workout snacks. One scoop of protein powder poured in 8 oz. of almond milk allows my body to quickly refuel after a workout, promote lean tissue growth and speed up recovery time.
  9. Ground flaxseed. This antioxidant powerhouse can be easily mixed into recipes or sauces or can even be sprinkled on top of foods to add fiber, omega-3 and healthy lignans to any dish.
  10. Sweet potato. These Vitamin A giants interestingly are most often consumed with my breakfast meal. I’ll sauté a medium-large sweet potato in 1 Tbsp of coconut oil on Sunday nights and then portion out servings to grab and go for the week. NCI5_POTATO