snacks

Sky Castle Gastro Lounge Review

Looking for a casual restaurant, with an upbeat vibe, and upscale, but affordable food? Look no further than Lakeview’s newest Foodie Haven… Sky Castle Gastro Lounge!  Chef Haller Magee has upgraded Lakeview’s culinary offerings in an innovative way that is guaranteed to be a neighborhood favorite!

gastro 3
gastro 3

What Did I Sample?

For Snacks our table devoured the Roasted Cauliflower and Radish Toast!  Both are highly recommended!  The snacks added enough flavor to wet my appetite while leaving room for my entrée!

gastro
gastro

As for main dishes, it was all about the red meat!  The Sky Castle Burger could be up for awards in the near future!  And that’s saying a lot since Birmingham is home to some pretty fine burgers!  The homemade bread and butter pickles paired nicely with the tomato jam, caramelized onions, and smoked cheddar cheese! It’s a triple threat guaranteed to give you flavor explosion!

gastro 2
gastro 2

I can also personally vouch for the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs that were served with a butternut squash puree and charred brussels sprouts! The short ribs were packed with flavor and seasoned with perfection! Well done Sky Castle!!!

What a great environment to watch your favorite sports team, catch up with good friends, and celebrate good food!  Great memories will be had at Sky Castle Gastro Lounge! This establishment adds new personality to the Birmingham food scene!

6 Tips for Grocery Shopping with PCOS

shopper.jpg

Shopper

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) causes elevated insulin levels in the blood, resulting in difficulty maintaining a healthy weight due to the tendency of the body to store fat.  Did you know that if you lose 5-10% of your current body weight, you can help significantly reduce symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?  Don't start crash dieting to improve symptoms, but start shopping smarter!

Grocery shopping, in general, can be a big pain but if you are grocery shopping with PCOS, things can get a bit trickier. I am here with some tips to make things simpler.

  1. Fuel Up Before Shopping! This is a rule for everyone to live by: don’t shop when you are hungry. Those donut holes look a bit more tempting when you haven’t eaten lunch yet (public bulletin: there is nothing wrong with treating yourself to a donut hole).
  2. Fortify Your Cart with Calcium & Vitamin D!  Calcium is an important mineral for women with PCOS since it is known to promote egg development and menstrual cycles. Almost more important than calcium, Vitamin D is key for calcium absorption, egg maturation, and insulin resistance. Some foods high in calcium and/or Vitamin D include: milk, eggs, salmon, tuna, cheese, and fortified cereals.
  3. Find The Farmer's Market.  Produce & meats pack the most nutrition when purchased local because the food items do not lose nutrition in the transportation of the food items to the grocery stores and on the grocery store shelves.  Check out your local farmer's market and research local farms near your home that sale grass-fed, hormone free meats!  Since its winter, what are the best items to look for to help fight PCOS? Kale and Turnip Greens!!!  Kale is great for any diet, but can be extremely beneficial for women with PCOS. Turnip Greens are low in oxalic acid so there won’t be any calcium absorption inhibition. Other vegetables high in calcium: broccoli, collard greens, arugula, and okra. One key tip: take advantage of all these beneficial greens and make some beautiful salads.
  4. Fight Oxidative Stress!! Eat a Variety of Colored Vegetables To Fight Oxidative Stress. Brightly colored vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants which fights oxidative stress. Women with PCOS have been found to have a higher rate of oxidative stress which leads to physiological stress.
  5. Fire Up The Grill!! Purchase Organic, Grass-Fed Meats. Grass-fed meat tends to be leaner and contain less hormones than standard meat. The livestock is also protected from genetically modified grains and pesticides which can negatively affect hormone balance and PCOS.  Lean protein sources also help maintain steady energy levels and curb cravings.  Some protein foods, like wild-caught fish, can get a bit pricey but some cheaper options include: beans, turkey, pastured eggs, organic yogurt, and  nuts/seeds. When deciding on which proteins to choose- it is better to choose protein with little to no saturated fats (items listed above, with exception of egg yolks, are great options)
  6. Figure Out Plan Ahead of Time!  There are many websites that compile a shopping list that you can print out and bring to the store and check off items you need to purchase. This makes things much simpler and prevents impulse purchases. I made one myself and I am attaching it here: Grocery List. My grocery list is based on what I usually purchase, there are modifications and write-ins that can be made to your liking! Try to make a weekly meal plan and only purchase what it planned for that week. With the shopping list printable comes a budgeting section. Prepare ahead and decide what you want to spend and try not to exceed that limit. If you find some huge deals and have leftover money, save it for a rainy day and after the end of the month see how much you saved!

Therese Bridges

Digging Dates

20140201-100029.jpg

20140201-100117.jpg

Delicious, Portable Snack for Traveling (On your next road trip, pack dates and mixed nuts for a super snack combo!)

Satisfy a sweet tooth! (Try Date + Havarti Cheese + Walnut + Drizzle of Organic, Local Honey)

Good source of proteins and iron! (Dates are great addition to wraps, sandwiches, and burgers!)

Naturally Fat Free and Cholesterol Free! (Consider adding Puréed Dates as a Topping to Whole Wheat Bread, English Muffin or Bagel for a Sweet Surprise!!)

Packed with Fiber!! (Add Puréed Dates to your Morning Oatmeal!)

Cofactors in Dates protect my body from free radical damage!!

Enhance Your Health with Snacks!

Snacks can enhance, rather than hurt your diet, with proper portions and healthy food choices in place. A snack can be considered a "mini meal" that will help you have a healthy lifestyle!

Food fulfills three basic needs:

(1) To provide energy

(2) To support new tissue growth and tissue repair

(3) To help regulate metabolism

 

The Benefits of Snacking

  • Binge control. You have more control over your hunger cues when you add snacks into your daily intake.  By eating every 3-4 hours, you are preventing your hunger cue to move beyond your control.
  • Extra energy and nutrients. A grab-and-go snack can be the difference between some nourishment and lack of energy.
  • Control Hunger Pangs. Helps keep your hunger levels down to a minimum and avoid feeling deprived.
  • Control Insulin Levels. Helps keep you blood sugar levels even.
  • Maintains Increased Metabolism. Waiting too long in between meals may cause your metabolism to become sluggish

Choosing Healthy Snacks

  • Select foods that satisfy your hunger, supply your body with energy and provide important nutrients.
  • Even if your main meals are well balanced, it’s easy to put your total diet out of balance with a few poor choices or lack of choices in snacks.
  • The most important thing to be aware of is the type of foods you’re snacking on. It’s wise to allow no more than 10% of your total day’s calorie intake from saturated fat, or sugar items.
  • Remember, one or two well chosen snacks can actually help to improve your day’s total nutritional intake.
  • Opt for snacks of 200 – 250 calories to stay within meal plan goals.  Your caloric goal for snacks is dependent upon your activity level and current food routine. Great options for snacks usually come from these food groups:
  • Fruits and vegetables. Eating fruits and vegetables provides a feeling of fullness.  Fruits and vegetables also provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients. When paired with a protein, dairy, and/or fat source, it is a complete snack!
  • Whole grains. Whole-grain snacks are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates, which give you energy with staying power. Look for items such as whole-grain crackers, whole-grain pretzels and whole-grain crispbreads.
  • Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds provide protein, so you will feel fuller longer. They can be high in fat, but it's mostly monounsaturated, a healthy kind of fat.
  • Low-fat dairy products. Cheese, yogurt and other dairy products are good sources of calcium and protein, plus many other vitamins and minerals. Dairy products can be high in saturated fat, so choose the low-fat versions.

BUY OR DENY? - POPCHIPS

You've heard of potato chops, but have you heard of Popchips?!!

I recently tried this product after a request from a client!! As I searched the grocery store for this product I finally found two bags left on the potato chips aisle pushed all the way back into the back! I took this as a "not good sign" but kept an open mind as I took my product home to sample!  I purchased original flavor and BBQ flavor.

What is a PopChip?

The company wanted to make a product available for individuals looking for a  snack that did not have trans fats, cholesterol, or saturated fat.  This resulted in the creation of the popchip. They are made by taking potatoes, adding heat and pressure, “popping” the product into a chip, and adding seasoning for flavor.

Flavor choices include: original potato, barbeque potato, sour cream & onion potato, cheddar potato, sea salt & vinegar potato, salt & pepper potato, parmesan garlic potato

For those out there that love a salty snack, this is a great choice over regular potato chips! You can get the same crunch and salty flavor without the preservatives, trans fats, saturated fats, or cholesterol!!   The one downside was the cost. I paid approx. $3.70 per bag and each bag only has 3 servings!!  So it is a little unreasonable for a larger family, but maybe in time we will see a decrease in the price!

Treats That Add Holiday Cheer!

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Santa
Santa

I look forward to Christmas and when the holiday season is here, I listen to Christmas music non-stop and become nostalgic about Christmas past!  As I've mentioned in previous posts, my entire immediate family will be at my parent's house on Christmas Day which means there will be a total of 8 adults and 3 kids under the age of 4 trying to share a 3 bedroom, 3 bath house  May sound chaotic, but I LOVE IT!

Along with family gatherings, comes planning! I love to help my mom plan the meals and treats so my family can fully enjoy the holidays!  As I prepare for my journey home next week, I begin thinking of quick treats I can make to take with me for the family to enjoy and I remember a family favorite that I wanted to share with the NutriFocus family!  I'm not sure what the official name of this treat is, but my family has named this treat "Scooby Snacks".

Scooby Snacks
Scooby Snacks

Scooby Snacks are made in under 10 minutes, inexpensive to make, and full of holiday cheer! The best part is you can adjust the colors of the M&M's to make this versatile treat fit any holiday or party theme!! :) My family carried Scooby Snacks to the beach last year for a perfect sweet & salty combo snack and they were a hit! I just sent a large rubbermaid container full of "scooby snacks" with Mike as he went on a hunting trip with friends, and the container was brought back empty with lots of compliments.

So if you are headed to a party and/or a family gathering and you've been asked to bring a dish, put away the mixer and put together a quick batch of Scooby Snacks!!

"Scooby Snacks"

Small Twist Pretzels

Bag of Holiday Colored M&M's

Bag of Whole Pecans (optional)

Bag of Rolo Candies

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.  Place parchment paper on a large cookie sheet and place pretzels on the flat surface.  Unwrap the Rolo candies and place one Rolo in the middle of each pretzel.  Place pretzel & Rolo combination in the oven for approximately 5 minutes or just long enough for the Rolos to get soft, but not melt.  Once the cookie sheet has been removed from the oven, place one M&M candy or 1 Pecan in the center of the Rolo and press gently until M&M/pecan is secure and Rolo has been flattened!  Repeat until all pretzels are adorned with an M&M or pecan. Allow to cool then place in a decorated, holiday container!!  To speed the cooling process, I recommend putting the cookie sheet in the refrigerator!

Penguin
Penguin

Fighting Fatigue with Food - Miniseries Part 3

Be A “5 to 9” Fan

Eating 5-9 servings of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables will allow your energy levels to soar!  Fresh produce will help keep you hydrated because they are filled with water! The more color you can add to your day through a variety of fruit and vegetable colors, the better!  For example, bananas are easily digested and provide a lot of potassium which helps maintain normal nerve and muscle function.  Times of stress or during strenuous exercise can cause potassium levels to drop since the body does not store potassium for long periods of time.  Other great snacks include apples, grapes, peaches, and pineapples! 

Fighting Fatigue with Food - Miniseries Part I

Over the next several days, I'll be sharing tips to fighting common fatigue with the way you eat!  Continue to check the NutriFocus blog to learn all tips to experience more energy through eating!

TIP #1:  Planning = Power

Skipping meals is the #1 energy killer for most individuals.  By making meal planning a priority, you will ensure you have the foods available to consume 4-6 small meals each day. By eating more frequently, your blood sugar is stabilized which will prevent mid-day crashes that lead to fatigue and moodiness.  Meal planning will take the guesswork out of food choices in the middle of a mid-day slump when the temptation to reach for non-healthy items is the highest.

 

In what ways could you do a better job planning your meals and snacks?