vegetables

Chickpea Bolognese

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Ok, so this may not be a typical meal that you would create on a weeknight...

BUT IT SHOULD BE!!!

It is quick, filling, tasty, high fiber, rich in vegetables, EASY, and affordable!

This is a fun twist on an Italian classic that is normally high in cholesterol and saturated fat!!! This will have your entire family reconsidering a MEATLESS MONDAY!!!!

food processor
food processor
ChickpeaBol
ChickpeaBol

6 Tips for Grocery Shopping with PCOS

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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

5 Tips for Cuisine in College Campus Cafeterias

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Eating in the Cafeteria

Eating Utensils

I cannot stress enough how badly you need to take advantage of cafeterias on campus freshman year. There were a few on the Alabama campus and many of them would have fun deals certain nights of the week. My new freshman friends and I would get together on those nights and spend hours there thoroughly enjoying ourselves and getting to know each other. Our favorite was breakfast for dinner. The tricky part is when you have a student account, you do not know how much you are spending and can end up spending all your “dining dollars” within a month (may or may not be speaking from experience here).

  1. Take advantage of the fresh greens. Get a salad and fill your plate up with greens and a variety of nutrient dense salad toppings. Most school cafeterias have great salad bars similar to Ruby Tuesday's endless, create your own salad bar (aka the best type of food bar). Try to add some fresh vegetables like bell peppers or broccoli to your salad to achieve a high fiber dish. If you want to make a salad your whole meal, get some chicken from the home-cooking station, to add some filling protein on top. Get creative and add some colorful fruit like blueberries and strawberries for some potassium and vitamin C. And remember, you need carbohydrates to help fuel your active lifestyle so consider adding high fiber carbohydrates such as black beans, corn, or roasted sweet potatoes!
  2. Since most of you are living in dorms, walk to the cafeteria (not alone if late at night).  Most of my exercise freshman year was from walking around campus, to and from class. In this case the walk will be more enjoyable because it ends in a delicious meal rather than a boring class.
  3. If you have a sweet tooth, use cafeteria nights as a time to treat yourself! Unless times have changed, it does not cost extra to get a soft serve cone with your meal-- save your fro-yo money for a fun time out!
  4. Make it a game. Try out all the college cafeterias and find which ones best fit your palate. Many provide: Asian, pasta, pizza, home-cooking, and special breakfast nights! For the Asian station, fill your plate up with stir fry vegetables over a bed of rice and a side of chicken. This will provide the most bang for your buck with fiber rich grains, high protein in your chicken, and immune boosting vitamins and minerals in your stir fry veggies. If you are craving pizza, make it fun and add some other vegetable toppings to get creative with adding extra nutrients. And for those special breakfast nights, you have many options for whole grains and protein but as a delicious example: whole grain buttered toast and sausage links with a side of scrambled eggs and bowl of fresh fruit topped with a dollop of calcium rich yogurt! (or for my personal favorite breakfast treat, waffles topped with whipped cream... YUM).
  5. Don't waste your money elsewhere, if you already have money on a food account through the school, don't let it go to waste and eat sushi or delivery every night. I have used this word a few times but take advantage of this-- this money on a food account will not be coming back again!

Therese Bridges

Sweater Weather

Headshot Hello readers, my name is Therese Bridges and I will be Suzanne's intern for the next few weeks. I am currently in the middle of my dietetic internship and I will be aiding with her blog and social media. A little about myself: I am from Mobile, AL, recently graduated from the University of Alabama, and my day revolves around planning my meals. I am looking forward to my time with Suzanne and I hope you enjoy my posts!

Now onto the point.

Fall has always been my favorite season. Ever since I was a kid diving into a large pile of leaves in my front yard, I appreciated the weather and beauty of autumn. As I have grown older, my admiration has evolved to include football and food (I still enjoy a good pile of leaves, though).

Hot chocolate and fire pits are on the top of my sweater weather list. However, any one of my friends will tell you, I crave soup once the temperature drops to 70 degrees (I know this is dramatic and in fact, not cold). My favorite soup in the fall is butternut squash. Let me create an image: Sitting in front of the fire, curled up in a comfy sweater, eating butternut squash soup, and laughing with your friends.

To make this image possible, I am sharing a delectable recipe that you are sure to enjoy. My mother has made this soup for the family before and it is even delicious served cold. **I made this for my sick roommate and, not taking any "credit", she feels significantly better today.**

This soup could serve a large dinner party of 8 or last one person for a week of meals. I made it a bit spicier than advised by my mother but I find that it adds an extra kick.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

Based on recipe in Williams-Sonoma Everyday Roasting Cookbook, with some personal tweaks

Pumpkin seeds inspired by Panera Vegetarian Autumn Squash Soup

Prep time: 20 minutes; Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Serves 8 to 10 people

Ingredients:

  • 1-  4 lb butternut squash, peeled & cubed
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 or 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, line baking sheet with aluminum then brush with olive oil and arrange de-seeded butternut squash on pan. Roast squash for 13 to 15 minutes or until brown around the edges.

2. Once squash is done, set aside squash. Chop and arrange the onions on the same oiled up pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper on onions and drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over onions. Roast for 12 to 13 minutes then set aside.

3. In a stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add squash and onions and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add cayenne, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook vegetables, stirring for 2 minutes then add chicken broth (enough to cover vegetables). Bring to a boil then place lid ajar and turn to low heat/simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Let soup cool, then working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor.

5. Return puree to stockpot, taste and adjust seasonings then reheat soup. Serve soup and garnish with nutmeg and 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (available already made at most stores) on top of each bowl.

6. Enjoy! (preferably enjoying your favorite movie, sitting around a warm fire)

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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.

National Nutrition Month!!

March is National Nutrition Month which is sponsored by the ADA as a way to promote awareness to Americans to improve their nutrition and support those the professionals that work in the nutrition field.  This year’s theme is Eat By Color which is encouraging all Americans to expand the types of fruit and vegetables you ingest by simply increasing the number of "color" on your dinner plate!

To improve your health, think COLOR!  Fruits and vegetables come in terrific colors and flavors and they are a great source of vitamins, minerals and other natural substances that may help protect you from chronic diseases.  By eating different colored fruits and vegetables, you are offering your body a wide range of valuable nutrients such as potassium, vitamin A & C, and folate, to name a few!

Over the next month, I’ll be blogging about the nutritional value of fruits & vegetables as well as giving tips on how to increase your daily intake without a lot of extra trouble!

HOW MANY COLORS ARE ON YOUR DINNER PLATE?

It's Greek To Me!

I’m excited to share this super simple, but very tasty recipe with the NutriFocus family call Greek Salad Pita Pockets!  If you are busy like me, taking time to make lunches every night can be a little annoying.  After a long day of working and cleaning up dishes from dinner, the last thing I feel like doing to prepping another meal for the next day.  However, I know the importance of a healthy, balanced lunch to supply me with the energy to meet the demands of my day.  So I always pull through and make our lunches. I found this recipe to be a fantastic fit for an easy, fast lunch!  All the fresh ingredients give this recipe a refreshing, clean taste which is a perfect “pick me up” for the afternoon energy slumps!  Although I used the same ingredients, I did not stick the the exact measurements that the recipe called for because I wanted it to be able to supply enough “salad” for 2-3 days.  So I just eyeballed and used as much of each ingredient as I wanted.  I ended up using ½ small bag of shredded lettuce, 2 whole tomatoes, ¾ English cucumber, ½ red onion, ½ green bell pepper, 1 container of feta cheese, ½ cup black olives 3-4 Tbsp olive oil, and 3-4 Tbsp of lemon juice.

Since I made more salad than the recipe called for, this allowed Mike and I to have Greek Salad Pitas for 2 lunches, 1 dinner, and I had it an extra lunch (so a total of 5 lunches).  Pita bread is a versatile alternative to standard sliced bread, and can be cut in half then opened up to form neat pockets, ready to be stuffed with the filling of your choice.  Since pita pockets can be hard to fill without tearing, avoid frustration by using the “tostada” effect.  I kept the pita in its original round shape without cutting in two and cover with Publix brand Greek Kalamata Hummus and then topped the pita & hummus with ¾ cup (give or take) of the Greek salad mix!  The combination was PERFECT!!

This recipe leaves room for your creativity to make it all your own!  Let me know if you try this recipe and add any touches to make it uniquely yours!

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Blog Pictures 032

GREEK SALAD PITA POCKETS

1 cup shredded romaine lettuce

1 tomato—finely chopped

½ cup finely diced cucumber

8 thin slices red onion

¼ green pepper

1 oz crumbled feta cheese

4 pitted black olives—sliced

½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

½ tablespoon lemon juice

A pinch each of sea salt and black pepper

4 tablespoons store-bought hummus

2 whole grain pita breads—halved, opened into pockets

MIX together all the ingredients, except the hummus and bread, in a bowl until well combined. SPREAD 2 tablespoons of hummus inside each pita and fill with equal amounts of the filling to serve.

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! 

RD's Recipe Review: Sante Fe Soup for the Soul

Happy Fall Yall
Happy Fall Yall

According to the majority of my clients, the most common barrier to success in terms of following a meal plan is, LACK OF TIME!  As a full-time, working professional, as well as a wife, daughter, and friend, I know time can easily hinder our ability to nutritionally care for ourselves. We live in a fast pace society which is clearly evident by the high number of fast food restaurants, take out menus, and pre-made meals at local groceries.  So if you feel pressed for time, you are not alone. As a young girl, I can remember sitting down to a hot meal every night for dinner. I consider my mom a “super mom” for many reasons, but one reason being her ability to complete a full day of work as a school teacher and still manage to place a piping hot, comfort meal on the table for my two brothers, my dad, and me to enjoy.  I still marvel at her ability to manage time and I’m so thankful for the priority she placed on meal time as a family. It was not only a time to nourish our bodies, but also our souls by reconnecting with each other at the end of an eventful day. All of us may not have the gift of time management, but that does not mean we have to skimp on enjoying delicious, home-cooked dinners on a weeknight!  Each week I will be reviewing recipes that my family personally enjoys and that I find time to make with my busy schedule.  Our bodies are important and the best preventative medicine is nutrition, so I encourage each of you to make meal time a priority, not only for your physical bodies, but also as a time to reconnect with loved ones.  For this week’s “RD’s Recipe Review”, I decided put together a quick “Santé Fe Soup” recipe.

This recipe is a modified version of the Southwestern Soup recipe that can be found in “Super Fast Suppers” by Cooking Light.  This particular recipe caught my attention because of the short amount of cooking time, but more so because the ingredient list contains mostly pantry staples!

Soup Ingredients
Soup Ingredients
Sante Fe Soup II
Sante Fe Soup II

This soup was extremely easy to put together.  It really made my house feel like a home by filling it with the comforting smell of soup bubbling on the stove.  After all, there is no better comfort food than soup!  This soup brings vibrant flavors by combining the taco seasoning, ranch seasoning, and jalapeños. A dollop of sour cream added a nice touch by incorporating a creamy texture and a nice temperature differentiation.

This soup will help you meet your daily vegetable servings by incorporating onions and a heaping amount of tomatoes!  Tomatoes are full of lycopene which is a carotenoid considered a potential agent in the prevention of certain types of cancer. Your protein needs will be met by the fajita chicken strips and the black-eyed peas!  And finally, your carbohydrate needs are partially met by the addition of corn and black-eyed peas.  In order to complete the meal I simply served the soup with a hearty slice of Mexican cornbread, of which I would share the recipe but I must admit, I did not make the cornbread. It’s my mother-in-law’s specialty which she was kind enough to make while visiting us this past weekend in Birmingham!

I can confidently recommend this recipe for a quick weeknight meal or for entertaining guest on a budget!  Enjoy!