Almeda https://almedalabs.com Reimagining Global Health and Wellness Mon, 19 Mar 2018 21:24:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 https://i2.wp.com/almedalabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/cropped-almeda_logo_favicon.jpg?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Almeda https://almedalabs.com 32 32 Cook your Greens to Full Potential https://almedalabs.com/ook-greens-full-potential/ Wed, 20 Dec 2017 19:13:59 +0000 https://almedalabs.com/?p=1371 Dark green leafy vegetables are easily the most nutritious addition...

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Dark green leafy vegetables are easily the most nutritious addition to your diet. They are an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K and have bragging rights as a good source of several other vitamins and minerals. As the kale trend continues, it might be challenging for some to join Team Kale when they are trying to gnaw on a somewhat bitter and fibrous piece of vegetation.  If this is you, you are at the right place! Learning how to cook your greens is the key to unlocking the love for this nutrient power house.

Leafy greens claim to fame is their nutritional adequacy, but their versatility is another trait that is definitely worth talking about.  While many find raw kale, chard and collards to be tough and strong in flavor, add the right amount of heat, healthy oil and seasoning and you will be thrilled with the delicious outcome.

Before heating up this conversation with the proper cooking techniques for leafy greens, your success starts at the market.  When buying, look for greens that are vibrant in color and crisp versus dull or yellowing with wilted leaves. Younger leaves are typically smaller and will have a more mild flavor so if this is your first go, look for smaller leaves or even varieties labeled as “baby” kale or chard.  Store greens in an airtight container or bag to help keep them crisp.

Now for the fun part, cooking your greens. Below are 5 ways to cook your green to full potential.

Blanch or steam

Blanching and steaming are both moist-heat cooking methods, because they use water, liquid or steam to heat food.  To blanch, heat a pot of water to boil and season with salt. Submerge chopped greens in the boiling water for a minute or less and then quickly shock them by putting them in cold water to halt the cooking.  To steam, you will need a pot and a steamer basket.  Add a small amount of water to the pot and bring to a boil.  Add 2-3 handfuls of chopped green to the steamer basket and cover for 5-8 minutes or until greens are cooked to desired tenderness.

Blanched and steamed greens are a great addition to wraps, sandwiches, salads or as a nutritious and delicious side.  Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper or your favorite seasoning to boost the flavor.  Here are a few seasoning combos to try:

  • Garlic, dried parsley and dried dill
  • Sesame seeds and asian 5 spice with a drizzle of sesame oil
  • Garlic with a sprinkle of parmesan and a squeeze of lemon

Saute:

Sturdy greens like kale, collards and chard, as well as softer varieties like spinach, arugula, mustard greens or bok choy are all great additions to a mixed vegetable saute or as a side of their own.  To saute, heat a small amount of oil on medium heat and add greens. Toss greens until fully coated in oil and cooked to desired tenderness.  If cooking with other vegetables be aware of how firm the other vegetables are and the order in which you add them to the skillet.  For example, if sauteing squash, potatoes or carrots it’s good practice to cook them for 7-10 minutes before adding your more delicate vegetables like spinach and arugula.  Here’s a combination to try:

Start by sauteing ½ an oil in 2 Tbsp of oil.  Add a tsp of garlic and a dash of salt after onions have start to soften and become transparent.   Add 2-3 handfuls of greens and toss until lightly coated with oil. Cover pan for 1-2 minutes and then retoss greens to cook evenly. Continue this method until cooked to desired tenderness.

Braise:

The method of braising is typically used in meat dishes and involves a small amount of oil at the start of cooking and then adding liquid to finish cooking.  This method can be used for greens as well.  Braising greens will soften them and add a depth of flavor that might be challenging to accomplish with either of the cooking methods listed above.  Braising is a great method to use for green that are extra firm. Use braising to cook down large kale and collards leaves or consider adding leafy greens when braising meat.

To braise, add a small amount of oil to a large deep skillet.  Add ½ c onions, 1 Tbsp garlic, 1 red pepper(diced) and 3-4 cups greens to the skillet and cook until onions and garlic are fragrant.  Add a can of diced tomatoes with the liquid and ½ cup of broth of choice to cover the bottom of the pan with a half inch to a full inch of liquid.  Cover with lid and let simmer for 5-8 minutes.

Roasted:

Roasting leafy greens might sounds a bit odd, but once you’ve tried kale chips or mixing leafy greens into your roasted vegetables you might want to give this cooking method a try.  Roasting is a dry-cooking method because it utilizes fat or oil instead of water or liquid like broth.  To roast greens you want to toss them in oil and use your hands or tongs to ensure all part of the leaf are fully covered in oil.  Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste and arrange leaves in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until crispy.  Let cool for at least 5 minutes (cooking will actually continue and the leaves will get even more deliciously crispy as they cool).

Also consider adding greens to roasted potatoes or firm vegetables after 15-20 minutes of baking.  This will add color favor and lots of nutrients!

Soups & Stew:

Adding greens to soups and stews is just about as easy as it gets.  No matter the recipe a handful of chopped greens adds that something extra that you might not have even realized it was missing.  Whether you prefer vegetable, chicken, beef or pureed soups, the addition of greens goes a long way.  Add greens to crockpot chilis or add a handful to leftover chicken noodle soup to sneak in an extra serving of vegetables.

Hearty greens including kale, collards and chard pair well with the rich flavors of beef, while lighter green like spinach and bok choy are great additions to a seafood or white meat soups.  Greens can also be added to blended soups like split pea soup, or a rich potato leek soup.  Add greens toward the end of cooking and chop them into small pieces if you are “hiding” them from a picky eater.

Have some fun experimenting with different leafy green varieties and finding where each fit into your diet and cooking style.  They are extremely forgiving so don’t stress about stepping outside of your comfort zone.  Include green in your diet to add flavor, color and a nutrient boost!

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4 Hot Winter Drinks that are Nutritious and Delicious https://almedalabs.com/4-hot-winter-drinks/ Mon, 11 Dec 2017 23:47:35 +0000 https://almedalabs.com/?p=1336 Is there really anything better than snuggling up with a warm cup of your favorite winter beverage? Toasty drinks seem to get us through the cold months...

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Is there really anything better than snuggling up with a warm cup of your favorite winter beverage? Toasty drinks seem to get us through the cold months and are a great finisher to a meal or snack.  But, be careful, popular winter drinks are often loaded with added sugar and calories.

What if you could enjoy a flavorful warm beverage without all the extra stuff?  Keep it light this winter by switching out high sugar beverages with the winter drink recipes listed below.  They might even help you avoid your yearly winter sickness!

  • Almond Milk Chai latte

The rich, spicy-sweet flavors of chai can easily be defined as holiday spirit in a cup.  Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and ginger come together in perfect harmony to create a flavor that cleanses the plattee and satisfies your sweet tooth.  Add a dash of maple syrup and you have a chai latte that will top any cafe’s premade chai tea mixture.

Each spice in chai offers a little something extra – ginger and cardamon aid in proper digestion, cinnamon is an appetite suppressant and cardamom helps detox the body.  Add this drink as a dessert, snack or first thing in the morning for that little boost you need to get you through the winter months.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tea bags of chai tea
  • Dash of cardamom
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • ½ tsp of vanilla extract

Directions:

Put all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a light boil over medium-high heat.  Once boiling reduce heat to low and let simmer for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool to desired temperature.

To achieve a frothy top without barista equipment, put mixture in a high powered blend and blend for 20-30 seconds.  Pour into a mug and sprinkle with cinnamon.

  • Cranberry Ginger Cleansing Tea

Cranberry is commonly know as a detoxifier, and with the addition of ginger this tea will absolutely help cleanse toxins from the body.  Cranberries are rich in antioxidants and can help lower and maintain cholesterol levels.  This recipe can be prepared on the stove or in a slow cooker if making several servings.  Treat your friends and family with this feel better cleansing tea to help ward off sickness and build the immune system.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice, look for a juice with no added sugar
  • ½ cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 ginger knuckle, peeled and chopped into coins (about the size of a ping pong ball)
  • ½ Tbsp honey, optional
  • Splash of orange juice, optional

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat for about 10 minutes.  Reduce heat and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon remove fresh cranberries and pour into a mug to enjoy.  Garnish with extra fresh cranberries or a cinnamon stick.

  • Savory Vegetable Tea

You might have been at a fancy restaurant where they offer you a warm and savory brothy drink before your appetizer is served. The idea is that the broth will warm the gut and jump start metabolism before your first course is served.  Not only does the savory broth style drink have metabolism boosting benefits it also is surprisingly satisfying.  Vegetable teas are starting to make their way to grocery store shelves and they are definitely worth trying considering they contain more vitamins than a traditional black or green tea.

Top your vegetable tea with a few oyster crackers and enjoy as a snack or an appetizer to your meal.  One sip, and you’ll be hooked!

Ingredients and materials:

  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped and seeded
  • 3 large carrots chopped into coins
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 smashed garlic cloves
  • 2 sliced shallots
  • Small bunch fresh Parsley
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig tarragon, optional
  • 1 sprig thyme, optional
  • 5 peppercorns, optional
  • 2 qt. Glass canning jar
  • 3 cups water
  • Dash of salt

Directions:

Place all ingredients in the 2 quart glass canning jar and seal.  Set jar in a medium saucepan and add enough water to the pan to reach about halfway up the sides of the jar.

Bring water to a boil over medium high heat and cook for 2 hours.  Replenishing the water as needed.  Let jar cool before opening.

Strain tea through a fine sieve into a saucepan and simmer for an additional 10 minutes to concentrate the flavor.   Add a dash of salt and top with additional fresh herbs as desired.

  • Hot Chocolate Reimagined

Hot cocoa will always be a fan favorite no matter how old you are.  It one of those drinks that seems to bring back memories of childhood winter fun, snow days and holiday festivities.  While raw cacao is rich in antioxidants, iron, magnesium and calcium we can’t always be confident that our store bought hot cocoa mix is going to pack as much of a nutrient punch.

Try this homemade hot cocoa recipe in place of high sugar cocoa mixes and you will be pleasantly surprised how tasty it actually is. Raw cacao can be found in most grocery stores and almost always at your local health food store.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk of choice, unsweetened vanilla almond milk is recommended
  • 1 tsp stevia, or sweetener of choice
  • 1 Tbsp raw cacao powder

Directions:

Heat milk over medium heat in a small sauce pan.  Being sure not to burn it.

Place sweetener and cacao powder in your mug and add about 2 Tablespoons of warm milk.  Stir until a paste forms.  Add another 2 tablespoons until paste loosens and cocoa is evenly mixed with liquid.  Continue to add small amounts of milk until fully mixed and cocoa is evenly suspended in liquid.

If you are having trouble mixing cacao into milk, put all ingredients in a blender and blend for 20-30 seconds.  Reheat as needed.

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Vegan Christmas Recipes to Die For https://almedalabs.com/vegan-christmas-recipes-die/ Mon, 11 Dec 2017 23:39:30 +0000 https://almedalabs.com/?p=1333 6 Vegan Christmas Recipes that are to Die For
Let’s set one thing straight before moving any further… you don’t have to be vegan to enjoy a vegan dish...

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Let’s set one thing straight before moving any further… you don’t have to be vegan to enjoy a vegan dish.  There are plenty of perks to including  a well rounded vegan meal in your diet so there is really no reason to ignore a recipe, dish or menu item simply because it’s label “vegan”.  A vegan diet, if done right, is rich in a variety of nutrients and has been shown to help the reduce the risk of several chronic illnesses including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and hypertension.  

The recipes below can be included in a well rounded vegan, vegetarian or omnivore diet and each offer a variety of flavors and nutrition benefits you will not want to miss out on.  

1. Sweet and spicy Lentil Tacos (Makes 8 tacos)

There’s just something about putting your favorite ingredients in a tortilla, topping it with a creamy sauce and digging in.  Add the crunch of cabbage, a few dynamic ingredients and top with fresh herbs and you have an easy to prepare dinner that will never let you down.   Tacos are one of the most versatile foods so have some fun with the ingredients and make it your own. Consider adding a few extra roasted vegetables, fresh herbs or a little extra spice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry lentils or 2 cups cooked
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • ½ c onion, chopped small
  • ½ c bell pepper, chopped small
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar, optional
  • 1-2 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 c shredded cabbage
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 8 corn tortillas or lettuce leaves

Directions:

In a medium size skillet, heat canola oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add onion, and peppers and saute until onions translucent. Add minced garlic and cooked lentils and cook for another 3-4 minutes.  

Mix in tomato paste, water and brown sugar until fully incorporated.  Add chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and paprika and let simmer for 3 minutes or until sauce is desired thickness.  

Before assembling the tacos, heat corn tortillas over medium heat in a dry non-stick skillet for 30 seconds on each side. Layer the lentils, shredded cabbage and sliced avocado and then top with fresh chopped cilantro.

Add a little extra spice with your favorite chili sauce or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

2. Smoky Stuffed Mushroom Bites with curry “cream” sauce

Serving size: 2 mushrooms, makes 6 servings

Stuffed mushroom are always a crowd pleaser, but this Thai curry twist will knock it out of the park.  Mushrooms are a great addition to a vegan diet because they add a savory flavor and meaty texture that is often difficult to create in a vegetable based dish.  Not only do mushrooms add flavor they are also a good source of fiber and add a nutrient boost to your diet. Switch up this recipe by exchanging the curry  powder with different spices like Italian seasoning, Greek or your favorite blend.  

Ingredients:

  • 12 Bella mushrooms, washed with damp cloth
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil or oil of choice
  • ½ c onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c cauliflower, grated or chopped very small
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 c chickpeas, mashed
  • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 dashes of liquid smoke
  • ** Liquid smoke can be found at most grocery stores, by the soy sauce and steak sauce.
  • ¼ c panko bread crumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Wash mushrooms and remove ends.  Chop mushroom ends and set aside.

In a medium size skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Saute onions and chopped mushroom ends until tender, about 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic, grated cauliflower and spinach and cook for an additional 5 minutes, reduce heat if garlic starts to brown to avoid burning.  

Transfer vegetables to a large glass bowl and add mashed chickpeas, dijon mustard, curry powder, paprika and liquid smoke.  Mix well.

Arrange mushrooms on the prepared baking sheet and add a generous amount of the vegetable mixture to each mushroom cap.  Sprinkle with panko bread crumbs and bake for 20 minutes in preheated oven, or until the mushrooms start to form liquid under the caps.

3. Curry Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1  13.5 ounce can coconut milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons curry paste
  • Small piece of ginger, about the size of a dime
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar or sweetener of choice
  • 1 tsp minced garlic

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Drizzle sauce over mushrooms after they come out of the oven.

4. Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 20-24 cookies

Warm, ooey gooey chocolate chip cookies, does it get any better?  Paired with a hot beverage or a chilled glass of almond milk cookies are a treat that always seem to hit the spot.  This vegan cookie is the perfect amount of chewy and crispy that you might not even notice they are are missing a few of the typical staple cookie ingredients.  Although this cookie is a slightly healthier twist on the traditional recipe, a cookie is still a cookie so be sure to stick to the proper serving size of about 1-2 cookies.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup coconut oil, solid (be sure it is not melted)
  • 1 ¼ c light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ c coconut milk, full fat is best for this recipe but feel free to switch it up as desired
  • ¼ c unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 ¼ c all purpose flour, be sure not to pack the flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½  c vegan chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large glass bowl whisk together coconut oil, brown sugar and vanilla. Beat until well combined. Add in the coconut milk and applesauce and continue to mix until well blended.  Add all purpose flour, baking soda and salt and fold into wet ingredients with a sturdy spatula.  Fold in chocolate chips. The batter will be thick!

Use a large soup spoon to scoop dough onto baking sheet, leaving a few inches between each cookie.  Bake for 9-10 minutes or until edges start to brown slightly.  Remove cookies from oven and let cool for 15 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. The cookies might look undercooked after taking them out of the oven, but the residual heat from the baking sheet will finish cooking without burning.

5. Crispy Cauliflower Poppers with Vegan Herb Dipping Sauce

Serves 4-6 people

Anything crispy and dippable is probably the easiest way to define the most popular holiday party appetizers.  Crispy cauliflower is growing in popularity and has even been crafted as a lighter options to a buffalo chicken wing. Dredge cauliflower in a flour and dairy free milk mixture, bake 425 degrees and you have created the perfect vehicle for your favorite sauce or seasoning.

Cauliflower adds a light yet meaty texture that lets you indulge without feeling guilty.  Dip these crispy poppers in hummus, hot sauce or drizzle with your favorite vegan dressing for a satisfying and nutrient dense appetizer or side dish!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped into golf ball size florets
  • ½ c unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • ½ c water
  • 1 ¼ c whole grain flour
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper or spray generously with cooking spray. Mix non-dairy milk, water, whole grain flour, garlic powder, dried basil, paprika and salt and pepper in a large bowl until smooth with no flour lumps. Dip florets in the mixture, tapping off any excess flour mixture and then place on the baking tray.  Be sure not to overcrowd the florets and leave 1-3 inches between each floret. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn each floret and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until crispy.

6. Vegan Herb Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

  • ½ c raw cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour, drained and rinsed well
  • ¼ – ½ c water
  • 3-4 canned roasted red pepper strips
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • ½ tbsp dried basil
  • ½ tbsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp paprika

Directions:

Add all ingredient to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

7. Brussel Sprout Skewers with Balsamic Drizzle

Serves 4-6 people

If you haven’t figured it out yet, roasted brussel sprouts are to die for.  Their layered leaves crisp up so perfectly and their meaty insides soak up the flavor to make them a perfect poppable snack or hearty and healthy side dish.  Stick a few on a skewer and you have the beginning of a very healthy party appetizer or a creative way to plate your vegetable side with minimal effort.

Brussel sprouts are rich in fiber as well as an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. Nutritious and delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. brussel sprouts
  • 2 Tbsp oil of choice, for roasting
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper or spray generously with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch brussels sprouts for about 4 minutes.  This will make it easier to assemble sprouts on the skewer. After 4 minutes remove brussel sprouts to a colander and rinse with cold water.   Trim any hard stems or loose leaves with a paring knife and pat dry with a clean dish towel or paper towel, let dry. Using either wooden or metal skewers place 4-5 sprouts on each skewer.  Arrange skewers in a row on the baking sheet. Drizzle oil over brussel sprouts and shake tray until each sprout is fully coated with oil.  Sprinkle salt and pepper and roast for 15 minutes or until desired crispiness.

Balsamic Reduction

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Pour vinegar into small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately 10 minutes, until vinegar reduces and develops a syrup consistency.  Watch carefully to ensure it does not burn. Test the consistency by dipping a metal teaspoon into the vinegar.  If the vinegar easily coats the back of the spoon, it is ready. Remove from heat and let cool. Drizzle over brussel sprouts or other roasted vegetables. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

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Holiday Detox Tips https://almedalabs.com/holiday-detox-tips/ Tue, 21 Nov 2017 21:40:26 +0000 https://almedalabs.com/?p=1212 It’s the day after Thanksgiving and the guilt is starting to set in, after a day of indulging on all your favorite holiday foods.  Sometimes no matter how hard we try to be mindful, a day like Thanksgiving makes it nearly impossible to eat within our ideal limits.  Between the hidden butter and cream added […]

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It’s the day after Thanksgiving and the guilt is starting to set in, after a day of indulging on all your favorite holiday foods.  Sometimes no matter how hard we try to be mindful, a day like Thanksgiving makes it nearly impossible to eat within our ideal limits.  Between the hidden butter and cream added to a majority of traditional holiday dishes and your relatives insisting that you have a serving of the dish they brought this year, it’s no surprise we often end up on the other side feeling fatigued, bloated and guilty for that extra piece of pie we had at the end of the evening.  

 

Do your body a favor by revamping your digestion and cleansing your taste buds with a simple post-Thanksgiving detox.  Forget the week -long juice cleanse or forcing yourself to drink some spicy vinegar concoction, instead follow a simpler approach that focuses on adding more of the good stuff to your diet and routine.  Follow the guidelines below after Thanksgiving to get yourself feeling good and ready for the next round of holiday hustle and bustle. Remember Christmas is right around the corner!

 

Drink up buttercup – Water is the most important component of our bodies making up over 50% of our total body composition.  Bumping up your water intake will improve digestion and help flush out toxins, as well as increase mental clarity, improve energy and boost your immune system.  Start your day with a tall glass of water, before having breakfast or your morning coffee.  Water will kick start your digestion and flush out the liver.  Consider adding lemon for an additional boost.  Lemon is loaded with vitamin C and may also help reduce indigestion, bloating and inflammation.

 

Move Your Body – Here’s a way to find a silver lining in the post holiday clean up, it gets you moving! Exercise is a great way to increase metabolism, maintain blood sugar, promote heart health, regulate digestion and believe it or not increase energy. Start slow if you’re not one to exercise daily by setting a timer for 10 minutes and making a goal to stay active for the entire 10 minutes with a combination of household chores, stretching, body weight exercises or even dancing! Bump up the time by 5 minutes each day until you’ve reached 30 minutes. Challenge yourself by adding more time and more intense exercises like a faster walking or running pace, holding small weights or attending a group fitness class.

 

Bump Up the Veggies – Vegetables are the key to a post holiday detox.  While you might have included them during your Thanksgiving meal it is important to include them in their most natural state to get their full detoxifying benefit.  Enjoy vegetables raw or steamed to not only reduce the amount of calories per serving, but also to ensure you’re getting the full vitamin potential.  High heat cooking methods like boiling or pan frying causes water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and the B vitamins to leach out into the cooking water and fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K to leach into cooking oils.  Add a nutrient dense smoothie as breakfast or a midday snack to get a few servings in one sitting.  Consider blending 2 cups of spinach, with a quarter of a banana, ½ cup strawberries and a small piece of ginger for a flavorful and nutrient dense detox smoothie.

 

Digestion Promoting Foods – Ginger, fennel, peppermint, fermented foods, vegetables, fruit and whole grains help promote digestion especially when paired with plenty of water. They work wonders on a backed up digestive track after a rich Thanksgiving meal and help keep you regular.  Foods like ginger, fennel and peppermint promote motility and relax the digestive tract and as a result keep you regular, while fermented food actually contain good bacteria and enzymes to help breakdown food and populate our gut flora.  On the flip side, a diet that is high in processed foods, saturated fat, excessive alcohol and sugar can actually damage gut bacteria and result in an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut.  Focus on  adding foods that promote digestion and avoid the ones that inhibit it for a few weeks after Thanksgiving to reset your digestion system.  

Easy on the Dairy – While dairy can be a part of a healthful diet, giving your body a break is a great way to take your detox to the next level.  Dairy is often categorized as an inflammation food which is no surprise considering 1 in 4 adults have reported intolerances to dairy.  We are also advised to stay away from dalry when we’re sick to help avoid  mucus production.  Because, dairy is a food that is eaten daily by many people it might take some extra planning to stick to foods that aren’t topped with cheese.  Consider planning out an entire week of eating to avoid feeling tempted to stop by your favorite pizza joint for a double cheese slice of pizza.  Instead opt for the plant based and dairy free option from an authentic Japanese or Indian restaurant that includes both fiber and plenty of nutrients.  For example, Pho soup with vegetables and chicken is loaded with nutrients and will leave feeling satisfied.

 

Ditch the Booze – This one is a no brainer, but can be a tough one to cut out around the holidays.  Alcohol not only affects our digestive system by promoting more acid production in the stomach,  it can also lead us to mindless eating after the buzz sets in resulting in both a food hangover and booze hangover.  Skip alcohol and order a club soda with a few lemons and limes to stay hydrated as recommended above, but also camouflage your non-alcoholic beverage from your friends or co-workers who insist you have a holiday drink with them to celebrate the season.  You won’t regret this decision the next day, actually you might love yourself for it!

 

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Fall Feasting https://almedalabs.com/fall-feasting/ Tue, 21 Nov 2017 21:39:15 +0000 https://almedalabs.com/?p=1209 The post Fall Feasting appeared first on Almeda.

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As the seasons change, so should our eating habits.  Not only do our bodies naturally crave different foods in the colder months versus the warmer ones, we also see a change in the variety of produce available each season.  The summer offers lighter foods like berries, butter lettuce and tomatoes while the winter harvest includes hearty greens, root vegetables and stone fruit great for stews and warm fruit crisps.  It only makes sense to follow the patterns of the harvest to not only eat foods that satisfy our cravings, but also set a foundation of whole foods in our diets.

 

A whole food is any food in it’s most natural state.  So think about it like this: anything that is not purchased in a package or box is a whole food, pretty simple right?  Considering there were no supermarkets back in the 1600s it’s a given that a diet rich in whole foods was the normal.  Eating patterns like those of the Early Settlers and Native Americans offers a variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals and fiber as well as a quality source of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.  

 

Since then, the variety of snacks, prepared meals, desserts and “nutrition” bars has exploded and the idea of eating the most convenient foods has trumped the ideals of eating the foods that offer the most nutrition for many people.  So where does this land us?  Unfortunately with this style of eating, chronic illness and inflammation are more common than ever and the health risks associated with poor diet and lifestyle are affecting a majority of the population.  

 

With this being said, there is a lot to be learned from the diet followed by the people who enjoyed the first Thanksgiving.  They ate a diet of whole foods rich in the essential nutrients to maintain the demand of the active lifestyle of the time.  The foods they included did not contain added sugars or unhealthy fats to add flavor and maintain shelf life, instead they ate foods in their most natural state, which offered them the highest quality nutrition.  

 

As we gear up for our own holiday celebrations our menus should be created with the intentions of including a variety of whole food and a limited amount of processed foods like refined grains, white sugar and processed vegetable oils.  Create a menu that includes whole foods prepared in a way that maintains the natural flavors and integrity of the food.  Add flavor with natural herbs and spices versus an excess amount of sodium and sugar.  And finally, include a variety of foods to add color and nutrients to your holiday meal to keep you healthy through the winter months to come.

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Healthy Sweet Treats https://almedalabs.com/healthy-sweet-treats/ Thu, 09 Nov 2017 23:11:01 +0000 https://almedalabs.com/?p=1128 The post Healthy Sweet Treats appeared first on Almeda.

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Curb Your Craving and Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with these Sweet Ingredients

What if you could satisfy your sweet tooth while curbing cravings and suppressing your appetite? This might sound too good to be true, but believe it or not there are actually foods that do just that! By choosing your sweets wisely, you just might find the balance of having a sweet treat without completely sabotaging your diet plan.  

Strong flavor ingredients like lemon, bitter dark chocolate and cinnamon add a depth of flavor that will both satisfy your sweet tooth and help curb cravings.  Dark Chocolate and lemon are considered palate cleansers, meaning they help “reset” your tastebuds, which can reduce  cravings for a counter flavor of whatever we just ate.  For example, you might notice you crave something salty after having sweets and vice versa.  Cinnamon is a natural appetite suppressant and it’s rich, and mildly spicy flavor is a great addition to fruit dishes.  Pairing the appetite suppressing qualities of cinnamon with a fiber-rich food like fruit creates a sweet dish that will keep you feeling full longer and help maintain a steady blood sugar.  

Dark chocolate, lemon and cinnamon are common dessert ingredients and while they each have great qualities it is still important to be conscious of the added fat and sugar in dessert items.  A good practice is to create a list of your “go-to” sweet treats and a good place to start is by brainstorming a few that include the above ingredients.  For example, one or two squares of rich dark chocolate, ¼ cup of lemon sorbet or a dash of cinnamon with cottage cheese.  Build upon the idea that you want to choose dessert items that are rich in flavor and contain fiber or protein.  

If you know that desserts and sweet treats are often your downfall and feel that it is best to avoid them altogether you might find that this practice actually leads you to overindulge once you allow yourself some wiggle room.  Prepare for success by keeping your healthy “go-to” sweets on hand and consider the recipes below as well as few of the other tricks listed to help satisfy your cravings and stay on track.

 

  • Start with Fruit

Fruit is naturally sweet, low calorie and contains fiber as well as other important nutrients.  Keep fruit on hand as a refreshing mid day snack or evening treat.

 

  • Add a warm beverage like hot tea or decaf coffee

Enjoying a warm beverage with dessert can actually help you eat slower.  Try adding decaf tea or coffee with your evening dessert and take sips in between each bite.  Consider these tasty combos: Lemon lift tea with 5 vanilla wafer cookies, apple cinnamon tea with yogurt or decaf chai with 2 squares of dark chocolate.

 

  • Use a smaller utensil

You can find small dessert or appetizer spoons and forks at most restaurant or kitchen stores.  Consider using a smaller utensil when enjoying a rich dish like mousse or ice cream.  This will help you eat slower and feel equally satisfied by half the amount that you might typically eat.

 

  • Portion control

Similar to other meals, portion control is a crucial part of following a healthy diet.  Avoid eating sweet treats from the container and review the serving size and nutrition information before starting to indulge.  

 

Healthy Sweet Treat Recipes

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Ask A Nutritionist V1 https://almedalabs.com/ask-nutritionist-v1/ Thu, 09 Nov 2017 15:49:27 +0000 https://almedalabs.com/?p=1121 Our nutritionist Robyn Johnson, RDN answered a few of our most asked questions:   Clarifications on confusing terminology: Sugar, Carbs, Glycemic Index, Glycemic Load It is well documented that sugar is a major factor in the obesity epidemic and development of chronic disease (1-3). Most people know that sugar reduction is a step towards better […]

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Our nutritionist Robyn Johnson, RDN answered a few of our most asked questions:

 

  • Clarifications on confusing terminology: Sugar, Carbs, Glycemic Index, Glycemic Load

It is well documented that sugar is a major factor in the obesity epidemic and development of chronic disease (1-3). Most people know that sugar reduction is a step towards better health but the word “sugar” can be confusing. Does sugar just means cakes and candies? Does fruit count as sugar? Oh it’s bread and pasta too? What about rice and quinoa? Are they all the same?

We’re going to answer all of those questions today. We’ll cover sugar and carbohydrate basics and delve into some other terms that are often brought up with the sugar talk like glycemic index and glycemic load.

 

  • Ok, let’s first discuss the basics of sugar and carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients (the others being protein and fat) but not all carbs are created equal. Common sense tells us a snickers bar and a carrot are not the same but they are both majority carb-based. All carbs (snickers or carrots) get digested and broken down into sugar (aka glucose) which increase blood glucose and insulin levels. This process allows glucose to enter our cells and provide energy. Excess glucose will be stored backup energy or as body fat.

 

  • So what’s the difference between carbs?

Some forms of carbs will increase blood sugar levels very quickly while others take a slower pace. More processed forms of carbs (like snickers) will rapidly spike blood sugar while whole, food and fiber loaded carbs will rise at a slower pace. The foods that rapidly spike blood sugar are classified as having a high glycemic index (GI), while slow-to-rise-blood sugar-foods have a low GI. GI is simply a way to quantify how fast a specific food will raise blood sugar levels. The link at the bottom of this article provide examples of low, medium and high GI foods. Carbs with a low GI generally have more fiber, fat or protein and therefore, are more slowly digested. This leads to a slower increase in blood sugar and often times, lower insulin levels. Research has shown diets composed of mostly low GI foods can help improve insulin sensitivity (4).

 

  • Classifications for GI:

Low = 55 or less

Medium = 56-69

High = 70 or more

 

  • Now, let’s talk about glycemic load (GL).

GL takes into account how much of the food is consumed. That is a key piece missing with GI and can misguide some people. An example of why this matter is the vegetable, carrots.  If you look at the GI of carrots, it’s 39. This is fairly close to the GI of whole wheat spaghetti at 42. Now, when you factor in quantity and make those foods equal in amount, you’ll see a much bigger gap. Carrots have a GL of 2, while whole wheat spaghetti has a GL of 17. Now you can clearly see which food is healthier. If you’re going to use these tools for food decisions, GL is a better measurement to follow than GI because it incorporates quantity.

 

  • Classifications for GL:

Low = 10 or less

Medium = 11-19

High = 20 or more

 

  • What does GI or GL have to do with health and disease risk?

Research has shown diets lower in GI and GL have decreased risk for chronic disease development such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity (5-8). Do you have to count these GI and GL measurements for success? Absolutely not. Simple building a foundation of real food with vegetables and fruits being your main source of carbs will automatically make the high to low GI and GL swaps for you. Plus, you’ll be consuming a variety of vitamins and minerals in those foods which support your health even more. Don’t let these terms intimidate you. They are tools to use if needed but if you’re not one to track or count things related to food, this may not be a tool for you. If you are a number person, we have provided extra resources for you below.

  • Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of Foods here
  • Search a specific food for a Glycemic Index rating here

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2913796/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16904534/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19586558/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19161649

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24787496

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22727193

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24770867

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25693843

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Intermittent Fasting https://almedalabs.com/intermittent-fasting/ Wed, 01 Nov 2017 15:30:46 +0000 https://almedalabs.com/?p=1117 You’ve likely heard of the term “Intermittent Fasting” or “IF”. You might be thinking, “Where did this fasting talk come from?” “Is it another fad?” Well, here’s the short answer. It’s no fad. You’ll continue to hear about fasting and after learning the science, you’ll likely want to try it yourself.   Fasting has been […]

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You’ve likely heard of the term “Intermittent Fasting” or “IF”. You might be thinking, “Where did this fasting talk come from?” “Is it another fad?” Well, here’s the short answer. It’s no fad. You’ll continue to hear about fasting and after learning the science, you’ll likely want to try it yourself.

 

Fasting has been around for a long time . Let’s visually time travel back to the 1970’s. There was breakfast, lunch and dinner. No snacks. Kids didn’t need a snack before being active and after dinner was served, food was done for the day. Now, let’s look at what’s happening today. We eat breakfast, get a mid-morning snack, eat lunch, get an afternoon snack, eat dinner and finish with an evening snack. We are eating all day long. The NHANES survey results confirm this trend (1-2). We went from eating 3 meals/day to 6 meals/day. We’ve doubled the number of times we eat and simultaneously, increased the rate of obesity and chronic disease development. Yes, the types of foods we eat factor in as well,  but timing of eating cannot be overlooked. (Let’s be honest, most people are not snacking on broccoli or wild-caught salmon!) Snacks tend to be quick, processed and high in sugar.

 

  • So what is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?

Intermittent fasting is a way of eating. There are a variety of ways to practice IF and you can see examples below. Simply put, it’s a method of eating in which food is only consumed during certain hours of the day. The rest of the day, meaning a 24-hour period, there is no calorie consumption. The fasting period starts after the last calorie intake in the evening and ends upon calorie consumption the next day.

 

  • Some examples of intermittent fasting

For a 16-hour fast and 8-hour eating window or what’s often referred to as the 16:8 protocol (the most common form of IF), the day could look like this: First meal at 10 am and last meal at 6 pm. That eating window equal 8 hours which means the rest of the day is 16 hours of fasting. That same window could start at 8 am and end at 4 pm or start at noon and end at 8pm. The exact hours are flexible though it’s encouraged not to eat too late in the evening as it can disrupt the circadian rhythm or the sleep and wake cycle.

For a 14 hour fast and 10 hour eating window, the day could look like this: First meal at 8 am and last meal at 6 pm or first meal at 9 am and last meal at 7 pm. The times can be shifted.

For a 12 hour fast and 12 hour eating window, the day could look like this: First meal at 7 am and last meal at 7 pm. Again, the hours could shift per the individual’s preferences

Another form of IF is a 24 hour fast though most people practice the other versions of fasting before embarking on the longer hour fas

 

  • The science behind IF

The word “fasting” can seem scary to many people because we’ve been taught that if we don’t eat for hours, we enter “starvation mode.” This is an unfortunate myth. During a “fed” state, the body is using and storing the energy from food. That food could be carbs, protein or fat—doesn’t matter, it’s using it or storing it. During a fasted state (like sleep) the body will use some of that stored energy. Nobody is “starving” overnight because the body has mechanisms to use glucose, stored glycogen or fatty acids as fuel. Starving is when an individual has no access to food. Fasting is different due to the fact that food is available, if desired. A fast can be broken at any time.

If the body has available glucose or stored glucose (known as glycogen), it will not starve. Once it has used up the stored glycogen, it will begin to use fatty acids from body fat.

 

 

  • How IF aids in Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM)

Most therapies for T2DM include targeted drugs or diets to reduce glucose levels, they don’t focus on insulin or the hyperinsulinemia that often coincides with T2DM. Nor do they focus on the inflammation component of the disease. Unfortunately, most dietary recommendations for T2DM include 6 meals per day with 30-75 grams of carbohydrates per meal. That’s a lot of carb and that recommendation is keeping insulin elevated all day long. It’s doing the opposite of what we want. According to experts like Dr. Jason Fung, treatments that lead to decreasing insulin like fasting and low carb diets should be implemented for reversing obesity and T2DM (3). Additionally, inflammation should be targeted as it plays a role in underlying causes for T2DM and research has shown that fasting can reduce inflammation markers (3-6). Fasting protocols address both of things. It reduces insulin levels and inflammation (5-7).

The process of fasting can seem intimidating at first. But, after reviewing the science behind it and understanding that you can ease into it with different eating and fasting window, it many people become excited to delve in. If you decide to try intermittent fasting yourself, some initial tips are to ease with a large eating window (perhaps the 12 or 10-hour example), reduce your carbohydrate intake at other meals to reduce the glucose spikes and hunger hormone triggers and think of this as an experiment! There’s really no way to mess up a trial of intermittent fasting!

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2806886/

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/nhanesi.htm

Fung, Jason. The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of of Weight Loss. Greystone Books. 2016.

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/news/press-releases/2015/nih-researchers-find-potential-target-reducing-obesity-related-inflammation

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Effects+of+eight+weeks+of+time-restricted+feeding+(16%2F8)+on+basal+metabolism%2C+maximal+strength%2C+body+composition%2C+inflammation%2C+and+cardiovascular+risk+factors+in+resistance-trained+males.

https://www.jci.org/articles/view/83260

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20921964

 

Additional fasting research:

http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/pdf/S1550-4131(16)30250-9.pdf

https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/study-finds-fasting-may-help-reduce-negative-side-effects-chemotherapy

Fung, Jason; Moore, Jimmy. The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal your body through intermittend, alternate day and extended fasting. Victory Belt Publishing, Inc. Oct. 2016

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Winter Foods to Warm the Soul https://almedalabs.com/winter-foods-warm-soul/ Sun, 01 Oct 2017 11:11:18 +0000 https://almedalabs.com/?p=1063 The post Winter Foods to Warm the Soul appeared first on Almeda.

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Have no fear, winter might be here but that doesn’t mean no more fresh produce! Hearty winter produce including squash, winter greens, root vegetables, cranberries, citrus and pomegranate add a variety of colors, nutrients and flavors to winter meals.  From soups and stews to warm salads and roasted vegetables the variety of winter produce is nothing short of the summer and spring harvests!

The rich orange and green hues of winter produce quickly reminds us of the nutrient density of a vibrant acorn squash or a robust bunch of kale, and better yet they pair so perfectly together to create warm hearty meals that will not disappoint. Winter produce highlights several nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and fiber to keep you healthy through this chilly season.

Squash is probably the most well known seasonal vegetable in the winter and while there are several varieties you might notice that they all have something in common.  Acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash as well as several other varieties are all orange or yellow.  This is great news because this means that they contain several antioxidants including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin A and vitamin C.  Each of these nutrients offers our body the building blocks to maintain optimal health and avoid sickness.  

Winter greens, including kale, collards and chard, are hearty and rich in flavor.  Dark green leafy vegetables are nutrient powerhouses and are often noted for their countless nutrients.  These vegetables contain an abundance of antioxidants, fiber, iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium.  Moral of the story… Include winter greens in your diet and you will never fall short of your recommended nutrient intake and better yet increase your chances of avoiding winter illnesses.  

It might be hard to imagine fruit growing during the winter, but believe it or not there are actually several varieties that flourish in cooler temperatures.  Citrus, cranberries and pomegranate are a few examples of fruits that are in their peak growing season through the winter.  Pomegranate is not only a standout for its tart flavor, it has also been shown to help reduce inflammation as well as reduce the risk of several heart related conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart attack.  

Winter can be a dreary 3-4 months for those living in the northern and northeastern states, but with such rich variety of colors and nutrients the full flavors of winter produce gives us something to look forward to.  Just imagine, it’s a chilly day in January and you come home to a hearty chicken stew made with rich butternut squash, leafy greens topped with a sprinkle of pepper bacon.  Hmm.. maybe winter isn’t so bad.  

 

Winter Harvest Buddha Bowl with Avocado Lime Dressing

Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale (~ 1-1.5 pounds)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 avocado
½ lb. bacon (turkey or pork)
½ pomegranate kernels
1 large sweet potato (~ 1-2 pounds)
Olive oil for roasting
Salt and pepper to taste

Other ingredients to consider adding or substituting:

Pumpkin seeds
Roasted butternut squash
Roasted acorn squash
Toasted sesame seeds
Roasted chickpeas
Sprouts
Roasted beets

  

Directions:
 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.  Cut sweet potato (or squash) into coins or cubes for roasting.  Arrange on baking sheet and coat with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper.  Bake for 30 min or until edges start to crisp.

2. Cook quinoa according to package directions.  Quinoa typically takes about 15-20 minutes to cook.

3. Cook bacon until crispy and cut into small pieces.

4. Put kale in a medium sized mixing bowl and drizzle 1-2 tablespoons olive oil on top.  Using your hands or tongs massage oil into kale until kale is soft and bright green.  Set aside. 

5. Prep avocado, by cutting lengthwise and removing the pit.  Cut avocado into slices. Cut the top of the pomegranate off and then run a paring knife along the outer skin to cut only the surface of the fruit. Make 4 cuts around the diameter of the fruit. Using your fingers pry apart the sections to reveal the kernels.

6. Layer 2 cups of kale, ¼ – ½ cup cooked quinoa, ¼ cup pomegranate, a ¼ of the avocado, and ½ cup of sweet potato in a large salad bowl.  Sprinkle with bacon.

 

Avocado Lime Dressing

Ingredients:
1 Avocado
1 clove Garlic, peeled
¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro
¼ cup low-fat sour-cream or greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice (or white vinegar)
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
¼ teaspoon Kosher Salt
¼ teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

 

Directions:

Blend together all ingredients in a blender or with a stick blender. Add a splash of water if mixture is too thick.

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Holiday Survival Guide https://almedalabs.com/holiday-survival-guide/ Fri, 01 Sep 2017 11:11:29 +0000 https://almedalabs.com/?p=1061 The holidays are easily the toughest time of the year when it comes to staying on track with your healthy diet and lifestyle.  Between the numerous holiday parties, cookies and gift boxes full of sweets and treats, it is not always easy saying no to Grandma’s secret recipe snickerdoodles. While it is not realistic to […]

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The holidays are easily the toughest time of the year when it comes to staying on track with your healthy diet and lifestyle.  Between the numerous holiday parties, cookies and gift boxes full of sweets and treats, it is not always easy saying no to Grandma’s secret recipe snickerdoodles. While it is not realistic to completely avoid holiday foods, it is possible to navigate holiday festivities without completely falling off the wagon.  

Holiday foods often follow a common trend, lots of butter and sugar.  Creamy dips, cookies, heavy alcoholic drinks and crunchy snacks are a few of the main culprits and are just too easy to pig out on, but they often leave you feeling over stuffed, tired and groggy for several days after.  

As we gear up for the holiday hustle and bustle it is important to enter the holiday season with a positive mindset.  Have confidence that you will take care of yourself and continue to work towards or maintain your healthy lifestyle.  

Follow these holiday survival tips that will help you enjoy holiday festivities, as well as contribute to the holiday festivities in a way that will be beneficial to both you and your community.  

 

  • Be Mindful

Being mindful is a great place to start as it can help you think twice about taking additional servings of heavy carbohydrate rich foods like mashed potatoes and stuffing.  Focus on enjoying your food and eating it with the intention of tasting the flavor and savoring the extra holiday love that went into preparing it, instead of just shoveling it in.  Mindful eating will help with portion control and listening to your gut when you’ve reached max capacity.  

 

  • Bring your own

It is common to offer to bring a dish to a family gathering or holiday party.  Use this to your advantage by bringing a well rounded dish that can be your go-to if the healthy options are limited.  Think outside the typical vegetable or fruit tray and consider bringing a casserole with lean protein, healthy fats and lots of nutrient dense veggies, zucchini chicken pesto bake anyone?

 

  • Rethink your dipper

There is just about every flavor imaginable of dips to be found at holiday parties.  From savory to sweet you can almost be certain you will learn about a new variety this season.  While dips can be overeaten and their calorie content should be taken into consideration, the actual dipper might be a little easier to switch out.  Typically there are chips, pretzels and bread available to use as your dip vehicle, but get creative and switch out these carb and salt heavy options for vegetable sticks.  The extra fiber from the vegetables will not only leave you feeling full, they will also help you maintain your blood sugar.  

 

  • Get moving

While holiday stress might seem like a good excuse to stop your exercise routine, it is actually the worst thing you can do for your sanity.  Taking just 15 – 20 minutes a day to exercise will help with digestion, mood, and weight maintenance, as well as prevent heart disease and maintain blood sugar.  Consider your exercise time your “me time” and take some time each day to clear your mind and work those muscles!

 

  • Keep it colorful

When you look down at your plate during the holidays you might notice that it is full of tan and white foods.  A plate that lacks variety of color means that it also lack variety of nutrients.  By adding color to your plate with fruits and vegetables you will not only reduce the amount of carbohydrate rich foods, you will also be adding fiber that will aid in proper digestion, illness prevention and a steady blood sugar. The American Nutrition and Dietetic association recommends making half of your plate fruits and vegetables.  Start your plate by first filling it with colorful fruits and veggies, then add other healthy additions like lean protein and healthy fat to create a well rounded holiday meal.

 

  • Drink smart

Holiday foods are well known to be calorie and carbohydrate dense, but what about holiday beverages?  Believe it or not sugary alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages can actually be more detrimental to a balanced diet that holiday eats.  Eggnog, holiday cocktails and punch are often loaded with added sugar and can wreak havoc on blood sugar.  First, and foremost always consider sticking to water.  Water will fill your stomach and keep you hydrated.  If you would like to enjoy a beverage outside of water choose low sugar drinks and mixers like unsweetened tea, sparkling water or diet tonic water.  Add a splash of cranberry juice and a few lime wedges to your cocktail to add flavor and festive colors.  

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