Dairy Free Cheese Recipes – What to Look For

Whether you are needing to be dairy free because of an allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity, you are not alone. More and more people are finding that dairy products in their every day diet is causing their inflammation symptoms to worsen and realize they function better on a day-to-day basis if it’s not in their diet all the time.

But that brings in a whole other issue. Cheese is good! No wonder there’s been a boom in dairy free cheese substitutes! Now, before I go any further, I have to say one thing:

Dairy Alternative cheeses are it's own genre of cheese. 

It can be used for different purposes, and just like there are thousands of different cheeses to be used in specific and different ways, there are many dairy alternatives to try and to use in different ways.

While there are some cheeses out on the shelf, many choose to try to make their own at home for many reasons. It could be because of random allergies or other intolerances, trying to keep the recipe as whole as possible without fillers, reducing or not having any added sugars, or that it’s less of a hit on the wallet.

Whatever the case, if you are looking for a good recipe for a dairy free alternative to cheese, I do have a few tips and things to look for in recipes to make sure you are making “a good one”. Or if you are looking for it to be more firm or look for it to stretch, I have some ingredients to look for with that specific texture. If anything this might help you when picking out a dairy free cheese alternative at your store.

Getting the Bite or Tang of Aged Cheese

The best way to get that tang that aged cheese has is to have your mixture age. But that can get a little tricky since you probably don’t want to worry about mold, or have your kitchen smell like stinky cheese for weeks.

The best tang I’ve been able to get with a simple recipes at home is about as much as you would expect from softer cheeses like cream cheese or feta cheese.

Ingredients to look for:

  • Lemon Juice
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (more bite) or White Vinegar (mild bite)
  • Fermented Products:
    • Miso Paste
    • Probiotic capsules
    • Unsweetened plain plant based yogurt
    • Sauerkraut Juice
    • Rejuvelac: Water from sprouting grains
      • If you sprout your own grains, the leftover semi cloudy water has probiotics in it, it’s said to have a mild kombucha flavor, and is healthy to drink. You can always save this for your cheese alternative recipes.
      • If you don’t sprout grains and have no idea what I’m talking about, you can look up the benefits and see if it’s something you would want to add to your routine, but if not, you can find other items to add to your recipe and not sprout grains just to make dairy-alternative cheeses.
  • Mustard or Mustard Powder

Texture: Cuttable and/or Sliceable

If you are looking for a cheese to put on sandwiches or want something on your cheese plate with a harder texture, you’ll need something to solidify your mixture.

Ingredients to Look for:

  • Refined Coconut Oil – solid at room temperature, easy to blend, easy to mold into a shape, and the refined version does not have a taste. It’s also saturated fat, which is part of the reason why we love cheese so much. Good for cheese balls.
  • Agar Agar powder/flakes – usually will call for powder. It’s from seaweed, but it’s a plant-based alternative to gelatin, which once it’s set with your other ingredients will make it more sliceable.
  • Gelatin

Texture: Stretchable/Meltable

If you are wanting something to stretch like mozzarella on your dairy free pizza or over a casserole, you’ll need some specific starches. Some starches are good to thicken a mixture, while others add elasticity. When using starches, read the instructions and make sure to follow them, otherwise you might not get the right reaction and it won’t stretch or thicken properly. With some starches, you need the right temperature, and to not overheat the mixture after adding it.

Lastly, when finding the ingredients, some starches will just say “powder”. You might be able to find arrowroot powder, but not arrowroot “starch”. It’s the same thing.

Ingredients to Look For:

  • Arrowroot Powder or Starch – comparable to corn starch to thicken, but adds a little stretch as well.
  • Tapioca Powder or Starch – this seems to be the most stretchy and when it’s at colder temps, it’s rubbery, of the two. I’ve used this to make a cashew mozzarella balls before.

Add Some Fat

Let’s face it, the reason we love cheese, is because it’s basically saturated fat other than some mozzarellas and feta varieties. Dairy-free cheese alternatives should be used like cheese, in that it should be more of an every once and a while item, and not with every meal. So if you are worried about where your fat intake comes from, do yourself a favor and when you make a dairy-free cheese recipe, add the fat.

The only one I’ve made that I like that doesn’t have a lot if any fat, is my white bean queso dip. But that’s pretty much it. All others I love and other people love, have coconut oil or is full of nuts, so, if you want it hit the same buttons as cheese or close to it, add the fat.

Conculsion

Plant Based/Dairy Free Cheese are it’s own product. They are trying to make the alternatives available to act like and semi-taste like cheese, but you and your body knows it’s not. You just have to know it’s a different type cheese you’re working with.

There are plenty of delicious cheeses out there to try, but trust me, don’t cheap out if you are going to buy it on the shelf and it’s your first time trying dairy free cheese. And the softer nut cheeses are usually a guaranteed hit.

As always, keep finding you beet and I will catch up with you all soon!

Nutrition Tips for the Midday Slump

That moment in the afternoon that all the sudden your energy dips and you become unmotivated and all you want to do is just zone out and chill, if not take a nap for a few minutes.

Why does it happen? Can we stop it? Can we help it with nutrition? Let’s talk about it.

Why Is There a Midday Slump? Can We Avoid It?

Midday slump is absolutely normal and something we can work with. The reason why it happens is because of it being part of our circadian rhythm. It’s an internal process that occurs every 24 hours. It’s part of our sleep pattern and why even during our sleep we go in a and out of REM (deep sleep) and light sleep.

The time between 2-4pm is part of the rhythm and your energy dips for people who wake up around 6-8am.

It’s perfectly normal, but there are some factors that could make this dip in our energy less, so let’s talk about what those are.

High-Protein and Complex Carb Lunch

A meal can impact how we feel hours later. Since we are talking about the midday slump, let’s look at our lunch.

When we have a meal that is “heavy” or contains a lot of starchy, rich, and processed foods (i.e. Burger and French fries) our blood sugar can spike and crash. The other part to this is that with heavier meals you can feel more sluggish right after eating.

Instead of things like potatoes, pasta, and for some even a slice of bread, go for complex carbs like brown rice, quinoa, vegetables, etc.

With complex carbs they have a higher fiber content so they digest slower and your blood sugar won’t spike and drop.

Don’t worry – you can save the pasta for dinner.

The other factor for lunch is having it be higher protein. Protein will not crash your blood sugar and it digests slower and keeps you fuller longer.

Photo by Pratik Bachhav on Unsplash

Balanced Midday Snack

If you are not used to eating a lighter lunch, then having a midday snack that is balanced with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs, will help keep you full until dinner and can help with the midday slump.

When you start feeling the yawns come on, take a break and pull out the apple and peanut butter, or a snack box with fresh fruit, nuts, and some cheese if your not allergic.

This can help with balancing out your blood sugar, keep you full, and gives you a reason to take a break and munch.

Hydration

I don’t know about y’all, but when my day gets busy I can be barely sipping on my coffee all morning and before I know it I’m hungry and it’s time for lunch.

Dehydration is a common first sign on fatigue and headaches. So if that sounds like you around lunch or mid-afternoon, keep the fluids going. Make sure you are drinking enough.

Moderate coffee use (2-ish cups) is not dehydrating, however it’s still good to drink water or herbal tea, even iced herbal tea, throughout the day.

Photo by Bluewater Globe on Unsplash

Not A Time To Have Foods Your Sensitive or Allergic To

For lunch or for a midday snack, if there is a food you are sensitive to or allergic to, try not having them if you usually do at lunch and see if it helps.

With food sensitivities, allergies, and intolerances they all cause differing levels of low-grade (and high-grade for severe allergies) inflammation.

Low-grade inflammation isn’t always seen or felt, but common symptoms are fatigue and brain fog, along with a whole list of other symptoms.

So if you do have food sensitivity issues, consider this when planning your meals and picking out your order for lunch.

Change It Up

During that midday slump time, you become less productive. Some might think that they have to get a project done ASAP so no breaks until it’s complete. But in actuality, if you take a break, preferably 20 minutes but even 5 minutes is better than nothing, and do something different, it can boost productivity and you’ll get just as much done without having to force yourself. Plus you’ve given your body and brain a quick minute to recharge.

If you have a physical job, take a minute and sit down. Hydrate or have your snack.

If you have a desk job, get up, walk, stretch, etc. Get your body moving.

If you can’t get up and walk or stretch, try to do something that is automatic. Something you don’t have to think about. Like cleaning out the junk mail in your email. This is the time you can make more mistakes so doing something mindless is better than continuing with a huge report or project.

Putting It All Together

The midday slump is natural and something you can work with your body and let yourself take a minute, even take a 20 minute or less nap if you need to.

There are a few things you can do to help the dip in energy not be so drastic with what you have for lunch and a midday snack. Have a higher protein, less starchy lunch and snack to keep your blood sugar leveled. And always stay hydrated throughout the day.

And take a break, do something different. Whether that’s sitting down or walking for a few minutes, change it up.

Dairy Free: Foods to Meet Calcium Needs

When you think of calcium, you think of dairy. When you think of dairy you think of calcium… or some delicious creamy sauce or cheese. But what if you are needing to be dairy free?

There are a lot of reasons why people have to be dairy free and why people choose to be dairy free from food allergies to intolerances, to the love of animals. But since dairy has been marketed to be the go-to for calcium, can you meet calcium needs without having dairy as part of your everyday diet?

Let’s take a look at why we need calcium, what dairy-free foods contain high amounts of calcium, and then let’s look at the recommended amount of calcium intake to see what that would look like throughout the day.

Why Do We Need Calcium?

BONE HEALTH: No doubt one of the most important reasons to regularly intake calcium is for our bone health. Calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. Interestingly, that storage takes place before your are about 30 years old. After that, what calcium you’ve been able to put in the “savings account” of your bones, is all you’ll be able to save. After 30 it’s maintaining what you have and trying not to deplete your savings. Regularly intaking calcium is essential.

HEART FUNCTION: Calcium is a key contributor to your heart contracting to pump blood. It’s one of the key minerals for blood pressure control.

NERVE FUNCTION: Like with the heart, being a muscle, calcium helps fire cell signals to contract muscles to get you moving.

Dairy Free Sources of Calcium

With any nutrient, being able to get calcium through the food we eat is the best way, unless prescribed by your doctor for one reason or another. So how can we meet calcium needs if we are dairy free?

  • CANNED SARDINES OR SALMON
    • with bones
  • CALCIUM-FORTIFIED DAIRY FREE SUBSTITUTES
    • If it is fortified with calcium, it should say it on the front, but you can always check the nutrition label to see the calcium content.
  • FORTIFIED ORANGE JUICE
    • Not all orange juice will include calcium, but like with the other fortified products, it usually will say something on the front of the carton, or you can always check the nutrition label on the back.
  • FIRM TOFU
    • made with calcium sulfate. Again, you can always check the nutrition label and ingredients.
  • GREENS
    • kale, turnip greens, collard greens
  • BROCCOLI OR CABBAGE
  • FIGS
  • FORTIFIED CEREALS AND ENGLISH MUFFINS
    • you can always check the back, but look at cereals like Total, Raisin Bran, Cherrios, etc. A lot of cereals now will have on average at least 10% or 130mg of calcium per serving.
  • BEANS
    • Garbanzo beans, white beans, kidney beans, navy beans, etc.
  • SEEDS
    • Seeds are known to be little nutrient powerhouses. Some that are high in calcium would be poppy, sesame, celery, and chia seeds.

You can see without even the fortified foods listed, there is a wide variety of foods, no matter your “beet”, that you can find and add to meals to provide you with your calcium needs. But what does it look like throughout the day?

Calcium Needs and What It Looks Like Throughout the Day

Below is the chart of Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium. RDA means that this is the average daily level of intake sufficient to meet nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%+) healthy individuals.

So numbers is great and all, but how does that translate into food? Let’s look at the higher end of the RDA, 1300mg of calcium, (which would be the needs of a growing teen) and what that would look like throughout the day for a dairy free person with a few options:

Photo by Deena Englard on Unsplash

BREAKFAST:

380mg: Fortified Cereal with Fortified Plant Based Milk

  • 1 Serving Fortified Cereal, average 130mg
    • Calcium Fortified cereals can range from 10% to 100% RDA, for this we will take the lower since most will have about 130mg or 10%. It’s better to get your calcium throughout the day than all at once since your body can only absorb so much at a time.
  • 1 Cup Calcium Fortified Plant Based Milk, average 250mg

320mg: Scrambled eggs, sauteed broccoli, and a toasted English Muffin

  • 2 Eggs, 50 mg
  • 1 Cup Cooked Broccoli, 180mg
  • English Muffin enriched with Calcium Propionate, 102mg

335mg: Tofu scramble with Black Beans and Satueed Broccoli on the side

  • Tofu, 1 cup, 130mg
  • Cooked Black Beans, 1/2 cup, 25mg
  • 1 cup cooked Broccoli, 180mg

310mg: High Calcium Plant Based Yogurt topped with Fruit and Chia Seeds

  • High Calcium Plant Based Yogurt, average 130mg
    • Depends on the brand. Plant Based yogurts can range from 1% (13mg) calcium to 20% (260mg) calcium depending on the brand. Always read your labels.
    • Chia Seeds, 1 tbsp, 180mg
Photo by Deryn Macey on Unsplash

LUNCH

449mg: Large Kale and Spinach Salad with your choice of protein and dressing

  • Kale, 1 cup, 177mg
  • Spinach, 2 cups, 272mg
  • **If using something like 1 cup garbanzo beans (86mg) 3/4 cup extra firm tofu (380mg) as protein, calcium intake will increase.

446mg: Sandwich of choice including 1 cup spinach, side of high calcium plant based yogurt with fruit and chia seeds

  • Spinach, 1 cup, 136mg
  • High Calcium Plant Based Yogurt, average 130mg
    • Depends on the brand. Plant Based yogurts can range from 1% (13mg) calcium to 20% (260mg) calcium depending on the brand. Always read your labels.
    • Chia Seeds, 1 tbsp, 180mg

358-434mg: Canned Salmon Salad, like tuna salad, (or smashed garbanzo bean salad, different info below) on top of, or in a wrap with with fresh spinach. Include crackers as a side, carrot sticks, etc.

  • Canned Salmon, 1/2 alone, 162mg
  • Garbanzo Beans, 1 cup, 86mg
  • Spinach, 2 cups, 272mg
Photo by Brenda Godinez on Unsplash

SNACKS

  • 155mg: Edamame, 1 cup
  • 75mg: Raw Almonds, 1oz or 20-25 almonds
  • 102mg: English Muffin, Enriched with Calcium Propionate, Toasted with Jam
  • 234mg: Chia Seed Pudding using 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 130mg: High Calcium Plant Based Yogurt ***Read Your Labels!
Photo by Michele Krozser from Burst

DINNER

426mg: Veggie Stir Fry including Broccoli & Bok Choy with choice of protein, topped with sesame seeds with/without brown rice

  • Broccoli, 2 cups, 180mg
  • Bok Choy, 1 cup cooked, 158mg
  • Sesame Seeds, 1 tbsp, 88mg
  • Adding Brown Rice, 1 cup, +20mg
  • **If using something like 1 cup garbanzo beans (86mg) 3/4 cup extra firm tofu (380mg) as protein, calcium intake will increase.

484mg: Salmon Burger with any sides, bun, toppings you want.

  • 1 Burger Patty using canned salmon, 484mg
  • Adding coleslaw or using spinach with the burger will add more.

431mg: White Bean and Kale Chili, depends on recipe, but usually will contain ground turkey. Vegetarian version, add more beans, with veggies, crackers, etc.

  • White Beans Cooked, 2 cups, 252mg
    • *Possibly more with the serving if using more beans for vegetarian version.
  • Kale Cooked, 1 cup, 179mg

BOTTOM LINE

A calcium rich diet that is dairy free is possible! To do it you do need to do a few things:

  • Educate yourself on the foods naturally rich in, fortified, or enriched with calcium.
  • ALWAYS read your labels, especially with plant based yogurts and know the brands you like and give you what you need. Still check the labels since they can change the formula and the nutrient aspect can change.
  • Spread out your calcium intake throughout the day if you can. Your body only absorbs so much at a time, so eating calcium rich foods throughout the day is best.

Keep finding you beet and I’ll see you tomorrow with a dairy-free cheese sauce and soon to come queso recipe.

SPOILER: The cheese sauce uses calcium-rich white beans. If you want to see both recipes in action, the YouTube video will be up tomorrow that will show both the cheese sauce and the queso! The queso recipe will be coming later this week to the blog.

Nutrition Tips When On Vacation

Usually around this time of year we go on a vacation – whether that’s a short weekend trip or a full week so I thought that I’d share some nutrition tips when you’re on vacation.

I don’t know about ya’ll but I want to feel rested, restored, and rejuvenated after vacation. But when we go on vacation, we eat out more, our eating patterns change, and that can effect how we feel. So I thought I’d share some tips with ya’ll.

Photo by Joan Tran on Unsplash

Stay Hydrated

When I’m getting ready for the day before having my breakfast and coffee, I sip on water. I try to do this regularly, but especially on vacation.

When you are eating differently and, if you’re like me, eating foods that I love but my body has a hard time digesting, it’s important for you to stay hydrated for your digestive health so it can break down food properly and move things along. When eating differently it can cause constipation, and a simple thing to do to help prevent that is staying hydrated.

Another reason why this is important is because water helps with your energy. When dehydrated, one of the first signs you can have is fatigue. When cells are not properly hydrated, your ability to produce energy is reduce.

likemeat-f96pzsJZpcs-unsplash

Fruits and Veggies

You might not want to think about what you are and are not eating, but keeping in mind having some sort of fruit or vegetable with every meal helps.

When eating out and eating heavier meals, having fruits and vegetables throughout the day helps because of fiber but also with keeping things lighter. When I have heavier meals back to back I feel more sluggish, so keeping it fresh and light, even with one of the meals, keeps me going.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Move

You don’t have to keep up with your normal workout routine when on vacation, but staying physically active during that time does help when you are back home and needing to get back to your usual grind.

Physical activity does help with energy level by increasing oxygen in the blood and endorphins. It also helps you sleep better at the end of the day for a deeper nights sleep.

Which brings us to my last point.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Caffeine and Alcohol

Everyone reacts to caffeine and alcohol differently, so you know your own beat, but I thought I’d share a few things to keep in mind.

For people who have too much caffeine it can result in insomnia, feeling anxious, or digestive issues, especially when drinking coffee. Those are things you don’t want in your usual routine, and definitely not on vacation.

One thing to consider with alcohol is it’s effect on sleep. Alcohol does have a sedative effect and make people feel drowsy and can help someone fall asleep, but it reduces and interrupts our REM or deep sleep. Many that have an alcoholic drink a few hours before bed will find their sleep interrupted and wake up in the middle of the night.

Sleep is always an important factor to me, but especially on vacation, I want to feel rested and not exhausted and mentally foggy that can result from a lack of sleep.

Video Coming Tomorrow

Tomorrow I’ll have a video that talks about these points and a recipe for a pizza I made last year for our anniversary while sheltering in place!

Keep finding your beet and I’ll see ya’ll tomorrow!

“Find Your Beet”

I thought it was time to actually have a post about “Find Your Beet” since I’ve made this my catch phrase for this blog and now You Tube Channel. Speaking of, if you haven’t already, check out my YouTube Channel!

Okay! So onto finding your own beat when it comes to your nutrition needs. Finding your beat is something unique to everyone since there is no size fits all when it comes to each individual diet.

Although we need to same macro nutrients (carbs, protein, and fats) and micro nutrients (vitamins and minerals), how we individually choose to get those nutrients is our own unique beat. Let’s look a few things to understand why this is important to know.

“Healthy”

Something that is “healthy” for one person might not be healthy for another. Take a few examples of what I mean.

  1. Corn is a whole grain. Pop corn is a whole grain. Therefore popcorn is a “healthy” snack. However, for someone with a corn allergy, popcorn is not a healthy choice for them to snack on.
  2. Bananas are a healthy snack. It’s easily digested and has a good amount of potassium for muscle health and recovery. However, for someone who is diabetic, bananas are one of the fruits that are high-glycemic, and they would need to limit the amount of high-glycemic foods, like bananas, that they have. Depending on the specific day, it might actually be an unhealthy choice.

Get where I’m going here? The food industry has put a healthy label on specific foods and they market it as if those foods are the healthiest choice. In reality, most, if not all, foods have a healthy component to them. Yes including “junk” food.

But what matters is not the specific individual foods you’re eating, but it’s more of the balance of what you are eating that is important. Are you eating a variety of foods? Are you getting enough fiber? Are you being balance in the things you are eating? Those are more of the important factors, not being worried about eating an apple everyday.

Dislikes

I wanted to take a minute and talk about likes and dislikes. For instance bananas – they are high in potassium but I can’t stand them. However, potatoes are actually higher in potassium than bananas, and I love potatoes. So no lack of potassium here!

Now I’m not saying that if you hate a whole food group to exclude it out of your diet. The most common being vegetables. Vegetables are important to include in your diet for fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, you can choose the vegetables that you like and not have to eat kale on the regular because it’s “healthy”. So is broccoli, peas, and carrots.

You still need a variety of food groups in your diet to be balanced. But what you choose within those food groups is up to you and your body with how it reacts to it.

Likes

On the other hand, if you really love a food but it doesn’t really love you back would that be “your beet”? Let’s take a minute and talk about a common food that people love but find they can not have too much – dairy, specifically cheese.

A lot of people have an allergy to dairy, but even if you don’t have an allergy, some have found that they don’t feel well after having cheese on the regular.

Just because you like something, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily part of your everyday beat. I love cheese, but I am allergic to it. However, I know I can have some here and there when it’s worth it, but when it’s not, I don’t have it.

Eating foods that make you feel better, sleep better, have more energy, etc. that’s part of finding your beat, and that might mean lessening the foods you love and putting them in it’s proper perspective so you can work with your body to see how it functions the best.

“Finding Your Beet”

Let’s recap for a minute about what I mean about finding your beat and the factors that are involved.

  • Food Allergies
  • “Healthy” and the foods that are truly healthy for your body
  • Dislikes doesn’t mean not eating whole food groups, but choosing the foods within those groups you enjoy eating
  • Likes doesn’t mean because you like it that you don’t have to be balanced with those foods

Finding your beat can be a challenge especially when you don’t want to admit that the foods you love really are not the best to have on the regular. Or you’re not sure if you are allergic to certain things. But it’s well worth finding out.

Bodies Are Constantly Changing

The last point I did want to mention is that our bodies are constantly changing so if something was working, but you find it’s not working anymore, then changing your beat might be necessary. Allergies can pop up, or you might find certain foods that never effected you, are now do so.

Although it can be frustrating, it’s good to remember that you know you. Although your body might be changing and you might need to get used to new habits, it’s all for the better when you are able to work with your body’s needs and not against it. And as always, you can contact me.

Keep finding your beet and I’ll talk to ya’ll soon!

How to Incorporate a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables

There’s no doubt that eating fruits and vegetables is a part of any healthy diet. Eating fruits and vegetables is a way that we get a lot of our micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) as well as a good source of fiber which is essential to a healthy gut.

A variety of fruits and vegetables is important as well. Not only do they provide different nutrients that we need, but different colors have different antioxidants in them. Antioxidants help with cellular damage and protects against aging, and inflammation. Not only eating enough fruits and vegetables throughout the day is important, but also a variety of colors throughout the day. Hence the phrase “eat the rainbow”.

Let’s talk colors for a moment…

Click to go to the recipe for Barbecue Chopped Salad

Red

  • Foods: apples, raspberries, tomatoes, strawberries, radishes, etc.
    • Antioxidant: lycopene which helps with fighting against heart disease.

Orange

  • Food: Carrots, pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, etc.
    • Antioxidants: carotenoids alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. The body converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A which is important for your immune, skin, and eye heath.

Yellow

  • Foods: pineapple, lemon, yellow peaches, corn, summer squash, etc.
    • Antioxidants: beta-carotene like orange foods, but they also contain beta-cryptoxanthin which has been shown in studies to help reduce inflammation and may play a role in reducing inflammatory disorders.

*Although bananas are yellow, the inside that you eat is white. See below.

Click to go to the recipe for Strawberry Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

Green

I wouldn’t be much of a nutrition consultant if I didn’t take a moment to talk about green vegetables. They are some of the most nutrient dense foods. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and you guessed it, antioxidants.

  • Food: spinach, broccoli, and green peas
    • Antioxidant: lutein and zeaxanthin which helps with age related eye problems.
  • Food: the cabbage family which also includes brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, etc.
    • Antioxidant: sulforaphane and glucosinolate which helps protect against certain cancers and blood vessel damage that can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Blue & Purple

  • Food: blueberries, blackberries, cherries, purple grapes, eggplant, purple cabbage, black olives, purple onion, etc.
  • Antioxidants: anthocyanins which protect against cell damage.

White & Brown

Although you might not think “if it doesn’t have rich color it doesn’t have antioxidants”, know that fruits and vegetables that are white are that way because of antioxidants.

  • White Foods: Bananas, potatoes, and parsnips
    • Antioxidant: Anthoxanthins make the foods white which may reduce cardiovasular disease and arthritis. In addition, a lot of white foods like bananas, potatoes, etc. are good sources of potassium which is needed for nerve and heart health, fluid balance, and muscle health.
  • Brown Foods: Mushrooms mainly
    • Antioxidants: selenium (another antioxidant) which plays a role in metabolism and supports the immune system.

How to Incorporate a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet

How cool is it that we can see antioxidants by the colors of the food we eat! And the fact that the food is beautiful and it helps to protect us from cellular damage.

What if you are just trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet and seeing how you can have more of a variety in your meals in general? If you are just getting use to adding in more fruits and vegetables into your diet, you want to make sure they taste good.

Here are some of my favorite suggestions and ways I get my fruits and veggies in!

  • Blend Them In Smoothies
    • Fruits are pretty easy to incorporate into smoothies, but what about vegetables?
    • Spinach will not add flavor and blends really easily
    • Zucchini is another veggie to add in that doesn’t add a lot of flavor and will add a creamy texture.
    • Avocados are another fruit/vegetable to add to your smoothie for a smooth texture. This is more or less your healthy fats, so a little goes a long way and will help keep you full. And technically, avocado is a fruit.
  • Pasta Sauces
    • Tomato Sauce: Onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms are some of my favorites!
    • Cream Sauce: Onions, broccoli, peas, sauteed greens like kale or spinach, and you can even get your own rainbow going to sliced carrots, peas, yellow squash, and some red onion for a more primavera type of sauce.
    • Butter Sauce: You can sautee just about any veggie in some butter and top it over pasta and it will be delicious, personally. I mean, it’s butter.
  • Veggie Omelet
    • Potatoes, onions, bell pepper, spinach, hot peppers, sweet potatoes, etc.
  • Lettuce Wraps and Stir Fry
    • A lot of times lettuce wraps consist of ground meat like chicken or turkey with a spicy sauce and cooked veggies. Top it with some shredded carrots and cabbage.
    • Same goes for a stir fry. Add your protein and veggies with a sweet and spicy sauce and throw it on top of some rice.
  • Roast Them!
    • Roasting vegetables are my all-time favorite way to cook vegetables. They stay firm, but soft, and they keep all the flavor and then some when roasted.
    • You hate vegetables, but want to start eating them more, try roasting them! Well – other than leafy greens.
    • Here is an old post on Tips On How To Roast Vegetables

There are plenty of ways to get a variety of vegetables in your diet and into the recipes you already love. Know that you don’t need a whole load of fruits and vegetables in your diet for it to improve your health. Mess around with it, find your favorites, and incorporating more vegetables into your regular diet will get easier.

Honeycrisp Wheat Germ Muffins

I thought I’d share a family recipe with all of you! “Easy Wheat Germ Muffins” is the official title, but I’ve made these into an apple cinnamon muffin. But what is wheat germ?

Wheat germ is the reproductive part of wheat that can produce a whole new plant. Because of that, wheat germ is a concentrated source of essential nutrients. Of course on the list of nutrients that it has, it does include gluten. So if you are gluten intolerant and needing to stay away from gluten, wheat germ would be something you’d need to stay away from.

If you are not allergic or gluten-intolerant, then I’d suggest looking up wheat germ. It’s an easy thing to add in for extra nutrients and basically replacing what is stripped away from wheat when it’s processed in a concentrated form.

There is more about wheat germ on my post on another family recipe, “Amelie’s Wheat Germ Pancakes”. And yes… apples are in those too.

Wheat germ has a nutty flavor to them and I guess I just always think of apples, but with this recipe, you can use berries, nuts, etc. or leave them plain. Up to you. For me, I’m not a huge sweet person, but I love baked goods. So this muffin is a delicious nutty flavored baked muffin that’s slightly sweet.

Oh! And I almost forgot – because I always do – if you buy wheat germ, it needs to be stored in the refrigerator after it’s open. Although it’s a flour, it needs to be stored in the fridge. I always forget this. I got a few cups from my mom who had just bought some. She put it in a zip lock bag and in big letters said, “STORE IN FRIDGE”. I still forgot. It contains unsaturated fats, which can become rancid. It has a shelf life of a year if it is stored properly. The way to tell, if you forget to store it in the fridge like me, is that fresh wheat germ has a slight nutty smell, similar to toasted nuts. Not sour.

You could bump up the sweetness with adding a streusel topping, but I don’t think these guys need it. So let’s get to the recipe, but first… don’t ya’ll love this melted butter shot I got?! I’m so proud!

WARNING: Your house will smell like baked cinnamon apple muffins and you will have to slap hands away from people trying to eat them before you can take a picture!

Honeycrisp Wheat Germ Muffins

  • Servings: 9 large muffins
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1 1/3 cup milk (I use almond milk)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped honeycrisp apple
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare muffin tin with liners or grease with small amount of vegetable oil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients: all purpose flour, wheat germ, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk 1 egg until well beaten. Add to the large bowl with dry ingredients.
  4. Add in almond milk to large bowl. Mix all ingredients together.
  5. Add in the apples and cinnamon, or any other add-ins, and fold into the mixture.
  6. Fill in large muffin tin about 1/4 cup each.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes. Let rest for about 5 minutes before devouring.

Breakfast – When To Eat It?

Timing of meals can be a big topic. For today, we are just going to dive in and look at breakfast.

There is a lot about how, when, and what to eat for breakfast. And there’s even debates about if you should or shouldn’t eat breakfast. Let’s look at a few different topics about why people have said to eat or not to eat breakfast.

Effect on Your Metabolism

Your metabolism is the thermic effect on food, which is increases the calories burned after you eat. Interestingly enough, what matters for your metabolism is how much you eat throughout the day, not when you eat it.

A study in 2014 shows that there was not a change in calories burned over 24 hours between people eating or people skipping breakfast.

Eating breakfast does not boost or kick-start your metabolism.

Effect on Weight Management

Not having breakfast and waiting for lunch does make you more hungry and you will most likely eat more at lunch, but on average, it’s not more than what you would have eaten had you had breakfast and lunch.

Some people like the idea of intermittent fasting, which is fasting for certain times of the day, which can include not eating breakfast. This can result in a calorie deficit throughout the day, and thus over time results in weight loss. However, if you planned out your day and still had the same amount of calories, whether eating breakfast or not, it would result in weight loss as well. However you can safely and easily maintain a calorie deficit over time, you will loose weight. For some that might mean skipping breakfast.

There was a 4-month long study that compared eating and/or skipping breakfast in over 300 men and women. After the study was over there was no difference in weight loss/gain between the groups.

Breakfast Is Up To Preference

If or when you eat breakfast is up to you. I’m usually a breakfast eater, but other mornings I’m just not hungry and skip it all together. It’s up to how you feel.

However, having a healthy variety of foods throughout the day is important, as well as your overall daily caloric intake.

This was all a long winded way to say – if you’re hungry in the morning, eat. If you’re not hungry in the morning, don’t. Breakfast does not have a determining factor in weight gain/loss or in your metabolism. Now – keeping your blood sugar from spiking and dipping is a whole other topic about when to eat. I’m sure we will be covering that topic soon. But for now – enjoy breakfast, or not.

Setting Goals, Not Outcomes

How’s 2021 been so far? My first video was exciting and all though it’s a lot of work, it is fun to do and a whole different form of art that I get to learn.

Let’s take a moment and build on my blog post a few weeks ago about A Healthy Mindset for 2021. I had mentioned about why remembering the reasons you’ve set a goal and writing those reasons down is important. Progression has many different faces and might not look like the way you thought it would. And that we need to be realistic in the goals we set for ourselves. No one, including our bodies, thrives in an environment of unrealistic expectations.

So what does setting goals actually looks like?

Goals Are What You Can Control

So many people set goals that are actually outcomes of goals. So what’s the difference?

  • Goals: what we can control
  • Outcomes: results of those goals

I know I’ve talked about this a lot before, but it’s something we find ourselves in the bad habit of doing a lot. We are fed pictures, articles, advertisements that show an outcome of something we want.

The number one goal at the beginning of the year is weight management, right? So a lot of times I hear “I want to lose weight” or “I want to gain muscle”. That’s great, but those aren’t actually goals.

Goals are things we have control over on a daily or weekly basis. The goal of losing, gaining, getting fit, etc. is an outcome of daily and weekly goals like, drinking more water, being consistent with an exercise program, eating more vegetables, etc. Goals are what support an outcome.

Example

Let’s say you want to lower and maintain a healthy blood cholesterol level. You can’t control when, or how low your cholesterol will be by a certain day on the calendar. What you CAN do is change things in your daily and weekly routine that will support having a lower and more maintained blood cholesterol level on a consistent basis, and this is how you will be able to accomplish that outcome.

So your goals might be having fresh fruit or vegetables with every meal. Eating more whole foods and less processed foods. Having an exercise routine that you can stick with, even just 20 minutes for a few days a week.

By breaking down how you get to that outcome, then you can start to be realistic with yourself and see what it is that you can consistently do. For goals to show in a desired outcome, you need to consistently adhere to those goals. Ask yourself if you can see yourself doing this every week for years? If it seems overwhelming, then find a lesser version that is comfortable to start. Then every few weeks or months, add to it. That way changing your usual normal to a healthier version, will then be your new normal and it not be exhausting, or something that you unrealistically can’t keep up with.

Recipe Tomorrow

I’ll be posting on my YouTube Channel tomorrow some of the information I shared here, but also a new chickpea salad recipe!

My initial goal this year is to get back to eating less processed, but also getting back to being better about my food allergies and that includes staying away from soy. At Whole Foods I love their processed soy-based “Chicken” Sonoma Salad. It’s so good! But not for my body. So I decided to make an “Amanda-friendly” version instead and share it with you all! The recipe will be posted on the blog tomorrow, and then the video will be uploaded on YouTube!

Keep finding your “beet”! I’ll talk to you all soon.

Nutrition Tips When You’re Sick

I don’t know about ya’ll but January and February is always a time when at the least, I get a head cold. I’m congested, lethargic, and don’t have an appetite. What are the important things to remember when you are sick to help your body fight and recover?

Before we get into this, I wanted to mention this is a generalization of topics to keep in mind when you’re not feeling your best. “Sick” can mean a lot of different illnesses, and some illnesses will require more than just paying attention to these topics. But as a good rule of thumb, these are things to always keep in mind when you’re not feeling 100%.

HYDRATION

Anytime I go to the doctor with a cold, allergies, or an infection the one thing all doctors say – drink plenty of fluids. Why?

All processes of your body need water. When you’re sick your body is working harder . If you have congestion, drainage, sweating off a fever you are more easily to become dehydrated. All of those take excess water. Then if you are taking medication – whether over the counter or prescribed, it works better when you are properly hydrated and body will be able to process it better. On top of that – your body needs a way to release anything that is toxic from your body and that mean through the kidneys as urine, or through your stool, which also is a process that takes a lot of water. If you’re dehydrated, you won’t be going to the bathroom.

What can you do? Drink water, mix in electrolyte drinks. Electrolytes help with fluid balance. These fluids would include sports drinks, broth, and herbal teas. However, the main two electrolytes are sodium and potassium, so if you have high blood pressure or heart disease, you can talk to your doctor about these, but to be safe, stick to water and herbal teas.

PROTEIN

Protein is important in your daily life and activities, but also plays an important role when you’re sick. Usually when your have a fever or head cold with drainage, you might not have much of an appetite. However, if you are to eat anything if you can keep it down, is to have something that is a good source of protein. Why?

When people first hear protein, you think muscle. Which is true – muscle is built from proteins, but pretty much everything else is structured with proteins as well, which includes your immune system. When your body is fighting off something – even if it’s allergies – it creates antibodies to do the fighting. Those antibodies are made from protein. If you are not taking in enough protein when your body is trying to fight, it will draw on the protein you have stored in your muscles. Your body is a resourceful machine. But losing muscle mass is not necessarily something that we want. To prevent this, if you can eat, try to make sure you are able to get some protein.

If you are not hungry at all, a tip is that you can grab a protein shake and sip on that next to your water or herbal tea.

FIBER

Fiber is something else that is important for a healthy body in general, but it specifically has to do with your digestive system. When you’re sick your body processes that don’t have to directly deal with your immune system and fighting, will slow down.

Then adding on top of that a better chance of you being dehydrated, taking medications that can affect your bowel movements, things can slow way down.

To keep a healthy gut, which is where a lot of our immune system is, we first need to make sure we are hydrated – always number one – but to also help move things along, we need fiber. This includes eating foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, etc.

Fiber traps water – so again, first and foremost is staying hydrated! It does this because it traps water to loosen stools. The soluble fiber helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut. And Insoluble fiber adds bulk which helps move things along in your digestive track.

BOTTOM LINE

  1. HYDRATION: Constantly sip on something anytime you are awake enough to do it.
  2. PROTEIN: If you are able to eat, make sure there is protein sources included. If you are having a hard time and not feeling like eating, grab a small protein shake.
  3. FIBER: To help your gut stay healthy and keep things moving, water/hydration is still number one here too, but also fiber helps to feed the good bacteria and move things along in our digestive track.

RECIPES

How do these points translate into food and recipes? The number one sick food people think of is Chicken Noodle Soup. Broth = hydration, Chicken = protein, and Veggies = fiber!

Below are links to three of my soup recipes already on the blog to get you started!

I will also be posting a new video on my YouTube Channel with the information I’ve shared with you here, along with a video of the recipes! So if you haven’t already, click the link below to see my YouTube Channel! My first video will be posted tomorrow and if you are subscribed it will pop up on your feed tomorrow! EEK!

As always, keep finding your “beet”! Talk to y’all soon.