Lentil Salad

Bunch of raw lentils on a wooden spoon

1 Cup Lentils

1/2 red onion chopped

1 red bell pepper chopped

1 carrot chopped

1 tomato diced

Juice of 1 Lemon

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 TBS Dijon Mustard

Dash of sea salt

1/2 avocado sliced

Cook Lentils according to package directions. Meanwhile chop up all vegetables.  Make Vinaigrette by combining lemon juice, EVOO & mustard.  Once lentils are done, add the vegetables and stir in the vinaigrette.  Sprinkle in the sea salt.  Place in refrigerator to cool until served.  When ready to serve, add sliced avocado.

 

 

Fabulous Lunch Box Pairs

Lunch box so called "madpakke" for lunch in denmark

When creating a healthy lunch for yourself or your child, ask yourself: “What am I getting from this meal?” Too often we may fill up on foods that are lacking quality nutrients.  Creating meals that are well balanced and nutrient rich aren’t always easy.  Here are a few kid friendly and adult pleasing ideas to help inspire your lunchbox.

Black Bean Quesadilla with Tomato, Avocado & Corn salad:  Make a quesadilla out of black beans, black bean dip or refried black beans.  Black beans are a high protein, high fiber and nutrient rich food that is flavorful and can be easily tucked into just about anything. Pairing this tasty bean with a refreshing tomato salad dressed with lemon, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a sprinkle of sea salt will delight any appetite.

Hard Boiled Egg with Snow Peas, Carrot Sticks and Tzatiki sauce:  Eggs are an excellent source of protein. They are super easy to make and can be sliced over a piece of whole wheat bread, mashed into a salad or eaten whole.  I love pairing eggs with Dill, I find the herb to bring a refreshing boost of flavor.

Roasted Chicken and Wheat berry salad with Pesto Dip and Crunchy Apple Wedges: Try roasting up a chicken and sparing some extra for lunch.  Chopping it up and mixing it into a small serving of a grain like a chewy wheat berry will bulk up the fiber content of this meal.  Swirl in some flavorful pesto and pair with some crispy fall apples for a nutrient rich meal sure to keep you satiated for a busy afternoon.

The most important thing to keep in mind when creating your meals is to be sure that you have a veg heavy, protein and fiber rich meal.  Below I have listed a few proteins to help you establish a base to build your meal around.

Lunchbox Friendly Proteins:

Hummus

Nut Butters (peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower)

Beans (bean spreads are great too!)

Leftover roasted chicken

Lentil Patty’s

Edamame

Firm Tofu (Non GMO)

Cottage Cheese

Plain Greek Yogurt

Unsalted Tree Nuts (almonds, walnuts)

Flax Seeds, Hemp Hearts, Chia Seeds

Pumpkin Seeds

Quinoa, Buckwheat

And many, many more!!

 

 

The Skinny on Vitamin Supplements

Close up of lemon and pills isolated – vitamin conceptI’m often asked about my opinion on vitamins. “Should I take them?” and “Which ones do you recommend?” Both very valid questions which absolutely need addressing.

Should I take them? 

Generally, I am not a fan of vitamin supplements.  If you are healthy and consume a healthy diet rich in vibrant vegetables, fruit and whole grains then for the most part, you should be able to get what you need from a balanced, nutrient rich diet.  With a healthy digestive system you will also absorb the nutrients you need and properly eliminate those you don’t.  That being said, not all of us eat this nutritiously, nor do we all absorb nutrients like sponges.

Supplements come in so many different forms and some are loaded with additional ingredients.  I am of the firm opinion that it is very important to know what you are putting into your body.  If labeled as a dietary supplement, it will contain a manufacturers label which will list the active ingredients along with any other added ingredients such as fillers, binders and flavoring agents.  Supplements are created to have an intended function on our body, and some have been proven to be beneficial for individuals that need help managing health conditions or those that need an added boost in their diet.  However, some supplements can interfere with the effectiveness of a medication that you may be prescribed.  This is why it is so important to inform your physician of every supplement that you are taking.

Which ones do you recommend?

Unlike prescription drugs, which require FDA approval,  supplements are not required to have premarket review or approval.  While manufacturers are required to have proof that their products are safe, labels are not misleading, and listed ingredients can be trusted; they do not need to provide this information when their product is marketed.  IF the FDA finds the product to be unsafe, they may then take action.  There have been several news alerts regarding the concern of the actual amount of active ingredient listed in vitamin supplements from some manufacturers, as well as the types of fillers used.

Several independent organizations test vitamin supplements and allow their seal to be placed on the container if the product meets their standards.  Some of these organizations include:

U.S. Pharmacopeia
ConsumerLab.com
NSF International

All this being said, if you find that you are in need of a good quality vitamin supplement, I recommend a brand that has been trusted by health professionals for years.  Metagenics offers high quality vitamins that are formulated based on scientific evidence to enhance absorption.  I also think Pro-thera is a phenominal brand (I love their Pro-biotic formula, There-biotic Complete).  You can now purchase Metagenics through me directly by visiting my online store.

 

 

Kale & Roasted Pumpkin Seed Salad

KaleKale is one of my absolute favorite greens. In season now, this super food is delicious when it is enjoyed raw or quickly cooked. Kale has an amazing nutritional profile. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E as well as calcium, iron, potassium and manganese- a mineral required in trace amounts but plays an important role in metabolism, bone development and antioxidant function.

 

Speaking of antioxidant function, this super veggie is uniquely high in its concentration of carotenoids and flavonoids, two antioxidants that are key in protecting our body from oxidative stress.   When our body is subjected to prolonged states of oxidation, it puts us at risk of developing chronic disease. Pair up with this green giant on a regular basis to help you fend off those nasty free radicals.

 

Kale & Roasted Pumpkin Seed Salad

 

1 Bunch of Dinosaur or Curly Kale, Ribs removed, chopped

2 TBS Olive Oil

Sprinkle of Sea Salt

1 Beet, Peeled and Grated

1 cup White Cannellini Beans

3 TBS Pumpkin Seeds, Dry Roasted

Juice of one lemon, or to taste

 

Preparation:

 

Wash Kale and remove the hard rib, chop and toss into a bowl. Add the olive oil and salt and massage with your hands. Peel and grate the beet into the salad, add in the beans. Place pumpkin seeds into the toaster oven at 350° for about 5-7 minutes, you will start to hear the seeds popping. Add in the lemon juice and voila, you have a fiber packed, nutrient rich meal.

 

The Sunshine Vitamin

Welcome Spring! I aBright sun on blue sky with cloudsm so happy that you are here.   You have graced us with sunshine to boost our vitamin D levels.  Speaking of the sunshine vitamin, did you know that a little dose of daily sunshine goes a long way?  Most people will meet at least some of their vitamin D needs through sunshine alone.  Of course there are factors that affect UV radiation exposure and vitamin D synthesis: season, time of day, length of day, cloud cover, smog, skin melanin content, and sunscreen.  It may be helpful to know that cloud cover will reduce UV energy by 50%, shade will reduce UV exposure by 60% and sunscreens with an SPF will block vitamin D producing rays on the areas to which the sunscreen is applied.  Some research has suggested that 5-30 minutes of sun exposure at least twice per week between the hours of 10-3pm sans the sunscreen to your arms, face, legs or back can provide adequate UV rays for vitamin D synthesis.   But what about food? Interestingly, vitamin D occurs naturally in very few food sources. Some of  these sources include: egg yolks (yet one more reason to STOP tossing the golden nugget), sockeye salmon, cod liver oil, cheese, sardines and mushrooms.  Mushrooms? How random.  That’s right, growers are working on ways to enhance the amount of vitamin D this little fungi will produce by exposing them to more UV rays…. cool.

You may be wondering, how much Vitamin D do I need? The current Recommended Daily Allowance, or RDA is the same for men and women from age 1 all the way up to age 70- 600 IU per day.  Once you hit 71 years old, it boosts up to 800 IU.  This increase is partially due to the fact that as we age, our skin isn’t as efficient at synthesizing vitamin D.  It’s always a good idea to have your vitamin D levels checked.  The best form of vitamin D to have checked is D(25, OH)D, and you definitely want this level to be above 30ng/mL.  If you are told that you are deficient, and especially if it’s the winter months, you may want to supplement with a high quality vitamin D supplement in the form of D2 or D3.  My personal favorite can be found in my online Metagenics store.

As always, be sure your doc is aware of any and ALL supplements that you are currently taking.