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Welcome to The Nutritionist Corner by Best Choice!

Find out the latest health and organic news from our resident dietitian, Rebecca, along with recipes, tips and more!

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Portion Control

No matter what kind of meal plan someone follows they likely won’t see results unless they enjoy foods in the right portion size. Controlling portions is much easier said than done. The most logical way to keep portions in check is to weigh and measure your food. However, that’s tedious and pretty unsustainable for most people. Here are two simple tips to control your portion sizes.

  1. Watch your toppings. Ketchup, barbecue sauce, salad dressing, oil and mayonnaise can add on extra calories. Dish out these condiments in a reasonable amount. Then put them back in the refrigerator. By doing this we can save added fat, calories and sugar. This is a small change that can pay off in the long run.
  2. Add extra produce. Most dietitians recommend making half your plate vegetables, one quarter protein and the other quarter fiber rich carbohydrates. This rule of thumb adds more volume to your plate and more nutrients helping you feel full and satisfied.
The Perfect Caramelized Onions

Sometimes it’s hard to believe but onions are naturally sweet. The best way to pull out the sweetness from an ordinary onion is to caramelize. Caramelizing onions is the process of slow cooking them in a little oil until they are translucent brown and loaded with rich sweet flavor. Caramelized onions go great on sandwiches, pizza, steak, onion soup and quiche. The delightful sweet flavor can also be enjoyed alone. Caramelized onions make a tasty side dish.

When preparing your onions to be caramelized peel back all the thin outer layer and cut the onion root to tip. Place the onion slices in a thick bottomed sauté pan that’s coated with olive oil. Heat the pan on medium high until everything starts to simmer then stir, add a pinch of salt and lower the heat to medium low. The onions will need to cook about 30 to 40 minutes, on low, while you stir occasionally. The trick is to let the onions sit long enough to turn slightly brown but stir before they burn or dry out. I like adding a little water to the pan about half way through to ensure the onions don’t dry out. The process takes time and practice, but the delicious result is a crowd pleaser.

Everything Is Better With Bacon

What is it about the salty crunchy goodness of bacon? It has a way of taking a sandwich up a notch and turning a simple salad into a meal. These days bacon always manages to land itself on many popular fad diet meal plans. Likely because most people don’t want to cut back on bacon. Most of us want to find more reasons to add bacon to a recipe.

Bacon has gotten a bad reputation over the years, but recently many health professionals have changed their tone. One average slice of bacon has about 45 calories, 3 grams of fat and 3 grams of protein. The natural fat and protein content of bacon is what makes it so filling and satisfying. Furthermore, bacon doesn’t contain trans fat (the cholesterol raising bad fat) it contains mono and poly unsaturated fats along with beneficial omega 3 fatty acids. So next time you are wanting a little more flavor and crunch to your meal don’t feel bad about adding a slice or two of bacon.

Making Homemade Fruit Preserves And Jam

The Summer months offer a wide variety of in-season fruit. Making it an excellent time to put together a batch of preserves or fresh fruit jam. The plentiful harvest of berries, peaches and apricots make some of the best jam and preserve creations. Cooking up a jar of jam is also easier than you might think. It just requires some patience and gentle stirring.

My favorite fruit mixture is fresh strawberry preserves. Strawberries are naturally high in pectin, a gelling agent, making them a great choice for canning. Most preserve recipes only call for fresh sliced fruit, sugar and lemon juice. Watch the blog for easy fresh fruit preserve recipes!

Cooking With Lavender

The delightful smell of lavender is one of my favorite scents from Mother Nature. Much like coconut oil lavender has many uses outside of cooking. Most people are more familiar with lavenders use in soup and essential oils than they are with its ability to infuse foods with natural herbal flavor.

 When infusing lavender into foods be sure to purchase culinary grade lavender from your local farmers market. Also keep in mind that a little goes a long way. Strong flavors like lavender complement other bold tastes like lemon. My favorite use for lavender is in the baking realm. A simple syrup can be infused to make tea, lemonade or a flavored sparkling water. Shortbread cookies can come alive with a delicate lavender infusion into the sugar. The possibilities abound, watch the blog of unique lavender recipes.

Growing Your Own Greens

The cool mornings and sunny afternoons of spring make an ideal growing season for leafy greens. This salad staple is easy to grow even if you have a busy lifestyle. Lettuce adapts well to container gardening, so you can grow your veggies in a sunny spot in your kitchen. All lettuce requires is moist soil in a pot that drains well, and a nice window seat so it can catch lots of sun.

When harvesting your lettuce cut the outside leafs of each bunch, but leave the inner foliage so it can keep producing more greens. After harvesting your lettuce rinse the leaves in cold water to keep them crisp. Whether you start your lettuce from seed or transplant have fun enjoying the colorful harvest.

Cooking With Honey

Honey truly is nature’s candy. This golden liquid has been a natural source of sweetness since the beginning of time. It can be used in baked goods, salad dressings and sauces. It also works great as a topping on yogurt, waffles or toast, just to name a few. Certain kinds of honey contain antioxidants and trace amounts of nutrients. It’s important to read the label when purchasing honey so you can be sure you’re getting the best quality product. The main things you want to see on a label when buying honey are: raw, unfiltered and organic. This means the product still contains bee pollen, which is the nutrient rich medicinal component of pure honey.

 

When substituting honey for granulated sugar in a recipe you can typically use slightly less honey than the amount of sugar called for in a recipe. However, honey tends to make things more moist and dense, so some experts recommend adding additional leavening agents (baking powder or soda) to balance out the added density. Personally, I think unfiltered organic honey has a richer sweetness, so I only add 1/2 cup of honey for every 1 cup sugar called for in a recipe. Don’t be afraid to experiment in the kitchen to find the right flavor balance for your taste preference. Raw organic honey is sure to add a soft floral sweetness to anything you dream up in the kitchen.

Time For Change

As we shift into a new season it’s a good time to start thinking about adding more variety to your daily meals and your fitness routine. If you find yourself thinking, I don’t have a fitness or nutrition routine. Then now is the time to develop one. Some people like a structured regime others like setting a few mental goals to guide their choices. Whatever your personal needs are, keep nutrition and fitness routines fresh by adding variety. It’s one of the most important factors in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

 

A big motivating factor in changing up your routine can be the metabolic boost that will likely result. Your metabolic rate picks up a bit, and prevents you from feeling tired, just by doing different exercises and eating new healthy foods. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to change multiple things at once. Take it one step at a time. Try at least one new healthy food every few days. Also, try out a new class at the gym or a new piece of equipment. Change in your fitness and nutrition routines leads to change in your well-being.

Diabetic Meal Planning

According to the Centers of Disease Control approximately 29 million Americans have diabetes. With this condition there comes a need to be more aware of the foods you are consuming and the impact they have on your body, particularly your bold sugar. The right meal plan can help keep your blood glucose within normal limits, it can also improve your cholesterol numbers and overall blood pressure.

When following a diabetes meal plan the thing you want to prioritize is finding nutrient dense foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals. You also want to stick with consistent meal times, this helps balance blood sugar. Some key elements of a diabetes meal plan are vegetables, lean proteins, sprouted grains and fresh fruit. Honestly, a diabetic meal plan is a great guide for anyone trying to maximize the impact of the foods they consume and keep their weight in check. Watch the Clearly Organic blog for more info about diabetic friendly recipes and meals.

Milk Options

When it comes to milk we don’t just have to choose between 2%, skim or whole milk anymore. Options abound we can go with soy, coconut, cashew, rice, almond or traditional cows milk. This might leave you wondering what kind of milk is best for you and your family? The answer will likely be different for everyone based on your taste preferences, allergies and food sensitivities.

 Cows milk alternatives became popular due to the growing number of people desiring a diary free milk choice. Almond milk, soy, coconut and rice milk (plus several others) are dairy free. They are also great if you’re vegetarian, vegan or lactose intolerant. However, some cows milk alternatives are lower in protein and higher in sugar, so like any food you purchase that has a label take a look and see what the product is offering. Some of the main things to consider when looking at a milk label are calories, protein and sugar content. Weigh your options and find what works best for you.