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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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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.

Eat More Vegetables

The world of nutrition and fitness has multiple different approaches and opinions, but one thing everyone can agree on is vegetables are a vital part of living well. Veggies can improve your health if you incorporate them into your meal plan on a daily bases. However, that is part of the challenge. Many people find vegetables hard to cook and lacking in flavor. So when you hear that you need to eat vegetables everyday and we need to add more of these super foods to our diet we start to dread what that might involve.

Here are a few easy ways to eat more veggies.

  1. Try a new vegetable based recipe. Scan the web for appealing photos of vegetables, and test out a new way to prepare a veggie you enjoy.
  2. Add extra vegetables to an existing recipe. It’s easy to add extra veggies to a soup or hot dish. Also try adding vegetables to a non traditional recipe like homemade meatballs or meatloaf. You can add minced carrots, cauliflower or broccoli to these recipes.
  3. Try a veggie smoothie. You know you need more greens but the thought of eating another salad is nauseating? Try a spinach, frozen berries and almond milk smoothie.
  4. Make a veggie bag. The prep work for vegetables is usually what keeps people from eating them. If you can set aside one day to wash, chop and prep your veggies you’re far more likely to get your needed 5 plus veggies servings each day.
Hidden Salt

The Food and Drug Administration recommends that most Americans can safely consume about 2,000 milligrams of sodium each day. People at risk for heart disease should limit their intake to around 1,500 mg. However, the average American consumes about 3,400 mg of sodium per day. Most of this excess salt consumption is not coming from the salt shaker. It’s coming from ready prepared packed foods. Cereal boxes, frozen dinners, canned soups, fast food and restaurant foods are often culprits for extra sodium.

 

The most common location for hidden sodium is packed sweets. Sweet blended coffee drinks and doughnuts are some of the most surprisingly sodium dense foods that don’t even taste salty. The best way to keep your sodium intake in check is to enjoy lots of plant based whole foods. Potassium, which is another essential nutrient, can balance sodium consumption by helping to lower blood pressure. Potassium is naturally found in fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, prunes, oranges, tomatoes and bananas. The best way to avoid hidden sodium is to embrace cooking with the vegetables and natural proteins that you love.

Cooking Using Parchment Paper

Parchment is a moisture resistant paper that is specially designed for oven use. It also has many helpful applications in the kitchen. Parchment paper can be used to line baking dishes, cake pans and it can be a steaming pouch. Many recipes utilize parchment as a great way to cut down on added calories in a recipe. It can even be used in place of extra butter or oil on a roasting pan.

When steaming chicken or fish using parchment paper it can yield a delightfully flavorful meal. Fresh herbs and spices help make steamed vegetables and meat tender and delicious. To assemble a parchment paper steaming pouch simply cut a piece of parchment in the shape of a large heart. Then add your favorite veggies, protein, olive oil and spices to one side of the heart shape. Seal up the parchment by placing the bare side of the paper over the food. Tuck in edges and roast in the oven. Watch the Clearly Organic blog in January for healthy meal ideas using parchment steaming pouches.

Natural Protein Smoothies

A Clearly Organic customer Kathleen W wrote in and asked about making an everyday smoothie with extra protein. This is a great question that has multiple answers. There are lots of fun ways to implement a smoothie routine with a wide variety of natural organic foods. Adding protein based foods to a smoothie helps slow down the digestion process of your meal making you feel full longer. It also helps add thickness and flavor to a fruit or vegetable smoothie.

Here are six natural foods that add protein to a smoothie:

Flax Seeds

Nut butters

Oats

Chia Seeds

Plain Yogurt

Quinoa

Each of these protein based foods can also be found in an organic variety if desired. Watch our blog in the New Year for natural protein smoothie recipes. This is a great way to start off 2017!

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

1 1/2 cup Clearly Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk

1/3 cup Clearly Organic Chia Seeds

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon Clearly Organic Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Clearly Organic Vanilla

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

2 ripe bananas

Add the first 6 ingredients to a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. This may take a few minutes. The cocoa powder may require vigorous whisking to fully blend in with the milk. Cover contents and store in the refrigerator overnight or at least 4 hours. The chia seeds need soaking to achieve the pudding like consistency.

Add contents to a blender then pour in maple syrup and chopped bananas. Blend until completely smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides as needed. The pudding can stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3 days, however it’s best to serve it right away. I love serving this pudding with a dab of whipped cream and a few banana and berries pieces.

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Eat What You Love

Around the holidays everyone is thinking about their favorite festive traditions. Many family traditions involve special recipes and bountiful meal times. Making it challenging to eat healthy this time of year. Grandmas recipes are not typically low calorie, but at the same time it’s comforting to enjoy some family favorite foods once a year. Therefore, the holidays are a great time to focus on portion control. Eat what you want, just don’t over do it. Some general principals to follow when you are enjoying a festive family meal.

*Skip the seconds. Enjoy one plate of your favorite foods and resist the urge to fill up again. One plate is typically all it takes to be satisfied.

*Focus on the healthy nutritious foods that you love. Try not to go down a mental list of vegetables that you hate, or the foods you are allergic and intolerant to. Simply enjoy the fruits, vegetables and grains that make you happy.

*Don’t be afraid to bring a healthy dish to a holiday party. Most friends and family members appreciate a well made healthy recipe, so don’t be shy about bringing your new favorite healthy appetizer or side dish.

All Things Avocado

Avocados are the new favorite addition to any meal. This nutrient rich fruit can take a lettuce salad or a sandwich to the next level of flavor and satisfaction. The reason behind avocados rise, and decline years ago, is related to its fat content. Avocados are well known for being higher in fat, which is entirely true. However, most of the fat content avocados offer is monounsaturated fat, this particular type of fat helps lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. Avocados also have a unique ability to help increase the absorption of vital nutrients in your body.

If you haven’t joined the bandwagon of increasing your avocado consumption, it might be a good choice to consider. Avocado toast, sliced avocado on a salad and avocado pesto are my favorite ways to incorporate this super food. In fact I even chose avocado to be the first food I introduced to my little girl when she was able to start enjoying solid food. Watch the Clearly Organic blog for some delicious avocado based recipes!

Super Seeds

In recent years health professionals have encouraged the addition of seeds and nuts to daily meal plans to increase your nutrition profile. We now see flax seeds being added to lots of products from chips to frozen waffles. Hemp and chia seeds are also becoming increasingly popular in everyday recipes.

The main health benefit that flax, chia and hemp seeds offer is the essential fatty acid omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This essential fatty acid offers many disease prevention characteristics and it works as an anti-inflammatory in your body. Hemp seeds are set apart by one key factor, they contain all essential amino acids. Which is very rare for a plant food. This makes hemp seeds an excellent choice for vegans and vegetarians. Hemp seeds, flaxseed meal and chia seeds are great additions to a wide variety of foods. Watch our Clearly Organic Blog for unique recipes that incorporate these super seeds!

Making Any Recipe Organic

No need to buy a special cookbook to find the best organic recipes. These days virtually any family favorite dish can be made organic by purchasing the right ingredients. We no longer have to hunt for organic foods. They’re available in virtually every aisle of the store and abundant in the produce section, and in many cases with increased availability comes better prices.

Now that we can find flour, sugar, butter and many staple items available in an organic variety it becomes easy to convert traditional baked goods into organic treats. As the holidays approach try making your favorite dish organic! It adds wholesome pure ingredients to any recipe.