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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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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.

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!