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White bean salad with kalamata olives and Crunchsters mung beans

White bean salad with kalamata olives and Crunchsters mung beans

I received an interesting food sample in the mail the other day: a product called Crunchsters made out of sprouted mung beans. If you’re not familiar with mung beans, they are the tiniest member of the legume (AKA bean) family and can be eaten raw or cooked. Sprouted mung beans are similar in texture to dried soy nuts and equally nutritious. They don’t call them “mighty mung beans” for nothin’!

A little over a 1 oz. serving of sprouted mung beans provides 7 grams or plant-based protein, 5 grams of dietary fiber and 20% of the daily value for magnesium- an essential mineral needed for blood pressure and bone health. They are relatively low in sodium (7% of the daily value) and also provide potassium, iron and manganese. The sample pack I received included 4 different flavors: smokey balsamic, sea salt, beyond bacon and BBQ. The beans may be eaten solo as a snack or used as a topper for a recipe.The whole pack of Crunchsters provides 180 calories, which is totally reasonable for a mid-day snack.

Given the warm temps, I opted for a big salad as part of my lunch today. I had some cannellini beans on hand as well as kalamata olives and a few cherry tomatoes. I like to make my own dressing since I think salads taste fresher than with store bought dressing. If you see them in the store (available in Whole Foods or Amazon), give them a try!  #freesample #smokey #balsamic #mungbeans #vegan #nonGMO #organic #crunchsters

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped romaine lettuce

5 kalamata olives, cut in half

5 cherry tomatoes cut in half

2 Tbsp. cannellini or other white bean (navy, Great Nothern, etc.)

1 Tbsp. Crunchsters smokey balsamic mung beans

1 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Place romaine in a bowl and top with tomatoes, olives, white beans and Crunchsters mung beans.
  2. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and oregano. Drizzle dressing over salad and serve.

Makes 1 salad

Cinnamon dusted sweet potatoes

Cinnamon dusted sweet potatoes

While I realize it’s summer, I still have favorite foods that I incorporate in my meals all year long. Sweet potatoes are one of them. Despite their name, sweet potatoes have a slightly lower glycemic index than white potatoes, which means they don’t raise your blood sugar as quickly after eating. Eating the skin of potatoes increases fiber consumption- just be sure to scrub the skin well to remove any dirt or pesticides.

In addition to fiber, that beautiful bright orange hue of sweet potatoes is compliments of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene gets converted to vitamin A in the body, and is found in other brightly colored fruits and vegetables including carrots, cantaloupe, acorn and butternut squash, apricots, peaches, nectarines and mangoes. Vitamin A is needed for healthy skin and immunity and is best to get in your diet VS supplements.

Long term beta-carotene intake (> 18 years) from food, has been linked with improved cognition in older adults in one study of over 4,000 men. In addition, foods high in beta-carotene are protective against lung cancer and reduce the risk of macular degeneration- a disease of the eye that impacts vision. Beta-carotene is more bio-available when cooked VS raw. So, when you eat cooked carrots, your body actually absorbs more of the antioxidant.

Fruits and vegetables high in beta-carotene have also been linked with cancer reduction due to their high anti-oxidant content, which help fight free radicals that damage cells and DNA in your body. Fruit and vegetable intake (in addition to not smoking, limiting alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise) is one of your best defenses in preventing cancer. Include more if your diet whenever you can (especially vegetables, which are lower in calories).

Sweet (and white) potatoes also provide potassium– an essential mineral that aids in blood pressure reduction. Potassium has recently been added to the food label because of its role in blood pressure. You can also find potassium in green leafy vegetables such as kale, Brussels sprouts, spinach, mustard and collard greens and broccoli. I eat something green and leafy at least once a day, but typically more.

Below is the recipe for this simple side dish:

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes, cleaned and cut into 1/2″ discs, then cut in half

Non-stick cooking spray

Cinnamon

Cumin

Seasoned salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Spray a large baking pan with non stick spray.
  3. Place the cut sweet potatoes on the baking pan and spread them out.
  4. Spray the potatoes with non-stick spray.
  5. Dust the potatoes with one pass of each: cinnamon, cumin, and seasoned salt.
  6. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for another 15 minutes until potatoes are slightly soft.

Makes 4 servings (roughly 1/2 cup each).

 

Collaboration is key to a successful career

Collaboration is key to a successful career

I won’t lie. Becoming a dietitian is not an easy path. It starts with a passion for food, health and people. You need to learn and understand anatomy, physiology and chemistry. In order to receive appropriate training, you have to apply for and be accepted into a competitive dietetic internship or practice program, which is typically unpaid. Then you have to sit for a national exam to become registered, and maintain 75 hours of continued education every 5 years. There are multiple hoops to jump through. It is expensive, time-consuming and difficult.

Because of this competitive start, dietitians are often competitive with each other. You’re vying for the same job (like you would with other professions) or you’re trying to make a name for yourself. Your goal is to obtain more clients, work with brands, make a better wage, etc.

After being in the field for nearly 30 years and a small business owner for over 12, I’ve realized that collaborating with other dietitians is much more meaningful and fun than competing. Every dietitian has a little different spin on how they cook, teach, present, write, etc. We all have unique talents and honestly, can’t do everything. Just like there are specialties in medicine or nursing, the same applies for nutrition. There is no “one size fits all” approach and we each do things in our own unique ways.

For example,if I receive a call to work with a child with food allergies, I try to find a dietitian that works in this area. Or if I am asked to present on a topic that I have zero experience or interest in, I’ll likely forward it to a more knowledgeable colleague. The same holds true for how other dietitians treat me. We network with each other and refer clients when things are out of our lane. It’s part of being ethical and acting with integrity. It’s OK to say no to work that doesn’t fit, and you should.

This week, I am collaborating with another dietitian whom I’ve admired for years. She is a great writer and well known in the nutrition community. Her passion and practice is “plant-powered” nutrition and she is known for her plant prowess.

Rather than seeing her as my adversary, I see her as an ally. We met a few years ago at a nutrition conference in Texas and have connected online through social media over the years. She has written a few cookbooks and agreed to do a giveaway with me this week. I am happy to collaborate with her in this way.

So if you’re on Instagram, follow the two of us for a chance to win her Plant-powered for life book, market tote and my Don’t despear food pun tee. You’ve got nothing to lose by entering and you’ll likely pick up some great plant powered nutrition tips to boot! Here’s the book: https://www.amazon.com/Plant-Powered-Life-Recipes-Achieve-Goals_Starting/dp/1615191879

www.instagram.com/nutrigirl66

www.instagram.com/sharonpalmerrd

 

Choosing exercise that works for you

Choosing exercise that works for you

It’s been a tough spring. My oldest daughter was all set to go to Italy with her art class and the younger to DC with her social studies class. They’d both received these trips as gifts for Christmas since they weren’t exactly cheap. Our older daughter was working part time and paid for half of her trip. I was secretly jealous. I’d never traveled to either place!

Once the pandemic hit in January, we were pretty skeptical about the trip to Italy. By February, Europe was making headline news that the corona virus was getting worse. We weren’t surprised when the trip was cancelled by late February.

So, we did what we could. We stayed inside, We wore and continue to wear masks wherever we go. My girls got through online/virtual school and were on social media more than usual. They called, texted and zoomed friends. And somewhere in the midst of all of that, my older daughter discovered roller skates.

She told me she wanted skates for her birthday (in June) because, “people looked so happy roller skating”. She didn’t want them because they would help her get in shape or lose weight. She didn’t want them because friends had them (none of them do). She simply wanted them for fun. How cool is that?

If you’re looking for ways to exercise, consider what is FUN. I look at exercise like I do food. If it’s not enjoyable, why are you spending time on it? There are a million ways to get moving. What appeals to you? Below are tips to consider:

  1. Do you prefer to be inside or outside? If outside, do you like to bike, hike,swim, run or walk? Do you need any special equipment (a bike or hiking shoes) or can you just walk outside your door and go? Pools are opening slowly in Cincinnati, but there are some open and available to take a dip.
  2. Are you social or prefer solo exercise? While some gyms are opening up, you may not feel comfortable going just yet. You may be able to find classes online. http://glo.com offers a free trial of yoga or pilates classes. YMCA also offers free classes https://ymca360.org/
  3. Multi-task if the exercise seems boring. Read a book or listen to a podcast while you’re on the elliptical. Watch your favorite sit com while you’re on your bike.
  4. Use a few free weights or stretch bands at home. Strength training builds muscle, strength and reduces your fall risk. It also tones you up, helps manage blood sugar and increases metabolism.
  5. Start S L O W L Y. No need to run a marathon two weeks after you start running. Start with 5 minutes walking every other day. Increase to 10 minutes after a week or two and build from there. Be consistent.
  6. Try something new! While rollerskating may be a bit much (it isn’t for a teenager), try an online class, new racket sport or other activity. I’ve discovered pickle ball this spring and love it!
  7. Check out a used sports goods store. You may get some bargains on used equipment in addition to ideas of new activities you hadn’t considered.
  8. Don’t quit. Our bodies crave movement every day. Without it, we lose muscle mass and strength. Exercise feeds your brain oxygen and nutrients. Studies show that regular exercise reduces your chances of dementia and depression. Get off the couch. Skate if you like.

 

Father’s Day Strawberry Pancakes

Father’s Day Strawberry Pancakes

Father’s Day has been tough for me the past seventeen years. I lost my dad on January 6, 2003. I was pregnant with my first child after a long bout of infertility. My husband was becoming a new father while I was losing my own. I was so excited to be expecting, but so incredibly sad that my dad would never meet our baby. I was due in early August.

We decided not to find out the baby’s sex. With fertility treatment, you know exactly when your baby is conceived and there are few surprises. I was convinced we were going to have a boy and would name it after my dad (Frank). Ironically, our daughter Iris was born 6 weeks early, 5 days after Father’s Day that year. Her birthday often coincides with the holiday. It has always been a bitter sweet day.

One of my fondest memories of my dad was going out to breakfast. With a family of five kids, we didn’t go out often. Money wasn’t tight per se, but we certainly lived frugally. We typically went to family-style restaurants- Perkins, Denny’s or the local pancake house come to mind. My dad always told me my “eyes were bigger than my stomach”. I had a bad habit of ordering more food than I could possibly eat. Secretly, I think he didn’t mind. Dads are known to have to clean their kids’ plates.

Strawberry pancakes was one such item. They always looked so good on the menu! Who could resist a tower of fluffy pancakes with whipped cream nestled between them, topped with strawberry sauce and more whipped cream? Not me! I’ve always had a sweet tooth and it continues to this day.

We recently had some dying strawberries in the frig. Rather than making a smoothie, my mind traveled back to that stack of strawberry pancakes from the days of family breakfast. My husband and I tend to work as a team in the kitchen. He made mini pancakes and I made strawberry sauce. The whipped cream isn’t pictured here, but it always adds a special touch to the dish.

My girls love this special breakfast, too. Maria- adopted from Guatemala in 2006, has my dad’s name for her middle (Francis). Her maternal grandmother’s name was Francis. The world is small!

Ingredients (pancakes)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. white sugar

1 1/4 cups milk

1 egg

3 Tbsp. canola oil or melted butter

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl and make a “well” in the center.
  2. Add the milk, egg and oil/butter and add it to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. Heat a frying pan or griddle and spray with non-stick spray. Pour 1/4 cup pancake mix on the pan/griddle and brown on both sides. Serve hot. * Recipe taken from Allrecipes.com https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/21014/good-old-fashioned-pancakes/

Strawberry sauce

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. sugar

Directions:

  1. Place berries, lemon juice and sugar in a small pot. Mash the berries with a wooden spoon while they cook over medium heat (roughly 5 to 7 minutes).
  2. Spoon strawberry mixture over pancakes and serve hot.
  3. Top with a dollop of whipped cream (optional)

Makes 6 large pancakes or 10-12 mini cakes. Happy Father’s Day!

 

 

 

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