Eat the Rainbow

No I don’t mean Skittles!  I mean fruit and vegetables.  Everyone knows that we need to eat our fruits and vegetables, but why?  Fresh fruit and vegetables help our bodies to maintain a healthy weight, boost our immune system, reduce heart disease, reduce our risk of certain types of cancer, and can even help with problems that naturally occur from aging like vision loss.

Keeping variety with your fruits and vegetables also means that you will be eating a lot more vitamins and minerals.  You can get away with not taking a multivitamin just by eating them in natural foods.  Plus you get all the healthy fiber, phytochemicals (natural occuring compound in plants that may help to reduce cancer risk), and antioxidants (helps maintain and promote good cell growth) that a multivitamin cannot provide.  I highly suggest that all your fruit and vegetable choices be fresh.  If you must, frozen is the next best choice but stay away from anything that comes with a sauce on it.  Canned fruit tends to have a lot of sugar added to as well as dyes and canned vegetables almost always have sodium added to them.  Both tend to lose a lot of the essential nutrients that is found in their fresh and frozen equals because of the canning process. 

I understand that price is sometimes a concern and that the only thing some can afford are the canned options.  If you feel this is your only choice, rinse the fruit or vegetable under cold water in a strainer to remove as much of the canning liquid as possible.   I do want to say, though, that there are many inexpensive fresh choices if you buy what is in season!  The abundance of these fruits and vegetables allows the markets to sell them for less.  How do you know what’s in season?  Well, the internet is a great way to find out but my favorite is an app called Eat Local.  It tells you everything to look for right now!  For example, right now (Mid to late November) Eat Local says apples, cabbage, onions, peas, and squash are all in season.   Now when I go to the market I can go straight to these items and know that I will be getting a fresh inexpensive choice.

So on to how to eat the rainbow.  Below is the rainbow as I learned it in school ROY G BIV.  Some of the colors are combined as they offer the same benefits. 

Red 

  • Some fruit choices are: Raspberries, tomatoes, strawberries, pomegranates, and watermelon.  
  • Some vegetable choices are: Beets, red peppers, rhubarb, and red onions.

Orange/Yellow: 

  • Some fruit choices are: Oranges, peaches, cantaloupe, pineapple, and yellow figs.
  • Some vegetable choices are: Yellow/Orange peppers, carrots, butternut squash, and pumpkin.

Green

  • Some fruit choices are: Avocados, green apples, green grapes, kiwi, and honeydew.
  • Some vegetable choices are: Spinach, brussel sprouts, broccoli, lettuces, green beans, (so many to name here)!

Blue/Indigo/Violet

  • Some fruit choices are: Blueberries, purple grapes, plums, raisins, and figs.
  • Some vegetable choices are: Purple potatoes, eggplant, black olives, purple asparagus, and purple cabbage.

White

I know that this is not a color but this category should not be ignored.  White fruits and vegetables offer many immune boosting nutrients. 

  • Some fruit choices are: Bananas, white flesh nectarines/peaches, and pears.
  • Some vegetable choices are: Cauliflower, kohlrabi, ginger, garlic, onions, parsnips, jicama, and potatoes.

I challenge you to go outside your box and try something new at your next meal.  You’ll be surprised at how many different types of fruits and vegetables there are out there.  If you are looking for an extra challenge buy something you’ve never heard of and then look up different recipes for that item.  I never had kohlrabi until this past summer and I found that when grilled it has a very mild sweet taste that’s goes great with white fish.

For help on how to prepare and cook vegetables one of my favorite books is Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop.  It has saved my butt a couple of times and I have to thanks my sister-in-law for purchasing this book for me.  Not sure I could do with out it! 

 

 

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Dietitians Don’t Eat Cereal for Breakfast

Eating breakfast is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy.  Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast everyday tend to have lower weights than those who don’t.  Eating a healthy breakfast every morning helps to rev up your metabolism.  This helps you to burn the energy you need for the rest of your day and for a healthy weight.

I know cereal seems like a great start to your day.  Cereal companies have you believe that their product is super healthy with heart saving properties and high fiber to keep you regular.  Truth is, though, most cereals are extremely high in sugar and very low in complex carbohydrates (the good carbs), protein, and nutrients you need to keep you going through the rest of your morning.  Even most “healthy” cereals do not provide the proper balance for a great breakfast. 

To have a great balanced breakfast to keep you going all morning you need a great balance of complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruit, yogurt), lean protein, and fat.  Yep, fat is not an enemy as long as it is in moderation!  Here are some of my favorite breakfasts:

-Egg White Breakfast Sandwich

Cook 2 egg whites in a pan with a 1 teaspoon olive oil, butter, or cooking spray if you prefer, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Toast half a whole wheat English muffin and top with a slice of provolone cheese then egg whites.  Every once in a while I will also place a slice of turkey bacon on it.  Complete the meal with a piece of your favorite fruit (try to eat your fruit, not drink it.  You lose a lot of essential nutrients as well as fiber when you drink it)!  If you do not have time to scramble your egg whites, place in a coffee mug or ramekin and microwave for 1 minute.

-Yogurt Parfait

Combine 1 cup (8 oz) of your favorite flavor of low fat Greek yogurt with blueberries (a handful), sliced strawberries (about 8), or your choice of fruit.  For added protein add a few sliced almonds.  I sometimes add 1/4 cup of low fat granola to give the meal some extra crunch.  If you have a sweet tooth in the morning try vanilla low fat Greek yogurt with 1 oz chopped dark chocolate and 1 tablespoon coconut flakes.

-Oatmeal

I love a great bowl of warm oatmeal on a cold winter day.  Try to avoid the instant oatmeal and make your own.  Quick cooking oats are very easy to make in the microwave and will have a lot less sugar in them.  Add low fat milk (soy, almond, regular…whatever you like) instead of water for extra flavor, with a dash of vanilla, a teaspoon of brown sugar or agave nectar, and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.  Accompany your bowl of oats with a piece of your favorite fruit or better yet cut up the fruit and add it to your oatmeal. 

 

I know that not every morning allows for you to take the time to make a great breakfast so here a few fast healthy breakfasts:

-Peanut Butter Breakfast Sandwich

Toast 2 pieces whole wheat bread (I love Ezekiel sprouted bread).  Top one piece with 1 tablespoon of Natural Low Fat Peanut Butter.  Top the other slice with a teaspoon of your favorite jelly and place 2 slices together.  Eat on the go if needed with a piece of fruit (are you catching on to the fruit thing yet?).  I like to slice half a banana and place in the sandwich.  Just a personal preference.

 

-Smoothies

Smoothies can be a great time saving breakfast.  Skip the smoothie shop and make your own lower sugar version!  One of my favorites is a 1/2 banana, 1 cup low fat milk (again soy, almond, regular….your choice), 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1-2 teaspoons honey (or agave nectar) and 1 cup ice.  Mix in blender and enjoy.  You may add 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder if desired.  Try to mix it up by adding 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen fruit instead of the banana (omit ice if adding frozen fruit).

 

-Whole Grain Waffles

Make sure you are not grabbing the Eggos on this one.  Try to eat whole grain waffles like Vans or Trader Joe’s.   Top 2 toasted waffles with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and enjoy.   Of course, have a piece of your favorite fruit along side it!

 

Please be creative when it comes to breakfast.  You can find so many great ways to change a lot of these ideas up and make them your own.  Some examples are using a different nut butter like almond or cashew butter instead of peanut butter, make an egg white omelet with peppers, onions, and pepper jack cheese instead of a breakfast sandwich, etc.   Just remember to use low fat or non-fat options when a choice is available.  Serving size is very important as well…don’t go overboard (more on that in a later blog)!

Being a dietitian is hard!

As some of you know I am a registered dietitian, traveler, groupie, wife, etc.  I have a very unusual lifestyle (thanks to my wonderful husband) that doesn’t allow me to have any type of routine.  For some this would be daunting and make them go crazy.  For me, however, it’s the life I couldn’t imagine being any better!  As I do travel a lot with my hubby I get to see a lot of very interesting things, try a ton of different foods, and get to have fun little adventures all over the world.  Here is where it gets tricky…how do I stay healthy when I have so many obstacles and tempting bad habits in front of me?  Well, let me tell you it is not an easy task. 

Being a registered dietitian has helped me immensely.  It has taught me that a healthy life with good food choices and exercise are essential.  I’ve learned how to take control and live my life the healthiest I can.  That said, life has taught me that making the right choice is hard and that the little voice in my head saying, “go ahead, eat those chips,” sometimes wins.   Even I battle with bad choices…I love food!  I love to cook and I especially love to bake.  I’ve learned through my studies (and many trial and errors) what makes food good and how to make my life healthier.  Not everything I make or eat is super healthy but that’s what portion control is for!  Everything in moderation is my motto. 

I hope to share some of my knowledge and experience with you to help you with making better choices and living a healthier life.  Sharing is caring (plus it may just help keep me accountable).  I am always up for questions and comments, so please feel free to share with me too!