Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category
Chicken breasts are probably a staple for most of you who are trying to eat and live a healthier life. They should be a staple as they are very high in protein, very low in fat, and incredibly versatile. Even so, many people get tired of chicken day in, day out. With that in mind, I decided to show you another way to have your chicken, that is completely tasty, easy, and healthy.
Make this to serve as a lunch, in between meal snack, or even a light dinner if combined with a side or two. All of the ingredients used in this recipe were strictly organic, which I know can increase the cost a bit, but my god…the taste. There is absolutely a difference between organic, free-range chicken and the generic stuff. Feel free to eliminate the cheese and/or the bread if you are on a stricter diet than I am.
Start by applying a liberal sprinkling of salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder to both sides of the chicken. Since we are searing the chicken, instead of sautéing it in oil, we’ll want a little crispy crust to form. The seasoning you add now will help facilitate this.
Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. We want the pan nice and hot so a crust is able to form on our chicken breasts. Apply a very small (1/2 teaspoon) amount of oil and swirl it around in the pan to form a light coating. Place the chicken breasts in the pan and, depending on thickness, allow them to sit, undisturbed, 4 minutes per side.
In another pan over medium heat, add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add one or two thick slices of bell pepper. Season with a little salt and allow to sauté for 4-5 minutes. When the peppers begin to soften, add 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and a dash of sugar. The sugar will help thicken things up and form a glaze. Toss the peppers around with the balsamic glaze, turn heat to high for 1 minute, then remove from pan. Set aside.
By now, the chicken should be finished. Remove breasts and set aside. In the same pan you cooked your chicken, place two slices of whole wheat bread. Crisping your bread in the skillet, instead of a toaster, will help prevent things from drying out, yet still give you a nice crust. Cook about 2 minutes per side.
Place a slice of fontina cheese over chicken breast, add a few pieces of fresh basil, top with your balsamic glazed pepper, and voila, a blackened basil chicken sandwich with balsamic glazed peppers. Sounds far more fancy and time-consuming than it really is.
This quick little meal can be made in less than 10 minutes, so it’s perfect for a busy day or evening. Tastes so much better than the salt/pepper/olive oil baked chicken you’ve been making 4-5 times a week for the past 4 months. The basil, pepper, and salty fontina create a perfect balance of flavors that give this a “restaurant-quality” taste. As far as nutrition goes, this thing is packed with protein; almost 70 grams! Total calories hover right around 475, but to cut down on this, simply eliminate the bread and eat it with a fork and knife. Got any great recipes of your own? Feel free to submit them and we’ll happily share them with our readers!
Looking for a tasty and heart-friendly option to add to your diet? Who isn’t. Check out this gem from our nutrition expert, Dr. PK Newby and learn how to start living (and eating) better today.
Who knew that healthy eating could include guacamole, of all things? Yes it can!
Creamy, delicious guacamole: A fifth optional ingredient, diced tomato, adds lovely color and flavor.
Because of their high energy and fat content, avocados used to get a bad rap. However, not all fats are created equal, which is one of the major things you need to remember when thinking about diet and health. Like peanuts and peanut butter, olives and olive oil, avocados are also very high in fat – about 85% – but most of the fat is monounsaturated, which is important for heart health. They are also a valuable source of many other vitamins, minerals, nutrients, phytonutrients like carotenoids, and phytosterols, which have an anti-inflammatory effect that can help reduce symptoms associated with arthritis. (“Phyto” simply refers to “plant-based”; phytosterols are analogous to the cholesterol found in animal products, only they’re good for you.)
So, if you love guacamole…
…for the full article, click here.
In honor of National Peanut Butter day, which was earlier this month, we’re bringing you this piece by Dr. P.K. Newby. Dr. Newby will be bringing her unique and interesting take on food and nutrition to Share It Fitness as one of our regular contributors. Her wealth of knowledge and experience allows her to give a very informed opinion on the dietary concerns a lot of you guys have….certainly more so than I can! To learn a bit more about her, check out her bio found on her blog.
Why peanut butter?
I love peanut butter. Not like I love divine lobster bisque or decadent chocolate brownies, of course, which are infrequent treats that are not a part of my usual diet. On the other hand, peanut butter is creamy, delicious, satisfying, and good for you, so it actually can be a part of your regular repertoire. An almost-daily pleasure for me. I even keep a jar at my office alongside a loaf of whole grain bread, and peanut butter on toast is a frequent late morning breakfast or early afternoon snack at work. Incidentally, I recently learned that my colleagues and research assistants apparently find my affection for peanut butter on toast rather amusing. Yes it’s true, you might often hear me say “Wait, I just need to make myself a piece of toast!” if you try to drag me into a mind-numbing meeting, but I still fail to see why this is funny. It’s not like I’m neurotic about it or anything
placing exactly one piece of bread in the toaster until it’s the perfect level of crisp brownness, lovingly spreading the succulent butter on the hot toast, waiting until it melts perfectly, and then carefully cutting it in half. I just like it, that’s all. Can’t a girl eat her peanut butter in peace? Geesh.
Anyhow, writing about peanut butter is a good chance to highlight the nutrition facts about something so many people love and some people fear. (Not in a healthy, “I have a peanut allergy and don’t want to die” sort of way, but an irrational belief based on nutrition misunderstandings or misinformation.) Hence today’s Top Ten Peanut Butter Facts below…
…read the full article HERE on Play a Good Knife and Fork.
You read that right. What if there were a way to buy fresh, local, organic produce, for LESS than the non-organic stuff you’d find in the produce aisle at your favorite grocery store? You’d be interested wouldn’t you?
For those that are unfamiliar with what organic means, I’ll quickly break it down. Simply stated, certified organic means organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.
The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows:
“Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.”
Now, whether or not organic food is more nutritious, is up for discussion. There are certainly research studies demonstrating both sides of the argument. That said, some recent studies conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that organic tomatoes contained greater concentration of vitamin C, as well as cancer-fighting compounds called phytochemicals. What isn’t up for discussion however, is the fact organic produce won’t be introducing carcinogenic pesticides and fertilizers into your system. You can also rest assured knowing the food you are eating hasn’t been genetically modified. Shouldn’t food be consumed the way nature intended?
As far as taste goes however, there is no comparison. Hundreds of gourmet chefs who opt for organic products in their restaurants, blind-taste testings, and the opinion of millions of consumers make a strong claim that organic food simply tastes better. If you are purchasing from a local organic farm or market, this makes even more sense as the food you are buying is fresher.
Now, I think most of us would buy organic if it simply weren’t so expensive. $6 for a dozen eggs? $3.50 for a small bundle of carrots? $12 for a pound of hamburger meat? These aren’t prices the majority of Americans are willing to spend, even if the alternative means eating produce covered in synthetic chemicals and meat from sick animals. These high prices are what you’ll typically find in the organic section of your supermarket (if you’re lucky enough to have one). Even farmer’s markets, though less expensive than the supermarket, are typically out of the price range for most consumers.
But I’m going to let you in on a little secret. There is a way to buy your produce and even meat products, directly from the source, and it’ll cost you less than buying the non-organic counterparts would at the supermarket. The answer: CSA or Community Supported Agriculture.
What is a CSA you may be wondering. A CSA is an alternative, locally based model of agriculture and food distribution. To state it simply, you subscribe via a weekly or bi-weekly fee to a local farm. In turn, the farm delivers a fresh, organic, and diverse box of produce to your door or nearby pickup location weekly or bi-weekly, depending on your subscription schedule.
By using this method, you get the best of what’s in season, you support your local farmer, get a variety of fruits and vegetables you may not have otherwise purchased, and get more bang for your bucks. Healthier, better tasting, and less expensive. What’s the catch? There isn’t one.
Most farms operating a CSA model charge between 20-50 dollars for a LARGE box of produce. Depending on how often you want a box delivered, you can determine the comparative costs.
Being from San Diego, we have an abundance of local farmers who use this model to distribute their produce. One of my favorites is Be Wise Ranch. To get an idea of what you’re getting for your money, take a look at this recent box:
This is an example of a large box from Be Wise Ranch. All of this organic, tasty, and locally grown produce delivered to you, for $30. You simply can’t beat that. There are of course hundreds of farms that participate, and you can easily search Google to find something near you.
For the meat eaters, there are of course cattle, chicken, pork, etc. farms out there that do the same thing. Prices are much more affordable than supermarket prices. An example of a cattle CSA is Green Beef. For $64 a month, Green Beef will deliver 8 pounds of grass-fed, organic, and delicious beef. This comes out to just $8/pound. You’re not going to find organic beef at this price anywhere you look, with the exception of those who are buying in bulk (1/4 cow, 1/2 cow, etc.)
The point of all this is, organic, healthy foods don’t have to be expensive. You just have to know where to look. Support your local farmer and benefit yourself in the process by signing up for a CSA.
*I am not an employee of, have any stake in, or have been asked to write a recommendation for Be Wise Ranch or Green Beef.
The fact of the matter is, muscle doesn’t build itself out of thin air. You’ve got to consume necessary calories (healthy ones) and ample protein to get lean and cut up. Throughout the years, I’ve come across so many people who think starving themselves after a workout is the way to go. Often they’ll take things even further and start skipping meals, breakfast in particular. They think starting the day with nothing in their stomach will cause their bodies to burn more fat. In reality, you run the risk of putting yourself in starvation mode, which will have the reverse effect you want.
When you don’t feed your body ample protein, on a physiological level, you will begin breaking down muscle mass to meet your needs. All those reps, hard work, and sweat you put in at the gym are going to simply disappear. This is one of the biggest risks you will face. We all know the benefits of maintaining lean muscle mass; you look good, feel good, and maintain a higher metabolism which will allow you to burn more calories throughout the day. Feed your muscles the protein they crave and protect the gains you’ve fought so hard to make.
Getting protein in the morning can be a bit of a challenge when we take away the obvious choices. Eggs can get a little repetitive if you are eating them all the time. Protein shakes are nice, but sometimes you want something a little more fulfilling. Breakfasts consisting of large amounts of sugars and other simple carbs are probably the last way you want to start your day. For those of you reading this article, you’re in luck. We’ve taken a typically not-so-healthy breakfast choice, and turned it into something you can be proud to start your day off with. Enter: Protein Packed Banana Pancakes.
From start to finish, these should take no more than 10 minutes to make. Not only that, they provide a ton of protein and complex carbohydrates to supply you with a slow and steady source of energy as you begin your day. They’ll get your metabolism in gear and have your day started off on the right foot.
- 1/3 cup instant oats, ground about 5 seconds in a food processor
- 1.5 scoops vanilla whey protein powder
- 1/3 cup whole grain flour
- 1 banana, mashed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg plus 1 egg white
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon greek yogurt (can substitute fat-free plain yogurt or even cottage cheese as well)
- In a bowl, combine dry ingredients. Mix well. In a separate bowl, combine banana, yogurt, eggs, and milk. Mix well. Combine both bowls together and mix very well.
- Spray a non-stick skillet with a light cooking spray to prevent sticking. Reapply a little cooking spray between pancakes. Heat the skillet over medium heat.
- Pour roughly half a cup of pancake batter into your skillet and let stand for 2 minutes. The pancake should develop a nice, golden brown color. Flip the pancake and continue to cook another 60-90 seconds. Remove the pancake with a spatula and set on a plate. Repeat this process with the remaining batter. Recipe should make 3-4 pancakes.
Nutritional Facts per serving
The resulting pancakes will deliver roughly, 450 calories per serving, 80 grams of complex carbohydrates, 30 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat, and 7 grams of fiber.
Okay, so here’s a spin-off to yesterday’s, Do This…Look like That workout posting…We received so many questions about pre/post workout nutrition advice, that it made sense to give you a guys a full write-up on what you should be consuming before and after your workout.
Something to keep in mind…developing that lean, mean, athletic physique is accomplished 40% in the gym and 60% by what you put into your mouth. I’ll save a full general diet plan for another time, so right now, we’re going to focus on two points; pre-exercise nutrition, and post-exercise nutrition (also kn0wn as the MOST important meal of your day).
Pre-exercise nutrition is fairly simple. You need to give your body fuel to perform at a high-level, although you don’t want to stuff yourself so you are exercising on a full stomach….that really isn’t pleasant. You’ll see many bloggers, personal trainers, and self-appointed experts tell you to have a high-sugar, simple carbohydrate meal before exercise. The idea behind this is you will get a boost of energy which will help you perform at a higher level. While you will certainly get a boost, you will also get a crash. Who wants to come down in the middle of a workout and have that lethargic feeling consume their mind and body? Not me.
Best bet is to consume a complex carbohydrate focused meal about 2-3 hours before exercise. Think about having a bowl of oatmeal, some chicken and brown rice, quinoa salad, whole wheat pasta with marinara, etc. These carbohydrates will take longer to break down into glucose (which is what your body uses for fuel), thus, providing a slower, but steadier stream of energy for you to exercise. Personally, if even after a good carb meal, I’m still feeling sluggish, I’ll consume about 8 ounces of coffee 20-30 minutes before I work out. This usually helps give me the jolt I need to perform at a high-level.
Now, on to the real reason you are here…what about that all important post-exercise meal? Well, let’s wait just one minute. Before we get that far, I need to have a serious talk with you ladies out there. I’ve heard it a million times…whether its from someone half way around the world, or a real-life client….you. do. not. want. to. get. big. and. bulky. I get it. I really, realllly get it. Problem is, so many of you women out there are afraid to eat protein because you’re afraid of a) excess calories in your diet and b) you have some crazy idea that protein is basically steroids and adding protein to your diet will make you huge and manly.
Please, for the love of all things holy, get this idea out of your head. Understand this; protein drives muscle synthesis. Your body needs it to create new muscle. When you work out, you break your muscles down. When you rest and eat well, you build your muscles up. You could do all the exercising and weight lifting in the world, but if you aren’t feeding your muscles, you’re seriously wasting your time.
Fortunately for you ladies out there, the amount of muscle your body creates is much different than what a man creates. You do not have to worry about packing on pounds of bulky muscle just because you begin upping your protein intake. I can usually tell just by looking at two different exercisers who is getting enough protein. One woman will have shapely, firm, and toned limbs, core, and back-side. The other will usually have soft muscles, non-visible abdominals, and a weak lower body. Protein is THAT important to develop a sexy physique.
With that out of the way, lets look at the MOST important meal of the day, which is the post-workout whey protein shake. The idea behind this is pretty basic; we want to give your starving muscles the protein it needs, along with a simple carb (one of the few times I will recommend a simple carbohydrate) to spike insulin levels moderately, and help drive protein into your muscles. There are certainly a variety of opinions on this matter, but I’ve seen what works, and those who consume a simple carb+whey protein shake every single time they workout, are looking pretty damn good.
So, to make that power shake after a workout, you need a few things:
- 12 oz low-fat/skim milk
- 1 scoop whey protein
- 1 banana or 1 serving of dried fruit (cherries, apples, blueberries are all great in shakes)
Optional (if you have a hard time gaining weight/muscle):
- 1/4 cup oats (grind these into a fine powder before adding anything else)
Blend those three ingredients up, add the oats if you feel you could use some extra calories, and drink it down. Make sure to consume this power shake within 30 minutes of ending your workout. Make it the first thing you do after you get home and don’t get lazy about it. A well-timed protein shake taken consistently after each workout really will make the difference between looking average and looking (and feeling) GREAT!
Stay connected to the Share It Fitness launch by signing up here, and be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss any of our fitness articles and advice. If you’re feeling really enthusiastic, follow us on FB to get quick updates and fitness advice in your news feed!
[cnn.com] There’s been a lot of buzz about vitamin B12 in recent years, and here’s another reason to pay attention to it:
A new study finds that a deficiency in vitamin B12 is associated with memory and thinking problems, as well as brain shrinkage. The research is published in the journal Neurology.
Researchers did not prove that low vitamin B12 levels cause these cognitive abnormalities, but they did find a strong association with markers of deficiency, said study co-author Dr. Martha Morris of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
The theory is that adequate levels of vitamin B12 is necessary for the brain’s myelin sheath, an insulating layer around nerves. When the sheath gets damaged, impulses between transmitted along nerve cells slow down.
Vitamin B12 is found in meats, fish, shellfish and dairy products, and some cereals are fortified with it. People over 65 in particular may need B12 supplements because older patients’ bodies have a harder time absorbing this vitamin.
Researchers looked at 121 participants in the Chicago Health and Aging Project. They looked at both serum levels of vitamin B12 and markers of vitamin B12 deficiency.
The study found that methylmalonate, a marker of vitamin B12 deficiency, is associated with a reduction of brain volume and so may contribute to cognitive problems. Homocysteine, an amino acid associated with low B12 levels as well as folate, was linked to thinking problems through a different mechanism involving abnormal white matter signals (as seen on certain kinds of MRIs).
There aren’t a lot of data on using these markers clinically for the purposes of testing the health of older patients, said Dr. James Lah, neurologist at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, who was not involved in the study. The study points to them as potentially helpful, but more research needs to be done, he said.
The study did not find an association between the serum B12 levels of participants and the likelihood of brain problems. Morris said that makes sense because while low levels negatively affect the brain, high levels above normal aren’t necessarily better than adequate levels.
“There’s a level we should all have, and if you fall below that, it could cause problems,” she said.
Quantifying that level is up for debate, but the National Institutes of Health offers guidelines for recommended vitamin B12 intake at various ages.
Morris and colleagues did not look at this phenomenon in Alzheimer’s patients, but a small 2010 study in Neurology found that people who tended to eat vitamin B12-rich foods are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who did not. Vitamin B12 deficiency has not been shown to be directly involved in the pathology of Alzheimer’s in the brain, but it may aggravate the brain in other ways that could lead to Alzheimer’s. “We can’t discount its involvement,” Lah said.
(Health.com) — People who eat more sodium and less potassium may die sooner of heart or other problems than people who consume the opposite, a large, 15-year-study has found.
The study of more than 12,000 Americans provides more ammunition to health advocates who say that slashing salt intake will save lives. But not everyone is convinced, as some research is contradictory.
In the new study, men consumed an average of 4,323 milligrams of sodium a day, while women took in 2,918 milligrams.
The American Heart Association recommends people limit their sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams a day or less.
The group with the highest sodium-to-potassium ratio had a mortality risk about 50% higher during the study than the group with the lowest, according to the report by Elena V. Kuklina, M.D., and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Emory University, and the Harvard School of Public Health. The research was published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is naturally low in sodium and high in potassium. Good potassium sources include bananas, baked potatoes, and raisins. In contrast, a diet of processed foods tends to be the opposite — it contains more sodium and less potassium, says Kuklina, a nutritional epidemiologist at the CDC.
“We probably should take into account the whole diet and take a more comprehensive look,” she says. “Looking at a single micronutrient, we might just miss the whole picture.”
Because most of the sodium people in the developed world consume comes from processed food, there has been a movement to get the food industry to reduce the amount of salt it adds to products.
In 2010, the Institute of Medicine recommended that the Food and Drug Administration regulate sodium in food. And the National Salt Reduction Initiative is a partnership of organizations — including major food companies — that aims to cut sodium in processed foods by 25% by 2014.
“We now have 28 companies who have committed to reducing the salt levels in at least one of their categories of products,” says Thomas A. Farley, M.D., of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and coauthor of an editorial accompanying Kuklina’s study.
It’s the easiest way to reduce sodium intake, says Graham MacGregor, chairman of World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) and a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, in London.
The UK started doing just that in 2006, requiring companies to cut salt content by 25 to 30%. By 2008, according to MacGregor, sodium intake had fallen by 10%.
“It’s a very large study…and it clearly shows what we’d expect it to show, that eating too much sodium is harmful and eating too little potassium is harmful,” he says.
WASH is a global group established in 2005 with the aim of improving people’s health by reducing salt intake.
But the case isn’t quite closed, some say. For example, a report this May in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that while healthy men and women who ate more sodium than average weren’t at higher risk of dying of heart disease or stroke, cardiovascular mortality was 56% higher for people who ate the least sodium. The eight-year study included 3,681 European men and women age 60 or younger who did not have hypertension.
“It’s confusing,” says Michael Alderman, M.D., a professor of medicine and population health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Bronx, and editor of the American Journal of Hypertension.
While some people with hypertension do need to reduce their sodium intake, Alderman says, reducing the sodium intake of the entire population could be harmful.
And an analysis of the evidence published in the Cochrane Review in July suggested that there isn’t strong evidence that people who cut back on salt will reap heart-health benefits. But it did say that a population-wide reduction might help.
“These findings should not be misinterpreted as showing that salt reduction will not save lives. There was insufficient evidence to make this judgment,” the author wrote. “Giving advice to reduce salt is a weak method of reducing salt intake in the population. Reducing hidden salt in processed foods, including bread, would likely have a bigger impact on blood pressure levels and on cardiovascular disease.”
Farley says concerns about the risks of salt reduction are unfounded.
“There are populations around the world who take in much, much less sodium than we do and they maintain lower blood pressure throughout their lives, so I’m not concerned about that,” he says. “The easiest way for people to think about it is they should be taking in less sodium and more potassium.”
As far as the JAMA study is concerned, Farley says, “I would consider that an outlier.”
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup diced zucchini
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1/3 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped seeded tomato
- 9 large eggs
1. Heat olive oil in a 10-inch nonstick broiler-proof skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini, bell pepper, onion, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and garlic. Cover and cook 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato. Cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates.
2. Combine eggs, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk until frothy. Pour egg mixture into pan over vegetables, stirring gently. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 15 minutes or until almost set in the center.
3. Preheat broiler.
4. Broil frittata 3 minutes or until set. Invert onto a serving platter; cut into 8 wedges.
Thanks My Recipes for the delicious and healthy breakfast dish!