Amazing Almonds

Almonds are crunchy, tasty, filling, and absolutely packed with superfood benefits! I keep individual serving packs of almonds in my pantry for a grab and go snack on busy days, or for when I just need a little protein boost before or after Pilates class. Just a single 1 ounce serving satiates my hunger and fulfills my need to crunch on something while providing me with so many great nutrients. How can you beat that???

The most popular form of almonds is unshelled, and either raw or roasted, salted or unsalted. We can also find almonds used in SO many products in our grocery stores like almond milks, almond butter, and almond flour, with each of these products offering their own healthy benefits and many uses.

Considered a superfood, these yummy nuts are an antioxidant-which means they can protect your cells from damage that leads to disease and aging of the body. These amazing nuts also help with lowering blood sugar, blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels! A single serving of almonds contains 6 grams of energy producing protein, 3.5 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of fat-9 of which are heart healthy monounsaturated fats. Almonds also contain a high amount of vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, and a good amount of cooper, phosphorus, and vitamin B2. That’s a LOT of GREAT nutrition coming from a small handful of food! Bonus-if you’re concerned about your calorie intake, it’s important to note: 10-15% of the calories in almonds is NOT absorbed by the body! And the protein and fiber content in almonds has been known to keep you feeling full for longer periods of time-therefore capable of helping you reduce your calorie intake!

There are so many ways to add this incredible power food to your diet. Consider sprinkling slivered almonds into your cereals, yogurts, salads, or oatmeal. When baking, use slivered almonds in muffins, breads, cakes, cookies and brownies. When preparing meals, add slivered almonds to rice pilafs and omelets. Using almond milk and almond flour in place of cow’s milk and wheat flour in your recipes will add protein and nutrients to everything you prepare, and almond flour is gluten free! *If using almond flour to replace wheat flour in your favorite recipes, start with a 1:1 ratio and know that because almond flour contains a bit more moisture, you made need to add more to get the right consistency for your recipe. When I use almond flour and almond milk in my recipes, I find that my foods are a bit more moist, and have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. One of my absolute favorite go to recipes is my low carb pancakes-and the recipe is below. I prepare these weekly, keep them in my fridge, and simply heat and eat. They are SO SO good!!! 

A fun fact about almonds: 80% of the world’s almonds are grown in California! Other countries that produce almonds are Spain, Iran, and Morocco-but Cali wins as the biggest producer in the world with over 500 miles of farms-mostly family owned!

Be sure to keep some almonds around for a healthy heart boosting snack-even better-grab some almonds dipped in dark chocolate and get even MORE healthy benefits from your snack! If you’re looking for a yummy way to add these nutrient packed nuts into your diet, give my favorite recipe a try:

Low Carb “Pancakes”

5 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup almond milk

6 tablespoons melted butter (must be cooled)

3  1/3 cups almond flour

6 tbsp Swerve Sweetener or Monk fruit sweetener

1 tbsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400°F and grease 11X17 inch baking pan-or muffin pan (I use the “all edges” brownie pan from Pampered Chef) *Makes 12 servings.

Combine eggs, almond milk, cooled melted butter, and vanilla extract in a blender and blend until well mixed.

In a separate bowl, combine almond flour, sweetener, baking powder and salt.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the blender, blending and scraping sides of blender until all ingredients are well blended. Let batter sit briefly until thickened.

Pour batter into greased baking dish and spread evenly, or scoop by 1/3 cup each into muffin tin. (I use the Pampered Chef brownie pan with the 12 individual cups)

Bake 13-17 minutes until edges are golden brown and centers are firm to the touch. Carefully remove from pan and allow to cool. If using a baking dish, cut into 12 even pieces.

These can be refrigerated for up to a week in a Ziploc bag. Simply heat for 30 seconds in the microwave and serve.

Serve with butter and your fav low carb syrup, or with berries. *My son eats them with peanut butter.

Nutrition:

Cals.  130

Fat 11 grams  Sat 4.5 grams

Carbs 8 grams  Fiber 1 gram

Protein   5 grams

Superfood Super Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday is upon us, and in my family-that means HOLIDAY! As a child this was always one of the biggest days of the year in my house as we also celebrated my football obsessed dad’s birthday on the same day. The amount of food bought and consumed was ridiculous! We usually started off the day with a huge breakfast, and about 2 hours later the table and countertops in the kitchen would be completely covered with lunchmeats, chips, cookies, various chips, potato salad, macaroni salad, and brownies. My father would cook his yearly kielbasa sausage and sauerkraut in the crockpot, and the stove top would be covered in hotdogs, chili, and all the fixens. Beer, wine, and mixed drink rounded it out for this all day feast-which also ended with birthday cake. Needless to say, many people left our house with tummy aches over the years, but they always returned for another crazy football feast.

Super Bowl Sunday is thought to be the second highest food consumption day of the year, right after Thanksgiving. Some online articles suggest that the average viewer eats almost 11000 calories on that day, with the most popular foods being pizza, wings, chips and dips, deviled eggs, chili, and hotdogs. Men’s Fitness magazine stated that American’s drink 345 million gallons of beer each Super Bowl Sunday! This is, of course, considered a holiday for many, and it’s perfectly ok to splurge on occasion, but if you are thinking about keeping focused on your health goals while enjoying this year’s big game (or any big event with food!) this article is for you!

Consider this average list of consumption during a regular sports party:

2 slices of pepperoni pizza

6 wings

Nachos with cheese and toppings

Endless amounts various chips (but let’s say 2 servings)

4 cookies

2 beers (only 2!)

2 sodas

Does that sound about right? Have you found yourself eating this way? I know this happens in my house!

This, my friend, is 2800 calories worth of food-with a whopping 100 grams of FAT. Add a loss by your favorite team, and you might find you had a really bad day! (I can attest to this…I once threw a vacuum cleaner off an upstairs balcony after a loss-and my dad was famous for breaking doors after bad games….mediation has helped!:))

Having a great time and enjoying great food while ALSO sticking to your health goals is completely possible. It can easily be done by making a plan, sticking to a few guidelines, and having a few good recipes for tasty, healthy party food.

When I approach a day that revolves around food, I like to go in with a plan. I start my day with a super healthy, filling, but light breakfast like oatmeal and fruit. I focus on getting my exercise for the day in before game time, and drink as much of my water as possible. It’s important to get something healthy and nutritious into your stomach BEFORE showing up where there is lots of party food!

The guidelines I follow and lay out for my clients in any situation that involves an “all day” food situation are as follows.

-Stay hydrated! Keep drinking that water. If you chose to drink alcohol, match each drink with an equal amount of water. This will flush your system, as well as help avoid overindulging and getting a hangover.

-scan the food offerings and make a plan: what will you enjoy as your actual meal? What will you snack on? What will you indulge in for dessert? When will you eat these foods?

-remember portion control! Take small amounts of the foods you want to enjoy and be sure to put them on a plate and actually take time to enjoy them. And, to remind you and ME-potato chips DO fit on a plate and it’s a great way to eat only a serving size! (I’m a chip girl-just don’t let me stand by the bowl!)

~always have healthy options available. Veggie and fruit trays with hummus or lower fat dip are a great start.

~choose mustard over mayo on your sandwich or hotdog and consider skipping the cheese.

~cheese or veggie pizza instead of pepperoni or fatty meats and stick to one slice for a very healthy change.

~use a smaller plate for your choices, eat slowly, and don’t eat out of giant bowls or packages.

~make the decision to only eat at a certain point of the day perhaps at halftime.

~instead of pizza, hotdogs or hamburgers, try some grilled kebabs with lean meats, veggies and fruits.

~do a search for some healthy game day snack recipes (there are TONS) and try a new one out each week. And check out the recipes that follow this article!

Now, to add some fun to your day! Let’s get up and move and get everyone involved with fun and exercise!

~make some bets with your family and friends, with crazy exercise as the consequence. Your team scores-they have to do pushups, their team scores-you have to do jumping jacks. This can be done with all aspect of the game, even down to ref calls and uniform choices!

~get up and move during commercial breaks, long replay decisions, and halftime. March around the house, step outside for some fresh air and take a quick walk around the yard. And don’t forget to get up and dance during that old school halftime show!

~have a themed “party game” available during game breaks-shoot hoops into a wastepaper basket, throw the ball around in the front yard, be creative and have some fun with it!

 Above all, remember that this time is for having fun, relaxing with family and friends, and socializing. The food and drinks are just an added attraction to the day and partaking in a huge feast of food is not a requirement or expectation. Focus on your family and friends, and your team, and have a great and healthy time.

GO TEAM!

Check out some of these healthier choice recipes for your game day, and be sure to check out these awesome DIP recipes as well!

Healthy Deviled Eggs

Make your deviled eggs with Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise and turn your deviled eggs into a superfood explosion! These are packed with protein and super yummy!

 Ingredients:

Hard boiled eggs, cooking the yolks well (leave in hot water for 13 minutes)

Plain whole milk Greek yogurt

Dijon Mustard or your other favorite spiced mustard

Salt and pepper

Favorite spices-paprika, cayenne pepper, or try a Maryland favorite-Old Bay for a yummy twist

 Directions:

Cut each egg in half lengthwise. Scoop yolks into a small bowl. Place egg whites on a serving dish.

Mash egg yolks with a fork and add the rest of the ingredients until it is smooth and to your tasting and texture.  

Spoon mixture into egg whites, or for a fancy decorative look, use an icing bag with a tip and squeeze into whites.

Sprinkle with paprika or old bay, or use another topping as desired-bacon bits, relish, hot peppers. 

Keep chilled until ready to serve and enjoy!

Zucchini Fries

Ingredients:

1 lb.  zucchini

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 egg

1 tsp.  milk

4 tbsp. breadcrumbs

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried thyme

3 tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 430°F . Cut zucchini into fry-like pieces. 

Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk with the milk. Season with salt, pepper, add the crushed garlic, oregano, and thyme. Mix well.

On a separate plate, have your breadcrumbs ready. 

Grease a large baking tray with 1 tbsp. of olive oil. 

Dip the zucchini in the egg, then roll in the breadcrumbs and place on the baking tray. Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the fries 2-3 times during this time, drizzling them with the remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil. 

Season with salt and serve.

Nutrition per serving: Serves 4

177 cal     12g Fat. 14g Carbs   5g Protein

Veggie Chili Salad

Ingredients:

14 oz. can black beans, rinsed, drained

7 oz. can sweet corn, rinsed, drained

1 red bell pepper, sliced

bunch coriander, chopped

5 oz.  hot salsa

Directions:

Rinse the black beans and corn under cold running water, rinse thoroughly and drain well. Slice the pepper into small strips. Chop the coriander coarsely.

Mix the beans, corn, pepper and coriander with the salsa in a medium bowl. This salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Serving suggestions:

Guacamole Baked Tortilla chips Veggies

Nutrition per serving: 4 servings

 144 cal    2g Fats 28g Carbs     8g Protein