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I’ve written several cookbooks on meal prepping– and have been practicing meal prepping at home for years — but there are some mistakes that I continue to see folks make regularly. Here are 5 of the most common meal prepping mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.

You Don’t Plan Ahead

Leaving everything for the last minute means that you’ll end up giving up and not cooking anything, or you’ll end up having time for only a few recipes. This can also lead to stress — who wants to be stuck going food shopping 9pm on a Sunday night only to be stressed that you spent all this money and the food may go to waste!

Instead: Don’t leave everything to the last minute. Plan ahead for the best results so that you are less stressed when preparing meals. I like to split up my meal prepping between Sundays and Wednesdays or if I am prepping everything on Sunday, I select my recipes and go food shopping Friday and Saturday.

You Don’t Take Stock of What You Already Have 

Food waste is something that happens regularly to many people. And when you waste food, you’re also spending more of your hard earned cash. How do you know you don’t already have 3 containers of ground cinnamon if you don’t take inventory? The last thing you want to do is buy three or four of foods you already have fully stocked.

Instead: Take inventory of what you have in the freezer, refrigerator, and pantry before going grocery shopping. I like to print out every recipe and sit down in my kitchen and place a check mark next to each ingredient I have. I then write down on a paper or in my “notes” section on my phone, my shopping list. This method will also help you use up older items and prevent food waste.

You Over Prep

The last thing you want to do is spend money and time on prepping meals that go to waste. I know some of the meal preppers on Instagram have 15 dishes they prep for the week, but do they REALLY eat that much?! 

Instead: Take a look ahead at your schedule and see when you will be able to eat breakfast, lunch and/or dinner from prepped items. To get into meal prepping, start slow and build your way up once you really get to know your meal prepping needs. I often recommend beginner meal preppers start with only two or three recipes to get in the swing of preparing multiple dishes at once.

You Divide Meals Later

If you think waiting until later to divide you meals is a good idea, think again. You end up just eye-balling a portion, which can leave you with a very small last portion or you can end up eating much more than you realize. In some cases, your portions can get skewed that you end up without a meal at the latter part of the week — which defeats the whole meal prepping idea.

Instead: Divide your dishes into separate containers right away. Dividing meals will prevent last-minute scrambling to divide meals and ensure your meals will last through the week.

You Don’t Have Fun With It!

Meal prepping and cooking should be fun. If you are dreading to meal prep and loathe the idea of cooking in batches, then meal prepping may not be right for you — or you may be taking on too many recipes at once.

Instead: Find the meal prepping middle group that works for you and your lifestyle– even starting with 3 or 4  recipes. Flag healthy recipes on blogs or Instagram that you want to try throughout the week. Once it’s time to create your shopping list — get your family involved and do it together. And once you get into the kitchen, turn on some music, get your kids in the kitchen, and HAVE FUN!

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This month is National Nutrition Month, and I’m all about meal prepping! Part of meal prepping is about storing your completed meals or snacks in the refrigerator, freezer, or even pantry (hello delicious trail mix!). But there are many do’s and dont’s when it comes to storing and defrosting — and following simple guidelines can help make sure to keep your food safe to eat.

Simple Storage Tips

  • First In, First Out (FIFO): When storing food in your refrigerator and freezer, a helpful tip is to label and date all of your containers. The FIFO method uses your older items first to minimize food spoilage.
  • Store food on the correct shelves: Store raw foods such as meat and eggs on the bottom of the refrigerator and ready to eat items on top of them in case there is any drippage. This will help prevent cross-contamination and minimize illness in your home.
  • Know the shelf-life of food: The refrigerator is meant for short-term storage. As such, you need to be conscious about how long foods, especially meat and poultry, are stored in your fridge. Here are some general guidelines.

Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb and Pork

  • Steaks, chops, and roasts: 3-5 days

Fresh Poultry

  • Whole chicken or turkey: 1-2 days
  • Chicken or turkey parts: 1-2 days

Fish and Shellfish

  • Lean or fatty fish: 1-2 days
  • Smoked fish: 14 days
  • Fresh shrimp or scallops: 1-2 days
  • Canned seafood: 3-4 days after opening

For more information and additional foods, check out the FDAs Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart.

Safe Ways To Defrost

I have seen many people defrost on the counter top. This is especially hazardous as the bacteria thrive at your kitchen temperature and can multiply in the billions– which is plenty to get you sick even after cooking. You can safely defrost your meal prep ingredients or frozen pre-boxed meals in the refrigerator overnight. If it is still a bit frozen, then raw meat and chicken can continue to defrost under cool, running water or even in the microwave. As for meal prepped meals, you can defrost them in the microwave or if you do place them overnight in your fridge and they aren’t 100% defrosted, then finish defrosting them in the microwave.

When it comes to food safety, the most important saying to live by is: When in doubt, toss it out! So always keep that in mind when meal prepping. It’s better to be safe, then sorry.

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Having a well-stocked pantry is essential for meal prepping in an efficient way. I like to keep these basic items in my pantry at all times and then just go to the market when I need produce, proteins, and additional canned goods. Keeping these items on hand will ensure you can whip up a meal in no time!

Vinegar

I keep a variety of vinegar such as balsamic, apple cider, and rice wine, in my vinegar repertoire. I like to use balsamic vinegar for a lemon-balsamic dressing or as a marinade for chicken breast with mozzarella and tomato. Apple cider vinegar is a great addition to homemade barbecue sauce and rice vinegar is one of my secret ingredients in homemade pad thai.

Oil

Since oils have different smoke points and flavors, I keep several in my pantry. Canola and olive oil are my go-to oils for cooking. I also keep sesame oil on hand to enhance the flavor of Asian dishes, and always have a good extra-virgin olive oil on hand to drizzle over a salad or cooked vegetables.

Grains

You may have heard to eat the rainbow when it comes to fruit and vegetables, and when it comes to grains it’s no different. Eating a variety of grains ensures that you’re getting fiber, and each whole grain has slightly different nutrients. Some of my favorites to keep on hand include quinoa, oats, farro, brown rice, and whole wheat couscous.

Spices

In order to add flavor with minimal amounts of calories, I love using a variety of spices in my dishes. A few of my favorites include dried herbs like parsley, chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, and cayenne. Of course, my spice rack is filled to the brim but if I have to choose a few to start with, those are some of my most frequently used.

Broth

I opt for low-sodium broth whenever possible. You can always add more sodium after the dish is finished cooking if needed. Vegetable and chicken broths are most frequently used, but on occasion I do whip out the beef broth.

Soy Sauce

Low-sodium soy sauce goes with many stir-fry dishes, marinades, and sauces.

Salsa

Usually I make my own, and all my cookbooks have a salsa version that I rotate between. However, I also keep a jarred salsa in my pantry for those occasions where I need to make something last minute. I can use it in my slow cooker, or top it over eggs or fish, or just as a dip.

Canned Beans

You’ll always find my pantry stocks with black, cannelini, kidney, and other canned beans that are low in sodium. If you can’t find low-sodium varieties at the store, just rinse your beans and research shows that you can decrease the sodium by up to 40-percent!

Nuts

Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachios– I am a nut fanatic! I like to chop nuts to top over a salad, garnish a soup, or add to a stir-fry. I also love using them in breakfast items like muffins, pancakes, oatmeal, and Greek yogurt — or just snacking on them as is. Some of my favorite recipes in my cookbooks are the spices nuts, whether sweet or savory, which don’t last very long in my house.

Canned Tuna

Sometimes I run out of protein in my refrigerator and canned tuna always saves the day! I keep a few pouches or cans on hand (I especially love the new flavored pouches in sriracha flavor) to make a sandwich, tuna melt, or top over a salad.

Canned Tomato Products

Crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and even tomato sauce come in handy when I’m in a rush. I always stock up on my lycopene-filled tomato products as they’re so versatile!

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One of the first steps in getting set up with meal prepping is buying the right single serve storage containers. I like to switch up my containers throughout the week depending on the recipe. I like purchasing single compartment containers, but you may like to purchase one with compartments (it’s totally an individual preference!). Here’s my favorite 5 meal prepping containers, and what I look for when purchasing them.

What To Look For

A few attributes that I look for is that the storage containers take up as little space in my pantry as possible. I like stackable or foldable containers and try to see if I can try them out at the store or at a friends house so they are easy to handle as well. I also look for containers without Bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical that can be found in plastics. Lastly, I need my containers to be leak proof — who needs the liquid part of their lunch to spill all over the place!

My Favorite 5 Meal Prep Containers

  1. Bell Jars

Love these glass mason jars for salads, smoothies, and yogurt parfaits. They come in all kinds of sizes, and also have a drinkable version for smoothies.

  1. Snapware Total Solution Glass Pyrex Food Storage Containers

These glass, leak-proof, BPA free containers are great for portioning out lunches and dinners like my deconstructed chicken burritos. The glass is stain-resistant and microwave-, oven-, refrigerator-, freezer-, and dishwasher-safe. As the name indicated, the top easily snaps the container shut.

  1. MonBento 

These bento boxes are great for packing lunches because they are durable, versatile, and airtight. They even have a top lid that can hide utensils like chopsticks. The Original Bento is dishwasher, freezer, and microwave-safe (as long as you don’t exceed 500 watts); it’s also BPA-free and soft to the touch.

  1. Glass Pyrex

These storage containers have been around for years and still come out on top. Pyrex glass is safe in the dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave, and oven.  The glass is made in the USA and the lids are BPA-free. Be mindful, though, that the lids don’t lock, so there is a risk of spilling. I bought my Pyrex set when I was in my 20’s and I still have them today, over 20 years later and use them for everything from cooking to storage!

  1. Easy Lunchboxes Compartmentalized Plastic Food Storage Containers

These inexpensive, BPA-free food storage containers are made from hard plastic and come with a variety of colorful covers. They are freezer and dishwasher safe. These are great if you like to separate your meal parts (like the grains, protein, and veggies). They’re also perfect for packing lunches for the kids!

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By Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN

This post is a collaboration with Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner., on behalf of the Beef Checkoff, as part of my role as a member of the Beef Expert Bureau. I have been compensated for my time commitment. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

Even as a cookbook author and culinary nutrition expert, the cuts of beef still get confusing. And I know I’m not the only one. When I ask friends or clients about cuts of beef, they are usually familiar with only a few cuts. Many don’t even realize that thanks to increased trimming practices, the external fat in retail cuts has decreased by 80% in the past 20 years. (1) They’re also shocked to learn that over 60% of beef muscle cuts meet the guidelines for “lean.” (2) According to USDA, a cut of cooked fresh meat is considered “lean” when it contains less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per 100 grams (3½ oz) and per RACC (Reference Amount Customarily Consumed), which is 85 grams (3 oz).

Finding Lean Cuts

My no-fail trick— I turn to the BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com website. Even when I am selecting cuts for cookbook recipes I will go onto the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. website (I even use it on the mobile app in the market!). Sometimes a cut of beef is called by one name in the recipe, but the supermarket can label it as several other names. Yes, it does get confusing!

How do I find lean cuts of beef? I go onto the website, for example, and look for lean cuts of beef. The website will list them for me and tell me the best ways to cook it. For example, Strip Steak is perfect for grilling, broiling or pan-broiling/cook in a skillet. When I open the page and look at all the info on Strip Steak, the website lists all the different names of Strip Steak, such as Beef Loin, Strip Loin Steak. If you’re not sure how to grill, broil, or slow cook the cut, the website will give you step-by-step instructions. There is even a huge library of recipes to choose from.

Ask Chuck

If you’re at home looking for some beef inspiration you can always Ask Chuck Knows Beef. Chuck Knows Beef, an all-knowing virtual beef expert powered by Google Artificial Intelligence, is here and ready to help consumers as their personal guide to all things beef. Research shows that 42 percent of people use their smart speakers in the kitchen, and almost half of all smart speaker users have used their device to find a recipe or for cooking assistance. (3)  In addition, 70 percent of people agree that technical support would be helpful when shopping for beef, with another 65 percent agreeing it would influence their purchasing decisions. (4) Based on this research, Chuck was designed to have instant access to recipes, cuts, nutrition information and cooking tips – plus a whole lot more. If Chuck helps you find a recipe you want to try, he can even text you the shopping list!

Nutritionists’ Favorite Lean Beef Recipes

I asked registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) their favorite lean beef recipes and why the recipe is their favorite. Here is what they had to say.

Gyros Breakfast Burritos

Judy Barbe, RD author of Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest says that these burritos are a perfect way to start the day! “Spinach, lean ground beef, yogurt, feta cheese and cucumbers…this makes breakfast burrito recipe (or dinner) positively delicious,” Barbe exclaims.

Photo courtesy of Judy Barbe

One-Pan Beef Tenderloin & Roasted Vegetables

“I’m a big fan of minimal clean-up after cooking so this recipe for One-Pan Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables scores big points, plus the beef tenderloin is cooked to perfection in the oven,” says Karman Meyer, RD & recipe creator at TheNutritionAdventure.com. Meyers says that the hardest part of this recipe is letting the tenderloin rest for 10 minutes once removed from the oven to keep all of the delicious juices inside! It is also paired with a variety of roasted winter vegetables, to make it a very satisfying meal.

Photo courtesy of Karman Meyer

Pumpkin Chili

“I love cooking with lean ground beef because it’s so versatile and affordable,” says Jessica Ivey, RDN, LDN. “When it’s on sale, I’ll stock my freezer with several pounds to have on hand for later,” Ivey says. This version of chili gets a nutrient boost from the addition of pumpkin. The touch of cinnamon adds a cozy note that warms me from the inside on a cold night. Best of all, it freezes great! “I always have a few containers of prepared chili in my freezer for fast future meals this time of year,” exclaims Ivey.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Ivey

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Bowl

“Spicy, tangy, crunchy, fresh, I love this refreshing Vietnamese Beef Noodle bowl salad. Easy to make at home, you’ll turn to this healthy recipe time after time,” says Judy Barbe, RD author of Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest. She uses sirloin in the recipe since it is a lean cut, easy to slice, and an economical cut.

Photo courtesy of Judy Barbe

Beef Stir-Fry with Asian Peanut Sauce

From my best-selling cookbook The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook this go-to stir-fry uses top sirloin, a lean cut of beef. I also like using whatever leftover vegetables I have on hand to help reduce food waste. I also will use quinoa, brown rice, or whatever whole grain I have sitting in my pantry.

Photo courtesy of Nat & Cody Gantz

References
(1) Calculated from Cross et al., 1986 and Mason et al., 2006
(2) IRI/Freshlook, Total US MULO, 52 weeks ending 5/21/17; Categorized by VMMeat System
(3) Voicebot Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report, January 2018
(4) Beef and e-commerce project, ypulse. 2016

PLEASE SHARE: What is your favorite recipe using lean beef?

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Are you ready to jump into meal prepping? I’m celebrating National Nutrition Month by giving you my tips, tricks, and recipes for healthy, successful meal prepping, But before you get started, there are 5 important steps to keep in mind.

1) Choose when to prep

Select which one or two days of the week you are planning on prepping. Because my kids have a busy schedule on the weekends, I usually split my meal prepping over the course of a few hours between Sundays and Wednesdays

2) Decide which meals to prep

Plan out your recipes for the week using the meal plans in my cookbook or recipes you find online. I like to vary my protein, whole grain, vegetable, dairy, and fruit choices to ensure that we are consuming a wide variety of nutrients. At the same time, however, try to find recipes or meal plans that use similar ingredients to save money and decrease food waste. For example, if you have broccoli in an egg dish, plan to use the rest of the broccoli for lunch or dinner another day that week.

3) Go food shopping

Before you head to the store, make a list of all the ingredients you need and check your kitchen to see what you might already have on hand. Categorize the ingredients you need to buy by grouping similar ingredients together. I like to group all of the produce, packaged goods, and frozen items together, for example.

4) Prep and Cook

In both of my cookbooks, I recommend the order in which you should make each recipe. I like to start with the recipes that will take the longest such as the slow cooker or longer-cooking recipes. That way, you can multitask and prep other recipes while those are cooking. Shorter recipes, like dressings or easy sides, leave for down-times while other recipes are finishing cooking.

5) Portion and Pack

All meal preps end with portioning and packing so that you can easily grab and go. In general, I like to pack each container with ¼ protein, ¼ whole grains, and ½ fruits or vegetables. Meals can be packed in different kinds of containers–stay tuned to see my favorites coming soon!

Looking for even more details on my 5 step approach to meal prepping? My Smart Meal Prep for Beginners cookbook goes into even more detail on these 5 steps!

LET’S DISCUSS

I love hearing your thoughts and what has worked or hasn’t worked for you. So TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS: What are your best tips for getting meal prep done in any or all of the steps above?

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March is National Nutrition Month, so let’s talk meal prep! As a busy mom with three children, I know how hard it can be to get dinner on the table every night. And as a registered dietitian, I know the importance of feeding your family healthy, nutritious meals. All month long, I’m going to be celebrating National Nutrition Month by providing tips and recipes for meal prepping. Meal prepping is a great way to save time, money, eat healthier, decrease stress, and control your weight. I am the author of two best-selling books on meal prepping, The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook and Smart Meal Prep For Beginners. Check out those resources for more recipes or follow along all month long for weekly tips! I’ll be going over my favorite meal prep containers, pantry items, and recipes. Stay tuned for tips from fellow dietitians, too!

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January is coming to a close, and if you’re like most people you’ve probably forgotten about your New Year’s resolution. What if I told you that I have the perfect cookbook to help get you back in the swing of eating healthier and cooking more? Taco! Taco! Taco!: The Ultimate Taco Cookbook – Over 100 Recipes for Everybody by Sara Haas, RDN, LDN totally inspired me to cook more tacos in my kitchen and hopefully will inspire you, too. I had the opportunity to ask Sara a few burning questions about her cookbook – and Sara was kind enough to share a recipe from her cookbook AND offer a free copy of her cookbook to one lucky winner (more on the giveaway below).

Q: What inspired you to write a book about Taco’s?
First and foremost, because I love tacos. Then because I think they are the perfect, approachable food. Because of that, there’s no stress when it comes to preparing/serving them. Also, that approachability makes them a natural fit for introducing new foods and flavors that people may not think of trying.

Q: What are must-have foods to keep on hand for Taco Tuesday?
A: Lots of produce and beans! You can make such a wide variety of tacos with those two things!

Q: You have many mouthwatering sweet tacos in your cookbook! What do you suggest keeping in mind when putting together a sweet taco together, so you don’t go overboard on sugar?
A: You’ll notice that most of my dessert tacos are small. Nothing big or ostentatious. I have a sweet tooth, and I honor that. But keeping portions small is key.

Q: Your book is filled with incredible vegetarian taco combinations. What three tips do you suggest for vegetarians who want to create a new combination?

  1. Don’t be afraid! I think the biggest obstacle in cooking is that we all think we need a recipe. You don’t! You just have to get cooking and practicing and trying new things. Think of it as a big, fun science experiment!
  2. Add a protein! Adding a vegetarian source of protein to your taco will help with making the taco satisfying, so don’t skip it. I personally love beans, but tofu, tempeh and even nuts are a fun filling too!
  3. Mix and match! Many of the toppings and fillings in the book can be easily swapped for each other. So try something new that way!

Q: It’s amazing how many culturally diverse taco recipes you included in your cookbook. What are tips to creating a taco with a cultural spin?
A: I’m so glad you noticed! That was something I wanted to include to show just how versatile tacos are. So maybe you’ve never had Korean BBQ and wouldn’t attempt making it, but when it’s in taco form, it’s not so intimidating. As for tips, I would say use the cultural flavors, but make them you’re own. Many of my recipes aren’t “traditional,” but are riffs on spice/flavor combinations. This makes them unique and allows you to play a little more in the kitchen.

Sarah Haas was kind enough to share a recipe from her new cookbook, you can find the recipe for her Italian Meatball Taco’s below:

Italian Meatball Taco’s
Servings: 6

For the meatballs:
¾ cup plain breadcrumbs
¼ cup milk
1-pound lean ground turkey
½ pond lean pork or turkey sausage
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/3 finely chopped white onion
¾ teaspoon of kosher salt
¼ teaspoon of freshly black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained for excess moisture

For the tacos:
12 corn tacos’ warmed
2 cups marinara of your choice, warmed
½ cup chopped parsley for garnish

To make the meatballs:

  1. To preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray
  2. Add the bread crumbs to a large bowl, along with milk, and stir to combine. Let soak for 8-10 minutes until breadcrumbs are moistened.
  3. To the bowl with breadcrumbs add ground turkey and sausage along with the egg, Italian seasoning, Garlic, onion, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and spinach. Using lightly oiled hands, shape mixture into 1 ½ – inch balls and place one prepared on baking sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

To make the taco’s: 

  1. Serve meatballs in warmed tortillas and top with marinara sauce, Parmesan cheese topped with parsley.

Enter for Your Chance To Win!
You can enter for your chance to win a copy of Taco! Taco! Taco!: The Ultimate Taco Cookbook – Over 100 Recipes for Everybody by Sara Haas, RDN, LDN by following the instructions below.

Giveaway Begins: Monday 1/28/19 at 12:00 am ET
Giveaway Ends: Thursday 1/31/19 at 11:59 pm ET

You can enter my giveaway for your change to win one copy of Taco! Taco! Taco! by doing any of the following:

  • Go to my Instagram page and tag two people in the giveaway post (can enter once a day)
  • Go to my Facebook page and tag two people in the giveaway post (can enter once a day)
  • Follow me on Instagram
  • Follow me on Facebook
  • In the comments below, tell me your favorite way to eat tacos. (can enter once a day)

You do not need to purchase anything to win. Only open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. states, D.C. or Puerto Rico, and you must be at least 18 years of age to enter. No P.O. boxes can be given for delivery.

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Between the shorter days and cooler temperatures, the next few months can leave many of us with a case of the winter blues. Luckily, there are some key nutrients that may help boost your mood. Many of these nutrients are available in an array of foods that are easy to find at your local market. Try incorporating as many of these foods as you like, to hopefully help you get through the winter feeling your best.

Omega-3 Fats
You can add fighting off depression to the list of health benefits these fats have to offer. One study showed that those with higher levels of omega-3s were less likely to experience moderate or mild symptoms of depression. In addition, a 2016 meta-analysis with over 150,000 participants examined the relationship between fish consumption and depression. Researchers found that folks who regularly consumed high levels of fish were nearly 20% less likely to have depression compared to folks who did not consume much fish.

Foods with omega-3 fats include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and trout

Folic Acid

Several studies have linked higher rates of depression in folks with lower levels of folic acid. This B-vitamin is used by the body to create serotonin, a feel-good chemical that helps you feel calm and relaxed.

Foods with folic acid include dark leafy greens, beans, whole grains, oranges, sunflower seeds and lentils.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an important nutrient for brain function and low levels may be linked to increased risk of depression. While our body can produce vitamin D from the sun, anywhere north of Los Angeles and Atlanta won’t have adequate exposure during the winter months.

Foods with vitamin D include Fortified milk, egg yolks, tuna, and salmon

Magnesium
Magnesium is an important mineral that is involved in mood regulation and has been linked to helping with depression. Low levels of this important mineral are associated with oxidative stress and increased inflammation, both which are association with depression.

Foods with magnesium include avocados, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains

If you still can’t kick the winter blues, you may find it helpful to reach out to a professional. More than 3 million Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) every year. Symptoms typically peak around the winter months and include fatigue, depression and social withdrawal. Talk therapy, medication and the use of a light therapy box are all used to help manage it. Also, don’t underestimate the power of sleep, exercise and daily access to sunlight, which are all proven ways to beating the blues anytime of the year.

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Forty-five million Americans set out on a diet each year, and it’s no wonder since 70-percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese. And while millions of Americans set out to lose weight, it seems that as few as 5-percent manage to keep the weight off long-term. Because of this, it seems there’s always a new diet being featured on morning TV or in health magazines promising to finally be the answer to everyone’s diet prayers, but is there really one diet out there that can work for all of us?

What the science says
It may be that we’re making it more complicated than it needs to be. A recent scientific review looked at several of the most popular diets and lifestyle modification methods and found them all to be helpful in reducing weight, with the weight returning after their efforts were discontinued. Another study published earlier this year looked at the difference of weight loss either following a low-fat or low-carbohydrate diet over a 12-month period and found no significant difference between them. What these studies suggest, is that it’s likely that just the act of limiting what we eat and cutting calories, no matter where you cut them from, will result in weight loss. That would mean there really is no one diet that’s the key to weight loss success.

So what’s the answer?
The answer lies in going back to healthy eating basics and keeping it simple. Instead of waiting for the next magic bullet diet to surface, focus on filling your plate with whole foods we’ve always known are good for us – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and lean sources of animal and vegetable protein. And since all of us come with our own set of medical history and health conditions, likes and dislikes, working with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) can be a great way to get an individualized approach to helping you meet your health and wellness goals. To find a RDN in your area, head to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics website and click on FIND AN EXPERT on the bottom right corner.

If you’re still looking for a plan to follow, check out the DASH Diet and the Mediterranean Diet, which are both healthy eating plans that don’t come with a list of complicated rules to follow or a forbidden food list. In fact, U.S. News ranked both of these plans as the best diets for 2018. Another good resource is the USDA Choose My Plate websites, which highlights key recommendations on how to improve your eating habits. The website also helps find the number of calories and number of servings from each food group that’s recommended for you.

Still curious about some of the latest popular diet plans out there? Here’s my take on Whole 30, The Ketogenic Diet, and Isagenix Diet. 

TELL ME: Is there a diet you plan on trying in 2019? Tell me in the comments what it is and I will write all about it.

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