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I’m going camping this weekend and I’m in charge of a breakfast one day for a group of friends. What to make? Obviously Salty Sweet Peanut Butter and Jelly Homemade Granola! I’m not trying to get a campfire going first thing in the morning so I need an easy, healthy, grab-and-go breakfast that people can eat as they get up without having to bring a lot of equipment or spending time on preparation.

Our main activities this weekend are going to be boating, wine tasting, and having a pool party so I really need to focus my attention elsewhere. Also, as a vegetarian, I’ve always found “camp food” a bit challenging. Because of that, I do have several healthy, camp-friendly recipes on the blog. I have slightly healthier s’mores, for example. And I have a couple granola recipes (plums and cranberry almond). I find myself making granola more in the fall and winter because I love how the oven warms the house but this Salty Sweet Peanut Butter and Jelly Homemade Granola is kind of fun for summer.

Peanut butter and jelly is just awesome. If you get the kind of bread you enjoy the most, choose your favorite peanut butter – smooth or chunky? – and pick the most delicious jam (berry? apricot? grape?), you have an amazing breakfast, snack, lunch or pre/post workout fuel. PB&J perfectly balances complex carbohydrates and fiber with protein and healthy fats to keep you full and energized for a long time. It only makes sense to create other foods with the same delicious properties and balance. This is where Salty Sweet Peanut Butter and Jelly Homemade Granola was born.

Just like a PB&J sandwich, you can make this granola your own. Want it vegan-friendly? Use maple syrup instead of honey. Feel free to chop the peanuts into smaller pieces if you’d like. Add more or less sweetener. Add salt if you like. Choose your favorite jam and choose your favorite fruit. I made my Salty Sweet Peanut Butter and Jelly Homemade Granola just the way I like it: minimally sweet, whole peanuts, apricot jam, dried cherries on the finish.

The batter will be a bit moist but it dries out nicely as it cools. On our camping trip, we’re putting Salty Sweet Peanut Butter and Jelly Homemade Granola on top of a high protein, low sugar yogurt – Siggis – so we can eat it in the morning or for a snack during the trip. I’m excited about this very easy, quick to prepare, easy to pack, no-hassle granola and I hope you get a chance to try it, too!

What are your favorite camping breakfast ideas? I’d love to hear some in the comments below!

Make sure to sign up for my newsletter where I send nutrition tips, updates and a recipe like this one about once per month.

Salty Sweet Peanut Butter and Jelly Homemade Granola
Servings9 1/3 cup servings
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Passive Time30 minutes
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment/wax paper. In a large mixing bowl, blend oats, cinnamon and peanuts. In a separate medium mixing bowl, place honey or maple syrup and peanut butter and microwave for 30 seconds. When mixture is warm, blend together with a wooden spoon. Add vanilla extract and oil. Pour wet mixture into dry and blend together. Top mixture with jam and fold to combine. There may be dollops of jam within the batter. Place entire mixture onto parchment lined sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Stir and bake for another 10 minutes. Stir and bake for a final 10 minutes for a total of 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and place granola back in a large mixing bowl. Fold in dried fruit then pour warm mixture out onto a foil lined cooling wrack. Mixture will harden as it cools. Serve within the following 5-6 days or keep in the freezer to serve for up to two months.

The post Salty Sweet Peanut Butter and Jelly Homemade Granola appeared first on Ginger Hultin MS, RD, CSO.

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Let me ask you a couple questions: Where are you with the term ‘weight loss’? Happy with your weight? Want to lose? Want to gain? What’s your history of dieting? What’s in it for you if you are successful at changing your body weight? Is it the number on the scale or is it something more? Do you understand the connection for you between nutrition and weight loss?

As a registered dietitian, I get a LOT of questions about weight. Clients wanting to lose weight and clients wanting to gain weight. Body weight is a challenging subject – it’s hard to make your body get to a different weight because there are so many factors at play, many of them critical to survival. For example, in ancient days (or even now when so many people in the world actually don’t have enough food), the body has to be able to survive fasts and times of the week, month or year with little to no food. This is the reason we’re able to go into ketosis and this is the reason that metabolism slows down when our bodies think they’re starving (aka: dieting). There are some amazing adaptations in place regarding nutrition and weight loss – the body is incredible – but in order to purposefully change your weight now, you have to understand what you’re up against.

I get asked almost daily, “well isn’t it just calories in vs calories out?” If you eat 3500 calories you’ll gain a pound and if you burn 3500 calories you’ll lose a pound, right? Nope. Not so fast. It’s much more complicated. I also get asked “isn’t there a pill I can take?” Again, no – you’ve got to do the work and I’m here to help!

Nutrition and Weight Loss

My theme this month on Champagne Nutrition® is all about weight and dieting. This topic deserves a lot of discussion as well as individualized, personal care. If you or someone you know needs support with their weight, I’m here to help – just hit me up here on my contact page.

As far as nutrition and weight loss, I sure wish I had a simple answer for you. I wish I could say that it is easy. But it really depends on your body – how much muscle mass you have, how much fat mass – and it depends on your level of physical activity and how much you naturally move in a day. It depends on genetics (and guess what? I’m rolling some genetic testing out into my practice in the coming month so stay tuned for updates there!) and it depends on hormones. Hormones regulate how hungry or full we feel all day, every day. Finally, it depends on your metabolism and guess what? The more you diet and restrict calories, the more the body digs in its heels and hangs on desperately to fat stores, worried it might be going into a time of food scarcity. Yup: metabolism actually slows down greatly every time you diet or cut calories.
If you and I ate the same amount of calories every day for a year, we’d be different weights, not exactly the same and that’s because of all these factors. Changing your weight is a lot of work; nutrition and weight loss is complicated. The first thing I want to know when I’m working with a client is why? Why do you want to lose weight? Do you have a positive relationship with your body and with food or could that part use a little work? Can you be healthy at the weight you are now? What else needs to change in your lifestyle whether or not your weight ultimately changes? These are important aspects to explore because, as a registered dietitian, I’m all about your health ultimately. And I see weight as a bit of a different subject than health. I’ve seen people lose weight successfully. It’s a lot of work and I’m here to help. It can be done for most people – I believe that.
Everyone wants to know what’s best for them regarding nutrition and weight loss but the answer is: it depends. As a fitness professional in addition to being a registered dietitian, I always talk about exercise in the weight loss conversation. This is absolutely critical for losing weight as well as keeping it off. And as a dietitian who practices with an integrative perspective, you’re not getting out of a consult with me without discussing your sleep and stress levels, too, because these also make it nearly impossible to lose weight if they’re not addressed. SO much to discover when it comes to you and your weight. If you meet anyone who says it’s easy or simple, run the other way.
There are so many factors when it comes to nutrition and weight loss. I’m sharing articles about changing your body’s weight all month long on my Facebook, on my Twitter, and of course, on Champagne Nutrition so I hope you’ll get the chance to stop by and join me in part of the conversation.
I do a lot of interviews about nutrition and weight loss so here are some of my favorite and most recent:
This is a complex topic so please drop me a question or a comment about nutrition and weight loss below so we can continue the conversation. If you want more updates from me at Champagne Nutrition that include my monthly themes (protein is up next!), make sure to join my very non-spammy mailing list.

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Champagne Nutrition by Ginger Hultin - 1M ago

A lot of people ask why I became a dietitian. I’m obsessed with being a nutritionist and I actually came to it a bit later in my life; a ‘second career’. The reason for this incredible career came out of necessity and ethics actually. I wanted to share my story with you below but in short, my history as a trainer and in the fitness industry really fueled my passion for helping my clients with nutrition for fitness.

As a younger person, I was a personal trainer at a big Seattle gym years ago. I loved working with my clients and I believe deeply in the power of physical activity but trainers had to meet sales goals selling supplements. My manager told me to put “nutritionist” on my business cards because “anyone can say they are one”. I remember feeling so uncomfortable, barely making it through the script we were required to sell people on multivitamins and other energy enhancers. After failing to meet my goals a couple months in and seeing trainers doling out nutrition advice to their clients right and left, I just knew that it wasn’t sitting well with me. I remember thinking that nutrition for fitness sounded so interesting but knowing that I didn’t have any training in the subject. That’s right all – people without any training at all are in the market of selling you nutrition advice. I knew it was wrong so I started looking into what it takes to actually know about nutrition.

The answer is that it takes years of professional medical training, a degree in nutrition, hours of supervised practice and a nationally certified exam. So I started the long, slow process to taking all my prerequisites in chemistry, anatomy and physiology and psychology. I got into the masters program at Bastyr University and I spent two years there basically getting my butt kicked by school. I moved across the country to Chicago to train at a huge VA hospital – a year of supervised practice with a variety of registered dietitians in clinical, community and food service settings. I’m so, so proud of what I’ve done and I am 100% confident now that I can talk supplements, I can help with your disease state, I can make you feel better and I can definitely talk nutrition for fitness.

That’s why the theme this month on the blog is Nutrition for Fitness – I’m getting back to my roots! Not surprisingly, I do a lot of interviews about this and I talk a lot about it with my clients. For many (not for all), talking about fitness is a critical piece of their health and I’m happy to go there with most of my clients depending on their needs and interest.

I’m still really into fitness, myself. I have blog posts for you about my journey – “I did Crossfit for a year and this is what happened” and “I did Orange Theory for a year and this is what happened” because I love the group fitness aspect. Not everyone does but it worked for me. I’m on to F45 now in Seattle – a HIIT-based circuit workout and all in 45 minutes. Shorter is best for me and my schedule. I’d love to know what you’ve tried lately and what you’re passionate about with your fitness.

Articles for you on Nutrition for Fitness

If you need more specifics about your nutrition for fitness questions, I’m interviewing about it all the time – I’ve got you! Here are some of my favorites. I’m featuring these and many more on my facebook and my twitter accounts this month so please follow me there to stay part of the conversation:

King 5 TV – pre and post-workout snacks
Runner’s World – how to calm stomach upset while running
Reader’s Digest – weight loss myths busted!
Prevention– carb cycling for exercise
Men’s Health– fueling pre-workouts

Please let me know what you think in the comments! I’d love to hear your questions about physical activity. If you want to better understand how to fuel your workouts or even how to find your passion around working out, hit me up and see if working together might make a wonderful difference in your life.
And please sign up for my newsletter so that you can follow along with important topics like this one in the future!

The post Nutrition for Fitness appeared first on Ginger Hultin MS, RD, CSO.

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Supplements. Have you ever found yourself in the supplement aisle at a store (or worse, in an entire store just for supplements) staring at the 20 varieties of the same item in different doses, types, mixtures and preparations? Perhaps a doctor, dietitian or naturopath told you to take vitamin D or fish oil. Maybe a friend told you that elderberry cured her flu and that you should try it, too. Hormone balance. Bone building. Immune supporting. Skin improving. Inflammation slashing…..why are we taking these products? Do they work? Are they worth the money or are we (literally) flushing money down the drain?

I’m here to help with my discussion about are supplements helping or hurting? As a nutrition expert trained in the subject, I’ve got you. Let’s chat.

I remember when I took a class entirely on supplement in my masters in nutrition program at Bastyr University here in Seattle and our professor told us that one day, when we were dietitians, that a patient would come to us with a bag full of supplements, drop it at our feet and say: “what do I do?” This struck terror in our hearts of course. It’s SO complicated! With such a lack of regulation in the US regarding quality or efficacy, what’s to be trusted and how can we know what someone needs or doesn’t?

Just a couple years later, working at in integrative cancer care center, this is exactly what happened. Every day. Baskets, boxes and backpacks FULL of supplements of all variety dropped at my feet. Are supplements helping or hurting? “Help me”. And I could! Because there are some really simple things you can do when you’re trying to figure out what to do with all your supplements. Toss out expired ones. Look to see how many times an individual ingredient is showing up in several different products (adding up to dangerous levels sometimes). And my personal favorite: get blood testing!! It’s the absolute easiest way for me or any provider to understand exactly what you need. Vitamin D, ferritin, cholesterol and triglycerides, CRP/inflammation – these are so helpful in understanding what might be needed for you as a unique individual.

I absolutely love talking supplements with people. It requires a deep knowledge of biochemistry, guidelines, regulation and the needs for different dietary patterns, stages of the lifecycle and health conditions. Please, PLEASE, don’t take advice from someone who isn’t medically trained or who has a benefit to them in selling you supplements. Don’t listen to testimonials or individual recommendations – what’s good for one person isn’t necessarily good for another. Get professional guidance. That’s what people like me do for a living!

Are Supplements Helping or Hurting?

The bottom line on whether or not supplements are helping or hurting is: it depends (sorry). You can take too much of pretty much any supplement. And when people tell you “you just pee them out”…well, there are biochemical interactions happening in the body before that happens so that is not really a truthful statement. It’s impossible for me to know what you need by just looking at you. I need a lot more information and hopefully some data from blood tests, too. Generally, a healthy person with a balance diet probably needs little to no supplements. It’s amazing what you can get through food. But there are many people who really need supplements: kids/teens (picky eaters), pregnant and lactating women, people over 50 years of age, those at risk for bone density problems, people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or triglycerides, those with chronic diseases like autoimmune or cancer, athletes, vegans, people on the keto diet…..and many more.

Reading More About Supplements

If you want to read more about a variety of supplement topics, I talk about it a lot in interviews for publications. Here are some of my favorites. I’m featuring these and many more on my facebook and my twitter accounts this month so please follow me there to stay part of the conversation!

Washington Post – are single agent cures for real? Celery juice and beyond
Readers Digest – top superfood supplements
Healthline – Ashitaba and anti-aging
Foodtrients – benefits of medicinal mushrooms for your health
Readers Digest – supplements that nutritionists don’t take
Food&Nutrition Magazine – Vitamin K for bone health

Please let me know what you think in the comments! I’d love to hear your questions and feedback about supplements. I talk about this a lot so make sure to hit me up on my site or direct message on social media to chat further about your unique needs. And please sign up for my newsletter so that you can follow along with important topics like this one in the future!

The post Are Supplements Helping or Hurting? appeared first on Ginger Hultin MS, RD, CSO.

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If you live here on the West Coast, you may have already experienced the kombucha craze. Kombucha on tap, kombucha in the grocery store, kombucha bars, your friends making kombucha at their house….it happens here on the Left Coast. I’ve been wanting to make a kombucha cocktail for the blog for quite awhile so I thought it was time for my Citrus Kombucha Old Fashioned.

The Old Fashioned cocktail is thought to have been invented in Louisville, Kentucky in 1881 and made famous a the New York City Waldorf Asoria. Made from either bourbon or rye whiskey, Old Fashioned’s require a sugar cube and bitters with an orange or lemon twist and cocktail cherry served over a large ice cube. An intense cocktail, the best I’ve ever had is in Wisconsin where they flow like water. Personally, I’m a bourbon, ‘press’ (soda mixed with 7-up) kind of person for my Old Fashioned’s.

The thing is that all that sugar and alcohol can 1. make you very drunk very quickly and 2. lead to a nasty hangover. There’s also some evidence that drinking alcohol can give you the munchies (I chat about that here in CNN.com) so once you’re sipping on these sweet drinks, you could find yourself reaching for foods that don’t fit into your plan as well.

For all these reasons, I created a lightened up Citrus Kombucha Old Fashioned. No added sugar – no sugar cube at all in fact. The sweetness comes from a little bit of fresh orange juice and the natural sweetness of kombucha. If you’re unfamiliar with that product, it’s actually fermented tea so it’s slightly effervescent and has a sweet/tangy almost vinegar flavor. I used a ginger citrus version but you can get creative with whatever you find at the store. Best of all: kombucha contains natural probiotics so this cocktail even has some potential health benefits.

If you like the idea of a kombucha cocktail, I have others! This Strawberry Basil Kombucha cocktail is a great one as is my Ginger Beet Cocktail with Thyme. Do you enjoy kombucha cocktails? Let me know if the comments!

Citrus Kombucha Old Fashioned
Servings1 beverage
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Add kombucha, orange juice, and bourbon to a metal shaker over ice. Shake hard several times to combine. Strain into a highball glass over your large ice cube and garnish with orange peel and a dash of cinnamon.

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Happy “plant-based” month here at Champagne Nutrition. While I enjoy working with people on ALL diets, the foundation of my practice is plant-based. To celebrate, I’ve got 50 BEST Plant-based Recipes gathered for you.

You may wonder why I’m calling it plant-based rather than vegetarian or vegan….and there’s some controversy there. The reason why is because there is no true definition. And as much as I support my vegetarian and vegan friends and community, I still want to be inclusive of all diets and I think that any way you eat, if plants are the foundation of the diet, you’re on the right track.

I developed a working definition of plant-based that I use for a couple different organizations I’m in and to help settle people who are uncomfortable with the lack of definition. I actually like that it’s a bit open to interpretation because that’s the benefit of it. You can eat meat and be plant-based….but the focus is on plant-foods and I strongly believe that even reducing meat intake has benefits to human health as well as the environment.

plant
/plant/
noun
a living organism of the kind exemplified by trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, ferns, and mosses
base
/bās/
verb past tense: based
have as the foundation for (something); use as a point from which (something) can develop
So to me, a plant-based diet is one founded in plant-foods and there’s some wiggle room there to either be 100% plants (vegan) or more flexitarian and include small amounts of meat as you continue to move towards more and more plants. As a registered dietitian, I’m here to help! As are so many of my friends. Dietitians are pretty amazing at making food taste great so here are 50 BEST Plant-based Recipes from nutrition experts around the country.
Featuring Tofu!

Farro Buddah Bowl with Crispy Bakes Tofu by Jessica Fishman Levinson

Spicy Peanut Tofu Stir Fry by Kelly Jones Nutrition

Sheet Pan Garlic Tofu & Brussels Sprouts by Emily Kyle

Thai Tofu Veggie Noodle Bowl by Sharon Palmer

Sheet Pan Teriyaki Tofu by Ginger Hultin

Salads

Italian Lupini Bean Salad with Crushed Pistachios by Amy Gorin

Vegan Nicoise Salad with Chickpea Salad & Lemon Mustard Dressing by Jessica Spiro

30 Minute Loaded Quinoa Taco Salad by Jamie Vespa

Quinoa and Edamame Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette by Jennifer Hunt

Soup


Cream-Free Potato Leek Soup by Alyssa Lavy

Root Vegetable and Bean Soup by Toby Amidor

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili by Liz Weiss

Thai Honey Nut Squash Soup by Jenny Passione

Spicy Lemongrass Coconut Squash Soup by Ginger Hultin

Sandwiches

Pressed Vegetarian Picnic Sandwich by Jessianna Rose Saville

SunButter, Banana, and Avocado Sandwich by Chelsey Amer

Easy Black Bean Burger Recipe by Jill Stern Weisenberger

Simple Vegetarian Egg and Veggie Breakfast Sandwich by Ginger Hultin

Savory Mains

Vegan Tex-Mex Loaded Potato Skins by Andrea Mathis

Vegetarian Rice & Beans Casserole by Jenna Braddock

Soyrizo Quinoa Bowl by Nicole Eichinger

Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Kale by Ginger Hultin

Cauliflower, Mushroom and Walnut Meatless Bolognese over Edamame Spaghetti by Catherine Brown

Vegetarian Eggplant Meatballs by Kara Hochreiter

Tacos and Burritos

Sunflower Tacos in Collard Leaves by Mandy Enright

Roasted Brussels Sprout Tacos with Garlicky Black Bean Spread by Kim Hoban

The Ultimate Veggie Burrito by Kalee Lundmark

Side-dishes

Sweet Maple Roasted Green Beans with Pumpkin Seeds, Cloves, and Nutmeg Alyssa Lavy

Coconut Herb Rice Salad by Ginger Hultin

Risotto Style Sorghum and Mushrooms by Tracee Yablon Brenner

Vegan Spiced Baked Beans by Ginger Hultin

Dips and Apps

Jalapeño Lime Almond Dip by Stephanie Lee Nutrition

Mini Eggplant Pizzas by Alexandra Fucarino

5 Ingredient Sweet Potato Hummus by Stephanie Van’t Zelfdren

Lemon Tahini Lentil Hummus by Sarah Schlichter

Kalamata Olive and Basil Tapenade Dip by Ginger Hultin

Grilled Eggplant Dip by Jessica Ivey

Smoothies

Matcha Avocado Smoothie by Elizabeth Ward

Wild Blueberry Vanilla Matcha Smoothie by Ginger Hultin

Calming Smoothie for Runners by Ginger Hultin

Breakfast

Crunchy Sunflower Seed Granola by Elizabeth Shaw

Vegan French Toast by Kara Lydon Evancho

Smashed Chickpea Scramble by Julie Harrington

Coconut Lemon Curd Overnight Oats by Ginger Hultin

Sweet Bites

Healthy Energy Bites with Dates, Cashews, Apricots and Coconut by E.A. Stewart

Chickpea Walnut Blondies by Tara Rochford

Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares by Bracha Kopstick

Chocolate Open Sesames by Rhyan Geiger

Coco-nut Cookie Bites by Judith Scharman Draughon

No Bake Chocolate Pomegranate Pistachio Squares by Jennifer McDaniel

50 BEST Plant-based Recipes

    The post 50 BEST Plant-based Recipes appeared first on Ginger Hultin MS, RD, CSO.

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    Champagne Nutrition by Ginger Hultin - 3M ago

    I think you all know by now that I have a personal vendetta against electric yellow store-bought margarita mix. I just don’t believe that we should be drinking artificially colored and flavored corn syrup – you deserve better! I set off to create a frozen marg for you all this month because I already have my wonderful Healthier Margarita on the rocks post which was featured in a great article you should check out about alcohol in the Seattle Times. I’ve also got a Blackberry Margarita served up on the blog as well. But now for those of you who love a frozen drink, I created my new Frozen RumRita Sunset and guess what? It’s got RUM instead of TEQUILA in it.

    Margaritas that you get in some restaurants or stores can be packed with calories, tons of added sugar and devoid of any nutrients or antioxidants. Everyone deserves to enjoy a beverage without guilt but why settle for something mediocre when you can whip up a simple, delicious version of your own at home? These would be so perfect for a party because they’re full of frozen fruit which is affordable and easy to use. Also, frozen fruit creates a naturally frosty beverage so it will stay cold for a long time and be thicker than if you had just used ice for the “frozen” part.

    Pacific Coast Producers sent me these incredible Bordeaux Maraschino cherries and I LOVE them. Regular Maraschino’s have some scary ingredients and are full of red food dye but these ones are a beautifully, natural dark color that go so well with the flavors in the fruit in the Frozen RumRita Sunset. Also, I cut one in half and used it to wet the rim of the glass to make the salt stick – perfection!

    I used rum here because I thought it would match the flavors of the ingredients. But you can use tequila if you want – or vodka. Use whatever you enjoy the most. They are all equal in calories but differ slightly in flavor.

    This Frozen RumRita Sunset tastes kind of a like a delicious fruit smoothie but with a bit of a kick so use caution and don’t go too fast with it because it definitely has as much alcohol as a typical margarita. It’s just incredibly slushy and yummy. Let me know if you try it!

    Frozen Peach Mango Margarita
    Servings2
    Ingredients
    Instructions
    1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and frothy. Run a lime slice along the rim of a large rocks glass then dip the glass in salt (do just 1/2 the rim if desired). Fill glasses with 1-inch of space between liquid and rim. Garnish with Maraschino cherries and enjoy.

    The post Frozen RumRita Sunset appeared first on Ginger Hultin MS, RD, CSO.

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    I’m chatting all things coconut this month on the blog because it’s such a misunderstood food! There are some fun health benefits to it – and some negatives – but mostly it’s awesome in the kitchen. Versatile and delicious, I cook with coconut products pretty often. In honor of all things coconut, I made these Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Kale that you really need to try.

    When I knew that I wanted to make a stuffed sweet potato recipe,  I was looking at a variety of recipes and there was one thing missing over and over – the protein! Sweet potatoes are such a healthy food – fiber, vitamin A (that’s the orange color), vitamin C, b-vitamins – they’re flavorful, nutritious and versatile. Kale sautéed in coconut and lime is just: delicious and a nice way to enjoy this dark leafy green if it’s a bit too intense raw in a salad.

    My magic ingredient in Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Kale is definitely the chickpeas. I almost always use canned because it’s so much faster. Just drain them, roast them and use them. They’re so hands-off and a quick, easy protein source you can use in many ways – even just as a snack.

    I will warn you that it’s kind of hard to make these look beautiful. Scooping out the insides while maintaining the shell intact requires gentle attention. This one turned out better than another one I made because the sides of the skin ripped and it wasn’t as pretty. But it was still delicious. I took this one on a flight! Non-stinky, balanced, nutritious and flavorful, this is exactly the type of meal that will take you across the country and keep you feeling full and energized.

    I hope you enjoy this Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Kale recipe when you make it – let me know how it turns out. If you need some more plant-based recipes, try my No Noodle Vegetarian Eggplant Lasagna with Quinoa and Spinach or my super simple Healthy Vegetarian Sheet Pan Nachos!

    Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Kale
    Servings2
    Cook Time1 hour
    Ingredients
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Rub potatoes with 1 Tablespoon olive oil; pierce liberally with a fork then bake for 1 hour or until tender. Set aside to cool. Split potatoes in half lengthwise gently.
    2. Place chickpeas on a baking sheet; pat dry with paper towels. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and toss. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and ground ginger. Bake with sweet potatoes for the final 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
    3. Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high. Add kale and jalapeno, stirring often, until kale is slightly wilted and soft (about 3 minutes). Add in coconut milk then bring to a boil. Reduce to low and cook for 5-6 minutes until kale is very tender. Remove from heat, stir in lime juice, and curry powder.
    4. Cut sweet potatoes in half-lengthwise then scoop soft flesh into a large bowl. Mash the sweet potato, grapefruit juice, vegan butter and remaining salt and pepper. Spoon mixture back into potato skins then top with kale mixture and garnish with toasted coconut.

    The post Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Kale appeared first on Ginger Hultin MS, RD, CSO.

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    Whew! Last month on Champagne Nutrition, we chatted ketogenic diet all.month.long. Now onto the next hot topic that continues to rage on: coconut oil. Is it a topic best covered in February because February is also American Heart month. You’ll see a lot of talk about heart healthy foods, supplements and activities. – and a lot of talk about coconut “Heart Health” is a big subject. The actual heart muscle and all it’s valves and chambers, blood pressure and what that does to the kidneys and blood vessels, blood flow to the brain, the feet and essential organs, cholesterol – good and bad, triglycerides, homocyseine, exercise – type and intensity, smoking, alcohol, butter and coconut – saturated fat…the list of topics goes on and on. So: Is Coconut Healthy or Not?

    The American Heart Association recommends saturated fat in the diet is limited to 5-6% of total calories. On a 2000 calorie diet, that’s 11-13 grams per day. In one tablespoon of coconut oil, there’s 12 grams of saturated fat so yeah…it adds up. I never recommend my clients drink it in smoothies or add it to every recipe throughout the day. I think that the American Heart Association’s recommendations to include saturated fat but limit it to 5-6% makes sense and there are many other types of fats to include that aren’t saturated that should be in the diet as well: olives, olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, avocado oil – fun foods! It really depends on your personal health history, family history, labs and goals so, like so many nutrition recs, it’s hard to tell you for sure yes or no if you should or should not eat coconut without meeting with you 1:1 to discuss.

    Whenever I talk to people about being aware of the fat in their diet, I often get push-back about what happened in the 1990’s when we replaced fat with sugar and refined carbohydrates. I don’t think any health care provider would state that went well – it didn’t. Sugar shouldn’t be replacing anything generally. What I see sometimes now is people including more saturated fat in the diet and there are some benefits there – feeling full and satisfied for one. Sometimes as people liberalize fat in the diet and start eating more, they either maintain their current sugar/refined carbohydrate status or even add in more (remember – many saturated fat sources are rich in sugar, too – baked goods or chocolate for example). I’ve never heard anyone say that eating more saturated fat and more sugar combined is a good thing for health.

    Is Coconut Healthy or Not?

    If you need some coconut-related reading, here are some pieces I’ve written or am featured in for some balanced, evidence-based info on both coconut and MCT:

    USA Today Coconut Oil Still isn’t Healthy

    Food&Nutrition Magazine MCT Oil: Miracle Supplement?

    Vitamin Shoppe Coconut Oil vs MCT

    Daily Burn Coconut Vinegar for Probiotics

    One thing you might notice people exploring in these pieces is this all-or-nothing, black-or-white, healthy-or-not approach. Will coconut oil kill you or cure you? What about MCT oil? These are the kind of questions I get and as a registered dietitian nutritionist, I’m afraid it’s more complicated than that. It’s hard to study what people eat. How much coconut oil or MCT are they consuming? What else are they eating all day every day? Do they exercise? Smoke? Drink? Sleep? What’s their metabolism like? What are their genes doing?

    When you hear “coconut”, think actual coconut meat, coconut oil, coconut flakes, those kinds of foods. Those contain high levels of saturated fat. But they taste great and have many uses in recipes and cooking. MCT stands for ‘medium chain triglyceride’ and it’s more like a supplement. You’ll find it in health food stores or supplement aisles. It’s a clear, odorless liquid that people add to shakes or coffee (it can’t be heated or cooked with). I’ve mostly used that in the clinical hospital setting because it’s useful for some injuries. It’s quite high in calories. It also can give you diarrhea so use caution.

    What about Bulletproof Coffee?

    Touted to boost energy in the morning to fuel your brain for the day, what you’re supposed to do is to brew coffee (preferably “Bulletproof coffee beans”) and then add 1-2 tablespoons of “Brain Octane Oil” which is in fact MCT oil and 1-2 tablespoons of butter or ghee. Blend this into a latte and enjoy. They recommend enjoying this beverage which has 12-24+ grams of saturated fat as well as caffeine to provide energy in the morning rather than eating the typical carbohydrate-rich breakfast – think oats, toast, cereal, etc. Oil is packed with calories so a Bulletproof coffee can have 400-500 calories. Since it IS a meal replacement, that’s not bad but it just really depends on if this gets you through your morning or not. Each person will be different, as always. I see Bulletproof as a facet of intermittent fasting and also of the desire to put the body in ketosis. See my whole blog on that subject.

    I love coffee. If you love coffee and especially if you enjoy rich coffee that has butter and oil in it, more power to you. Just know that you’re getting a LOT of saturated fat in this product and depending on your unique needs, that may or may not be a good thing. By eliminating carbs at breakfast, you’re also cutting out a lot of vitamins, minerals antioxidants and fiber so consider what the rest of your day looks like. And I hope it looks like: tofu, beans, lentils, veggies, fruits and whole grains.

    Bottom Line on Coconut

    Just like with the ketogenic diet, I want to tell you here exactly what I think of it, as a nutrition expert. I think coconut oil is delicious! I use it in cooking. I have a jar of it and it lasts me about a year. I use it to grease pans or for stir-fries maybe 2-3 times per month. I use shredded coconut in recipes a couple times per month. It’s a beautiful garnish and adds a nice complexity of texture and flavor. I use coconut oil moderately and I feel great about it because I use a variety of other fats, too.

    I do not use MCT however – it can cause stomach upset, it’s very rich in calories and I don’t see a reason to use it for my needs. I have suggested it clinically, for very ill people in the hospital for a variety of reasons so my suggestion is generally to use it if it’s medically necessary for you but otherwise, stick to whole food sources of coconut products. I also don’t do Bulletproof coffee – I drink coffee with a slash of soy or oat milk and that works for me. I feel energized in the mornings.

    Coconut Recipes

    If you want some of my favorite coconut recipes, I’ve got them here for you. Enjoy!

    Coconut Rice Herb Salad

    No Bake Vegan Chocolate Haystack Cookie Bites

    Coconut Lemon Curd Overnight Oats

    Tropical Mango Chia Pudding Parfait

    Easiest Blueberry Coconut Oatmeal Bake

    Coconut Cherry Almond Energy Oat Balls

    I would love to know in the comments what questions or thoughts you have about coconut oil, MCT, or Bulletproof coffee

    – let me know!

    The post Is Coconut Healthy or Not? Coconut, MCT, Bulletproof and Beyond appeared first on Ginger Hultin MS, RD, CSO.

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    Ok all – let’s talk Keto. It’s keto month at Champagne Nutrition and if you’re following along on twitter or facebook, I’m posting every few days on keto subjects. I’ve never seen a hotter diet trend and I’ve also never seen so much confusion and misinformation on one subject. This is all about the ketogenic diet…what you need to know.

    I talk about keto a lot. I’ve given over 20 interviews on the subject and written articles about the science there, too. The most important thing is that you know what it is as we get started. I hear a lot of people say that they’re following a ketogenic diet but they’re actually far from it. There are a couple articles you should read to better understand the basics including this one I wrote for Food&Nutrition Magazine and also this one in Huffington Post.

    If you need a snapshot of what the ketogenic diet is as well as how it’s different than low carb Paleo or Whole 30, here’s what you need to know in a nutshell:

    Ketogenic:
    • High in fat: 80%+ total calories
    • Moderate in protein: 1 gram/kilogram of body weight
    • Low in carbohydrates: 40-60 grams per day from low glycemic index foods (<50)
    • This is a very high fat, low carb diet. Eliminated foods include all fruit except a small amount of berries on occasion for some people, all grains and starchy veggies, beans, most soy products, some dairy, limits on portions of nuts/seeds. Artificial sweeteners can be used.
    • Compare this to the general acceptable macronutrient distribution range (AMDR) which is: 45-65 percent of calories from carbs; 10-35 percent from protein; and 20-35 percent from fat. Keto is very different than how many people normally eat.
    • It was used originally to treat people with epilepsy who weren’t responding well to medications. It’s quite effective for a variety of medical needs but it should be monitored by a medical team.
    • There is some evidence now in humans that it’s effective for weight loss which is why I see most people using it.
    Paleo/Whole 30:
    • Less about macronutrient breakdown and more about overall food choices.
    • Based on what people in the Paleolithic Era (earliest humans until 40,000 BC – 8000 BC) ate; a take on the “traditional” human diet. Though, this is a large span of time and humans inhabited many parts of the earth. They ate a varied diet and there isn’t one true “Paleo” diet, historically speaking.
    • No grains, beans, soy, corn, dairy, alcohol. It is based on meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, all veggies (even starchy), fat (coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, ghee), raw sugar/honey/stevia.
    • For many, is part of a “Paleo” philosophy based on physical movement and exercise.

    Simply put, the ketogenic diet is very high fat and very low carb. Take one wrong step and you’re not in ketosis any longer. Here’s my piece on “cheat days” on keto if you’re interested. If you’re eating barbecue sauce, you’re not keto. If you drink a margarita, you’re not keto. If you eat an apple, you may not be keto. It’s a very restrictive diet. And once you’re not in ketosis, it will take you a period of time to get back into it. To know if you’re actually in ketosis, you’ll need to test blood or urine.

    One thing that’s critical to understand is the pros and cons of keto. Before you start it, you really should be consulting with your doctor and get a dietitian on board. We’re talking serious potential consequences of this altered metabolism including kidney damage, severe constipation, micronutrient deficiencies (and need for targeted supplementation) including magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, and sometimes electrolytes. The first 4-10 days on this diet can be tough as metabolism, electrolytes and fluids shift causing the “keto flu” including lethargy, muscle cramps and body aches, headache and gastrointestinal upset.

    The Ketogenic Diet: What You Need to Know. Learn what it is, how it's used, if it works, side effects, and more
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    Understand that there isn’t one specific keto diet. Everyone is different and people can enter ketosis with varying levels of dietary carbohydrates though most are going to need fewer than 50 grams per day. This also happens at varying amounts of time on the diet ranging from 33 to 58 hours. Some people – especially children – will be admitted to the hospital when starting the keto diet for monitoring and safety. Foods and beverages must be closely monitored, calculated, measured and weighed for many people who need this for medical reasons. This is really serious business.

    There is SO much to talk about regarding the ketogenic diet. I’ve discussed a variety of topics with publications including:

    Finally, many people want to know if I’m keto and I’ll tell you honestly that I’m not. The reason is because I’m a vegetarian so I’m not willing to cut out foods like beans, soy, fruit and some veggies in my diet. There are many huge, well done studies that show that vegetarian and vegan diets are among the healthiest diets out there and that they’re linked to decreased rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and even some forms of cancer. That’s what works best for me.

    As a registered dietitian, I work with people on a huge range of diets – keto, Paleo, low carb, low fodmap, Mediterranean, DASH, vegan, macronutrient – you name it. My bottom line is making sure that whatever you choose to do is right for you and helping your health and happiness rather than hurting it.

    Now I need to know what YOU think about keto. Have you tried it? What are your pros and cons? What other questions do you have? Let me know and we’ll continue the conversation together.

    The post Ketogenic Diet What You Need to Know appeared first on Ginger Hultin MS, RD, CSO.

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