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KALE & BUTTERNUT SQUASH W. GOAT CHEESE

I always look for the quick and easy preparation method, so buying butternut squash already cubed is a winner for me! But if you prefer to start from scratch with a fresh butternut squash, this salad is a great way to eat left over squash the next day.

This salad is a favorite of mine because it provides 3 vibrant colors – dark green, orange and red – providing a wide variety of antioxidants. In one side dish you’ve gotten 3 of the 6 colors of the rainbow, which I encourage my clients to eat each day. Butternut squash is an excellent source of vitamins A & C, antioxidants and fiber, while kale provides an amazing amount of vitamins A, C & K. Last but not least, pumpkin seeds provide more protein than most other nuts and seeds and is an excellent source of 5 different minerals.  Enjoy great taste and loads of nutrition at the same time!

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 package pre-cubed butternut squash (16 oz.), fresh or frozen

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 large bunch Lacinato (Tuscan) kale, stemmed and thinly sliced

  • 3 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted

  • ¼ cup dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds

  • 3 Tablespoons goat cheese (optional)

Salad Dressing:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice, divided

  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 1 shallot, minced

  • Salt & pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place cubed butternut squash on baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil over the top. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat the butternut squash with oil and spices. Spread butternut cubes evenly around pan and roast for 20-25 minutes until squash is fork tender.

  2. While the squash is roasting, toast pumpkin seeds l in a small, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are just golden brown, 2–3 minutes. Set aside.

  3. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and shallot until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Prepare the kale by removing stems and slicing into thin strips. Place in a large bowl and add 1-2 Tablespoons salad dressing, toss thoroughly and set aside.

  5. Add roasted squash, cranberries or pomegranate seeds; toss to combine. Add additional dressing as needed for taste preferences and store remainder in the refrigerator to use within 5 days. Transfer to salad bowls, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition per Serving:  180 calories, 7g total fat (1.5g saturated fat), 0g Trans-fat, 27g carbohydrate, 11g sugar, 4g fiber, 5g protein, 140mg sodium, 455mg potassium.

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This has to be one of my favorite desserts during apple season! The wonderful aroma of apples and cinnamon cooking is so comforting and delicious. This recipe is healthier than apple pie because there’s only one crust and even that is healthier with the oats and nuts. I’ve also made this without the brown sugar to reduce the sugar further, but either way, enjoy guilt-free!

Filling:                                                                       Topping:

6 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced              1 cup quick-cooking oats

3 Tablespoons orange juice                                   1 cup all-purpose flour

3 Tablespoons water                                              1 cup packed brown sugar

3 Tablespoons brown sugar                                   ¼ teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour                                ¼ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon cinnamon                                            1 teaspoon cinnamon

                                                                                1 cup walnuts, chopped

                                                                                ½ cup butter, melted

 Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Place apples in a 9 X 13-inch pan.

Mix brown sugar , flour and cinnamon together. Sprinkle over apples.

Combine orange juice and water, then pour over apples and stir until apples are well coated.

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and walnuts.

Add melted butter and stir until crumbly.  Spread evenly over apples.

Bake at 350*F for about 45 minutes.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

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Spaghetti squash is a fabulous substitute for regular pasta because it’s full of vitamins and minerals and lower in calories. Instead of 200 calories per cup, spaghetti squash will only cost you around 45 calories per cup. my favorite way to prepare this squash is to roast it, but It can also be baked, boiled, steamed, or microwaved. Once cooked, the squash falls away like strands of spaghetti.

spaghetti squash w. meat sauce

Ingredients:

1 large spaghetti squash (about 4 lbs.)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chopped cremini mushrooms

1 lb. 93% lean ground turkey or beef

1 jar pasta sauce (my favorite is Whole Foods 365 portobello mushroom tomato sauce)

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) – I like a bit of heat

½ teaspoon dried oregano

black pepper to taste

Parmesan Cheese

Fresh basil

 Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400*F.

Place squash on a baking tray and roast for about 45-60 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic red pepper flakes and dried oregano and sauté about 4 minutes or until tender.

Add ground turkey and cook until no longer pink.

Add pasta sauce, stirring until thoroughly combined and bubbling.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, then set aside and keep warm.

When squash is done, remove seeds and then scrape the desired amount of spaghetti squash strands with a fork into a large bowl.

Add desired amount of meat sauce to squash and mix well.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and fresh basil, then serve.

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I love the Fall season -- the air is crisp and the days get shorter, making it the perfect time to bring out Fall recipes that include pumpkin, apples and winter squash. These Fall foods are rich in many nutrients and add new seasonal variety as the summer fruits and vegetables disappear.

Apples --

When I was a kid, there were 3 varieties of apples available to me: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Granny Smiths. Today, there are so many varieties to choose from and in my opinion, they taste so much better! So I encourage you to be adventurous and choose a new variety at the store or farmer’s market that you haven’t tried before!

On the nutrition side, apples are a good source of Vitamins B and C, fiber and phytonutrients. The combination of vitamin C and phytonutrients help protect the body from free radicals associated with aging and also increase immunity to help fight off infections as we move into the winter months. Be sure to eat the skin on the apple because the phytonutrients are 3-4 times more concentrated in the peel.

On the food & eating side, eat an apple with string cheese or almond butter to boost your energy and prevent those afternoon sweets cravings. Don’t forget to add apples to yogurt or oatmeal at breakfast or add chopped apples to your salad at lunch or dinner.

Bonus: Try my Apple Crisp recipe this Fall or during the holidays for a healthier alternative to Apple Pie.

Pumpkin –

Pumpkin has many great health benefits, including being one of the best sources of beta-carotene -- an antioxidant that gives pumpkin its vibrant orange color, while helping to delay aging and reducing the risk of asthma, heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Eating pumpkin is good for the heart and a great post-workout recovery food. Why? Because it’s high in potassium. Potassium is important for keeping blood pressure in check, helps restore much needed electrolytes after a heavy workout, helps prevent muscle cramping and muscle mass.

Pumpkin is also a good source of fiber. Most Americans don’t get nearly enough fiber each day, so adding pumpkin to recipes you’re already making can boost the fiber content. For example, add chunks of pumpkin to soup or add a couple tablespoons of canned pumpkin to your morning oatmeal. You can also try this pasta recipe with pumpkin if you’re really adventurous!

Preparing pumpkin from scratch will provide the highest level of nutrients, but if you’re like me, I just don’t have the time to cook it and prepare it. The good news is, canned pumpkin delivers great nutrition too! Just be sure that the ingredient list is pumpkin or pumpkin and water, nothing else. Be careful because canned pumpkin pie filling looks pretty similar in the can, but doesn’t deliver the same nutrition and has lots of sugar. Make your pumpkin pie with canned pumpkin and add your own spices and sugar so you can control how much is added.

Winter Squash –

It’s recommended that we eat at least ½ cup of yellow/orange vegetables daily. Pumpkin can certainly help us reach that goal, but so can winter squash! The different varieties typically have a vivid orange or yellow flesh because of the concentration of caretonoids (antioxidants) that get converted into the active forms of vitamin A (retinoids). Only sweet potato, carrots and green leafy vegetables have more carotenoid content than winter squash.

Winter squash refers to a family of vegetables, including acorn, butternut, kabocha, buttercup, spaghetti, blue hubbard and delicata, to name a few. Each has a distinct texture and flavor, so I challenge you to try a different squash each week for 7 weeks, and you’ll have prepared each one of these. Let me know which varieties you like best and be sure to share your recipes! I’ll then share them with my friends and followers.

To help you get started, try this simple spaghetti squash recipe.

Cheers to Healthy Fall Foods!

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As I mentioned in my last post, I found several jars of pumpkin butter in the back of my cupboard when I was in the process of cleaning out before our move. I searched the internet for recipes to help me use up my pumpkin butter and with a few modifications created my own recipes.

Pumpkin Butter

 And the truth is, sweets are a real favorite of mine, and I’m a believer that all foods can be included, in moderation, in a healthy, balanced diet. So although I wouldn’t eat these bars every day, they’re a nice change from brownies, and a great dessert to bring to a get-together, especially in the Fall. I like making dessert when I can share it with others, taking away the temptation to eat them all myself.

 Ingredients

1 package white cake mix, divided

½ cup butter, melted

3 large eggs

1 (10oz.) jar pumpkin butter*

1 Tablespoon flour

2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

¼ cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon allspice

¼ cup pecans

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease bottom and sides of a 9 X 13-inch baking pan.

2. Remove one cup of yellow cake mix and pour the remaining mix in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the melted butter and one egg. Press the mixture into the bottom of 9 X 13 baking pan.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin butter and 2 eggs. Pour pumpkin mixture over the cake mix.

4. Stir the reserved cup of cake mix with the flour, sugar, softened butter, cinnamon and pecans in a small bowl until crumbly. Sprinkle over the pumpkin layer.

5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly before cutting into 2-inch squares.

Makes 16 servings

NOTE: I did not receive compensation in any form for products or ingredients mentioned in this blog.

 *Where to buy pumpkin butter? Trader Joe’s, Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma sell it in the Fall. There are also recipes online to make your own!

Nutrition Information per serving:

290 calories, 15g Total Fat, 7g Saturated Fat, 0mg Trans Fat, 55mg cholesterol,  34g Total Carbohydrate, 23g sugar, 0g Fiber, 3g protein, 190mg sodium, 22mg potassium

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When I was packing up for our big move, I found several jars of pumpkin butter in the back of a cupboard. I went searching for ways to use up the pumpkin butter because I hate to throw away food. If you find yourself needing to use up jars of pumpkin butter or would like to make a less traditional pumpkin recipe this Fall, give this granola recipe a try!

  Ingredients

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

½ cup pumpkin butter

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats (do not use instant oats)

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¾ cup pecans, coarsely chopped

¼ cup pumpkin seeds

 Preparation:

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325*F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a small saucepan heat the butter over low-medium heat, whisking constantly. When it just starts to brown, remove from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl; whisk an additional 30 seconds.

3. Add the pumpkin butter, maple syrup and vanilla to the melted butter. Whisk to combine.

4. In a separate bowl, add oats, spices, pecans and pumpkin seeds. Stir until well combined.

5. Pour oat mixture into pumpkin mixture and stir until oats are well coated.

6.  Transfer oat mixture to prepared baking sheet and spread across sheet into thin, even layer (about 3/8 inch thick). Using a stiff spatula or wooden spoon, compress oat mixture until very compact.

7. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until golden and dry. Let cool completely, then  store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 3 ½ cups.

 Nutrition Information per ¼ cup serving:

160 calories, 9g Total Fat, 2g Saturated Fat, 5mg cholesterol, 19 g Total Carbohydrate, 8g sugar, 2g Fiber, 3g protein, 45mg sodium, 88mg potassium

Notes:

When you remove the granola from the oven it may be slightly chewy, but will harden as it cools.

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This recipe makes a perfect summer dinner. A simple marinade and quick cooking time makes this a great weekday meal. Double the recipe to create leftovers you can reheat for a Paleo lunch or dinner during the week.

 Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes (includes marinating time)

Ingredients:

·         1/3 cup red wine vinegar

·         ¼ cup olive oil

·         2 teaspoons maple syrup

·         1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

·         ½ teaspoon dried oregano

·         1 teaspoon dried basil

·         ¼ teaspoon dried thyme

·         ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

·         ¼ teaspoon salt

·         1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2 inch chunks

·         1 lb. zucchini or summer squash, cut into 1-inch slices

Preparation:

1.      In a measuring cup, combine vinegar and next 9 ingredients.

2.      Place chicken cubes in a gallon Ziploc bag or bowl and pour half of the marinade.

3.      Place the zucchini slices in a gallon Ziploc bag or bowl and pour remaining marinade.

4.      Let chicken and zucchini marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.

5.      Meanwhile, soak wooden skewers in water for at least 20 minutes.

6.      Preheat grill to 400 degrees F., and assemble skewers, alternating chicken and zucchini. Discard remaining marinade.

7.      Grill for 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until chicken is cooked through.

8.      Season with salt and pepper as desired.

 Makes 4 servings

 Nutrition Information per serving:

230 Calories,  8g Total Fat,1 g Saturated Fat, 0g Trans Fat,  65mg Cholesterol,  160mg Sodium,  7mg Potassium, 15g Total Carbohydrate,  3g Sugar,  3g Dietary Fiber,  27g Protein

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With so many of my clients telling me they struggle to get a good night's sleep, I'm excited to feature this guest blog post by Alicia Sanchez, researcher for Tuck Sleep.

Some of the most common side effects of menopause can lead to sleep disturbances and insomnia. But, you need sleep to handle all the changes your body goes through during this transition period. Though menopause may make it tough to get a night of uninterrupted sleep, there are things you can do to help yourself get the rest you need.

Losing Sleep to Menopause

As menopause begins, the female body decreases the production of estrogen and progesterone. The changes in these essential hormones affect sleep (progesterone) and emotional stability (estrogen). Not only is it harder for you to fall and stay asleep, but other side effects of menopause like night sweats cause further sleep disturbances. Hot flashes and night sweats increase your body temperature, bringing you out of sleep and leaving you more alert.

As sleep disturbances increase, your risk of mental and emotional problems increases too. Whether you’re experiencing menopause or not, the emotional center of the brain changes how it functions during sleep deprivation by becoming more sensitive to negative stimuli. At the same time, when you’re tired, the part of the brain responsible for applying logic to your emotions becomes less active. Basically, you’re at higher risk for an increase in stress and emotional decision-making. The combination of sleep deprivation and reduced estrogen associated with menopause puts women at high risk for increased stress, anxiety, and depression

Women going through menopause are also more likely to experience other physical changes associated with the aging process. Changes in bladder control, early wake-up times, and reduced time spent in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep can also contribute to insomnia and daytime sleepiness. Around this same time, many women also experience stressful life changes like children leaving home which can cause increased stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness.

There’s Hope for Better (and More) Sleep

You can reduce sleep disturbances during menopause. First, take a good look at your mattress. If it’s old and lumpy or doesn’t have good breathability, it might be time to look for one that supports your sleep style and current life situation. You might need to try a few mattresses until you find one with good airflow and comfort. Keep in mind that airbeds and innerspring mattresses offer some of the best breathability options.

There a few extra things you can do to help yourself get better sleep, such as:

  • Keep the Bedroom Cool: Most people sleep comfortably between 60 to 68 degrees. During menopause, you may need to reduce the temperature even more to counteract hot flashes. However, that might mean an extra blanket or two for your partner.
  • Prepare for Hot Flashes Before Bed: Try keeping a cold glass of water, extra pajamas, extra pillow and pillowcase, and a washcloth in an ice bucket near your bed. Getting back to sleep as soon as possible helps prevent the wakefulness that keeps you up for hours.
  • Healthy Diet and Exercise: Drinking caffeine or alcohol before bed can trigger hot flashes. An early, light dinner gives your body time to digest and prevents a rise in body temperature right before bed. Exercise improves all aspects of your health, but it also exhausts your body so that it’s easier to fall asleep.

Menopause is a time of change in a woman’s life. With a focus on good sleep, you can help yourself maintain the mental clarity you need to transition through and enjoy this new stage of life.

Alicia Sanchez is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck Sleep with a specialty in health and wellness. A Nashville native, Alicia finds the sound of summer storms so soothing that she still sleeps with recorded rain on her white noise machine.

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Do you wonder what's the best choice to make at that holiday party or family get-together? Whether it's determining which options have the fewest calories, sodium or fat, it can be difficult to make food choices. Believe it or not, there are health benefits to many of the holiday foods we eat. And if you make a few tweaks to those favorite holiday dishes, you can reap the health benefits while saving unwanted extra calories, fat, sugar and sodium. Take this quiz to test your knowledge and make some simple changes to the foods you eat this holiday season!

1. The Average American gains 5 or more pounds during the holidays.

            TRUE or FALSE?

2. Which appetizer has the fewest calories?

a. 1 oz. of brie cheese + 4 crackers

b. ¼ cup of nuts

c. 2 Tablespoons of hummus with 1 cup of vegetables

3. Which cocktail has the least calories?

a. A rum and Coke®

b. A martini

c. A whiskey sour

4. Which food has the most sodium?

a. ½ cup packaged bread stuffing

b. ½ cup homemade mashed potatoes

c. 1 dinner roll

5. Which alcoholic beverage has the fewest calories:

a. 5 oz. glass of red or white  wine

b. 12 oz. bottle of IPA beer

c. 6 oz. mug of holiday Eggnog

6. Which meat contains the LEAST amount of fat?

a. 3 ounces of boneless ham

b. 3 ounces of boneless duck with skin

c. 3 ounces of turkey leg no skin

7. Which side dish offers the most nutrition?

a. Roasted sweet potatoes

b. Sautéed green beans

c. Tossed green salad with vinaigrette

d. All of the above

8. Which pie has the fewest calories and fat? (Serving = 1/8th of 9-inch pie)

a. Pumpkin Pie w. 2 Tablespoons whipped cream

b. Apple Pie w. ½ cup vanilla ice cream

c. Pecan Pie

9. Which warm non-alcoholic beverage has the fewest calories?

a. 12 oz. mug of hot apple cider

b. Starbucks Tall (12 oz.) Nonfat, Peppermint Mocha, no whip

c. Starbucks Tall (12oz.) Nonfat, Gingerbread Latee

10. Which type of exercise is best to do regularly?

a. Swimming

b. Interval Training

c. Yoga

d. Brisk Walking

e. All of the Above

ANSWERS:

1. FALSE. Although there are many claims that the average weight gain during the holidays is 5-10 pounds, most Americans gain 1 or 2 pounds during the holidays. The problem is, they don’t lose the extra weight over the year, but instead continue to gradually gain weight, so over 10 years that adds up to an extra 10 - 20 pounds or more, increasing the risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer to name just a few.

2. C. 2 Tablespoons of hummus with 1 cup of vegetables. I know it’s obvious, but it’s an important point. Load up on vegetables when they’re available as an appetizer. They take longer to eat and add so few calories that you can eat them while socializing and no harm done to your waistline.

3. B. A martini contains 135 calories, the whiskey sour contains 158 calories, and the rum and Coke contains 211 calories.

4. A. ½ cup packaged bread stuffing. A serving of The stuffing contains 400-450mg of sodium, while homemade mashed potatoes typically contain about 120mg- 350mg, depending on how much salt you add, and a dinner roll contains 130mg-170 mg.

5. A. The 5 oz. glass of red or white wine has 125 calories, while the IPA averages 220 calories and the Eggnog with brandy averages 350 calories.

6. A & C.   Both the ham and the turkey leg, no skin contain 8 grams of fat, while duck contains a whopping 25 grams of fat. However, if you choose turkey breast without the skin (or gravy) only has 1 gram of fat per 3 ounces.

7. D. All of the above. These are all great choices when prepared with a moderate amount of oil because you maximize the nutrition while minimizing the extra calories from sugar and fat. Consider preparing one or more of these side dishes instead of traditional sweet potatoes with sugar and marshmallows, green bean casserole or other vegetable casseroles.

8. A. Pumpkin Pie with whipped cream has about 320 calories + 14g fat; Apple Pie with ice cream has about 495 calories + 23g fat; Pecan Pie with no toppings has 500 calories.

9. C. The gingerbread latte has 150 calories, 0g fat and 28g sugar. The hot apple cider has 180 calories, 0g fat and 40g sugar. The peppermint mocha has 240 calories, 2g fat and 40g sugar. Keep in mind the calories would be much higher for the Starbucks drinks if a higher fat milk or whipped cream is added.

10. D. All of the above have benefits and the benefits are different, so incorporating a variety of types of exercise is ideal. For example, swimming provides a whole body workout, using both upper and lower body while also increasing your heart rate. Interval training can provide both strength training and cardio benefits, depending on the routine. There are many types of yoga, but some of the many benefits are improving balance, strength, flexibility and relaxation. Brisk walking is a great cardiovascular activity that gets blood pumping, lowers blood sugar, strengthens the heart and can be done anywhere. The Bottom Line: choose activities that you enjoy, can incorporate throughout your day and week and are ones you’re more likely to continue long-term.

References:
Agricultural Research Service, US Dept of Agriculture. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, release 27. US Dept of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/. Accessed December 3, 2017.

Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)

 

 

 

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