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Research suggests that the New Nordic diet may have heart-healthy benefits – reducing cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and fostering weight loss. 

Each year, Christmas at my in-laws begins with risengrød (a Danish rice porridge made with rice, milk, and vanilla topped with cinnamon and a pat of butter) for breakfast followed by a small Scandinavian gift (think Swedish Dala Horse, Icelandic wool socks, or a Nordic diet cookbook) for everyone at the table.

This small tradition celebrates family heritage from Scandinavia – a region in Northern Europe inclusive of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The “Nordic” region, as some refer to it as, actually encompasses a broader region which includes the Scandinavian countries plus Finland and Iceland. The cuisines in each of these nations vary slightly, but they do all have a few things in common when it comes to dietary habits.

While your familiarity of the Nordic diet may only go as far as the Swedish meatballs with lingonberry preserves served at Ikea, hearty Swedish Wasa crackers, or trendy Icelandic Skyr yogurt, the New Nordic Diet has emerged on the health scene and is becoming more and more popular as researchers discover its heart-healthy benefits. The New Nordic diet was actually developed in 2004 by a cohort of Danish nutritionists, scientists and chefs in effort to decrease growing obesity rates, address unsustainable farming practices and reduce food waste in Nordic countries. While more research is needed, studies suggest that the New Nordic diet may foster weight loss, decrease blood pressure and lower cholesterol.

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What is the Nordic Diet?

The best way to describe the New Nordic diet (commonly shortened to the “Nordic diet”) is a northern twist (due to cooler weather) on the Mediterranean diet. Similar to the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet emphasizes (but is not limited to) plant foods, leaning heavily on local, seasonal produce. The cuisines of each Nordic country vary slightly, but the overall diets share the following characteristics:

  • Focus on quality whole grains (rye, wheat, barley, oats)
  • Rich in fruits and vegetables (berries, root and cruciferous vegetables)
  • High in fatty fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, herring)
  • Inclusive of low-fat dairy and eggs
  • Plentiful in nuts, seeds and legumes
  • Limited in processed food and sugar
  • Rich in canola (rapeseed) oil
  • Inclusive of high-quality, lean meat (beef, pork, lamb and game meats)

The main difference between the Nordic and Mediterranean diet is the type of oil used. The Mediterranean diet uses primarily olive oil, while the Nordic diet uses canola (rapeseed) oil. Similar to olive oil, canola oil is high in monounsaturated fat. It also contains 10% alpha-linoleic acid – a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid like the kind found in flaxseed. Another difference is the type of herbs and spices. As seen in the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet relies on parsley and dill for fresh flavors; however, horseradish, mustard, chive, fennel, juniper berries, cardamom and thyme are also common.

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Similar to the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet focuses on the body and soul. In addition to healthy food, it’s also a way of life – taking time to slow down and live in the present.

For example, Swedes commonly practice fika – a Swedish word meaning to meet up for a cup of coffee or tea often paired with a pastry or sandwich – twice a day with family, friends or colleagues in order to take a break from the daily grind. Anyone remember this U.S. fika commercial?

And those in Norway and Denmark embrace hygee – a concept of cultural identify referring to a feeling of contentment, well-being and coziness. The term is commonly associated with gratitude, relaxation and indulgence. Hygge requires conscious appreciation for the present and living in the moment. It is commonly associated with warm fires, candles, slippers, pastries, warm beverages and comfy clothes you would never leave the house in. With more books about hygge published this year in the United States than ever before, this concept of Scandinavian coziness has international reach.

So eat like a Viking and spend more time enjoying the simple things in life! You can start by following along with my Prevention Plate program for heart-healthy meal plans and recipes. And check out my favorite Nordic diet cookbooks for more inspiration from the north!

Need even more? When it comes to Nordic diet recipes, these bloggers are killing it.

Nordic Diet Bloggers

The post What is the New Nordic Diet? appeared first on Eat Chic Chicago.

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These 5-ingredient no-bake pecan bars are the perfect heart-healthy treat to satisfy your sweet tooth after a nutritious meal! 

My favorite kind of dessert is the no bake kind. And I’m OBSESSED with these no-bake pecan bars this season. Made with only five ingredients, they’re incredibly easy to make and totally guilt free. And the best part? They’re heart healthy – meeting the dessert criteria set by the American Heart Association for a heart healthy recipe!

I like to cut these bars into small squares – enough to satisfy a sweet tooth after a meal. However, I have also cut these bars into larger squares (15 per recipe) for a more substantial bar to give away as gifts around the holidays.

What makes these sweet and chewy bars good for the heart? They…

  • Are fiber-rich with rolled oats
  • Have healthy unsaturated fat and protein from pecans
  • Are low in sugar – each bar only has 1 tsp of added sugar per serving
  • Are only 200 calories per bar

No-Bake Pecan Bars

These bars are the perfect mini size for a quick snack or to satisfy your sweet tooth after a healthy meal! Recipe inspired by Cookie + Kate.

 

No-Bake Maple Cinnamon Pecan Bars

Makes 30

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 1/4 cups pecan halves (divided)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp maple syrup

Method:

  • In a high-speed blender, pulse rolled oats until roughly chopped (but not ground into a flour). Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add cinnamon and salt, and stir to combine.
  • In a large skillet, toast pecans over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until fragrant – careful not to burn.
  • Transfer 4 cups of pecans to a high-speed blender and let cool.
  • Transfer the remaining 1 1/4 cups of pecans to a cutting board and chop.
  • In high-speed blender, blend the cooled 4 cups of pecans until smooth, pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides and push the mixture toward the blade.
  • Whisk together pecan butter and maple syrup. Add to mixing bowl with oats and stir until well-combined and no dry oats remain. You may need to use your hands to combine.
  • Fold in chopped pecans.
  • Line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper. Firmly press bar mixture into pan, using a spatula or pastry roller to make sure it’s even throughout and packed down tightly.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  • Slice bars into 30 even squares.
  • Store in the fridge or at room temperature.

Optional: Press additional pecan halves into the top of the bars for a fancy look.

More No-Bake Bars:

The post No-Bake Maple Cinnamon Pecan Bars appeared first on Eat Chic Chicago.

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The right healthy kitchen appliances can help you get the job done right. With these tools on hand, you’ll be cooking a healthy meal in no time.

You wouldn’t show up to work without the right equipment to get the job done and cooking in the kitchen isn’t any different. But your commitment to eating healthy doesn’t have to be another full-time job. The right healthy kitchen appliances can save you time and energy. With nutritious ingredients and these helpful tools on hand, you can whip up a healthy dish easily, even after a hard day’s work.

Must-Have Healthy Kitchen Appliances

1. Cuisinart 3 1/2-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker – I received this appliance as wedding gift years ago and it never disappoints. The large size lends itself well to leftovers that can be stored in the freezer for a quick meal in the future! I also have this smaller Crock-Pot 2-Quart Manual Slow Cooker, which is perfect for single weeknight meals.

2. Escali Digital Food Scale – Food scales are great for portion control. I buy lean protein in bulk and – using a food scale – divide everything into 3/4-lb portions before storing it. My freezer is stocked with pre-portioned proteins – the perfect amount for a meal for two (~3 oz. each after cooking). A food scale also comes in handy for international recipes with ingredients listed in grams.

3. Cuisinart 3-Speed Electric Hand Mixer – This simple hand mixer has no bells or whistles. It’s basic, budget-friendly and gets the job done. Whether you are beating egg whites or making your first batch of aquafaba, this hand mixer will do the trick!

4. Cuisinart 12-cup Extreme Brew Programmable Coffeemaker – I start my day off with coffee every morning, so this is an appliance to invest in. This coffeemaker is programmable (so I can have a freshly brewed cup in hand the minute I roll out of bed), offers a brew strength option (so you can enjoy your coffee Regular or Bold), has a temperature control for the heater plate (the hotter the better if you ask me!), and it shuts itself off automatically (so you’ll never leave the house worrying again).  If you’re only an occasional coffee drinker, this Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Switch Coffee Maker will suffice.

5. Cuisinart 2-Slice Metal Classic Toaster – It’s hard to go wrong with a toaster, but one with wide slots (for thick hearty bread or bagels) and a browning dial with a few heat settings is all you need.

6. Hamilton Beach 1.7-Liter Stainless Steel Electric Kettle – Faster than a microwave and safer than a stovetop, this electric kettle is life changing. It’s automatic shut off lets me turn it on and walk away without fear of forgetting. If you only need hot water for the occasional oatmeal or tea, this simple Cuisinart 2-Quart Stainless Steel Stovetop Teakettle will also do the trick!

7.Kinzi Tri-Blade Vegetable and Fruit Spiralizer – The spiralizer market is growing, but this is the one I’ve always used to make veggie pastas. It is easy to clean, has suction cups for the counter and three blades for different “noodle” shapes and sizes.

8. Calphalon Gadgets Can Opener – It may seem obvious, but investing in a nice can opener is a must! I have admittedly gone through countless cheap can openers in my life and regret not investing in a higher-quality one sooner. This one is going strong in my kitchen (10 years and counting!) and I love that I can throw it in the dishwasher safe without fear of rust.

9. Vitamix Professional Series 200 Blender – Ok, let’s talk about blenders. Large, small, cheap, high-end – I feel like I’ve owned them all. I didn’t even realize the shortcomings of my old blenders until I got a Vitamix. In two words, it is LIFE CHANGING (<– not an exaggeration). I use my Vitamix for EVERYTHING, which makes the price tag unquestionable when I think about cost per use. It’s not just for making fancy smoothies either. I use my Vitamix to grind coffee beans (buh bye coffee grinder), to puree soups (so long immersion blender), to pulse chop food (doubling as a food processor), to make fresh juice (who likes to clean that old juicer anyways?), and even make homemade nut butters (so much cheaper than the store-bought kind!). Do you see the savings (both in time and $$ spent on other appliances)? Out of all the healthy kitchen appliances, this is the one I can’t live without. I know you’ve been considering it – so just do it already. You will not regret this one. (BTW, if you are looking for a good juicer, get this one).

10. Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor – Food processors are great for quick chopping, pureeing homemade hummus or even blending salad dressing. I use mine most frequently for chopping up dried fruit and nuts for granola bars, easy slicing or shredding of veggies for slaws and salads (using the interchangeable discs) and kneading dough (using the plastic s-shaped blade). I also have this smaller Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus Food Processor – no bells or whistles here, just a smaller version for quick tasks (like a salad dressing) that is easier to clean.

11. Taylor Digital Meat Pocket Thermometer – You might not think you need a meat thermometer, but you do. I promise you’ll be a better cook than you were without it. Every time I cook meat, chicken or fish, I use this little guy to make sure I cook it to perfection.

More Related to Healthy Kitchen Appliances

The post Must-Have Kitchen Essentials – Appliances for Healthy Cooking appeared first on Eat Chic Chicago.

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Create healthy tuna salad with a few flavorful ingredients to create nutritious meals that you’ll want to eat year-round!

What comes to mind when you hear “tuna salad”? Personally, I think tuna plus mayo – and maybe a few other miscellaneous ingredients like celery, relish or onion. The popularity of tuna salad is twofold: it’s budget-friendly and extremely versatile. A batch of tuna salad can be served over lettuce as a salad, with crackers, in a wrap or between two slices of bread for a quick and easy meal. But after 100+ years as a lunch favorite, this deli staple could use a healthy tuna salad makeover.


This post was sponsored by StarKist as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

While a variety of lean proteins fit into a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, tuna and salmon are great on-the-go options since cans (and now convenient tearable pouches!) are portable and shelf stable. In fact, research shows that people who eat fatty fish, like tuna and salmon, twice a week have a lower risk of heart disease than those who eat less. The heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids in these fish help to reduce triglyceride levels, inflammation and artery-clogging plaque buildup. Tuna and salmon are also natural sources of vitamin D – providing up to 20% of your recommended daily intake in a 3-oz serving – goodbye winter moods!

Tuna salad doesn’t just have to be tuna and mayo. Think outside the box – add fruits and veggies, consider global flavor profiles, jazz it up with nuts and seeds. Combining tuna with a few flavorful ingredients will take your tuna salad to a whole new level. Try the following healthy flavor combinations and enjoy tuna salad year-round! But don’t stop there. Each of these can also be made with salmon – you’ll never be bored of traditional tuna salad again!

Healthy Tuna Salad Recipes for All Four Seasons

Healthy tuna salad is simple. Start with tuna (or salmon). I like StarKist Selects E.V.O.O Tuna and Salmon pouches because they are single-serve, packed in heart-healthy olive oil, and require no can opener and no draining – yes! Combine the tuna or salmon with the following ingredients (in quantities that match your preferences) to create a tasty meal for all four seasons.

1. Winter Tuna Salads

A lot happens December through February. The holidays are busy and New Year’s resolutions are made. Did you resolve to eat more omega-3’s or lean protein this year? Combine a StarKist Selects E.V.O.O Tuna or Salmon pouch (14-18 grams of lean protein per serving) with seasonal winter produce to keep you healthy through the holidays and start the new year off strong!

2. Spring Tuna Salads

Consider the following flavor combinations when you plant your garden in March, April and May! Adding simple, quality, fresh spring produce can breathe new life into the traditional boring tuna salad.

3. Summer Tuna Salads

Don’t forget the omega-3s and protein at your summer picnic! Embrace sweet and juicy summer fruits and vegetables in the warm months with one of these summer tuna salad ideas.

4. Fall Tuna Salads

Tailgate with tuna or whip up a quick tuna salad lunch while you’re preparing Thanksgiving dinner! Use fall produce from the farmer’s market to create a seasonal combination that won’t disappoint!

Say goodbye to boring, unhealthy tuna salad! Share your favorite healthy tuna salad combination or get inspired to add tuna to one of the following healthy lunch salads. 

More Healthy Lunch Ideas

The post 5-Ingredient Healthy Tuna Salad appeared first on Eat Chic Chicago.

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Turn up the oven or go the no-bake route – this heart healthy dessert guide will keep you focused on wholesome and nutritious ingredients!

A heart-healthy diet is one that is low in trans and saturated fat, sodium and added sugar. But that doesn’t mean you need to say buh bye to dessert! You simply need to get creative with the ingredients you choose – think beyond butter, sugar and white flour and embrace whole-grains and fibrous fruit!

As you might imagine, the most challenging part about making a heart healthy dessert is tackling the butter and sugar while still making it taste great. I mean REALLY great. As in, a dessert you would want to indulge in for your birthday or serve to your guests at a holiday party.

Let’s set the stage really quick. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams (6 tsp) of added sugar per day for women and 37.5 grams (9 tsp) for men. Yet, many traditional desserts pack this amount (or more!) in a single serving – leaving the average American to consume 120 grams (30 tsp) of added sugar per day…yikes! Added sugar refers to any kind of sugar (from white cane sugar to maple syrup) that doesn’t come from fruit (fructose) or dairy (lactose).

What is a Heart Healthy Dessert?

Ok back to desserts. I’m not going to lie, creating a heart healthy dessert is not easy. But it’s also not impossible. And with so many amazing resources, ingredients and kitchen gadgets to give nutritious desserts that perfect crunchy, flaky, chewy, or fluffy texture, feeding your sweet tooth the healthy way has never been easier.

So what exactly qualifies as a heart healthy dessert? Below are nutrition guidelines (based on the American Heart Association Heart-Check Recipe Certification Program) and approved ingredients to inspire your next baking challenge!

WAIT.

Don’t freak out.

There’s healthy hope for your favorite dessert!

Now that you know the rules, let’s get real about how to stick to them. Here are some of my favorite heart healthy dessert pantry staples to get you started on the right track!

Heart Healthy Dessert Pantry Staples
  • Unsweetened Chocolate – Look for unsweetened cocoa powder (5), cacao nibs, carob chips (what’s the difference?) and fruit- or grain-sweetened chocolate products like Wax Orchard Chocolate Sauce (9) (sweetened with pineapple and pear juice concentrates) or Sunspire grain-sweetened chocolate chips (10) (sweetened with malt barley and corn). Check out these Cocoa Brownies (made with unsweetened cocoa powder) and these Healthy Rice Crispy Treats (made with carob chips).

  • Natural Non-Nutritive Sweeteners – Look for stevia or monkfruit varieties. Substitute 1 cup of sugar with ½ cup stevia baking blends (6) (a blend of half cane sugar or brown sugar and half stevia) or combine stevia with a starch to create a powdered sugar substitute.
  • Seed Eggs – Consider a plant-based egg in place of the real thing. Combine 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed (7) or chia seeds with 3 Tbsp warm water; stir and let sit for a few minutes until thickened. A flax egg acts as a binder in this delicious Gluten-Free Vegan Irish Soda Bread recipe!
  • Aquafaba Meringue – Use the cooking liquid of beans (4) or legumes (the liquid commonly drained and discarded from a can or box of beans) to replace egg whites in meringues, macarons, pavlovas and more! 3 Tbsp aquafaba = 1 whole egg; 2 Tbsp = one egg white. Learn how to make it here!

Now for the challenge – transform your favorite traditional butter and sugar-laden dessert into something nutritious! Trial and error is required – no one ever perfected a heart healthy dessert on the first try. Are you up for the challenge?

Looking for more heart healthy dessert tips?

The post Heart Healthy Dessert Guide appeared first on Eat Chic Chicago.

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This list of best low-sodium cookbooks features everyday recipes that are loaded with creative and satisfying salt-free flavor!

One in three Americans have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. That’s 67 million individuals diagnosed each year. Furthermore, 30% of Americans have higher than normal blood pressure levels – known as pre-hypertension – putting them at a greater risk for developing hypertension in the near future.

Hypertension is one of the most common risk factors for heart disease. It is commonly referred to as the “silent killer” because it often has no warning signs or symptoms and many people don’t even know that they have it. So in case you still don’t believe this risk applies to you, the following chart shows the prevalence of Americans over the age of 20 with high blood pressure by state.

How Do You Know if You Have Hypertension?

Get your blood pressure checked by your physician. The result will be two numbers – systolic pressure (the maximum pressure your heart exerts while beating) over diastolic pressure (the amount of pressure in your arteries between beat). Hypertensive blood pressure is 140/90 mm Hg or above and at-risk, pre-hypertensive blood pressure is between 120-139/80-89 mm Hg.

  • Normal: 120/80 mm Hg
  • At Risk: 120-139 / 80-89 mm Hg
  • High: 140 / 90 mm Hg or higher
How Can I Lower My Blood Pressure?

One of the easiest ways to reduce your blood pressure is to limit the salt (sodium) in your diet. The average American adult consumers >3,400 mg of sodium each day. To put this into perspective, the American Heart Association recommends 1,500 mg of sodium at most each day as part of a heart-healthy diet. Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed and restaurant foods. This means that cooking more low-sodium fresh meals at home can help improve overall heart health.

 

Low-Sodium Cookbooks

Get cooking with one of these low-sodium cookbooks authored by well-known bloggers, chefs and dietitians who know how to make healthy food taste great, without all of the salt!

  • The Easy Low-Sodium Diet Plan and Cookbook by Christopher Lower – Authored by the blogger behind the popular blog, Hacking Salt, this cookbook is filled with easy no-salt-added recipes and meal plans that you can stick to.
  • Sodium Girl’s Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook by Jessica Goldman – Written by the well-known blogger of Sodium Girl, this cookbook features creative low-sodium recipes, helpful information on dining out, traveling and stocking a low-sodium pantry.
  • Low-So Good by Jessica Goldman – This beautifully photographed guide is all about living a rich life without the salt. It features signature swaps, a 7-day taste bud reboot plan, and over 70 more of Sodium Girl’s low-sodium recipes.
  • The Heart Healthy Cookbook for Two by Jennifer Koslo – Registered dietitian Jennifer Koslo has mastered the art of cooking heart-healthy for two with 125 nutrient-rich, budget-friendly recipes for every occasion.
  • Live to Eat: Cooking the Mediterranean Way by Michael Psilakis – Chef Michael Psilakis adapts the foods of his Mediterranean roots into clean, healthy meals that are incredibly satisfying and easy to prepare.
  • Skinnytaste Fast and Slow –Blogger at Skinnytaste and New York Times bestselling author Gina Homolka does it again with 140 dishes that can be made in under 30 minutes, or on their own in the slow cooker – many are low in sodium or could easily be modified and made without salt.
  • The Complete DASH Diet for Beginners by Jennifer Koslo – If you are new to the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet, this easy-to-follow, all-in-one guide, cookbook and meal planning tool is the perfect resource to get you started!
  • DASH Done Slow by Karen Fraizer – This cookbook features 100 time-saving, heart-healthy, slow cooker recipes (both vegetarian and meat-friendly) that adhere to the DASH diet guidelines.
 

Make a change and cut the salt – your heart will thank you!

More Heart-Healthy Cookbooks

 

The post 8 Low-Sodium Cookbooks for a Heart Healthy Diet appeared first on Eat Chic Chicago.

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The ketogenic diet is on the rise, but is it for you? Learn more about this high-fat, low-carb eating pattern including what to eat and what to avoid.

The ketogenic (“keto”) diet has been getting a lot of attention among medical and nutrition communities and in the media – appearing in cookbooks, on podcasts, in magazines, and more. Customers at local coffee shops are trading in their lattes for bulletproof coffee – adding butter instead of skim milk to their morning cup. Doctors are prescribing the ketogenic diet to patients with chronic diseases. And the general public is even using the high-fat, low-carb diet for weight loss. The ketogenic diet is being implemented for all of these reasons and more. So what is all the hype about and is the ketogenic diet for you?

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that sends the body into ketosis, a state in which your body uses fat instead of carbohydrates as the main source of energy. In ketosis, the body cannot fuel itself on carbohydrates alone and therefore, begins breaking down fat cells into fatty acids and ketones (a byproduct from the breakdown of fatty acids) to use for energy. Compared to the traditional balanced diet of 40/30/30 (carb/protein/fat), the keto diet typically focuses only 5% of daily calories from carbohydrate (about 20-50 g/day), 15-20%from protein and 70-80% of daily calories from fat. (1)

Is the Ketogenic Diet Beneficial?

The ketogenic diet has been found to help manage the symptoms and the progression of many chronic diseases including neurological diseases, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. Scientists have found that children with epilepsy are able to reduce their seizures by following a ketogenic diet. (2) And studies have found that the ketogenic diet supports weight loss in obese adults – helping to significantly decrease total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, and increase HDL cholesterol. (3)

Health professionals are also promoting a ketogentic diet to help their patients in other ways. Registered dietitian, Meg Doll, uses the diet to help her clients recover from disordered eating, while Franziska Spritzer uses the diet to treat clients with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), diabetes, and more.

Is the Ketogenic Diet Harmful?

Some individuals on the ketogenic diet have reported incidences of the “keto flu,” experiencing symptoms like constipation, hair loss, kidney stones and nutrient deficiencies. (2) In addition, common side effects of ketosis include bad breath, excessive thirst, frequent urination, stomach pain, weakness and nausea. (4) Certain individuals – anyone without a gallbladder, those who have undergone gastric bypass, anyone with pancreatic insufficiency, those prone to kidney stones, or individuals with rare metabolic disorders that interfere with fat metabolism – may have difficulty digesting fats and should be careful following the ketogenic diet.

Is the Ketogenic Diet Right for You?

The answer is…it depends. The safety and success using the ketogenic diet depends on the individual and the foods choices selected on the diet. Everyone is different. While some thrive using the ketogenic diet, others may not. Therefore, if you are interested in implementing the ketogenic diet, consult your doctor and seek support from a dietitian before moving forward.

What Can you Eat on a Ketogenic Diet?

A high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet should be full of a variety of nutrient-dense foods including healthy fats, plenty of protein and a wide assortment of vegetables.

Foods to Eat
  • Fats & Oils
    • Avocados
    • Olive Oil
    • Olives
    • Nuts (hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts, Macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, nut butters)
    • Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flax seed)
    • Coconut oil
    • Butter
  • Protein
    • Beef
    • Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck, wild game)
    • Pork
    • Lamb
    • Fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, cod, halibut, snapper, trout, catfish, mahi-mahi)
    • Seafood (crab, shrimp, clams, mussels, oysters, squid, octopus, lobster, scallops)
    • Eggs
    • Organ Meats (liver, kidney, tongue)
  • Non-Starchy Vegetables
    • All non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables are allowed on the ketogenic diet. View the full list of low-carb vegetables.
Foods to Limit 
  • Dairy
    • Full-Fat Plain Yogurt
    • Full-Fat Cottage Cheese
    • Hard Cheeses (Parmesan, Swiss, feta, cheddar, etc.)
    • Soft Cheeses (mozzarella, brie, bleu, colby, monterey jack, etc.)
    • Sour Cream
    • Cream Cheese
    • Heavy Whipping Cream
    • Mayonnaise
  • Starchy Vegetables
    • Potatoes (sweet potatoes, yams, white potatoes)
    • Carrots
    • Parsnips
    • Beets
    • Okra
    • Peas
    • Artichoke
  •  Fruit
    • Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries)
    • Cherries
  • Beans & Legumes
    • Garbanzo
    • Black
    • Kidney
    • Pinto
    • Lima
    • Soy
    • Lentils
Foods to Avoid
  • Fats & Oils
    • Trans Fat
    • Hydrogenated Oils
  • Sugar
    • All sugar sources including cane sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup and any products containing these.
  • Grains
    • All grains such as wheat, rye, oats, rice, quinoa, corn and any products made from grains like pasta, bread, crackers, tortillas, etc.

 

Ketogenic Diet Meal Plan

Still curious about what a typical day on the ketogenic would look like? Below is a one-day keto meal plan.

Learn More – Ketogenic Diet Experts and Resources

This post was written by Eat Chic Chicago intern Jamie Magdic of Perfectly Imperfect. Jamie is currently pursuing a degree in Dietetics from Eastern Michigan University.  Her interest in nutrition focuses on holistic health and intuitive eating.

The post The Ketogenic Diet – Is it for You? appeared first on Eat Chic Chicago.

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Sustaining healthy habits away from home can be a challenge. These 5 ways to stay healthy while traveling will help you plan ahead for your next work trip.

While I’d like to say that I travel for pleasure on relaxing vacations, the truth is I travel most frequently for business – at least once a month, sometimes more. Maintaining health habits is easy when you’re at home – you have your daily routine, reliable healthy meals in the fridge and a gym at your finger tips. Staying healthy while traveling on the other hand is much more complicated.  A busy work schedule in an unfamiliar city can lead you off course the moment you step off the plane.

This post is brought to you by StarKist in partnership with Influence Central. All views and opinions are my own. 

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about maintaining my own healthy habits when I travel for work. When schedules get hectic, I have to remind myself to prioritize my own health first so that I can do my best work on the trip. Eating healthy, exercising and maintaining personal wellness while attending meetings, keeping up with emails, and trying to explore an exciting new city can seem daunting. But with a few simple tips, you too can stay healthy while traveling on your next business adventure!

5 Ways to Stay Healthy While Traveling for Business 1. Plan Ahead

Pack Your Carry-On: Spend extra time packing your carry-on bag before your trip to ensure you have everything you need to start your trip off on the right foot. Pack shelf stable healthy snacks (don’t forget reuseable plastic cutlery!) and a water bottle to stay energized and hydrated; take a sleep mask, neck pillow and scarf or shawl to help you get some ZZZs on the plane; bring headphones for music or white noise to help you relax and an extra battery to charge your smart phone on-the-go.

Do Your Research: Call the hotel ahead of time to find out if they have a fitness center or nearby running trails. Request early check-in if you plan to be there before the late afternoon and request a mini fridge if possible for any perishable healthy snacks. Take point on restaurant reservations – review menus before you leave and choose places with healthy options.

Stock Your Fridge: Make sure you have healthy food stocked in your kitchen for when you return. Nothing leads to unhealthy takeout faster than returning home famished after a long day of travel. Make sure you have everything you need for a healthy meal, like this Mediterranean Tuna Stuffed Spaghetti Squash made with StarKist Selects E.V.O.O. Yellowfin Tuna with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, when you return.

During my recent trip to FNCE (Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo) I had the chance to meet the StarKist team to get some of my tough questions answered about tuna and mercury. Did you know that commercial fish – the kind found in grocery stores and restaurants – generally contain larger amounts of the antioxidant selenium than mercury? Not only is selenium important for the brain, heart, and immune system, but emerging research shows that selenium actually binds to mercury, neutralizing its effects.

2. Prioritize Yourself

Get Some Rest: Late night client dinners, early morning meetings, and potential time zone changes can leave you lacking some serious sleep on business trips. Whether you need to excuse yourself early from the cocktail party or push back on a breakfast meeting, make it a priority to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night so you can recharge.

Boost Your Immune System: Consider packing multivitamins, probiotics or vitamin C to give your immune system a little extra boost each day and avoid burning out. The last thing you need on your trip is to get sick from airplane or hotel germs.

Find Time to Decompress: Reduce your stress level when traveling for work by finding time to relax. Hit the gym, soak in the bath, take a walk outside to enjoy the city’s scenery, or order something healthy from the room service menu.

Share on Social: Hold yourself accountable by posting your meals and activities on social media. If everyone is watching, you’ll be more conscious about making healthy choices throughout the trip.

  

3. Make Time to Move

Plan for Exercise: Find the hotel fitness center the moment you check in so you can plan your workouts accordingly. Or get out and explore your destination on foot. Ask the hotel concierge for running trail recommendations or make plans to walk instead of ride to meetings and events throughout your trip.

Keep Your Mouth Busy: At networking events and cocktail parties, mingle instead of munch. Eat a healthy dinner before you go and plan to work the room instead of hanging out by the food. Bring your business cards and network – you’ll be so busy talking, you won’t have time to eat or drink any unhealthy options being served!

4. Stay Hydrated

Always Have Water: Have a water bottle on hand at all times. I bring an empty water bottle to the airport and fill it up on the other side of security. Long flights and salty snacks can leave you dehydrated, so be prepared.

Be Careful with Caffeine: Maintain your typical caffeine habits when traveling for business – avoid skipping out on your morning coffee, but also be careful not to overdo it. I travel with the thermos that I use every day at home. If I have an early flight, I can fill it up with coffee at the airport before I get on the plane. And throughout my trip, I can brew hotel room coffee and take it with me to my morning meetings – saving time (more sleep for me!) instead of waiting in long coffee shop lines.

Avoid Alcohol: While avoiding alcohol all together on a business trip can seem impossible, be strategic with your consumption. Enjoy a glass of sparkling water with lime in between drinks to keep yourself hydrated. And drink plenty of water before bed to ensure you wake up feeling fresh the next morning!

5. Snack Smartly

Look for High-Protein: Pack heart-healthy snacks that are high in protein and healthy fat to keep you feeling satisfied throughout your busy days. Avoid high-carb, sugary treats that can send your blood sugar on a rollercoaster – leaving you to feel energized one minute and exhausted the next. With a whopping 13+ grams of protein and less than 100 calories, StarKist Tuna and Salmon pouches fit the bill to keep you fueled.

Shelf Stable Selections: Travel schedules can be unpredictable, so look for shelf-stable snacks that don’t require refrigeration. Toss them in your carry on or briefcase for a quick on-the-go fix. Not sure what to take? Try nuts, a granola bar or a single-serve pouch of StarKist Tuna Creations new BOLD Rice & Beans in Hot Sauce!

Think Portable & Convenient: Choose snacks that are easy to eat on the go – no complicated preparation or kitchen appliances required. StarKist Tuna Creations single-serve pouches are a perfect example – no can opener or draining needed. If you travel with plastic cutlery like I do, you’re good to go. Otherwise swing by the airport food court for a fork and tear, eat and go!

What are your best tips for staying healthy when traveling?  

More Ways to Stay Healthy

The post 5 Ways to Stay Healthy While Traveling for Business appeared first on Eat Chic Chicago.

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Research suggests that the New Nordic diet may have heart-healthy benefits – reducing cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and fostering weight loss. 

Each year, Christmas at my in-laws begins with risengrød (a Danish rice porridge made with rice, milk, and vanilla topped with cinnamon and a pat of butter) for breakfast followed by a small Scandinavian gift (think Swedish Dala Horse, Icelandic wool socks, or a Nordic diet cookbook) for everyone at the table.

This small tradition celebrates family heritage from Scandinavia – a region in Northern Europe inclusive of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The “Nordic” region, as some refer to it as, actually encompasses a broader region which includes the Scandinavian countries plus Finland and Iceland. The cuisines in each of these nations vary slightly, but they do all have a few things in common when it comes to dietary habits.

While your familiarity of the Nordic diet may only go as far as the Swedish meatballs with lingonberry preserves served at Ikea, hearty Swedish Wasa crackers, or trendy Icelandic Skyr yogurt, the New Nordic Diet has emerged on the health scene and is becoming more and more popular as researchers discover its heart-healthy benefits. The New Nordic diet was actually developed in 2004 by a cohort of Danish nutritionists, scientists and chefs in effort to decrease growing obesity rates, address unsustainable farming practices and reduce food waste in Nordic countries. While more research is needed, studies suggest that the New Nordic diet may foster weight loss, decrease blood pressure and lower cholesterol.

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What is the Nordic Diet?

The best way to describe the New Nordic diet (commonly shortened to the “Nordic diet”) is a northern twist (due to cooler weather) on the Mediterranean diet. Similar to the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet emphasizes (but is not limited to) plant foods, leaning heavily on local, seasonal produce. The cuisines of each Nordic country vary slightly, but the overall diets share the following characteristics:

  • Focus on quality whole grains (rye, wheat, barley, oats)
  • Rich in fruits and vegetables (berries, root and cruciferous vegetables)
  • High in fatty fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, herring)
  • Inclusive of low-fat dairy and eggs
  • Plentiful in nuts, seeds and legumes
  • Limited in processed food and sugar
  • Rich in canola (rapeseed) oil
  • Inclusive of high-quality, lean meat (beef, pork, lamb and game meats)

The main difference between the Nordic and Mediterranean diet is the type of oil used. The Mediterranean diet uses primarily olive oil, while the Nordic diet uses canola (rapeseed) oil. Similar to olive oil, canola oil is high in monounsaturated fat. It also contains 10% alpha-linoleic acid – a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid like the kind found in flaxseed. Another difference is the type of herbs and spices. As seen in the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet relies on parsley and dill for fresh flavors; however, horseradish, mustard, chive, fennel, juniper berries, cardamom and thyme are also common.

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Similar to the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet focuses on the body and soul. In addition to healthy food, it’s also a way of life – taking time to slow down and live in the present.

For example, Swedes commonly practice fika – a Swedish word meaning to meet up for a cup of coffee or tea often paired with a pastry or sandwich – twice a day with family, friends or colleagues in order to take a break from the daily grind. Anyone remember this U.S. fika commercial?

And those in Norway and Denmark embrace hygee – a concept of cultural identify referring to a feeling of contentment, well-being and coziness. The term is commonly associated with gratitude, relaxation and indulgence. Hygge requires conscious appreciation for the present and living in the moment. It is commonly associated with warm fires, candles, slippers, pastries, warm beverages and comfy clothes you would never leave the house in. With more books about hygge published this year in the United States than ever before, this concept of Scandinavian coziness has international reach.

So eat like a Viking and spend more time enjoying the simple things in life! You can start by following along with my Prevention Plate program for heart-healthy meal plans and recipes. And check out my favorite Nordic diet cookbooks for more inspiration from the north!

Need even more? When it comes to Nordic diet recipes, these bloggers are killing it.

Nordic Diet Bloggers

The post What is the New Nordic Diet? appeared first on Eat Chic Chicago.

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These 5-ingredient no-bake pecan bars are the perfect heart-healthy treat to satisfy your sweet tooth after a nutritious meal! 

My favorite kind of dessert is the no bake kind. And I’m OBSESSED with these no-bake pecan bars this season. Made with only five ingredients, they’re incredibly easy to make and totally guilt free. And the best part? They’re heart healthy – meeting the dessert criteria set by the American Heart Association for a heart healthy recipe!

I like to cut these bars into small squares – enough to satisfy a sweet tooth after a meal. However, I have also cut these bars into larger squares (15 per recipe) for a more substantial bar to give away as gifts around the holidays.

What makes these sweet and chewy bars good for the heart? They…

  • Are fiber-rich with rolled oats
  • Have healthy unsaturated fat and protein from pecans
  • Are low in sugar – with only 1/2 cup of maple syrup, each bar has 1 tsp of added sugar per serving
  • Contain less than 200 calories per bar

No-Bake Pecan Bars

These bars are the perfect size to satisfy your sweet tooth after a healthy meal!

 

No-Bake Maple Cinnamon Pecan Bars

Makes 30

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 1/4 cups pecan halves (divided)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  • In a high-speed blender, pulse rolled oats until roughly chopped (but not ground into a flour). Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add cinnamon and salt and stir to combine.
  • In a large skillet, toast pecans over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until fragrant – careful not to burn.
  • Transfer 4 cups of pecans to a high-speed blender and let cool.
  • Transfer the remaining 1 1/2 cups of pecans to a cutting board and chop.
  • In high-speed blender, blend the cooled 4 cups of pecans until smooth, pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides and push the mixture toward the blade.
  • Whisk together pecan butter, maple syrup and vanilla. Add to mixing bowl with oats and stir until well-combined and no dry oats remain.
  • Fold in chopped pecans.
  • Line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper. Press bar mixture into pan, using a spatula or pastry roller to make sure it’s even throughout.
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Slice bars into 30 even squares.
  • Store in the fridge or at room temperature.

Optional: Press additional pecan halves into the top of the bars for a fancy look.

More No-Bake Bars:

The post No-Bake Maple Cinnamon Pecan Bars appeared first on Eat Chic Chicago.

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