Nutrition and Food

What Foods to Eat in the Summer

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Warm days means fresh summer foods. Wondering what foods can help you stay in shape all summer long?  Eating well and keeping yourself hydrated is important to keep yourself ready and energized for summer activities.  B.Komplete Registered Dietitian Nutritionists can help you learn more about these foods for when you’re having fun in the sun!

Summer Foods

Watermelon: The perfect fruit to keep you hydrated without a whole lot of calories. Check out this watermelon feta mint salad

Berries: Blueberries. Raspberries. Blackberries. Jam packed with fiber and antioxidants. Toss them in your plain yogurt or oatmeal for some added natural sweetness. Want to try berries in a delicious savory dish? Try this recipe for grilled salmon and blueberry sauce!

Tomatoes: Rich in an antioxidant called, lycopene and perfect tossed in a salad or to simply enjoy alone (especially grape tomatoes).

Avocados: Yes, you should eat fat! Especially the heart-healthy fats in avocados to keep you satisfied as well as add some creaminess to your dishes.  Try swapping out butter or cream cheese for ¼ of a mashed avocado on your toast/bagel. How about making a delicious creamy avocado sauce for your pasta or “zoodles”? 

Corn: Get the local grown corn and throw it on the grill for some sweet BBQ crunch! You gain 4 grams of fiber in just ½ cup of kernels.  Click here to learn more about your local farms.  Learn more about eating organic and fresh foods here.

Zucchini: This vitamin C-rich veggie is perfect for grilling or making “zoodles”. The Food Network has wonderful recipe ideas.  Love Pad Thai?  Try this lighter version that uses “zoodles.”  Click here to purchase for a budget-friendly spiralizer to make your “zoodles”.

Nuts: A good source of healthy fats, protein, fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Try a small handful of dry-roasted unsalted almonds, cashews, walnuts or pistachio as an on-the go or pre-workout snack.

Want to try multiple summer-friendly foods all in one dish? Try this grilled corn, watermelon and avocado salad!  Substitute the apple or celery for jicama if you are having trouble finding it.

Resources

Interested to learn more about seasonal foods and how to enjoy summer food? Below are links to help guide you:

https//snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/whats-in-season-summer

Nutrition and Food

Creamy, Dreamy Recipes Perfect for Your Summer Body

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We all know the cycle – as the weather heats up, our motivation increases to get or maintain a toned physique.  Often times this means giving up some of the foods we really enjoy to eat.  However, these desires don’t need to be mutually exclusive – you can get or maintain a toned physique AND eat food that you enjoy!  Try one of our favorite creamy, dreamy recipes that are both delicious and nutritious.  

B.Komplete Ranch Dip

Perfect for a vegetable dip, and used on sandwiches, fish, meat, baked potatoes and whole grain pasta.  Thin it out with a splash of water and you have made your own salad dressing!

Makes 8 – 2 Tablespoon Servings

Ingredients
  • 2 Cups siggis Plain Yogurt (Fat-Free)
  • 2/3 Cup Light Mayonnaise
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Dill Weed
  • ½ Teaspoon Dried Parsley
  • ½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • ¼ Teaspoon Garlic Powder
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl until well blended. 
  2. Consume immediately or refrigerate (will keep covered, in refrigeration up to 3 days).  

B.Komplete Cheesecake Pudding

Makes 6 – ½ Cup Servings

Ingredients
  • 1 (8 oz.) Packages of Low-Fat Cream Cheese   
  • 1 (8 oz.) package of Fat-Fat Cream Cheese
  • 1 cup Siggis Plain Yogurt (Fat-Free)
  • ¼ Cup Honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
Instructions
  1. Allow the cream cheese to soften in room temperature (about 30 – 60 minutes).  When the cream cheese has softened, combine in a medium bowl with all other ingredients.  Mix well.

  2. Consume immediately for a creamy treat, or refrigerate for 2 – 3 hours for a more firm texture.  Enjoy with fresh fruit, or add a pinch of lemon zest. 

If you haven’t tried siggis yet – get up and immediately go buy it!  The Icelandic “Skyr” is a thick and creamy yogurt that is high in protein and has a great flavor.  Siggis is B.Komplete Approved because the flavored varieties are still lower in added sugar.  Its the perfect breakfast or snack to take with you during the summer!  The B.Komplete Dietitian Team uses siggis in a variety of our Corporate Wellness Cooking Demonstrations.  We love siggis, and we know that you will too. 

Corporate Wellness

Wellness Success – How to Maintain or Gain It

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Here at B.Komplete, we strive every day to make Wellness Success achievable. But what exactly is Wellness Success? Depending on your health goals, Wellness Success can mean different things to different individuals. We’ve created this guide for Maintaining – or Gaining -Your Wellness Success to help you achieve your vision of wellness, and to overcome barriers you may face along the way.

Wellness Defined

Wellness is the self-directed process in which one comes to realize his or her full potential in mental and physical well-being. Things that hold us back from achieving wellness success include stress, time constraints, hesitance of change, and fear of the unknown. For Wellness Success to be realized, we must overcome all that holds us back.

The Empowerment Zone

Think about the things in your life that you wish were different. Write them down. Determine which of those you can control. These things are in your Empowerment Zone. Develop a plan of action that includes changing these undesirable things that you have control over.

Make the Choice to Change

The only way to realize positive change in your life is by making choices. Life is full of choices! Unfortunately, we make some of these choices so often that they have become habits. Change sometimes seems scary because we are stuck in these habits. We have become accustomed to doing things a certain way, and we are scared to change. The first step to achieving and maintaining Wellness Success is to override these feelings of fear.

Dissect your Habits, and Gain Control

By gaining control over your habits, you move closer to the person you want to be. There is no shortcut to mastering your habits, but there is one secret to controlling them: habits are built upon consistency. New York Times business writer, Charles Duhigg, explains the habit-building process in more detail in this NPR interview. To initiate a new behavior and turn it into a habit, you must be consistent with this behavior.

Start Small

Motivation rises and falls. To achieve better success, make changes that don’t require much motivation. Rather than eliminating sugar all day, start by eliminating it from your coffee. Instead of completely replacing your whole milk with almond milk, start by mixing half of each. After that becomes routine, introduce the new habit in another area, in another way. You’ll know when a habit becomes a routine, because it will feel automatic. As Forbes.com explains, “The most successful people take small, smart steps toward their goal.”

Plan for Success

Planning is a crucial tool in your effort to achieve Wellness Success. Some days, we are Super Versions of ourselves, and our motivation runs rampant. On other days, we just don’t feel like it. How do we make good decisions every single day? When we don’t have the time or motivation to make good decisions, we end up choosing what’s easiest. If your vision of Wellness Success involves healthier eating, try using free meal plans that meet your food group targets. If your Wellness Success involves incorporating more workouts into your weekly routine, try a free fitness app like Daily Workouts and Sworkit. By not planning ahead, we set ourselves up for failure. 

Prioritize Your Goal

Ignore interruptions and anything that can take you off track. Follow your plan; treat your goal as a priority. Schedule your priorities, don’t prioritize your schedule. Schedule your efforts as if they are appointments, and commit to them like you would anything else. Don’t blow yourself off, just like you wouldn’t blow off a friend, coworker, dentist, or physician.

Have a Buddy!

A Stanford University Study found that simply receiving a phone call every two weeks to discuss exercise progress increased the amount of exercise done by participants by 78%. After a year and a half, the participants studied were still exercising at an increased level. Another study, by Indiana University, found that half of couples who worked out separately dropped out of their workout programs over the course of a year, while those who worked out together had only an eight percent dropout rate. The take home message: Find an exercise buddy and increase your chances of sticking to your workout routine.

Focus

To reach our wellness success, we need to become experts in directing our attention toward our goals. The ability to focus has been shown to predict happiness in school, work, and life. Methods for improving our focus include goal visualization and meditation. By visualizing our goals and defining what Wellness Success looks like, we can view completion and work towards that vision. Meditation can improve attention, reduce stress, and remove distraction as we continue on our path toward wellness.

Keep Track of Things

This simple but crucial step in behavior change is backed by research showing increased performance when behaviors are tracked. In 14 studies assessing tracking in school students, students who tracked their progress improved test scores by 32%. The most powerful results occurred when students were also able to see teachers’ expected scores as presented in the chart. This combination of seeing charted progress + preset goals and expectations has the biggest effect on enhancing performance. Regardless of the tracking method you choose, make sure to map out your goals along the way, so that you can view them as you chart your progress. Invest in a goal-oriented planner, like the Passion Planner, to track your habits and to create a road-map with expected achievements as you work towards your goals.

Getting Over the Hump

Everyone reaches a plateau. Whether a weight loss plateau or a motivational plateau, this is when it’s important to take a step back and review why you started in the first place. Think about why you chose to make these changes. What have you been working so hard over the last days, months, or year to achieve? Get back to your Empowerment Zone and realize that you have been making these changes because you have the choice to do so. You decided that it was important enough for you to choose change. Roadblocks are inevitable. To get past them, ask yourself: Are you bored? Do you need to tweak your workout? Do you need more variety in your meal planning? Are you stressed? Reassess your habits. If it’s diet variety that you need, think about varying your protein choices. Consider switching up your snacks. Try a new fruit, vegetable, or other produce item that you’ve seen but never tasted. Incorporating new things could be the best way to get over your temporary progress hump. Recognizing stress is also crucial to getting past this point. When we feel like our motivation has taken a vacation, stress is often to blame. We must learn to recognize stress in order to manage it. Look for physical, mental, behavioral, and emotional signs of stress. Then, overcome your stress with diet, exercise, and rest. 

Congratulations on taking the first step toward realizing your personal Wellness Success: having the desire to change. Using this B.Komplete guide for maintaining your Wellness Success, you will be well positioned to overcome any future hurdles that you may face in your path toward optimal wellness.

Nutrition and Food

What Foods to Eat in the Winter

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Winter means colder temperatures and less hours of daylight. With more time spent inside and little exposure to sunlight, it can become a challenge to stay happy and energized. Because of this, it is crucial to stay focused on the nutrition choices that work for you during this time of the year. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression with seasonal patterns, is very common during the cold months of winter. Changes in mood, energy, focus, appetite, and sleep are normal and expected with this kind of disorder. There are many different ways that you can stay on top of your health and prevent symptoms of SAD. Staying active, eating healthy winter foods, and managing your stress are great places to start.

To stay happy, healthy, and energized incorporate these winter foods into your day:

Sweet Potatoes are a great source of Vitamin A, beta-carotene, potassium, fiber. They are also packed with antioxidants. With their sweet taste and bright orange color, adding them to your meal can be fun. Also, they work well in a lot of different recipes. Whether you choose to bake, roast, or mash them, sweet potatoes are a great food to eat to keep you full and energized! Check out more recipe ideas here.

Brussel Sprouts are “tiny cabbages” and have a wide variety of health benefits.  When prepared with herbs, spices and some healthy oil, they taste really yummy! Brussels are full of fiber, as well as contain high levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants that can protect your DNA from oxidative damage. Try tossing them in some olive or avocado oil and roasting until lightly browned. Add some herbs like oregano, cumin, or smoked paprika.  Toss with a pinch of salt and pepper, and enjoy! For other Brussel sprout recipe ideas, click here.

Salmon contains tryptophan which is an amino-acid that is a precursor for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is associated with positive mood regulation. Salmon also contains large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown in some studies to help regulate depression. The fat in salmon is heart healthy and helps to reduce harmful inflammation.  Salmon can be baked, broiled, or grilled. Add your favorite marinade or season with citrus like lemon, lime and orange, and enjoy!  Check out this link for more salmon recipe ideas.

Winter Squash is full of Vitamin A and carotenoids, which have been shown to promote healthy skin as well as benefit heart health and immunity. Also rich in fiber and potassium, winter squash is a great option for many! Try all different varieties: Acorn, butternut, kabocha, and delicate squash! To learn more about squash varities, check out Epicurious, and for some yummy winter squash recipes, click here.

Clementines are vitamin C and fiber-packed tiny fruits.  This sweet and tart delights are great snacks for just about anywhere, anytime. Full of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium, clementines are easy to pack and delicious to eat, Whether you’re peeling one for your morning snack or throwing them into your salad for lunch, clementines are the perfect addition to your day!  For delicious recipe inspiration, check out Saveur

Staying happy and healthy can sometimes be a challenge. Life is crazy, and there are always things to be worrying about and stressing over. Take small steps daily to keep your mind at ease and your body strong and energized. Enjoy these winter foods for your mood and overall vitality.  Your health and well-being are important to all of us here at B.Komplete!  Contact us at info@bkomplete.com to book one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists to help you come up with the health and wellness strategies that work, for you.  

Exercise

Interview – Your Time is Now

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B.Komplete had the opportunity to speak with Dave, who is a professional in the food industry.  Dave is happily married with two children.  Like many of us, Dave started gaining weight in his 30’s, and found himself in a state he didn’t feel great about.  And, then Dave made a change.  Read on to learn what worked for him – which may also work for you.  

When you first decided to make changes in your life, what was the first thing you did?
  • I realized I was not in the shape that I wanted to be in. It was obvious I wasn’t active enough and I knew I probably wasn’t eating the best. I wanted to start by focusing on my eating habits. To do this, I just started to keep track of what I was eating each day.
How did you begin the physical process of changing your life?
  • At first, I thought about how I could keep track of what I was eating. I knew I could keep notes or create an excel spreadsheet. Then I thought to myself, there has to be an easier way to do this, especially with all of the new technology now a days. So, I started to look into different apps. I searched “weight loss” and found My Fitness Pal and Lose It.  My Fitness Pal  appeared to have a focus on exercise and that’s not what I wanted at this point. I chose to use Lose It because I could budget the amount of calories I was allotted each day in order to hit my goal weight.  
What goals did you set for yourself?
  • I knew I wanted to lose weight. At the beginning, I was at my heaviest of 255 lbs and I wanted to get down to a healthier weight. I set a goal to get down to 215 lbs. Lose It actually helped me to hit my end goal by giving me mini goals each week. By that I mean, each week I was allotted a set number of calories in order to lose 2 lbs per week.
Were there any obstacles you faced during the process of change? How did you manage to stay healthy at work?
  • One Thursday or Friday evening, I wanted to enjoy a glass of wine with my wife after work but I didn’t have enough calories left to do so. That’s when it hit me. If I did enough physical activity, I could burn off enough calories to be able to enjoy my wine. This became important to me to work out so I could enjoy things and still maintain my calorie goals. Also, it helped me to feel better about myself.
  • With a long commute to work each day and a busy schedule, it’s hard to find time to fit in exercise. It helped for me to schedule it into my day and make it a priority. I started to go to the gym before work in the morning. I remember one of the first mornings my alarm went off and I said “if I don’t get up now, I’m never going to do this.” So, I got up and have been doing it ever since. On the days I have an early meeting and can’t go to the gym beforehand, I have to defend my time, meaning even if I can’t do my usual hour or so workout and only have time for 20 minutes of cardio, I do it.
  • Food wise, at work I started to make substitutes in my lunches. By tracking what I ate, I saw what wasn’t good for me and what I could replace it with. For instance, I now eat baked Lays chips instead of regular potato chips. Also, I’m a big fan of soups. I used to eat jambalaya and seafood bisque’s which are high in fat and sodium. Now, I found one that is much healthier and still tastes great.  
 What resources did/do you use to help keep you going?
  • Like I said, the app Lose It  works well for me to track what I eat. I can also use it to track my exercises. There was one saying that my previous manager used to say that has stuck with me, that was: “what gets measured, gets done.” I think of that when I track what I eat and when I exercise. It helps you see or “measure” what you are doing and it keeps me accountable to “get it done” or meet my daily calorie allowance and fit in daily exercise.
  • You have to find something that works for you. When I started to get into exercising, I was never a fan of running but it is now something that I enjoy and helps me. I started running shorter distances, maybe a mile or two. Now, I have ran numerous races from 5K, 10K, to a half marathon.
Have your changes impacted your kids or family at all? if so, how?
  • My children are 5 & 2 so they are in their cute years. They actually helped to inspire me to want to change. I saw a picture of myself and one of my children and it didn’t look like me next to this cute kid.
  • Now that I’ve made my changes and stick to a healthy lifestyle, it sets a good example for them. They’ve come to my races and cheer me on from the sides. My older child even does “races” in the backyard where he just runs around for a little. It’s good for them to see the importance of healthy eating and regular exercise. Hopefully, down the road they will understand that from watching me.
What advice would you give your kids in the future on the importance of health, physical activity, and eating healthy?
  • I would say you have to make it a priority. You need to stay consistent, even if you can’t fit in a full workout one day, do what you can. You are still doing something and staying active. Also, find something you enjoy and are comfortable with. If you enjoy it, it will be easier to make it a priority in your daily life. It helps to track everything. You see what you are doing right and what you can improve on.
What are you most proud of?
  • After I lost all the weight, I went back to the doctors and my doctor noticed right away that I lost weight. Also, my biometrics had all improved. It was nice to see that not only on the outside I had improved, but also on the inside.
Dave’s Weight change:
March 2014 – 255 pounds, November 2014 – 200 pounds.
Dave ran his first half marathon in November 2014.

 


B.Educated, B.Inspired, B.Komplete

 

Corporate Wellness

Business Lunch Hour – A Healthy Addition to Your Work-Day?

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It’s 11:00 AM and your stomach starts to growl – do you know where your lunch is?

The business lunch manifests itself in many ways:  the quick lunch, the working lunch, the networking lunch with coworkers, the job interview lunch, or the lunch-with-your-boss lunch!  Whatever type you follow, we recommend making sure it’s a true and healthy break from your busy day.

There are countless benefits of breaking from work for lunch; reducing stress, increasing concentration, sustained energy for your afternoon, feeling better, and many more.  However, unhealthy food choices and overeating can greatly hinder, if not cancel out, those positive results.  By including better-for-you food and beverage choices and being mindful while eating, you can boost the positive benefits and fuel your body to get you through the rest of your workday with energy and vitality.

Mindful eating is a skill that takes practice.  Mindful eating means: avoiding emotional food decisions and distractions at meal time.  When we eat “mindlessly” we are not present during our mealtime, which can lead to weight gain and health problems.  Don’t let emotions, stress, or deadlines sway your ability to maintain healthy eating habits during a busy work day.  Practice being present and enjoy a breather, savor each bite, and come back to work recharged.

Four B.Komplete Tips for Your Mindful and Healthy Business Lunch

#1) When eating out, research the restaurant ahead of time.

Most restaurants have online menus  available for perusal.  You can check out Healthy Dining Finder  to find healthy dining options in your area.  Another tool to use is Calorie King which reveals the nutritional content of many foods.  By figuring out your meal ahead of time, you can avoid the risk of impulse ordering. 

More tips for eating out – Restaurant dining can pinch your wallet and your waistline – choose wisely:

  • Order the smallest size available
  • Choose to drink water, unsweetened tea, or club soda
  • Request that the bread/chips be brought out with your meal, or avoid altogether
  • Ask for dressing on the side
  • Ask for light sauce or sauce on the side
  • Choose grilled, baked, poached, or steamed proteins
  • Aim to make a meal out of a salad and additional protein
  • Share your appetizer, salad, entrée and/or dessert
  • Use lemon, olive oil, and/or vinegar to flavor

#2) Drink a big glass of water before you start your lunch break.

Research has shown that drinking about 16 oz. of water prior to a meal  can help you avoid temptations like dipping into the endless bread or chips offered at many restaurants.  Additionally, thirst and hunger triggers come from the same part of your brain, meaning that while you may feel hungry, you are in fact thirsty.  Drinking water 15 minutes before eating  can help curb your cravings and encourage eating less at meal time.

#3) Pack your lunch the night before.

Your work day is busy enough.  Avoid a hectic morning and try packing your lunch the night before when you’ve had a chance to decompress and can make mindful decisions.  Have you heard about “salad in a jar” – it’s a solution for a healthy, custom, and delicious grab-and-go option.

#4) When eating with others, remember to savor.

It’s easy to get distracted by office chatter when networking with colleagues.  Eating becomes so automatic that you may look down at your plate and notice your food is already gone.  Savor each bite (for example, notice the texture of the food in your mouth or identify the different sweet, salty, sour, and spicy flavors as you chew) as if it were your last, to help avoid problems like overeating.

There are many reasons to take a lunch break  and keep it sacred.  This is so important that we’ve even mentioned it before in a previous post.  Remember that lunch can be delicious and healthy.  Schedule a daily break for yourself  to refresh your mind and feed your belly.  We promise your body and your company will thank you for it!

Nutrition and Food

Savory Ancient Grain Recipe

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B.Komplete Millet Pilaf

Looking for a healthier version of a comfort dish? The Ancient Grain Millet is perfect to use in place of any simple carbohydrate (white rice, bread or pasta). Millet will take on the flavors that you add. Try out this B.Komplete Savory Millet Stuffing recipe:

Makes 6-8 Servings

Cook Time: ~30 minutes

Ingredients
  • 1 TBSP Buttery Spread (Smart Balance)
  • 1/2 Medium White Onion, Diced
  • 1 Medium Sweet Bell Pepper, Diced
  • 2 Celery Stalks, Diced
  • 2 CUPS Millet, Uncooked
  • 4.4 CUPS Low Sodium Broth (Veg or Chicken)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
Instructions
  1. Combine millet and vegetable broth in a cooking pot, and cook on medium heat until the mixture begins to boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover, and allow for the liquid to be absorbed. The millet will be ready when it is soft.  Additional water may need to be added if the millet is still crunchy.

  2. Heat a large sauté pan and add butter/oil, onions, celery, and vegan sausage crumbles.  Stir mixture to coat with the butter.  Allow vegetables to lightly brown.  Add the bay leaves and thyme.  Mix in the cooked millet.  Enjoy as an entrée or a side dish. 

Photo credit: One Green Planet

Nutrition and Food

How to Start a Vegetarian Diet – Are You Up for the Challenge?

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Type “becoming a vegetarian” into your favorite search engine and you are guaranteed to see a plethora of news articles, medical journals, lifestyle blogs, and social media sites filled with suggestions.  Let’s keep it simple – condensed results for you in an easy-to-follow article:

First, let’s review the benefits.  Switching to a vegetarian lifestyle can help improve personal health , sustain the environment, support animal welfare, and save money.  Whatever you believe, there is always a reason to consider trying a vegetarian diet.

If you’re reading this, then you may have thought about becoming a vegetarian at one time.  For whatever reason you couldn’t start then, we challenge you to take the venture now!  Vegetarianism is more accessible than ever, even for the busy professional. 

Here are four steps to make it happen:

Step 1 – Let’s be honest…

Before skydiving for the first time, would you calmly hop in your car and drive to the nearest airport?  Probably not; you may consider a few things like risk, personal health and cost, prior to jumping.  Similarly, if you want to become a vegetarian, consider the following:

  1. What foods do you enjoy and what don’t you like?
  2. Are you an adventurous eater or do you to stick with what you know?
  3. Do you eat in restaurants or at home?
  4. Do you cook or buy ready-to-eat meals?

Understanding your preferences will help make this work.  For example, don’t expect to become a vegan chef overnight if you don’t like cooking.  You may enjoy some ready-to-eat options instead while you ease yourself into cooking a few meals. 

Step 2 – What do you know?

There are different types of vegetarianism.  Here are the most popular:

  • “No food with a face” – Quoted from TV character Phoebe Buffay of Friends , this type of vegetarian avoids food with a face, or simply put animal meat. The technical name is lacto-ovo vegetarian, which includes eating animal byproducts like dairy and eggs, but not the animal flesh itself. 
  • One fish, two fish… – A pescatarian fuses the health benefits of fresh fish with nutrient rich plant-based foods. A pescatarian avoids all land animals like beef and poultry and may also exclude byproducts like eggs and dairy.
  • Animal hugger – Also known as vegan. This version completely omits animal product from the diet including byproducts like eggs, dairy, honey, and foods with Red40 coloring. 
  • What the heck is a flexitarian? – A newer term, the flexitarian  consumes meat less frequently and in smaller amounts. For example, a flexitarian  may eat plant-based foods only, but will eat meat on special occasions like holidays.

Which one sounds good?  Choose the best fit for you and set it as your goal.

Step 3 – Let’s eat!

Enough thinking, let’s start eating! 

Tip 1 – Make your favorite already-vegetarian dishes:

Do you like sandwiches like grilled cheese and PB&J, veggie lasagna , rice and beans , tossed green salads and other potato, pasta and fruit salads, minestrone soup, or mac ‘n cheese?  If you do, good news!  These are already meat-free dishes!  

Tip 2 – Embrace “gateway” meat products:

While some people turn their noses up at the processed nature of faux meats, this option can be an efficient way to add protein and make a meaty dish vegetarian without losing the flavor and texture of the dish.  These products can be found in most grocery store chains, in the natural food and frozen food isles:

Tip 3 – Substitutions for Vegan-friendly dishes

Avoid dairy and eggs by using plant-based ingredients instead.  Items like applesauce, bananas, nut milks, flax seed, and coconut can be substituted while cooking and baking.  In addition to great taste, your foods may be healthier!  Check out conversion charts available online.

Step 4 - Nice to meet you!

To be a successful vegetarian, introduce yourself to new meals and ingredients.  Plant-based dishes can be delicious, easy to find, and healthy.

 

Take the Challenge

Starting a vegetarian diet can be easy to do, and can be a gradual process.  It’s helpful to have a support system in friends and family. 

To help you get started, we challenge you to take the 3-day B.Komplete Vegetarian Challenge!  All you need to do is try three breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners that fall within the type of vegetarian you want to become.  Use the recipe sources in this post or stick to your already vegetarian favorites.  Then, let us know how you did by leaving a comment below! 

Not willing to commit yet?  Try out Meatless Monday.  A now global movement, this  organization encourages people to “once a week, cut the meat.”  Their website has a vault of resources to help you commit to reducing overall consumption of meat.

 

Nutrition and Food

Organic versus Conventional – Which Should You Choose? Part Two

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Lets continue the conversation on some of the main factors that consumers like you consider when making purchases at the food store. If you didn’t read Part 1 of the series addressing the safety and cost of organic and conventional foods, you can view it here.

Nutrition

Working to improve your health through the food that you eat? Then you want to eat the MOST nutritious versions available, right? It’s more bang for your buck!  The food & nutrition industry has been testing both organic and conventional foods for many years. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a definitive answer of which type is nutritiously superior.  In the early 2000’s, you could find articles that were claiming a significant nutritional disparity between select organic and conventional foods. Only a few years later, there had been new research saying the exact opposite. In 2009, the American Society of Nutrition posted an article  concluding there is no significant difference between organic and conventional foods. Again in 2012, a hotly debated report from Stanford University stated that there is a lack of strong evidence that organic foods are more nutritious than conventional foods.

 Today’s research deviates from those studies, showing that there IS a nutritional difference in some organic foods. Reports are showing up to 40% higher in antioxidant activity  in organic fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are comprised of nutrients like Vitamin C, carotenoids, flavonoids and minerals like selenium and the health benefits of antioxidants are evident.

 What does this mean? It’s apparent that there is more research needed.

 If good health is important to you, then we suggest continuing to choose your favorites until further solid evidence is discovered. Want better nutrition now? Remember VARIETY! Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat meats and dairy will give you a wide spectrum of your daily needed nutrients.

Environmental Impact

Soil erosion, decline in crop production, fertilizer runoff, and pesticide resistance are concerns that some take into account when deciding between organic or conventional foods. The USDA has many resources on how farmers can protect and enhance the environment but there are still problems that worry shoppers.

Scary reports of lake and river “dead zones” occasionally surface after finding considerable deterioration of wildlife and vegetation. This fuels new environmental studies to identify the true offender and will often include testing of new farming techniques and products that can help protect instead of harm.

Consider this: all types of farming impacts the surrounding environment. Organic farms can use natural fertilizers and pesticides that can cause runoff problems. However, the USDA says that organic farming differs from conventional farming because they strive to preserve natural resources and biodiversity with their farming techniques. There also are organizations like the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania that dedicate themselves to researching and testing better ways for American farmers to grow organic foods without harming the environment.

If preserving the environment is important to you, then you may want to consider choosing organic foods. Environment-friendly tip: buy local! As we mentioned in Part 1, think about supporting smaller farms that are local to your home or workplace. This reduces the need to truck food products all over the country, which can produce a considerable amount of fossil fuel emissions.

 Don’t know where to find a local farmer market? Visit here and input your zip code or download an app for your mobile device (we tried Farmstand).

So, What Should You Choose?

The bottom line is that, as a consumer, you have to decide what’s important to you. Whether you’re concerned with safety, cost, nutrition, environmental impact or something else that wasn’t mentioned, you should always choose what’s best for you and your family. Watch for new research on the areas that are important to you. And in the meantime, purchase and eat healthy food that you love!

Photo Credit:

http://abcn.ca/category/diet-exercise/

http://farmersmarketannex.com/fmablog/?p=271

Nutrition and Food

Organic versus Conventional – Which Should You Choose? Part One

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Deception. Misdirection. Imminent Danger. All characteristics of a villain in the next superhero blockbuster, not the emotions we should have when selecting our next meals.

With sensational headlines in modern media and new research claims, it’s not surprising that even the most educated shopper can be infused with doubt over what to place in the cart. Shopping at the market should be a pleasant experience filled with delicious options from which to choose.

Today, there is a wide variety of conventional and organic produce (fruit, vegetables), livestock (meat, dairy, eggs) and multi-ingredient products (breads, pasta, and other processed foods). This is a great success for the US, but it can be very overwhelming for the American consumer.

 Common complications:

  1. We can be inundated with so many choices that it may seem easier to select what was purchased before, without thinking twice.
  2. Organic foods are stigmatized, with some saying that they’re only for the wealthy, for environmentalists, or for parents with young children.
  3. Some food companies have embraced misleading marketing practices to boost sales, touting that their foods are “healthy and natural” or even using “organic” on their packaging. (Other companies are responding to these practices by putting out product lists of their own, encouraging transparency in marketing and making healthy, informed choices.)

Choosing between organic and conventional foods can be an easier decision. In this two-part series, we’ll address some factors that consumers like you consider when making purchases at the store.

Safety

A concern for some shoppers is safety – safety for themselves, for farmers, or for the animals. Understanding the production of both conventional and organic foods can clear up some apprehension.

 Conventional food products are produced by traditional farming practices used by small family farmers to large corporate farms. This can include using chemical pesticides for pest control and synthetic fertilizers to increase growth margins. For livestock, this includes dosing with antibiotics and hormones to help maintain the health of the animals.

 Governing organizations like the USDA and FDA regulate conventional farming practices and inspect food products for wholesomeness, deeming them as safe for consumption. However, government regulation ends there.

 According to the USDA,  organic operations must use only approved substances and avoid man-made fertilizers, prohibited pesticides, and genetically modified organisms. These practices also promote farm worker health, lowering the risk of inhalation or ingestion of harmful substances.  Furthermore, the USDA organic seal on meat, eggs, and dairy products verifies that producers met animal health and welfare standards, did not use antibiotics or growth hormones, and provided animals with access to the outdoors.

 If safety is your priority, then organic foods may be the best choice. On the fence? Start with the Environmental Workers Group’s “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen,”  an annual list distributed to educate consumers on pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables.

Cost

One of the key benefits of conventional food products is their wide spread availability in the US. These products can be found in grocery stores, convenience stores, and schools, to name a few. Simple economics of supply and demand as well as generous government subsidies help explain the lower prices of conventional foods.

Typically, organic foods are priced higher than conventionally grown foods, which may be caused by the limited availability of organics. America has seen a significant increase of organic operations since 2002 however, so consumers may begin to see reduced prices on certain foods. 

Consider also the additional fees to the farmers. Farm owners have to pay fees and complete a transition period  before beginning organic operations. To recoup these expenses, additional costs may be incorporated into food prices. Paired with “high-end” public perception and premium upcharges, organic foods will often be more costly than their conventional counterparts.

If you are concerned about cost, then conventional foods may be best. Still like to buy some organic? Here are some money saving tips:  

  1. Purchase discounted organic “seconds” at your local markets when available. 
  2. Visit local farmers who may follow organic practices but save on operational costs by avoiding the USDA certification process. A few specific questions to the farmer may help save you some money. 

Don’t know where to find a local farmer market? Visit here and input your zip code or download an app for your mobile device (we tried Farmstand).

Check back for Part Two of Organic vs. Conventional – What should you choose? We’ll discuss the Nutrition and Environmental Impact of Organic and Conventional foods.