Just like that, a new school year in full swing. The funny thing is, I’m not a part of it. Every August or September for basically my whole life I’d be cracking open new books,… More
Do you find it hard to get in veggies as you go about your day? I’m sure most people would answer “Yes”. It can be a struggle to get them all in. The reality of it is that we have a whole meal *ahem* breakfast that doesn’t usually get any veggie love. Here are six ways you can fit some vegetables into your breakfasts.
1. Eat leftovers for breakfast. Yes, leftovers. You say, “stir-fry”. I say, “Morning, sunshine”. If you have leftover roasted vegetables, eat them with toast and an egg. If you have leftover rice and sautéed veggies, heat them up. Leftover stew, soup or chili would be just as warm and cozy as a bowl of oatmeal. Just because it’s breakfast time doesn’t mean you’re limited to breakfast foods.
2. Make yourself a breakfast salad. Who says you can’t start your day with spinach? Not me! I feel like the salad queen over here. I eat salads every day and at any meal (even for snack)—no joke. Breakfast is a great time to eat a salad. Mix some shredded carrots with a bed of greens, add some cooked sweet potatoes, a little avocado, maybe a fried egg and you have yourself a complete breakfast.
3. Make a veggie-loaded quiche, egg bake, frittata, or scramble. The magic word here is “loaded” make sure your egg dish is not all eggs and sausage. Try making it with half the eggs you usually use and add in kale, spinach, chopped potatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic, leeks and whatever else you like.
4. Try veggies and hummus along with toast and nut butter—seriously good. There are some days were I’m running late or just don’t want to cook. *gasp* What? Hayley, not wanting cook? Tell me it isn’t so. Well, let me assure you friends, it is. On those days I literally eat hummus, cold veggies, toast and nut butter. It’s delicious and provides a grain, a protein, and a vegetable.
5. Blend up some green smoothies. Kale, cucumber, spinach… the possibilities are endless. Green smoothies can be hard for people to get excited about. Sometimes they are a weird color, they smell funny or don’t taste good. If this is you, I would suggest starting out with something very simple. Try blending an overripe banana, 1-2 cups of spinach, 1 cup or so of nut milk and a handful of ice cubes. If you don’t like that switch to some other green vegetable or fruit.
6. Try your hand at homemade pancakes, waffles, or muffins with shredded carrots, beets, zucchini or your favorite veggie. Any baked good that has secret vegetables is a winner in my book. There are so many ideas out there, you are bound to find one that works for you. Ideas like these are perfect for picky eaters.
Say, “Good-bye” to boring honey. For real. Go ahead– I’ll wait.
Honey by itself is good, but why shouldn’t it be irresistible? I can’t think of a reason. Lavender and orange, can’t go wrong with those flavors. Both are tasty in lattes, baked goods, and anywhere else you routinely use honey.
Not only will you be doing cartwheels over how delicious your morning coffee is, you will congratulate yourself on being a master chef, *applause and cheering* because each honey flavor requires only two ingredients and you can make them both in 10 minutes. *dorky smirk and eyebrow raising*
I do have to say that honey is still sugar and I know that lavender and orange are you favorite flavors, but don’t go sticking a straw in the jar and sippin’ the day away. You will have a stomach ache and your dentist will be sending me an angry email. Just try to control yourself, okay. *she says to herself*
Ok, enough babbling. Let’s get to those recipes.
Kombucha, you probably know someone who swears by it. You hear good things about it, but aren’t sure what to believe. Is it a fad health drink or a helpful addition? Let’s find out.
I remember first trying kombucha. I thought to myself, “Okay, I think this is good.” Weeks later I decided, “Ooh, this is seriously delicious.” Then all of a sudden it was like *angel chorus*, “Where is can I get an IV of this stuff?”. Ok, I may be exaggerating, just a tad, but it is quite delightful.
WHAT IS KOMBUCHA?
Simply put, kombucha (kom-bo͞o-CHa) is fermented tea. It contains bacterial strains and yeast that promote healthy gut flora.
Bacteria…yum, yum, right? Don’t gag in disgust just yet.
Are the bacteria and yeast alive? YES. Are they something your body needs? YOU’D BETTER BELIEVE IT! Drinking this fizzy fermented tea is very much like eating yogurt or a taking probiotic supplement; they all contain similar organisms and benefits.
Is kombucha the ultimate, end-all source of probiotics? Nope. It doesn’t have super powers. No one food does. It’s important to consume a variety of fermented things because they all have distinct, useful types of bacteria in them.
WHAT DOES KOMBUCHA TASTE LIKE?
It’s fizzy with a slight vinegar-y taste. The best thing I can (loosely) compare it to is hard cider. In case you were wondering, kombucha does contain some alcohol in trace amounts, about 0.5% when kept and stored correctly.
There are endless sweetened and flavored commercial kombuchas , but most have the same basic fizzy-vinegar trait. If you are brewing at home, the room temperature, light, and fermenting time all play a role in defining the exact taste. A shorter fermenting time will yield a sweeter, more mild beverage, and a longer one will create a stronger, more vinegar-y drink.
WHERE DOES KOMBUCHA COME FROM?
Today’s Dietitian outlines kombucha’s history for us. It likely got its name from the 3rd century Korean physician who brought it to Japan, although there is record of it being brewed around Asia some 600 years earlier. Over the next few hundred years, kombucha made its way around Asia, Europe, and to the Americas much later. More recently, kombucha was and has been popular during the pre-World War II era, the 1990’s, and today.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DRINKING KOMBUCHA?
Those tend to be debated. People cling to the lack of legitimate research that supports many of kombucha’s benefits. On the flip side, many people report better digestion, less constipation, stronger immunity, more efficient metabolic functions, supports organ health etc… while consuming kombucha.
So, the jury is still out on this one. It is ultimately up to you to decide. If you like it, want to drink it, and find it beneficial to you.
ARE THERE ANY DOWNSIDES TO KOMBUCHA?
Again, this depends on who you talk to. The live cultures can cause issues for people with immune deficiencies and your stomach may regret being given an entire gallon. If you are brewing at home, you do have to know what mold looks like on your SCOBY. My what? Don’t worry. We will get to that in the next section.
As long as you drink it in reasonable amounts and look out for any possible negative side effects, kombucha is not thought to be harmful.
YOU CAN MAKE IT AT HOME, RIGHT?
Why yes you can! This is where that SCOBY, or Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast, comes in. This growth sits on the top of your tea, lives off of the sugar, and produces the frenzy of bacteria, fizz, and vinegar that we call kombucha.
Let’s be real, it is not a pretty sight. It looks like a floating mass of soggy pancakes all layered on top of each other— just the new piece of décor you were looking for! The good news is that it brews best when undisturbed and stored in a dark place. So, back of the pantry…yeah, I think so, too.
You need four things to brew kombucha: tea (usually black, but I’ve seen recipes using green, white, and oolong), sugar, water, and a SCOBY. Once its finished, you can drink it plain or flavor with fruit juice or spices. There are plenty of great recipes out there.
The process is pretty simple.
- Heat your water to a boil (we do gallon batches). Turn off the burner once boiling.
- Stir in 1 cup of sugar until completely dissolved and add the tea bags.
- Let cool COMPLETELY! This is a very important step. If the tea mixture is too hot, you’ll burn or kill the SCOBY and you won’t be enjoying any kombucha.
- Add the cooled tea mixture to a large glass container and place the SCOBY on top of it You can have someone you know split their SCOBY in half and use it or make you own–consult a reputable internet source for instructions.
- Cool in a dark place and let sit for about 7 days.
Kombucha can be part of a healthy diet. If you are buying it, buy it from a trusted brand. If you are brewing it at home, do your research and brew it safely. If you like it and see benefits when drinking it, then do it. I wouldn’t go crazy and drink gallons a day, but a glass here and there is perfectly fine. Don’t forget about yogurt and other fermented foods—they want to help your digestive system, too!
DISCLOSURE: Please note these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. I am not a doctor. I am simply sharing what I have learned.
We have tons of pears. I mean almost an actual TON OF PEARS. What’s a girl to do? Preserve them, of course! So, my lovely mom-in-law and I decided to do just that. Here are two ways to stay we stayed on top of our bumper crop: canning and making sauce.
I am not formatting this as a recipe because it’s really up to you how many pears you can. Using the water bath method, we canned our pears in water and a few jars with mulling spices. (Keep scrolling if you need to see that pear-sauce recipe now!!!)
WHAT YOU NEED:
- Jars with lids and rims
- Baking sheet
- Medium saucepan
- Large bowl for lemon soak
- Large stock pot
- Extra-large stock pot with lid-something your jars can be submerged in
- Cutting board(s)
- A knife or two
- Hot pads
- Stirring spoons
- Tongs designed for grasping hot jars
- Lemon juice
- Lots of water!
- Spices (optional)
- Place your jars on a baking sheet and put them the oven at 200 degrees F. This ensures you won’t shock your jars when you add the boiling water.
- In the medium saucepan, pace the lids and rims in the water and heat on medium. This is also to keep these pieces warm and make sure that the rubber is hot enough to seal properly.
- Fill the large stock pot with water, heat to a boil and hold there. This is the water that will be added to the jars to cover the pears.
- Fill the extra-large stock pot with water, heat to a boil and hold there. The jars will go in once they are filled and ready to be sealed.
- Fill a large bowl with water and about a ½ cup of lemon juice. This is to keep the cut pears from browning before placing them in jars.
- Wash and quarter all the pears, removing the inside core, stem and seeds, and let them sit in the lemon water until you are ready to put them into jars.
- Pull the jars out of the oven and fill them with pear quarters until they are ¾ full. Add a drop of lemon juice to each jar. Add spices during this step (optional).
- Fill the jars with boiling water, leaving a ½ inch of air space at the top.
- Submerge the jars in the extra-large stock pot and boil for 20-25 minutes—22 minutes was perfect for us.
- Once time is up, carefully remove the jars from the boiling water and tighten the caps (with hot pads!)
- Place them back on the baking sheet to cool completely. It is important not to move, shake, or in any way disturb the jars too much as it may disrupt the sealing process. Listen for the pop of the seal—a canner’s dream!
- Let them sit for a few weeks before digging in—they are good for quite some time if they are canned properly, but you will always get the best flavor during that first year.
AND NOW FOR THE SPICED PEAR-SAUCE RECIPE– so delicious!!!
So excited about this one, people!
(Less than) 10 minute, vegan, protein & healthy fat-based tomato spread– if that doesn’t make you happy… uh, it better make you happy because its simple and so darn delicious. 🙂 It is perfect for parties. It is great for dinner, lunch, or snack. Hey, I’ve even eaten it for breakfast. What can I say, I’m obsessed.
THIS IS SO GOOD. I’m serious. I’ve actually, truly, never tasted a spread I like more. Believe me, I could go on and on (for an entire paragraph–don’t tempt me) about how tasty it is, but I won’t. You’ll just have to try it for yourself.
8 oz. sundried tomatoes, chopped
15 oz. canned great northern or cannellini beans, drained
4 TB. olive oil (I used a basil garlic infused olive oil—regular is fine)
¼ cup fresh basil chopped
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. salt
3 TB. water
- Using a food processor, pulse all ingredients on high for 1-2 minutes until well incorporated.
- Serve on your favorite toasted bread, with crackers, over pasta, over rice or as a sandwich spread.
“I am finding balance and joy in being flexible and adventurous in my eating habits.”
It’s right there in the description of what fuels A Nourished Life… but what does it even mean? Well, I am glad that you asked. People love to throw around the words “balance” and “moderation”. People love to talk about how they are finally achieving their nutritional and lifestyle goals using words like “flexible”. So, that’s great, but what does this mean to someone trying to maintain healthy eating habits?
Merriam Webster defines the word “balanced” as: being in a state of balance/having different parts or elements properly or effectively arranged, proportioned, regulated, considered, etc.
Ok, we are going to briefly remind ourselves about food groups, yes, food groups- elementary school flashbacks, any of you 90’s kids? I promise, this will be quick.
Food plate guides were created to make balancing food choices much easier. The plant-based food plate is a little different from the traditional food group plate and it should be.
Here are two visual examples if you’d like to take a look: Plant Plate (http://www.theveganrd.com/vegan-nutrition-101/food-guide-for-vegans/) and MyPlate (https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate).
I’m going to link a few helpful sites here so you can familiarize yourself with what portions look like: http://www.brendadavisrd.com/the-vegan-plate/ . Here is one more for you: http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2013/02/22/portion-control-use-visual-cues-to-remember-serving-sizes/ . I encourage you to find your own resources, too. The internet is a full of them– just be sure they are from credible sources.
I have learned by experience that plant-based eating is relatively simple, but can sometimes take some thought and planning when you just start out.
Grains are easy: bread, rice, pasta, potatoes and the like. Fruits and vegetables are also pretty straightforward. We’ve already talked about protein (legumes, nuts, and seeds… etc.,) already. If you haven’t read it check it out here: https://anourishedlife.blog/2017/07/17/whats-the-deal-with-plant-protein/ .
Perfect. You found that you knew these already. SCORE!
A balanced meal will have these things in the proportions close to what is represented by the graphic. If you are an animal protein eater, it will look a little different, but you will still have the general macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fats) .
Now, what? The graphic above is a great launching pad. It is not the ultimate, perfect, I’m-finally-going-to-be-so-stinking-healthy model, though, and you’ll constantly find new and different recommendations.
Land in the happy middle. Find someplace in the middle of what everyone is recommending. Some suggest an iron or calcium supplement. Some experts suggest three servings of fruit, and some say four. You are going to have to do some of your own research to make the best decision for you. As long as you fall within the generally accepted ranges and your body will be happy.
One goal I have in sharing the with you is to increase plant food intake, not drive ourselves nuts (ha-ha, nuts are a plant protein- see what I did there) trying get in the perfect number of servings of everything. Why are we not trying to do that? Because you would EXHAUST yourself and NEVER EVER DO IT PERFECTLY.
I don’t mean to be a downer here, but you wouldn’t make it. I wouldn’t make it. Nutrition is always changing as new research is being published. The recommendations are always evolving, and it can be very frustrating. Just when you figure out your eating patterns some expert with a bunch of letters after their name has to come along and mess it all up!
So, what are regular people like you and I to do when this happens? I would accept the new guidelines (I’m talking official, government issued guideline, here), do your best with them, and keep in mind what is always recommended even when others things change:
- more fruits,
- more veggies,
- more lean meats,
- more plant proteins,
- more whole grains.
Ok, back to the word “balanced”. This is what balanced eating looks like for me. I am mainly a plant-eater. 85% of the time I run on plants. Sometimes I cook Thai peanut chicken and veggies: https://anourishedlife.blog/2016/12/29/slow-cooker-thai-peanut-chicken/. On occasion, I make my favorite salmon dish: https://anourishedlife.blog/2016/07/26/indian-spiced-salmon/ . I also enjoy ice cream from time to time. The biggest lesson I have learned is that balanced eating is a process. It’s about changing our perspective of what food is.
Food fuels our functions. If you are running a diesel engine, for instance, and you fill it up with regular old gasoline, well, you are going to have some problems. The same goes for our body, our engine, if you will. I know, totally lame analogy, but stay with me. The more processed, high saturated fat, high salt foods we offer our body, the less efficiently it will function. WHY? These are not the best foods for our bodies nor are they being eaten in the proper amounts.
That is not to say that some saturated fat and some salt are not okay, even necessary. Of course they are! They are still food ingredients and are present in many things that we eat. It’s just that the general public eats far too much of these ingredients, and are, or will soon be, reaping the health consequences.
So why not educate ourselves? Why not learn to eat well, to eat mindfully, balanced and to enjoy certain things in moderation, if it means our years may be longer and less disease-ridden?
My reason for plant-based, healthy, well-balanced, delicious dishes is to give my body more of the vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients that nutrition authorities have been suggesting for decades. That is my outlook. It doesn’t need to be yours. You can eat animal foods and lead a perfectly healthy life.
The real difference is made in how you balance all of it, how you balance all nutrients!
So, what can you do today to create balance eating habits:
- Familiarize yourself with MyPlate or the Plant Plate visual guides to eating linked above.
- Make sure you know your portion sizes and what your body needs every day also linked above.
- Think about how you can start incorporating more veggies, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and plant protein in your daily life. And give it a try.
- Follow healthy blogs, or visit the library to find some healthy recipes—and get cooking in that kitchen!
- Have PATIENCE and GRACE with yourself. Yes, you can eat that double chocolate chip cookie. Yes, you can go to that potluck and not stress about the lack of vegetables. It’s hot outside, get yourself that scoop of ice cream you’ve been excited for. The important part is that you are making healthy choices MOST OF THE TIME. Your ultimate habit should be healthy food, snacks and meals. The cookies, ice cream, potato chips etc,… are the treats that are reasonably enjoyed, not the main habit or way of eating.
What are your balanced eating thoughts and tips???
This mind-blowing taco topping is so simple you’ll be wondering why you didn’t think of it before… at least I sure was. It will add a surprising amount of flavor and freshness to you tacos.
Makes: 6 cups
Time: 10 minutes
1 lb any kind of tomatoes, chopped
3 cups (about 1 bunch) of cilantro, chopped
1 small white onion, minced
¼ lb. mini bell peppers, chopped
½ – 1 tsp. garlic or plain olive oil
sprinkle of salt
- Cut all ingredients
- Mix in a large bowl
- Serve on tacos!
*The pictured tofu was baked and mixed with low sodium taco seasoning.
*The pictured corn tortillas were toasted in the oven.
With all the buzz around vegetarianism (no meat consumption with multiple variations), veganism (no meat/animal products; focus on animal welfare), flexitarianism (reduced meat/animal product consumption) and so on, it is important to get the facts straight.
How much protein do I need per day?
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, men over age 19 require 6 -7 oz. of protein per day. Women over age 19 need 5-6 ½ oz. per day.
Can you get enough protein from legumes and other plants?
YES! Yes, you can. Apart from fruits, all foods contain some amount of protein. The benefits of focusing on plant proteins are innumerable and include a higher fiber, vitamin, mineral and antioxidant intake, as well as a lower risk for heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes when compared to the typical American diet. Some research suggests if you are consuming only plant proteins increasing your intake 10% above what is recommended may be beneficial.
Which plant foods are the best sources of protein?
Let’s explore, shall we.
Beans and Lentils are cost-effective and come in many forms. They can be purchased canned, frozen or dried. They are good sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein. For instance, ½ cup of cooked lentils contains 9g of protein, 8g of fiber and is very low in saturated fat. Lentils also contain a good amount of potassium, copper and folate. Black beans have 6 g of protein, 4 g of fiber and similar micronutrients as lentils per ½ cup.
Tofu and Tempeh are both soybean products. They are versatile and will soak up whatever flavors they are cooked with. Tofu (pictured) and tempeh can be stir-fried, made into soups, desserts, quinoa bowls, and many other dishes. Soy has been questioned as having negative health effects, but when consumed in moderation (not as sole source of protein) those negative effects are diminished or even disappear. A ½ cup of tofu contains 12g of protein and is often fortified with calcium. A ½ cup of tempeh offers 15g of protein, 4g of fiber, and a moderate amount of potassium and copper.
Nuts and Seeds are also good sources of protein, fiber, heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, many vitamins and minerals, as well as components that lower cholesterol. Almonds in a 1 oz. portion contain 6g of protein and 3g of fiber. It is important to keep portion sizes in mind when consuming high fat nuts. It would not be wise to eat 3 cups of walnuts per day–stomach ache and you wouldn’t be diversifying your protein intake. Quinoa (yes, it’s a seed ☺ ) offers 4g of protein and 3g of fiber per ½ cup.
A quick note about nut milks…If you love these dairy free milk-like beverages, it is important to point out that although they are made from nuts, they do not naturally contain very much protein. This is due to the processing/the way they are made and applies to most nut milks. Always double check for your own sake. J Nut milks are a wonderful addition or alternative for any diet, just know that they shouldn’t be counted on for their protein content.
Grains, yes grains, naturally contain some protein. Protein can be hidden in unlikely places. For instance, 1 cup of brown rice holds 4g of protein, 3g of fiber and some folate, potassium and magnesium. Whole wheat pasta offers 9g of protein, 7g of fiber and is low in fat per ½ cup.
What are the best ways to maximize my protein intake from plants?
KNOW YOUR PORTION SIZES. You can certainly get enough protein from plant sources if you know what a serving looks like. 4 ounces is 1/2 cup (US) or about the size of a tennis ball. 3 ounces is a deck of cards. 2 ounces is a shot glass. There is no need to stress out and measure all your food. It is wise to become familiar with portion sizes and use them to ensure you are getting enough protein.
If you are going to try veggie burgers, consider finding a recipe and making them yourself. Many ready-to-eat versions are highly processed and are consequently high in salt and saturated fat.
Design your meal around vegetables and work in the protein sources. My favorite things
to make are dinner bowls. I pile on roasted veggies, onions and garlic then add seasoned beans, a bit of rice and top with herbs. Cold beans + veggies + fruit + herbs with vinaigrette dressings are oh so delicious!
Nutritional yeasts are a great addition to any meal if you are just starting to incorporate more plant proteins or are looking for an extra boost of vitamins and minerals. The Red Star Brand is fortified with vitamin B12, B6, folate, protein and fiber. It tastes similar to cheese, and can be shaken atop salads, soups, cooked beans etc…
If beans cause you GI distress, there is hope. You can take a supplement, like Beano, that helps break down the problematic components. Sprouting beans may also help. All you do is soak your dried beans overnight and spread them out on baking sheets for about 12 hours. When sprouts can be seen cracking the shells of the beans in half, they are ready for consumption after about 45 minutes of boiling or until they are at the desired firmness. They can also be stored in the freezer after cooking for easy meal making.
Do you have any plant protein questions??? What are your favorite plant protein recipes?
*DISCLAIMER: I am in no way making any specific recommendations. I encourage you to do research and make decisions for yourself. I do have a bachelor’s degree in dietetics but am not your medical professional. I am just sharing what I have learned and enjoy!
http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/vegetarian-and-special-diets/vegetarian-sources-of-protein https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-2/a-closer-look-at-current-intakes-and-recommended-shifts/#figure-2-3 supertracker.usda.gov
8 oz. whole grain pasta
1 medium onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups frozen spinach
1 TB. olive oil
4 TB. red pesto
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 cup Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup fresh basil, chopped to top
- Cook pasta per package instructions and set aside.
- In a large skillet, sauté onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the spinach to the skillet and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the pesto and black pepper.
- Plate pasta and portion the skillet mixture over the pasta.
- Serve topped with Roma tomatoes, basil, walnuts, and parmesan.
More granola. Yum! Granola is a great way to start your day or pick yourself up in the afternoon. You’ll find lots of energy and protein here. Enjoy a tango of sweet and savory from this granola.
Makes ~30 oz.
2 cups old fashion oats
1 cup peanuts
½ cup dry roasted almonds
1 cup cashews
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup craisins
¼ pumpkin seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
- Combine the oats, nuts, golden raisins, craisins, seeds, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.
- Mix together the molasses, maple syrup in a separate bowl and pour over the other ingredients.
- Mix thoroughly.
- Spread onto 2 large, parchment paper lined baking sheets.
- Bake for 16 minutes, stirring at the halfway point.
- Store in airtight containers.