5 ways to add protein to fruits

With the summer temperatures heating up, fruits are an amazing go-to snack! Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium and calories, but high in nutrients such as water content, antioxidants, phytochemicals and dietary fiber. They taste good alone or paired with something else. Because fruits are usually not a good source of protein, you can pair it with a protein food choice to make it a nutrient dense snack! Here are 5 ways you can eat protein with fruits:

1. Fruit + cottage cheese

Fruit and cottage cheese are so good together! There are different varieties of cottage cheese including lactose free and vegan options to meet your needs. For even more flavor, try a small drizzle of honey or agave or top it with nuts, seeds or coconut flakes.

2. Fruit + nut butter

This is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to eat fruit with protein. Cut up some of your favorite fruits and pair them with peanut or almond butter. Best part is, you can even skip the utensils if you want. The fruits are your scoopers!

3. Fruit + hummus

I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably thinking that combination sounds weird, but don’t cross it off your list just yet. Give savory hummus a try with sweet fruits such as apple slices, dates or dried apricots. If you’re still not a fan, try fruits with a chocolate hummus (now, you can’t say no to this).

4. Fruit + nuts

You can’t go wrong with fruits and nuts. Either fresh or dried fruits work well. You’ll often see this combination in bento protein boxes. If you’re using dried fruits, then it’s like a homemade trail mix!

5. Fruits in a protein smoothie

Enjoy a smoothie with fruits and a source of protein such as unflavored protein powder, green peas, milk, yogurt (or non-dairy selection of your choice), tofu, edamame, or nut butter.

Veggie packed DIY Vietnamese lemongrass beef vermicelli bowl

This Vietnamese lemongrass beef vermicelli bowl is a noodle salad dish that’s great for hot summer days when you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. The dish is often treated like a salad and eaten cold. You can usually find this dish at a Vietnamese restaurant, but you can also easily recreate it at home. The best part of recreating your favorite restaurant dishes at home is that you get to be creative and customize it to your liking. As long as you have a few of the essential ingredients and the final product tastes good, there’s really no right or wrong way to make it. Make sure you load it up with veggies, herbs and lean protein to make it a healthy dish. Check out this quick recipe below!

INGREDIENTS

1 lb beef sirloin; thinly sliced or another protein of your choice such as chicken, tofu, shrimp, pork or ground turkey

FOR THE PROTEIN MARINADE
2 garlic cloves; minced
4 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp lemongrass powder or 3 tbsp finely chopped lemon grass

TO ASSEMBLE
1/2 cucumber; peeled, seeded, and julienned (or zucchini)
4 cups shredded lettuce
handful fresh, chopped cilantro
sprinkle of sesame seeds or chopped peanuts
1 package thin vermicelli noodles; prepared as per package directions

Optional additions:
(Unfortunately, I didn’t have these on hand when I made the dish)
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
4 cups mung bean sprouts, washed
handful fresh mint or basil leaves
1 red Thai Chili; finely minced

FOR THE SAUCE
1/4 cup warm water
5 teaspoons sugar (for a healthier sub, try 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp monkfruit sweetener or 6 tbsp 100% apple juice)
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/2 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons fish sauce
optional: julienned carrots and/or sliced chilies to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

PREPARE THE BEEF
In a medium bowl, combine minced garlic, fish sauce, sugar, fresh lime juice and lemongrass powder/chopped lemongrass. Add the the beef slices and add to the marinade. Let sit for about an hour or so. Then heat a lightly oiled pan or wok on medium-high heat. Stir fry marinated beef in batches.

FOR THE SAUCE
Combine the water, sugar, fresh lime juice, rice vinegar and fish sauce together. Stir well and let it sit.

FOR THE VERMICELLI NOODLES
Prepare as per package directions. Drain and set aside.

TO ASSEMBLE THE BOWLS
Arrange lettuce in the bottom the bowl or have it on the side. Top with vermicelli noodles. Place cooked beef on top of vermicelli noodles. Finish off with toppings of cucumbers, carrots, cilantro, mint, sesame seeds or peanuts. Drizzle the sauce on top of the dish and enjoy!

Matcha green tea latte

Have you tried a matcha green tea latte before? I recently did and I really enjoyed it! Thanks to Jade Leaf Matcha‘s support to healthcare workers, they offered a generous discount on the order and I decided to try their Matcha Latte Infusion GLOW – Collagen + Biotin. They come in individual, convenient, on-the-go packets that are ready to be mixed for a delicious drink. It takes less than 5 minutes to prepare! The infusion of collagen is tasteless which is nice so you can focus on the matcha taste and still get the added benefits of collagen and biotin which have been associated with improved overall skin, nail and hair health.

According to their website, each packet contains “grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine hide collagen peptides support organ and tissue health, and plant-based biotin (a vital type of B vitamin) supports skin, hair and nail health. 5g of Collagen protein in each serving. No added sugar or other sweeteners. About 1/3 the caffeine of a cup of coffee (30-40mg), with naturally occurring l-theanine for a calm, alert feeling.”

But first, what is matcha? Matcha is high-grade green tea leaves that are ground up into a fine powder. The green tea powder is typically whisked into a hot liquid to form a drink. Matcha has a unique, earthy, almost “grassy or mossy” smooth flavor without the bitter or astringent taste that some green teas may offer.

Some of the health benefits of matcha are:
-Antioxidants
-Fiber, chlorophyll and vitamins
-May boost metabolism
-Contains more caffeine than traditional green tea, but less than coffee (perfect for those who want an energy boost but might be caffeine sensitive)
-Can help calm the mind and relax the body
-Linked to lowering cholesterol and risk of certain diseases

Tips on making a matcha latte:
Making a matcha green tea latte is really simple, especially with the convenient ready to mix packets. I happened to have the powder infused with collagen and biotin, but you can really just use plain matcha to make this drink.

  1. You simply combine about 1 teaspoon of culinary matcha powder with 6-8 oz milk (or dairy-free milk of your choice). I recommend using a warm to hot liquid to mix with the matcha so it dissolves better.
  2. Add optional sweetener (1 tbsp or less of honey or sweetener of your choice).
  3. Blend! I highly recommend using a blender or a matcha-specific whisk to prevent clumps of undissolved matcha powder.
  4. Option of adding iced cubes to make it a cold drink.
  5. Sip and enjoy!

10 ways to use avocado in your next recipe

Who doesn’t love avocados? This fruit is loaded with nutrients, uniquely creamy and delicious and it’s versatile for so many tasty dishes. We’ll start with the nutrition it offers and then get into a list of 10 easy avocado recipes to highlight this amazing fruit that many of us love.

Nutrition
According to Haas Avocado Board, 1/4 of a whole avocado provides 60 calories, 6 g fat (which 3.5 g are monounsaturated fat, 0 g cholesterol, 0 g trans fat), 0 g sodium, 190 mg potassium, 3 g total carbohydrate, 3 g dietary fiber and 1 g protein. It also provides magnesium, iron, Vitamin K, folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin B’s, Vitamin E.

Some of its health top benefits include:
Monounsaturated fat content: The heart healthy fat that is also found in olive oil, sesame oil and nuts. Include monounsaturated fats in your diet to help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, lower the bad cholesterol, and raise the good cholesterol. A quick tip on identifying unsaturated fats from saturated and trans fat (unhealthy fats) is to look at their ability to solidify at room temperature. Unsaturated fats are liquids at room temperature while saturated fats are solids at room temperature.
Vitamins and nutrients: Avocados provide the antioxidants vitamin E and C that are great for the skin and decreasing inflammation. They also provide tryptophan, a precursor to the “happy chemical” called serotonin that helps regulate mood. The combination of tryptophan, antioxidants and healthy fats makes it a powerful food for our brain and potentially can help with mood and depression (to learn more about the bidirectional relationship food and mood have, follow this link to todaysdietitian.com)
Satiety factor: Avocados contain both healthy fat and fiber, which can help you feel fuller for longer. A whole avocado provides about 10 grams of fiber, making it an excellent source of fiber. (To read more about the benefits of fiber, follow this link to eatright.org). For those of us who are cautious about portions and calories, don’t be afraid of avocados for its touted high caloric content. It’s really a nutrient dense food! There are many other less healthy foods that provide just the same amount of calories, if not more, that don’t provide quite as many nutrients as an avocado. And the best part is avocados are easily shareable with others by cutting them into half or quarter sections, so do include this healthy and nutritious fruit in your diet.

Avocado recipe ideas
1. Guacamole
Easy guacamole recipe (source: thesassydietitian.com)
Fire Roasted Corn Guacamole (source: californiaavocado.com)
Creamy Greek Yogurt Guacamole (source: justataste.com
Kale Guacamole (source: makingthymeforhealth.com)
Tropical Guacamole (source: tasteandtellblog.com)

2. Avocado appetizers:
Avocado Cucumber Shrimp (source: natashaskitchen.com)
Avocado Crostini (source: joyfulhealthyeats.com)
Avocado Black Bean Dip (source: allrecipes.com)

3. Avocado Sushi
Avocado Cucumber Roll (source: loveandlemons.com)
Smoked Salmon and Avocado Roll (source: bbcgoodfood.com)
Crab and Avocado Hand Roll (source: thekitchn.com)

4. Avocado ice cream (source: asweetpeachef.com)

5. Avocado Salads
Avocado Tuna Salad (source: natashaskitchen.com)
Avocado Chicken Salad (source: healthystepsnutrition.com)
Mango Avocado Chicken Salad (source: therealfoodrds.com)
Chopped Avocado Salad with Eggs and Toasted Walnuts (source: jackieunfiltered.com)
Avocado and Grapefruit Salad (source: todaysdietitian.com)

6. Avocado Pesto Sauce (source: eatingwell.com)

7. Blueberry Avocado Pancakes (source: californiaavocado.com)

8. Avocado Yogurt Dressing (source: californiaavocado.com)

9. Avocado Smoothie Bowl Recipe (source: betternutrition.com)

10. Grilled Avocado Pizza (source: californiaavocado.com)

For the best avocados to eat alone or use in your recipes, follow this link to learn about how to choose, use and store avocados properly. It includes useful instructions and video tutorials (source: californiaavocado.com).

If you love avocados as much as I do and have some favorite avocado recipes you can share, message me! Thanks for reading.

What is a Jujube?

Jujube (pronounced joo-joo-bee) is also known as a red Chinese date. It’s a fruit with a name that’s not only fun to say, but it has health benefits that have long been recognized in Chinese herbal medicine. The jujube fruit can be eaten fresh or dried. If you get the chance to try one fresh, you’d be surprised how similar it tastes to a sweet mini apple. It’s crispy like an apple and it holds a seed inside, so don’t forget to spit that out. When jujubes are allowed to dry in the sun until they shrivel and brown, they are still edible, but they will taste more like a date. Commonly, the dried versions are used to make jams, desserts, teas or soups. This fruit is originally cultivated mainly in South Asia, however nowadays, it grows well throughout most of the southern half of North America. To buy them, they’re usually available at Chinese or Korean grocery stores, Chinese medicine halls, and Amazon.com.

Aside from its good taste, curious to learn more about this fruit’s health benefits? There’s good reason to add this into your diet. Keep reading to find out the great benefits it can provide.

  1. Its high in Vitamin C and fiber. Just a 3-oz (100-gram) serving of fresh jujube, or about 3 fruits, provides 225 to 530 milligrams (mg) of Vitamin C and 10 grams of fiber. For adults, the recommended daily amount for vitamin C is 65 to 90 mg a day, and the upper limit is 2,000 mg a day. For fiber intake, it is recommended to have 25-35 grams of fiber a day.
  2. It may help promote better sleep. In Chinese herbal medicine, jujube has been traditionally prepared as a tea that was used against insomnia. While there’s a lack of strong evidence to support its effectiveness in fighting insomnia, people without insomnia may find it supportive of healthy sleep throughout the night.
  3. Antioxidants content may boost immunity. Jujube is rich in vitamin C, which is thought to have powerful antioxidant effects. In addition, this fruit is rich in several antioxidant compounds, including polyphenols and flavonoids, compounds that are naturally found in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, spices, herb, tea, dark chocolate, and wine. They can act as antioxidant to neutralize harmful free radicals that would damage our cells and increase our risk of conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
  4. Improve blood circulation. The fruit contains minerals like potassium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, and zinc, a combination of these minerals are necessary for maintaining a good heart health. Eating jujubes may help improve the blood flow in the body.

Intrigued to try jujubes? Have them fresh or used dried in a recipe. Below are some of my favorite recipes.

An easy Chinese red date (Jujube) tea (Credit to doyou.com)
Jujube tea with goji berries (Credit to foodbaker.com)
Jujube ginger tea (Credit to Golubkakitchen.com)
Chinese ginseng chicken herbal soup (Credit to Yummly.com)
Watercress pork soup (Credit to Yummly.com)