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.

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)

New year’s reflection

A new year is a wonderful time to refresh and remind ourselves of what and who truly matters the most to us! There’s much to do and be grateful for throughout the year, but for many, the new year brings reflections, gratitude and a time for resolutions. One of the most popular resolutions is to be healthier. Is this a new years resolution of your own? It’s definitely one of mine and I’ve had this resolution year after year after year. Is this a repeating resolution for you as well? Why, you might ask, is this a recurring resolution many of us continue to keep on the top of our list? Why would this continue to be a resolution even if one has already achieved a healthy diet and lifestyle? Or achieved their goal weight. Or nailed down an exercise regimen to a tee. Because simply, there is no perfect diet, exercise regimen or lifestyle — it is always a work in progress. Year after year, there are new goals we can set for ourselves that can further promote health and wellness. Say, for example, if you achieved last year’s goal of cooking for majority of the week, don’t stop there! For the new year, why not enhance the existing goal by making it a new goal to start a recipe club that includes swapping recipes with friends and family? Goals don’t have to be boring. Make your goals fun, specific, measurable, achievable and realistic.

As we move forward in the new year, be healthy and stay positive, yet realistic. Make time to prioritize your health. It’s truly your first wealth.

If one of your resolutions is to be healthy, but you’re not sure how to get started or would just like some professional guidance and support, reach out to me. I’d love for us to work together in goal setting and getting you to a healthier you. To get started, contact me directly for a free consultation! Happy new year, everyone.

Healthy pantry makeover

One of the simplest ways to encourage more cooking and find joy in it is to have a well organized kitchen pantry. When your pantry is cluttered, overly packed, stocked with expired items, spilled sauces, filled with highly processed foods or simply unorganized that you don’t know where things are, it can be a headache thinking about cooking. In addition, if your pantry doesn’t align with your healthy eating goals, it’s time for a makeover! It’s amazing how a well-organized and well-stocked pantry can help make mealtime easy and nutritious. Keep reading to learn simple strategies to help you stock a healthy pantry.

1) “Out of sight, out of mind”: If your goal is to eat healthier, you might want to swap out less-healthy foods such as snack foods or highly processed items that are high in salt, sugar and fat for healthier options. If you find that majority of your pantry consists of less-healthy foods, consider getting rid of most it (or all). By most of it, I encourage at least 85% of it. You may decide to choose only a few fun treat foods to keep around. In organizing these items, try the method of placing the healthy options at eye level and at easy-to-reach places, while intentionally placing the less-healthy treat foods at harder-to-reach places that will require a bit of effort to get to them. Strategic placement will help control impulsive urges to snack during times when you’re bored or stressed.

2) Utilize organization containers and label them: As you go through your kitchen pantry, you may find surprises such as expired items and mystery items (items with change in color, texture or maybe you have no clue what it is). Can you relate? It is extremely helpful to have organization containers such as clear food storage containers with lids, baskets and jars to place pantry foods in. The original containers that foods come in may be dirty, bulky and taking up too much space in your pantry, so toss those out and you’ll find that you can utilize your kitchen space more efficiently. Organization definitely helps with functionality. Don’t forget to label the containers with their name, their brand (optional) and their expiration date.

3) Organizing the spices and herbs: Incorporating a variety of spice and herb options will help add flavor, make cooking fun and healthy. Many spices come with exceptional health benefits! (Link below to learn more about spices). We are finding that too much sodium (salt) in the diet can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, edema, bloating and even calcium loss. So, move aside the salt and stock your pantry with spices and herbs. In organizing them, try placing your spices near the stove so they’re easily on hand as you cook. If you’re low on pantry space, consider placing them in a nearby drawer instead. In addition, make it easy to locate the spice by arranging them alphabetically or organize them by what you like to cook and group spices accordingly. You may also consider a spice rack to place on the counter!

4) Storing Tupperware: With a well-stocked and organized pantry, hopefully you will find yourself cooking more. To simplify the process of packing leftovers or meal prepping, make sure you have a set of quality Tupperware. If feasible, I encourage getting a uniform set of Tupperware with a variety of sizes. It makes storage of them easier by placing them into each other and separating the lids. Find a clean place in the cabinet or drawer to store all of these in one location.

For more ideas on healthy pantry makeovers, check out these links:

Healthy Food Pantry Makeover by Whole Foods Market

Healthy Pantry Makeover Tips + Free Printable Pantry & Meal Planning Checklist by Green Child Magazine

Pantry Makeover: What to Stock, What to Skip by Food Network

24 Delicious Herbs & Spices With Health Benefits by Organic Facts

I hope you found these tips and links useful and inspiring! A kitchen pantry makeover can bring so much happiness and I encourage you take on this challenge in your own home.