Tagged nuts

5 Important Ingredients for a Healthy Breakfast

As a dietitian, I find it aggravating that breakfast is considered the “most important meal of the day”, #everymealisimportant. Why do I find it aggravating? Mainly due to the fact that in America breakfast is another excuse to eat dessert – pancakes, waffles, cinnamon rolls, frosted flakes, French toast, and pastries/doughnuts! Breakfast could be one of the most important meals of the day if it actually contains ingredients that are nutritious. A grrrrreat, and important breakfast, would include these 5 ingredients!

  1. Lean Protein – Proteins are the main building blocks of the body! Protein helps build muscles, hormones, neurotransmitters, skin, etc. – without protein, life would not be possible. Proteins must be broken down into amino acids to be digested though. This process requires more energy and time than digestion of carbs and fats, which results in a feeling of fullness for a longer period of time. So, not only do you burn more calories eating it, but you also eat less over time! It gets even better though (*gasp). Since protein slows down digestion, it has the ability to prevent sugar highs and low – and as Trinh Le, MPH, RD points out, a lot of bad diet decisions can be made on a sugar low. Choose lean proteins, like those listed below, to limit intake of saturated fat.
    1. Whole Egg
    2. Fish
    3. Turkey Sausage
    4. Beans
    5. Nuts
    6. Tofu
    7. Yogurt/Low-fat milk
  2. Healthy Fats- Healthy Fats provide a great source of Omega-3 Fatty acids which have numerous health benefits for your body including reduced inflammation, decreased depression/anxiety, improved risk factors associated with heart disease and many more!  Fat also helps with satiety,  helping you to feel more satisfied.  And let’s face it, fat makes everything taste better.  If food doesn’t taste good then we aren’t eating it!  Healthy fats can come from foods included in the list below.
    1. Avocado
    2. Fish
    3. Nuts/ Nut Butters
    4. Olive Oil
    5. Whole Egg
    6. Flax/Chia Seeds
  3. Fiber – Fiber feeds the good bacteria in the gut.  When the good bacteria are fed and functioning at optimal levels this leads to reduced inflammation, improved status of GI disorders like IBS and Crohn’s, and an increased production of nutrients in the body.  Foods that have fiber in them tend to be lower on the glycemic index, which helps those nasty hunger “highs and lows”. So, take care of your gut and it will take care of you!  Sources of dietary fiber are listed below.
    1. Fruits
    2. Whole Grains
    3. Beans
    4. Vegetables
    5. Nuts
  4. B Vitamins – The eight B vitamins — B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid),  and B12 — aid the processes in which the body makes and uses energy. So, basically they help convert all those healthy proteins, fats, and carbs eaten during breakfast into energy.  It’s simple, without B Vitamins, it is more difficult to be energized, regardless of how much coffee you drink with breakfast!
    1. Fruits
    2. Vegetables
    3. Nuts
    4. Eggs
    5. Meat/Fish
    6. Fortified Grains
  5. Antioxidants – Our bodies naturally produce toxins throughout the day. These toxins can damage cells and lead to heart disease, cancer, hearing loss, and even aging but antioxidants can help prevent these side effects. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals (aka toxins) by donating an electron and making them stable. The foods below are rich in antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Flavonoids, etc.
    1. Citrus Fruits
    2. Berries
    3. Coffee/Tea
    4. Nuts
    5. Avocados

Mmmmmm breakfast.

Dark Chocolate Detox Bark

February is American Heart Month! My family health history has proven to me that I have a ticking time bomb nestled in my chest, so heart health has always been extremely important to me. But just because I like to look out for my heart, doesn’t mean I miss out on delicious desserts. In fact, the ingredients in these little treasures can help defend against heart disease and loads of other illnesses.????????????????????????????????????

Bark Ingredients:

Dark Chocolate – Sometimes I think the main heart benefit of dark chocolate is the relaxing feeling you get when it hits your tongue (AKA euphoria), but experts say there’s a whole lot more involved (AKA science). Lucky for us, dark chocolate contains the highest amount of flavanols, which are a type of flavonoid. Our body naturally produces toxins on a daily basis and antioxidants, such as flavonoids, help fight against the damage toxins can cause over time, like the build up of plaque in our arteries. Flavanols also help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow – so three cheers for dark chocolate!

Nuts (Pistachios, Almonds, and Walnuts) – Nuts tend to get a bad wrap because of their fat content, but a little goes a long way since they are filled with healthy monounsaturated fat. A study done in 2008 by the American Society for Clinical Nutrition showed that just two servings of pistachios can help drastically lower LDL and total cholesterol. The unsaturated fats found in nuts can protect your heart and raise seratonin levels, which will help boost  your mood. Nuts also contain a good amount of fiber and plant sterols to help lower cholesterol, Vitamin E to help decrease plaque build up, and L-arginine to help make the blood vessels more flexible.

Pumpkin Seeds – At first we decided to add the pumpkin seeds because they are such a beautiful color, but it turns out these beauties are also packed full of healthy nutrients for your heart. The biggest powerhouse is Magnesium – a mineral that most Americans are deficient in. Magnesium can help regulate blood pressure and help prevent cardiac arrest or a stroke because of its role in helping the heart pump.

Dried Fruit (Cherries and Blueberries) – Just like dark chocolate, dried fruits contain a hefty amount of antioxidants, especially polyphenols. All of those antioxidants will help improve blood flow and keep the heart pumping for generations to come.

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  1. Line an 8×8 pan with wax paper.
  2. Break up 8 ounces of dark chocolate into small pieces and place in a microwave safe container.
  3. Microwave 60 seconds and stir. Place back in microwave for another 30 seconds, stir and repeat until chocolate is melted completely.
  4. Pour melted chocolate into the 8×8 lined pan and let cool for 3 to 5 minutes (do not allow chocolate to set completely).
  5. Top with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
  6. Eat it.