Easy Pad Thai

Pad Thai is a favorite at our house, it has so many flavors and textures – plus it’s full of vegetables! However… it has a few caveats….but fear not, they aren’t as bad as you might think.

First, you may have noticed it has quite a few ingredients. The good part is you probably have most of them in your pantry already. Prep time will take a little bit longer than most dishes – but once it’s prepped, the cooking goes by in a flash! Ask for a little assistance from a friend or loved one and it will take no time at all.

Next, and this could be a big one for some….the sodium. For many, one serving is a whole day’s worth. The sauce is where the majority of the sodium is found. You can try some modifications, reduce the amount of chicken stock  or soy sauce you use (replace with water), have this dish as a reward after you’ve done a grueling/sweaty workout, or simply load up with more veggies and reduce the amount of noodles you put on your plate.

Get the recipe here!

This recipe has been modified from Kelly Senyei’s Easy Pad Thai with Chicken found on her website Just a Taste.

Buen Provecho!

Mandy Seay is a registered and licensed dietitian. She works as a nutrition consultant in Austin, Texas specializing in diabetes, weight loss, lipid control, and preventative nutrition. For more health articles and nutrition information, check out Mandy’s website Nutritionistics.

Legumes – cheap health and weight loss aid

According to MedlinePlus, the definition of  a legume is a large, fleshy, colorful plant seed. Also known as beans, peas, and lentils. Legumes are cheap, easy to find, taste great, and pack a nutrition punch.

Health benefits

What they provide:

  • plant protein
  • fiber (about 1 cup = 15 grams of fiber, half of the recommended daily amount)
  • B-vitamins
  • iron
  • folate
  • calcium
  • potassium
  • phosphorus
  • zinc

Antioxidants

Beans also contain antioxidants, like many plant foods. They can work to protect your cells, slow aging, and fight off disease.

If consumed regularly, beans may help:

  • improve blood pressure and heart rate
  • lower blood sugar
  • lower cholesterol
  • reduce the risk for heart disease and diabetes

Added benefits for those with diabetes

Because legumes are a good source of protein, they typically reside in the “protein” food group. However, legumes also contain carbohydrates (giving us energy), and while this may send a red flag up for those with diabetes, the carbohydrate in beans, combined with the fiber, means the “energy” released is a slow burn. In other words, it won’t make your blood sugar spike. It’s a slow and steady release of energy – the best kind for most of us. Additionally, with regular consumption, beans can help lower blood sugar.

Weight loss

Beans are low in calories and are high in fiber, which helps make you feel full.

What about gas?

Here are some tips taken directly from the Harvard Heart Letter to help you:

Soak your beans. Soaking beans can help remove some of the indigestible oligosaccharides. Soak beans for 12 to 24 hours in a few quarts of water, pour off the soaking water, rinse, add clean water, and cook.

Choose wisely. Some beans seem to create less gas than others. These include adzuki and mung beans, lentils, and black-eyed, pigeon, and split peas. Heavy-duty gas formers include lima, pinto, navy, and whole soy beans.

Start slow. Let your body get used to fiber and oligosaccharides by having a small serving once or twice a week. Then gradually increase your intake, either by taking larger servings or eating beans more frequently.

Put your teeth to work. The more thoroughly you chew beans, the more you expose them to natural oligosaccharide-digesting enzymes in your saliva.

Gas-busters to the rescue. An enzyme called alpha-galactosidase breaks down some gas-producing oligosaccharides. The original product, Beano, has since been joined by others with names like Bean Relief, Bean-zyme, and plain old alpha-galactosidase. Taking a tablet before eating beans can reduce gas production.

How to incorporate more

There are so many varieties of legumes that you can create numerous meals without every having to use the same one twice. But how can you get more into your diet? Here are some examples:

Breakfast – make a large batch and heat up a portion each morning – egg whites, beans, low-fat cheese, and salsa

Snacks – experiment by roasting beans and then keeping a ziplock bag with you for a crunch snack. Create your own hummus and use it as a dip for veggies

Lunch – add beans to just about any salad

Dinner – build a soup that caters to your favorite bean – freeze leftovers to reheat when in a pinch for time.

Buen Provecho!

Mandy Seay is a registered and licensed dietitian. She works as a nutrition consultant in Austin, Texas specializing in diabetes, weight loss, lipid control and preventative nutrition. For more health articles and nutrition information, check out Mandy’s websiteNutritionistics.

Easy Enchiladas

This recipe has only 380 calories and it’s loaded with a whopping 20g of fiber and 40g of protein – that will keep you full! And carbohydrates are 35g for those who are watching their blood sugars. Add a salad, green beans, or a light soup if you want a little something extra.

EASY ENCHILADAS RECIPE

Buen Provecho!

Mandy Seay is a registered and licensed dietitian. She works as a nutrition consultant in Austin, Texas specializing in diabetes, weight loss, lipid control and preventative nutrition. For more health articles and nutrition information, check out Mandy’s website Nutritionistics.

Trigger/Weakness Foods – Making the Switch

Do you have a “weakness food,” like chips, ice cream, cookies, chocolate? Or do you simply have a hard time controlling your portions at meals?  Is it derailing your efforts at living a healthier lifestyle?

Let’s talk about weakness foods first. For me, it’s chips, I cannot control myself around chips. The satisfying crunch, the salty sting with every bite, and the unbelievable way that eating 2 baskets of chips does nothing to make me feel full….Most of these foods come from a satisfying reaction we get from the food – whether it’s a mouth feel, a taste, or a chemical reaction in the brain.

The good news is there are healthier alternatives.

Crunch

Foods with a crunch can be a typical craving when we’re under stress. Why? Because many of us hold stress in our jaw. Ever grind your teeth in your sleep or find you are clenching your jaw during the day?

Whether you’re stressed or not, crunchy foods are satisfying to eat.

Instead of reaching for an unhealthy snack (and increasing your stress), try some of these alternatives instead.

  • “Other” crackers/chips – When I say “other” crackers I mean look for something other than the tradition cracker or chip. Instead, “crisps,” rice, bean, or garbanzo crackers. Make sure you take a look at the label before you buy. Compare them to the typical cracker. For example rice crackers will typically give you a decent portion (around 13-18 crackers) for just over 100 calories. That’s pretty good considering most chips and crackers only give you about 6-8 for 100 calories. You’ll still get the crunch and great taste, but with fewer calories.
  • Veggies and a low cal dip. Vegetables like carrots, celery, and cucumbers provide a satisfying crunch but eating them alone can be challenging for some people. Trying making a low-calorie dip to accompany them. One of my favorites is the Ranch Fiesta Dip made with 0% Greek Yogurt (instead of sour cream).
  • Popcorn – did you know popcorn is a whole grain? Keep some low-calorie microwave packs on hand to help you when you have a need for a savory crunchy snack.
  • Home made alternatives – if you want to create something in your own kitchen, simply do an internet search and you’ll find there are multiple things you can make like kale chips or roasted garbanzo beans, etc. Just be mindful that anything that requires a lot of oil or frying may not be healthier than chips.

Sweets

Have a sweet tooth that you’re finding difficult to kick? According to research published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, sugar releases feel good chemicals in our brain and may create an addiction.

If you want to reduce your sugar intake, you don’t need to go on a “no sugar” diet. Just make a few adjustments:

  • Break and replace the habit. Used to having chocolate after lunch? Try tea, fruit, or a low-calorie yogurt instead.
  • Try an infused water (water with fruit, citrus, and/or herbs in it)
  • Occupy yourself with something else. Go for a walk, get back to work, or read a book.
  • Take the time you would spend eating that sweet and use it as a meditation moment – do some breathing, be mindful – you’ll be doing a much better service to your brain.

Portions

There can be many reasons you go out of control when you eat – maybe you waited too long, perhaps you worked out really hard, or you just really like the food. Here are some tips to help you keep control.

  • Have a big glass of water before you start the meal. It’ll help fill you up, so you don’t eat as much.
  • Eat slowly. Chew eat bite well and swallow before getting your next bite. Enjoy the food.
  • Choose high fiber foods – whole grains, beans, vegetables. They’ll fill you up quickly and they’re usually lower in calories.
  • Start each meal with a low-calorie soup, salad, or fruit. You’ll eat less overall.

Mandy Seay is a registered and licensed dietitian. She works as a nutrition consultant in Austin, Texas specializing in diabetes, weight loss, lipid control and preventative nutrition. For more health articles and nutrition information, check out Mandy’s website Nutritionistics.

Get More (and Less) from Your Workout

If you are working towards improving your fitness and your health, you’re likely exercising which might be leaving you feeling sore and fatigued. This happens because after grueling workouts, your muscles are depleted of energy and are damaged which can lead to inflammation and soreness.

By consuming the right foods you can refuel your muscles, reduce soreness, improve fitness, and gain overall energy.

Remember Carbohydrates = Fuel – Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy and are important both before and after a workout. Depending on how serious you are, you may need some carbs during your workout too.

Before a workout, carbs provide energy to start and sustain the start of exercise. Some great things to have are oatmeal, brown rice, pasta, and whole wheat bread.

Carbs during a workout are usually only needed when  exercising takes place continuously for hours like a marathon or long distance bike ride. Usually easily digested carbs like gus or sports drinks work best to prevent GI discomfort.

When it comes to carbs after a workout, you want quick digesting ones to refuel the muscles and the body fast. Examples are fruit, milk, jelly, honey, etc.

Time it Right – When you are fueling before exercise, you’ll need to figure what you have to eat and how much time you have. Before you exercise give yourself:

  • 3-4 hours after a large meal (ex. Meat, rice, vegetables, salad, bread)
  • 2-3 hours after a smaller meal (sandwich, crackers, and fruit)
  • 1-2 hours after a liquid meal  or a small snack (protein shake, smoothie, packet of instant oatmeal)

after exercise - your blood is pumping quickly and your muscles are more sensitive to pulling in nutrients. The best time to eat is right after you workou, but don’t wait too long. You have about 45 minutes to refuel and preserve that muscle, not to mention recharge. The good and the bad of exercise is that it can kill your appetite right after. You don’t need to eat a meal if it’s not your usual time to eat, a simple snack will work but choose something nutritious like fruit or a smoothie.

Don’t Forget to Rehydrate – Make sure to properly rehydrate. An easy way to monitor your hydration status is to watch the color of your urine. It should be a pale yellow, almost clear. If it’s dark, like the color of tea, you need to drink more.

If you want to get more technical, you can calculate your sweat rate, which involves weighing yourself before and after exercise and applying a little math. Here’s the breakdown provided by The University of Arizona Athletics:

1.Wt before exercise ____# – Wt after exercise_____# = _____ X 16 oz = __________oz

2. Amount of fluids consumed during activity* + __________oz

3. Total fluids used during activity = ___________oz

4. Duration of activity, in hours = __________hrs.

5. Sweat Rate = _______________ / ________________ = _______oz per hr**

Fluids used during activity / Duration of activity (hrs.)

This is the amount you need to drink to replace fluids lost during exercise to stay hydrated

Avoid sports drinks unless you’ve worked out for more than an hour or you’ve lost significant amounts of sweat. Usual amounts of sweat/lost electrolytes can be replaced easily by the diet. Sports drinks contain extra calories and if you don’t need them, then why bother spending the money and the extra energy on them?

Get in Your Antioxidants – Numerous research studies have found that certain foods high in antioxidants not only act as pain killers, but also help reduce inflammation – which meals a faster bounce back and less soreness after exercise. A few examples include:

  • Cherries
  • Pomegranates
  • Blueberries
  • Ginger

Mandy Seay is a registered and licensed dietitian. She works as a nutrition consultant in Austin, Texas specializing in diabetes, weight loss, lipid control and preventative nutrition. For more health articles and nutrition information, check out Mandy’s website Nutritionistics.

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