Category Archives: Healthy Eats

A toast to toast: 3 of my favorite ways to eat toast

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“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

winnie & piglet

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”

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Many of us get into a routine of eating the same things over and over again. At times this can be good – like when we are pinched for time and need a go-to no-fail meal. I know I certainly could do for some more routine in my eating regimen. But I, like Pooh, get quite excited by meals, especially breakfasts. So that means I like to switch things up every now and again.

Recently toast has been a quick, easy, and economical breakfast for me. And, not to mention tasty, nutritious, and hunger-satisfying.  The trick to make toast a fulfilling meal is by adding an ingredient that brings fat and protein to the table. Without fat and protein in the meal, toast is just carbs and sugar, which we know will not suffice for the ol’ body, mind, and spirit.

Here are 3 of my favorite ways to enjoy toast.

The-Laughing-Cow-Cheese-Spread1)  Toast + Laughing Cow Original Swiss Cheese (1 wedge) + whatever jelly/jam I’m digging at the moment (could be pepper jelly, apricot, ligonberry, the list goes on). I was introduced to this cheese from my dear friend Irene. I like the taste, the ease of the spread, and the portion controllable packages. The cheese adds protein and fat to the meal, which is great, and who doesn’t like cheese?
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2) Toast + Earth Balance Crunchy Coconut and Peanut Spread + fruit slices (apple/banana). I was given a taste test of this delightful spread when I was walking in the Linden Hills Co-op on a yoga teacher training Sunday afternoon. Since my first bite I have not found a happier, nutty spread. In addition to putting it on toast I like to eat it as a snack with fruit or veggies. This spread adds balance with its healthy fats and protein. If I feel like spoiling myself, I admit I do sometimes add a little Nutella or some dark chocolate chips to the mix. Obviously, this would not be the healthiest version, but it is definitely a good option if you are in the treating yourself kind of mood 🙂 

3) Toast + Salmon Spread + Egg (hard-boiled, sliced). I came up with this creation a few days ago. I had to pick up my husband from the airport last Tuesday, so I figured I’d make a pit stop at my favorite co-op, Mississippi Market. While there, I decided to try out their smoked salmon spread. We always keep hard-boiled eggs on hand for quick and easy snacks, so come the next morning, I decided to slice one up and put it on top of the salmon spread to see how it tasted. Turns out it’s my favorite new way to eat toast. YUM!

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Honorable mention: It would be unfair for me to go without mentioning avocado in this post. Toast1/2 of an avocado + seasonings (a little sea salt, thyme, pepper) – or an egg if I’m really hungry, is another way I like to enjoy toast.  Because I do normally like to add a fried egg (because I am normally hungry), I would not consider this as quick of a breakfast option, but it is quite delicious!

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What do you eat for breakfast? What’s your go-to meal? How do you like to eat toast?

Cauliflower Rice

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If you are friends with me on Facebook you may have seen me mention that my husband and I were considering a reopening of our old cooking blog. However, with a little more thought, we decided that now is not the time. 2014 is sounding like a good year to readdress the possibility. For the time being, I plan to share our cooking experiments on Mandala Reflections 🙂

Truthfully, a lot has been cooking around here, both figuratively and literally. More to come on the figuratively. Today I want to mention something that is cooking literally at our home – Cauliflower Rice. Have you heard of it before? It’s sort of like it sounds, cauliflower that is ground up in a way that resembles rice. For health nuts it serves as a substitute for rice.  However, don’t be fooled – it is not an exact substitute for rice. It only mimics rice in that it acts as a filler and absorbs sauces and flavors well.  If you plan to test it out a prerequisite to enjoying cauliflower rice is liking cauliflower in general. Maybe that’s a no-brainer, but I just want to put it out there, so nobody is surprised.

Below is the basic recipe Jay came up with:

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sized cauliflower
  • 1/4 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced 
  • 1 TSBP cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • sea salt + any other spices/sauces to taste
  • + shrimp, chicken, veggies, tofu, cheese, etc. (basically whatever you like to eat with rice)

Directions:

1) Chop cauliflower into florets.

2) Place florets into food processor or super nice blender, grind up to small rice-sized pieces.

3) In a large saucepan on medium heat, add a TSBP of your favorite cooking oil (we use coconut oil), then add garlic and onions,  and let them sweat until the onions become translucent (about 3 min).

4) Add cauliflower rice to large saucepan, stir to combine and heat.

5) Add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 chicken stock to the mix, cover, stir occasionally.

6) Remove from heat once cauliflower absorbs the liquid and reaches a tenderness you enjoy (it’s like pasta – you can make it as soft or al dente as you like).

7) Add whatever it is you like to eat with rice to the mix and you’re good to go!

Here is our first rendition:

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You may be wondering to yourself, why the heck one would want to replace rice? I know where you’re coming from as rice is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. The reason why our family decided to try it had a lot to do with our wish to reduce and regulate sugar in our diet. We heard of cauliflower rice as an alternative to the carb- and sugar- loaded white rice. So one night Jay made a cajun-y shrimp dish with this healthy substitute (pictured above). Our only complaint was that it needed some salt. Other than that, we both enjoyed the dish, and we even shared it with a friend who liked it enough to ask us for the recipe.

That means we are three for three on likes. What’s your take on it? Have a go-to recipe or method? There are many variations. I encourage you to find a recipe that intrigues you and report back if you’re in the sharing mood!

Eating healthy & still gaining weight? What you are doing wrong & what you can do about it

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You know that breakfast is important and helps your metabolism, right?  So you eat it now. For the most part. But what are you eating? Really, what is it made of?

Even health conscious folk need to be put in check sometimes, and I had one of those awakening moments last night where I was introduced, yet again, to the idea that sugar is the big culprit behind all of our dietary woes. (Thank you, Maria Emmerich). So you might think, “Yeah I already know that, too”. But do you really think about what you eat and how much of it is actually sugar? It’s incredible.

bananaFor example’s sake, let’s say you eat SMART START cereal – only 1 cup of cereal with 1 cup of skim milk and a banana. Sounds good at first to the average Joe. You are choosing a “healthier” option for cereal and following the rule of portion control, yet when you convert the carbohydrates and starches into the sugars that they really are, this meal at 472 calories, 105 carbs, 4g fiber, becomes 25.25 tsp of sugar in your blood. The American Heart Association states that women should limit their daily sugar intake to 6 tsp of sugar and for men, 8 tsp a day. How is that for a smart start ladies and gentlemen? 

If you are like most people, this beginning of sugar entering your bloodstream doesn’t even include your morning beverage, the snacks you plan (or don’t plan) to eat throughout the day, your lunch, dinner, and maybe an adult beverage (or two) if it becomes one of those days…
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The problem is, even if we actively try to make the right choices for our health, many of us operate from limited information and live in a world of not so healthy “healthy” options.  For example, did you know that some healthy choice meals have up to three Snicker Bars worth of sugar in them? Again, you likely thought this option was the “healthy” one but in reality it is yet another product laden with sugar. It’s no wonder our diets and bodies are so out of whack.

So how can we make the healthy choice? I am not going to lead you through a whole day of eating and try to guess the number of grams of sugar circulating your bloodstream. First, that would be depressing, but most important, doing that kind of obsessing is not going to get many of us anywhere. Instead I’d like to offer 5 tips on how you can be more mindful of your sugar intake. I believe that if you have extra weight to lose, if you start following some of these tips you may start seeing results again.

1) Eat less sugar! Everyone knows that we need to eat less sugar; we know that ice cream is full of sugar and that soda is bad for us, because of all the sugar. What we often miss is how prevalent sugar is in our diet, today.  For example, did you know that mustard has sugar in it? Or did you ever notice your toothpaste tastes kind of sweet? Yep, that’s sugar. And you may say, so what? But the problem lies in the fact that it’s everywhere, and (just like pounds) a little bit in a lot of places adds up quickly.

So if it’s all over the place, how can we eat less of it? We have to be able to identify sugar in all its forms, and then we have to avoid it where we can. In order to identify, we must learn some of the names sugar goes by. It hides behind names including, high fructose corn syrup, honey (yep, I’m sad to say it – but you knew that!), lactose (watch out for skim milk, especially!), and maltodextrin. Other places to look out for sugar are barley malt, brown-rice syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose, fruit juice, galactos, Glucose,  maple syrup, Molasses, organic cane juice, Sorghum, Sucrose, and turbinado.

Tip: If you must add “sweets,” some good sweetener choices include Stevia Glycerite,  Erythritol, Xylitol, Chicory Root, and Truvia. (Just be careful with Xylitol and your 4-legged friends – they are not meant to mix).

2) Eat less carbs! Surprise! Your body sees carbs as sugar. You knew this, but it can never hurt to say it again. If you remember anything about this one, remember 4 grams of carbohydrates = 1 tsp of sugar. In order to reduce your carbs you are going to have to identify them and be honest with yourself. For example, a 9-oz bag of potato chips’ in carbs will convert into 32 tsp of sugar in the body.

Bottom line, sugar and carbs alter brain function and can cause addiction. Many of us are already there (we’re addicted). So do be careful as you journey in reducing them as it never feels good when you first start a detox.

Tip: If you are craving carbohydrates (and it isn’t actually just a sugar craving/addiction) you may need more of the amino acid, L-glutamine, in your diet.

3) Get enough protein and eat plenty of vegetables. But please don’t go completely Atkins! If you need to cut down on carbs and sugars, what can you eat? That’s a great question. Protein is a great source of energy and it’s low on sugar. Just remember to enjoy in moderation.  And, of course vegetables are always our friends. They are high in fiber which help us eliminate and detox all the bad stuff we don’t want to carry around in our bodies.

Tips: With protein, eat 1 gram per lb of body weight daily. (There are 30 grams in 1 oz of meat). With vegetables, make sure you eat  over half of your 5 a day in vegetables, instead of fruits which are higher in sugars.

4) Beware of “lite” and “fat-free”. Fat-Free Pretzels are actually higher on the glycemic index than Jelly Beans! Whoa. Enough said. Sorry to those pretzel lovers out there 😦

Tip: I’m not going to go too in-depth here as it’s a complex topic. I hope to revisit this one as it’s own post. For now, if you want to read more about this topic, check out the brief article called, Weight Loss Sabotage: Eating “Light” Foods.

5) Sleep, sleep, sleep! You snooze, you lose! My favorite. Sleep is so important to weight loss, digestion, metabolism, brain function – it’s important to everything really. And yet many of us take this one for granted or struggle with it, don’t we?

Tip: For tips on how to get a good night of sleep, check out health coach, Molly Ellefson’s blog post on sleep from the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing. Keep an eye open for a longer post on this one, coming soon on this blog, as sleep is integral to the success of any wellness plan and requires more attention.

I hope this information helps you reevaluate your weight loss strategies for the better and provides you with a better understanding to help you make healthier choices in your diet. Thanks for reading along, and as always, your comments and thoughts are welcome.

Mandala Reflections organized the above information from lecture, Maximize Your Metabolism presented by Maria Emmerich. I had the opportunity to attend her talk and wanted to report back on the event. Her lecture was two-hours long and she presented over 100, informative power point slides. For more information about Maria, check out her website! There you can link to her Pinterest or Facebook or you can  follow her blog.