Slow Cooker Barley and Bean Soup

The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that all adults eat at least half their grains as whole grains – that’s at least 3 to 5 servings of whole grains every day. The average American eats less than one daily serving of whole grains, and some studies show that over 40% of us never eat any whole grains.  We need to work on this!

There are a variety of different whole grains you can incorporate into your diet.

One whole grain that tends to be forgotten is BARLEY.

If you’ve never eaten barley plain, the flavor can be best described as “rich” with a mild sweetness.  Barley can be prepared and eaten in many ways:  added to soups and stews, as a hot side dish, mixed into a cold salad, or for breakfast like oatmeal.

blue bowl soupNutritionally, ¾-cup cooked barley contains 160 calories, 8 grams fiber, and 6 grams protein. It’s an excellent source of manganese, selenium, and thiamine and a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and niacin.

There has been enough research documenting barley’s role in protecting heart health that the United States FDA allows barley foods to claim that it reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. In addition, it can also promote a healthy weight. Barley contains soluble fiber, which reduces hunger and enhances feelings of fullness.

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Barley is located in the grocery store in the section with the dry beans and rice. You may see it labeled as “pearled barley.”  This means that the hull is “pearled” or scraped off.  This is the easiest way to remove the particularly tough inedible hull of barley. During this process some of the bran is removed too, however this does not make a significant difference in the fiber content.

Barley is different than other grains in that the fiber is distributed throughout the grain kernel, rather than being concentrated in the bran.  This means that even pearled barley has a rather impressive amount of fiber.  Barley has 17% fiber which is the highest of all the whole grains. Comparing it to other whole grain foods: brown rice contains 3.5%, corn about 7%, oats 10%, and wheat about 12%.

Tips for cooking barley:  combine one cup of dry uncooked barley with three cups of liquid. This will expand to about 3 ½ cups of cooked grain. Whole grain barley can take 45 – 60 minutes to cook when simmered slowly. It can be helpful to use a rice cooker since you can cook it almost unattended.

Check out this delicious recipe for Slow Cooker Barley and Bean Soup.

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Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS, RD


If it’s finally time to start eating healthier, check out Nourished.Healthy.Happy.  Join our group and receive healthy eating tips, delicious recipes, and daily support to live your best life.  Everyone is welcome!

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Light and Fluffy Sweet Potato Pancakes

A lot of people ask me if sweet potatoes are actually good for them, which isn’t surprising considering the name suggests they’re loaded with sugar and starch. But don’t let their sweet nature fool you.  Sweet potatoes are off the charts nutritious making them a good choice for anyone interested in improving their health.  And if you’re working on weight management, a medium-sized baked sweet potato in its skin is only 100 calories!

Here are 7 health benefits of sweet potatoes:

Vitamin A.  A medium sweet potato has over four times the recommended daily amount of vitamin A which plays an important role in vision, bone development, and immune function. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, so be sure to eat your sweet potato with a little bit of fat, like a drizzle of olive oil, to maximize vitamin absorption.

Vitamin C. Like citrus, sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin C, which helps fight infections, heal wounds, and absorb iron. A medium sweet potato provides about 35 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C.

Manganese. Sweet potatoes are a good source of manganese, which helps maintain normal blood sugar levels and optimal thyroid function.

Fiber. Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, a nutrient that bulks up food and keeps you feeling full longer. Fiber also regulates your bowels and lowers cholesterol. A medium sweet potato baked in its skin has 4 grams of fiber – the same as a ½-cup serving of cooked oatmeal.

Complex Carbohydrates. Sweet potatoes are made of complex carbohydrates that are released at a steady pace for a constant source of energy, so no sugar highs or lows to worry about. Eating the sweet potato skin will lower its glycemic index and provide additional nutrients as well.

Antioxidants. Sweet potatoes are high in antioxidants compared to other vegetables. Antioxidants help reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Low in Calories. A medium sweet potato (2 inches in diameter and 5 inches in length) baked in its skin is only 103 calories making it an ideal choice to support weight management.

sweet potato pancakes with berries

One thing you’ve got to try for breakfast this fall are these super-fluffy, lightly spiced sweet potato pancakes.  You can’t taste the sweet potato outright making these pancakes a sneaky way to incorporate some veggies into breakfast. Topped with a drizzle of maple syrup, fresh berries, and chopped pecans, you’ll feel like you’re eating dessert for breakfast.  Enjoy!

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Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS, RD


If it’s finally time to start eating healthier, check out Nourished.Healthy.Happy.  Join our group and receive healthy eating tips, delicious recipes, and daily support to live your best life.  Everyone is welcome!

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Eat Fruit! It’s good for you (+ delicious apple recipe)

Many clients ask me these questions.  Is fruit okay to eat?  Doesn’t it have too much sugar?

Yes, fruit does contain sugar.  However, the sugar in fruit is “natural” as opposed to “added” like the sugar found in cookies and other sweets.  The Dietary Guidelines for Americans requirements – with at least half of this coming from whole fresh fruit.

Fruit is loaded with nutrients including fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals; and some are a little more power-packed than others. For example, citrus fruit, apples, grapes, and all types of berries are particularly high in disease-fighting antioxidants. But you can’t go wrong with any fresh fruit. So, start with whatever is in season and local, and aim for variety.

dried apple slices

It’s apple season! 

Check out this infographic to learn more about which apples pack the biggest nutritional punch.

Keep hunger pangs at bay by snacking on healthy dried fruit with these Cinnamon Spiced Apple Crisps.

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Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS, RD


If it’s finally time to start eating healthier, check out Nourished.Healthy.Happy.  Join our group and receive healthy eating tips, delicious recipes, and daily support to live your best life.  Everyone is welcome!

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Your guide to making the best food choices

Energy density and nutrient density are two important terms to understand when making food choices.

Energy (or calorie) dense foods contain a higher number of calories per serving.

Nutrient dense foods contain a higher level of vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients with little or no added sugars or fats that raise calories.

Think of the difference between potato chips and a plain baked potato, or sweetened yogurt and plain yogurt, or creamed spinach and steamed spinach. Adding fat or sugar to foods increases the calorie content, making these foods more energy dense.

bowl of potatoes

Most nutrient-dense foods are low in calories.

Choosing nutrient-dense foods more often allows you to consume a higher number of essential vitamins and minerals that promote good health, while avoiding too many calories that can lead to overweight or obesity.

Studies show that people who eat more nutrient-dense foods that are naturally low in calories (foods like fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, fat-free dairy products and lean sources of protein) weigh less than people who consumed more foods that are higher in calories and lower in nutrients.

Another benefit of nutrient-dense foods is that they are often high in water and fiber, which increases the volume without increasing calories. As a result, you can eat a larger volume of low-energy, nutrient-dense foods and lose weight while feeling satisfied.

Tips to reduce energy density and increase nutrient density:

1. Start lunch or dinner meals with a fresh vegetable salad to help you start to feel fuller. Use the least amount of salad dressing as possible. Dressing typically contains 100 calories or more per tablespoon — that’s the same number of calories in 14 cups of lettuce.

2. Eat a piece of fruit before a meal and you’ll consume fewer calories overall during the meal. One study showed that eating a whole apple before lunch reduced calories consumed at that meal by 15% compared to eating applesauce or drinking apple juice before the meal.

3. Choose a broth-based vegetable soup as part of your meal because the extra liquid in the broth, combined with the fiber in the vegetables, increases satiety with very few calories. One study showed that participants consumed 26% fewer calories and rated themselves as feeling fuller after eating a broth-based soup at the beginning of a lunch meal.

4. When you want something sweet, reach for fresh fruit like a handful of grapes or a small orange. Fruit contains both water and fiber making it a low-energy-density, high-nutrient-density food that contains a variety of nutrients including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote health with only 60-80 calories per serving.

5. Choose less processed foods like brown rice instead of white rice, whole grain bread instead of white bread, or whole grain breakfast cereal instead of a processed cereal. Whole grain foods contain more fiber, which helps us feel more satisfied after eating. They also contain more of the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.

6. Instead of purchasing sweetened yogurt that contains more sugar and calories, choose plain yogurt and add your own fruit.

7. Replace energy-dense potato chips with nutrient-dense, low-calorie crunchy raw vegetables that are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Some fast food restaurants, such as Subway and McDonald’s, offer apple slices instead of chips or French fries to make choosing fruit easier.

Important take-away

Take responsibility for your food choices and eat to feel well.

Don’t get caught up in counting calories in a futile attempt to follow a strict weight loss diet.  Instead, use your knowledge of nutrient density to choose healthy foods most of the time and then, eat just enough by paying attention to your body’s signals of hunger and satisfaction.

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Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS, RD

Reprinted with permission from http://foodandhealth.com


If it’s finally time to start eating healthier, check out Nourished.Healthy.Happy.  Join our group and receive healthy eating tips, delicious recipes, and daily support to live your best life.  Everyone is welcome!

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7 Benefits of Eating Less Meat + best ever veggie burger

Have you ever considered going meatless as a way to improve your health? I’m not suggesting a full-fledged vegan lifestyle. I’m talking about taking meat off the dinner table one night a week – Mondays for example. There are many health benefits associated with substituting plants for animal products.

According to the Meatless Campaign, going meatless once a week can have the following health benefits:

  1. LIMIT CANCER RISK. Hundreds of studies suggest that diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk. Both red and processed meat consumption are associated with colon cancer.
  1. REDUCE HEART DISEASE. Recent data from a Harvard University study found that replacing saturated fat-rich foods (for example, meat and full fat dairy) with foods that are rich in polyunsaturated fat (for example, olive oil, nuts and seeds) reduces the risk of heart disease by 19 %.
  1. FIGHT DIABETES. Research suggests that higher consumption of red and processed meat increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  1. CURB OBESITY. Epidemiologic studies indicate that vegetarian diets are associated with a lower body mass index (BMI) and a lower prevalence of obesity in adults and children.
  1. INCREASE LIFE EXPECTANCY. Red and processed meat consumption is associated with increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality.
  1. IMPROVE DIET QUALITY. Consuming beans or peas results in higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium with lower intake of saturated fat and total fat.
  1. SAVE MONEY. Meatless meals are built around beans, lentils, vegetables and whole grains. These plant-based proteins tend to be less expensive and offer more health benefits than meat.

This is (by far) the best veggie burger I’ve ever had.  The taste is superb, and the texture is just perfect.

Vegan-Burger-Recipe-Photo-2-Copyright-CKatz

Here are some other ideas for Meatless Monday plant-based meals –

  • Tacos or burritos filled with beans, textured vegetable protein, or tofu rather than meat
  • Salad topped with beans in place of chicken or beef
  • Pizza with or without cheese and topped with vegetables, tofu or soy crumbles
  • Whole-grain pasta with tomato sauce plus vegetables including mushrooms, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and onions
  • Breakfast for dinner – oatmeal with fruit and walnuts, whole grain cereal with soymilk (or low-fat milk), or whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana
  • Chili with beans, textured vegetable protein and (soy or rice) cheese
  • Vegetable burger with lettuce, tomato, and guacamole on whole-grain bun

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Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS, RD


If it’s finally time to start eating healthier, check out Nourished.Healthy.Happy.  Join our group and receive healthy eating tips, delicious recipes, and daily support to live your best life.  Everyone is welcome!

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Salad dressings in my fridge (+ recipes)

Summer is a great time of year to be a healthy eater. Farmers markets and gardens are bursting with gorgeous vegetables in their prime. Summer vegetables are delicious when grilled, roasted, or stir-fried.

For some people though, eating cooked vegetables is a struggle and they much prefer their veggies raw in a salad or cut-up for snacks. I hear this from my clients on a regular basis. It’s not a problem though because raw veggies like leafy greens, carrots, onions, beets, mushrooms, and peppers are just as nutritious.

The problem is those bottled dressings that we often pour on top. As tempting as bottled salad dressings are for the convenience, most are loaded with sugar, sodium, preservatives, gums, and other artificial ingredients. It’s almost a crime to top a bowl of crisp, fresh, nutritious salad or plate of cut-up raw veggies with one of those store-bought brands. A simple solution is preparing your own dressing.

Now, I fully appreciate just how difficult it can be to get even the most basic dinner on the table some nights. Preparing salad dressing from scratch can seem like way too much effort. The thing is, homemade salad dressing is so absurdly easy to make that using bottle dressing doesn’t even make sense. With very little effort you can whip up a delicious vinaigrette or creamy ranch dressing in no time.

Here are 3 easy homemade salad dressing recipes. You’re likely to find one of them in my fridge on any given day. So, go ahead and give them a try. I bet you’ll find making your own salad dressing to be quick and easy, not to mention very delicious.

Lorraine

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Dining Out Strategies

Eating out in a restaurant can be challenging when you are trying to eat healthy and make weight-conscious choices. Things can get out of hand quickly when you are faced with too many options. It’s easy to consume more calories, fat, and sodium in just one restaurant meal than you need for the entire day.  With a little planning however, you can make your dining-out experience tasty, enjoyable, and weight-conscious. Before you go out to eat, come up with a dining-out strategy.

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Use these 7 tips to help you dine out without overdoing it.

  1. Be prepared for your dining out experience by checking out the restaurant’s menu ahead of time. Most restaurants have a web site showing their menu. This will allow you to pre-determine your entrée or at least narrow it down to a few choices.  You may not get specific nutrition information, but you can get a general idea of which dishes would be a better choice.
  2. Set the stage for success by starting your meal with a salad packed with veggies. This will help you fill up and feel satisfied sooner. Be sure to ask for salad dressing on the side so you can control how much you use.
  3. Choose a main dish that is steamed, grilled, baked or broiled instead of fried or sautéed; and avoid anything breaded as this typically means fried. Try to find an entrée that includes vegetables such as a stir fries or kabob. Or you can ask for extra vegetables on the side.
  4. Order foods that do not have creamy sauces or gravies – and add little or no butter yourself. Be wary of dishes described as “seasoned” as that typically means salty or fatty. When in doubt, ask your waiter or the chef how the dish is prepared.
  5. If the main entree is larger than you want, set it aside or pack half of it “to go” immediately – before you start eating. Another option is to share it with someone. Or consider ordering an appetizer-sized portion or side dish as your meal instead of a full entrée.
  6. As a beverage choice, ask for water, unsweetened tea, or another drink without added sugar. Be especially careful when it comes to alcohol as the calories can add up quickly. Because your body can’t store alcohol and must metabolize it right away, other metabolic processes suffer. Your body won’t metabolize sugars and fats as efficiently during the metabolism of alcohol, and drinking can cause your metabolism to slow. This can contribute to weight gain, as can the empty calories found in alcohol.
  7. If you want dessert, consider ordering fruit. If that just won’t do it for you, ask if someone would like to share a dessert with you. Sometimes just a bite or two is enough to satisfy your taste for something sweet.

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Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS, RD


If it’s finally time to start eating healthier, check out Nourished.Healthy.Happy.  Join our group and receive healthy eating tips, delicious recipes, and daily support to live your best life.  Everyone is welcome!

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Vegetarian Quesadillas: delicious + easy + loaded with fiber

Dietary fiber — found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes — is probably best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. However, foods containing fiber can provide other health benefits such as lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease, as well as helping you maintain a healthy weight.

High-fiber foods generally require more chewing which gives your body time to register when you’ve had enough making it less likely to overeat. Also, eating enough fiber during the day can help decrease your appetite because it slows down the speed of digestion and contributes to feeling full for a longer time between meals.  Furthermore, high fiber foods tend to have fewer calories than the same volume of lower fiber foods.

Be sure to consume adequate fiber every day

  • About 25 grams per day for women
  • About 35 grams per day for men

Check out this easy quesadilla recipe for a fun way to get some fiber in your diet. They’re tasty, nutritious, and easy to make; and each one contains 8 grams of dietary fiber!

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Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS, RD


If it’s finally time to start eating healthier, check out Nourished.Healthy.Happy.  Join our group and receive healthy eating tips, delicious recipes, and daily support to live your best life.  Everyone is welcome!

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Enjoy tasty food without too much fat, sugar, and salt

If this were 1990, people would laugh if you suggested adding avocado to toast.  Fat was the enemy and low-fat and fat-free products including cookies, crackers, cheese, salad dressings took over the grocery stores. Thankfully science has progressed, and we know now that some fats are better than others.

olove oil and olives

Better fat choices result in better health.

The types of fats we consume on a regular basis matter.  Avocado has become popular because of its neutral taste, creamy texture and health benefits. High in monounsaturated fat, antioxidants and potassium, avocado can be incorporated into salads, Mexican dishes or added on top of toast. One study found that adding sliced avocado to a burger reduced markers of inflammation in participants’ blood compared to controls consuming a burger without avocado.  Other fats with health benefits include polyunsaturated fats like nuts and seeds, and monounsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil and canola oil.

On the other hand, we need to limit both saturated fat and trans-fats.  Saturated fat, which is solid at room temperature, should be limited to 10% or less of total calories according to the American Heart Association. These fats typically come from animal products such as beef, bacon, butter, full fat cheese and other full fat dairy products, poultry skin, and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil. Trans-fat, (also called hydrogenated fat), is created when hydrogen is added to a liquid fat (typically vegetable oil) and made into a solid fat. Trans-fat should make up even less of our calorie intake. Experts advise no more than 2% of calories come from trans-fat. Diets high in saturated and trans-fat have been linked with heart disease and stroke.

Sugar in limited quantities is okay.

It’s your birthday? Eat cake! But not every day is your birthday. To date, there are no research studies to support the benefits of a diet high in refined sugar. Sugar, when combined with fat, butter, flour and eggs in desserts and baked goods provides additional calories without any nutrients. Excess consumption of sugar may lead to obesity, dental carries and heart disease. Clearly, less is best.  The US Dietary Guidelines suggest no more than 10% of calories coming from sugar.

Looking back, we did not realize that when companies reformulated foods to reduce fat, they increased the added salt and sugar; but now we know. For example, fat-free cookies or salad dressing are higher in sugar than their regular counterparts. As fat-free foods became more popular, people didn’t pay attention to serving sizes or calorie consumption, and consequently, gained weight. Excess sugar in our diet not only causes weight gain, but contributes to the development of diabetes and heart disease.

Excess sodium consumption is linked to the “silent killer”.

In addition to limiting sugar, saturated fat and trans-fat, consumers are wise to limit sodium in their diet. Research has established a link between diets high in sodium with hypertension, “the silent killer”. While we need some sodium in our diets to maintain normal fluid balance in our cells and maintain normal nerve and muscle function, most of us consume too much. The US Dietary Guidelines suggest no more than 2300 mg of sodium per day. Sodium is present primarily in processed foods and adds up throughout the day from breakfast meat, canned foods, frozen meals, salty snacks and fast food.

How can you keep “extras” on your plates in a healthy way? Here are five tips to get you started:

  • Use unprocessed fresh or frozen poultry and fish over red meat and pork, especially highly processed products like bacon and cold cuts.
  • Include meatless meals more often using tofu, lentils, and beans to reduce fat intake.
  • Choose seasonal fruit for dessert such as berries, pears and citrus fruit.
  • Eat unsalted or lightly salted snacks like mixed nuts or seeds in place of chips and pretzels.
  • Use fresh or dried herbs such as cilantro, garlic, or onions to flavor foods instead of bacon, table salt, and high sodium seasonings like adobo.

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Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS, RD


If it’s finally time to start eating healthier, check out Nourished.Healthy.Happy.  Join our group and receive healthy eating tips, delicious recipes, and daily support to live your best life.  Everyone is welcome!

 

Article adapted with permission from: foodandhealth.com

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Creamy Avocado Egg Salad

For many people, the Easter season brings with it the tradition of coloring and decorating eggs.   But what do you do with the eggs afterwards – eat them or throw them away?  Aren’t eggs too high in cholesterol?  Questions about eggs and cholesterol come up throughout the year; and always a bit more often around Eastertime.

Not only are eggs nutritious, it’s been shown that an egg a day is safe to eat for most people. The evidence to support this comes from huge studies that have followed hundreds of thousands of people over decades.

I love eggs and really enjoy egg salad. It makes a quick lunch or easy dinner as long as I plan ahead and keep a few hard-boiled eggs in the fridge. In recent years, I’ve discovered that avocado (another one of my favorites) makes a nice addition to egg salad instead of mayonnaise.

But, are avocados healthy?

Avocados are a beautifully colored fruit, and they stand apart from most fruits by providing monounsaturated fats. They are anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy, and support the functioning of our brain and nervous system. Avocados are healthy and much more nutritious than mayonnaise.

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Creamy Avocado Egg Salad is a regular on my menu these days. If you’ve never had it, you don’t know what you’re missing. Here’s my healthy egg salad recipe. I’d love you to give it a try and let me know what you think.

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Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS, RD


If it’s finally time to start eating healthier, check out Nourished.Healthy.Happy.  Join our group and receive healthy eating tips, delicious recipes, and daily support to live your best life.  Everyone is welcome!

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