spotlight

I can’t wait to try all of the recipes on this week’s list. The peaches are outrageous right now, so I doubt any will last long enough in my possession to make it into the summer guacamole. I definitely plan to make some trail cookies and salmon though. Enjoy!!

trail cookies would be so much easier to eat out on a trail than trail mix

throw some of those delicious summer peaches + plums into this summer guacamole

if you haven’t ever tried plantains (those things that look like giant, overripe bananas), this would be a good way to start

make a veggie-centered version of lasagna in an eggplant boat

you could also fill your eggplant with herbed quinoa + cherry tomatoes

how to make teriyaki chicken

I finally have some salmon in my freezer and you can bet I’ll be trying some of this garlic butter salmon with caramelized corn + shallot relish

summer vegetables in a pizza

…or you could use your summer zucchini in these whole wheat zucchini pancakes. if they taste anything like zucchini bread, I am all in.

 

fast food friday

I am all about fast food. No, I’m not talking about what you might find at your local Burger King. I’m talking healthy, real food that I can make at home….fast.

When I get hungry, I need food right.this.very.second….or else things go downhill quickly (just ask my family). Planning ahead is 100% necessary because I can go from being totally fine/not hungry at all to absolutely ravenous in approximately 30 seconds.

Because of this, it helps to have a rough plan for what I’m going to make for dinner each night so I don’t eat my entire kitchen while trying to make up my mind (which is even harder at this point because everything sounds good when you’re hungry!).

Maybe you have the same experience at dinner time? If so, I thought it might be fun to share some of the quick meals I make during the week. Some honestly take as little as 10 minutes, start to finish. Doing some prep on the weekends (washing/chopping vegetables, etc.) has saved me even more time with both cooking and clean-up during the week, but it doesn’t add on a ton of time if I haven’t done those things in advance.

For this week’s quick meal, I’m sharing this salad I made last night:

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My rough plan for dinner was Mexican. This usually means rice/homemade tortillas/chips/sweet potato + beans, corn, avocado, salsa, etc. Varying the “base” makes it feel/taste like a different meal, even though it may be the same ingredients.

For this salad, I turned the oven on broil when I walked in the door (so it would heat faster…it works – try it!). I chopped a sweet potato and tossed it with a little oil, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, smoked paprika, and salt. This went on a foil-lined baking sheet (less clean-up) and into the oven, which I then turned down to 425 degrees.

The sweet potato takes 15-20 minutes, but I spent that time getting out the other ingredients and cleaning up the kitchen. You could also roast the sweet potato in advance & store in the fridge for even quicker prep. To put it all together, I tossed some mixed greens with salsa and topped with leftover chicken (cooked in the slow cooker over the weekend), avocado, and sweet potato.

Easy, filling, healthy, delicious. That’s what fast food should be, right?

spotlight

I hope everyone is having a smooth transition back into the routine of the school year! Enjoy some of the recipes below to help you pack school lunches, get a quick dinner on the table, or enjoy the last bit of summer.

here are 5 great tips to packing a healthy lunch that can be used at any age!

a thai chopped salad with tofu is a nice change

yogurt marinated grilled chicken skewers! make extra for easy lunches!

quinoa can be breakfast too – like this coconut quinoa with dried fruit and nuts

I wish I had a spiralizer so I could make these incredible greek cucumber noodles. genius!

soba noodles with shrimp – can’t go wrong with a recipe that only requires one pan

whole wheat apple zucchini muffins make a quick breakfast or snack you can feel good about

homemade sesame chicken is MUCH better than fast food sesame chicken. less grease. fewer sketchy ingredients. just better.

and if you prefer beef, you can make that at home too.

let’s be honest…it’s kinda chilly this week (compared to what it has been). if you feel like you need some soup, I think this spicy sausage and kale soup would be perfect

spotlight

There are some good recipes this week for things you might normally not think to make at home, like crackers and fruit roll-ups. Most of the time, like with these recipes, it really doesn’t take all that much to make something at home instead of buying a pre-packaged version. Not to mention that you then have much more control over what goes into your food. Is there anything you’ve tried making at home that you used to only buy pre-made at the store? I make all my bread at home and cook beans from scratch instead of buying canned. Sometimes, I’ll make granola and granola bars too!

a nice change from traditional chicken salad

make good use of that summer squash that is overflowing from your garden by throwing it on a pizza

you could also toss that summer squash in a salsa to eat on chicken or fish, mixed with brown rice or wheat pasta, or with tortilla chips!

fresh spring rolls look much more intimidating than they are. they’re easy to pack for lunch too!

make a blended chai latte at home to beat the heat and save some money (..and calories!) at the drive-through

there’s no reason to avoid eating veggies when you can eat them with pizza flavored hummus

no need to buy fruit roll-ups or fruit snacks packed with all kinds of shady chemicals when you can easily make homemade fruit roll-ups with fresh fruit. the only thing your kids (and you!) will notice is how much better the homemade version tastes :)

it may be hard to find good fresh mussels in kansas, but these coconut curry mussels look fantastic

making your own crackers is much easier than you might expect. these life changing crackers are packed with nutrients because they’re made with real food…something most crackers on store shelves can’t claim.

I can’t even describe how amazing these greek chicken plates look. lean protein, grains, and loads of veggies make it a perfectly balanced meal.

it may have been 100 degrees outside today, but this tuscan summer minestrone soup looks insanely delicous. this might be my lunches next week….

…I know, another soup…but this thai corn curry soup would be perfect with all the super sweet corn in season right now

if you want a fast, easy weeknight dinner that your whole family will love, look no further than sweet balsamic glazed chicken

picking your peanut butter

peanuts[source]

I’ve heard many people say that they avoid peanut butter because it has so much fat in each serving. While this is true, the majority of this fat is healthy unsaturated fat, which you most certainly need in your diet! Not only will it help keep you full longer, but these healthy fats can improve heart health and help you absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K, among many other important functions.

However, like a majority of the foods lining the grocery store shelves these days, peanut butter has become a victim of excessive processing. As a result, the peanut butter you choose could actually contain some trans fats, which are harmful to your heart health. Let’s take a look at why.

Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature – think olive and canola oil. Saturated fats, like butter, shortening, or lard, are solid at room temperature. It may look confusing but I think the picture below helps you see what’s going on:

ScreenHunter_73 Jul. 30 19.15As you can see, a saturated fat is called such because all available spots are filled (saturated) with hydrogen. The unsaturated fats have some spots without hydrogen. In order to make these unsaturated fats more shelf-stable and solid at room temperature, companies often hydrogenate them, meaning they add hydrogens back so that the fat looks and behaves more like a saturated fat.

It is during this hydrogenation process that trans fats are formed. You may recall that the use of trans fats has largely been banned in restaurants and packaged foods because they have been found to increase bad (LDL) cholesterol and decrease good (HDL) cholesterol.

However, labeling laws allow products containing less than o.5 grams of trans fat per serving to list 0 grams trans fat on the label. It is recommended to keep trans fat intake to less than 2 grams per day, if not avoid it completely. As you can imagine, it would be easy to pass this limit while consuming foods labeled as containing 0 trans fat that actually do contain trans fats.

pb label[source]

For this reason, it is important to read the ingredients list on products, not just the nutrition facts panel. If you see hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, there are probably some trans fats lurking in that product and it would be best to choose another option.

Which brings me back to peanut butter! I know many people are put off by having to stir their peanut butter but that oil separation comes from a lack of hydrogenated oils. You should really only have to stir it on the first use, then keep it in the refrigerator to prevent further separation and spoilage. They even make little peanut butter stirring lids if you prefer :)

Many peanut butters that claim to be “natural” still contain hydrogenated oils or palm oil, another saturated fat. Check the ingredients – it should only list peanuts and salt.

You shouldn’t have to spend a small fortune on good peanut butter either. Just check those ingredients! Some recommended brands:

  • Smuckers: delicious but sometimes it can be pricy and some people don’t like the “grittier” texture
  • Justin’s: comes in many flavors and even in individual packets
  • Make your own by tossing some dry roasted peanuts in a food processor!
  • Don’t forget about store brands! My favorite is actually the Kroger brand natural peanut butter and it’s usually less than $2.50/jar. Right now, it’s only $1.67….which would explain this:

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spotlight

Lots of great recipes and tips this week. Even making one meal at home during the week is a great start on the road to eating healthier and saving some money. Pick one of these & give it a try!

who doesn’t love a good grilled veggie wrap? I would totally add some hummus to this…and I don’t like mushrooms, so I would swap them with some zucchini! you could add some leftover steak or chicken if you want as well – the possibilities are endless!

you can’t go wrong with regular old guacamole but green chiles and roasted tomatoes make a fun addition too

if you want dinner on the table fast, tossing together a grain, protein, and some veggies can be just as fast as going through a drive-through. pretty much any combination will leave you with a healthy meal, but this spicy sausage and pepper pasta might give you a good place to start

if you like omeletes, I have a feeling you’ll love this pesto + roasted tomato omelet. perfect for all those tomatoes that are likely beginning to overflow from your garden!

get dinner on the table in no time with crock pot maple dijon pork chops

roasted basil eggplant with heirloom tomatoes and balsamic drizzle. easy. healthy. summer.

cherries are cheap right now but maybe it’s hard to eat them all before they go bad. make sour cherry popsicles!

I love a good burrito bowl. they are one of my go-to fast, easy meals.

cauliflower seems to get overlooked a lot but these cauliflower tacos look spectacular. I would probably roast the cauliflower in the oven vs. pan frying it for a healthier dish.

a yogurt banana split makes a great snack, light breakfast, or dessert. so easy!

sometimes you just need some chicken wings. making your own is undoubtedly healthier that whatever you might find in the freezer ailse or your nearest fast food restaurant. and not that hard.

there was awhile where I didn’t love quinoa, mostly because I wasn’t cooking it right. it’s still not my first choice, but cooking it right does help. if you are also unsure, check out this video

female athlete triad

runner sillouette[source]

If you’re a female athlete you’ve probably heard of the female athlete triad – even if you didn’t know that’s what it was called. The female athlete triad is a combination of the following:

1. eating disorders or disordered eating

2. low bone mineral density

3. menstrual irregularity

There are varying degrees of each of the above and an athlete with the triad may display one condition more than another, but all three are closely related (1). Although female athletes from any sport can exhibit the triad, it is most common in sports that emphasize leanness or a low body weight for performance – gymnastics, ballet, distance running, and weight class sports.

gymnast[source]

In competitve sport environments, the pressure to perform can lead athletes to develop disordered eating behaviors. In fact, traits that make good athletes are also often the same as those the put one at risk for an eating disorder – perfectionism, high achievement orientation, and obsessive-compulsive tendencies (2,3). Disordered eating is different from a diagnosed eating disorder and can include things like avoiding certain foods/food groups, severely limiting calories to achieve a desired weight or body composition, and skipping meals. While many athletes may not meet all of the specific criteria for an eating disorder, a large number display disordered eating behaviors.

Some athletes may not even intend to alter their eating behaviors but, due to large training volumes, fail to meet their energy requirements and end up in an energy deficit, meaning they aren’t consuming enough calories to meet thier energy needs for daily life and training (4,5,6). Most websites and fitness apps do not provide reliable health and nutrition information, especially for an athlete training at a high level. Working with a sports dietitian is the best way to ensure that you’re meeting your specific energy requirements.

track[source]

Whether intentional or unintentional, consuming fewer calories than your body requires forces your body to make several changes in order to survive. Processes that your body doesn’t feel are necessary for survival are essentially cut out in order to save energy for processes that are required for survival (7). This is why many female athletes struggle with menstrual irregularity or complete absence of the menstrual cycle (called amenorrhea). Reproductive function isn’t absolutely necessary for survival, so the body decides to take the energy that would usually be spent on normal menstrual function and use it elsewhere.

Although this may sound rather convenient, the hormones associated with normal menstrual function serve several other functions in the body, like normal bone and cardiovascular health (1,8). An abnormal menstrual cycle in the teens and early 20s when bones are still developing can lead to weak bones, stress fractucres, or even osteoporosis.

raw.334[source]

Hormone replacement therapy is often prescribed to athletes struggling with menstrual irregularity, but research suggests that this is not enough to overcome the hormal imbalance caused by inadequate energy intake and protect against bone loss or other detrimental effects (1, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13). The preferred method of treatment is increasing energy intake (1, 14, 15). However, for an athlete with an eating disorder, this is much easier said than done. If you or someone you know struggles with an eating disorder, seek help from medical professionals. A doctor, psychologist, and registered dietitian are all important parts of the team in helping an athlete overcome an eating disorder.

Although the main focus here is on females, male athletes can also suffer from disordered eating/eating disorders and, as a result, poor effects on their health. Recently, relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S) was proposed as a new way to describe the effects of not consuming enough calories to support physical activity as a way to recognize that males can suffer from the consequence of under fueling as well (16).

References:

1. Nattiv A, Loucks A, Manore M, Sanborn C, Sundgot-Borgen J, Warren M. The female athlete triad. Med Sci Sports Exerc 39: 10: 1867-1882, 2007.

2. Thompson R, Sherman R. “Good Athlete” Traits and Characteristics of Anorexia Nervosa: Are They Similar? 7: 3: 181-190, 1999.

3. Leon G. Eating disorders in female athletes. 12: 4: 219-27, 1991.

4. Loucks A. Low energy availability in the marathon and other endurance sports. 37: 4-5: 348-52, 2007.

5. King N, Lluch A, Stubbs R, Blundell J. High dose exercise does not increase hunger or energy intake in free living males. Eur J Clin Nutr 51: 7: 478-83, 1997.

6. Hubert P, King N, Blundell J. Uncoupling the effects of energy expenditure and energy intake: appetite response to short-term energy deficit induced by meal omission and physical activity. Appetite 31: 1: 9-19, 1998.

7. Wade G, Schneider J, Li H. Control of fertility by metabolic cues. Am J Physiol -Endocrinol Metab 270: 1: E1-E19, 1996.

8. Hoch A, Dempsey R, Carrera G, Wilson C, Chen E, Barnabei V, Sandford P, Ryan T, Gutterman D. Is there an association between athletic amenorrhea and endothelial cell dysfunction? Med Sci Sports Exerc 35: 3: 377-383, 2003.

9. Cobb K, Bachrach L, Sowers M, Nieves J, Greendale G, Kent K, Brown Jr B, Pettit K, Harper D, Kelsey J. The effect of oral contraceptives on bone mass and stress fractures in female runners. Med Sci Sports Exerc 39: 9: 1464-1473, 2007.

10. Braam L, Knapen M, Geusens P, Brouns F, Vermeer C. Factors affecting bone loss in female endurance athletes – A two-year follow-up study. Am J Sports Med 31: 6: 889-895, 2003.

11. Keen A, Drinkwater B. Irreversible bone loss in former amenorrheic athletes. Osteoporosis Int 7: 4: 311-315, 1997.

12. Warren M, Brooks-Gunn J, Fox R, Holderness C, Hyle E, Hamilton W, Hamilton L. Persistent osteopenia in ballet dancers with amenorrhea and delayed menarche despite hormone therapy: a longitudinal study. Fertil Steril 80: 2: 398-404, 2003.

13. National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Panel. Osteoporosis prevention, diagnosis, and therapy. 285: 6: 785-795, 2001.

14. Arends J, Cheung M, Barrack M, Nattiv A. Restoration of Menses With Nonpharmacologic Therapy in College Athletes With Menstrual Disturbances: A 5-Year Retrospective Study. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 22: 2: 98-108, 2012.

15. Mallinson R, Williams N, Olmsted M, Scheid J, Riddle E, De Souza M. A case report of recovery of menstrual function following a nutritional intervention in two exercising women with amenorrhea of varying duration. J Int Soc Sport Nutr 10: 34, 2013.

16. Mountjoy M, Sundgot-Borgen J, Burke L, Carter S, Constantini N, Lebrun C, Meyer N, Sherman R, Steffen K, Budgett R, Ljungqvist A. The IOC consensus statement: beyond the Female Athlete Triad-Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED- S). Br J Sports Med 48: 7: 491-+, 2014.