Fun fact: ginger is one of the 6 spices that will help improve your health. It can help fight inflammation, which means you’ll feel less sore after an intense workout. In this Vietnamese ginger orange cashew healthy stir fry recipe, the spicy kick of ginger mixes with sweet orange and the flavor of rich toasted cashews for an easy, fresh sauce. Because the recipe uses brown rice noodles, tofu and a colorful array of veggies, the recipe is gluten-free and vegan. Prep the healthy stir fry ingredients ahead of time so you can quickly make this meal after your next killer workout!

Level: medium
Servings: 3
Ready in 30 minutes

Healthy Stir Fry Ingredients

For the stir fry:

  • 10 oz firm tofu block
  • 3 servings (6 ounces) brown rice pad Thai noodles (fettuccini noodles)
  • 2 bell peppers, any color, seeded and sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, whites separated from greens and sliced

For the cashew orange sauce:

  • 3/4 cup roasted cashew pieces
  • 2 navel oranges, peeled
  • 3 inches fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons tamari
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flake
  • 2 limes, quartered, for serving

Related: travel more of the world with your mouth! Check out Chef Katie’s Mexican Shepherd’s Pie recipe (with smoky sweet potato crust) here!

Gluten free and vegan healthy stir fry recipe

Directions

Preheat your oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper on a nonstick silicon baking mat.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.

To roast the tofu:

Dice the tofu into bite-sized cubes and spread into a single layer on the pre-lined baking sheet. Roast 12-15 minutes, stirring halfway through. Tofu should be golden around the edges. Let cool slightly.

To cook the brown rice noodles and veggies:

Cook noodles in the pot of boiling water, according to package directions. Leave them a little under-done, with a little “bite” in them. Add the sliced bell pepper and white parts of green onion during last minute of cooking. Drain noodles and peppers and immediately rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.

To make the oil-free ginger orange sauce:

Combine the roasted cashews, whole oranges (peeled), ginger, and red chili flake in a blender. Puree until smooth. Add water, if needed, to reach a pourable consistency similar to Caesar dressing. Taste to adjust seasoning.

Putting it all together – make the Vietnamese orange ginger healthy stir fry:

Get your stir fry station set up: tofu, noodles and peppers, sauce. Pour the ginger orange sauce and 1/2 cup water into a wide sauté pan or wok. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Add the noodles, veggies, and tofu. Stir-fry 3-5 minutes, until hot.

Garnish with green onion and serve with lime wedges. Serve immediately.

Chef’ Katie’s Tips

Tamari vs. soy sauce: Tamari is similar to soy sauce, but it is gluten-free. If gluten isn’t a concern for you, you can use them interchangeably in recipes.

Soy-free: if you’re avoiding soy, use coconut aminos instead of the tamari. Replace the tofu with frozen green peas, canned black beans, or cooked chickpeas.

Stir fry tip: the key to stir-fry is preparing having all of your components ready to go when you’re cooking. First, roast your cashews and tofu. While the tofu roasts in the oven, get the rest of your ingredients ready — slice your veggies, cook the noodles, make the sauce, and quarter your limes. This will make for a quick, easy meal. You can even prep this entire meal on the weekend so that it’s a quick stir-fry during a weeknight.

Yield: about 8 cups

Post written and all photography provided by FFC group fitness instructor Katie Simmons.

More about Katie: Katie is a group fitness instructor at FFC and is also a personal chef based in Chicago. She specializes in creating delicious, healthy recipes for those with special dietary concerns like gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, and low-residue. You can see more at www.plants-rule.com. You can also see more recipes at www.facebook.com/plants-rule and follow her on Instagram at @chefkatiesimmons.

 

Nutrition Facts

Servings 4.0

Amount Per Serving
Calories 396

% Daily Value *

  • Total Fat 16 g 25 %
  • Saturated Fat 3 g 14 %
  • Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
  • Trans Fat 0 g
  • Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
  • Sodium 192 mg 8 %
  • Potassium 366 mg 10 %
  • Total Carbohydrate 57 g 19 %
  • Dietary Fiber 8 g 32 %
  • Sugars 13 g
  • Protein 14 g 29 %
  • Vitamin A 45 %
  • Vitamin C 218 %
  • Calcium 7 %
  • Iron 18 %

* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Though a love for red wine could potentially improve one’s heart health, the latest global studies have shown that no amount of alcohol is safe for consumption. While there are some benefits to certain types, they do not outweigh the risks, and the report is actually urging government officials to change alcohol consumption guidelines. Whether you’re hoping to improve your health, energy levels, or just improve your quality of life, it is probably a good idea to limit your alcohol consumption. On way to do that? Mocktail recipes! Below are a few RD-approved tips on how to do that without sacrificing taste or fun, plus a few different recipes to try.

Mocktail Hour: 3 Recipes to Try

By using the same flavors as your favorite cocktail (without the alcohol), you can enjoy the change of pace from water all day, and even get some health benefits from the ingredients themselves!

Mocktail #1:

  • Mix ginger kombucha + juice of 1/2 orange or grapefruit + ice.
  • Stir, garnish with fruit slices.
  • *Kombucha is fermented tea, which means it’s packed with probiotics. These live ‘good bacteria’ can improve gut health and immunity.

Mocktail #2:

  • Blend 4 cups chopped cucumbers + 1/2 cup fresh lime juice + 1/3 cup packed mint leaves + 4 cups water + pinch of salt.
  • Strain through a mesh strainer, and serve over ice.
  • Add honey or pure maple syrup to taste.
  • *Cucumbers are super hydrating, helping your skin stay soft all winter.

Mocktail #3:

  • Stir 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk + 1/4 teaspoon turmeric + 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/8 teaspoon dried ginger + a pinch of black pepper.
  • Heat for 1-2 minutes until warm.
  • *Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. It needs black pepper to be absorbed by our body, which is why the black pepper is added to this ‘golden milk’ recipe.

Related: matcha is having a moment. Try this superfood mix in in your next beverage creation! Read all about the benefits (and a few recipes) here.

Other Tips:

  • Invite your friends to a different activity. Weekend activities don’t have to revolve around alcohol (I know, this can be surprising to some). Invite your friends to a group exercise class at FFC, try out a sushi-making class, check out a new museum, or go bowling. You’ll still enjoy quality time together, and the next day you’ll actually be able to be productive!
  • Focus on the benefits of not drinking. With so many things in life, we tend to focus on what we’re missing out on. Instead, change your mindset to think about how much better you feel when you don’t drink. Some people experience higher energy the next day, less depression, healthier relationships, and better performance in their workouts.

Post written by FFC Oak Park registered dietitian and nutrition coordinator Amy Silver.

 

Looking for Cinco de Mayo party ideas? Look no further! Traditional Shepherd’s Pie gets a Mexican twist with this spicy vegan recipe. A hearty filling of black beans and corn will give you healthy protein and complex carbs – essential nutrients for fueling your workouts. Sweet potatoes are mashed with chipotle powder for a sweet-smoky crust that is loaded with flavor and antioxidants. This gives whole new meaning to comfort food.

Level: medium
Servings: 4
Ready in: 60 minutes

Cinco de Mayo party ideas and dishes for a crowd

Ingredients

For the smoky sweet potato crust:

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • ½ cup unsweetened plain almond milk
  • ½ teaspoon ground chipotle chili
  • Salt, to taste

For the Mexican black bean corn filling:

  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

Related: want more Cinco de Mayo party ideas?! Check out this recipe for vegan ‘new-tella’ – add some chili powder for a spicy Mexican twist!

Directions

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

To make the smoky sweet potato crust:

Place the sweet potatoes in a small pot. Cover with water. Place a lid on the pot, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the potatoes are tender.
When the sweet potatoes are tender, drain them well, shaking off any excess water. Return the potatoes to the small pot.
Add the ground chipotle and use a potato masher to mash. Add enough almond milk to reach a creamy constancy. You want something a little thicker than mashed potatoes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt. Set aside until ready to assemble pies.

While the sweet potatoes are boiling, make the filling for your Tartas Pastores.

 

To make the Mexican black bean corn filling:

Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper and onion. Sauté until they start to brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the garlic, paprika, cumin, and coriander. Sauté 1 minute, until aromatic. Add the tomato paste and cook 1-2 minutes, just until the tomato paste darkens to a brick red color.
Add the water. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the black beans and corn. Stir well to combine. Taste to adjust seasoning.

To assemble and bake your Tartas Pastores:

Evenly divide the Mexican black bean corn filling among 4 individual pie tins. Top each pie with ¼ of the smoky sweet potato crust topping. You don’t want to overfill your pies, so you may have extras of the filling and/or crust. Place the pie tins on a baking sheet. Bake at 375F for 30 minutes, until golden brown on top. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 4 individual pans (or one 8-inch full-sized pan)

Chef Katie’s Tips:

Save on Spices: If you want to save cabinet space, you can substitute a store-bought Mexican or taco spice mix. Look for a salt-free or no-sodium blend. Use 2 1/2 teaspoons, in place of the paprika, cumin, and coriander.

Kid-Friendly Spice Control: For a kid-friendly version (or simply Cinco de Mayo party ideas that won’t leave your friends fiery), dried chipotle is made from smoking poblano peppers. It usually comes either in flakes or ground, and you can use either in this recipe. It has a spicy kick. If you want less spice substitute with chili powder or smoked paprika.

Deconstructed Version: You can turn these pies inside-out with a faster version. Instead of assembling the filling and crust, simply serve the Mexican black bean mixture over the smoky sweet potatoes. For a bowl version, serve on top baby spinach and top with tomatillo guacamole.

Yield: 4 individual pans (or one 8-inch full-sized pan)

Post written and all photography provided by FFC group fitness instructor Katie Simmons.

More about Katie: Katie is a group fitness instructor at FFC and is also a personal chef based in Chicago. She specializes in creating delicious, healthy recipes for those with special dietary concerns like gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, and low-residue. You can see more at www.plants-rule.com. You can also see more recipes at www.facebook.com/plants-rule and follow her on Instagram at @chefkatiesimmons.

 

Nutrition Facts

Servings 4.0

Amount Per Serving
Calories 195

% Daily Value *

  • Total Fat 2 g 3 %
  • Saturated Fat 0 g 0 %
  • Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g
  • Trans Fat 0 g
  • Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
  • Sodium 247 mg 10 %
  • Potassium 899 mg 26 %
  • Total Carbohydrate 47 g 16 %
  • Dietary Fiber 12 g 48 %
  • Sugars 9 g
  • Protein 10 g 19 %
  • Vitamin A 290 %
  • Vitamin C 119 %
  • Calcium 10 %
  • Iron 23 %

* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

From Lion’s Mane mushroom tea to Shiitake mushroom broth, mushrooms are quickly becoming one a favorite for both nutritionists and chefs. A healthy source of iron, protein, B vitamins, and antioxidants like selenium, it’s no wonder they’ve been called a super food. They also have natural glutamines, much like meat and cheese, which make them a great plant-based alternative to meats like beef and steak and even cheese. In this hearty, healthy mushroom soup recipe, a blend of mushrooms pair with barley, sweet leeks, and woodsy sage for a satisfying bowl of goodness. This will definitely fire up your next workout!

  • Level: medium
  • Servings: 8
  • Ready in: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, quartered
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 leek, sliced and rinsed well
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup pearled barley
  • 12 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons Simple Girl vegan bouillon powder (or 1 vegan bouillon cube) (optional)
  • Salt, to taste

Related: need something to soak up all that yummy broth? Try this delicious no-yeast Irish brown bread!

Directions

Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat. While the pot heats up, you can prepare your vegetables.

Add mushrooms and leeks to pre-heated pot. Cook over medium high until the mushrooms are dark brown, about 10-12 minutes, stirring often.

Add the carrot, sage, and thyme. Sauté 1-2 minutes, until the dried herbs become aromatic.

Add the bay leaf, black pepper, barley, water, and bouillon (if using). Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pot. Cover, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the barley is tender, about 25 minutes.

Remove the lid, taste to adjust seasoning, and serve.

Chef Katie’s Tips

Mushroom varieties: you can use any variety of mixed mushrooms in this healthy mushroom soup recipe. Woodsier varieties like oyster and porcini will add richer flavor. Trumpet, Lion’s Mane, and Puffball can be cut into big chunks for big, hearty texture. Shiitake and Enoki would add an Asian twist.

Barley and gluten-free option: barley is a whole grain, and a member of the wheat family so it contains gluten. If this is a concern for you, you can a gluten-free version of this soup by substituting brown rice or a wild rice blend for the barley.

Yield: 16 cups of soup

Post written by FFC group fitness instructor Katie Simmons. Some photos provided by Katie Simmons.

More about Katie: Katie is a group fitness instructor at FFC and is also a personal chef based in Chicago. She specializes in creating delicious, healthy recipes for those with special dietary concerns like gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, and low-residue. You can see more at www.plants-rule.com. You can also see more recipes at www.facebook.com/plants-rule and follow her on Instagram at @chefkatiesimmons.

 

 

Nutrition Facts

  • Servings 8 oz

Amount Per Serving

  • Calories 69

% Daily Value *

Total Fat 1 g 1 %
Saturated Fat 0 g 0 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 267 mg 11 %
Potassium 283 mg 8 %
Total Carbohydrate 14 g 5 %
Dietary Fiber 3 g 11 %
Sugars 2 g
Protein 4 g 7 %
Vitamin A 31 %
Vitamin C 6 %
Calcium 3 %
Iron 7 %

* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

If you want to try baking bread, this easy vegan bread recipe is a great place to start! This Irish brown bread doesn’t require any yeast so you don’t have to wait around to bake it. Traditionally using white flour, this healthy, vegan version uses whole grain oat flour for a slightly nutty flavor. Include this in your weekly meal prep so that you’re ready for the week ahead. Use slices of this as a base for avocado toast. Fill with hummus, sliced cucumbers, and tomatoes for a healthy lunch. Or tear off a piece to sop up the broth from a hearty (or light!) soup (like this healthy mushroom soup) at dinner!

Level: easy
Servings: 12
Ready In: 70 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons plain, unsweetened almond milk (11 oz) *
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar (1 oz)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax meal (6.5g)
  • 3 tablespoons warm water (1.5 oz
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (360g)
  • 1 cup oat flour (120g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line an 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment.

Make the vegan buttermilk: combine the almond milk with the vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, to let the almond milk curdle slightly.

Make the vegan flax “egg”: combine the ground flax meal and warm water in a small dish. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, until gooey and “egg-like”.

To make the bread: In a large bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, oat flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the flax “egg” to the bowl with the vegan buttermilk and whisk to combine. Add this wet mixture into the bowl with the flour. Use a wooden spoon to stir together, just until you have a rough dough.Transfer this dough to a lightly-floured wood surface. Knead for a bit, just until the dough comes together to a smooth, cohesive mixture. Transfer to the parchment-lined loaf pan and use your hands to form into a loaf.

Bake for about 50 minutes, until the bread has risen about ½ inch. You’ll know it’s ready if you take it out of the pan and knock on the bottom – it should sound hollow. Let cool at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Related: cookies before (or after) a workout? YES: check out these peanut butter cookies with quinoa!

Chef Tips:

  • Bread storage tip: the best way to store bread is tightly wrapped in foil, then sealed in a plastic bag, in the freezer. You want to eliminate as much air and moisture as possible, as these cause both mold and stale bread.
  • Oat flour and gluten: Oat flour is naturally gluten-free and has a nutty flavor with light texture. It can be used as a replacement for white flour for a gluten free, vegan bread recipe like this one, or in much of your other vegan baking. Just be sure to substitute by weight, not by volume. A small, digital scale can help with this.
  • Sift the dry ingredients: It’s always important to sift together the dry ingredients for a lighter, fluffier batter. This is even more important, though, when working with whole wheat flour. If you don’t have a sifter, use a whisk to combine the dry ingredients and add some air into the flour mix.

Yield: one (9×5-inch) loaf

Post written by FFC group fitness instructor Katie Simmons.

More about Katie: Katie is a group fitness instructor at FFC and is also a personal chef based in Chicago. She specializes in creating delicious, healthy recipes for those with special dietary concerns like gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, and low-residue. You can see more at www.plants-rule.com. You can also see more recipes at www.facebook.com/plants-rule and follow her on Instagram at @chefkatiesimmons.

 

 

Nutrition Facts

  • Serving size: 1/12 of a recipe (about 1 slice).

Amount Per Serving

  • Calories 137.33
  • Calories From Fat (11%) 14.45

% Daily Value

  • Total Fat 1.65g 3%
  • Saturated Fat 0.28g 1%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 319.06mg 13%
  • Potassium 172.01mg 5%
  • Total Carbohydrates 28.12g 9%
  • Fiber 4.95g 20%
  • Sugar 0.32g
  • Protein 4.1g 8%
  • Calcium 0.65mg <1%
  • Iron 34.94mg 194%
  • Vitamin A IU
  • Vitamin C 0mg 0%

 

Vegetables have SO many amazing benefits. They can help boost our moods, help us fight off illness, and of course, feel better and deliver all the necessary nutrients our bodies need to function. Check out these 10 easy ways to increase your vegetable intake, plus a delicious veggie recipe for even the pickiest of eaters!

10 Ways to Increase Veggie Intake

  1. Add veggies such as broccoli, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini etc. to your pizza or omelet.
  2. Substitute pizza crust for a Portobella mushroom!
  3. Grill or roast colorful vegetable kabobs packed with tomatoes, green and red peppers, mushrooms and onions.
  4. Add lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes etc. to your sandwich.
  5. Top a baked potato with beans and salsa (or pico de gallo) or top it with broccoli and a sprinkle of cheese.
  6. Microwave a cup of low-sodium vegetable soup as a snack or with a salad or sandwich for a meal. You can also make your own easy vegetable soup by taking a frozen bag of vegetables and cooking it in low-sodium broth or bone broth (for added protein)!
  7. Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables (with no added salt, butter, or cream) to steam or stir-fry for a quick side dish.
  8. Make your main dish a salad of dark, leafy greens and other colorful vegetables. Add chickpeas or edamame for added plant protein.
  9. Use cauliflower rice instead of actual rice.
  10. Use spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles instead of pasta noodles.

Delicious Veggie Recipe: Ratatouille

A great veggie recipe for Ratatouille (adapted from this site) to get those veggies in – it’s also gluten free, paleo and vegan!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil about 3-4 large leaves, sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence spice mix
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 medium sweet or red onion, sliced
  • 1-2 large zucchini (about 1 1/2 cups slices, sliced)
  • 1 large Japanese eggplant (about 3 cups slices, sliced)
  • 3 large fresh tomatoes (Roma are best; about 3 cups slices, sliced)

Related: check out another veggie-forward recipe: Egyptian spiced easy lettuce wraps!

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 6″x9″ baking dish and set aside. (see notes for baking in an 8″x8″ square pan)
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the crushed tomatoes, oil and vinegar. Stir in the garlic, basil, herbs de Provence, salt, pepper, and chili powder.
  • Pour the tomato mixture into the prepared baking dish and smooth it into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
  • Stack the veggie slices in alternating patters (e.g.: onion, zucchini, eggplant, tomato; repeat) and place them on their side in the pan, leaning against the edge of the pan. Repeat until you’ve formed a couple of rows of veggies, filled the pan, and used up all of the veggie slices.
  • Optionally, spray or brush the exposed tops of the veggies with oil to encourage browning in the oven. This is more for appearance, so feel free to skip this step if you want.
  • Bake for about an hour, until the tomato sauce at the bottom is bubbling and the veggies are tender.
  • Garnish with additional chopped fresh basil before serving (optional). Serve hot or cold.

For other nutrition tips, veggie recipes and tricks please reach out to our Park Ridge registered dietitian, Alicia Huggler, MS, RDN, LDN at ahuggler@ffc.com to schedule an appointment!

Nowadays, just about every coffee shop, smoothie bar and bakery features their own creative offerings using the trending superfood matcha. This green tea powder is not new to the scene, however. In fact, its use in Japanese tea ceremonies dates back hundreds of years and has been worshipped for centuries for its long list of benefits. Check out this guide on how to prepare matcha, amazing health benefits and even matcha powder recipes you can try yourself.

What is Matcha?

Matcha is a concentrated, powdered form of green tea that can be stirred into hot or cold beverages, infused into baked goods, blended into smoothies and more.

What are the Benefits of Matcha?

Matcha is known to promote energy and accelerate exercise recovery, making it an ideal pre-workout boost. Matcha promotes a feeling of ‘calm alertness’ thanks to high levels of L-theanine, which is an amino acid.

By drinking matcha you can increase your levels of L-theanine and promote alpha waves, which lead to a state of relaxed alertness. L-theanine has been shown to benefit patients diagnosed with anxiety by increasing levels of dopamine and GABA in the brain. (source)

Some other benefits of Matcha include reducing abdominal fat, improving immune system function and even boasting disease-fighting abilities like preventing cancer! Matcha is the optimal food source of catechins, or polyphenol compounds that halt oxidative cellular damage. These powerful antioxidants are also found in cocoa and apples.

According to a Harvard review of recent studies, green tea may lower LDL cholesterol and high triglycerides, and thereby reduce the risk of death from heart disease and stroke. (source)

Baking with Matcha - how to prepare matcha, recipes and benefits

Where to Buy Matcha?

You can find matcha lots of places, at health food stores, online and even the grocery store. You can find matcha green tea lattes all over the city, but but be aware that most contain excessive amounts of sugar.

Related: speaking of superfoods, do you have any of these 5 beneficial spices in your pantry? Read it to find out!

How to Prepare Matcha

Opt for unsweetened varieties and stir in honey, stevia or coconut sugar instead. Stock your pantry with matcha powders for DIY recipes at home. Look for a ceremonial-grade Japanese variety to ensure the best quality.

Matcha in tea bags is ok for steeping, but only provides 10-20% of the tea’s benefits. To really take advantage of the tea’s rich antioxidants, chlorophyll, amino acids and vitamins, you’ll want to get your hands on the powdered form. This way you’ll be consuming the tea leaf in its entirety.

Matcha Powder Recipes: Try This Iced Vanilla Matcha Latte At Home

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp matcha powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut or almond milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 packet stevia in the raw
  • Ice to preference

Directions: Mix matcha in tall glass with milk until combined. Stir in vanilla and stevia. Pour over ice and enjoy!

Post written by FFC registered dietitian Kristen Marias.

About Kristen

Kristen studied dance at The University of Colorado until life and a trajectory towards a career in the arts took an unexpected turn. A handful of years, a cross-country relocation and two daughters later, she took on one of her greatest and most rewarding challenges. Following a lifelong passion for wellness, she returned to school in pursuit of a degree in Dietetics and Nutrition. After graduating with honors, she launched her dietetics career in the clinical cardiac space. There, she provided Medical Nutrition Therapy to acute cardiac patients in Intensive Care. Practicing alongside a leading cardiologist in Palm Beach, Florida, she also provided nutrition education and counseling services to newly diagnosed cardiac patients.

In the summer of 2017 her love for fitness and holistic wellness steered her career in a fresh, new direction. She traveled to Italy to obtain a Yoga Teaching Certification as a complement to her nutrition practice. Today, back in her hometown of Chicago, she has found her perfect fit at the intersection of fitness, nutrition and general wellness. She believes food and exercise should be more than just daily tasks; they should be pleasurable, dynamic and memorable experiences. This philosophy is presented in her approach to nutrition. With a lifestyle-first, real food focus, she aims to help her clients make uncomplicated, sustainable changes. Her motto is simple: “Live to eat…with purpose.”

Kristen is a fitness enthusiast, passionate foodie and home cook. She loves travel – especially to the islands of the world. She spends most of her free time adventuring around Chicago with her husband and two daughters. You can follow along with her on Instagram here or check out her website for more info.

 

A dream of mine? To be told I should eat more food – by data, no less. That dream came true during my recent resting metabolic rate test at Fitness Formula Clubs in Chicago. What’s a resting metabolic rate test, you ask? In the simplest terms, a resting metabolic rate test is a test to determine how much energy (read: calories) your body burns while at rest, in order to perform basic functions of living, by measuring your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels – and therefore, your daily caloric requirements for weight maintenance, gain or loss based on your unique metabolism. Sure, you could work with a RMR calculator (there are a couple online) to find out how many calories you should be eating – but since those aren’t based on your unique metabolism, they can be off. To get an accurate reading, it’s better to meet with a licensed registered dietitian and have an RMR test administered.

Cardio Coach metabolic testing machine for RMR test

How the RMR Test Works

As opposed to an RMR calculator, the resting metabolic rate test requires the use of a machine with a tube you breathe into that will use oxygen consumption measurement to determine your caloric requirements for weight loss, gain or maintenance. Since you need to be completely at rest, you will asked to recline in a chair while you have the test done, as well as wear a nose clamp (sounds weird and scary, but basically it’s just a padded thing you put on your nose to keep your nostrils closed so that all your breathing happens in the tube).

RMR Calculator vs RMR Test: Why You Should Do an RMR Test

As I mentioned before, RMR calculators are great and all – but they’re based on a formula. An actual RMR test analyzes your breath and gives you MUCH more accurate data. For example, I use an app called MyFitnessPal (when I remember) to keep tabs on my diet and to try and reign in my occasional snacking festivals – especially in the winter! According to that app, I was supposed to eat something like 1200 calories a day. Between meals and snacks there was barely room for anything else. I was constantly going over, feeling guilty all the time. I also incorrectly accounted for my exercise – I typically try to work out at LEAST 4 times a week. They’re also fairly intense workouts. Couple that with a meager 1200 calories and you get one very tired, irritable and hangry individual.

Related: how to use MyFitnessPal to help you with your weight goals.

When FFC West Loop registered dietitian Emily Marshall and I looked at an online calculator before my test, it was also pretty low – around 1325 calories a day. Post test, we found out that my actual RMR is up around 1555 calories a day – at a slightly elevated level beyond “normal”. Add in my exercise, and I should be eating something like 1900 calories – even in order to lose a pound a week!! So with no exercise, I should have been eating an additional 230 calories a day than what was predicted by the RMR calculator (which operates using an equation known as the “Mifflin St. Jeor” equation).

In the simplest terms, a resting metabolic rate test is a test to determine how much energy (read: calories) your body burns while at rest, in order to perform basic functions of living, by measuring your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels – and therefore, your daily caloric requirements for weight maintenance, gain or loss based on your unique metabolism.

Emily explained that with the equation estimation, it would have taken a fair amount of time and trial and error to figure out how much to eat for my body and goals – but with the RMR test, I have a much better starting point right off the bat. Not to mention, with the results, I can feel the effects that much faster – eating more and fueling my body properly means more energy, better ability to focus and a faster exercise recovery time. I have been feeling pretty sluggish lately and I am definitely noticing a slight change since being more mindful of eating proper snacks etc. Of course, this is my personal result based on my body – it will be different for everyone. However, there is something to be said for having a roadmap to get to one’s goals more quickly and accurately. Our bodies are like machines and are a lot more formulaic than we realize. The right combination and amount of fats, proteins and carbs can really make that much difference in how well and efficiently it functions!

RMR calculator vs RMR test - why you should get a resting metabolic rate test done

Important note: I agreed to do this test in the lobby to help bring awareness to the awesome power of data and wellness, but this is not the norm. You will definitely have privacy! Unless, you know, you want to hang out and wave at people while you’re taking your test. You do you.

How to Prepare for the RMR Test

If you happened to see my post about my Vo2 Max experience a couple of months ago (which basically measures how efficiently you exercise), you’ll know that gearing up for a test like this requires some prep on the front-end. As in, the fasting kind. My recommendation is to try to schedule the test as early as possible so you don’t have to worry about depriving yourself of food or caffeine for very long! (I did mine bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 7 AM). In order to get the most accurate results possible, you will need to make sure you

  • Don’t eat or drink anything prior to your test (check with the registered dietitian for specific timeframe).
  • Don’t drink caffeine before your test.
  • Refrain from exercise 24 hours before your test – if your workouts are high-intensity, you may need to hold off for 48 hours. Again, check with the RD!
  • Wear regular clothes (I wore my regular office clothes).
  • Bring something to occupy yourself for about 25-30 minutes that you can do with one hand in case you need to hold the tube for more comfort.

Things I’d Want My Former Self to Know Before Taking an RMR Test

The test was quick and painless – albeit a little awkward, but overall very simple. Emily did a great job of explaining the process to me, what each of the pieces of equipment was for, how the machine worked, etc. Here are a couple of tips & tricks for anyone considering taking an RMR test.

  • #1 most important thing – bring chap stick! If your lips get dry easily, I recommend some kind of chap stick or lip balm. If you get drooly, they will have tissues for you. The RD will explain!
  • Yes, they do use all-new disposable nose clamps, mouth pieces and breathing tubes – no germs here.
  • Don’t do the test with a cold – because you’re only breathing through your mouth, it can do wonky things to your head pressure – I would maybe stay away from the test if you’re experiencing a head cold.
  • Breathing with the tube will be weird – kind of like a snorkel.
  • Hold the tube with your hand if you find yourself wanting to bite down on the mouth piece so that your jaw doesn’t get tired! That’s why I recommend a phone or Kindle etc. that you can hold with one hand.

How to Sign Up for an RMR Test

Yes, this might sound a little more complicated than a simple online RMR calculator, but I promise the data and knowledge you will come away with will be well worth it. Now, I can use my results to figure out meal plans, and have a much better understanding of how much I should be eating for specific goals. Plus, if I ever wanted to start a race training program, kick up my weight loss a notch, etc., I would have an accurate roadmap to do it. To sign up for a test at FFC, you can visit this link or email metabolictesting@ffc.com! Questions about the specifics? You can email registered dietitian Emily Marshall at emarshall@ffc.com or visit your club’s RD.

Post written by FFC marketing manager Megan Zink.

 

Feel pain in a tooth? Your first thought might be, “I need to go to the dentist”. Need help with your taxes or finances? You’d probably go see an accountant or financial planner. Car need a tune-up? Take it to the mechanic! All of these are no-brainers when you’re in need of some help. Yet, when you’re in need of some nutritional guidance, seeing a registered dietitian (RD) may not be your first thought. Many people typically go to their friends, family members or a google search to determine what steps they need to take to get their eating on track. Read on to learn the difference between a registered dietitian vs nutritionist and how a registered dietitian can benefit you!

Registered Dietitian vs. Nutritionist

What is the difference between a registered dietitian vs nutritionist? While the term nutritionist may seem more natural, there is unfortunately no regulation around the term. This means anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. In other words, seeing a nutritionist means you could be working with someone who actually does not have any knowledge in counseling someone about their diet or food intake. On the other hand, registered dietitian is a highly regulated term. To be a RD it is required to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a health related field, as well as complete specific coursework approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

RDs also have to complete an accredited, supervised practice program at a health care facility, community agency or foodservice corporation and pass a national exam. Lastly, RDs have continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration on an ongoing basis. Some RDs may call themselves a nutritionist, but do so by choice because the public is more accustomed to it. When choosing to see someone for nutritional guidance, it’s okay to be choosy! You can ask them about their educational background, their approach to nutrition counseling, and what their specialties are. This can help you feel more comfortable with putting your trust in him or her.

Looking for Answers in Other Places

Earlier I mentioned going to friends, family members or Google for answers. Unfortunately, these methods may lead to a confusing and misinformed outcome. For instance, your friend’s diet may not work with your body or lifestyle. You might try it out, but not see the same results as they do. This can leave you feeling discouraged. In addition, you might try a google search for information about dietary changes to help with diabetes, digestive issues or clearer skin. What may happen is you’ll end up with conflicting information from different sources which can also leave you feeling discouraged or frustrated. Stop wasting your time with this and start finding the answers to your many nutrition and health related questions! Registered dietitians are the food and nutrition experts and here’s why.

Related: no time for an appointment? Here’s the next best thing – check out this list of the top 10 registered dietitian-approved books and documentaries.

What Can an RD Do for You?

There is a lot that a registered dietitian can do for you! Seeing a dietitian on a one-on-one basis or in a group setting can help you develop the knowledge about how to fuel your body the best. What’s great about working with a dietitian on a one-on-one basis is you’ll get personalized advice for your specific needs, challenges and goals. Together, the client and the RD can create an individualized approach to help you navigate nutrition, eating and your overall wellness. RDs can help you with managing various health conditions such as:

  • diabetes
  • high cholesterol
  • blood pressure
  • kidney disease
  • cancer
  • gout and other conditions

RDs can also help if you are experiencing digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and gas), Celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, lactose intolerance and other food sensitivities.

Food Allergies

RDs also help people manage food allergies. If you’re interested in changing your weight or relationship to food, a registered dietitian is a great resource because RDs are trained in a patient-centered approach. The RD will work with you to help you reach YOUR goals in a way that you can feel good about.

Sticking to a Plan

Maybe you feel that you already know what or how to eat, but just aren’t following through with your plan. RDs can help with that too. Sometimes it’s not the education or knowledge that influences changes in behavior; rather, a change in our attitude, beliefs and values is needed. With a RD you’ll start to learn how you can make sustainable, realistic changes that can have a big impact on your long term health and wellbeing.

Diet Experimentation & Training Programs

Interested in trying out a vegetarian or vegan diet? Want to know more about how to fuel your exercise routine or sporting event like a marathon or triathlon? Just want to find out more about what to look out for when grocery shopping? RDs can helps with that too! Seeing a registered dietitian for a group event is a great way to learn more about a specific topic and be with like-minded people who have similar questions as you.

Meet with a FFC registered dietitian today and discover what you’ve been missing!

Post written by FFC West Loop registered dietitian Emily Marshall.

About Emily

Emily Marshall is a registered dietitian at FFC West Loop. She loves building relationships and working one-on-one to help people with nutrition, how it fits into their lives and overall health. Want to set up a complimentary consultation with Emily? Email her at emarshall@ffc.com!

 

We’ve often heard that snacking between meals can wreck a weight loss plan. However, FFC registered dietitian Alicia Huggler has helped guide members to re-think snacking. If you’re on an exercise program, it’s important to stay fueled. Rather than banning all snacks, swap out the processed, packaged stuff for healthy snacks that taste good too. Look for foods that use whole ingredients, avoiding refined sugars, syrups, and oils. The more “whole” foods you have, the more fiber and complex carbs you’ll get…fueling future workouts. These peanut butter cookies with quinoa flakes are great for a healthy snack. The dates and banana will help you satisfy your sweet tooth without worrying about crashing an hour later. Plus, the quinoa flakes pack an extra protein punch and have loads of fiber. Make a batch on the weekend, enjoy as a quick pre-workout snack in the morning or snack on a few after work before you head to the gym!

Peanut Butter Cookies with Quinoa Flakes (Gluten-Free, Vegan and Kid-Friendly)

Level: medium

Servings: 13

Ready in: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dates, (200g, 7 oz)
  • 1 medium ripe banana (110g)
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup almond meal (sub brown rice)
  • 1 cup quinoa flakes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Related: colorful AND delicious Egyptian spiced avocado corn radicchio lettuce cups will get you out of a food rut – try the recipe now!

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment on a non-stick silicon baking mat.

To make the cookie dough: in a food processor, combine the dates, banana, peanut butter, and vanilla. Add 1/4 cup of water. Puree until creamy, scraping down the sides as needed.

Add the almond meal, quinoa flakes, salt, and baking powder. Puree until combined.

To portion and bake the cookies: portion about 2 teaspoons of dough onto the cookie sheet, leaving about 1 inch in between cookies. Once you’ve portioned all of the cookies, wet your fingers with a little water. Gently push down the cookies to flatten. Shape into pretty, round disks, if needed.

Bake the cookies 15-18 minutes, turning the sheet halfway through cooking. The cookies will be golden brown on the bottom when ready.

Remove and let cool 10 minutes before serving or storing.

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week. Freeze in an air-tight plastic bag (or wrap in foil) for longer.

*Chef’s tips:

  • Use roasted peanut butter that has no added ingredients. Check the ingredients list to make sure there’s no added oil, sugar, or syrup.
  • If you don’t have a food processor, you can also puree the wet ingredients in a blender. When they’re smooth and creamy, transfer the wet mixture to a bowl, then stir in your dry ingredients.
  • For extra texture, add chopped peanuts, currants, or mini vegan chocolate chips.

Yield: about 26 cookies.

Post written by FFC group fitness instructor Katie Simmons.

More about Katie: Katie is a group fitness instructor at FFC and is also a personal chef based in Chicago. She specializes in creating delicious, healthy recipes for those with special dietary concerns like gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, and low-residue. You can see more at www.plants-rule.com. You can also see more recipes at www.facebook.com/plants-rule and follow her on Instagram at @chefkatiesimmons.

Post written by FFC group fitness instructor Katie Simmons.

More about Katie: Katie is a group fitness instructor at FFC and is also a personal chef based in Chicago. She specializes in creating delicious, healthy recipes for those with special dietary concerns like gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, and low-residue. You can see more at www.plants-rule.com. You can also see more recipes at www.facebook.com/plants-rule and follow her on Instagram at @chefkatiesimmons.

 

 

 

Nutrition Facts

Serving size: 1/13 of a recipe (2 cookies)

Amount Per Serving

  • Calories 125.05
  • Calories From Fat (28%) 35.21

% Daily Value

  • Total Fat 4.13g 6%
  • Saturated Fat 0.6g 3%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 128.25mg 5%
  • Potassium 166.69mg 5%
  • Total Carbohydrates 20.77g 7%
  • Fiber 2.23g 9%
  • Sugar 12.86g
  • Protein 3.11g 6%
  • Calcium 1.31mg <1%
  • Iron 30.89mg 172%
  • Vitamin A 7.35IU <1%
  • Vitamin C 0.46mg <1%