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The kids are back in school, summer travel is behind us, and the jackets are coming back out. Fall is a great time to create routine and set yourself up for success in the winter months. With patio season mostly over, going out to lunch isn’t quite as satisfying; warming something up in the work kitchen probably sounds a bit more appealing. Start to bring your lunch daily to save money (the holidays will sneak up on you!) and to save calories for a few Halloween treats. Read on to learn the necessary components in a quality, balanced lunch for kids and adults alike, plus some easy, healthy lunch ideas for work (or any other time you need convenience!).

Healthy Lunch Component #1: Lean Protein Source

When it comes to healthy lunch ideas for work, one of the singular most important components to consider is a lean protein source. By starting with a lean protein source, you’ll ensure the lunch is filling and helps you stay focused for the rest of the afternoon.

  • Chicken or turkey breast, shredded or chopped
  • Canned tuna or salmon, no salt added
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Edamame
  • Chickpeas
  • 3-bean salad
  • Babybel cheese
  • Turkey burger or Beyond Burger

Healthy Lunch Component #2: Complex Carbohydrates

Make sure you round out the protein with a complex carbohydrate to add fiber, natural energy, and satisfaction. [Remember, growing kids and those looking to maintain weight and/or build muscle need more of these than those looking to lose weight.]

  • Baked potato
  • Whole fruit or mixed cut-up fruit
  • Triscuits
  • Whole or sprouted grain wrap or bread
  • Corn, cut it off the cob for easy eating
  • Whole grain pasta salad
  • Brown rice

Healthy Lunch Component #3: Healthy Fats

A little goes a long way in this section! Add a bit of healthy fats for awesome flavor and to control cravings later in the day.

  • Peanut or almond butter
  • Handful of mixed nuts
  • Hummus
  • Guacamole or sliced avocado
  • Olives

Related: this healthy “New-Tella” recipe uses different kinds of nuts plus dates and cocoa to cure that sweet craving, without going overboard!

Healthy Lunch Component #4: Non-Starchy Vegetables

Once you have the proper portions of each of the sections above, pile on the non-starchy vegetables. These provide more filling fiber and less calories, allowing you to keep on eating! This list could go on forever, but here are a few that are lunchbox-friendly.

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Bell peppers
  • Spinach salad
  • Homemade zucchini chips
  • Broccoli and cauliflower
  • Leftover stir fry, roasted, or grilled veggies

Putting It All Together: Healthy Lunch Ideas for Work

Bento is a word mostly encompassing Japanese culture, with Chinese origin, meaning “useful thing” and “convenient”. A “bento” box is a great way to combine the components above into a satisfying and easy healthy lunch for work! Here are a few combinations to consider for your next meal!

  • Stir fry with chicken or beans, veggies, and brown rice.
  • Tuna or salmon packets on top of greens with roasted chickpeas or quinoa and balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Cabbage, carrots and bell peppers mixed with quinoa and shrimp, topped with peanut dressing.
  • Sandwich on sprouted grain bread with chicken breast and hummus, side of raw veggies with more hummus!
  • Corn tortillas with veggies, beans, or leftover meat. Top with greens and guacamole.
  • Hard boiled eggs, mashed with avocado on top of brown rice cakes. Leftover roasted veggies on the side.
  • Tuna or chicken salad (try plain Greek yogurt in place of mayo) in lettuce wraps, fruit on the side.

How would you combine these groups into a delicious lunch? Let us know in the comments! Want more information on nutrition programs or to set up a free consultation? Email Amy at asilver@ffc.com!

Post written by FFC registered dietitian & nutrition coordinator Amy Silver.

 

 

For Your Pinterest

Bring Your Own healthy lunch ideas for work or any time you need a convenient meal

My friends and coworkers often ask me about weekly meal prep. I am very passionate about healthy eating. In multiple conversations with friends and coworkers, I have noticed most people want to do it, but find it difficult to justify the time and question the cost savings. As someone who has prepped meals for years, I am a firm believer that it saves time, money, and provides many health benefits.

Here are the common questions people ask me about meal prep:

  • What do you make during meal prep?
  • How long does it take to cook?
  • Does your food taste good at the end of the week?
  • Is it cheaper than eating out?

As a member of corporate America, I find myself constantly influenced by the dark side of donuts, candy, and/or some sort of processed food. In the beautiful city of Chicago, it’s even more difficult, having restaurant upon restaurant within blocks of my apartment calling my name with cuisine from around the world. I believe that life is short and you should enable your body to experience these great restaurants.

Notice that I used the word “enable” versus “treat myself.” What I mean by this is that I believe there’s always a balance between treating yourself and eating too much of the wrong stuff. With that said, I feel that one meal we can take control of and help us throughout our day is lunch. Lunch is the meal that creates the break in our work day. Regardless if you’re in corporate, hospitality, or health care, you need to eat lunch. It is far too easy to go with what everyone else is having (hamburger, processed sandwich, etc) and let this meal get away from us.

This is where meal prep comes into play and making a healthy choice can really be easy with weekly meal prep. Meal prep enables your body to truly enjoy cheat meals (I’ll explain that later) without the guilt. The purpose of this message is to not only answer the questions above but outline them in a way that logically proves that meal prep is worth your time and money.

Though you can meal prep for any time of day, I will keep this overview to lunch – as it’s the most common meal everyone asks about. Lets get started!

What do you make?

The answer to this questions depends on the type of food you eat. Personally, I prefer the Paleo lifestyle and my food choices are limited to lean meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts & seeds, and healthy fats. I look for a balanced portion of a protein, greens, and carbohydrates for lunch. This allows me to have my break during the day and be able to get back to work without the afternoon dip.

Here’s what a typical lunch may look like:

Meal prep tips

How long does it take to cook?

I start with skinning the sweet potatoes and throw them into the oven since they take the longest. I time the broccoli start time to end the same time as the sweet potatoes. Once those two are complete, I move onto the chicken and grill it outside, which takes roughly 30 minutes. The food prep and cooking time will take you roughly 1.5 hours in total.

Related: check out even MORE food prep tips for various steps in the process to help make this easy time, money and progress saver a regular part of your routine.

Meal Prep = Time Saver

I always like to compare this to the alternative. Let’s look at both scenarios of going to get food and bringing it back to your desk versus eating there. I did time trials by walking with coworkers to grab their lunch and I found that the average time was roughly 15 minutes to go there and back. Total time throughout the week is an hour and 15 minutes. Ok, we’ve saved some time!

In a different situation, let’s look at how much time is saved in comparison to when you eat at a restaurant. I began timing this trial from the time we sat down and began to eat. I excluded any sit down restaurants that included a server since the lead times varied by person and restaurant. I came to the conclusion of an average 15 minute eating time. Combining that with travel time, you’re looking at 2 hours and 30 minutes saved per week.

Does your food taste good at the end of the week?

This one intrigued me for a while as I did notice that my chicken would become rubbery or not taste as good toward the end of the week. A trick you can use to help your food last and taste better longer is with your freezer. I do my meal prep on Sundays and put Monday and Tuesday’s meals in the refrigerator. The rest goes into the freezer and I pull out one meal each day throughout the week. Monday, I pull out Wednesday, etc.

Is it cheaper than eating out?

Yes, meal preparation will save you money. Below is an outline of the cost comparison between purchasing groceries vs. eating out. Please note, I am measuring groceries for a single person, using the chicken/broccoli/sweet potato meal outlined above.

If you go out to eat each day, lunch costs anywhere from $6 (typical fast food options) to $10 (Chipotle, Panera, etc.) depending on where you go. Add a sugary Coke, that’s another $2.00. The numbers speak for themselves.

Final Thoughts on Meal Prep

Regardless if you’re training for a race, show, or looking for ways to be healthier, I am a firm believer that meal preparation can bring value to your day and life. You will not have to worry about answering the question, “What should I eat for lunch?” You have the opportunity to learn to cook new meals and try something new every week. Not only will meal prep save you money on a weekly basis, but you’ll get more out of your day. We can’t get more time in a day, but we can make the most of it.

For more about meal preparation and fitness, follow me on Facebook and Instagram!

Post written by FFC Union Station member Omar R. 

 

Herbed cauliflower and potato mash - try this healthy recipe!With all its versatility and nutritional benefit, it’s easy to see why cauliflower has become such a popular ingredient in some of our favorite comfort foods. It’s become the go-to substitute for cutting calories in everything from rice to pizza, even! If you haven’t hopped on the cauliflower train yet, I suggest you start with this easy cauliflower mash recipe.

This is a nearly fool-proof way to introduce more healthy veggies into your diet using a classic comfort-food recipe (mashed potatoes) that you already love. Cauliflower is rich in healthy fiber, vitamin C and powerful cancer-fighting antioxidants.

No special equipment is required – just a pot of boiling water and a potato masher! A few key ingredients (almond milk and nutritional yeast) keep this 100% vegan. You can also swap out for a traditional dairy milk and even parmesan cheese – especially if you’re still trying to win over finicky eaters.

Use it as the perfect complement to grilled veggies or chicken, or as a heartier option to balance out warm weather salads and other dishes!

 

Related: speaking of substitutions in things we love, have you see this ‘New-tella’ recipe with dates?

Herb Cauliflower Mash with Yukon Potatoes

Level: easy
Servings: 8

Potato and cauliflower mash - perfect for your next party or picnic!Ingredients

  • 1 big head cauliflower (about 3-4 cups florets)
  • 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 pound)
  • 1 cup almond milk, plain, unsweetened
  • 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper

Instructions

To cook potatoes and cauliflower:

  • Clean the cauliflower and scrub the potatoes.
  • Trim the cauliflower.
  • Cut both the cauliflower and potato into large pieces.
  • Place in a large pot and cover with water.
  • Cover, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.
  • Cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Potatoes are ready when a knife can easily be inserted and the potato slides off.

To make mash:

  • Chop the parsley.
  • When potatoes are done, drain the potatoes and cauliflower.
  • Immediately return the potatoes and cauliflower to the same hot pot and let any excess water steam off.
  • Add the remaining ingredients: milk of choice, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and parsley.
  • Use a potato masher and mash away. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

If you prefer a creamier potato, use a hand mixer.

Chef’s tip: Yukon Gold potatoes are a thin-skinned potato, which means you don’t have to peel them. You can also use butterball potatoes, or, for a little color, red-skinned potatoes.

Yield: 7-8 cups

Post written by FFC Boystown group fitness instructor Katie Simmons.

More about Katie: Katie is a group fitness instructor at FFC Boystown 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.

 

It’s FINALLY that time of year… warm weather is here! With this transition, we all begin to crave more sunshine, pool time, and of course, refreshing meals and sweet treats. Summer is also the time where we want to feel and look our best, but how does one go about that when the calories seem to creep up at our fun BBQs and outdoor events? Try a healthy ice cream recipe!

With these 5 recipes, you can have your cake (or ice cream) and eat it too – indulge your sweet tooth without feeling the added guilt. Whether grilling out with friends, picnicking at the park, or relaxing at the beach, a healthy ice cream recipe like one of these 5 will keep you satisfied while also helping you to feel and look great for the summer. Get the scoop below and enjoy!

Protein Berry Ice Cream

  • (Makes 2 servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup frozen berries

Instructions

  • Place both ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Serve with additional berries on top and a sprig of mint if desired.
  • Enjoy!

*Adapted from Abbey’s Kitchen

Nice Cream Snicker Bars

  • (Makes 12 servings)

Ingredients

  • 12 large pitted dates
  • 2-4 tbsp. warm water
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 ripe frozen bananas (peeled and sliced)
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter (look for PB that is made with just peanuts, or peanuts and salt)
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup peanuts, halved
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted

Special Equipment

  • Ice cube tray

Instructions

  • Add dates to warm water and soak for 10 minutes.
  • Drain dates and add to food processor or blender. Pulse until a paste is made. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  • Add frozen banana to food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add peanut butter and vanilla extract and pulse a few times to mix.
  • Assemble bars by placing a teaspoon of date into the bottom of an ice cube mold. Top with a thin layer of peanuts and fill the remainder of each mold with banana mixture.
  • Place ice cube tray in the freezer and freeze 4-6 hours or overnight.
  • Once frozen, prepare the chocolate coating. Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil in a double boiler or a bowl over pan of hot water. Stir until smooth.
  • Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Line a plate with wax paper. Working quickly, remove each bar from the ice cube tray and fully dip in the chocolate to coat. Place on wax paper. Return to freezer to harden for at least 30 minutes.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

*Adapted from Byte Sized Nutrition

Mini Frozen Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

  • (Makes 20 bites)

Ingredients

  • 1 + ¼ cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. maple syrup, divided
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp. coconut oil, divided and melted
  • 2 cups cashews
  • 5-6 cups water
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • ¼ cup plain Kefir
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 can chilled coconut milk, just the cream

Special Equipment

  • Mini muffin/cupcake pan

Instructions

  • Before making this, be sure to pop a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight.
  • Pour cashews into a bowl.
  • Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat for 30 seconds. Pour over the cashews. Let soak for 20 minutes. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, mix the almond meal, 2 tbsp. maple syrup, and 2 tbsp. of coconut oil together to make the crust.
  • Press the crust mixture evenly into 20 mini muffin tins. Tip- you may use muffin/cupcake liners for easier removal of the cheesecake.
  • For the filling, add the cashews, remaining maple syrup, remaining coconut oil, raspberries, kefir, lemon juice, and just the solid cream part of the coconut milk can to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Fill the cups with the cheesecake filling and top with raspberries.
  • Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

*Adapted from Miss Allie’s Kitchen

Related: sweets don’t always have to have a bad rap – check out this delicious “new-tella” recipe when you’re craving something chocolatey! 

Blueberry Yogurt Swirl Popsicles

  • (Makes 6 servings)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Special Equipment

  • Popsicle mold

Instructions

  • Blend blueberries in a blender until nearly liquified. Pour into a large bowl.
  • Stir in honey. Add the yogurt very gently until everything is mixed together.
  • Pour mixture evenly into mold. If your mold has slots for sticks, insert them before freezing. If not, freeze for two hours, then put a wooden stick in the middle. Continue to freeze for 4-6 hours or overnight.
  • Run popsicle molds under warm water to easily remove. Enjoy!

*Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake

  • (Makes 8 servings)

Ingredients

Brownie layer:

  • 1 cup raw nuts (ex. walnuts and almonds)
  • 8 pitted dates
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • Water, as needed

Peanut butter layer:

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter (look for PB that is made with just peanuts, or peanuts and salt)
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • Water, as needed

Banana layer:

  • 2 large frozen bananas (peeled and sliced)

Chocolate layer:

  • 1 ¼ cup chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil

Instructions

  • In a food processor or blender add all the ingredients for the brownie layer and mix until dough forms. Add in water as needed to combine. It should be wet, but not too thin.
  • In an 8×8 baking pan lined with parchment paper, press the brownie mixture evenly into bottom of the pan.
  • In food processor or blender add the ingredients for the peanut butter layer and process until smooth. Add water until texture is like caramel.
  • Top brownie layer with peanut butter and spread evenly.
  • In food processor or blender add in frozen bananas and process until thick and smooth. Spread over the peanut butter layer. Put in the freezer to set.
  • Meanwhile, in a double boiler or a bowl over pan of hot water melt the chocolate chips, almond milk, and coconut oil until smooth.
  • Pour the chocolate over the banana and spread out evenly over the top.
  • Put cake in the freezer for about 2 hours.
  • Cut into squares. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

*Adapted from The Organic Dietitian

Post written by FFC Registered Dietitian Chelsea Rice. 

 

While some flavors and spices seem to transport us directly to the holidays, the truth is that the benefits we can reap from spices are so valuable, we shouldn’t just assign them to one season. Not only do spices provide great health benefits, but the enhancements they bring to food make them a no-brainer cooking addition (with almost zero additional calories!). Think about what completes the smell and taste of a dish – it wouldn’t be the same without the flavors that help make that final dish taste so delightful. Check out these 6 spices to have on hand that will improve your health!

Cinnamon

Out of all the spices to have on hand, cinnamon is one of the most widely used. Cinnamon is loaded with powerful antioxidants, which helps protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. It can also improve some key risk factors for heart disease including cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.

Studies have shown that cinnamon can even dramatically reduce fasting blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. It not only tastes great, but also provides manganese, iron, and calcium. Many think of cinnamon in baked goods, but you can also branch out with some new sweet and savory ideas!

3 Ways to Use It

  • Make a salty/sweet treat by adding cinnamon to popcorn.
  • Flavor plain Greek yogurt with cinnamon and top with nuts/seeds.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon in your coffee or tea to add extra spice and flavor – or even your yogurt, like this recipe!

Ginger

Ginger is best known for its ability to ease nausea, motion sickness, and indigestion. It is loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds that have benefits for not only your body, but your brain as well. It is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. All these things mean it is one of the most versatile spices to have on hand.

It has also been shown to be effective against exercise-induced muscle pain due to those anti-inflammatory properties. It may not have an immediate impact, but studies show it can be effective at reducing the day-to-day progression of muscle pain. It is a very common ingredient in recipes and cosmetics. Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil.

3 Ways to Use It

  • Cut up fresh ginger and add to boiling water with a little honey and lemon to make a soothing tea.
  • Add minced garlic to stir-fries for an extra kick.
  • Add to baked goods, such as the pumpkin gingerbread muffin recipe at the bottom of this post.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg contains phytonutrients including beta-carotene and beta-crypotxanthin. These can improve blood circulation to the brain and enhance sleep. The flavor and therapeutic actions are believed to be due to the oil it contains.

Because of its antibacterial properties, nutmeg can also effectively treat bad breath, gum problems, and toothaches – therefore, nutmeg is a common ingredient in many brands of toothpastes. It is also a spice that is used in many sweet recipes, but nutmeg can be used in a variety of other ways!

3 Ways to Use It

  • Sprinkle in milk in the evening to help achieve relaxation and induce sleep.
  • Add nutmeg to roasted carrots or winter squash for a unique savory side dish.
  • Mix with nuts, such as pecans, and roast in the oven for a tasty snack.

Related: using spices can drastically elevate your meal prep too. Need more tips on making sure meal prep is a part of your life? Check out this post!

Rosemary

The active components in rosemary are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic in nature. These powerful compounds include rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, betulic acid, and carnosol, which can boost immunity and fight bacterial infections.

Rosemary also may help ease indigestion and improve blood flow due to its stimulant effects. The aroma of rosemary alone has been linked to improving mood, clearing the mind, and relieving stress in those with chronic anxiety. Many use rosemary as a garnish, but there are a variety of other ways to use it.

3 Ways to Use It

  • Chop fresh rosemary and use in a variety of broth based-soups.
  • Sprinkle rosemary on bread dough before placing it in the oven to add extra flavor.
  • Flavor olive oil with dried or fresh rosemary for zestier salad dressings.

Sage

Sage is a member of the mint family and is also known for many antioxidant properties – which makes it one of the top spices to have on hand. Tea and essential oils derived from the leaves have been used to treat digestive and circulation problems, but it has also been used to increase concentration.

Sage contains vitamin K, an essential vitamin for the body that isn’t found in many common foods. Vitamin K is key in developing bone density and ensuring the integrity of our bones as we age. It is traditionally used in savory dishes, due to its peppery flavor, but see below for alternative uses.

3 Ways to Use It

  • Sprinkle in an omelet with vegetables for a new breakfast.
  • Add to pesto with other herbs for a great flavor addition.
  • Top sage leaves on meats such as chicken, pork, or lamb.

Turmeric

Turmeric is popular worldwide, although until recently has not been commonly used in the U.S. It contains Curcumin, which has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. Turmeric is a common ingredient in Indian dishes, although you can find new twists on ways to incorporate turmeric into your daily lifestyle below!

3 Ways to Use It

  • Sprinkle onto rice to bring out a wonderful color and flavor to an originally bland side dish.
  • Simmer turmeric with coconut milk and honey to make a comforting beverage.
  • Add fresh or ground turmeric to smoothies – the pungent flavor is usually well-masked but you’ll reap all the benefits!

Try This Recipe: Pumpkin Gingerbread Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup whole grain spelt flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup pure raw honey
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line a muffin tin with liners and set aside.
  • Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Combine all wet ingredients in a medium bowl.
  • Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients – be sure to not over-mix.
  • Scoop batter into muffin pan and distribute evenly.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes and until tops are golden brown.
  • Yields 12 muffins – store at room temperature for 3 days or refrigerate for 7 days.

Post written by FFC Gold Coast Registered Dietitian Chelsea Rice.

 

 

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6 Spices to have on hand that will improve your health pinterest pin

Eat real food. This simple nutrition tip can drastically change the way your body looks and feels. So many of the things we find on our shelves at the grocery store sound like they’re healthy – the front label might use words like “natural”, “organic”, or “GMO-free”. There might even be commercials for certain products that show wholesome family meals, with mom packing the kids’ lunch boxes before everyone heads out for a busy day. This type of marketing can make it tricky to find nutritious “real food”, but all you really need to do is look at the label. Even if you have a sweet tooth! It all comes down to real ingredients.

Find Healthier Food

Speaking of ingredients, this is the first place you should head when looking for healthy, real food. See anything with “high fructose”? Put it back on the shelf. Anything you can’t pronounce? You probably shouldn’t eat it. Nutella was one of those foods I loved…until I read the label: palm oil… soy lecithin. What are you doing in there? Then, when I realized dairy wasn’t my friend, I knew I had to come up with a recipe that got back to real, whole ingredients: hazelnuts, almonds, dates, cocoa powder and vanilla – instead of the jarred kind that is made with palm oil, tons of sugar and dairy milk.

Enter this vegan Chocolate Hazelnut New-Tella recipe – naturally sweetened with dates! Got a sweet tooth? Enjoy it as a dip for fresh apple slices or strawberries.

Chocolate Hazelnut “New-Tella”

New-tella 30-minute recipe

Level: easy
Servings: 24 / 3 cups of “New-Tella”
Ready in: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup whole raw almonds
  • 1 cup dried pitted dates
  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup almond milk, plain, unsweetened
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Fresh apple slices, pears, or strawberries, for serving

Directions

Roast the nuts: spread almonds and hazelnuts on a baking pan and roast at 350 F for 12-15 minutes. When the nuts are golden brown, remove from oven and let cool.

Soak dates in warm water for at least 5 minutes to soften.

Start the New-Tella: when nuts are cool enough to handle, place hazelnuts in a clean dish towel or paper towel. Roll around to peel off the skins. Voila! Tip: the skins are bitter so remove as much as you can.

Place the almonds and peeled hazelnuts in a wide blender or food processor. Purée for about 5 or minutes or more, until the nuts start releasing their oils. Remove from the blender.

Drain the dates and squeeze out excess water. Also feel for any pits.

Place the dates, almond milk, vanilla, and salt in the wide blender or food processor. Purée until creamy. Add the nuts back to puréed date mixture, along with the cocoa. Purée until creamy, scraping down the sides as needed.

Garnish with chopped hazelnuts and serve with fresh fruit. Serve warm even more intense flavor.

Chef’s Tip: for a pourable “fondue” version, add 1 cup of almond milk to the recipe. Serve in small crockpot, with fresh fruit and toothpicks.

Post written by FFC Boystown group fitness instructor Katie Simmons.

More about Katie: Katie is a group fitness instructor at FFC Boystown 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.

"New-tella" sandwiches

Apple + “New-Tella” sandwiches

 

Seaweed? For dinner? Seriously?

Yes, yes, and yes! Chances are you’ve had seaweed as part of a sushi roll or even as a side dish or salad at a Japanese restaurant, but have you considered adding it to your regular weekday at-home dining experience? Now might just be the time to try it!

Seaweed has been growing in popularity, making it more widely available in grocery stores, and it is absolutely chock-full of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein, antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, and even trace elements.

Trace elements are dietary elements that are essential to the body for things such as growth, metabolic function and other processses but are only needed in very small quantities (aka trace amounts) and include (but are not limited to) selenium, copper, magnesium, iodine, etc.

Why Should I Care?

The purported health benefits as to why you should be eating seaweed range widely from estrogen regulation (leading many to speculate that seaweed consumption may help lower the risk for breast cancers) to reduction in blood pressure (and therefore a reduction in heart disease). Further research is needed to examine all potential health benefits of seaweeds and determine their maximum therapeutic potential in terms of disease prevention and risk reduction.

Related: click here to register for a free nutrition consultation at FFC!

Seaweed’s most well-documented health benefit is that it is a phenomenal source of iodine, an essential element needed for thyroid regulation. The thyroid, which is a gland located in the neck, secretes and regulates various bodily hormones involved in everything from growth to metabolic regulation. Consuming healthy, adequate levels of iodine is key to maintaining a healthy thyroid – inadequate iodine can cause goiters, extreme fatigue, and even intellectual disability. However, as with all good things, moderation is the key to success! The same way too little iodine can be harmful, so can too much. Be sure to curb your intake if there are medical reasons to limit iodine.

How to Buy Seaweed 101

The 411 on common edible seaweeds: seaweeds are members of the algae family and are typically available in three varieties; red, green, and brown. The most commonly eaten varieties are red seaweed, which is used to form nori, and brown seaweed (such as kelp or wakame), which frequently finds its way into in soups and salads.

Related: try the souping diet! Check out this post to see why.

  • Nori – a red seaweed used most commonly for sushi rolls is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and B12 while being lower in iodine than many other varieties of seaweeds.
  • Dulse – another red seaweed, this varietal is frequently consumed in its dried flakey form as a flavoring for soups, but can also be sautéed with a little butter and garlic for a lovely side dish.
  • Kelp – also known as “kombu,” this brown seaweed is very high in iodine and is often used in combination with dashi to make broth for soups, particularly miso soup.

30-Minute Recipe: Wakame Salad

(adapted from Karman Meyer, RD)

5 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz dried wakame, rehydrated per package instructions
  • ½ medium seedless cucumber, halved lengthwise and cut into ⅛” slices
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded with a vegetable peeler or zoodler
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2.5 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Directions:

Drain all liquid from the rehydrated wakame and tear wakame into bite-sized pieces, as needed. Set aside in medium mixing bowl.

In a small dish, stir to combine: sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic. Pour this over the wakame.

Add sliced cucumbers and shredded carrots to the wakame dressing mixture and toss to combine. Refrigerate to chill before serving; for best flavor, allow to marinate for 24 hours prior to serving.

Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top just before serving.

Post written by FFC contributor Carla Schmitz.

When it comes to getting healthy, eating out can sabotage our efforts. Whether it’s takeout, delivery, or even a fancy restaurant, much of the food prepared in these establishments tends to be heavy in salt and fat. After all, the goal of any place selling food is to satisfy customers with delicious flavor. As customers, it’s natural that we like rich, fatty foods. Chefs tend to rely on salt, sugar, fat and dairy to make dishes more delicious – and that can show up around your waistline. On top of that, excuses for relying on eating out often are plentiful: lack of time, lack of energy, lack of cooking ability. My nutritious 5-minute Asian noodle bowl recipe is here to change that.

This quick, healthy dish is ready in just minutes. It uses a few key ingredients that you can always keep stocked in your pantry and freezer for easy access. Healthy buckwheat soba noodles and plant-based protein from edamame will leave you feeling satisfied and fueled for your next workout. Jazz it up with shredded cabbage, baby spinach, or sliced bell pepper. This noodle-bowl will “take-out” your excuses for “takeout”!

Related: sign up for a free 30-minute nutrition consultation with an on-site registered dietitian at FFC – click here!

5 Minute Asian Noodle Bowl

  • Level: easy
  • Servings: 1
  • Ready in: 5 minutes

Ingredients

Quick Asian Peanut Sauce:

  • 2 tbs peanut butter
  • 1 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tbs ginger, grated or minced
  • 1 tbs orange juice (or pineapple juice)
  • 1/8 tsp red chili flake
  • 1/2 tsp tamari or soy sauce

Noodle Bowl:

  • 1 (2 oz) bundle Soba noodles
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup shelled edamame

Related: need a quick boost of energy? Check out these nostalgic, yet adult-worthy PB & J Oat Bites!

Directions

Make the noodles. You can bring a pot of water to a boil. (This may add a few extra minutes, but will still be pretty fast).

Add the Soba noodles to boiling water.

Make the Quick Asian Peanut Sauce. In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter, rice vinegar, lime, red chili, tamari, and orange juice.

After the noodles cook for about 2 minutes, add the bean sprouts and edamame. Cook 1 more minute, until hot.

Drain noodle mixture. Toss with the Quick Asian Peanut Sauce and serve.

Chef’s Tip: Use an empty peanut butter jar to make a big batch of the Quick Asian Peanut Sauce. You can then whip up this bowl in even less time, or use it as a dressing for salad, a dip for veggies, or even poured over roasted sweet potatoes.

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving (1 recipe)

Calories 445.44

Calories from Fat (34%) 152.39

  • % Daily Value
  • Total Fat 18.22g 28%
  • Saturated Fat 3.51g 18%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 773.95mg 32%
  • Potassium 744.9mg 21%
  • Total Carbohydrates 63.84g 21%
  • Fiber 4.47g 18%
  • Sugar 7.35g
  • Protein 21.43g 43%
  • Calcium 24.96mg 2%
  • Iron 62.53mg 347%
  • Vitamin A 43.18IU <1%
  • Vitamin C 0mg 0%

Post written by FFC Boystown Group Fitness Instructor Katie Simmons.

About Katie

Katie is a group fitness instructor at FFC Boystown, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re bringing you a mini-series to introduce and examine some of the top nutrition trends. We’ll explore what’s hot, where we’re seeing it, why it’s gaining popularity, and what’s in store for the future. In this post, we’ll go through the trend of the low sugar diet, benefits and how you can try it on your own.

Added sugar has been in the spotlight lately, especially as research continues to emerge linking excess sugar to a host of metabolic dysfunction and disease.The average American consumes more than 20 teaspoons of sugar daily. Comparing that figure to the recommended daily limits of 9 teaspoons for men and 6 teaspoons for women shows the impact that food manufacturers truly have on our sugary bottom line.

Journalists and health advocates alike have taken food manufacturers to task in recent month calling for a reduction in the sweet stuff and the importance of educating people on a low sugar diet. Celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, has outright declared a ‘War on Sugar,’ and numerous highly regarded commercial publications have been raising awareness of the health impacts of added sugar.

So, what’s this mean for the future? As focus on the added sugar issue grows, expect to see demand for (and, subsequently, the supply of) “reduced sugar,” “no sugar added,” and “alternatively sweetened” products to rise. Look for food manufacturers to make the move towards less refined, natural sweeteners like dates, honey, and agave.

There will also be an increase in products made with “all natural” sugar substitutes like Stevia, Truvia, Sweetleaf, Whey Low, and Xylitol. Expect to see one nutrient benefit from this sugar crusade: fat. When the low-fat craze hit in the 1980’s, food manufacturers replaced fat with sugar to keep our taste buds happy (and our wallets open). It’s a safe bet that many companies will offer product lines, especially dressings and dairy that return normal-fat content and reduce the amount of added sugars.

Related: register to talk to a dietitian and receive a free 30-minute nutrition consultation at FFC!

Low-Sugar Recipe Hack: Make Your Own “Added Sugar” Flavored Yogurt Substitutes

Greek yogurt is all the rage right now, and rightfully so – it packs a high-protein punch. But not all yogurts are created equal. With some commercially prepared flavored yogurts containing as many as 22 grams of sugar for a measly 6 ounces of yogurt, it’s buyer beware in the yogurt aisle. So skip the stress and the worry – make your own! Below are a few recipes to make your yogurt flavorful and nutritious.

Fruit On The Bottom Yogurt

Each of the fruit + honey combinations below is approximately 12 grams sugar, total, cutting approximately 5-10 grams of added sugar from commercial yogurt brands while adding more vitamins, minerals, fiber, and overall volume to your yogurt.

Step 1: Pick one fruit option from the list below
Step 2: Mash or dice your fruit to your preference
Step 3: Mix in ½ TBSP honey, if needed (optional)
Step 4: Add 6 oz plain nonfat or low-fat Greek yogurt
Step 5: Enjoy!

  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • 6 medium strawberries
  • ½ cup blackberries
  • 2/3 cup raspberries
  • ½ small peach
  • ¼ cup pineapple chunks

Related: fast, convenient snack options (for when you’re in the airport, for example) without added sugar can be hard to find. Check out this post for some tips and options!

Flavorful Low-Sugar Combos

Not a fruit-in-my-yogurt person? Fear not! There are plenty of other options out there that are high in flavor and low in sugar. Add any of the following options below to 6 oz of plain nonfat or low-fat Greek yogurt:

Post written by an FFC contributor.

 

“Don’t try to drive on an empty tank of gas.” This essential advice is something I remind my FFC members of all the time. When I teach Motiv8 at 6 AM, I’m pushing you to dig deep and give 100% in your workout. In order to get stronger, you have to train hard. You have to push your body through discomfort. How can you expect to do that on an empty stomach? Whether you’re training first thing in the morning, or right after work, it’s crucial to fuel up pre-workout. Running on an empty tank of gas will leave you tired and can increase your likelihood for injury. What you fuel up with is just as important to give you sustained energy. Check out this insanely easy recipe for peanut butter and jelly oat bites – one of my favorite go-to pre-workout snacks.

The classic combination of PB & J takes us all back to the memories of childhood (but dried currants and all-natural ingredients keep the recipe mature enough for adults). I throw just a few ingredients into my food processor and roll up a batch. Not only are these great pre-workout snacks that are gluten-free, vegan options, they’re also 100% plant-based and have tons of nutritional benefits!

Some of these benefits include:

  • Whole grain oats are naturally gluten-free, providing vegan protein and fiber for long-term energy.
  • Natural roasted peanut butter adds some fat to give you long-lasting satiety.
  • Dried currants provide natural sweetness for an energy boost that won’t leave you dragging in an hour.
  • A dash of cinnamon does double-duty, providing interesting flavor and acts as an anti-inflammatory food (read more about controlling inflammatory foods here!)

One of the best parts? I’ll make a batch of these and keep them in the freezer – and any time I might need a quick energy bite, (or some pre-workout snacks) I throw a few in my bag! They work in the morning before I teach class, in the afternoon when I am craving something sweet, and even on long trips when I’m stuck in an airport. I even make them as a personal chef for my clients who pack them in their kids’ lunch boxes!

Related: want to set up a free 30-minute nutrition consultation with one of our on-site registered dietitians? Click here!

Try This Recipe: PB & J Oat Bite Pre-Workout Snacks

  • Level: easy
  • Servings 10 – yields 20 “bites”
  • Ready in: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats (use gluten-free oats for 100% gluten-free treats)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (preferably with no added sugars or oils)
  • 1 1/4 cup dried Zante currants
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or adjust, depending on salt in peanut butter)
  • 2 – 4 tbsp warm water

Related: speaking of energy – check out this easy peasy 5 minute Asian noodle bowl for the next time you’re craving take-out!

Pre-workout snacks - try these easy PB & J Oat Bites!

Directions

Gather ingredients. Place the oats in your food processor. Puree oats until well-chopped, resembling shredded coconut. Remove from food processor and pour into a medium bowl.

Add the peanut butter, currants, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to the food processor. Puree peanut butter mixture until currants are chopped and everything is well-combined.

Add shredded oats back to the food processor. Puree. Add 2-4 tablespoons warm water, until mixture binds together. Continue to puree until mixture naturally clumps into a large ball. Add a tablespoon of water at a time until this consistency is reached.

Remove mixture from the food processor into a medium bowl. Roll about 1 tablespoon of batter into a two-bite ball. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week or freeze for longer.

Chef’s Tip: for a peanut-free alternative, try it with almond butter or sunflower seed butter. These are perfect fuel for traveling through airports or training for marathons! Want to see a step-by-step? Check out the full preparation video here!

Nutrition Info

Serving size: 1/10 of a recipe (about 2 bites).

Amount Per Serving

  • Calories 219.71
  • Calories From Fat (31%) 68.31

% Daily Value

  • Total Fat 8.17g 13%
  • Saturated Fat 1.65g 8%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 177.46mg 7%
  • Potassium 346.45mg 10%
  • Total Carbohydrates 31.63g 11%
  • Fiber 4.62g 18%
  • Sugar 13.36g
  • Protein 7.93g 16%
  • Calcium 0.86mg <1%
  • Iron 36.39mg 202%
  • Vitamin A 13.91IU <1%
  • Vitamin C 0.04mg <1%

Post written by FFC Boystown group fitness instructor Katie Simmons.

More about Katie: Katie is a group fitness instructor at FFC Boystown 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.