Instead of joining the December feeding frenzy, consider changing your gift ideas. In my view, the best gifts are the ones that benefit the receiver! The best part of all is that many of these gift ideas are New York City based. Don’t you love this city?!
Make your own granola and give it away in fancy mason jars. This particular recipe is not only festive (red & green!), but high in antioxidant content from the cranberries, flaxseeds, and sunflower seeds (“pepitas”). It’s also incredible satisfying because of it’s good sources of healthy fat. See recipe below!
The gift of chocolate. The worlds greatest chocolate made right here in Brooklyn! Check out Mast Brothers factory in Williamsburg or the fanciest 72% dark chocolate bars in town at Cacao Prieto in Red Hook. Two ounces of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) provides 200mg of antioxidant-rich flavonols associated with cardiovascular health! Reason enough to make the trip.
Pitanga Juice’s motto is Happiness! Find happiness in their delicious array of juices, smoothies, raw food, and balanced cleanses. Owner, Raquel, includes exotic fruits and vegetables from Brazil, her home country. Read more about juicing versus blending here.
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Thanksgiving is generally accepted as the “all-you-can-eat-holiday”. Research has shown that people eat up to 3,000 calories just at dinner. That means the average person eats around 4,500-5,000 calories on Turkey Day alone! This is a huge jump from our average recommended intake of 2,000 calories per day.
It would be unrealistic and unfair to expect you to avoid all the Thanksgiving goodies this delicious holiday has to offer. But don’t blow a years worth of hard work on just one day. Luckily, there are simple and tasty ways to have your cake and eat it, too!
One easy trick to avoid overeating is to modify your menu without sacrificing any of the flavors. I found a few amazing recipes that have been tweaked to reduce calories from sugar and fat, the main culprits during this, and most, holidays.
Recipe 1: Choose raw cranberry sauce, which is naturally high in antioxidants and low in added sugars. I am not going to lie, the raw cranberry is definitely more tart than canned cranberry sauce, but if you give it a chance you’ll find that it’s a delicious combination with succulent turkey.
- 1 cup of fresh cranberries
- 1 orange
- 1 tpsp of honey
- Orange zest
Directions: Soak 1 cup of cranberries with squeezed orange overnight. Blend ¾ of the cup with honey until smooth. Add the rest of the cranberries (sliced) and orange zest.
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In 2012, the American Diabetes Association launched a socially focused initiative for American Diabetes Month to demonstrate the impact diabetes has on adults and children across the country.
Once diagnosed, diabetes does not go away. It is important to understand that you will live with it every day. There are 26 million people living with diabetes in the United States. What is even more staggering is that there are three times that number—about 79 million Americans—with prediabetes. Prediabetes isa condition that puts you at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life; it reveals that the sugar in your blood is higher than normal, but not necessarily high enough to be called diabetes. It is also known as impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).
Prediabetes is a wake up call and your final warning. If you make the necessary changes to your diet and lifestyle, you CAN put your prediabetes into remission. A large, multi-center study entitled Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) has demonstrated that type 2 diabetes can be delayed through diet and lifestyle changes alone.
The Harsh Truth about Diabetes
- It puts you at higher risk for heart disease. Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and new cases of blindness among adults.
- It is expensive! The average medical expenditure among people with diabetes is 2.3 times higher than those without the disease.
Know Your Numbers
My best advice for early detection and prevention is to take the ADA Risk Test. It only takes two minutes and is highly effective. If it determines you are, in fact, at higher risk, follow up with your health-care provider today! If you are overweight, have family members with diabetes or are over 45 years of age, you should check these numbers now. You may be classified with prediabetes if you have any one the following:
- Hemoglobin A1c (HgA1c) test is between 5.7-6.5%. This checks your average blood glucose over a 2-3 month period.
- Glucose tolerance test is between 140- 199 mg/dL
- Fasting blood glucose test is between 100- 125mg/dL
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Sweet potatoes don’t get the positive attention they deserve. Maybe it’s because we typically associate the word potato with heavy carbs and French fries. The truth is, sweet potatoes are actually healthy, nutrient rich carbohydrates. I even recommend them as a pre/post-workout snack!
Sweet potatoes are extremely high in vitamin A, specifically the carotenoid called beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A that has shown to support the immune system, protect body cells and act as a great antioxidant. Beta-carotene is linked with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and anti-aging. It has also been associated with reducing the risk of vision loss known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Sweet potatoes are the richest source of vitamin A. One small sweet potato contains more than 400% of your daily requirements! And the darker the orange pigment, the higher the antioxidant content.
Sweet potatoes are also a great source of vitamins B, C and E, in addition to manganese, potassium, dietary fiber and protein. Did you know that potassium helps regulate blood pressure? Sweet potatoes are even higher in potassium than bananas! A medium-sized sweet potato has about 100 calories, 2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein.
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As a nutritionist, Halloween is a challenging holiday for me. Did you know that almost $2 billion worth of candy is sold each Halloween? That’s roughly 1,280 billion calories! I used to be a candy junky and I can’t even wrap my head around those numbers.
When approaching Halloween, remember, “Halloween is a holiday, not a season.” Establish limits and try to keep candy, pastries and chocolate consumption to a minimum. This can get especially tricky (pun intended) when dealing with children.
A Few Tricks to Enjoy The Treats:
Try new recipes! “Black Bean Brownies” may not sound appealing, but they are delicious! I recommend keeping the main ingredient a secret until they have been wolfed (I’m on a Halloween roll) down. I promise no one will ever know. They are that good! Each brownie has 85 calories, 2 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of fiber. They are also, ahem, gluten free. Recipe (see below) is revised from Chocolate Covered Katie.
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Happy Belated National Nut Day! Why am I so excited? Because nuts are something to celebrate! Nuts have shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation that is at the core of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Eat a handful of nuts (~1 oz) a day and keep the doctor away? That just might be the case!
Many health benefits can be found specifically in tree nuts i.e. nuts that grow on trees. Peanuts are technically legumes (because nutrition isn’t confusing enough) that grow underground and are more closely related to soybeans, peas and lentils. This explains why some people are allergic (even deathly allergic) to peanuts and not almonds. Don’t get me wrong, tree nut allergies can be just as severe as peanut allergies, but they are much less common.
Tree nuts include almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, cashews and walnuts.
Nuts are a good source of protein, healthy fats, vitamin E, folate, fiber and phytochemicals. They are also filled with minerals such as magnesium, zinc and copper. One handful (~1 oz) packs a protein punch of 2-6 grams! In that same handful, and what most people are concerned about, are 160-200 calories and 13-21 grams of healthy fat.
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Pictured are oysters from The Breslin with dill pickle juice – unexpectedly delicious.
Oysters remind me of my dad; he would eat a dozen at a time. He loved to go to oyster bars and watch the diligent shucking process. Yet, I never really knew about their awesome nutritional value until I started eating them myself. Oysters are definitely having their day in the sun—they are everywhere!
Oysters are usually associated with their aphrodisiac nature. One reason is because of their high zinc content. Zinc can boost testosterone levels, which has a positive effect on libido. Another reason, some say, is their shape and texture. I have read that Casanova used to eat oysters for breakfast. I never thought oysters were sexy but hey, whatever floats your boat!
Oysters are part of the mollusk family. Along with their sexy reputation, they are actually great for your health. Like clams and mussels, they are filter feeders. This means they filter up to 50 gallons of seawater per day feeding on the tiny plankton (bottom of the food chain) and micronutrients that exist naturally in the marine environment. Oysters are on the “super green list.” They are one of the top healthiest and most beneficial seafood because 95% of all consumption comes from oyster farms that help clean, benefit and support the environment in which they grow. Most oyster farming operations are very well managed and produce a sustainable product without using pesticides or GMO-grown grains.
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In May I wrote a post on Gluten-Free Living and whether or not a gluten-free diet was for everyone. In that piece, I concluded that people fall into one of three groups. The first group consists of those diagnosed with celiac disease; they have no choice but to live a gluten-free life. The second group includes people who do not warrant a celiac disease diagnosis, but they do experience gluten-sensitive symptoms, such as digestive distress (constipation, diarrhea, bloating, fullness), brain fog, skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis, poor circulation / dark circles), exacerbated asthma, joint pain and endocrine issues, such as thyroid disorders or even infertility. This group experiences positive results once off gluten. The third group experiences no noticeable difference on a gluten-free diet.
I believe that nothing beats first-hand experience, because the truth is that your body knows best. After multiple people asked me whether or not they should cut gluten from their diet, I decided it was time to try a gluten-free diet for myself. I had already heard first-hand how positively people were affected by going gluten-free. One person’s health improved so drastically that she stopped needing hypothyroid meds, while another became 100% joint-pain free. It all sounded too good to be true.
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It’s no secret that organic food is trending. There’s a reason it’s a $25 billion industry! But the question everyone wants to know is: Is it really that much better for you than conventional food? The answer is, it depends on how you look at it.
A recent Stanford University report, which reviewed 237 different studies examining all types of food, from fruits to grains to meats, concluded that there isn’t much difference between organic and conventional foods.Yup, you heard right. According to the Stanford report, organic food only showed higher levels of phosphorus, which can also be found in processed food, beans and meat—in other words, it’s not a common deficiency. And a few studies also linked organic milk to higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, though this finding was inconclusive. One report looked at variations of soil type and weather conditions for organic foods and found higher levels of vitamin C (6%) and higher levels of secondary metabolites (12%, a.k.a. phytochemicals). These metabolites increase a plant’s ability to survive in its environment and have been linked to a reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease in diets with high fruit and vegetable intake. Potentially.
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Avocados are one of my favorite foods of ALL TIME! And what better way to eat them than in guacamole on Guacamole Day (who knew?!), which fittingly falls on Mexico’s Independence Day! Avocados are originally from Central and South America, but most recently about 90-95% of the avocados in the U.S. come from California. There are 80 different varieties, but the most common and most likely to be found in your local grocery store is Haas.
Avocados are jam-packed with healthy properties. They are known as cancer-fighting foods largely due to their anti-inflammatory components (phytosterols) and high antioxidant content, which has also shown to help arthritic symptoms. Most of their fat is monounsaturated, which means that they play a role in decreasing the risk of heart disease. Their high level of oleic acid helps our gut absorb fat-soluble nutrients, especially two key carotenoid antioxidants (lycopene and beta-carotene)—research has shown up to 200-400% increased absorption! Avocados also promote blood sugar control, since a regular-sized avocado only has 1.5 grams of sugar and 12 grams of fiber!
An average-sized avocado is about 6 oz or 180 grams (a small-sized fist).Since portion control is so important in healthy eating, the nutrition facts below are based on half an avocado or about 3 ounces.
- Calories: 150 calories
- Total fat: 13.50 g
- Saturated fat: 1.50 g
- Carbohydrates: 9 g, 0.75 g from sugar
- Fiber: 6 g of fiber
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