Diet Trends: Vegetarian diet

Vegetarian diet cookbooks

Photo courtesy of mriggen

I wanted to spend some time digging into our next diet trend centralized around no meat.  now this diet is often adopted for health reasons or due to certain religious beliefs, humanitarian beliefs, etc. . So eating strictly Vegetarian isn’t a “diet” per se it’s a way of life and I have no problem with that.  Basing ones diet around wholesome fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains is a great way to ensure your body is naturally flushing out toxins, your able to maintain a healthy weight etc.  It has a lot of positive benefits.

Let’s take a look into some of the proclaimed benefits of a Vegetarian based diet:

  • Supports weight loss
  • Increases longevity
  • Plant foods are rich in nutrients
  • Reduced risk of type-2 diabetes

Not so “pro”:

  • Can be difficult to meet daily protein requirements
  • Iron levels if not supplementing can plummet
  • Too much soy products has shown to increase changes of cancer especially in women
  • You can also gain weight if you choose to swap out meat for grilled cheese and fries on the reg 😉

All those pro’s sound great right?  Well, if you execute this diet correctly with ensuring you are getting enough sources of protein, iron and other essential vitamins and minerals then yes it’s a great healthy lifestyle to embrace.  However if you don’t know what you are doing and just cut out meat from your diet without backfilling your daily requirement things may not go exactly as planned.  Take it from my personal experience.

A couple of years back I decided to give up for Lent meat.  No biggie I thought, this is easy and good for me! So I cut out meat and filled my diet with veggies of all kinds, beans etc. Life was good.  Well a few weeks in I started feeling tired all of the time, my skin grew pale, rings under my eyes started to show and i just felt like crap.  I chalked it up to “I must be getting sick”.

Few weeks after I had to go in for blood work and my results showed something was funky in my bloodstream.  In fact so funky the doctor’s made me go to a Cancer Research center to get a deep look into what was going on in my blood cells.  That was scary!  Luckily all came back clean other than low nothing fishy going on there.  By this time Lent was just about over and my mom (who aside from being a nurse seems to know everything) mentioned that i was looking anemic and insisted that eating a steak would fix me.  And so I did, in fact I re-embraced all meat again.  And you know what?  It was like a freakin miracle, my bags disappeared, my energy levels returned and I just felt so much more, me.

Turns out I had depleted my body of the necessary amount of iron it needed to continue functioning correctly.  I hadn’t even thought about that!  In addition my energy levels returned as I increased the amount of protein and other vital minerals in my diet.

So why am I telling you this?  Well, I just want you to be cautious in your health decisions.  Not everything is right for everyone.  Being a vegetarian can be a wonderful thing, I know many people who do it well, but if you don’t know what you are doing it can hurt you as well.  This is true with any type of diet so if you try something and it doesn’t feel right or you don’t feel right stop and think about it.  Tae time to listen to your body and what it wants, needs, craves.  Bodies are so smart they know what we need and when we need it you just have to learn to listen.

Have you tried a Vegetarian based diet?  How did it work for you? What are some things you learned along the way that may help others looking to embrace this way of life?

 

 

Recipe Alert: Polenta with Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Ever tried Polenta? This cornmeal base is really moldable into any shape and can be used at pretty much every meal. It’s very mild in taste as it’s basically cornmeal and water and low in fat/calories. I stumbled upon a really tasty low-calorie but filling recipe using polenta and tomatoes in a magazine recently. Of course when tasking myself with recreating the recipe I could not find the exact version I found anywhere! In turn I came up with an adaptation of the original recipe I read.

I encourage you to try it out sometime, it’s really tasty!

polenta with tomatoes, corn, and black beans

Polenta with Tomatoes, Black Beans, and Corn

  • 1/2 tube of prepared polenta (unless you’re feeling creative enough to create it from scratch!)
  • 1/3 can of diced tomatoes (I recommend Trader Joe’s can of fire-roasted tomatoes)
  • 1/2 can drain black beans
  • 1/3 cup of corn
  • 1-2 oz of a fat-free cheddar
  • 1/4 can black olives (optional)
  • 1/8 diced avocado
  • 1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Slice polenta into 1/4 inch thick slices (about 5 or 6)
  • Spray frying pan with an olive oil or butter spray
  • On medium heat place polenta in frying pan and continue to flip until slightly crispy (5-6 minutes each side)
  • In the meantime combine in a pot tomatoes, corn, black beans and heat until hot
  • Place in small glass baking dish polenta slices and pour tomato mixture
  • Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top and pop in the oven to melt cheese (about 5 minutes)
  • Take out of oven and garnish with diced avocado, black olives, and a dollop of greek yogurt

 

If you have another polenta recipe you like to make, share it with us! We’d love to try it out.

4 Healthy Junk Food Ideas

woman eating junk foodMore often than not, I crave some deliciously bad-for-you goodness. I have learned that little slip-ups add up more quickly than I can burn them off. An extra 100 calories is about 15 minutes on the treadmill for me, and with most yummy junk food, that means only a bite or two! Fear not, I have compiled a list of better-for-you goodies!

Here’s a list of four tasty treats that have healthful silver linings:

1) Cheez Whiz (nope, not kidding)

This go-to steak topper is full of Natural Trans Fats (aka Cancer-fighting CLA’s). After related research findings were released, “Kraft Foods must have had a field day pointing out that this pasteurized spread was no junk food, but a more concentrated source of a… cancer-fighting compound than any of the [other] cheeses analyzed.” Fat can be soooo good! (Just don’t forget that little note about moderation…at 90 calories and 7 grams of that good-fat per dollop, the cons can quickly outweigh the pros here.)

2) Evol Frozen Foods 

We love these Evol options at my gluten-free house! The free-range, hormone-free chicken, humanely raised beef, house-made salsa and organic beans only boost our love of Evol (which happens to be love spelled backwards). Evol’s website is chock full of information about their products and ingredient sources.

3) Quinn Popcorn

Most people think microwave popcorn is a healthy choice for snacking, but many don’t know about the hazardous chemical coatings inside the bags. Quinn has no need for such chemical coatings, and their delectable Parmesan & Rosemary and Hickory Smoked Cheddar flavors amp up your snack time. Nutritional Info for each flavor can be found on their website.

4) Home-made Spinach Dip

If you use reduced-fat cream cheese, nonfat yogurt and low-fat cottage cheese, you save 84 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving!!

Lightly sauté:

  • Splash of olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, peeled
  • 6 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed

Mix above ingredients with:

  • 1 5-ounce can water chestnuts, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat cream cheese, (Neufchâtel)
  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

 

https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/science-public/trans-fat-vindicated

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/slideshow/3272709/297376/?icid=hp_home_gallery

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/creamy_spinach_dip.html

Contributing Writer, HoneyCrunched Kate Milde

5 Desserts You Wouldn’t Know Were Healthy

English: Peanut butter cookie with a chocolate...

 

Do you love dessert but not love the added extra layer it puts on even the skinniest of folks?  Fear not I have a solution for you.  As the queen of desserts and just overall too much sugar consumption being healthy for me is a challenge when it comes to any type of dessert.   So now officially one month away from wedding day my hopes of indulging in a double fudge brownie a la mode anytime soon will have to be pushed aside until wedding day is over…

In an attempt to cut corners on overly rich desserts I have tried many of the “lower” calorie treats on the market.  However I have found that even those lowered versions still have too  much sugar and processed garbage in them.  So in an attempt to be creative  I have come up with some fast healthier swaps that satisfied my sweet tooth, keep my bad sugar in check and make my middle smile.  Here’s 4 versions that top my list:

 

 

1. Key Lime Pie (185 calories, 12-14 grams of protein) –  Yoplait 100 calorie greek key lime pie yogurt, one crushed graham cracker, dollop of light cool whip.  Care to lighten it even more?  Adding half the serving of the graham cracker and half the serving of cool whip will drop this indulgence to 140 calories!

2. Graham crackers with peanut butter (220) – Energy with a crunch!  I like trader Joe’s old-fashioned graham crackers with a light spread of peanut butter on them. Use one like the new “whips” peanut butter and you’re looking at 120 calories for 2 graham crackers and 70 for 1 tbsp of peanut butter.

3. Fruit Chocolate Whip (65-75 calories) – Literally like it sounds, this includes 3-4 diced up strawberries, 1/4 cup of blueberries, and 1/4 chopped banana, 1/2 serving of light chocolate syrup, and a dollop of whip cream.  Literally just as tasty as if I had crumbled a shortcake or cook on top.

4.  Cinnamon Banana Surprise (200 calories) – 1 banana, either 1 tbsp peanut butter or 2 tbsp’s of Better Butter, and 1 tsp cinnamon.  Cut banana lengthwise so you have two long halves.  Lightly spread peanut butter on both sides and sprinkle with cinnamon.  For a different twist you can try using Trader Joe’s “Speculoos” Cookie Butter instead of the peanut butter or cinnamon.

So these are my favorites that leave me not feeling guilty after eating.  Perhaps you have some good concoctions you have come up with too?  I’d love to hear them.  Please share your favorites with us after all our waistlines will thank you!

 

Living Holistic: Helping the Cancer Sufferer Repair (Guest Post)

Organic market fruits and vegetables

Organic market fruits and vegetables (Photo credit: SalFalko)

 

Honey Crunched readers, I am thrilled to say we have another guest post!  David Haas, a writer for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance (MCA)  has graciously decided to share the important of holistic nutrition for those battling cancer.  David shares important information with us on how essential healthy eating when battling cancer is.  So please take a moment to read the following post and leave your thoughts:

 

Many studies recently have become available about the correlation of what humans take into their bodies through food and the effects of this food upon their bodies. In many cases, it’s been shown that the diet of protein, processed food, refined sugar and genetically modified dairy is not the best way to achieve a healthy mind and body. Studies conducted by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. as published in “The China Study” help people to understand why it’s necessary to control what humans eat and to ensure that what’s going into the body is organic and natural. In addition, the study sheds light on how certain diets actually set people up for chronic disease and cancer. Choosing a holistic lifestyle must be more about living in a way that helps your body heal rather than make it more difficult. These are some of the basic principles to getting started.

 

How to Go Holistic

 

One of the main parts of starting a holistic diet is that you throw away most of the food in your refrigerator and pantry. It’s simply not going to help you to eat processed food, food with preservatives, genetically modified food or food littered with pesticides and herbicides. Every holistic lifestyle usually consists of organic eating principles, meaning that your fruits and vegetables don’t contain pesticides and herbicides, and your protein and dairy choices are not genetically modified. While it’s not entirely promoted to change to a completely plant-based diet, many studies like “The China Study” promote a predominantly plant-based diet to help the body heal and start cleaning out the toxins that can be found from eating foods with aspartame, MSG, high fructose corn syrup and various other chemicals that you see in most of the food at the grocery store.

 

Detoxing the Body

 

Holistic lifestyle is about a balance in the body and mind. To have more energy, strength, better health and well-being, it’s necessary to detox the human body. Some people choose to go through extreme methods, such as buying food products designed for detox like certain medicated drinks or even doing enemas, but really it’s about eating food that will help your body trap toxins, flush them out of the body and repair. Some of the foods that can definitely help detoxify your system include beets, celery, apples, chia seeds, flaxseed oil, broccoli sprouts, lemons and dark leafy green vegetables such as kale, collard greens and swiss chard.

 

Using Holistic as a Philosophy

 

If you consistently monitor what goes into your body, you’ll begin to see results right away. Many start this process by being a juicer and adding in all sorts of vegetables together to produce a liquid meal of detoxing agents but also help to repair the parts of the body that are suffering from malnutrition. Sufferers of any type of cancer, including mesothelioma, can benefit from a holistic lifestyle.

 

Dessert Daily? Kim’s Top 5 Dessert Picks

Strawberry ice cream dessert

Strawberry ice cream dessert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have an incredible sweet tooth. In fact, when I was pregnant it got so bad that if I didn’t have some version of triple chocolate ice cream in my freezer every night I’d have a meltdown! Seriously! So naturally that sweet tooth has managed to infiltrate my daily food regime even still, three years later!

It’s essential to have some type of sweet every night before bed else I can’t sleep. Period. Sounds crazy right? Well, fact of the matter is as long as you are staying active regularly, dessert can fit into your life too. How and what kind of desserts you ask? Below are my top 10 desserts. Keep in mind, i do not allow myself to go over 300 calories on dessert….EVER. So all the suggestions below fall into the 100-300 calorie range making them totally possible! Also side note, I try hard to take into consideration more than just calories but things like sugar and fat. I don’t always hit the mark since it is dessert, however these were evaluated as not being too over the top.

Kim’s Top 5 Dessert Nominee’s:

1. Greek Frozen Yogurt – This treat is awesome! I stumbled upon the vanilla 0% frozen yogurt at my local Trader Joe’s a few weeks back. I have since then purchased Oikos 0% brand from Whole Foods both great options and at 100 calories, 0 grams of fat per 1/2 cup can we really even call this a sweet? Dress this frozen yogurt up with any of the following topics to take it from breakfast to dessert: banana slices, cool whip, crushed graham crackers, strawberries, blueberries, even a little bit of peanut butter mixed in tastes great… you get the picture!

2. Jello 60 calorie pudding snacks – Take anyone of these guilt-free flavors and add some cool whip on top or fruit mixed in and it’s a great tasting, still healthy treat. I’m a fan of mixing blueberries in with the vanilla flavor complete with a top of cool whip.

3. Smoothie turns Milkshake – blend up your favorite fruits, peanut butter, add in chocolate almond milk (dark, or milk chocolate) and blend! Healthy chocolate milkshake. (p.s. the almond and soy also have strawberry flavors to test out)

4. Smart Ones Desserts Here you have a multitude of options to satisfy any sweet tooth like key lime pie, strawberry shortcake, chocolate chip cookie dough, turtle sundae…the list goes on. A delectable choice for dessert all coming in at well under 200 calories.

5. Shortcake Dessert Cups – more commonly known for the vanilla flavor and in creation of strawberry shortcakes, but don’t let that stop you. Add in your favorite fruit instead of strawberry or swap out the vanilla up for the chocolate cups with diced banana and cool whip.  Unfortunately Hostess made some of the best versions of these but have closed their doors as of this past winter.  Whole foods, Target, and Walmart sell versions however Whole Foods is the only place I have seen the tasty chocolate dessert cups.

To close, as you see from the five examples above there is no reason to avoid dessert from your lifestyle.  There are many options out there that can fill that void.  So next time skip that extra serving of chips and save some room for one of the above in your day.  You won’t regret it!

Written by Kimberly Evans

Winter Squash Recipes: Spaghetti Squash

This year  have found a new obsession with winter squashes: butternut, spaghetti, acorn… you name it I’ll eat it.   I wanted to create a series of posts for you to enjoy with alternative options/recipes using winter squashes that you may have not tried or even known about before.  This post is dedicated to the first squash of the three: Spaghetti.

Thanks to a recommendation of a coworker, I have unlocked the secret to healthy pasta dishes without having to chomp down on stinky, literally squeaky alternatives like shirtaki noodles.  The answer my friends is spaghetti squash!  Have you ever seen one?  Do you even know where to find one?  Took me a bit of investigating and i did find that not all grocery stores had these so don’t get discouraged if you can’t find one either.  I have found them at Jewel and a local grocery store but have not been as lucky at larger chains like Target, Walmart, or even Whole Foods.  They are bright yellow (similar to yellow zucchini squash in color) but shaped round like a pumpkin.  I get them at my local Jewel in which they are placed by the other squashes in a unchilled area of the produce section next to the potatoes and onions.

Once purchased spaghetti squash is really easy to cook.  For those with less patience for cooking like myself, the squash can be microwaved!  For prep you just need to be sure to poke holes into its sides exactly like you would when cooking a potato. Pop the squash in the microwave on a paper plate for 8-10 minutes and voila it’s done!  if you have time or prefer to cook it in the oven it will take you approximately 45 minutes and the directions for prep are much different (see the squash’s label for details).  Now that you’ve fully cooked your squash you are ready to shred the insides and dress it up!

alt= "spaghetti squash HoneyCrunched recipe"

Spaghetti Squash freshly shredded

Below is just one of the many recipes you can make with spaghetti squash:

Pesto Chicken Spaghetti Squash:

1. Cook squash in microwave/oven until tender

2. Cut in half and scoop out all of the seeds

3. Take a fork and scrape the insides of the squash until you reach the rind

4.  Mix in 1 tbsp of olive oil and a pesto dry seasoning

5. Mix in chicken sausage or grilled chicken, chickpeas, parmesan cheese, spinach, red peppers and anything else to dress it up (in this recipe i added leftover ingredients from my fridge: chickpeas, mushrooms, and black olives)

6. Season with salt, pepper, garlic to taste and that’s it!

True it is a little more crunchy in texture than pasta, but you can’t expect it to be a perfect match since it’s not actual pasta anyways.  Plus it’s a vegetable so it’s packed with nutrients!

alt = "pesto chicken spaghetti squash recipe"