Tri-colored quinoa stir fry
A blog dedicated to exercise, nutrition and my life
Filtering by Category: "whole grain"
Tri-colored quinoa stir fry
Lunch n' Learns are my favorite kind of talks. One hour of learning and the participants don't have to be hungry as I talk about food.
Yesterday I gave a local Lunch n' Learn to a wonderful group of individuals from Northwestern Mutual. I spent much of my talk discussing 3 common myths (gluten free diet, fruits and veggies to improve mood and fat burning exercise) but the underlying message was discussing lifestyle modifications and a different approach to thinking about life rather than spending so much energy on diet, the body and exercise. Certainly, diet and exercise make for a quality life but we all have our own personal goals and we can't wrap up all our energy trying to be like others, looking like others or achieving the goals of others.
At the end of the talk, a male asked me about quick meals. He said that he doesn't have time to cook because he comes home starving and he also doesn't want to make extravagant meals.
An easy answer would be to suggest foods that are "healthy" and "quick" for I think that was why he asked the question. "Can you tell me what to eat......"
But I knew that wasn't the right answer - just to tell him what to do and ignore the underlying issue. It wasn't that he needed something quick but rather than he needed to make more time for the nutrients that will fuel his lifestyle. Skipping over the underlying issue of his time management and addressing his thoughts of the all or nothing approach to "healthy" eating (ex. "I don't have time to make extravagant meals") would not solve his problem...which actually had little to do with his diet in order to be healthy but rather his lifestyle that was preventing time to be given toward improving overall health.
In my Fall 2012/Winter 2013 issue of The Wellness Advisor there were so many great articles, I stayed up extra late last night (9:30pm) in order to read the entire magazine. My stack of journals, magazines and research grows weekly so I try to read a little every night before I go to bed.
On Pg. 4-5 there was a great article on "Confessions of Successful Dieters."
Here are a few of the strategies (from the National Weight Control Registry) and characteristics of people who have succeeded at long-term weight loss. Because I don't believe in diets or meal plans, I hope these suggestions are helpful to allow you to think differently about food and your body. Keep in mind that out of all the thousands of tips out there, the most important thing you can change is your lifestyle. It's not about one food group, how much/little you exercise or what you weigh. These tips are only suggestions for modifying the lifestyle is the best way for you to see progress and to have fun along the way.
1) They have changed the types of foods they eat, decreasing their intake of foods associated with weight gain (eating fewer foods that are high in fat and sugar).
2) They have learned to eat smaller portions (fill up instead on calorie-dense fruits and veggies).
3) They eat a low calorie/low fat diet (about 24% calories come from fat).
4) They count calories (not daily but if you start to see your weight go up a few lbs, it's time to assess your calorie intake. Use a food diary or other method to see where calories are coming from).
5) They self-monitor (they weigh themselves regularly. They've learned the scale is their friend because more than your favorite jeans (which can stretch), it can alert them quickly if they start to gain weight. That means they can take corrective action sooner).
6) They aren't afraid to ask for help (45% of registry members achieved and maintained weight loss on their own, the majority 55% sought some sort of support, such as weight loss programs or with a RD.
7) 78% eat breakfast.
8) They prepare most of their meals at home (they only eat out about 3 times a week and less than one meal per week is at fast food/quick serve restaurant. They've learned how to make healthier menu choices.
9) They watch very little TV (less than 10 hours of TV/week vs the average American spending about 28 hrs in front of the TV. These are people who believe in physical activity and realize they need to be up and moving).
10) They engage in regular physical activity (77% walk almost an hour each day).
When it comes to meal planning - consider the value of the foods you are putting into your body. Dedicate time to preparing and enjoying meals that will help fuel your workouts and your lifestyle. Don't put pressure on yourself to be perfect. Think about a creation as a meal - a simple mixture of foods that will make an extravagant dish.
Quinoa, black beans and pineapple stir fry w/ almonds
Pineapple (canned in juice, rinsed)
Black beans (canned, rinsed under cold water for 1 minute)
Leeks (or onions - sliced/chopped)
1. In large bowl, combine equal servings of pineapple and beans (ex. 1 cup of each).
3) Add slivered almonds (~1/8-1/4 cup)
4) Add leeks and onions (to taste, around 1/3-1/2 cup)
5) Toss in 1/2 - 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil (to taste, add a little as you stir and taste)
6) Season w/ spices/herbs to your liking.
7) In your shallow bowl, mix together 1/2 - 1 cup cooked quinoa w/ the above mixture. Recommend top quinoa mix on bed of greens as a meal or serve as a side/snack.
(I don't measure - feel free to adjust as needed to your liking to make your own creation)
Used in soups, dressings, breads and baked goods, I was really excited to get creative with a new whole grain....
Here's the nutrition facts of Amaranth:
Ingredients: organic whole amaranth grain (from Arrowhead Mills bag)
Serving size 1/4 cup (47grams)
"Amaranth has been cultivated as a grain for 8,000 years. The yield of grain amaranth is comparable to rice or maize. It was a staple food of the Aztecs, and was used as an integral part of Aztec religious ceremonies." - Wikipedia
Many people fear whole grains....because they are "carbs". Others, because they have "calories". Knowing that most people need at minimum 1500 calories to support daily living and activity, where are you getting your calories from??
It is very common for individuals to justify eating "this" or not eating "that" and to excuse eating "it" because they burned it off in training. Certainly, with the many hundreds and hundreds of calories that you can consume on a daily basis, is it really worthwhile to pass on a delicious, high fiber, high protein, highly nutritious option (such as a whole grain) and to choose the 100 calorie granola bar or sugar-free pudding?
To repeat myself, if you know you need to eat calories, where are they coming from in your diet? There is room for everything you want in the diet but at the end of the day, you have to address your health, performance and body composition goals when determining what and how much you should be eating to improve quality of life...and in my world, dark chocolate is needed for a quality-filled life :)
Secondly, once you assess the composition of your diet, identify your reasons for eating both at meal and snack time as well as any other time of the day.
Food is for fuel and for health. It is also at every celebration party and holiday. But sadly, it is not a way to solve problems, cure emotional problems, de-stress you or keep you awake when you should be sleeping. Be kind to your body, always thinking of the now and the future.
I try to keep my diet simple...real food. Because this is a lifestyle for me, I want to stress that for other people, you may still be in a stage of changing habits and it is hard to appreciate a more real food diet. That's ok...everyone is in their own journey and you can not rush the journey.
Here's a few suggestions:
1) Bulk up on greens for your meals. This is not a "diet" trick..this is a powerful nutrition suggestion. I will be discussing some options for greens in a future blog but as you can see in my pics below (w/ recipe), there is a lot more volume that comes with eating greens (or veggies) without sacrificing flavor or even some of your favorite foods. Whereas many people see salads as "diet" food, for me they are meals.
If anyone wants to argue with me about this.....how can you make a sandwich without two pieces of bread? Now a day, there are countless "diet" breads available and in all honesty, how much can you actually stuff between two slices of bread. When it comes to salads, greens are simply my "bread". It is something to hold all the goodness that comes with my toppings, such as healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, oils), whole grains and protein. So, next time you are eating a salad, be sure it isn't boring and be proud of your "meal".
2) Shop seasonal and shop around. If you think I pay a lot for groceries, you are kinda right. We go through fresh food FAST in the sumbal household but we also eat meals prepared from home (breakfast, lunch, dinner). However, I shop around for the best purchases. I found the most beautiful cherries at wal-mart today for almost $2 cheaper per lb compared to Publix. But at Publix last Thurs, Plantars Pistachios were on sale - buy one get one free for $6.37 - so I got 4 for less than $13! Peaches were on sale at Whole Foods Market (I rarely shop there but fun when I go and not always that much more expensive than non-organic) so when I got my whole grains, I also found red leaf lettuce for a great price. So for a change, we bought some organic produce and used a coupon for a discount. The most important thing in your diet is that you are eating variety - the more color you can eat in your diet...the better.
To say that eating healthy is expensive is not a true statement for many reasons. For it may be more expensive than what you are use to but according to some research, it's all about feeling more satisfied with more volume but not necessarily more calories. It does take some work but it's likely you won't be eating as much throughout the day (feeling more satisfied) and really appreciating each meal and snack. By increasing nutrient density, you are focusing more on nutritional value and really, you can't put a price on that.
But at the end of the day, you have to think about the investment you are putting into your health and life......
For prevention is cheaper than medicine.
I hope you enjoy my latest creation...DE-licious!
Cherry, pistachio and amaranth stir-fry
Cherries (tip for cutting - slice like an orange all the way around the pit)
Firm tofu (cubed)
Frozen sweet peas
Sweet red pepper
Fresh basil (chopped)
Amaranth - or you can use quinoa or brown rice if you can't find amaranth
Your choice of dark green(s)
1. In large pot, set to medium heat and add peas w/ 1-2 tbsp oil. Cook for 2 minutes, stir every 45-60 sec.
2. Add cherries, peaches, tofu, pepper and pistachios to peas. Cook for 8-9 minutes, stir every few minutes.
3. Place 1 cup greens in large, shallow bowl.
4. Turn off heat and add basil.
5. In smaller bowl, add ~1/2 cup mixture + 1/4 cup amaranth and combine with fork.
6. Place on top of greens and enjoy!
(the amaranth is kinda gooey in terms of being clumpy but very shiny - almost sugary looking. Not sure if I didn't cook it right but I suppose the amaranth is best in bakery items because it can likley be mixed in well with wet and dry ingredients).
You decide - what would be more satisfying for you?
(and with more satisfaction comes more powerful nutrients!)
I typically shop at Wal-mart, Publix and Winn Dixie (depending on specials, deals and staple items) so I couldn't wait to bring some new foods home and get creative in my kitchen.
This recipe is brought to you by: Spelt Berries
Not a berry...but a whole grain! According to the Bob Red Mill package
"Spelt is a non-hybrid primitive relative of our present day wheat that dates more than 9,000 years. Spelt has a unique nutty flavor and because of its high water solubility, its vital nutrients are quickly absorbed into the body. Bob's Red Mill Spelt makes a pleasantly chewy hot, whole grain cereal and can be used in place of rice and other grains for a wide array of side dishes. When ground, spelt makes a wonderful baking flour that can be used in most recipes calling for wheat flour."
Here's the nutrition profile:
Ingredients: Whole grain Spelt (wheat)
Serving size: 1/4 cup raw (45grams)
Total fat 1.5grams
Total Carbohydrates: 32grams
Dietary fiber: 4g
Iron: 10% (based on a 2,000 calorie diet)
Excellent source of manganese
Add 1 cup spelt berries to 3 cups boiling water. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1.5 hours.
According to some articles, spelt does not seem to cause sensitivities in some people who are intolerant of wheat. Even though it has gluten, it is a different molecular make up which can be better digested and absorbed than regular wheat.
I love the heartiness of whole grains, especially at dinner. I really savour my dinner meal and I have learned to appreciate the time I put into preparing my dinner meal as I enjoy each bite. I find many people (myself included at one time many years ago) eat dinner too quickly or a meal that lacks satisfaction, only to long for what else is available because of boredom, an empty spot in the stomach or cravings (without room in the tummy).
Whatever inspires you in the kitchen, I invite you to get creative with Spelt Berries and discover a love for this whole grain. YUM!
Edamame, tempeh and mushroom stir fry with spelt berries
Orange sweet peppers
Low Sodium soy sauce (~1 tsp per person)
Mint leaves (fresh - 3 per person)
Spelt berries (prepare ahead of time according to package)
1. On non stick skillet, cook edamame, tempeh, mushrooms and pepper in 1-2 tbsp olive oil on low-medium heat until slightly golden brown.
2. Turn off heat.
3. Prepare a bowl with 1/3 cup spelt berries and top with your portion of veggies. Mix in soy sauce and top with mint leaves.
Have trouble with portion control??
-Eat slowly and be sure to have water with your meal
-Bulk up with veggies from the stir fry (always prepare extra for leftover for lunch the next day)
-Learn to love dark greens which can compliment any meal. Simply place a handful of washed, chopped dark greens (take your pic - there are lots of them out there!) under any meal for more volume and of course, more nutritional value.
-Give yourself time to digest the meal. Appreciate the meal you just put into your body and ask yourself if you are as hungry afterward as you were when you started your meal? Then ask yourself if you could eat an apple? If you say yes, eat an apple. If no, give yourself time to digest the meal and if you do get a little hungry an hour or two later, enjoy a small snack such as a few fresh delicious strawberries.
In the 2012 April issue of Cooking Light, there was a great article on Whole grains. As part of Cooking Light's 12 Healthy habits (1 a month)....
Jan - veggie up
Feb - get moving
March - get cooking
April - whole grains
When it comes to simple..whole grains have you covered. They are a one-pot wonder but now-a-day, extremely overlooked.
On py 58 "only in the last century have refined grains become more popular than whole grains - thanks, in large part, to the introduction of white flour at the industrial level. When left whole, grains are full of protein, fiber, complex carbs, vitamins, and antioxidants, many of which are stripped away in the refining process. A diet rich in whole grains is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and whole grains in the diet seem to help with weight control.
....these nutty, toasty, rich and chewy grains pair well with so many foods and flavors, both robust and delicate.
The average American should eat six servings of grains each day, and the Dietary Guidelines recommend at least half o those be whole. This month's challenge is to work three servings of whole grains into your meals and snacks."
On pg 60. NY times food writer, Mark Bittman says "Explore the variety of grains. "I feel the same way about whole grains as I do about legumes. If you have the stuff on hand, you will wind up eating it. I think wheat berries are sensational likewise farro, kamut, and spelt. There are so many choices - long grain brown rice, short grain brown rice, basmati brown rice - and it's nice to have variety. Play around and see what you like."
Mr. Bittman says he starts every day with oatmeal. "I've always been fascinated by Asian food and Asian breakfasts in particular, so when I have oatmeal, I mix it with dried mushrooms, chopped celerey, scallions and soy sauce. I really like a savory breakfast. When people are repelled by that, I remind them that bacon and eggs are savory also. They just don't think of it that way."
So... inspired by a magazine, I introduce you to a (leftover) barley-inspired recipe....
Baked eggplant and kale, tofu and barley stir-fry
1 large eggplant (sliced)
Olive oil (1 tbsp)
Tofu (firm) - cubed (1/4 container per person)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Kale (1-2 cups per person, it cooks down)
Onions (medium sliced)
Barley (1 serving per person - cooked)
Optional - scrambled eggs (seen in picture under mixture. 1 whole egg scrambled in microwave with skim milk. I added this because I didn't have my egg yet for the day and typically have 1 whole egg daily)
Seasonings of your choice
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and slice eggplant. Brush both sides with olive oil and season to your liking. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
(be sure to use oil on baking sheet to prevent from sticking)
2. On medium skillet, cook onions until golden brown, in 1 tbsp olive oil on medium heat.
3. Reduce heat to low and add in kale and tofu. Stir until coating with oil (add additional oil as needed) and season to your liking.
4. When tofu is golden brown and kale is soft, add small spoonful tahini paste and lightly mix well.
5. Serve 1 serving barley with tofu mixture (combine) and plate with grilled eggplant, topped with pumpkin seeds.
As for sleep, athletes often have no trouble falling asleep due to feeling exhausted after squeezing it all in but then again, many athletes struggle with sleep for a host of reasons. Depending on when you eat dinner and your evening routine, my suggestion is to pass on that evening snack around 8 or 9pm, as you wait to watch a show on TV or as you are catching up on emails or searching around on the net. Immediately after dinner, pack your lunch for tomorrow, lay out your morning workout clothes (or work clothes) and try getting to bed 30-60 minutes earlier than normal. It will do wonders for your mind, health and exercise routine.
Consider this suggestion not as "I'm not allowed to eat after 8pm" but rather that you are prioritizing sleep over that snack that is keeping you up a bit longer than necessary. We all have the same number of hours in the day, it's up to you as to how you use them and prioritize your daily activities. If you are eating a snack in the late hours because you are starving, reflect on the evening meal as well as to how you ate during the rest of the day. Don't forget...avoid going into meals starving, when needed, plan for a pre-meal snack around 30-90 minutes before the meal is served.
Next time you are considering a day off from structured training, first remind yourself that the body does not enjoy to be sedentary. Knowing that a day off from weight-bearing activity is a beautiful thing for the body on a weekly basis, it is also nice to just go for a walk or take a yoga class. Not every day needs to include a sweaty workout with intense intervals. Perhaps, next time you are anticipating a day off from training, remind yourself that the day after your "day off" will likely bring a well-rested body and the ability to push hard for 5 or 6 consecutive days of training.
After sleeping in on Monday and working all day in the hospital, I finished my day with a little time in my kitchen....one of my favorite places and things to do.
Sleep was great on Sunday and Monday evening and this morning, I welcomed a tough workout with what felt like a brand new body. Even though last week was a recovery week, I kept feeling as if my body was not able to produce its normal "power". Although my workouts just didn't require a lot of speed, I felt like I didn't have "it" even if I was not asked to give "it". That's one of the many beauties of training. If planned appropriately, with balance in mind, the body will respond when called to action. This morning happpened to be one of those amazing quality workouts.
But, perhaps it was the meal that sat so nicely in my tummy and gave me the right amount of satisfaction to go to bed early and wake up with a body full of energy? I suppose that's part of life..there are so many components that make for quality living. When balance is the key, everything seems to fall into place.
I am so excited about my latest recipe that I had intended to be Karel's breakfast for this morning. However, as I was making it, I couldn' resist having it for dinner so I decided to call it a "breakfast" casserole for those who are seeking something different and really satisfying to fill your tummy in the morning (or evening) hours.
Broccoli breakfast casserole
2 cups broccoli (steamed in microwave) OR enough broccoli to cover the bottom of your glass casserole dish
2 cups leftover bean and veggie soup (
Plbeany crockpot soup) or 1 can vegetable soup or 2 cups mixed veggies (cooked)
4 eggs (2 whole, 2 whites)
1 heaping tbsp plain 0% greek yogurt (or plain non fat yogurt) + 1 tbsp water
Palm-sized baguette (place in bag and crush with bottom of a bowl or cup until you get bread crumps. A few thick pieces can remain) OR 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Pepper, chili powder, dash of sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In casserole dish, layer broccoli and steam in thin layer of water, until soft. Keep any remaining juice.
3. Layer soup or veggies (without liquid) on broccoli.
4. Sprinkle bread crumbs and seasonings (to your taste).
5. Combine eggs and yogurt and water and scramble until slightly thick.
6. Pour eggs over veggie mixture and stir with wooden spoon to combine all ingredients.
7. Cook in oven for 30-35 minutes or until eggs are firm.
Side dish #1:
1. In pot, cook according to package. Allow 1 1/4 hours to cook (prepare ahead of time when making the casserole or the day before).
Side dish #2:
1 bag raw peanuts
1. In oven set at 350-degrees, place peanuts on baking dish until spread evenly.
2. Cook for 20-25 minutes, give a light toss (out of the oven) around 15 minutes.
Finished product.....similar foods, different quantities. Never forget that you are always eating for YOU and what works best for you. You know your body the best. Eating shouldn't be a stressful time. Keep in mind that there are many ways to eat a healthful diet, built on plant-strong foods.
Barely on bottom, casserole and peanuts on top