4 Healthy Ways to Indulge this Weekend

Let’s be real for a second. Does the word “indulge” freak you out a little bit? If your focus has been on achieving the “perfect” meal plan or if you’ve been trying to gain control of your life through food, odds are good that the word “indulge” is a pretty scary word. It may seem counter intuitive to a well-balanced meal plan. But I’ll let you in on a little secret…

Indulgences are a totally normal part of being a healthy, happy eater! Where we get into trouble sometimes is when that indulgence leads to a place of discomfort. Whether that’s physical discomfort or emotional discomfort, neither allow us to feel amazing.

Chocolate

So how do we find that healthy balance? Here are a few tips to indulge this weekend:

Don’t skip meals. Seriously, your body doesn’t like it. Plus, you may find it more difficult to make mindful decisions when food does become available. If you let your hunger get to severe, you may also find it more difficult to eat slowly or recognize when your body is comfortably full.

Don’t settle. What foods come to mind when you think of the word “indulgence?” Or how about “decadent?” Be really specific. There is a BIG difference between a flourless chocolate cake and a Mr. Goodbar. Identifying which foods are irresistible versus ones you just kind of like can really help you make better decisions about what you are willing to incorporate into your meal plan.

Savor each bite. When you slow down and enjoy your indulgence, odds are good that you will naturally eat smaller amounts and still feel pretty satisfied. Remember, indulgences are okay, but its easy to over do it if you aren’t paying attention.

Rethink your indulgences. Who says indulgent foods aren’t also good for you foods as well? Not me! Many of my favorite indulgences are really double agents – providing great nutritional value AND great enjoyment! Avocado, salmon, wine, almonds and really dark chocolate are a few of my favorite indulgences and guess what!?! They are indulgences that offer me not only increased meal time satisfaction, but really boost the value of my meal.

So rethink those favorite treats and remember that there is absolutely a place for them on your plate. Just be sure you are approaching their inclusion with a balance mind set for optimal eating success.

What are some of your favorite indulgences and how do you incorporate them into your day? 

Get Your Protein Fix In With These Handy Tips

I’ve been on a MAJOR protein kick lately. Ever since I got back from my Nutrition Adventure with the Beef Council in Kansas City, it seems like I’ve been seeing protein-related research and conversation popping up EVERYWHERE! Bottom line: protein is important, your body needs it, you should be incorporating it into every meal and snack you have.

Salmon

Why? Well, there are actually many reasons why you want to make sure you get optimal protein levels. Its a required nutrient for many of your body’s functions. It may also be a crucial component for weight management. Just like fiber and fat, it would appear protein can make your meals feel a little more satisfying, thus allowing you to better eat within your means.

So where can you find protein?

Protein is actually pretty abundant in our food supply, but if you’re really looking to amp up your protein, you may want to make sure at least one of these foods makes its way into each meal:

Lean Meats
Seafood
Low-fat Dairy
Beans
Nuts & Seeds (nut & seed butters too!)
Eggs
Soy

Need some more ideas? Check out my latest article in the Morning Sun!

Also, if you are a research nerd like me, here are a few articles and studies you may particularly enjoy highlighting some of the new research on protein. Enjoy!

High Protein Snacking – Today’s Dietitian

The Role of Protein in in Weight Loss and Maintenance – The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Defining Meal Requirements for Protein to Optimize Metabolic Roles of Amino Acids – The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Protein and Healthy Aging – The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

How do you add protein to your day? We’d love to hear your suggestions and share them with our readers!

5 Brain Boosting Foods to Add to Your Plate ASAP!

Your brain is arguably the most complex organ in your body. There, you store memories, images, process thoughts, relay messages for movement and control all of your body’s functions!  Despite its many responsibilities in running your body, it is often the organ likely ignored when evaluating your diet. Just like your other muscles, your brain requires certain nutrients and a lot of energy to properly function and keep your mind sharp. Curious what foods can help maximize your brain power? Here are 5 you’ll want to incorporate ASAP!

Related: Join Us in Raising Awareness for Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders 

Wild salmon

Fatty fish like salmon should definitely be apart of your regular meal plan if it isn’t already. It makes our list of brain power foods primarily because of its omega-3 fatty acid content.  Salmon is a particularly rich source of DHA and EPA, two powerful forms of omega-3 fatty acids. Both of which are found in the brain and help to make sure messages are transferred from one area to the next.  Not only are these Omega-3s important for adults, but DHA and EPA are essential for brain development in children! All around, a GREAT nutrient for the whole family!  

Other foods that can also contribute to your omega-3 fatty acid daily intake: Avocado, Chia seeds, whole nuts, canned tuna and herring

Oatmeal 

Complex carbohydrates are the superstar nutrient for brain function and concentration. Your brain is no different than other moving, working organs in your body and requires just as much, if not more, energy to work. That specific energy best comes from complex carbohydrates (like whole wheat bread or pasta), which unlike simple carbohydrates (think table sugar and white bread) are slower to digest. This means a more steady supply of energy and better mood throughout the day. Talk about a win for you and your colleagues, right?

Other foods that can also contribute to your complex carbohydrate intake: Sweet potatoes, whole wheat bread, quinoa 

Blueberries 

Blueberries have celebrity status in the world of food. They are loved not only for their flavor, but their rich antioxidant content too. Not only that, they are packed with essential vitamins and minerals!  Research shows that the high flavonoid content in blueberries may improve long and short-term memory in healthy individuals, as well as those suffering from dementia. The great thing too is that you don’t need a TON of blueberries to maximize your health. Instead, look for ways to incorporate the 1 cup recommended serving into your day. Blueberries work well in…. oatmeal, yogurt and cottage cheese!

Other foods that can also contribute to your antioxidant intake:  Cooked Artichoke, Raspberries, Cranberries and Strawberries 

Eggs  

Egg whites are often the notable portion of an egg; however, when it comes to brain health, the yolk is pretty important too! Yolks contain choline, folate and vitamin B12 – nutrients all suggested to help with cognitive function. So do your brain a favor and consider a whole-egg based breakfast to start your day off right.

Other foods that can help you incorporate these essential nutrients: Spinach, Pork and Salmon 

Watermelon 

One of watermelon’s best attributes is its high water content! Staying hydrated is incredibly important for overall health, but where our brain is concerned, not getting enough liquids in our day can negatively impact mood, concentration, focus and motivation. Keep your water levels up by drinking 8-13 eight ounce servings per day.

Other foods that can help you stay hydrated this summer: Cucumbers, Celery, Broccoli and Grapefruits 

Looking for creative ways to incorporate these brain-boosting foods into your day? Grab our latest handout!

Brain Boosting Foods Handout

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. For more information Alzheimer’s disease or to support the Alzheimer’s Organization, please visit http://www.alz.org.

A Few Veggies To Look Forward to This Year with Central Michigan CSA

There is nothing quite like spring. A somewhat in-between season that is full of hope, excitement and anticipation.

This year, like every other year before it, I find myself ready for not only consistently warmer days here in Michigan, but flavorful, local produce as well!

If you live in Michigan like I, you too are probably pretty excited to leave winter behind. Hopefully, you are also pretty excited about fresh produce and the added flavors, textures, aromas, and experience the versatility Michigan produce can provide.

Farmer's Basket

Thanks to some of our local farmers, getting access to that local produce has never been easier. In fact, this year, I’d encourage you to check out the Community Support Agriculture (CSA) programs in your area. Not only will this ensure you get fresh, quality produce consistently throughout the growing season, but you’ll also enjoy the convenience of nearby pick up locations within your community.

Although CSA programs can vary in what they offer, I spoke with Joe Crawford from the Central Michigan CSA in order to discover what produce one might expect here in Central Michigan. For my veggie lover fanatics, you’ll be pretty excited about what Joe expects to be available this year. For my not-so-keen-on-veggie fans, perhaps I can entice you to at least consider incorporating an extra serving or two.

Although Michigan has a variety of produce to choose from each growing season, there are a few veggies in particular that you may want to take note of– especially throughout the earlier part of the season. Although all veggies offer great benefits, there are a few that tend to stand out from the rest. You can expect to find these and more in your Central Michigan CSA shares this season.

Curious to know which veggies I’m talking about? This year, let’s get excited about kale, Chinese cabbage, Swiss chard, radishes, and tomatoes! All are expected to be in supply and are loaded with good-for-you nutrients. Of course, these aren’t all you’ll find in your shares this year, but these may be ones you’ll want to get more familiar with after you discover their unique nutrient profiles.

Kale and Chinese Cabbage 

Kale and Chinese cabbage may be utilized differently in the kitchen, but both share some pretty interesting nutritional benefits. First, both kale and Chinese cabbage have cholesterol lowering benefits thanks to the fiber they contain. To maximize these benefits though, you may want to consider steaming these particular veggies first. This will allow the fiber to better bind with bile acids in your gastrointestinal tract.

Kale and Chinese cabbage also contain glucosinolates – natural components that have shown certain cancer prevention properties in some studies.

Kale is also considered to be a “super food” by many. This may be because it contains over 45 different flavonoids, making it both an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory powerhouse! It also contains almost 3 grams of protein, which is pretty impressive for a vegetable, and small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

Chinese cabbage doesn’t tout quite as many nutritional accolades as kale, but it can add a unique flavor and crunch to your favorite summer burger while also ensuring you are getting more vitamin C and K into your meal plan plus all that great fiber it provides.

Swiss Chard 

I bet you never realized all the versatility found in leafy greens! Swiss chard is another leafy green that you may want to give a go this season. Not quite sure how to incorporate it? Simply sauté in olive oil and add a little cheese! Or throw into your next omelet or batch of scrambled eggs. Swiss chard belongs to the chenopod family along with beets, spinach and quinoa. Talk about a power family! You’ll find 13 different types of polyphenols in Swiss chard in addition to vitamin K, C, and A. Again, this means we’ve got some major anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory action going on here. Some animal studies have also shown benefits in blood sugar regulation with the incorporation of Swiss chard into a regular meal plan.

Radishes

Radishes may not seem super versatile, but in reality, they can add great flavor and crunch to all sorts of dishes. From a nutritional standpoint, you’ll find that radishes are also loaded with fiber, vitamin C, folate, and potassium.

To make good use of them, here are a few suggestions our own Nutrition Expert, Michelle Voss, RD, shared at her last in-store class:

  • Slice into everyday salads
  • Top off some whole grain crackers and add some Laughing Cow Cheese
  • Throw into a light cucumber salad
  • Create radish chips in your oven
  • Pickle them and add to fish tacos

Tomatoes

This vegetable (or fruit, depending on how you label things) is probably a little more common to most households, but let’s not forget all a tomato has to offer. First, they contain all four types of carotenoids – including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene. They too are also rich in fiber and have a pretty high water content – something especially important to consider during the hot days of summer. Because of its unique nutrient profile, tomatoes have been linked to reduced risk of multiple chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

This year, I hope you are able to incorporate fresh produce from your corner of the world into your day. Not quite sure where to look? Check out LocalHarvest.org to discover fresh, local foods in your area.

For my Central Michigan fans, consider checking out Central Michigan CSA and learn more about the farming philosophy behind it and what you can expect from one of your local farmer’s this year.

Disclaimer/Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Central Michigan CSA. We did receive compensation for writing it; however, all opinions expressed are Kati’s alone. We just thought you should know. For a full list of our disclaimer and disclosure policies, please visit our legal page.

Top 5 Reasons to Make Curry Your Favorite Spice

Yellow, zesty and wonderful, curry powder has more to offer than just making your taste buds tingle. An Indian staple, curry powder is a combination of spices that include turmeric, coriander, and cardamom plus a variety of other spices that make each combination unique. Put these spices together and viola- an antioxidant power house is born, which makes using this spice high on the “use often” list.

Curry Powder
Our favorite Curry Powder is from Spice Society! We have it available at thePlate Boutique in Mt. Pleasant if you want to come and check it out!

 

Here are the Top 5 Reasons Curry Powder should be in your next meal:

1. Out of this World Flavor. We are all about how things taste here at Around the Plate, and the ethnic blend of curry spices melts perfectly together on your taste buds and takes homemade to a whole new level. It does not have to be complicated to be delicious with curry; consider sprinkling a bit of curry powder on your popcorn, or on top of your baked sweet potato fries.

2. Reduce inflammation. When you consider that stress can increase overall inflammation and that it can lead to all sorts of other health problems, it is really exciting to find a food (or spice!) that will help reduce that pesky precursor.  Luckily, curry powder is on the research hot list for this exact reason. Spice up, and spice often!

3. Indigestion Relief.  Since some of the spices in curry are from the ginger family, which is known to aid in indigestion, it only makes sense that their curry cousin would want to help too.  Strong studies show that curry powder may help with an upset tummy by stimulating the gallbladder to release extra bile.

4. Natural Food Coloring. Turmeric, one of the spices included in many curry powder combos can add a yellow hue to food.  Consider adding a fun color to mashed cauliflower with curry powder, changing the color scheme from white to exciting yellow!

5. Heart Healthy. Working on reducing hypertension or avoiding the morning bloat? Curry powder is an excellent choice to season with because it will skip adding salt to your meal but will definitely add mega flavor.  This spice can substitute garlic salt, season salt, or even sea salt giving you an overall savings of up to 25% of daily salt intake!

Need a few ideas on how to incorporate curry in your next meal? Check out this recipe for an amazing way to utilize curry at the dinner table, Black Bean and Sweet Potato Curry. Or, get creative with curry in a current recipe by swapping out a spice and putting curry in its place.  Happy cooking!

Have you ever cooked with curry before? What are some of your favorite meals and snacks to incorporate it in?