Infographic: Oats My Gosh!

Oats My Gosh! Infographic

Brought to you by: Pollock Communications in collaboration with Quaker Oats Center of Excellence

Let’s talk about oats, shall we? As a versatile whole grain, they can add a lot of nutrition to your plate and even make it easier to incorporate other nutrient-foods into your day. Take a simple bowl of oatmeal for example. Nuts and nut butters, seeds, fruit, and even veggies and lean proteins can be mixed in to your bowl. Its such an easy way to bring multiple foods together and enjoy a super hearty dish.

Related: 3 Creative Ways to Add Oats to Your Day 

But oats on their own are also a nutrient powerhouse. As the infographic above explains, adding oats to your day can increase your fiber, magnesium and iron intake for the day. Oats also contain some of your B vitamins too.

Given the many different types of oats available, it may seem as though some may offer more nutritional benefit than others. In reality though, all types of oats provide pretty similar nutritional benefit. When it comes to instant oats; consider purchasing unflavored varieties. Flavored instant oatmeal packets can often have added sugar and ingredients that you may not necessarily want. If you are worried that plain oats will be too drab, no worries! Remember, its easy to add flavor and nutrition with all sorts of delicious ingredient add-ins!

Related: Oats of Steel 

Personally, I’m a steel-cut oats type of girl. Sure, it takes a little bit longer to prepare, but I think its worth it. And a bowl isn’t the only place for your oats to go. Adding them to your favorite yogurt, topping off your favorite fruit and adding a dash of cinnamon, incorporating them into your homemade granola, or making those oh-so popular protein balls… really, the possibilities are endless!

So get ready to say “Oat My Gosh!” this month and do your heart a favor by giving oats a go. You may just find that incorporating oats into your day is a easy way to start creating more meals at home this year.

Do you enjoy oats? What’s your favorite way to incorporate them into your day? 

Be KIND to Yourself this New Year & Enter to Win a Box of KIND Bars!

How are those New Years resolutions going? Well, if you are like most people, the excitement may be starting to wain. In fact, this weekend could very well be called the make or break weekend; after all, today is “Ditch the Resolution” Saturday. Yep, its a thing. I looked it up.

We don’t want you to ditch your healthy eating goals though. No, this will be the year you are successful! Why? Because you have us on your team and we’re pretty good at seeing things through.

Change is hard though and there are often many reasons we don’t see resolutions through. Perhaps the goal set was unrealistic or perhaps the steps to get there were hard to implement. Or perhaps our expectations on how quickly the resolution would change our lives was inaccurate. After all, New Years resolutions are often pretty lofty goals that sound really great when we write them down or say them out loud, but when it comes down to implementation, they often require not just one change, but multiple changes that require consistency, dedication, and hard work. And while you are making those changes, its easy to be unprepared – especially if your new plan involves giving up certain foods you love!

I like to call this “phantom change;” where one positive change results in a compensatory change to make up for that food or foods you’ve given up and its not always a change for the good. This change is a secondary, possibly even unconscious one that is important to address. Because if you aren’t prepared for it, odds are good you’ll end up back where you started.

So how do you address phantom change? Well, when it comes to food, I think its important to set goals that don’t focus on elimination or deprivation. Instead, look for ways to enhance your meal plan by incorporating more of the foods your body needs that might be lacking. This way you are less likely to try and compensate for those foods you gave up. As you make changes to the way you eat, its also important to have super simple back ups so that you don’t get stuck eating too little and know that your diet is adequate no matter what. This is where back up foods become incredibly important. Perhaps its always having a piece of fresh fruit available on your counter or in your car. Or maybe its ensuring your fridge is always stocked up with a few of your favorite veggies or yogurt. Or maybe its even having a nutrient-rich snack bar in your bag at all times just in case you get hungry in between meals. Now many different bars on the market would work well for this purpose, but I was recently sent a box of KIND bars to review, and these really would make a great choice. They have a nice mix of healthy fats, protein and fiber to ensure your hunger is satisfied. When choosing a snack bar, this is important. You also want to make sure quality ingredients make up most of the ingredient list (think nuts, fruits, seeds, etc) and minimal sugar has been added. I like to be able to actually see real food in my snack bar, and KIND bars do a great job at that – just look at all the fruits and nuts in each one!  Snack bars really can be a way to conveniently keep on track while you’re picking up steam on meeting your overall healthy eating resolution.

KIND Bars

If incorporating more nutrient-rich foods into your meal plan is a relatively new practice for you, these back up foods can make all the difference. It takes the pressure off to always try a new recipe or meal, and allows you to have a little wiggle room as you make change happen. Remember, change doesn’t and shouldn’t happen over night. Despite that, it can be very frustrating when you start incorporating better for you foods because it may be less convenient than the way you were eating before… at least in the beginning. It will get easier as you progress, and pretty soon you’ll be wondering why you weren’t eating more good-for-you eats all along.

So this year, we hope you’ll be KIND to yourself and have a few back up foods in place so that the pressure to meet your goal automatically is reduced. DON’T ditch the resolution today. Keep at it. You’ve got this! And if you need a little extra encouragement, you know where to find us!

Fun fact: We always have a few KIND bars in our “emergency stash” here at thePlate Boutique just in case hunger strikes. Running retail, there are many occasions where we just can’t leave to go and grab lunch and, even though I pack my lunch everyday, I sometimes get a bad case of munchies right around 3pm. KIND bars are one way to ensure I don’t leave work famished or hangry!

Love KIND bars as much as I do or need a stash for when hunger strikes? Thanks to our friends at KIND, we’re going to be giving away 10 bars to one lucky Around the Plate reader. To enter, follow the directions below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can’t wait to see who wins? Use coupon code KINDNUTRITION15 and take 15% off and get FREE SHIPPING on a case of KIND now through February. Limit one discount per customer.

Disclaimer/Disclosure: Kati received a free box of KIND bars for her review. She was not monetarily compensated for this post and the opinions expressed are hers alone. We just thought you should know. For a full list of our disclosure and disclaimer policies, please read our legal page

 

9 Easy Ways to Add Lemon to Your Day

Food versatility is super important! The more versatile a food is, the more likely you are to incorporate it into your meal plan. Not only that, but you may also find your food budget becoming more manageable when you can get more bang for your buck with each food you purchase.

When it comes to versatility, one food in particular comes to mind for me – lemons! In fact, it is one food that I typically like to see in my clients kitchens. Why? Because they are so well-suited for a variety of dishes. Not to mention how nutrient-rich they are.

Lemon Slices

Although they aren’t at their peak this time of year, they are available all the time at local grocery marts.Despite the fact that this isn’t their prime season, I think they are an especially important addition to your meal plan throughout the winter months. Primarily because of their high antioxidant content. Did you know that 1/4 cup of lemon juice can provide 31% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C? Its true! But that’s not all you’ll find in a lemon. Both lemons and limes have unique flavonoids that have additional antioxidant properties; important for boosting immune function. So with each squeeze, just imagine all you’re doing for your health.

Believe it or not though, the juice isn’t the only nutrient-containing part of a lemon. In fact, a whole lemon will also provide your meal plan with some fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and copper. So… how do you use your lemon to maximize nutritional benefit?

We asked a few of our dietitian friends how they incorporate lemons into their day. Here are a few of their amazing suggestions:

  •  Put lemon slices in warm water and enjoy in the morning to get your digestive system up and going like Jessi Boehme, RD from the Muskegon Family YMCA does! Or get more creative and add some lemon tree leaves, garlic, ginger, and honey for a soothing remedy like the one Sarah Buist, RD uses for aiding sore throats, coughs, headaches, and sinus infections.
  • Squeeze fresh lemon juice into smoothies and salad dressings or even add to your milk when making pancakes instead of using buttermilk like Courtney Stinson, RD from Savor Life Nutrition. She also recommends adding it to your fruits, fruit salads and guacamole to prevent browning.
  • Our own nutrition expert, Sarah Schuetz, RD recommend placing lemon wedges under the skin of a whole chicken and cooking that way to infuse extra flavor into the meat. Of course, discard the skin when its ready to eat.
  • Add lemon zest and juice to your next batch of homemade chicken noodle soup like Katie Serbinski, RD does from Foodie Babies.

And this is really just the tip of the iceberg! Many of my Facebook friends also joined in on the conversation, and here were their ideas:

  • Add it to minced garlic while you’re sauteing
  • Combine lemon juice with honey and paprika and brush it onto chicken breast. Top with slices of lemon and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Add lemons, along with cucumbers and fresh mint, to a pitcher of water and enjoy all week long!
  • Add lemon zest to your sweets too! It an be a great way to boost the flavor in your favorite muffins, for example.
  • Enjoy it in a cup of ginger lemon tea

What ways do you enjoy adding lemon to your day? We’ll have a NEW recipe headed your way soon! But we’d love to know your most handy lemony tips. Share in the comments and help our readers out! 

Is it Safe to Store Onions in the Refrigerator? Our Nutrition Expert Weighs In.

Onions make a great nutritious addition to so many meals and are a staple in many of my own recipes.  Red onions minced into tuna salad, sautéed sweet onions piled high on a turkey burger, or how about french onion soup?! Is your mouth watering yet? Despite their wonderful taste and versatility are they really safe to cut and store in the fridge for the next time you need them? One of our customers recently asked if cut onions attracted and absorbed bacteria and therefore weren’t safe to eat- so I thought I’d put my dietitian brain into full gear and find out!

Onion

Though it would be really exciting if onions had the ability to draw bacteria out of the air research doesn’t really back this claim up. Indeed, onions that are handled properly are just as safe to eat freshly cut or after being stored in the refrigerator.

Related: Is it Better to Crush or Chop Garlic? We’ve Got Your Answer!

To store an onion safely and reduce the risk of food borne illness, the USDA recommends that you refrigerate any cut produce within 2 hours of cutting it.  Refrigerating within 2 hours keeps produce out of the temperature danger zone, a temperature variant in which bacteria that may already be present are most likely to multiply .  Wondering just how long to keep an onion?? Onions tend to stay fresh in their cool resting place for up to 7 days (and 6-8 months in the freezer!)  If the onion becomes slimy or turns brown or black in color, then it’s time to part ways because normal breakdown is occurring.

Onions are not only safe but they pack a nutrition punch as well!  Low in calories, sodium, and fat, they are also a great source of vitamin C, which is needed to be consumed on the daily, as it is water soluble and any extra is released in the bathroom.  Onions are antioxidants and help fight against free radicals known to cause cancer and… accelerate the aging process.  Moral of the story, eat onions!  They are healthy, tasty, and do not absorb or attract bacteria when chopped and stored properly. Although I have to admit the thought of onions sucking up bacteria is pretty fun to think about. Just imagine all the amazing bacterial infections we could probably fight with the power of a bacteria sucking onion???

Here is one of my favorite ways to use onions:

Cilantro & Onion Chop Tacos 

10-12 Corn Tortillas

  • 1 lb flank steak (leaner the better), thinly sliced, rubbed with pinch of salt and pepper, Mexican chili powder
  • Pineapple, grilled in rings
  • 1 large Spanish or Vidalia Onion, chopped
  • 1 Large Bunch of Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • Salt to taste (try sticking to just a pinch)
  1. Grill Flank steak and pineapple to desired doneness
  1. Mix onion, cilantro, lime juice and salt together
  1. Heat corn tortillas in microwave for 10-15 seconds wrapped in paper towel.
  1. Create your taco- Top 1-2 corn tortillas with steak, pineapple, and a hefty pile of the cilantro chop.

This simple recipe offers a flavor packed punch of satisfaction. Couple this with some fresh salsa and some no added salt blue corn chips, and you have a delicious, health friendly meal!

How the 15 Top Diet Trends for 2015 Can Help You Be a Better Eater

How do you plan to eat in 2015? If you’re like most Americans, you’ve probably at least considered it as you think about the new year and what it may look like for you personally in the days to come. After all, one of the top resolutions for both men and women is often to improve overall health, and eating better is one way to do just that.

Top 15 Diet Trends for 2015

On December 18th, Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian released their annual “What’s Trending in Nutrition” survey to showcase and forecast what diet trends are expected in the New Year. Not only will these trends most likely impact you you purchase foods, but maybe, just maybe, you’ll find new inspiration to keep your meals fresh, fun and healthy!

A quick rundown of the top 15 diet trends list, and you may just notice that nutrition is beginning to take a very interesting turn. Not only did the survey show that 70% of dietitian believe consumers will be more interested in nutrition and weight loss in 2015, but you can see that interest evolving beyond quick-fix diets and fads, and begin to get more real and complex. Not only do we see trendy eating choices on the list – gluten-free diets sit in the #4 spot on the list – but we also see diversification of grains with ancient grains following right behind in the #5 spot. This is important because grains as an entire food group have fallen off the plate of many over the past couple of years with little regard for variety or type. Similarly, fat variety is becoming a big deal with more emphasis on the types of fat we’re consuming versus complete avoidance of this important macronutrient.

Related: Eight Flavor Trend Predictions to Watch in 2015 

Food is complex and I love that as a whole, it looks like 2015 might be the year we start to “get it.” That all foods can provide a varying array of nutrients and that we don’t have to think about our food in rigid, black and white terms.

Speaking of food complexity, 2015 may also cause us to think about food quality in a more diverse way as well. Not only are we looking at nutrient quality, but environmental quality too. Both GMO awareness and the environmental demands of beef production were mentioned as possible considerations for determining the way we eat in 2015. This may mean more eco-related labels popping up across the grocery store with particular emphasis on GMOs. Afterall, 69% of the experts stated that GMO-free labeling is at the top of most of their clients lists.

Although our ways of eating are expected to begin taking into account more complex food and nutrition related issues, a few things remain the same. A continued emphasis on keeping meals balanced is looking to remain a big priority  and 73% of dietitians surveyed stated they are using the MyPlate guidelines from the USDA to help promote this balanced way of eating. We too use it for a variety of educational sessions primarly because it continues to emphasize a well-rounded eating plan while being easy to understand across age groups. And easy is important. Because no matter how trendy or healthy something is, if it isn’t convenient, affordable, or delicious, odds are good that in 2015 people will continue to pass it by.

That’s why I am pretty much in love with the superfood predictions for 2015. Well, and because they are already a favorite in my household. Nuts and seeds are predicted to reign supreme in 2015’s quest for ultimate super food diet additions. Although nuts and seeds can be somewhat pricey, they can be easily incorporated into a wide variety of dishes for added nutritional benefit and flavor. Buy in bulk and sprinkle into foods to really stretch that dollar.

Although it is hard to say whether or not these predictions will actually ring true, it is fun to think about the way in which we think about food and how it can benefit us in the long term. This year, perhaps consider looking for ways to add new foods and ingredients into your day. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone just a bit and look for creative ways to make your meals more diverse. And never settle – always keep an eye out for new meal time inspiration.

A few words of caution though – be careful where you get your inspiration and nutrition information from. Also, avoid comparing your progress with others. I wasn’t surprised, but a little dismayed to see that in 2015 it is expected that more people will be turning to blogs for their information instead of nutrition professionals. PLEASE be careful. Remember, anyone can set up a blog in about 15 minutes and share their thoughts on any topic of their choice – no credentials required. Always check to see what the authors background is in and where they are coming from. Nutrition is an interesting thing because we all eat and practice it every day. You can find great inspiration from people of all walks of life, but when it comes to credible nutrition information, please do your homework and get a second opinion from a trusted medical professional. If you need to find a dietitian in your area, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a great search tool.

As for comparing yourself to others, it looks like this trend just won’t go away. Unfortunately, comparing yourself to others usually doesn’t result in positive change. Everyone is different and unique so instead of comparing yourself to others, celebrate your own unique journey. You’ll be much happier and odds are good you’ll be more supportive of those making their own unique changes too.

Read More: 15 Top Diet Trends for 2015 

What do you predict will be trending in food & nutrition next year?