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Redefining Snack Time: Nourishing Treats from Your Local CSA

June 26, 2024

Table of Contents

Redefining Snack Time: Nourishing Treats from Your Local CSA

Lemon Shrimp Pasta: A Quick Weeknight Delight

If you know me well, you likely have heard or even witnessed how great of a cook my dad is. My mom spent many years preparing meals, and while they were balanced and nourishing, she never truly enjoyed cooking. When my dad retired from his corporate job, he started getting creative in the kitchen and came up with some really great recipes. He really enjoys seafood and loves any excuse for it to be featured in a meal.

I decided to draw inspiration for a new recipe based on one my dad makes often. It’s so good, I couldn’t wait to share it. Introducing 20-minute lemon shrimp pasta! I love this recipe as it incorporates many flavors that are fresh and simple. It can be served family-style, prepared with a loved one for date night in, or made in advance for meals all week long.

Familiar ingredients such as lemon, garlic, and shrimp combined with sun-dried tomatoes and white wine make for a rich and elevated flavor profile that pairs great with pasta. Additionally, it takes no more than 20 minutes to prepare. This dish can be made gluten-free with the elimination of wheat pasta and incorporation of an alternative such as Banza or another chickpea or lentil-based pasta. If seafood isn’t your jam, chicken would work well with this dish also.

Read more about this recipe and other healthy creations on the Redefining Real Food blog.

Simple Egg Frittata: A Crowd-Pleasing Breakfast

One of the reasons I love what I do so much is the ability to help people connect with food in a real and tangible way. It can be easy to opt for the easy route, grabbing fast food after work, getting take-out, or skipping a meal altogether. One of my goals with Redefining Real Food is to create and share recipes that can be easily prepared, taste delicious, and utilize real foods and real ingredients.

Fast forward to Saturday morning, and while utilizing a cast-iron skillet, real foods, and creativity, my simple egg frittata was born. What I love about this recipe is the flexibility to customize it based on one’s preferences. If mushrooms aren’t your jam, use tomatoes. If you hate tomatoes, use asparagus or broccoli or anything you have on hand. This recipe can be tailored to fit anyone’s preferences and serves as a neat way to pack multiple servings of vegetables into breakfast time.

I’d also like to address the potential whole eggs vs. egg whites only vs. no eggs at all debate. Over the years, we have been told to not eat eggs as they contain dietary cholesterol and may affect our health long-term. What we now know is that most of the cholesterol in our body is made by our liver and does not come from the cholesterol we eat. I often get asked if egg whites are better than whole eggs, largely for the dietary cholesterol concern. Don’t skimp on the yolks! They are rich in antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, choline (a vitamin beneficial for brain and nerve health), and various vitamins including A, B, and D. If you have the financial ability and access, I’d recommend choosing good-quality eggs, as the vitamin and mineral content will be higher. Look for organic and pasture-raised on labels to ensure you are getting the best quality.

Check out more delicious and nutritious recipes on the Redefining Real Food blog.

Baked Oatmeal: A Versatile Breakfast Staple

There’s something about warm oatmeal for breakfast in the morning that is so comforting, especially during colder months. I like to think of oatmeal as a blank slate where you can mix and match different ingredients to make the perfect combination. It’s a great breakfast option for families, individuals, picky eaters – you name it.

That’s why when I saw Foodfitnessandfaith, a fellow dietitian, go follow her post a photo of baked oatmeal, I knew I had to make it as soon as possible. Fiber-rich oats, popular superfoods chia and flax seeds, bananas, and chocolate chips are the stars of this recipe. I added nuts and cinnamon for additional crunch and flavor, and I think you all will love it just as much as I do.

One of my best friends got married recently, and she requested for me to make this for the bridesmaids to enjoy during the day-off morning of getting ready. Needless to say, it was a huge hit. This recipe can also be made in advance to enjoy for breakfast all week long – the easiest meal prep recipe you will ever make. I also like to top mine with peanut butter before serving. What are you waiting for? Go make it, I promise you’ll love this recipe!

Check out Foodfitnessandfaith’s blog for more delicious and nutritious recipes.

Easing into Shorter Days: Tips for a Smooth Transition

We are just over a week into the big daylight savings change, and to be honest, I am officially struggling. It doesn’t help that the weather has been dark, rainy, and straight-up gloomy in Atlanta. Don’t get me wrong, I am so ready for the approaching holiday season, and getting an extra hour of sleep has been nice. Leaving work with limited daylight left has been tough. Can anyone else who works typical office hours relate?

I’ve been thinking, what can I do to help my body and mind ease into this transition a bit smoother? I came up with a few ideas and thought I’d share them with you all as well.

Although the amount of sleep required by adults varies, studies show the optimal night of sleep is between 7-9 hours. Less than 7 hours per night is actually associated with potential negative health effects such as increased risk for obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. As the days get shorter, we might find our eyes getting heavy earlier. Don’t ignore your body’s natural cues.

If you have trouble winding down at night, a nighttime routine might be helpful. Think hot tea, your favorite book or TV show (I don’t mean binging on Netflix for hours), light stretching, and hit the sheets. Mobile devices are notorious for admitting blue light, which has been shown to suppress melatonin release, the natural hormone our body produces to manage circadian rhythm. So getting into a routine sans cell phone may be beneficial for optimal zzzs.

I don’t know about you all, but my body naturally starts to crave warming foods around this time of year – think chili, soups, stews, oatmeal, etc. I love making a big pot of soup and pairing it with crusty bread for a hearty supper or making a bowl of oatmeal with warming spices for breakfast. Check out the Thornapple CSA website for seasonal recipe ideas to nourish your body during the colder months.

As a Registered Dietitian, I am continually promoting real food intake, especially from fruits and vegetables. Certain fruits and vegetables contain specific antioxidants that act as protectors of our cells at a microscopic level. Every day we are exposed to free radicals from the environment, sunlight, alcohol, cigarette smoke, etc. These free radicals, unstable molecules, can trigger oxidative stress, thus damaging our cells and potentially playing a role in disease. Antioxidants have been shown to counteract this stress by neutralizing oxidative stress. Some common antioxidants found in food/supplement form include vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lycopene, selenium, flavonoids, and omega-3 and 6 fatty acids.

There’s something about spending time in nature that instantly boosts my mood. Whether that means taking the day to hike in the mountains or simply walking around town, these activities can do great things for well-being. Interestingly enough, studies show possible positive effects on physical and psychological stress when one spends time in natural environments. Furthermore, research suggests spending time in green spaces and other outdoor settings is linked to greater stress reduction, increased self-esteem, and overall mood improvement as opposed to indoor exercise. Grab a friend or go solo and enjoy your local park or nature preserve.

How are you tackling shorter days in preparation for winter months? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments below.

Learn more about the effects of blue light on your sleep and circadian rhythm.
Explore Harvard Health’s comprehensive guide on getting optimal sleep.
Read about the benefits of spending time in nature for your mental health.
Discover the research on the relationship between green spaces and stress reduction.

Healthy Hacks for the Busy Workweek

Do you work full-time Monday through Friday? Do you struggle packing a lunch for yourself? Do you aim to start the day off with a solid breakfast but fall short and barely make it to work on time, still with nothing in your stomach? Do you set your alarm extra early to make it to that 6 AM workout class but roll over when you hear it go off? Do you open your refrigerator and feel like you have no options to make a meal?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, this post is for you. We as human beings tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves, especially when it comes to what we eat. How we nourish our bodies isn’t meant to be discouraging or overwhelming. We make it so complicated for ourselves and wind up making unrealistic commitments or goals when it comes to nutrition. I am here to give you all some practical nutrition life-hacks for moments when we are overwhelmed and feel like it is impossible to follow through with healthy habits. Let’s do this.

First, find your ONE non-negotiable. What do I mean by this? Try and find one thing that matters most to you and follow through with it every day. It could be making sure you pack a lunch for yourself each day, having a large water bottle ready to grab and go before work, or committing to trying a new work-out class once per week. Whatever it may be, ask yourself first if it is realistic for YOUR lifestyle and then stick to it.

Prioritize grocery shopping. Many of us hate going to the grocery store, and I get it. It can be a crowded and intimidating place, especially at 6 pm on a weeknight when you’re starving. I encourage you to block out 1-2 hours on whatever day works for your schedule to grocery shop. Think about the coming week ahead, make a list, and get it done. If you’re feeling ambitious, using a portion of the weekend to meal prep can make life super EASY during the week.

Snacks, everyone loves snacks, right? I always encourage clients and myself to have snacks on hand, whether you keep them at your desk, in your purse, or in your car. There’s nothing worse than getting to a point where you’re so hungry you can’t stand it and end up grabbing the first thing you see. Aim for something with protein and carbohydrates – apple with peanut butter, fruit and nuts, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, or certain bars are all perfect quick snack options that have the ability to curb the hanger until we eat our next meal.

Eat more vegetables. I think it’s safe to say we as a society do not consume enough vegetables. Vegetables offer fiber, which helps keep us fuller longer and aid in digestion and regularity. They also provide essential vitamins and minerals necessary for cell growth and development, immunity, and protection against disease. Aim for vegetables with at least two meals per day. Bonus points if you’re eating them at snack-time.

Finally, hydrate. This one is so easily overlooked by many of us. Drinking fluids is super important for our brain function, which is essential in keeping us focused during long work days. Fluids are also absolutely crucial in maintaining every single system of our bodies, including our major organs. Men and women require different amounts of fluid per day based on their biological make-up, but as a general recommendation, I advise 2 liters (64 oz) per day for women and 3 liters (96 oz) for men. An extra tip – invest in a reusable water bottle and carry it with you all day long. I challenge you to pick one of the above life-hacks and incorporate it into your daily routine for one week. I’d love to hear how it goes! Tell me, what is the most difficult aspect of leading a healthy lifestyle while holding a full-time job?

Discover the research on the importance of staying hydrated.

The Scoop on Dietary Fats

I think it’s safe to say that we have all heard someone we know make a statement that goes something like “Fats make you fat” or “Don’t eat too much fat, or you’ll gain weight.” Throughout the years, dietary fat has been a widely misunderstood nutrient, with tons of conflicting research that, to be honest, would make anyone confused.

We have made it to the third and final post on macronutrients, and today, we are talking all things fat. Fats are the most calorically dense of the three macronutrients, meaning they contain more calories per gram. Don’t be scared of the higher calorie content – fats are essential in our diet, not only for their nutrition profile but to help us stay full and satisfied in between meals.

Fats are crucial in supporting our metabolism, keeping various body tissues healthy, immunity, hormone production, and the absorption of many other nutrients. When we consume fat, it is either digested and used for energy, stored in fat (adipose) tissue, or incorporated into other body tissues and organs. A lot of our body tissues are made up of fat, including our brains and parts of our nervous systems. Even our cell membranes are fat-based. This means that the fat we consume literally becomes part of our cells. Pretty cool, right?

If fat is so crucial for our bodies to function optimally, why has it had such a bad reputation? Let’s explore what fat is and where we can find it in our diets. Dietary fat is primarily comprised of two molecules: hydrogen and carbon. Together, these molecules form hydrocarbons – simple enough, right? These hydrocarbons can be configured in many different ways, which then can create different types of fat that all have unique properties.

There are two main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Within these two overarching groups of fats, there are also poly-unsaturated, mono-unsaturated, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Let’s break it down further:

Saturated Fats:
– Solids at room temperature
– Primarily found in our diet from animal sources (milk, cheese, poultry, processed meats, beef, etc.)
– Excessive intake of these types of fats are potentially associated with certain chronic diseases (i.e., heart disease and even some types of cancer)

Unsaturated Fats:
– Liquids at room temperature
– Found in plant sources
– Research shows these fats to be beneficial, as they can improve blood cholesterol levels, aid in inflammation reduction, and reduce risk for stroke and heart disease

Mono-unsaturated Fats:
– Unsaturated dietary fat found in plant foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados, olive and canola oils

Poly-unsaturated Fats:
– Second type of unsaturated dietary fat found in plant foods and some seafood
– These fats are considered essential fatty acids, meaning our body cannot synthesize them internally, so we need them from our diet

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
– Important for cardiovascular function, immunity, brain development, and nervous system function
– Sub-groups include DHA and EPA (found in fish oils) and ALA (found in walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds)

Omega-6 Fatty Acids:
– Similar to omega-3 fatty acids in their role and function, these fatty acids also help stimulate hair and skin growth, regulate metabolism, and maintain bone health and the reproductive system
– Be careful – the typical American diet tends to consume up to 20 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, largely due to the consumption of processed foods rich in soybean, palm, and sunflower oils

So what do I recommend? The key is to focus on whole-food fat sources. Try incorporating a variety of fat types from nuts, seeds, fish, olive oils, and avocados, while avoiding processed, artificial, and factory-made foods high in unhealthy fats. Keeping it simple is key. How do you get your healthy fats in? I’d love to hear your go-to sources.

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