July 19, 2015

Chickpea & Chocolate “Cookie Dough” Cookies (Vegan, GF)

Chickpea & Chocolate "Cookie Dough" Cookies

I think we found our signature cookie here, folks. Don’t be scared. Yes, they contain chickpeas; quite a few of them actually. But they also contain chocolate and happen to be incredible….I promise (I have plenty of taste testers that can vouch for them)!

The recipe is inspired by Hummusapien. It’s not a conventional cookie (clearly), in that the texture is much smoother and creamier (alas, why we decided to call them cookie dough cookies). If you don’t like banana, these probably aren’t for you, since the banana flavor is quite dominant. Otherwise, check out this amazingly easy and quick recipe below and get to work!

I wanted to use dark chocolate chips, but since I didn’t have any, I crushed up an Alter Eco Dark Quinoa bar that I had in the pantry. Best decision ever. I’ve made these cookies a few times now, and have had lots of fun playing around with different flavored dark chocolate bars (Alter Eco’s sea salt dark chocolate is also a great one).

These cookies make for the perfect dessert or snack on-the-go! Honey is the only added sweetener, and you can certainly use less (especially if you have a really overripe banana). The chickpeas add protein and fiber, cashew butter supplies healthy unsaturated fats and antioxidants (thumbs up for heart health) and the chocolate induces prolonged happiness (at least, in our family). Basically, this is one of the world’s greatest “cookies.” So what are you waiting for?

Chickpea & Chocolate "Cookie Dough" Cookies Chickpea & Chocolate "Cookie Dough" Cookies

Chickpea & Chocolate “Cookie Dough” Cookies (Vegan, GF)
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 24
  • Serving size: 1 cookie
  • Calories: 90
  • Fat: 4.5
  • Carbohydrates: 11
  • Fiber: 1.5
  • Protein: 2.5

Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Ingredients
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup creamy cashew butter
  • 1 medium, ripened banana
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • Crushed dark chocolate bar or dark chocolate chips to taste (we used an Alter Eco dark chocolate quinoa bar) – highly recommend
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Mix 1 tbsp chia seeds and 3 tbsp water and set aside until chia absorbs water and creates a gel-like consistency (~5 min) *egg replacement: adds moisture + helps rise
  3. Place all ingredients into food processor (except the chocolate). Process the ingredients for two minutes, or until the batter is smooth.
  4. Spoon the batter onto a cookie sheet
  5. Sprinkle chocolate on top of each cookie
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  7. Cool and Enjoy!
Notes
Store cooled cookies in refrigerator!

 

March 28, 2014

Banana Oat Pancake Muffins (Vegan)

Banana Oat Pancake Muffins

I LOVE breakfast foods. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, if you offer me some type of breakfast item, I will gladly take you up on it. Pancakes have always been high on my list of favorites, but I’ve had trouble finding good recipes or ready-made mixes that are 100% whole grain and don’t have a handful of preservatives, refined sugars, stabilizers and/or “natural flavors.”

Get excited for this amazing recipe (batter adapted from Almonds and Avocados) that I decided to make into muffins! Yes, you heard right. It is a pancake in the shape of a muffin (Thanks to The Pioneer Woman for the inspiration)! We can’t get enough. I triple the recipe on Sunday mornings, allowing for ample leftovers to use throughout the week. Have them for an on-the-go breakfast, morning snack or just to satisfy an afternoon sweet tooth.

This recipe is vegan and can be made gluten-free if oats are tolerated and GF varieties are selected.  The main ingredient, oat flour, is rich in both soluble (can help lower cholesterol) and insoluble fiber (increases gut transit time – or in simpler terms… keeps us regular)! These pancakes are also packed with Manganese, Phosphorus, Iron and Vitamin B6. Get creative with your mix-ins and toppings and ENJOY (dark chocolate chips would also be delicious)!

*Note, I didn’t use any baking powder/soda, so they are a little bit more dense than your average muffin/pancake. I incorporated carbonated water to increase the tenderness. I actually really like the consistency and think they taste delicious! Please feel free to share your feedback.

Banana Oat Pancake Muffins with Mixed Berries
Nutrition Information
  • Serving size: 1 muffin
  • Calories: 100
  • Fat: 1.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 19.5 g
  • Fiber: 2.5 g
  • Protein: 3 g

Recipe type: Vegan, Gluten Free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Ingredients
  • 1 cup oat flour (or rolls oats ground into flour in a food processor or blender)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 small ripe bananas (the more ripe the better the flavor!)
  • ⅓ cup coconut milk (can substitute any milk of choice)
  • 1 tbsp 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp carbonated water
  • Fresh berries (or mix-ins of your choice)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees °F
  2. Combine all dry ingredients (oat flour through cinnamon)
  3. Combine wet ingredients (bananas through vanilla extract) in a blender or food processor
  4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well
  5. Spray or coat muffin pan with coconut oil (other oil/spray can be substituted) to prevent sticking
  6. When ready to bake, add carbonated water to the batter and mix (If batter is too thick, add a little more)
  7. Fill the baking pan cups ⅔ of the way full. Drop fresh fruit or mix-ins of your choice into each cup (I used organic mixed berries)
  8. Bake for approximately 13 minutes or until golden brown on top.
  9. Serve with pure maple syrup and fresh fruit of your choice, or take on the go!
Notes
Recipe makes ~8 muffins

 

 

February 17, 2014

Black & Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Squash

Black & Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Squash

This recipe is too delicious not to share. It’s inspired by Bon Appétit Magazine. Easy, flavorful and packed with nutrients, this is a great dish all around.

It’s an excellent source of Vitamin A (60% RDA*), which helps with vision, reproduction and immune function. It’s also high in Vitamin C (40% RDA*), an antioxidant that prevents cell damage, improves the immune system and facilitates with iron absorption. Manganese, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Niacin, Phosphorus and Zinc are also plentiful in this mouth-watering dish.

Bon Appétit!

Black & Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Squash
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 8
  • Calories: 350
  • Fat: 18 g
  • Saturated fat: 2.5 g
  • Unsaturated fat: 14.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 49 g
  • Sugar: 7 g
  • Sodium: 80 mg
  • Fiber: 4.5 g
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 g

Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Ingredients
  • 2 cups mixed rice – wild, red, black, brown
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, cut into pieces
  • ½ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar (red wine vinegar works too)
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 bunch of kale with center ribs removed, cut into ~2 inch pieces
  • ½ cup roasted pistachios, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Cook rice in a large pot of boiling, salted water until tender (~35–40 minutes); drain and rinse, shaking off as much water as possible. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool.
  2. Toss squash with ¼ cup oil and place spread out on a baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until golden brown and tender (~20–25 minutes).
  3. Toss kale (make sure it is dry) with 1 tablespoon of oil and place spread out on a different baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once or twice until the leaves are crispy (~2-5 minutes).
  4. Whisk vinegar, honey, and remaining ¼ cup oil in a large bowl. Add black rice and wild rice, squash, scallions, pomegranate seeds and pistachios; season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Sprinkle the roasted kale on top when ready to serve.

 

*Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%–98%) healthy individuals.

February 25, 2013

What’s a Whole Grain Anyway?

Whole wheat, whole grain, enriched, refined…what does it all mean?

Whole Grains

The basics: The grain kernel is composed of the germ, bran and endosperm (see photo below). This is how the kernels are naturally found when harvested and reaped.

  1. The Germ contains essential fatty acids, vitamin E, B vitamins, magnesium, folate and some protein.
  2. The Bran is rich in fiber (responsible for brown color of whole grain), B vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  3. The Endosperm contains mostly starch, with trace amounts of oils and protein.

Whole Grain Kernelusda.gov

Health benefits of consuming whole grains:
  • Associated with lower LDL and triglyceride levels, and therefore the risk of heart disease
  • Consumption is inversely related to hypertension
  • Shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity
  • Helps improve bowel health and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon, which may reduce the risk of stomach and intestinal cancers.
  • Promotes healthy metabolism and a healthy nervous system
  • The antioxidants, phenols, lignans and saponins present in whole grains may prevent cancer

In order to receive these health benefits you have to make sure the products you are consuming contain the grain kernel in its original form (with the germ, bran and endosperm intact). Unfortunately, this isn’t as simple as you would think. It’s easy to get confused when shopping at the grocery store nowadays with the endless numbers of products, deceiving marketing tactics and unrecognizable ingredient lists.  More importantly, be wary of refined grains and enriched flour that all too frequently find their way into a vast majority of our food.

Refined Grains:
In an effort to increase the shelf life of products, manufacturers often process wheat through a refining method, by stripping the kernel of the germ and bran. This results in white, refined wheat. This means that the wheat is stripped of the nutrients mentioned above, namely the fiber and healthy fats.

Enriched Flour:
Enriched flour means that the nutrients and vitamins stripped during the refining process are added back in. Unfortunately, enriched flours don’t have the same nutritional benefits as whole-wheat flours. For starters, less fiber is present, causing blood sugar spikes. Key nutrients are also left out. Additionally, a different form of iron is added back in that is not as bioavailable as the form found in whole wheat alternatives.

In general, refined grains and enriched flours are metabolized much quicker and increase blood sugar more rapidly than their whole grain counterparts. They have been associated with increasing cholesterol and inflammation in the body as well.

How to distinguish if a product is made with whole-grains…ONLY!
First things first….forget the marketing claims on the packages of the foods you are purchasing.  Just because they claim to be “100% whole grain,” “whole wheat,” “multigrain,” or “stone ground” doesn’t guarantee that you will be consuming a truly whole grain product. In fact, many of these products are composed mostly of refined flours, with marginal amounts of whole grains. Some manufacturers even color their products brown with molasses or caramel color to give the illusion of whole grains.

BOTTOM LINE: Skip straight to the ingredient lists, which will indicate if it is, in fact, a whole grain product.

Whole grains:
  • Amaranth
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur
  • Millet
  • Popcorn
  • Sorghum
  • Teff
  • Triticale
  • Quinoa
  • Whole-grain barley (hulled barley or hull-less)
  • Whole-grain corn or whole corn
  • Whole farro
  • Whole kamut
  • Whole oats/oatmeal
  • Whole rye or rye berries
  • Wild rice
  • Whole spelt
  • Whole grain ____ flour
  • Whole white wheat*
  • 100% whole wheat flour
  • *Whole white wheat is a whole grain, despite the white color. It has many of the nutritional advantages of traditional whole wheat, but with lighter color, milder taste and softer texture.

A good rule of thumb is to look for the word WHOLE preceding the grain. Note: Those grains listed above without the term “whole”, refer to grains that are very rarely made in processed form.

The following ingredients/terms are not clear indicators that a product is whole grain, and should therefore be avoided. These ingredients often signify that refined grains or enriched flours (non-whole grains) are being used:
  • Bread flour
  • Degerminated
  • Enriched flour
  • Enriched wheat flour
  • Flour
  • Rice flour
  • Unbleached wheat flour
  • Wheat *
  • Wheat flour *
  • Wheat starch
  • *Pretty sneaky, huh?!?

Many products use a combination of grains or flours, so it’s important to check the whole list of ingredients.

Aim to make half the grains you consume daily to be whole grains as recommended by The 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines. Don’t like the taste of whole wheat bread or brown rice? Give white whole wheat bread a try and explore some of the other grains mentioned above.

We did some investigating and discovered that the following products are not actually 100% whole grain. Busted!!!

Product

Ingredient(s) in question

Cream of Wheat Wheat farina, Partially defatted wheat germ
Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Milled corn
Kellogg’s Eggo Nutri-Grain Whole Wheat Waffles Enriched flour
Kellogg’s Product 19 Milled corn and Wheat flour
Kellogg’s Special K Rice, Wheat gluten, Defatted wheat germ
Luna Bars Organic rice flour
Nabisco’s Wheat Thins Unbleached enriched flour
Pepperidge Farm Light Style Seven Grain bread Wheat Flour, Unbromated unbleached enriched flour
Pirate’s Booty Corn meal and Rice

Be your own detective and don’t be fooled my tricky marketing tactics!

In good health,
Melissa

Read more on whole grains at the Whole Grains Council website.

References:
http://www.fns.usda.gov/fdd/facts/nutrition/WholeGrainsFactSheet.pdf
http://teamnutrition.usda.gov/resources/jtf_grains.pdf
January 28, 2013

Frozen Banana Bites

Try this new take on a familiar snack: Frozen Banana Bites with Nut Butter

Quick, refreshing and satisfying….

Frozen Banana Bites

1. Cut up a banana into thin slices.

2. Make small “sandwiches” using nut butter of your choice. I usually make half with peanut butter and half with almond butter (pictured above).

3. Place in the freezer in an airtight container until frozen through. The frozen bananas take on an almost ice cream like consistency, which is what makes this snack such a big hit.

These are also great drizzled with some dark chocolate! Make a bunch ahead of time to have at your disposal throughout the week.

The Facts: Nut butters provide a good source of protein, manganese and heart-healthy poly and monounsaturated fats. Besides containing potassium, bananas are also rich in dietary fiber, which can help decrease cholesterol and promote healthy gut function.

Enjoy!

 

January 18, 2013

Ask the Dietitian: Stevia Decoded

“I love stevia and use it daily in my tea…. Is this a product you recommend to patients?”
– Diane, Orlando, Florida

Great question. So what is the deal with stevia? It’s marketed as a “natural”, zero-calorie sweetener and is derived from the yerba dulce shrub grown in Brazil, Southeast Asia and Paraguay. The two main sweet tasting components of stevia are rebaudioside A (rebiana aka reb A) and stevioside, which are about 200 times sweeter than sugar. So being that stevia is derived from a plant, it must be the ultimate sugar substitute, right? Well…not so fast….

How is it made?
To produce reb A commercially, stevia plants are put through a water extraction process and dried.  The resulting extract contains about 50% reb A. In order to completely isolate the reb A, ethanol or methanol are used as a solvent to allow separation through crystallization. Keep in mind that this process creates a very concentrated product, which means that it is no longer in its original and natural form.

How is it calorie-free?
In the digestive tract, reb A is metabolized and broken down into stevioside. The stevioside is then further broken down into glucose and steviol. The glucose released in this process is used by bacteria in the colon, preventing it from being absorbed into the blood stream (for this reason the product also has negligible effects on blood sugar). Steviol cannot be further digested and is passed from the digestive system in urine or feces. Because the breakdown products are not absorbed, reb A and stevioside do not contribute any calories.

What does the research say?
  • High dosages of reb A fed to rats reduced sperm production and increased cell proliferation in their testicles; however, another study using rats and humans demonstrated lack of reproductive toxicity.
  • Pregnant hamsters that had been fed large amounts of steviol (a stevioside derivative) had fewer and smaller offspring.
  • In the laboratory, steviol can be converted into a mutagenic compound – if cell DNA becomes mutagenic, cancer may ensue.

Overall, strong randomized, controlled trials are lacking and more research is needed.

Did you know?
  • Traditionally, Guarani Indians in Paraguay consumed stevia leaf extracts as an oral contraceptive.
  • In 2008, stevia was deemed GRAS (generally recognized as safe); if an ingredient is GRAS, it can be used without a pre-market review or FDA approval.

The 2 biggest brands on the market are TruVia & PureVia. Notice that these products are not simply crude stevia; they include preservatives, sugar alcohols, sweeteners and “natural flavors.”

Company

Ingredients

Associated Products                  

TruVia

Coca-Cola Company & Cargill

Erythritol, Stevia leaf extract, natural flavors* Vitamin Water, Sprite Green, All Sport Naturally Zero, Blue Sky Free, Crystal Light Pure, Zevia soda, and some varieties of Odwalla juices

PureVia

PepsiCo

Stevia extract, dextrose, cellulose powder, natural flavors* SoBe Lifewater, Trop50, Gatorade G2

* Hundreds of different chemicals can be used to produce “natural flavors.” Because companies are not required to identity these artificial (and natural) flavorings, there is no way of knowing exactly what ingredients are being used. Comforting, huh?

What’s the takeaway?
Using stevia sparingly is more than likely OK, but the truth is, we just don’t know enough. More comprehensive research is most certainly needed. If you do choose to use stevia, opt for pure stevia plant extract as opposed to products that contain other additives and colorings (like TruVia & PureVia). The World Health Organization’s Joint Experts Committee on Food Additives has approved an acceptable daily intake of steviol glycoside (stevioside or reb A) of up to 4 mg per Kilogram of body weight. This equates to 2-3 packets containing ~100mg of Stevia (see individual packaging for exact amounts) for a person who weighs 150lbs.

It’s important to be your own detective and do research before consuming a new product, especially since we know product marketing can be deceiving. And just because it’s labeled “natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe or void of other unnatural additives. Always look at the facts and make educated decisions on what you decide to put in your body.

Looking for an alternative to stevia to sweeten your tea? I love good old-fashioned, natural honey. One teaspoon will only run you about 21 calories + 6 grams of carbohydrates and it’s packed with antioxidants, antiseptic and antibacterial properties, not to mention a handful of enzymes, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.

We will touch on the topic of natural and artificial sweeteners more in the future!

In good health,
Melissa

P.S. Please send in your questions to Melissa@chickpeasandchocolate.com and they may be selected for a future post!

Resources:

Carakostas, M. C., Curry, L. L., Boileau, A. C., & Brusick, D. J. (2008). Overview: the history, technical function and safety of rebaudioside A, a naturally occurring steviol glycoside, for use in food and beverages. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 46(7), S1-S10.

Curry, L.L, Roberts, A., Brown, N. (2008). Subchronic toxicity of rebaudioside A. Food Chem. Toxicol., 46 (7), S11-S20.

Schardt, David. (2008). Stevia: Sweet, but How Safe? Center for Science in the Public Interest, Nutrition Action Healthletter. Retrieved from: http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/stevia_update.pdf

Unknown Author. (2008). Lab Tests Point to Problems with Trendy New Stevia Sweetener.  Center for Science in the Public InterestNutrition Action Healthletter. Retrieved from http://www.cspinet.org/new/200808281.html

January 7, 2013

Almond Crusted Chicken Breast

In a dinner rut? Short on time? Well, if you have 20 minutes to spare, here is a great recipe to add to the dinner repertoire:

Almond Crusted Chicken Breast

Almond Crusted Chicken

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15-18 minutes

Ingredients:

½ cup roasted, unsalted almonds
1 garlic clove
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon paprika (optional)
2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved (4 pieces total)

Directions:
  1. Make a coarse paste with almonds, garlic, salt, paprika and olive oil in a food processor or blender.
  2. Rub onto chicken.
  3. Roast at 425 degrees in the oven until cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes.

Serve whole or sliced with steamed spinach, kale or veggie of your choice. The recipe also goes well with a side of couscous, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice or quinoa. Think ahead and make extra for the week to use on top of salads or pasta.

Nutrition Facts per serving of chicken (Recipe makes 4 servings):

Nutrition Facts

So easy… so delicious. This chicken recipe is a great source of protein, monounsaturated fats, niacin (aids in protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism), B6 (aids in protein metabolism) and selenium (antioxidant).  Last night we made the chicken with steamed kale and whole-wheat couscous (pictured above). I’m confident you’ll love this chicken as much as I do! The recipe is inspired by Wholeliving.com.

Happy Eating!

December 28, 2012

Watermelon Baby Carriage

I just returned from Atlanta, Georgia where I was visiting family and celebrating the birth of my new cousin, Jacob Saul (Photo Credit: Laura Brett Photography). Check out this centerpiece I made for his “bris” (Yiddush for “covenant of circumcision”). For those who don’t know, a bris is a Jewish religious male circumcision ceremony performed on 8–day old male infants. Not so fun for the baby, but as with most Jewish holidays and celebrations, the “deed” is followed by an elaborate meal. I found my inspiration for this centerpiece on Pinterest and made some changes as I went along. This is a great idea for a baby shower or baby naming as well!

Watermelon Baby Carriage

Ingredients:
  1. 1 large watermelon, whole
  2. 1 orange cantaloupe, whole
  3. 4 grapefruit slices (can substitute an orange)
  4. 1 grape, sliced in half
  5. 1 pacifier
  6. Balled or cut fruit of your choice
Kitchen Tools:
  1. Large serving tray
  2. Toothpicks
  3. Sharp knife
  4. Melon baller or spoon
  5. Peeler

Step 1: Using a permanent marker, outline the watermelon to mark the areas that will be carved out. I used a piece of paper as a guide to help keep the lines straight.

Outline

Step 2: Using a combination of a sharp knife, melon baller or spoon, carve out the entire inside of the watermelon.

Carved Watermelon

Step 3: Remove the skin of the cantaloupe and use a peeler to scale down to a good, rounded “head size”- Then fasten the head with toothpicks to the bottom of the watermelon.

Fastened Cantaloupe

Step 4: Using toothpicks, fasten grape slices for the eyes and scrap cantaloupe pieces for the ears and nose. Then use a knife to carve a hole for the mouth and insert the pacifier.

Cantaloupe Head

Step 5: Fasten 4 slices of grapefruit (close in size) to the outside of the watermelon using toothpicks to create the illusion of wheels.

Grapefruit Wheels

Step 6: Fill the watermelon with cut up/balled fruit of your choice. Right before serving to guests, fill the rest of the tray with an assortment of cut up fruit. Keep extra on the side and replenish as needed.

Grapefruit Wheels

Step 7: I put baby Jake’s monogram on the backside of the watermelon with a permanent marker and paint for some extra personalization.

Monogram

This watermelon was a big hit and didn’t take long to make. Feel free to use a variety of different fruits and experiment to see what creative add-ons or substitutions you can come up with. Please share any fun ideas you may have or any other types of food centerpieces you have experimented with in the past.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

 

December 24, 2012

Healthy Eating for the Holiday Season

Happy Holidays from Chickpeas & Chocolate! Enjoy this time with family, friends and GOOD FOOD.

Here are 10 tips for keeping on track this holiday season:

  1. Remember it’s a holiDAY – Just because there are numerous holiday parties and celebrations from Thanksgiving through New Years, doesn’t mean it’s a free for all. Let loose and enjoy your favorite foods on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and one day of Hanukah or Kwanzaa and then get back on track the next day. One day of overindulgence isn’t the problem; it’s weeks of poor eating, drinking and lack of exercise that lead to setbacks.
  2. There’s no need for restriction – On the holidays themselves, eat the specialty foods that you look forward to all year. It would be cruel to deprive yourself of latkes, eggnog, stuffing, gravy and other holiday-specific delicacies. Instead, steer clear of fried foods, heavy pasta dishes and rich desserts that you have access to year-round.
  3. Use the Plate Method as a guide – During holiday celebrations with friends, family and work use the plate method as a guide to stay on track. Fill ½ your plate with veggies/salad, ¼ of your plate with starchy items, and ¼ with protein – This method is the perfect way to stay in check. Click here for a great example of the “My Plate” Method from nyc.gov.
  4. Watch the alcohol intake – Alcohol contributes seven calories per gram, which is almost as much as fat. This doesn’t account for mixers and juices that are typically added to cocktails. And let’s be honest, once we get a few drinks in us, the late night munchies are almost inevitable. And what about that “hangover breakfast” you crave that is filled with fat-laden breakfast potatoes and oily/fried foods? Basically, drinking can really sabotage your plans to stay healthy during the holiday season. Keep in mind that dehydration can mimic hunger, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Try drinking a glass of water in between alcoholic beverages. I love adding seltzer to some white wine for a refreshing spritzer; this provides less alcohol and fewer calories. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate drinking as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks for men. Note, one drink equates to 12oz of beer, 5oz of wine, and 1.5oz of 80-proof distilled spirits (gin, whiskey, vodka, etc). See chart below, which breaks down caloric content of various types of alcohol.  Give yourself a weekly limit and stick to it!
  5. Slow down – When has there ever been a shortage of food or drinks at holiday events? Eat and drink slowly and allow your brain to catch up to your stomach.
  6. Step away from the food table – Take your conversations away from the food table – it’s hard to stop eating when it’s right in front of you!
  7. Eat REAL food - As always, avoid processed baked goods and foods with artificial colorings, artificial flavors and preservatives that definitely don’t hold a dime next to the delicious homemade items. They are not worth the chemicals, calories or stomach space!
  8. Don’t skip meals - It may seem like a good idea to cut back and eat less during the day so that you can indulge at a party later, but this typically backfires. First off, your body needs fuel so don’t deprive it. Secondly, if you show up starving you’re more likely to overeat. Third, if you start drinking on an empty stomach you are going to be “that guy.” Before going to your umpteenth holiday party make sure to have a snack.
  9. Walk it off – There’s nothing better than a good meal surrounded by the people you love. Instead of collapsing onto the couch with your guests after dinner, suggest a short walk [or if it’s the right crowd, put on some music and have a dance party]. Exercise is not only great for your overall health, but also can be extremely helpful for stress relief during the holiday season. Plan fun activities with your friends to stay active and motivated: go for a walk/run, bike ride, ice skating, rock climbing, take a dance/zumba class or hit the gym – whatever you like… just move that body.
  10. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you have to eat it – Let’s face it, it’s nearly impossible to turn down a free ice cream sample on the street (or any type of free food sample for that matter); it’s exciting and unexpected. But, if we all ate everything that was offered to us during the holiday season we would undoubtedly have a fight with our scale…and pants. There is usually tons of free food displayed in the workplace throughout the holidays and the combination of stress, boredom and hunger make it easy to turn to the convenient and FREE food table. Make sure to stock your desk with some healthy snacks so you don’t fall prey to those holiday calorie traps. Some of my personal favorites are nuts, granola, rice cakes and peanut butter, fresh fruit and dark chocolate. If you are going to select something from the spread of free treats at the office, choose a small piece of chocolate that you can savor and enjoy.

Here’s a fun recipe to try out with your kids in honor of the holiday season: Popcorn Snowmen via spoonful.com

Happy Holidays!
Melissa

December 7, 2012

No-Cook Oatmeal

Welcome to Chickpeas & Chocolate! This blog will provide a wealth of information on nutrition news, product recommendations, recipes, tips and more. Be sure to browse through the website for more information about the practice. To subscribe and receive email notifications when there is a new blog post, sign up on the right!

Today’s topic: Breakfast

It’s certainly not the first time you’ve heard the expression, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. But is there truth behind this well-known saying? Research shows that those who eat breakfast tend to have a healthier body weight, higher intake of nutrients and better signs of cognitive performance than those who skip breakfast. Additionally, skipping breakfast has been linked to increased appetite later in the day, which can result in overeating, weight gain and metabolic and hormonal changes.

Bottom Line? Don’t skip breakfast! This meal is extremely important and part of an overall healthy lifestyle.  Skipping meals in general is never a good idea. Our body uses food for fuel and it needs a steady stream of calories and nutrients to function properly. Aim for breakfast items complete with whole grains and protein, which have been shown to keep you feeling full and satisfied, longer.

Try one of my favorite breakfast recipes that takes less than 5 minutes to prepare: Overnight, No-Cook Oatmeal – Easy, delicious and quick for those who are on the run. It is inspired by pepperlynn.com and theyummylife.com.

This time around I made Blueberry, Almond Oatmeal with Vanilla and Cinnamon:

Nutrition Facts: 350 calories, 9 grams of fat (2 grams saturated/6 grams mono and polyunsaturated fats), 50 grams carbohydrate, 23 grams protein

Good source of (>25% daily recommended dietary allowance) B12, Calcium, Copper, Magnesium, Manganese, Pantothenic acid (B5), Phosphorus, Riboflavin (B2), Selenium, Thiamin (B1), Zinc. This recipe is also a good source of fiber (9 grams!) and Omega 3 fatty acids.

  • I usually use recycled salsa/sauce jars, but any kind of tupperware will work
  • Feel free to swap out the blueberries, almonds, vanilla and cinnamon and come up with your own add-ins (granola, dried fruit, ground flax). Please share any flavor ideas in the comment section below. Some of my other favorite combinations include: 1. Apple, cinnamon, walnut 2. Banana peanut butter 3. Mango, almond, maple syrup
  • Don’t like Greek yogurt? Feel free to use regular, plain yogurt as well. You may need to reduce the amount of milk depending on the consistency (it should be thick and creamy)

*What the heck is a Chia seed? Chia is an edible seed that is part of the Mint family. They are a rich source of fiber, omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants. When combined with water, they expand and form a gel, which has been shown to help control blood sugar. Try adding to cereals, yogurt, smoothies or flour when baking.

Happy Eating!
Melissa

Resources:
Rampersaud, G. C., Pereira, M. A., Girard, B. L., Adams, J., & Metzl, J. D. (2005). Breakfast habits, nutritional status, body weight, and academic performance in children and adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105,743–760.

Giovannini, M., Agnosti, C., & Dhamir, R. (2010). Do we all eat breakfast and is it important. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 50, 97–99.