Key Lime Bars

key lime bars

I want to start off by saying there is nothing particularly healthy about these bars (I just happen to REALLY love them). Which brings to mind this quote “there are no bad foods, only bad portions.”  A quote I wholeheartedly agree with. Of course I think there are some foods which are healthier than others, but I 100% believe all foods can fit into an overall healthy diet as long as you don’t over do the quantity that you eat. The only problem with these bars is that they are so delectable, the portion can be hard to control. This is my recommendation. Make these bars. Cut them into 12 nice slices and have one. Savor every bite of crumbley buttery crust and smooth creamy topping. Then give the rest to your Grandma/neighbors/skinny best friend. Better yet, bring them to a nice Easter party this weekend. The party guests will love you. Just don’t let them dwindle in your fridge, because they may not be dwindling for long.

key lime bars
First bake the crust, then pour that luscious tangy filling in.

One thing that makes these bars so special is the crust. It’s not a graham cracker crust, it’s made from animal crackers! The flavor is slightly more subtle than graham cracker and really allows the lime flavor to shine. You may notice that these lime bars are not green. Turns out, lime juice is basically clear and doesn’t really change the color of  food. If you would like your lime dessert to be green you can add a drop or two of green food coloring. I have done this before, and people tell me it tastes “more limey,” although I use the exact same recipe every time. For the sake of being natural I left the dye out this time, but it looks and tastes great either way.

These bars are from the magazine Best Summer Desserts by America’s Test Kitchen. I usually make them every summer for 4th of July, but this year, I realized there is no need to wait for summer for something this good! So I will be savoring one, and then bringing them to all of my spring parties.

Key Lime Barskey lime bars

Key Lime Bars
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
Ingredients
Crust
  • 5 ounces animal crackers
  • 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
Filling
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1.5 tbsp grated lime zest plus ½ cup lime juice (5-6 limes)
  • pinch salt
  • 1 (14 ounce ) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • lime zest for garnishing
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F
  2. Grease 8" by 8" square baking pan
  3. For the crust, pulse animal crackers in food processor until broken down, about 10 pulses. Process crumbs until evenly fine, about 10 seconds. Add sugar and salt, process to combine. Drizzle butter over crumbs and pulse until evenly moistened.
  4. Press crumbs evenly and firmly into bottom of prepared pan.
  5. Bake until deep golden brown 18-20 minutes.
  6. Let cool on wire rack while making filling.
  7. For the filling. In medium bowl stir cream cheese, lime zest, and salt until well combined. Add condensed milk and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in egg yolk. Add lime juice and whisk gently until incorporated.
  8. Pour filling into crust. Smooth evenly. Bake until set and edges begin to pull away from sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
  9. Add lime zest garnish.
  10. Chill at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.
 

Strawberry Basil Farro Salad

Strawberry Basil Farro Salad www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

Move aside quinoa, there is a new grain in town. Farro. Farro has just as much protein and fiber as quinoa, but sadly, most people don’t even know it exists. I am hear to spread the farro love. Not only is it a nutritional superstar, but it’s soft, chewy and delightful. The flavor is kind of like a mash up between brown rice and barley. Trader Joe’s carries farro and it can be found in the grains section of most grocery stores. farro

In my opinion, one of the keys to a good salad is a fine dice on the greens. If you want to get fancy, chiffonade the basil. A chiffonade is just a culinary term for herbs or greens sliced into thin ribbons. It’s easier than it looks. Just stack the basil (or other green), roll, and slice with a sharp chefs knife. You can also chiffonade the spinach. But personally, I didn’t have time for rolling all that spinach, so I just smashed it into a wad and chopped as thinly as possible.

Chiffonade basil
To chiffonade: stack your basil into a little pile
Chiffonade basil
Roll up tightly and slice

It’s strawberry season in Southern California! It makes me so happy that I can eat fresh strawberries grown locally. Not only do local strawberries taste better, but they are much better for the enviroment than buying imported fruit. So go pick up some strawberries from your local farmers market and make this salad. It makes for a wonderful side dish or it can be eaten as a meal on it’s own. It’s nutritionally balanced because it includes foods from all five food groups. Strawberry Basil Farro Salad www.nuttynutritionandfitness.comStrawberry Basil Farro Salad

Have you ever had farro before? Have you ever heard of farro?

Strawberry Basil Farro Salad
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
Salad
  • 2 cups dry farro, cooked according to package directions
  • 1.5 cups sliced strawberries
  • 3 cups spinach, finely sliced
  • ¾ cup walnuts, toasted
  • 10 basil leaves, chiffonade
  • ½ cup crumbled feta
  • salt and pepper to taste
Dressing
  • 6 strawberries
  • 15 basil leaves
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
Instructions
  1. Mixed cooked farro with all ingredients through basil. Taste. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Add feta cheese to top.
  2. For dressing, add all ingredients to a food processor. Process for 1-2 minutes until well combined.
  3. Pour half of the salad dressing over farro mixture and stir. Add additional dressing to taste.
  4. Can serve immediately or chill covered in the refrigerator.
 

Sexy Water in Three Simple Steps

Sexy Water in Three Simple Steps www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

Step 1. Pour a glass of water. Step 2. Find the hot, scantily clad woman from the Carl’s Jr. commercial (or any available super model). Step 3. Have said model drink water. Bam. That water is now the second sexiest thing in the room.

Alright, if you can’t find a super model, here are a few other tricks to spice up your water. Not that water needs to be sexy all the time; but for those occasions when you want something a bit more exciting, here are some suggestions.

1. Fruit infused water. It’s spring time and strawberries are just coming into season in Southern California. Try adding fresh sliced strawberries and a handful of torn basil or mint leaves to chilled water. The berries not only add great flavor, but they add a hint of vitamin C and fiber to your water as well (if you eat them at the end). Other fruits you could add are blueberries, orange or lemon slices, and grapefruit! Fruit Infused water www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

2. Make spa water. Add sliced cucumbers and a squirt of lemon juice to get your healthy hydration zen on. Cucumber water is refreshing and has a calming effect. It’s great to drink on a stressed out lunch break or in the evening time before going to sleep. For maximum flavor let the cucumbers sit in the water for 2-3 hours in the fridge before serving.

Cucumber Water www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

3. Go bubbly. Or as they say in Europe “with gas.” Hehe. Sometimes if you are craving a soda, all you are really craving is the fizz. See if you can stomp your soda craving with a glass of sparkling water instead. They even make it in cans now, so you can get the full soda effect. Just make sure that your sparkling water is not actually some diet drink in disguise. The only ingredients should be mineral water and carbonation. Watch out for non-nutritive sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame K, or stevia which are sometimes added to water.

4. Fun straws and cups. (For kids). Sometimes all it takes is a pretty straw to make water that much more enticing. If you have trouble with your child not wanting to drink water let them pick out a special superhero/princess cup and designate it “the water cup.” Just make sure not to buy this water.Infused Water

What is your favorite way to drink water?

Infused Water Two Ways
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 5
Ingredients
Strawberry Basil Water
  • 1 liter water or sparkling water
  • ~5 sliced strawberries
  • ~5 torn basil or mint leaves
Cucumber Spa Water
  • 1 liter water or sparkling water
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced
  • ~ 5 torn mint leaves
  • sliced lemon wedges (optional)
Instructions
  1. Add fruit and herbs to large pitcher. Pour in water. Mix. Chill in fridge for 2-3 hours.
 

Warning: Diet Soda Makes You Fat

The Truth About <a href=#DietSoda www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com” width=”424″ height=”225″ />Do you drink diet soda? According to a new study you probably shouldn’t, because it will make you fat. Or at least, fatter. This study found that older adults (65+) who drank diet soda had greater increases in waist circumference over a ten year period than those who didn’t. Quick! Start chuggin’ the regular stuff, because diet soda is most definitely the greater evil of the two. Right? Not quite. What the study failed to mention is that the participant’s diet was not controlled for. Meaning that, the group who drank diet soda, probably had poorer eating habits and consumed more calories than those not drinking diet soda. Thus they gained more weight, their stomachs got bigger, and it likely had very little to do with what type of soda they were drinking.

There is no plausible biological mechanism for how diet soda can make people gain weight directly. It has zero sugar and zero calories. If somebody were to live only on diet soda they would starve to death way before they ever developed diabetes. The problem with diet soda (and probably all artificially sweetened beverages) is that many people give themselves the green light to eat whatever they want when they drink diet soda. It’s as if diet soda is viewed as a negative calorie food. Drinking a diet soda does not undo the calories consumed in a cheeseburger or french fries. For an intelligent and hilarious explanation of the diet soda phenomenon check out this article.

Diet Coke causes weight gain
image from keepitfreshkeepitgreen.blogspot.com

In contrast, there have been a few published studies where diet soda has aided in weight loss. In one study participants were enrolled in a weight loss program and randomly assigned to either a group that was only allowed to drink water, or a group allowed to drink artificially sweetened beverages (including diet soda). The water group lost an average of 9 pounds where the diet group lost an average of 13 pounds. Shocking. It’s possible that the participants felt less restricted in their diet when they were allowed to drink diet soda, leading to better adherence to the diet overall. Interestingly, the participants in the diet soda group ranked their hunger lower than the water group. These results indicate that diet soda could actually enhance weight loss, as opposed to causing it. One important caveat to consider is that this study was funded by the American Beverage Association.

What about aspartame? Many people like to tell me that diet soda is worse for you than regular soda. Oh really? If you can show me some actual studies on that (from a peer-reviewed journal) I will believe you. Until then, I believe the abundance of research that shows that it is safe.  Even those claiming to be sensitive to aspartame always fail miserably in placebo controlled trials. It turns out, people sensitive to aspartame are actually just sensitive to living.

One problem I do have with diet soda is that when people get used to drinking something sweet (artificially or regularly sweetened) it can sometimes makes them crave more sweets (whether that be more sweetened food or more sweetened beverage). If you live on diet soda and never drink plain water, your tastes buds become recalibrated to desiring a higher threshold of sweetness . All of a sudden your cereal is not sweet enough, you are adding more sugar to your coffee, and you are left wondering why that cookie tastes so plain. Not to mention that artificial sweeteners have been in widespread use since the 1980’s, and obesity and diabetes have done nothing but skyrocket since then. Clearly, diet drinks are not the solution to long-term health.

My personal opinion is that if you really enjoy diet soda it’s okay to drink occasionally. However, it should be viewed as more of a “treat” than your every day go-to beverage. What should your go-to beverage be? Water. I know it’s not exciting or sexy, but it’s the truth. Stay tuned for my next article on how to make drinking water sexy.

Nutty Nutritionist’s Ultimate Guide to Nuts

The Ultimate Guide to <a href=#Nuts www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com” width=”3317″ height=”2213″ />

All nuts have health benefits. Eating just one ounce of nuts per day has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer.  Some types of nuts are a bit healthier than others. Read on to find out what nut you should be snacking on!

#Almonds

Almond Highlights

  • Best nut for: Brain health. Almonds are rich in vitamin E which can help prevent cognitive decline
  • Chow Down: Mix into trail mix, add slivered almonds to green beans, top yogurt or cereal, make pesto
  • Recipes: Arugala Pesto Roasted Almonds, Spring Quinoa Salad
  • NUTrition: 160 calories, 6 g protein, 3.5 g fiber per serving


Pistachio Highlightspistachios

  • Best nut for: Weight Loss. Pistachios are the lowest calorie. The act of removing the nut from the shell slows down eating, which may lead to increased satisfaction and fullness.
  • Chow down: Pair pistachios with asparagus, citrus fruits, use in desserts, and pistachio ice cream
  • Recipes: Pistachio and Aspargus Pasta, Farro Salad with Squash and Pistachios
  • NUTrition: 160 calories, 6 g protein, 3 g fiber

Pecan Highlights #Pecans

Walnut Highlights#walnuts

  • Best nut for: Heart health. Walnuts are one of the only plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids which can help lower cholesterol
  • Chow down: Pair with fruit and cheese, crush walnuts to make breading for fish, make pesto, use in baking
  • Walnuts should be stored in the fridge. Toast walnuts in the oven to bring out greater flavor
  • Recipes: Cinnamon Walnut Coffee Cake, Maple Spice Granola
  • NUTrition: 185 calories, 4 g protein, 2 g fiber

Peanut Highlightspeanuts

Cashew Highlightscashews

What is your favorite type of nut? I’m a walnut girl myself. If you can’t decide on a favorite make these rosemary spiced mixed nuts so you can eat them ALL!

Rosemary Spiced Nuts from Kitchen Confidence
Rosemary Spiced Nuts from www.kitchenkonfidence.com

 

 

 

Sneaky Ingredient Carrot Cake Muffins

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Muffins

My work is having a bake sale to raise funds for March of Dimes. Being the dietitian I was told to “bring something healthy.” Wahhh, sometimes I just want to make regular cupcakes from a box like everyone else. And then I remember that I love making healthy baked goods as long as the flavor is not sacrificed. Anyone can make cupcakes from a box, but not many people can make 100% whole grain muffins that have BOTH a fruit and a vegetable!

Usually, when I’m trying to make baked goods healthier I will add a bit of wheat flour here, reduce some sugar there; but this time I wanted to go all in. Not 50% whole wheat, 100%. I achieved my 100% whole wheat muffins with the help of a sneaky little ingredient: white whole wheat flour. To be honest, until now, I always thought white whole wheat flour was for cheaters. Just like people who replace brown sugar with white sugar and call it healthy: cheaters. As it turns out, white whole wheat is a different story. It actually is much healthier than white flour and it has the exact same nutrients as regular whole wheat. White whole wheat has four grams of fiber compared to only one gram of fiber in white flour.

P1040349

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Muffins

After being impressed by the nutrition label, I wanted to learn more about how this flour was made. Is it wheat flour that is somehow bleached to look white? Knowing our over-zealous food manufacturers I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that white wheat is just a different type of wheat that has no major genes for bran color, almost like an albino wheat. Refined white flour has the bran and the germ removed from it (which contains most of the fiber and b-vitamins) but whole wheat white does not. Thus, we are left with all the nutrients, but a lighter color and milder flavor.

Okay okay. Enough with the wheat talk. I’m excited about it! Are you?? Probably not, but that’s okay. The only thing you should be excited about are these muffins! They are wonderfully delicious, perfect for Spring parties and have about 200 calories less than a slice of regular carrot cake. You can eat them as a true muffin and go without the icing (recommended for breakfast), or jazz them up with a dab of vanilla cream cheese (recommended for dessert). Either way, you will not be sorry!

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Muffins

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Muffins

This recipe is adapted from Food.com.

Nutrition facts (one muffin with light cream cheese icing) 172 calories, 8 g fat, 1.7 g sat. fat, 24 g carb, 2 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 3 g protein

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Muffins
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 22
Ingredients
Muffins
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 3⁄4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsweetened crushed canned pineapple, drained
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Cream Cheese Icing (optional)
  • ½ cup whipped cream cheese and Greek yogurt blend (I used Lucerne)
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
Instructions
  1. Combine dry ingredients.
  2. Add maple syrup, oil, applesauce, and eggs. Mix well.
  3. Stir in remaning 3 ingredients.
  4. Grease two muffin pans and pour batter ¾ cup full. You should have enough batter to fill 22 cups.
  5. Bake for 18 minutes at 350 degrees. (I baked one sheet of muffins at a time).
  6. Cool in pan, then remove and cool on wire rack.
  7. Make frosting by beating together cream cheese blend and powder sugar. Stir in vanilla. Frosting will have a thin consistency. Apply thin layer to each muffin. Top with grated carrot or nuts if desired.
 

Ten Meatless Meals from the Nutrition Experts

As a dietitian you are often asked what you eat. I eat mainly vegetarian for a variety of reasons; partially for the animal’s sake, partially to lower my risk for heart disease, but mostly because I just don’t like the taste and texture of meat. If I loved meat the way I love bread or black bean tacos, I would no doubt eat it. I don’t believe in restricting yourself from food that you love. For that reason I would never recommend that someone who loves steak be a vegetarian. I would, however, recommend that you try to incorporate more mealtess meals into your diet. Vegetarian meals are often times cheaper, healthier, and can still provide plenty of protein. Here are 10 great meatless meals from some of my favorite dietitian bloggers!

Most Mexican food is super easy to vegify, even at a restaurant. You can always sub beans for meat. One Mexican delicacy that you can’t often find a veggie version of is taquitos. That is why I was so excited when I came across Elizabeth’s recipe for Baked Black Bean and Sweet Potato Taquitos. These are the answer to my vegetarian prayers.

taquito

Not into Mexican? Try Thai Vegetarian Pad See Ew from MJ and HungryMan. Or an Indian Tofu Tikka Masala from Food Pleasure and Health. Vegetarian-Pad-See-Ew-5

The main dish salad can always make for a great vegetarian meal. I especially enjoy this Beet and Kale Salad from Be Truly Nourished. If you want a salad with more grains try this Farmers Market Pasta Salad from Sharon Palmer. kale

There is no way you can have a list of best vegetarian meals without including some quinoa dishes! Quinoa is the ultimate high protein grain (but technically a seed) food. Try Quinoa Gratin from Eating With a Purpose, or Ancient Grains and Greens from Christa Mantey.

If all else fails, you know that some combination of bread and cheese will always have your back. Caramelized onion and roasted garlic flat bread from Mom to Mom Nutrition.

bread

Last, for a little something sweet, try Dark chocolate, coconut and almond granola from Avocado A Day Nutrition or my Vegan Chocolate Banana Cake. vegan chocolate cake

 

What are your favorite meatless meals?

Bacon Avocado Eggrolls

Bacon Avocado Egg Rolls

These egg rolls are the result of the perfect marriage. They are the love child between the chicken bacon rolls from CPK and the avocado rolls from The Cheesecake Factory. Both of those rolls are glorious on their own, but together they created something even better. The avo rolls lack texture in the filling, while the chicken rolls are marred by the flavor of well, chicken (I’m a vegetarian except bacon). Solution, skip the chicken, add avo and bacon, and you are left with a perfectly crispy, creamy, slightly salty egg roll. Of course, if you are a real vegetarian, they are still great without the bacon too!

This was my first time making eggrolls. It was surprisingly easy. The rolls don’t have to be perfectly shapped. Wrapping them up is a bit like wrapping Christmas presents. If you’ve ever received a present from me, you know that I’m not the best at wrapping, but I was still able to make it work! Follow the pictures below or watch this video for a how-to on the rolling process.  eggroll collage

Now onto the dipping sauce. What’s a good egg roll without a nice complimentary sauce? This sauce is one of my favorite parts of this recipe! It packs a strong cilantro flavor which I absolutely love. Cilantro tastes so fresh and clean to me, I can’t get enough. Although I know there are some people out there that absolutely hate cilantro. If you are a cilantro hater, you could try making the sauce with dill or parsley instead. The sauce is actually quite healthy. I subbed greek yogurt for sour cream and you would never know. Bacon Avocado Egg Rolls

Bacon Avocado Egg Rolls

Bacon Avocado Egg Rolls

This recipe is adapted from Damn Delicious. 

Have you ever made egg rolls before? Are you a cilantro lover or hater?

Bacon Avocado Eggrolls
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Egg Rolls
  • 3 avocados, peeled and seeded
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • juice of ½ of a lime
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 5 slices crispy bacon, crumbled
  • 8-10 egg roll wrappers
  • 1-2 cups canola oil, enough to cover pan 1.5" deep
Cilantro Dipping Sauce
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, loosely packed
  • ½ cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of ½ lime
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. To make the dipping sauce, combine cilantro, yogurt, jalapeno, mayonnaise, garlic and lime juice in a food processor; season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate.
  2. Cook the bacon until crispy. Dry on paper towels.
  3. In a medium bowl, mash the avocado. Add tomato, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper, to taste, and stir to combine.
  4. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  5. Working one at a time, place about ⅓ of a cup of avocado mixture in the center of each wrapper. Sprinkle crumbled bacon on top of avocado. Bring the bottom edge of the wrapper tightly over the filling, folding in the sides. Continue rolling until the top of the wrapper is reached. Using your finger, rub the edges of the wrapper with water, pressing to seal. Repeat with remaining wrappers and avocado mixture.
  6. Working in batches, add egg rolls to the skillet with hot oil and fry until evenly golden brown and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Flip once half-way through cooking. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  7. Serve warm with cilantro dipping sauce.
 

 

Protein Powder: Love It or Leave It?

Protein Powder: Love It or Leave It?

The minute you walk into the gym, what do you see? Before the treadmills, the weights, and the men admiring their bulging muscles in the mirror, you probably have to pass the array of protein powders and supplements for sale. From the very start of your workout you are conditioned to believe that you need extra protein to make the most of your workout. As you walk to the drinking fountain you spy Mr. Muscles downing his protein shake, you overhear the personal trainer talking about protein, and you begin to question whether that water is really enough. Should you be drinking a protein shake too? Is protein powder the secret ingredient that will finally give you the perfect body you have always dreamed of? Let’s find out!

First things first, what is protein powder? It is a dietary supplement which usually has about 20-30 grams of protein per serving (although some types of powder have much larger amounts). It is generally marketed to athletes to enhance muscle gain and recovery after a workout. Interestingly, it is also marketed to people wanting to lose weight, vegetarians/vegans, and anyone that works out at all. It does not contain steroids, but it is not regulated by the FDA so it may not contain what it claims. Two of the most popular protein powders, whey and casein, are made from cow’s milk. When milk is processed into cheese, liquid whey is drained off and then spray dried to form whey protein powder. There are also some vegan powders which are made from peas, soy and hemp.

protein powder
Protein powder is not just for men! An example of marketing to women.

Second, how much protein do you actually need? The recommendation from the Institute of Medicine is 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight.  A 150 pound person would need 55 grams of protein per day. Some research suggests that higher amounts may be beneficial for athletes or those looking to build muscle. Sports dietitians recommend increasing your intake to 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Using this recommendation, a 150 pound person would need 75 grams of protein per day for optimal recovery and muscle building. Bodybuilders and personal trainers often times recommend amounts much higher than this. It is important to remember that just because something is good for you, it doesn’t mean that more is better. Eating 100 grams of protein per day will not equate to larger muscles than 75 grams per day, it will either be excreted through your urine or stored as fat. Very high protein intakes have been associated with gout, kidney stones, osteoporosis, some types of cancer, and can cause dehydration.

Finally, is there any benefit in consuming protein powder over protein foods? No. There is absolutely no nutritional advantage of consuming the powder versus the food. Thirty grams of protein from a four ounce chicken breast may even benefit you more than a protein shake because chicken also offers you iron, potassium, B-vitamins, and most importantly, it tastes good. I know what you are saying, “but Nutty, I cannot quickly scarf a chicken breast the way I can down my shake after a workout.”  If you like your shake because it is quick and portable, some high protein foods which are also quick and portable are Greek yogurt, nuts and nut butters, hard boiled eggs, string cheese, beef jerky, and chocolate milk. If you are specifically looking for vegetarian protein foods here is a great list.

One last question I’m sometimes asked. Is protein powder Paleo? No! I don’t care how it’s advertised, Paleolithic people did not walk around with protein powder in their back pocket. Not to mention, if your protein powder tastes sweet, it either contains sugar or a sugar substitute like sucralose (Splenda). Which would definitely NOT be paleo.

The final verdict on protein powder: Leave It! Don’t waste your money, just eat real food!

References

http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/how-our-bodies-use-protein

http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/protein-guide-maximum-muscle

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22150425

Healthy Green Treats and RD Day!

Chocolate Covered Apples with Pistachios

Hola blog family! I just returned from a fabulous cruise to Mexico. That means I need a quick and stress-free recipe which will give me time to recover from those dang Pina Coladas. This recipe is delicious, nutty, and green for St. Patty’s day! I made these chocolate covered apples for a work presentation last week and they were gobbled up in two minutes flat. Strawberries and bananas are not the only fruit you can dip in chocolate people!

P1190541

Speaking of chocolate, I am not a crazy chocoholic, but I am crazy about melting chocolate. I LOVE melting chocolate. It literally soothes my soul. I find it to be the most relaxing process. Get a massage, or melt chocolate? It’s literally a toss up. And I love massages. Watching the chocolate liquefy, stirring that velvety liquid slowly with your favorite wooden spoon, it just makes my heart fill with joy. In my younger years, I did have a few bouts of stressful burnt chocolate, but those days are long gone. Low and slow, that’s the key. Make sure you have high quality chocolate, chop it up a bit, turn the heat on very low and stir. You will have no problems. Personally, I don’t mess with that double boiler business. Overrated and not necessary (but it does work, if that’s your thing).

My favorite part, melting the chocolate!
My favorite part, melting the chocolate!

Chocolate Covered Apples with Pistachios

Before I forget, I need to give a big shout out to all my fellow Registered Dietitians. Happy RD Day all! This post was intended to go up much sooner than RD Day, but ya know, party cruises get in the way of blogging schedules sometimes. We have to make sure we celebrate each other as it’s not likely we are going to get any love from our company the way nurses and doctors do on their day. Am I right? To all of my fellow RD’s and RDN’s working in hospitals, school nutrition, public health, culinary, blogging and communications I would like to say you do make a difference and together we can make small changes that will have a big impact on the health of future generations. Later this month (National Nutrition month) I will be spotlighting some of my favorite RD Bloggers from around the web.

Now for the recipe!

Chocolate Covered Apples with Pistachios
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 green apples, sliced into wedges
  • half of 12 ounce bag semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (any leftover chocolate works fine)
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped pistachios
  • fresh lemon juice to prevent browning
Instructions
  1. Wash and slice apples.
  2. Squirt lemon juice on apples to prevent browning.
  3. Melt chocolate in a small sauce pan over low heat. Stir continuously.
  4. Once chocolate completely melted turn off heat.
  5. Line cookie sheet with tin foil for less mess.
  6. Dip ends of apples into chocolate, place on a cookie sheet.
  7. Sprinkle dipped apples with pistachios.
  8. Place in refrigerator to cool and harden.