Anti-Inflammatory Food and Colors
The foods that help fight inflammation come in all different colors. Each color has special properties that help fight inflammation and provide a myriad of other benefits to our body. These special properties are often referred to as the large category of “phytonutrients” which is basically a fancy word for plant nutrients. There are over 100,000 phytonutrients in the plants we eat! You can learn more about phytonutrients here. The anti-inflammatory nutrients make up hundreds of those phytonutrients. The color of a plant tells us some things about which phytonurients and which anti-inflammatory nutrients that plant contains. It’s vitally important that we get a variety of colors in our diet to make sure we are getting in the wide variety of phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds that we need for optimal health. This post is all about the blue and purple foods and how they benefit our health.
Anti-Inflammatory Blue and Purple Foods
Blue and Purple foods are notorious for protecting our brain cognition and memory. Anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compounds are also prevalent in blue and purple foods. Blue and purple colored foods are helpful for reducing the negative effects of chronic stress. Purple is a fun anti-inflammatory phytonutrient food group because lots of traditional items like carrots, cauliflower, and potatoes purple varieties as well! These purple varieties tend to be higher in disease fighting compounds due to their hue. Blue and purple foods help improve the aesthetics of our meals by providing bright pops of colors on our plates. These foods are often have “black” in their name but they aren’t actually black! Think blackberries for example, they are really just a very deep shade of blue.
Blue and Purple Foods List:
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY BLUE AND PURPLE FOODS COMPOUNDS
Blue and purple foods provide us an array of hard to pronounce, but no less beneficial, phytonutrient compounds. Anthocyanidins,
hydroxystilbenes, procyanidins, pterostilbene, and the familiar resveratrol are all anti-inflammatory compounds found in blue and purple foods. Let’s review some of the specific benefits of these phytonutrients!
Found in blueberries and black grapes, this phytonutrient may help ward off cancer, keep cholesterol under control, and preserve brain function. Pteorstilbene found in blue and purple foods has been shown to have an anti-cancer effect by reducing the cell proliferation in breast cancer. The anti-oxidant activity in blueberries has been shown to be protective against atherosclerosis (plaque build up in arteries). Gastrointestinal cancers in the stomach, colon, and esophagus have been shown to have positive change related to high intakes of this phytonutrient as well. There are studies to support blue and purple foods for type 2 diabetes management as well due to pteorstilbene. This anti-oxidant may also slow down neurodegeneration. You can read this wonderful review to learn more about the research discussed above. Don’t forget to add blueberries and black grapes to your grocery list this week!
Part of the flavanoid antioxidant family, these phytonutrients help strengthen capillaries and reduce blood pressure. They play a helpful role in maintaining healthy vascular function. This anti-inflammatory compound can be found in red foods as well as the blue and purple foods listed above. The University of Michigan has some information here about procyanidins.
Red wine is the most familiar resveratrol containing food item. However, its also high in black grapes and blueberries. This phytonutrient has high anti-inflammatory properties and slows down the aging process. Resveratrol promotes a healthy heart and lungs and also helps manage types 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity. There has been numerous studies on resveratrol and its health benefits. Additional benefits include reducing the risk of neuro-degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and potentionally extending lifespan. Check out Oregon State University’s information on resveratrol here which contains links to over 100 research articles.
Tips for Increasing Blue and Purple Foods in Your Diet:
- Add berries to… everything! Smoothies, cereals, yogurt, salads, desserts, etc.
- Swap regular kale for purple kale
- Use black rice, also known as forbidden rice, in stir-fry or casseroles
- Shred purple cabbage and mix with leafy greens for salads
- Try eggplant Parmesan for a healthy Italian meal
- Replace regular potatoes with purple potatoes for a fun new hue
Recipes to Boost Blue and Purple Food consumption:
Sheet Pan Eggplant Parmesan from The Two Bite Club
Black Rice, Vegetable, and Egg Bowls from Nutrition Meets Chef
Triple Berry Kale Salad from The Recipe Critic (swap purple kale)
Roasted Purple Potatoes with lemon dijon thyme dressing from She Likes Food
How to Eat to Fight Inflammation
Just eating a few blue and purple foods each week mixed in to your normal intake of cheeseburgers and donuts isn’t going to get you the benefits you are after. Check out my Ultimate Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet to make sure your following the full plan for optimal results. Eating a healthy meal of stir-fried edamame with purple cabbage and blackberries for dessert isn’t going to counter the effects of the meat lovers pizza you had the night before! If you’d like to not only fight inflammation and gain health; but lose weight as well, check out How to Go Low Carb the Healthy Way. You can combine the anti-inflammatory diet and low-carb meal plans together for optimal health and weight management results. Sign-up for my newsletter below to get even more tips on following the Anti-inflammatory meal plan.
I’ll be sharing information on red foods, orange foods, green foods, white and brown foods, and yellow foods over the next few months. Definitely check out the other wonderful colors of the anti-inflammatory rainbow and incorporate them into your nutrition plan as well. Your meals will not only be healthy and tasty, but beautiful as well! Check back often or sign-up for my newsletter so you don’t miss a thing! Eating a rainbow of colors is the best way to ensure a highly anti-inflammatory diet that includes the broad spectrum of phytonutrients we need for optimal health.
What’s your favorite blue or purple food and/or recipe? Post in the comments below!
Living a Healthy Lifestyle: Find Your Reasons Why
When we make decisions in our lives to get healthy, there is usually a reason or several reasons why. Sometimes those reasons are helpful and more long-term. Often times, those reasons are short-term and once we’ve accomplished or completed whatever we had set out to do – our healthy lifestyle gets forgotten or we “fall off the wagon”. I want to share with you my reasons for getting healthy and trying to stay that way so maybe you’ll find some inspiration and motivation you can apply to your life.
Your Reasons Why Should be Personal
If someone else is the reason you are attempting a lifestyle change – it’s not going to work. If your doctor, significant other, well-meaning friend, or other outsider is your motivating factor – that motivation is going to die out eventually and you’ll be back to square one. You need to be the source of your own motivation and your own reasons for wanting to make a healthy lifestyle change. Making your reasons why personal will help keep you motivated and on track long-term.
Your Reasons Why Need to be Flexible
Your reasons may need change and adapt to your life. You may initially plan to lose weight to look good in your wedding dress/bathing suit/or at your 10 year high school reunion. However, none of those things are permanent motivators. So every time your motivator ends you’ll need to find a new one. Consider reasons outside of the short-term such as: being present for when your children graduate high school, being physically able to teach a grandchild how to throw a ball, being healthy enough to travel with your significant other on your 30th or 40th wedding anniversary. Whatever you find self-motivating. There are no right or wrong reasons here!
Look for Value in Your Reasons Why
Looking good in a bathing suit isn’t ultimately that valuable to us unless its our job. If you’re a model – then that could be a long-term value to you. If you’re not; you’re going to need a more personally valuable reason. What does being healthy mean for your life? What will you be able to do more of? How might your life be negatively effected if you don’t make the necessary changes? How does the decision to be healthy affect the future you desire for yourself and those you love? Look for things that will bring value to your life long-term.
Let Go of Negative Body Images as Motivators
Being healthy just to “look good” doesn’t work. You’ll never be satisfied and you’ll end up defeated. Being “skinny” or “fit” or “a size 6” are all superficial reasons why someone would want to be healthy and may even contradict your real motivators. For example, if someone is trying to “be skinny” and they skip weights at them gym so they don’t “bulk up” that may have long-term consequences of not being strong enough to complete certain tasks, increase risk of falling and breaking bones later in life, and avoiding healthy foods solely based on calorie counts. Search for reasons within your soul that have nothing to do with your outward appearance. Being physically able to put on your shoes or play your favorite instrument is more valuable long-term than what size pants you wear to do them in!
My Reasons Why
I decided to go into the health, fitness, and nutrition field upon entering college. I knew I loved sports, wanted to spread that love to others, and I didn’t want to be old, overweight, and unhealthy like my parents (sorry mom and dad! Also, thanks!). I also wanted to help others – but that wasn’t enough. I wanted to help other learn to help themselves. You see, I realized people were becoming overweight and unhealthy due to decisions they were making in their own lives – many times because they just didn’t know better. I didn’t know better either – but I wanted to learn and then share that knowledge with others. So I initially decided on a degree in Kinesiology and became a personal trainer and weight loss coach out of college.
However, I realized about 6 months after graduating that I didn’t know enough about nutrition to do my job well. I was just regurgitating information when it came to nutrition and I wanted to learn more on the subject. Which funny enough, I chose kinesiology as my bachelors degree so I wouldn’t have to go back for my masters to work in the field I loved. Oh was I naive. So then another 3 years later I was really equipped to do what I wanted – help others help themselves – in a whole lifestyle approach that included exercise and nutrition.
My Healthy Eating and Exercise Beginnings
My first year of college I had a snickers bar and 20oz soda every morning for breakfast. I am not kidding. I also ate daily at the restaurant where I worked. Because I was young I was able to fight those calories with my high level of physical activity. I played volleyball 3-5 days per week, worked out occasionally at the gym, and overall led a very active lifestyle. I eventually learned more about healthy eating and made better choices prior to graduating. Once I started my job as a weight loss coach I actually tried to follow the advice I was giving clients because I felt like I needed to “walk the talk”. That’s still the philosophy I live by today with my food and nutrition choices.
After graduating from college though, I realized I enjoyed the playing of sports much better than I did the exercise and fitness regimes that were meant to be paired with them. I was spending a lot of time at the gym as a trainer and lost motivation to spend more time there by working out. Eventually I left that job and quit going to the gym all together. At that point I took up running. I needed something to stay active, that was inexpensive, that I could do on my own time, and that I enjoyed. A few of my friends ran and so a new love for a different type of physical activity was born.
Running Helped Me Find Myself
I trained and ran my first half marathon to get over a break up. I needed to find my strength, determination, perseverance, and internal motivation that I had almost lost. Running gave me a break from graduate studies, space to not think about life if I wanted to or time I could devote to thinking about it for an hour or more, and running also gave me an outlet for stress. Running helped my spiritual health because it gave me time to pray, running improved my time management skills because I had to build in training runs around graduate school and work, and running improved my fitness levels in new ways. I love running because it’s a relatively inexpensive sport, I can compete against myself, and I can run almost any where. Running works for a multitude of reasons for me. I realize it might not work for other people in that same way – so this post isn’t to convince you to run. I just want you to see how much more living a healthy lifestyle can provide outside of “preventing chronic conditions and weight management”.
For the last 10 years I have realized that I’ve been extremely inconsistent with the strength training portion of my exercise plan. I’ve done my time at the gym, I’ve done home based workout videos, and I’ve done several 30 day squat challenges. But none of them have stuck with me. I am not sure why I haven’t been able to stick with a strength program but it is something I’ve wanted to explore in more detail. See below for some reasons why I’ve decided to add strength training back into my routine.
Eating Healthy: Necessity to Normalcy
Eating healthy has become natural and normal for my family. It’s something I strive for on a regular basis and something I am constantly conscious about because it is literally my job. Cooking at home became a necessity to save money a few years ago and I’ve since learned a love of cooking I never knew I had and continued with the practice. I also struggle with a digestive condition that has prompted me to make even more careful decisions about foods I eat and how they’re prepared. I actually enjoy eating healthy and how much better I feel when I’m following my balanced nutrition plan.
Looking Towards the Future
I’ve recently made two decisions about my health and lifestyle based on planning for the future. 1) I sought a more specific treatment approach to my digestive disorder because it was interfering with things I enjoyed and I wanted to rule out more serious issues because my status had gotten worse. 2) I’ve decided to focus more on strength training as an addition to my physical activity plans because we are building a house this year and I’ll need more strength and muscular endurance to help. Another reason I made both of these choices is because I want to prepare my body for pregnancy if we choose to have a baby in the next few years. I’ve always been a planner and I really enjoy planning ahead so why not plan for better health during a potentially very critical time period.
My Reasons Why I Run:
- I enjoy the alone time it gives me
- Helps me challenge myself physically
- It keeps me trim
- I can run any time or place
- No drive to the gym or membership costs
- It supports my spiritual health
- My self-confidence is higher with running
- It is easy to set goals and see progress
- A good reminder of who I am
My Reasons Why I Eat Healthy:
- It’s my personal philosophy to practice what I preach
- My personal health conditions are improved with mindful food choices
- I enjoy it
- It is fun to prove it can be done
- On a budget
- With limited cooking experience
- When time is scarce
- Iimportant to me to support my family’s health
- I want to avoid the chronic health conditions that run in my family
- To give my future self the best chance of a great quality of life
- I enjoy sharing my knowledge of food with others
- It keeps me focused on advances and opportunities in my career
- It helps me help others help themselves
My Reasons Why I Want to Add Strength Training:
- Increased strength and muscular endurance for building our house
- To physically be prepared as much as possible for pregnancy and child-birth
- I want to prevent the age-related decline in muscle strength/mass
- It’s important to me to stay fit
- I want to be able to play sports with my kids as they grow up
- To be able to complete projects around the house
I encourage you to ask yourself these questions and consider your reasons why you want to become healthier. Remember to make these personally valuable to you and your future goals. I encourage you to write them down and review/edit at least once a year. This will help you find some motivation you may have been lacking in the past.
If you would like more guidance on how to eat healthy, tips for successfully managing your weight without dieting, and suggestions for ways to incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle: Check out this information on my 12 week weight loss course – Click below to go straight to the registration page!
Anti-Inflammatory Food and Colors
The foods that help fight inflammation come in all different colors. Each color has special properties that help fight inflammation and provide a myriad of other benefits to our body. These special properties are often referred to as the large category of “phytonutrients” which is basically a fancy word for plant nutrients. There are over 100,000 phytonutrients in the plants we eat! You can learn more about phytonutrients here. The anti-inflammatory nutrients make up hundreds of those phytonutrients. The color of a plant tells us some things about which phytonurients and which anti-inflammatory nutrients that plant contains. It’s vitally important that we get a variety of colors in our diet to make sure we are getting in the wide variety of phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds that we need for optimal health. This post is all about the green foods and how they benefit our health.
Anti-Inflammatory Green Foods
Green foods provide anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits in addition to supporting brain health, hormone balance, heart health, and liver health. A couple of the green foods are unique in that they also contain some healthy fats in addition to the phytonutrients; these include olives and avocados. Due to the wide variety of phytonutrients in green foods and the multitude of health benefits they provide its essential to consume them regularly and to obtain a variety of green foods in your diet. Many of these green foods also contain high amounts of fiber which improves digestion, keeps blood glucose under control, and lowers blood cholesterol. In addition to the fabulous anti-inflammatory phytonutrients they contain, green foods are also high in folate and Vitamin K. You will definitely get a powerful supply of vitamins and minerals from the green foods.
Green Foods List:
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY GREEN FOODS COMPOUNDS
Green Foods have numerous compounds that provide us health benefit. These green food compounds include: Catechins, Chlorophyll, Flavolignans, Folates, Glucosinolates, Isoflavones, Phytosterols, Phenols, Suforaphane, Tannins, Theaflavins. Let’s dive a little deeper into what these green phytonutrients can do for you!
These cancer fighting phytonutrients are high in the cruciferous vegetable family which includes broccoli, cabbage, and bok choy. This green food compound helps the liver get rid of toxins as well. There is no need to do a “detox diet” when you can just up your intake of natural detoxifiers like these amazing green foods! Glucosinolates are especially helpful for reducing the risk of breast and uterine cancers as well as cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. Chopping and cooking these vegetables helps release glucosinolates and increases their bio-availability (ability to be utilized by the body). Check out this research paper on glucosinolates. Oregon State has a great informational page on glucosinolates and cruciferous vegetables here.
Phytosterols pack some health boosting punch. They can help keep cholesterol levels in check, for one. Many people don’t get enough plant sterols in their diets. Make sure to eat lettuces and leafy greens on a regular basis and consume the fatty green foods (olives and avocados) to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. If you would like to read more about phytosterols click here. These green compounds have also been implicated in cancer prevention.
Highest in green tea, this green foods compound has been shown to reduce cancer risks dramatically. Catechins also may pay a role in weight management and appear reduce body fat. You can read more about that here. But there is NO replacement for eating healthy and being active when it comes to significant and lasting weight management. If you would like more information on losing weight check out my 12 week online weight management program here.
Another amazing green food compound. Chlorophyll is a powerful cancer fighting phytonutrient. It is also useful in wound healing! You can read a lot more about chlorophyll from the Linus Pauling Institute. Take note that spinach and parsley are two of the highest cholorophyll containing green foods. Because chlorophyll is what gives green foods their color, there is very little in other anti-inflammatory rainbow food colors, so you’ll want to get in green foods weekly to make sure you are not missing out on this special nutrient.
Tips for Increasing Green Foods in Your Diet:
- Avocados can be added to salads, sandwiches, eggs, and any Mexican dish
- Include bok choy, edamame, and broccoli in stir-fry
- Choose green tea instead of coffee for a nice pick-me-up and warm morning drink
- Add leafy greens to smoothies
- Include several green food in salads such as cucumber, spinach, celery, and cabbages
- Scramble eggs or create omelets that include spinach and green peppers
- Include celery, okra, and green beans in soups or stews
- Flavor foods with a variety of fresh or dried herbs
Recipes to Boost Green Foods Consumption:
Vanilla Mint Green Smoothie From 3 Boys Unprocessed
Green Grape Avocado Quinoa Salad from the Food Network
Beef and Cabbage Stir-fry from Budget Bytes
Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Eat Yourself Skinny
How to Eat to Fight Inflammation
Just eating a few green foods each week mixed in to your normal intake of pizza and ice cream isn’t going to get you the benefits you are after. Check out my Ultimate Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet to make sure your following the full plan for optimal results. Eating a healthy meal of salmon with a spinach salad isn’t going to counter the effects of the bacon cheese burger and fries you had the night before! If you’d like to not only fight inflammation and gain health; but lose weight as well, check out How to Go Low Carb the Healthy Way. You can combine the anti-inflammatory diet and low-carb meal plans together for optimal health and weight management results. Sign-up for my newsletter below to get even more tips on following the Anti-inflammatory meal plan.
I’ll be sharing information on red foods, orange foods, blue and purple foods, white and brown foods, and yellow foods over the next few months. Definitely check out the other wonderful colors of the anti-inflammatory rainbow and incorporate them into your nutrition plan as well. Your meals will not only be healthy and tasty, but beautiful as well! Check back often or sign-up for my newsletter so you don’t miss a thing! Eating a rainbow of colors is the best way to ensure a highly anti-inflammatory diet that includes the broad spectrum of phytonutrients we need for optimal health.
What’s your favorite green food and/or recipe? Post in the comments below!
Favorite Meatless Monday Recipe
I made an awesome recipe for dinner tonight and I am super excited to share it with you. It’s actually one of my favorite recipes and I’ve made it dozens of times. But first I want to share a secret and a story with you.
A Dietitian’s Secret
First, my secret, I may be a dietitian but… are you ready for this?! I. Am. A. Clumsy. Cook. Dietitians are not chefs. We don’t have any formal cooking training. I make cooking mistakes all the time! I’ll be sharing them periodically on my blog, and today I have an epic story to share! As a dietitian, the only formal training I had on cooking was a cooking/science lab in college that taught me about chemical reactions during cooking and fancy words such a “saute” and “the maillard reaction”. You want to know what it didn’t teach me?
Things You Don’t Learn in Dietitian Programs
It didn’t teach me how to season foods to give them ultimate flavor. I also didn’t learn to pair different types of food for the best presentation or flavor profiles. It didn’t teach me what types of wine go best with what types of meats/fish/poultry (I’m feeling kind of ripped off right now, really…). It also didn’t teach me how to care for cooking injuries.
Yes. Cooking injuries. I have scars y’all. Multiple. Burns, cuts, bruises – they can all happen while cooking! My kitchen has become a war zone. I have several serious and yet also hilarious cooking mishap stories. So today I thought I would share one with you.
A Story for Laughs and Life Lessons
I was working on this epic recipe tonight that I’m about to share with you. Breezing through the recipe, I had chopped the peppers, jalapenos, and cilantro without a drop of blood. I had sauteed the veggies, opened, rinsed, and drained the black beans and was still in one piece. Also, I had started the quinoa in the rice cooker and preheated the oven. I was almost home free without any type of injury.
Almost. Until… that pivotal moment when I went to rub my itchy eye. Without a second thought I reached up and rubbed the corner of my left eye with a single finger. It only took about half a second to realize I had 1.) made a grave mistake and 2.) remember that I had CHOPPED JALAPENOS WITHOUT WASHING MY HANDS AFTER!
Life Lesson #1:
Wash your dang hands after touching jalapenos and any other hot pepper! Seriously y’all. Want to know what it feels like to set your eyeball on fire? Touch it with jalapeno juice. Want to know what it feels like to want to rip your eyeball out of its socket so the pain will stop? Touch it with jalapeno laced appendages. Want to know what it feels like to have your nose run because you had hot peppers in your eye instead of your mouth? Touch it with jalapeno fingers. *Side Note: Your nose literally runs like it does when you eat spicy salsa when you get spicy eyeball. So not only were my eyes watering like crazy, my nose was also dripping snot… Let me tell you how sexy it was not.* If you would like to avoid these feelings and are good with taking my word for how horrible of an experience this was – WASH YOUR HANDS after messing with hot peppers. Twice just to make sure. It will be worth it, I promise.
The story continues…
So my family, husband, 2 kids, and mother-in-law, are sitting at the kitchen table playing a board game while I’m making dinner and witness me briskly walk (because I’m already afraid of running in socks on my hardwood floors) out of the kitchen saying “I’ll be back I just got jalapeno juice in my eye”. My loving husband follows me into the bathroom with our 5 year old on his shoulders where I am vigorously trying to wash my eye out in the sink and asks me if there is anything he can do to help. Yes actually, “take our child out of here so I don’t say bad words in front of her” was all I could muster out at the moment. He quickly retreated. After wiping my eyes and blowing my nose and still feeling no relief I called down the hallway “google how to get jalapeno juice out of my eye!”. By the way, I realize its not juice but actually oils from the pepper that got in my eye – that is entirely beside the point when your eyeball is literally burning.
Life Lesson #2:
If perhaps you forget life lesson #1, it’s important to at least remember life lesson #2: The best remedy for calming down pepper spiced eyeballs? Soak a paper towel in milk and hold it over your eye for several seconds. It was that simple. I was in pure agony for what felt like eternity (y’all might want to think about what hell really feels like if you don’t know where you’re going when you die!) because in reality it lasted less than 5 minutes. Maybe 8 – I wasn’t exactly checking the clock. But it felt like forever and it hurt like hell. Literally. I imagine that’s how it would feel to have your eyes burn out of their sockets. In my humble opinion, I don’t think you really ever want to experience that. But alas, to each their own.
Favorite Meatless Monday Recipe
Black Bean and Quinoa Enchilada Bake by Two Peas & Their Pod.
Photo source: Two Peas & Their Pod
All-In-One Anti-Inflammatory Recipe
Why do I love this recipe so much? Even after I nearly lost my eye making it? It has all the food groups in one place minus fruit. Protein, healthy starch, and non-starchy vegetables in a beautiful array of vibrant shades with all the anti-inflammatory rainbow colors. Learn more about the red, yellow, and orange anti-inflammatory colors that this dish contains. It can be hard to find a healthy casserole recipe that is a complete meal and also fits the anti-inflammatory meal plan. This recipe is also high in fiber! A great anti-inflammatory nutrient that most American’s don’t get enough of in their daily diet. Look at these beautiful colors!
Due to the jalapeno fiasco this is the only picture I managed to snap.
Perfect Recipe for Sharing
This is my go to dish for potlucks and families who need a meal cooked for them. I’ve cooked it several times for new moms who’s last thought is what they are going to be cooking for dinner. It freezes well – just combine and place into a freezer safe casserole dish prior to baking! When you want to eat it, bake as directed. It’s easy to double the recipe and feed large crowds or have several days of leftovers for healthy lunches. It also doesn’t take a ton of work but tastes like you spent hours slaving over it. It’s amazing!
Budget Friendly Recipe
I love how budget friendly this recipe is. I broke down the cost below so you could see for yourself. Prices (except fresh produce) were obtained from Walmart.com because it’s easy to search for grocery costs there and they’re available all over the country. Produce are averages in my area. I did not include cost of spices. It’s hard to find such a healthy recipe of under $1.50 per person! I paired it with baby carrots and cuties for sides so our total meal was less than $2 a person! Great option for those budget conscious families.
- Quinoa $8.22 for 32oz = $1.64 for 1 cup
- 2 cans black beans $0.625 each if bought in 4 pack = $1.25
- Red Enchilada Sauce 28oz can = $2.98
- Bell Peppers $1 each = $2.00
- Jalapeno pepper $1/lb = $0.25
- Onion $0.50 = $0.50
- Can Corn $0.50 = $0.50
- Cilantro $0.50 = $0.25
- Shredded Mexican Cheese $7.97 32oz/8 cups = $1.98
- TOTAL per Recipe: $11.35
- Cost per serving (makes 8 servings): $1.42
Healthy Recipe Facts
Nutrition Facts below are per serving and based on making 8 servings from the recipe. We easily made 8 servings out of the recipe. We had 2 kids and 3 adults eat and had about 1/3 of the recipe leftover.
- Calories 357.3
- Total Fat 13.0 g
- Saturated Fat 6.1 g
- Sodium 495.6 mg
- Potassium 372.3 mg
- Total Carbohydrate 45.7 g
- Dietary Fiber 9.7 g
- Protein 16.8 g
Plus it contains good amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Folate, and Riboflavin. Overall this dish is a great healthy choice! It would be suitable for diabetics and those needed to watch their sodium intake as long as you use no salt added canned black beans or dried beans. This recipe definitely gets two thumbs up from this dietitian. I would recommend it to pretty much everyone!
Easily Adjust Recipe to Your Preferences and Needs
You can mix and match ingredients very easily in this recipe. Any color and type of pepper would work well depending on your flavor preferences, what’s on sale that week, and how badly you want to avoid jalapeno juice in your eye! You can add a lot of different vegetables to increase the nutrients from the original recipe. Consider adding tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, green onions, or your other favorite veggies. You can also choose a different whole grain if you forgot to purchase quinoa. It would easily be adaptable to brown rice and I also think a whole grain pasta would work well. You can leave out the cheese if you are dairy free. Those that need to avoid gluten can happily consume this as the recipe is already gluten free. If you struggle with IBS you can sub the black beans for canned lentils (lower in FODMAPS) and chose green onions instead of regular onions. It’s low in calories so can be great for weight loss as well.
Honestly I just can’t think of reason not to eat this! It’s amazing. If you haven’t yet, head over to Two Peas & Their Pod and check it out.
Do you Want to Lose Weight and Keep it Off?
I want to help you achieve that goal! I have the perfect weight loss course to get you started. My 12 week course is designed to help you lose weight long-term by teaching you how to create a lifestyle plan that will continue with you for the rest of your life. You will learn how to create a plan that is realistic, personalized, and perfect just for you.
THIS IS NOT A DIET
Diets only work for short-term weight loss. I don’t believe in diets. The foundations weight loss inspirations course teaches you how to make your own eating plan that includes a healthy balance of all food groups, works with your family, and includes your favorite foods. No restrictive dieting, no feeling deprived, no ridiculous eating guidelines. You will learn how to make your own nutrition plan through this course instead of trying to follow something designed for someone else.
Learn How To Meal Plan
The Weight Loss Inspirations online course teaches the details of making a healthy meal plan and how to implement that into your daily life. You will learn what makes a balanced plate and how to calculate your individual needs. You will also learn why dairy isn’t a necessary part of your meal plan and that you don’t have to count food group servings to have a healthy food intake!
Gain Knowledge You Didn’t Know You Needed
Do you know how to read a food label? How to find healthy recipes? What resources are available to you to find accurate and helpful information online? Are you familiar with the Plate Method? Do you know how many grams of carbohydrate, protein, and fat you need each day? Find the answers to these questions and many more in this 12 week weight loss course!
Obtain Numerous Other Benefits Too!
Struggling with fatigue? Eating healthy can help with that! Desiring a better body image? Learn how to love your body for what its capable of, not how it looks! Afraid of developing a chronic condition? Choose to eat healthy now and follow the guidelines in the Weight Loss Inspirations Course and ward off those pesky conditions (or improve your management of ones you already have). You might find that you’re sleeping better, improving your ability to manage stress, and overall just have an improved since of well-being. A healthy lifestyle can make some HUGE differences for you!
Find Out Why “Everything in Moderation” Is Bad Advice!
If this way of thinking worked, do you think we would have an obesity epidemic on our hands? Obviously this strategy isn’t working well in the U.S. You will learn better strategies and tips to make your weight loss journey a successful one. The Foundations Course also shows you how to look at the big picture when it comes to health, weight loss, and lifestyle habits.
Receive ALL the Necessary Tools in this Course for Successful Weight Loss
- Meal Planning Worksheets
- Grocery List Printable
- Food and Exercise Logs
- Research Article Links
- SMART PLANS Worksheets
- and More!
Enjoy Multiple Learning Forms to Match Your Needs
Each course week includes a video presentation to watch and listen to for auditory and visual learners. Also, each week contains written content for your reading pleasure with more details and information. Printables that support each topics are included as well such as food logs and menu plans. You will watch, listen, read, and practice what you learn each week to match all of your learning needs.
Share Your Journey with a Community of Like Minded Individuals
As part of the course you will have access to discussion forums and as a bonus, you will also have access to a FREE and private Facebook group to share your journey with others. Having accountability is an important part of a weight loss plan. It is also important to have a support system for your weight loss journey as well. The Weight Loss Inspirations course is designed with that in mind and provides you with a platform to discuss your struggles and successes, learn from others, and feel encouraged along the way.
What’s Included in the Course:
12 Weeks of Exclusive Content
- Each week will take approximately 1 hour to complete
- SMART PLANS and Setting Realistic Expectations
- Importance of Keeping Food Records and How to Track Your intake
- Implementing the Plate Method
- How to Meal Plan
- The Best Exercises for Weight Loss
- Why Counting Calories Doesn’t Work
- The Problem with “Everything in Moderation”
- Label Reading for Weight Loss
- Finding and Creating Healthy Recipes
- Finding and Maintaining Weight Loss Motivation
- A Look at Meal Replacements and Other Diet Foods
- Convenient and Healthy Eating for Weight Loss
Private Discussion Forums and FREE Closed Facebook Group Access
- Community Support
- Connect with Others Just Like You
- No Need to Travel to Meetings or Presentations
Printable Resources You can Download and Keep!
- Food Record
- Grocery List
- Meal Plan
- Weekly Menu
- Food Lists
- Example Workouts
Expert Advice and Information
- All the content was created by Nancy – a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s Degree and Certified Personal Trainer.
No Prepackaged Foods – You purchase all your own foods
- Stay in control of the food and ingredients you put in your body
- Keeps cost low by allowing you to purchase your own groceries
- This program is NEW so the price is LOW!
- Give feedback and you’ll be eligible for special coupons for additional programs in the future
- Prices will increase over the next few months so act now!
Your Time Learning
- You can go as fast or as slow through the content as you need
- You can choose the day, time, and length of your sessions
- Videos are designed to easily pause or repeat information as needed
- Week 1 content is available immediately after purchase
- Additional content will be available automatically each week as you go through the program
Get All This and More for Only $49!
This is an introductory price offer only! It will be gone before you know it so make sure to purchase your 12 week course today! There is no time like the present, so click here, and get registered! The actual value of this course is well over $250! Similar programs range from $250-780 for 12 weeks of content and resources. This low, low price won’t last long!
Anti-Inflammatory Food and Colors
The foods that help fight inflammation come in all different colors. Each color has special properties that help fight inflammation and provide a myriad of other benefits to our body. These special properties are often referred to as the large category of “phytonutrients” which is basically a fancy word for plant nutrients. There are over 100,000 phytonutrients in the plants we eat! You can learn more about phytonutrients here. The anti-inflammatory nutrients make up hundreds of those phytonutrients. The color of a plant tells us some things about which phytonurients and which anti-inflammatory nutrients that plant contains. It’s vitally important that we get a variety of colors in our diet to make sure we are getting in the wide variety of phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds that we need for optimal health. This post is all about the yellow foods and how they benefit our health.
Anti-Inflammatory Yellow Foods
Yellow Food Compounds include: Lutein, Rutin, Zeaxanthin. These yellow compounds help yellow fruits and vegetables to provide anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits. Yellow foods also help protect our brain, eyes, skin, and heart. Some yellow food will be familiar such as lemons and bananas. But don’t be afraid to try something new like star fruit or succotash for variety. Many people shy away from corn but it actually has the highest amount of Lutein out of all our vegetables and fruits (see the research). Just remember that corn is a starch and should be paired with, not take the place of, non-starchy vegetables for a balanced meal.
Yellow Foods List:
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY YELLOW FOODS COMPOUNDS
Lutein and Zeaxanthin:
Are carotenoids that require healthy fats for absorption; which means its best to eat them with a meal containing healthy sources of healthy fats. These two yellow food compounds are particularly beneficial for eye health. These orange compounds help filter blue-light waves to keep our eyes healthy and fight of macular degeneration. The American Optometric Association has more info on these carotenoids and eye health. Here is another study supporting both Lutein and Zeaxanthin in preventing and/or treating different diseases of the eyes including malignant tumors and possibly dry eyes.
A flavonoid anti-oxidant that assists with blood flow and keeps our vascular system running smoothly. Rutin is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects as well as other biological activities. Research is currently being conducted on rutin as a potential blood clot prevention agent – but current recommendations suggest consuming it in foods until we know more.
Tips for Increasing Yellow Foods in Your Diet:
- Add Banana slices to cereal or peanut butter sandwiches
- Include Corn in soups and casseroles
- Use Ginger in teas or when seasoning Asian dishes
- Try Gold Potatoes instead of russet
- Toss Pineapple into a healthy fruit salad
- Choose yellow bell peppers in Mexican dishes or dip in hummus or guacamole
Don’t Be Afraid of Corn
Corn is actually a healthy food! Now of course you will want to be mindful of adding tons of butter and salt, but overall corn itself is a good choice. Many people hold beliefs about corn that are false, you can read some myths about corn here. Half a cup of corn has only 65 calories. Corn contains fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Although corn doesn’t always get digested completely, if you can still benefit from its many nutrients. It’s actually a good thing that some of the fibers are indigestible because that helps move things through your intestines. As mentioned above corn is extremely high in lutein and beneficial for your eye health. Keep corn limited to one-fourth of your plate along with other starchy foods (when following the plate method). Corn is a starch and should be treated as one, but you can still eat it and benefit!
Recipes to Boost Yellow Foods consumption:
Easy Pineapple Fried Rice by Emilie Eats
Oven Roasted Herb and Garlic Parmesan Potatoes by Mom on Time Out
Honey Lemon Ginger Chicken by The Recipe Critic
Orzo Salad with Starfruit Salsa by Vintage Kitty
How to Eat to Fight Inflammation
Just eating a few yellow foods each week mixed in to your normal intake of fast-foods and sweets isn’t going to get you the benefits you are after. Check out my Ultimate Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet to make sure your following the full plan for optimal results. If you’d like to not only fight inflammation and gain health; but lose weight as well, check out How to Go Low Carb the Healthy Way. You can combine the anti-inflammatory diet and low-carb meal plans together for optimal health and weight management results. Sign-up for my newsletter below to get even more tips on following the Anti-inflammatory meal plan.
I’ll be sharing information on red foods, green foods, blue and purple foods, white and brown foods, and orange foods over the next few months. Make sure to check back often or sign-up for my newsletter so you don’t miss a thing! Eating a rainbow of colors is the best way to ensure a highly anti-inflammatory diet that includes the broad spectrum of phytonutrients we need for optimal health.
What’s your favorite orange food and/or recipe? Post in the comments below!
Finding Your Best Exercise
We all know exercise is important. From preventing heart disease and diabetes to maintaining our physical abilities to boosting self-confidence there are a multitude of reasons to fit physical activity into our weekly lives. But knowing something is important and actually finding the time to do it and enjoy it are totally different things! Many of you have tried to begin an exercise program, maybe multiple times, just to be back at square one a few weeks or months later. It’s very common to “fall off” the exercise wagon so to speak.
So how do you find an exercise routine that fits into your schedule, works with your current abilities, and that you actually want to do? Well, the answer is a little complicated. See you are all individuals with different lifestyles, abilities, and enjoyments. No one exercise plan is going to work for every person. Also, it will be a bit of an experiment or trial and error to find the right exercise plan for you. I’ve compiled a list of tips and strategies to finding an exercise program to suit your needs.
Pick Something You Enjoy
This may seem simple but sometimes it takes trying out a few different options to find the type of exercise you enjoy most. There are countless options for physical activity but we often go into this short-sighted thinking we have to either run, cycle, lift weights, or practice yoga. In reality we could choose from 100 of different exercise options. Try to base what you choose off of something you enjoy. Did you enjoy dance growing up? Maybe you could try your hand at Zumba or sign up for a ball-room dance class. Are you a sports fan and pretty competitive? Check out what type of leagues may be available in your area. Does going to the gym fill you with dread? See what type of exercise DVDs your library has or download a home workout plan to try.
If you try to force yourself into doing something you hate you most likely won’t be successful at maintaining your exercise routine. Finding an exercise you enjoy might take some time, but will be well worth it when you actually look forward to lacing up your shoes and heading out the door. Keep reading for more tips on making exercise fun! You can take this fun “exercise personality” quiz to get some ideas on what you might enjoy most.
Find an Accountability Partner
Not only can having a friend to exercise with make it more fun; it also helps you stay motivated and on track. It’s easy to talk yourself out of heading to your fitness class but it’s a lot harder when your friend expects you to be there. An accountability partner can be a great source of encouragement or even competition. Knowing someone is depending on your support and commitment makes you more committed too! Research supports exercising with a buddy to increase your activity. You can also reap the benefits of being more social with an exercise partner as well.
You don’t have to actually workout with your accountability partner. All you need to do is set aside some time each week to check in with each other and update each other your progress. Most of us would rather share that we are making progress instead of failing to make progress. You can do this via email, phone, or even text. Just make sure to pick an accountability partner that’s going to support and push you towards your goals.
Many times we over do it when starting an exercise program and that leaves us sore and worn out for the rest of the week, or worse, injured! Take it slow when beginning to exercise. As little as 10 minutes a day can be beneficial and it won’t eat up too much time or energy. Over time, build on the time and intensity of your workouts. If you would like more information about starting small for losing weight check out my 12 week Weight Loss Inspirations Course. Click below to find out more!
Try Something New
If you keep trying to make it to that 6:00 am boot-camp and keep hitting snooze instead of getting out of bed; maybe you aren’t cut out for early morning workouts. Try a different time of day! You can also try different types of exercises, classes, or programs. You might really enjoy kickboxing over step aerobics if you give it a go! Enjoy yoga? Try Goat Yoga! Like running? Try interval training or running hills. Doing the same thing for months gets boring and also prevents additional gains from exercise. Make sure you try new things occasionally to keep your interest and challenge yourself.
Determine What You Want from Your Workouts
What are your fitness goals? If you want to build strength, training for a marathon is probably not your best choice! Trying to lose weight? Cardio is more your friend in the beginning. Need to increase your flexibility to reduce pain and tight muscles? Yoga or Tai Chi is going to be a better option than that weight circuit at the gym. When you decide what you are trying to accomplish that can help you make the best choice for your exercise plan. If you are trying to lose weight, diet is more important than exercise, so you might want to check out how to go low-carb the healthy way and just choose the type of exercise you enjoy most for you workouts.
Choose a Sport and Make it Fun
Try getting involved in your favorite sport or activity. Most cities have leagues of different kinds from volleyball to bowling to kickball. Any activity can count towards your overall exercise goals. If you’re competitive by nature use that to your advantage. If you prefer playing just for fun regardless of winning or losing choose a league or activity with a group that feels the same way. Exercise doesn’t have to mean working out in the sense most of us think. Any type of activity can count if you’re moving more and sitting less.
Set Some Goals
Consider where you want to be 6 months from now? Are you trying to lift a certain amount? Run a particular distance? Sign-up for a challenge or a race. Having a date to work towards can focus your attention on improving your fitness levels. Think about doing a 30 day fitness challenge or another type of fitness challenge. Some online challenges will even send you a medal like Will Run for Bling and Charity! You can also sign up for fun events like midnight runs or muddy obstacle courses to keep you on track.
Make Exercise a Family Event
Include the kids in your exercise plans. Maybe you can plan weekly or monthly hiking trips where you live. Sign them up for the 1 mile kids dash offered by your 10k race program. Play flag football or ultimate Frisbee with the neighborhood families. Whatever floats your boat – just get the kids involved and the whole family can have some fun burning calories.
Fit it in Where You Can
Yes it’s optimal to have about 20 minutes set aside 3-4 days per week to get active, but maybe your schedule is really tight right now and you aren’t able to commit to that. Can you commit to a 10 minute walk on your lunch break 2 days? What about another 10 minutes after dinner 1 or 2 nights each week? Start sneaking in extra activity when you can and before long you will start noticing a difference in how you feel. Research supports benefits from small amounts of exercise. Obviously you get greater benefit with more exercise but why not capitalize on what you can achieve and not worry as much about what’s out of your reach at the moment?
Prepare the Day Before
Lay out everything you need the day before. Your clothing, snacks, shoes, and whatever else you need to make your workout a success. Place your gym bag in your car if you plan to hit it on your way to or from work. Have everything ready to make exercising as easy and smooth as possible.
Make it Count
12 minutes of interval training is all you need for a successful and meaningful workout (click here for more info). So if you are limited in time, make up for it with intensity! Really work towards putting in the effort when possible and increase other areas of activity as you are able. A short, powerful workout can be just as effective or possibly more effective than a longer, more moderate intensity workout.
Take the Path of Least Resistance
No I’m not talking about choosing the lightest weights at the gym. Make it easy on yourself to exercise! This might mean lacing up your tennis shoes for a run in your neighborhood instead of driving to them gym for time on the elliptical or it might mean doing a body weight strength training routine on nights you leave work late instead of hitting the gym and waiting on the machines you prefer to be available. Reduce the barriers that come up for you by planning ahead. Your exercise plan should reduce stress – not create it! Choose options that help keep you energized and calm. If you’re always rushing to your workouts, or worse, through your workouts – you’re going to be more likely to quit.
Hire a Professional
If you’re not sure where to start or would like to hit the gym but don’t know how to use the machines; you can always consider hiring a certified personal trainer. They can help lead you in the right direction based off your fitness goals and can show you how to do the exercise correctly and efficiently. Some trainers will even do group sessions – so bring your accountability partner with you! Paying your hard earned money is another way to make yourself accountable to your workout plans and keep you motivated to reach your goals.
Make a Plan
No matter what type of exercise you choose to do, you need a plan to implement it. Write it on your calendar, in your planner, or your bullet journal. Choose what days, what time, and for how long you will be exercising. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail – so make an exercise plan! You might want to check out these meal planning tips as well while you’re at it and knock out both your meal plan and your workout plan at the same time.
What Exercise Will You Choose?
Leave a comment with your favorite exercise type below! Consider signing up for my newsletter for more weight loss, exercise, and nutrition tips delivered to your inbox. If you’re reading this because your trying to lose weight, check out these 25 weight loss tips to help improve your progress.
Anti-Inflammatory Food and Colors
The foods that help fight inflammation come in all different colors. Each color has special properties that help fight inflammation and provide a myriad of other benefits to our body. These special properties are often referred to as the large category of “phytonutrients” which is basically a fancy word for plant nutrients. There are over 100,000 phytonutrients in the plants we eat! You can learn more about phytonutrients here. The anti-inflammatory nutrients make up hundreds of those phytonutrients. The color of a plant tells us some things about which phytonutrients and which anti-inflammatory nutrients that plant contains. It’s vitally important that we get a variety of colors in our diet to make sure we are getting in the wide variety of phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds that we need for optimal health. This post is all about the red foods and how they benefit our health.
Anti-Inflammatory Red Foods
The benefits of the red food include anti-cancer, ant-inflammatory, immune boosting, DNA protection, prostrate health, natural detoxification, and vascular/heart health. Keep the skin on foods such as red apples and radishes to reap the benefits. Watch out for dried fruits such as raisins, dried cranberries, or dried cherries – these often contain added sugars that may negate some of the health benefits. Strawberries are high in folic acid and Vitamin C – both powerful nutrients in their own right. Cranberries have anti-bacterial properties that have been useful in both our gastrointestinal and urinary tracts. Red or pink grapefruits have cholesterol fighting compounds. Most red foods are also high in fiber, especially berries and stone fruits, fiber fights inflammations and helps us maintain a healthy gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems. You can read more about the health benefits of red foods and how to get more of them in your diet here.
Red Foods List:
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY RED FOODS COMPOUNDS
Red food anti-inflammatory compounds include anthocyanins, astaxanthin (found in pink/red seafood), carotenoids (also found in orange foods), ellagic acid, flavonols/flavonoids, lycopene. As you can see below these compounds provider a wide variety of health benefits.
High in cooked tomatoes, watermelon, and even pink grapefruit, lycopene helps protect against prostrate, breast, lung, and skin cancers. You can also reduce your risk of heart attack by consuming more of these foods. Because lycopene requires fat to be absorbed by the body make sure to include a healthy oil such as olive oil or some nuts and seeds to your meals with these red foods. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has more information on lycopene here.
Anthocyanins are anti-oxidants and/or phytonutrients that help protect the heart and brain. They have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks and significantly help lower blood pressure. Other help benefits include: improving memory and cognition, fighting liver disease, and reducing the age-related decline in brain health. Anthocyanins have a strong role in preventing and/or managing many chronic conditions related to lifestyle habits such as heart disease and diabetes. Read more about anthocyanins here from Today’s Dietitian. You can also find more about anthocyanins in this research article.
Flavonols help fight and prevent coronary heart disease, stroke, and the damaging effects of LDL cholesterol. Found in apples, cherries, and cranberries these phytonutrients have been shown to reduce the risk of asthma, diabetes, cancers, and heart disease. U.C. Davis has a great fact sheet about flavonols here. Flavonols have been shown to reduce C-reactive protein – a laboratory marker of inflammation levels. They may even benefit athletic performance, although it appears the jury is still out on that topic, find out more here. Quercetin is the most common flavonoid.
Tips for Increasing Red Foods in Your Diet:
- Add berries or pomegranate seeds to salads
- Use marinara sauce (red) instead of alfredo or wine sauces on pasta
- Use red onions in a tomato and red pepper salsa
- Roast tomatoes with other vegetables for a side dish
- Eat red foods such as red applies or plums as snacks
- Choose dark red kidney beans for soups or bean salads
- Consider adding radishes, beets, and red bell pepper to fresh salads in addition to tomatoes
- Choose pink/red grapefruits over white ones
Recipes to Boost Red Foods Consumption:
Triple Berry Salad from Chelsea’s Messy Apron
Homemade Crock Pot Marinara Sauce from Life Currents
Beetroot Crisps from Nicky and Max
Skillet Red Beans and Rice from MyRecipes
Charred Green Beans with Garlic and Pomegranate Seeds from The Healthy Maven
How to Eat to Fight Inflammation
Just eating a few red foods each week mixed in to your normal intake of fast-foods and sweets isn’t going to get you the benefits you are after. Check out my Ultimate Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet to make sure your following the full plan for optimal results. If you’d like to not only fight inflammation and gain health; but lose weight as well, check out How to Go Low Carb the Healthy Way. You can combine the anti-inflammatory diet and low-carb meal plans together for optimal health and weight management results. Sign-up for my newsletter below to get even more tips on following the Anti-inflammatory meal plan.
I’ll be sharing information on orange foods, green foods, blue and purple foods, white and brown foods, and yellow foods over the next few months. Check back often or sign-up for my newsletter so you don’t miss a thing! Eating a rainbow of natural colors is the best way to ensure a highly anti-inflammatory diet that includes the broad spectrum of phytonutrients we need for optimal health.
What are your favorite red foods and/or recipes? Post in the comments below!
Meal Planning Tips to Help You Stick to Your Nutrition Goals
Meal planning is a must for those looking to lose weight, manage chronic conditions, or stay healthy. But sometimes it’s boring, overwhelming, frustrating, or all of the above. Here are some tips to keep your meal planning organized and on track with a little variety and fun along the way.
Follow the Plate Method for Meal Planning
The plate method gives you a guide for how your plate should look. When meal planning make sure you’ve got all 5 food categories present: non-starchy vegetables, fruits, proteins, starch/grains, and healthy fats. I’m a big fan of Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate (below). You can read more about Harvard’s plate method here. I especially like that it focuses on water instead of milk as your main beverage. If you would like more information on following the plate method you can read my Ultimate Guide to the Anti-inflammatory Diet where I discuss each of the food groups in more detail.
Copyright © 2011, Harvard University. For more information about The Healthy Eating Plate, please see The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, www.thenutritionsource.org, and Harvard Health Publications, www.health.harvard.edu.
Lose Weight by Meal Planning
Meal planning helps you stick to your nutrition plan and prevent excess snacking or extra calories from sneaking into your day. Make a plan and stick to it so you know how many calories are coming in and what foods will fit in your day. For additional weight loss advice check out these 25 weight loss tips. If you are serious about losing weight consider enrolling in my 12 week Weight Loss Inspirations Course!
You don’t have to plan an entire month or even an entire week to get started. Consider just meal planning your dinners for practice; you can even just do 2-3 to start with. As you refine your meal planning strategy you can increase the number of meals you plan each week or month. I use PepperPlate to plan my meals. You can use an app, calendar, or notebook. Find a system that works for you and keep at it. If you’d like to download my basic meal planning worksheet (pictured below) sign-up for my mailing list and I’ll send you a PDF for free at your request.
Use Ads for Meal Planning Ideas
Check out the weekly circular for meal ideas. Purchase sale items for budget friendly meals. Ads are a great way to get the ideas flowing. If roast is on sale you can consider a slow-cooker roast recipe or if salmon is on sale you might add that to your weekly menu plan. Ads also help you find out what produce is in season which helps your budget and your health; see the next point for more info.
Stick to Your Dietary Needs
Meal planning allows for you to meet your dietary needs without feeling overwhelmed or forgetful. Need to go low sodium to manage your blood pressure? Add recipes with limited salt. Aiming to manage your diabetes? Go low carb the healthy way and keep your starchy foods to one-fourth of your plate. Aiming to lose weight? Keep portions under control and pair higher calorie main dishes with lower calorie sides. Any dietary needs can be met by meal planning ahead of time and keeping your needs in mind.
Seasonal Simplicity in Meal Planning
Aim to eat vegetables and fruits that are in season. This can help with sticking to your budget as well as getting in a variety of foods throughout the year. Seasonal foods tend to be a better option since they are often grown locally and fresher when purchased. Seasonal produce tends to be a better price option since the store doesn’t have to pay extra for extravagant shipping requirements or special growing conditions. Meal planning based on the season can also help you get a range of nutrients each season and throughout the year.
Weather Appropriate Meal Planning
Speaking of seasons. Hot weather may call for cooler meals such as smoothies and salads. Cold weather tends to lead us to soups and chili. Consider how eating a certain food may affect how you feel or function that day. Hot soup on a day you’re working out in the yard may not be the best choice but would be perfect after playing in the snow! Meal planning with the weather in mind can help you relax and appreciate your foods in a new way.
Keep the freezer, fridge, and pantry stocked with essential items you use consistently. Things you should always keep on hand include: healthy oils, nuts/seeds, frozen vegetables and fruits, peanut butter, brown and wild rice, oats, salt and pepper, canned tuna, frozen meats, canned beans, tortillas, breads/pastas, eggs, etc. Basically always be able to throw together a simple snack or meal if your originally planned option falls through. Any time you finish off one of your essential items it goes directly onto the grocery list. This also helps you prevent running out of an essential item in the middle of your week after you’ve already completed your meal planning and grocery shopping for the week.
Theme Nights for Meal Planning
Consider having theme nights to keep your cuisines rotating and your planning on track. Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, and Fish Fridays are popular options. Obviously you don’t have to have tacos every Tuesday, but something Mexican or a similar flare would work with the theme night and help when you trying to come up with options. This is also not something you have to stick with at all times. Consider it more of a guide or idea generator instead of a rule book. It can keep your meal planning organized but can sometimes feel limiting. Remember you’re ultimately in control of what goes on the menu that night.
To prevent wasting food – plan leftovers into your week. One strategy is to eat leftovers every 4th night or you can plan to have leftovers on your busiest day of the week. Another option is to have leftovers as your lunch meals all week. Try giving leftovers a little twist. For example: Chili can be eaten alone the first night and then over a potato as lunch or the next night. This helps keep things new and fresh and prevents feeling like you’re always eating the same things. When meal planning for the week or month just write in “leftovers” for the meals you plan to use them; that way you don’t forget!
Aim to go vegetarian at least one day per week. There are countless health benefits to a plant-based diet. This doesn’t mean you need to eliminate meat completely – just eat less of it! Having one day a week meatless also makes some room in your budget. Meatless meals tend to be very budget friendly! It also doesn’t have to be Mondays or even a full day. One strategy I implement pretty regularly is having plant-based/vegetarian breakfast and lunches and only having animal products at dinner time. Incorporate meatless options into your meal planning strategy.
You need a back-up plan. This should be 2-3 meals that meet the following requirements: 1) You can keep the ingredients on hand at all times, 2) take less than 15 minutes to throw together, 3) You enjoy eating. These may include something like a simple shrimp stir-fry made with minute rice, frozen precooked shrimp, and a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables or easy tuna salad sandwiches. These meals are not to be written into your meal plan. Instead, they are planning ahead for the unexpected. Your back-up plan is for those days when you’re running 2 hours behind by the time you finally make it home or your crock-pot dies along with your plans for dinner. This will help keep you out of the drive through and eating home-cooked, nutritionally balanced options instead.
Slow Cookers for Busy Days
If you know you’re going to be away from the house all day but don’t want to break the bank on restaurant meals; get a slow-cooker. I love my slow cooker. I typically use it once a week. Look at your schedule for the week and choose slow cooker meals for days when you’ll get home late or you know you’ll be extra tired and not feel like cooking. Meal planning is vital for those busy days and prepping ahead before you leave the house will make you extra grateful for meal planning when you arrive home to an inviting smell wafting from the slow cooker.
Have a prep day. Pick a day of the week you can set aside 30-60 minutes to do some chopping, slicing, marinating, etc. Prepping for the week can reduce your cooking times and help increase productivity in other areas. Prepping your lunches can keep you away from the vending machine and improve your bank account balance as well. Pre-cut vegetables and fruits will increase snacking of these items instead of junk foods because you’re improving the ease of access.
Make a Big Batch
Batch cooking saves so much time! Double or triple recipes and then freeze them. You can freeze after cooking for quick meals for the next week or month or freeze prior to cooking and place into a disposable casserole dish. Freeze in either single serve (for lunches) or meal sized containers. You can add your frozen dinners to the menu when meal planning for the next month. If you batch cook a few times a month you’ll have several meals each month you don’t have to cook! Just heat and eat. I like to double recipes during the week so I only have to cook twice. We will often eat the same meal Monday/Tuesday and a second meal Wednesday/Thursday. Weekends I’ll cook additional meals when I have more time. There are several ways batch cooking can make meal planning easier and efficient.
Prevent Boredom by Meal Planning
You want to make sure you keep things interesting and vary your options for optimal nutrition. This doesn’t necessarily mean having a new recipe every night! You can change things up simply by using different vegetables, seasoning it a new way, or using different cooking techniques. For example, salmon can be paired with asparagus or broccoli, seasoned with garlic and lemon or teriyaki marinade, and can be baked or grilled. These variations can keep things interesting but also consistently keep your favorite foods on the menu.
Make Meal Planning Easy
Consider how to make your life easier while you’re meal planning. A good rule of thumb is 30 minute or less for recipe times during the week. Experiment or do longer cooking recipes on the weekends when you have more time available. Salads, sandwiches, soups, and casseroles are easy and simple options that don’t take a lot of time or energy. Give yourself a break and buy frozen, pre-cut vegetables, canned beans, and premixed salads as needed. Just because someone else did the work for you doesn’t automatically make it unhealthy. Just stick with whole foods with minimal processing.
Reasons to Repeat
Some people really enjoy certain meals and there is not reason to avoid repeating if you love it! Rotating menus can be great for busy families in fact. Consider coming up with about 25 different meals that you can rotate through each month. You can implement a rotating menu where you basically repeat the menu each month if desired. Utilizing the rotating menu option can really cut down on your meal planning time; saving you time and energy. Swap out dishes occasionally as seasons change or you find something new. This can keep your favorites in steady supply but also allow for some variation from time to time.
Organize Your Recipes
Create a recipe organization system that works for you. You can go the old-fashioned way keep them in a tin if you want to write each one on an index card. You can print them or cut them out of magazines and place in a binder. Other options include organizing your pinterests boards just right or using an app designed to organize your recipes. Honestly how you organize them doesn’t matter. Just have a way to access your go-to recipes so you can easily find them and get dinner on the table.
Grocery Lists are Part of Meal Planning
Once you have your meal planning completed for the week or month, the next step is to write out your grocery list. Add all the ingredients you need for each meal down on your list. Then cross off or delete items you currently have in your pantry. Make sure you take your list to the store and stick to it!
Make sure to sign up for my newsletter to receive additional healthy lifestyle and nutrition advice delivered straight to your inbox. You can request the FREE meal planning worksheet as well by replying to the welcome email. I look forward to hearing from you!
Anti-Inflammatory Food and Colors
The foods that help fight inflammation come in all different colors. Each color has special properties that help fight inflammation and provide a myriad of other benefits to our body. These special properties are often referred to as the large category of “phytonutrients” which is basically a fancy word for plant nutrients. There are over 100,000 phytonutrients in the plants we eat! You can learn more about phytonutrients here. The anti-inflammatory nutrients make up hundreds of those phytonutrients. The color of a plant tells us some things about which phytonurients and which anti-inflammatory nutrients that plant contains. It’s vitally important that we get a variety of colors in our diet to make sure we are getting in the wide variety of phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds that we need for optimal health. This post is all about the orange foods and how they benefit our health.
Anti-Inflammatory Orange Foods
Orange compounds help protect our eyes, skin, and immune system. Additional benefits include anti-bacterial effects, anti-cancer, and reproductive health. The healthy orange compounds include: alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, bioflavonoids, carotenoids, cucuminoids, and naringenin. The orange foods come in a wide variety of starchy vegetables, non-starchy vegetables, and fruits. Some orange foods are starchy; pair those with a compete meal to prevent blood glucose spikes. The starchy orange foods include winter squashes and sweet potatoes. Tangerines and Oranges, among other citrus fruits, are high in powerful phytonutrients and provide many health benefits so make sure to incorporate them into your weekly intake. Check out this post to find out more benefits you can gain by eating citrus fruits. Carrots make a great, easy addition to snacks and meals. Baby carrots are a healthy convenient item to keep on hand in your fridge for quick access. Keep reading to learn more about the orange foods.
Orange Food List:
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY ORANGE FOOD COMPOUNDS
This phytonutrient founds in orange foods turns into vitamin A. So in-turn beta-carotene helps maintain healthy vision, promote cell growth, supports healthy reproduction, and supports our immune system. Cooking foods like carrots helps us absorb the caratenoids more efficiently. Also, beta-carotenes are fat soluble – meaning they need some healthy fats to be absorbed. This emphasizes the importance of balanced meals for optimal health. Check out the anti-inflammatory plate method to ensure you are balancing your meals correctly. The University of Maryland Medical Center has some more information on beta-carotene here.
Water soluble phytonutrients found in orange (and yellow) fruits don’t require fat to be absorbed. Together with vitamin C bioflavonoids help reduce the risk of heart attacks, maintain strong bones and teeth, and fight off cancer. Other benefits include treatment or prevention in the following conditions: allergies, atherosclerosis, stress, rheumatoid arthritis, cataracts, lupus, and urinary tract infections. Huntington College of Health Sciences has a fact-sheet on these orange colored nutrients here. Bioflavonoids can help reduce the risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and surprisingly, emphysema. Overall, bioflavonoids help protect us against inflammation and boost our immunity.
Tips for Increasing Orange Foods in Your Diet:
- Choose sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes some of the time
- Cook with turmeric more often
- Have orange colored fruits as snacks or incorporate into fruit salads
- Add orange peppers to fajitas or stir-fry
- Grill peaches or nectarines for a sweet surprise
- Keep carrots handy for snacks and meal additions
Recipes to Boost Orange Foods Consumption:
Mexican Chicken Skillet with Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans by Recipe Runner
Golden Coconut Lentil Soup by Budget Bytes
Golden Turmeric Hummus by Healthy Nibbles and Bits
Mango, Tangerine, Yogurt Smoothie Bowl by Martha Stewart
How to Eat to Fight Inflammation
Just eating a few orange foods each week mixed in to your normal intake of fast-foods and sweets isn’t going to get you the benefits you are after. Check out my Ultimate Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet to make sure your following the full plan for optimal results. If you’d like to not only fight inflammation and gain health; but lose weight as well, check out How to Go Low Carb the Healthy Way. You can combine the anti-inflammatory diet and low-carb meal plans together for optimal health and weight management results. Sign-up for my newsletter below to get even more tips on following the Anti-inflammatory meal plan.
I’ll be sharing information on red foods, green foods, blue and purple foods, white and brown foods, and yellow foods over the next few months. Definitely check out the other wonderful colors of the anti-inflammatory rainbow and incorporate them into your nutrition plan as well. Your meals will not only be healthy and tasty, but beautiful as well! Check back often or sign-up for my newsletter so you don’t miss a thing! Eating a rainbow of colors is the best way to ensure a highly anti-inflammatory diet that includes the broad spectrum of phytonutrients we need for optimal health.
What’s your favorite orange food and/or recipe? Post in the comments below!