This is a great technique to have up your sleeve if you're in the business of trying to sneak more veggies into your kids (or yourself). I can see cauliflower replacing rice in loaded burritos, taking quinoa's place in my beloved Southwest Quinoa Salad, and should I dare to dream that I wouldn't mind it in my Couscous Parfait?
Whew. This changes everything.
For many years, low-fat diets were prescribed to people at risk for heart problems, but removing or reducing fats in the diet usually results in consumption of more simple carbohydrates like white bread or pasta. The body breaks down these foods very quickly, causing blood sugar and insulin spikes. Over time, these effects can raise risk for heart disease and diabetes as much as high-fat foods. So what's the solution? Instead of eliminating fats, let's eat the right types.
Many large studies have verified the health benefits of nuts. One Harvard study followed 86,016 women over 14 years and found that those who ate at least 5 ounces of nuts per week were 35% less likely to endure a heart attack than those who ate less than 1 ounce per month. How can this be? Almonds, while high in fat, contain monounsaturated fat - the same type found in olive oil. Monounsaturated fat is known for helping to reduce blood cholesterol, particularly LDL levels. Nuts are also high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that rids the body of damaging free radicals and protects against chronic disease. Almonds' high magnesium levels could play a role in heart health as well: magnesium helps arteries to relax, lessening resistance and improving blood flow. And let's not forget the power of wise choices: is also possible that nuts improve heart health by replacing less healthful snacks in the diet, like those that contain saturated or trans fats.
When snacking on nuts, do be aware of portion sizes. One ounce (about 1/4 cup) of nuts contains roughly 170 calories, so stick with small-ish servings if you are aiming for weight loss. And don't forget to rejoice in the fact that the fiber and fat will help to fill you up and keep you satisfied longer than a carbohydrate-rich snack would.
Smoothies have become wildly popular in the past couple of years, and as a dietitian and a smoothie lover, I've been soaking it in. When Mike and I got married, we registered for a Vitamix, realizing the likelihood of someone dropping $500 on a blender for us was pretty slim. The first weekend home after our honeymoon, we drove ourselves to Costco with a wad of cash and picked up our very own blending wonder in the 6300 model. No regrets. I also use it to make the greatest hummus.
Smoothies can be amazingly nutrient-dense and delicious with the right combination of ingredients. I had been making this smoothie sans-avocado for some time, but dropping in a big slice of creamy avocado took it to a whole new level. Dreamy, creamy, slightly sweet, and completely nutritious. Fats are necessary for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin D from the dairy, vitamins A and K from the greens), so avocado serves a dual purpose here. But mostly, it's delicious.
When I toss whole ingredients into a blender and whirl them all together, I know I'm going to end up with the same nutrients as I put in: folic acid, fiber, and vitamins A and K from the greens, vitamin C and antioxidants from the fruit, and omega-3s from the chia seeds. If I sent these same items through a juicer, some juice and undoubtedly some vitamins and minerals will be extracted, and the fibrous skins and other bits that the juicer couldn't liquefy would remain. The majority of nutrients in fruits and vegetables are located in a layer just under the surface of the skin (parents, this is one good reason to avoid peeling fruits and vegetables for your kids if you can - removing the peel also might be removing some nutrients), so it's hard to be sure vitamins and minerals aren't being left behind in the pulp.
There are some great arguments in favor of juicing, and don't get me wrong, I love a fresh glass of juice just as much as anyone. But smoothies are simple: you put good stuff in, you'll get good stuff out. All of it.
I'm not sure if it's necessary to say more.
Sushi is the best. Spending $100 on a sushi dinner for 2 is not. Spending $20 on ingredients for all-you-can-eat rolls totally is.
There are some questionable ingredients here, I'll admit: white rice, imitation crab meat, and tempura shrimp are not items I usually eat for dinner. But I don't believe that any food should be off-limits, and if it will make my homemade sushi taste like the real deal, I'm in. The beautiful thing about sushi is that you can fill them and top them with absolutely anything. I have a great recipe for avocado and mango sushi made with quinoa that I'll get around to posting one day. Today, I'm providing a few classic recipes, but please experiment with what you like.
Make sure any fish you eat raw is sushi-grade fish. It is usually labeled as such, and the fish monger at your local grocery store is a good person to ask if you're unsure. I've had the best luck finding sushi-grade fish at international markets.
Sushi might just save the world (joking, but a girl can dream, right?).