3 Great Reasons to Love the Protein-Containing Foods You Eat

Love Your Protein Foods

When it comes to the macronutrients our bodies need for good health, protein might seem the least controversial. In truth, most Americans get adequate amounts of protein each day; however, we may not always recognize which foods help us get there on a regular basis.

Love Your Protein Foods

When building meals, I like to recommend considering foods that contain protein and fiber first. Foods rich in both often allow us to best meet our energy needs and feel more satisfied after we eat. Both are important not only to make sure our body has what it needs to function properly, but to help us set the stage for being able to more adequately listen to our body’s internal regulators like hunger and fullness.

Related: 5 Reasons to Love the Grains You Eat

If you’re not quite sure why protein-rich foods matter or if you need a little convincing that it’s OKAY to enjoy these sorts of foods, here are a few reasons that may convince you to look for ways to support your health by incorporating these foods consistently in your meal plan:

  • Protein-rich foods contain other important nutrients too! Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans and peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds – foods often considered to be rich in protein often include B vitamins (niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and B6), vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium as well. Each of these nutrients play a unique role in your body:
    • B vitamins help the body release energy, play an important role in supporting the nervous system, and assist in the formation of red blood cells and tissues.
    • Iron helps carry oxygen in the blood.
    • Magnesium plays a role in releasing energy from muscles and is used to build bones.
    • Zinc helps the immune system function properly and supports biochemical reactions with the body.
    • Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that works to protect cells from free radicals and may play an important role in supporting our immune system.
    • EPA and DHA are omega-3 fatty acids often found in seafood. These fatty acids play a role in reducing heart disease risk and may reduce inflammation as well.
  • Protein-rich foods help build and maintain your physical body. Protein is used to build bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. Enzymes, hormones and vitamins are also dependent on protein.
  • Protein-containing foods give you more tools in your tool box to build nourishing meals you love. Although most of us can probably identify foods like chicken and egg as protein-rich food sources, did you know that foods like cottage cheese, quinoa and even spinach can help provide your body with the protein that it needs? Research suggests that for most people, getting enough protein at dinner is rarely a problem, but breakfast and lunch are sometimes a challenge. This is where some of those other protein-containing foods come in. Together, they can help you better meet your needs throughout the day, taking the pressure off dinner a bit. And bonus – this may just help you turn those earlier meals and snacks into more enjoyable ones too because you have more foods to choose from. Now that’s what I call a win-win!

Need some protein-food inspiration? Check out some of my favorite recipes here!


Four Ways Pizza Can Help You Eat Well

Four Ways Pizza Can Help You Eat Well

I’m a firm believer that eating well takes into account more than just the nutrients your foods provide. Eating well means enjoying the foods you eat too.

Four Ways Pizza Can Help You Eat Well

Often when people are looking to eat well, pizza is often one of the first foods to go OR one of the foods people feel bad about enjoying. Often it’s because we’ve heard these foods are too high in fat or calories or we feel like we can’t eat them in proper portions.

Believe it or not, pizza on its own won’t wreck your health.  In fact, it may actually do the opposite – supporting better health by making it easier to eat well. After all, if you already enjoy it, odds are good you can discover ways to add value to it, benefiting both your taste buds and your wellness overall.

Instead of eliminating these foods from your meal plan, why not consider the amazing possibilities each provides? By focusing on increased food variety at each meal, you’ll naturally find yourself eating well and setting yourself up for success.

Creative ways to add value to your favorite pizza:

Heavy on the veggies please. It’s no secret that vegetables are often the most challenging food group to incorporate at meals and snacks, but with pizza, it couldn’t be easier! Consider your favorite pizza the perfect canvas for veggies you love or veggies you want to try. From the more traditional – onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, and olives – to the more unique – spinach, broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, artichoke or even Brussels sprouts – pizza toppings can be a great way to experiment with a variety of veggies you may enjoy.

Zesty herbs and spices. If you are making your pizza at home, you could add herbs and spices to your sauce; but even if you’re ordering take out, you can add value to your slice by sprinkling various herbs and spices on top of your pizza too. Garlic, basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme are some more traditional herbs you can try; however, you may have fun experimenting with cilantro or dill too!

A side that packs a punch. Another great way to help maximize your pizza-themed experience is by incorporating sides that can help balance out your overall intake. Again, the lightness of vegetables can help balance out the heaviness of the pizza, so filling half your plate with a crunchy green salad might be the way to go. At my house, chopped raw veggies and extra marinara sauce for dipping are a kid-crowd favorite. And although not a vegetable, cottage cheese has also become a classic side dish for many of our quick and easy meals.

Tomato and basil. Let’s be real – you may not like the fact that I’m messing with your pizza. That’s okay too. Remember, the nutritional quality of food is just one aspect of eating well and it’s up to you to figure out how you’ll balance your eating between nutrition and enjoyment. For my more resistant-to-change eaters, consider starting with a super simple addition – fresh tomato slices and basil on the top of your next pizza pie. This won’t change the flavor of your pizza too much, but will allow you to take advantage of yet another opportunity to provide your body with nourishing foods it needs.


5 Ways to Make the Most of Almost Bad Bananas


Bananas are one of the most popular fruits on the planet. They are convenient, affordable, and rather tasty. They also offer up a variety of nutrients your body needs for good health – fiber, folate, magnesium, and potassium, just to name a few. But despite all their good, they do have one major flaw – at least in my house – they turn brown.


For my kids, brown spots often make bananas inedible. So instead of letting them go to waste, I freeze them so I can use them up in other great tasting recipes. You see, bananas that are about to go bad make perfect additions to a variety of recipes.

Not quite sure how to make the most of your almost bad banana? Here are 5 ideas I found across the web: 

Smoothies. Frozen bananas are a smoothie staple. They boost the creaminess, keep things chilly and add those beneficial nutrients to your glass. For a recipe both adults and kids alike will enjoy, check out this Blue Banana Smoothie recipe from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Banana Pops. Here’s another simple way to use up those frozen banana slices! All you’ll need are a few pretzel sticks, your frozen banana slices, and a little bit of melted chocolate. Other topping ideas? Why not yogurt, peanut butter, nuts or oats? For this recipe and even more frozen banana inspiration, check out this post from PopSugar.

One ingredient ice cream. This was seriously all the rage a couple of years ago. Simply puree your frozen bananas in a food processor and viola! Banana ice cream. Of course, you don’t have to stop there. Just think of all the great add-ins you could incorporate! Get the recipe and nine other great ideas from the Kitchn.

Make banana oatmeal cookies. Here’s another fun way to use up those frozen bananas. Plus, you probably have the other ingredients you need on hand. Banana oatmeal cookies not your thing? That’s okay – this Buzzfeed article features more than just the cookies 

Chocolate covered frozen banana bites. Yes, chocolate covered banana bites are a thing and they sound amazing. Featured in this recipe round up at Prevention.com, these chocolate covered frozen banana bites are a mixture of frozen chocolate, bananas, and wait for it… peanut butter! Need I say more?

What’s your favorite way to enjoy almost bad bananas? Visit my page on Facebook and share your ideas with me! I’d love to hear from you.

5 Foods to Add to Your Holiday Food List

Foods to Add to Your Plate this Holiday Season

Just because it’s the holidays, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat without nutrition in mind. Actually, eating nutrient-rich foods may need to become an even bigger priority this time of year, especially if you plan on attending holiday parties, potlucks, or networking events.

This year, keep nourishing foods on your plate by seeking out a few of my favorites at your next holiday get together. These foods not only taste great, but will help ensure you get some much needed nutrients too.

Foods to Add to Your Plate this Holiday Season

Cheese. Cheese boards and platters are one of my absolute favorite finds at a holiday event. By adding it to your plate, you’ll be adding calcium, protein, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B12 too. Cheese is often loaded with flavor too, so you don’t need too much to feel completely satisfied.

Pears. Another season favorite of mine are pears and this food typically isn’t served as often as other fruits like apple wedges, grapes, or orange slices. If you see these at a party, plate up! Pears are rich in fiber and vitamin C, making them another satisfying option. Not sure if pears will be at your party? Bring them yourself! Slice them up and dip in melted dark chocolate for a decadent yet delicious treat.

Pear and Blue Cheese Stuffed Chicken
Related: Pear and Blue Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast with Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts are becoming the ever-popular vegetable with more and more people incorporating them into their meals. Whether served roasted or shredded, Brussels sprouts are another great in-season food to keep an eye out for this time of year. Within each sprout you’ll find a wallop of nutrition. Fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and manganese are just a few of the nutrients you’ll find there.

Brussels Sprouts
Related: Brussels Sprouts with Feta, Walnuts and Honey

Water. It can be easy to forget about water despite it’s essential nature to our well-being. At holiday events, stick with water to stay hydrated and rely on food to provide you with the energy your body needs.

Fish. When it comes to main course items at holiday get-togethers, fish happens to be one of my favorites. Fish is protein-rich, and unlike other meat options, can provide a hefty dose of omega-3 fatty acids if its a fatty-fish. Currently, the American Heart Association recommends individuals get two servings of fatty-fish per week; however, if you are like my family, you may find it difficult to reach the recommendation consistently. That’s why you should take advantage of its offering at any holiday gathering that you can.

This holiday, keep an eye out for foods that will enhance your plate. Often there are many nutrient-rich foods present, you just have to know where to look or plan to incorporate them in yourself.


5 Reasons to Love the Grains You Eat

5 Reasons to Love the Grains You Eat

Despite the recent popularity of several ancient grains (hello, quinoa!), the grain group often gets a bum rap. The primary target of many weight loss diets, grains are often mentioned with disdain. Unfortunately, when we approach these foods with this mindset, we forget all the great benefits they provide and what grains can offer our bodies.

5 Reasons to Love the Grains You Eat

What foods are considered grains? 

According to the USDA, any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain is considered a grain product. This means foods like popcorn, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, pasta, and bread are proud members of this group.

The importance of adding grains to your plate

Grains play an important role in most healthy meal plans. When you are building your mealtime plate, they should  be a food group you consider incorporating each time. Why? Here are five great reasons to keep grains consistent in your meals:

They provide essential nutrients. You may know that grains are a source of carbohydrates, but did you also know that they are a source of fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, and selenium too? Although the amount of nutrients present can vary depending on the type of grain you serve, all these nutrients are important for your body to work the way it should.

They can create a more satisfying meal experience.  Incorporating grains into your meal may help make what you eat more satisfying, especially if the grains you eat are providing a healthy dose of fiber. Fiber is a nutrient that contributes to feelings of appropriate fullness after a meal. By eating meals that satisfy, you should be more comfortable between meals as well.

They add variety to your plate. The more nutrient foods you can work into your meal plan, the better! Having a variety of food options to choose from at meal time ensures you get both a wide variety of nutrients and enjoy your meals more because they aren’t always the same.

They help ensure your body and mind have the fuel it needs to function daily. Although grain foods aren’t the only ones providing carbohydrates, they do provide a substantial amount to your meal plan. Carbohydrates are important and are one of the three energy providing nutrients you’ll find in foods.

If you do not eat enough carbohydrates each day, it’s difficult to meet the energy needs of your body and brain. This causes your body to use “reserved” protein from your muscles, followed by fat from your body’s stores. Since neither of these energy sources are our bodies preferred method of energy, prolonged reliance on these back-up systems can cause problems. In fact, not getting enough carbohydrates consistently can cause fatigue, muscle cramps, muscle loss, poor mental function, depression, anxiety, and/or constipation.

They provide body protection. In addition to the essential nutrients found in grains, substances called phytonutrients are also found in each bite. These substances aren’t necessarily needed to keep you alive, but have been shown to possibly prevent disease and help your body work as it should.

For most individuals, adding two 1 ounce servings of grains at each meal is a good goal to shoot for. Or in other words, look to add approximately 2 slices of bread, 2 cups of ready-to-eat cereal, or a cup of cooked rice or pasta to your plate as each of those would equal two 1 ounce servings.

Although I typically recommend choosing whole grain options as much as possible, keep in mind that even refined grains are not devoid of all nutrition. They can fit into your meal plan too, just be realistic with what your body needs.