A Few of My Favorite Things (Foods)!

We all hear general nutrition recommendations which are great, but are often void of vital information such as “how do I fit that into my life” or “what is a specific product I can find in my grocery store”. In our nightly nutrition lectures at the resort we not only like to talk about incorporating more whole, filling foods into our diet or how to choose the least processed packaged foods, but identify specific brands that fit the bill!

I am the type of person who could spend hours in the grocery store keeping myself entertained by looking at the different products, comparing labels, and figuring out what new item I am going to try that week. I know not everyone is like me and most of you probably look at a trip to the grocery store as a chore. But, hopefully that will change once you start to see the variety of healthy foods available to you and you too will spend your time roaming the isles in search of new food finds that please your pallet and fit into your budget (both financial and calorie budgets). If you are not that type or know you may never be, I’ll save you some time and tell you a few of my favorite finds that you may wish to try someday! The typical person usually rotates the same 15 meals over and over. I encourage you to try at least one new nutritious food each week and eventually you will have more options than you know what to do with.

365 Whole Foods Brand Cashew Butter and Almond Butter
Nut butters sometimes are avoided by those who are trying to lose weight due to their high calorie and fat content. I am here to say you can have your nut butter and eat it too…in moderation! A serving (2 Tbsp) of nut butter averages around 190 calories and 16g of fat. Have no fear, the fat is the heart healthy unsaturated fat. The important point here is to monitor the amount you scoop from the jar. Some studies actually showed that people who eats nuts regularly tend to weigh less than those who don’t. Check out this article for more information on these studies and the health benefits of nuts. (click on the link)

This brand is my favorite, but if you do not live by a Whole Foods, some other brands include MaraNatha (the kind we use at the resort), Laura Scudder’s, and Smucker’s Natural. When identifying a good choice, the ingredients should be nothing but the nut and maybe some salt. Don’t be shunned by the oil separation, this is natural and should happen. If you stir it once and store the jar in the fridge, there will be no need to re-stir!

Trader Joe’s Tempeh marinated in Island Soyaki Sauce
Although these are both Trader Joe’s products, tempeh and a soy/teriyaki sauce can be found in many grocery stores. I take the block of tempeh (fermented soybeans) and cut it into small 1″ thick strips (cutting the strips short, not long ways). I put them in a dish and pour a couple tablespoons of the marinade over them, cover and let soak for a few hours or overnight. I then place them on a cookie sheet and bake them in the oven at 375 for 15 min and then flip them over to bake an additional 10 min. These strips are so versatile. You can make them into a sandwich like you would turkey slices, you could add into a stir fry with brown rice and veggies, you could crumble the strips and put them in a corn or whole wheat tortilla like you would ground meat and add shredded lettuce, shredded carrots, tomatoes or any other topping you desire. You could also add them in with my next favorite food, quinoa.

Quinoa is the next best thing since sliced bread and actually holds a lot more nutritional bang for your buck. Quinoa is a grain-like food that contains more protein than any other grain (16.2 percent compared to 7.5 percent for rice). It is one of the few plant foods that contains complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids. Quinoa is light and tasty with a slight nutty flavor and is gluten-free. Be sure to rinse the quinoa before cooking to wash away the bitter tasting saponins. After that, it only takes about 15 minutes to cook and you can use it in any dish that typically calls for you would use rice. I hear the quinoa lettuce wraps here are delicious!

Sprouted Bread
I often ask in lecture when we talk about whole grains who has tried Ezekiel bread. Surprisingly this is a huge crowd pleaser and I was shocked to hear so many guests rave about it. I love the Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel bread with nut butter, sliced banana and extra cinnamon! Sprouted bread is made from various whole grains that were allowed to sprout, or germinate, prior to making the bread. The sprouting process increases the availability of some nutrients and may be easier to digest since sprouting is somewhat “predigesting” the grain. I enjoy the more wholesome taste and mouthfeel as well as the lower calorie count per slice than some of the other brands. Sprouted breads are usually found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store since they do not contain any preservatives and the sprouted whole grains tend to spoil more rapidly.

I could continue the list for miles and include foods like hummus and specific cold and hot cereals, but I will stop here, let you soak it in, give it a try, and let me know what you think! Enjoy 🙂

What are some of your favorite healthy foods?