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My Top 10 Fridge Staples

Between family get-togethers, company parties, and holiday shopping, this season is always busy. It’s easy to get thrown off your normal routine of cooking and eating healthy with all these events. During this time, I heavily depend on these healthy fridge staples to get me through. Gotta have all hands on deck health and energy-wise during this season, therefore it’s essential for me to have these food items available to me. Here are my 10 refrigerator must-haves always and especially during the holiday season.

  1. Spinach or dark leafy greens
    1. Whether adding to my eggs in the morning, soups in the evening, or just making a simple salad, these are a must-have for me. They are a great source of vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, iron, calcium, and vitamin C.
  2. Unsweetened soy milk
    1. Soy intake in moderate amounts may have a protective effect against cancer risk. Moderate amounts includes about 2-3 servings of whole soy foods daily (i.e. soy milk, edamame, tofu, etc.). Because I don’t consume tofu and edamame on a regular basis, I try to consume at least 1/2-1 cup of unsweetened soy milk daily. It’s a great source of soy-based protein (as compared to many other non-dairy based milks), potassium, vitamin B12, folate, calcium, and vitamin D.
  3. Plain Greek yogurt
    1. My go-to uses of plain Greek yogurt is rarely for eating just plain yogurt. It’s one of my favorite healthy swaps in dips, sauces, and spreads. I find myself continually subbing it for sour cream in dips and Mexican cuisine. It’s low in added sugar, high in protein, and a great source of calcium. Try spreading on toast with sliced apples topped with a honey, nut butter, and coconut milk drizzle for a delicious mid-afternoon snack.
  4. Ground flaxseed
    1. Some people may not store in the refrigerator but I often do just to keep it as fresh as possible. Ground flaxseed meal is a great source of fiber, protein, and iron. With 2 tablespoons providing 2430 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, it’s also packed full of all those heart healthy fats. It adds a lovely nutty flavor to your favorite cookies, energy bites, fruit smoothies, or my favorite…old-fashioned oatmeal.
  5. Avocado
    1. Oh the holy grail! We all know avocado is all the rage right now, but honestly how can you resist. It spreads beautifully on toast and blends easily in your favorite smoothie or savory sauce. It’s jam-packed with the heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and provides at least 20 vitamins and minerals in one-third a medium avocado (one serving). Enough said.
  6. Kombucha
    1. My booch 😉 This fermented tea beverage is a probiotic that can help maintain gut microbiota. I try to drink at least one Kombucha a week to maintain my gut health. Taking care of your gut health is essential to support regular bowel and immune function. Plus, there are ample flavors to choose from…don’t tell me you can’t find one you like.
  7. Cage-free eggs
    1. Once while traveling the country, I drove past a large semi truck carrying caged chickens that were literally packed in tighter than sardines. My face while driving past the truck turned to the driver in pure horror. I never looked back. Cage-free eggs fa’ life. Plus they’re delicious and the yolk is always plump and never saggy (ew saggy!). Eggs are good any time of the day for me…breakfast, snack, lunch, brinner, you name it. Eggs provide high quality protein and are bursting at the seams with great nutrients, such as B-vitamins, choline, iron, vitamin D, lutein and zeaxanthin.
  8. String cheese
    1. I must admit I never string the cheese. I eat it by the whole bite-size. To those who have the patience to pull apart the strings of cheese and eat them slowly, I applaud you. I don’t have that patience. This snack helps hold me over between meals due to 6-7 grams of protein. It provides a good source of calcium and limited fat (if you are purchasing the light version!) for all my low fat friends.
  9. Hummus
    1. The phrase “hummus is yummus” holds true in my mind. I often make my own (see here for a chipotle pumpkin version), but in the case I don’t, I almost always have a store-bought container on hand. Hummus is a great plant-based snack, blending cooked chickpeas and tahini sauce as the classic foundation. Spread on toast and/or pita bread or enjoy with your favorite crackers and fresh vegetables.
  10. Baby carrots
    1. Well what on earth are you going to eat with the hummus?! Dem baby carrots. Baby carrots are a great go-to snack. Ready-to-eat, low in calories and can be paired with hummus of course, your favorite nut butter, grapes, veggie dip, or just eaten by themselves. Carrots offer excellent sources of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants.

What are some your favorite refrigerator staples? Comment below 🙂

 

-EAW

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Guide to a Healthy Holiday Mindset

We have all heard the statistics about unwanted weight gain during the holiday season and how we often struggle to lose this weight over the course of the rest of the year. Luckily, there are many easy, healthy swaps to help reduce excess calories and fat in holiday cooking. In addition, we also know that stress plays a role in unwanted weight gain. According to a study conducted by the CDC, higher perceived stress was associated with lower levels of physical activity, less mindful eating behaviors, and more energy-dense food choices. Therefore, even if you are using healthier techniques in your holiday baking this year, your weight may still continue to climb if you are bombarded with stress.

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, it’s important to start preparing your mindset in order to promote good health before, during, and after the holidays. Follow this guide to help formulate a strong and healthy holiday mindset.

  1. Identify what part of the holidays makes you happy. Is it catching up with friends or family, giving back to the community, making food for family, or even eating all the yummy traditional holiday foods? Make these things a priority. Even if enjoying all the yummy food is something you really look forward too, then do so without feeling guilty. But be sure to remember moderation and portion sizes. After all, it is not the select couple holidays that will cause significant weight gain. It is the lack of a consistent healthy lifestyle before, during, and after the holidays that makes the biggest impact long-term.
  2. Identify areas of your diet or fitness that need improving NOW. Not the day after Thanksgiving when the guilt sets in or January 1st when you decide to start a crash diet. Focus on 2 SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goals for your fitness level and diet now. Make these goals as realistic as possible so that it will be feasible to maintain throughout and after the holiday season.
  3. De-glorify certain “off-limit” foods. When we put pumpkin pie in a category of “should never eat” and salad in a category of “eat often”, which one do we tend to want more? That slice of pumpkin pie. When we stop hyper-focusing on foods that we can’t eat and focus on all foods in moderation, you start to form a positive relationship to food and your body.
  4. Find your zen time. Whether that’s taking more time for yourself or just feeling ok with saying “no” to parties or extra tasks. Allowing your mind to decompress will help facilitate a healthier mindset during the holidays. Try some of these relaxation tips:
    1. Read a book for 15 minutes every day.
    2. Meditate or yoga for 15-20 minutes daily.
    3. Journal in the morning or evenings before bed to remind yourself things you are grateful for.
    4. Go tech-free for an hour or two during the day. Don’t be afraid to unplug from the electronics for a while.

By following some of these easy tips to decompress your mind, you may find you will enjoy your holidays even more than previous years. The mind plays a large part in your health and it’s important to treat it as an equal to diet and exercise in your healthy lifestyle. Happy Holidays!

 

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2012/12_0001.htm

-EAW