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February 14, 20190

Whether you love it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day is a good day to whip up some easy chocolate treats.

 

Two of my favorite Valentine’s Day chocolate recipes are these Fruit & Pepita Chocolate Squares and these two-ingredient Dark Chocolate Covered Berries. Both of these are super easy to make and provide a boatload of beneficial nutrients to boot.

 Health Benefits of Chocolate and Fruit

Touted for their health benefits, berriesdark chocolate and dried fruit are rich in dietary fiber and antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight off those pesky and havoc-wreaking free radicals that form as we age and eat a less than stellar diet. Dietary fiber helps keep us regular and improves blood cholesterol levels. Plus, berries are rich in vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system to help us fend off colds during the winter months.

And eaten in moderation, dark chocolate (the higher the cacao content, the more nutritious) is good for your body and heart. Don’t forget, however, that chocolate is not a low-calorie food, so remember to keep portion sizes in check. So, stick to a one-inch square of dark chocolate or one large chocolate-covered strawberry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PLEASE SHARE: What are your favorite Valentine’s Day chocolate treats? Please share. We’d love to hear from you.


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January 24, 20190

January is National Soup Month, so I’m sharing one of my favorite soup recipes… Quinoa-Vegetable Soup. It’s warming, delicious and chock full of beneficial nutrients.

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Benefits of Soup

I am definitely a cool weather person and I’m convinced one of the reasons why is because I love soup. And while it of course depends on what’s in the soup, a warming bowl of vegetable-based goodness can provide a whole host of beneficial nutrients. In fact, studies show that people who eat a bowl of vegetable-based soup before a meal tend to eat about 20% fewer calories during the rest of the meal, as compared to those who didn’t start their meal with soup. Just think… if you start your meal with a bowl of soup frequently, this adds up to a lot of calories not consumed pretty quickly.

One reason that people may eat less if they start their meal with a small bowl of soup is because soup is mostly comprised of water and soup is filling. And, soups that are vegetable-based tend to contain high-nutrient density with low-energy density… nutrition speak for high in nutrients, low in calories.

Thanks to the vegetables, quinoa and beans in my Quinoa-Vegetable Soup, it is rich in vitamins A, B, C and K plus dietary fiber, antioxidants and protein. These nutrients are good for healthy skin and immune system, lowered blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, as well as a healthy gut and digestive system. It’s a cinch to whip up on a busy weeknight or on the weekend for a few days’ worth of warm lunches.

Quinoa-Vegetable Soup

 2 tbsp olive oil
 1 medium onion, chopped
 3 garlic cloves, minced
 2 celery stalks, chopped
 2 carrots, diced
 28 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
 1 tsp dried thyme
 2 cups favorite chopped frozen or fresh vegetables (like sweet potato, zucchini, broccoli or cauliflower)
 0.75 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
 2 cups water
 2 bay leaves
 15 oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
 1 cup favorite dark leafy greens, tough stems removed (like collard greens or kale)
 salt and ground black pepper, to taste
 Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired

Heat large pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, carrots and celery; cook and stir until veggies have softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add tomatoes and thyme; cook and stir for another 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining chopped vegetables, quinoa, broth, water and bay leaves. Season to taste. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat and simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Add beans and greens to pot; simmer for another 5-10 minutes, until greens have softened. Remove from heat and remove bay leaves. Top with freshly grated Parmesan, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

*This recipe first appeared on SmartMouthNutrition.com on January 16, 2019.*


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January 22, 20190

It’s a new year, and one of my goals for 2019 is to experiment with new recipes and new ingredients. So, I was excited to see this month’s Recipe ReDux challenge theme:

New Year, New Ingredient: Introduce us a ‘new’ (or new-to-you) ingredient you’ve discovered recently and show us how you’re using it in a healthy new recipe.

And in doing a little new year pantry cleaning this weekend, I came across a can of jackfruit recently purchased from Trader Joe’s. Although I wasn’t sure what exactly I would make with it, but I had been intrigued by this exotic ingredient for while. So, I bought a can of jackfruit and whipped up some Jackfruit & Refried Bean Tostadas.

 

So, what exactly is jackfruit? Well, it’s a fruit. Originally from India, the large tree that grows Jackfruit has since started growing in other warm-weather areas, like the Philippines, Thailand, Brazil, Africa, Australia and even Florida and Hawaii. It looks kind of like a spindly pineapple, and the inside of the fruit has a strong and not-so-pleasant odor when opened. But when ripe, the fruit inside is sweet and typically used in desserts. When unripe (like in the TJ’s can above), the fruit has a neutral taste and works well as a meat replacement in dishes, like pulled BBQ sandwiches and tacos.

Jackfruit also provides a whole host of beneficial nutrients, such as dietary fiber (important for digestion and regularity), calcium (important for bones), B vitamins (for energy and metabolism) and phytonutrients and antioxidants (important for helping to prevent certain types of cancer). One nutrient jackfruit is low in, however, is protein. So, be sure to boost the protein in any jackfruit dish with a good source of protein (like beans, eggs, seafood, dairy, poultry, soy or nuts). That’s why I added a healthy dose of pinto beans alongside the jackfruit.

Jackfruit & Refried Beans Tostadas

Yields: 4 servings

 2 tsp olive oil, divided
 20 oz can jackfruit, rinsed and drained
 15 oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
 1 tsp ground cumin, divided
 0.50 tsp garlic powder
 0.50 tsp onion powder
 0.25 tsp dried parsley
 1 cup prepared salsa
 0.25 cup water
 1 mango, pitted and chopped
 0.25 cup cilantro, chopped
 1 tsp lime juice
 8 corn tortillas
 1 avocado, pitted and diced
 Cotija or feta cheese (optional)
 Hot sauce (optional)
 Salt and black pepper, to taste
  1. Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat. While oil is heating, squeeze out excess liquid from jackfruit and use fingers or fork to shred the jackfruit. Add jackfruit to pan and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Place jackfruit in a bowl; set aside.
  2. Add remaining 1 tsp. olive oil to pan, reduce heat to medium-low. Using a fork, mash pinto beans in pan. Cook until warm, about 2 minutes. Add jackfruit back to pan with beans; mix in ½ tsp. cumin and next 5 ingredients (through water) until well-combined. Heat until mixture is warm, about 5 minutes.
  3. While jackfruit and bean mixture is heating, combine mango, cilantro, remaining ½ tsp. cumin and lime juice in a bowl; mix well. Warm tortillas in a microwave or toaster oven. Spread jackfruit and bean mixture on each tortilla, then top with mango-cilantro salsa and avocado. Drizzle cheese and hot sauce, if desired, on top. Serve immediately.

PLEASE SHARE: Fan of jackfruit? Please share your favorite jackfruit recipes. I’d love to hear from you!



January 18, 20190

Energy… we all want more, and what we eat can help boost–or zap–our energy levels. Today I shared these three tips for boosting your energy with my good friend and former wellness colleague, Bridgette Binford of BJB Coaching on Facebook Live.

'Here I am live with @[100007487735473:2048:Rima Kleiner], MS, RDN of @[1045741372244532:274:Smart Mouth Nutrition] to talk about what to eat for more energy. Please bear with my technical troubleshooting at the beginning and fast forward to 4:40 into the discussion. Rima has some really beneficial info that is so helpful!!!'
THREE TIPS TO BOOST YOUR ENERGY LEVELS
1. Drink more water. I know this sounds so elementary, but staying hydrated is the number one key to boosting your energy levels! Water is the primary component in blood, which helps carry nutrients to our cells AND cart wastes away. Too little fluid = too little energy. Feeling fatigued and low-energy are two of the first signs that you need to drink more water. Don’t like water? Try adding berries or citrus fruit to water for added flavor, sip on sparkling water or try icing your favorite herbal tea.
2. Eat a power-packed breakfast. Break your nighttime fast with a mix of high-fiber carbohydrates and a little heart-healthy protein and fat. This well-rounded mix helps replenish those empty fuel stores and level out blood sugar levels, key to preventing that mid-day slump. Ideas for nourishing breakfast include: oatmeal with berries and nuts or seeds, plain yogurt mixed with fruit and low-sugar granola, smoothie made with nut butter and frozen fruit or an egg scrambled with with cheddar, spinach and avocado on a corn tortilla.
3. Eat more iron-rich plant foods. Iron helps transport oxygen to our cells, so low iron levels = sluggish + slow. While meat contains the highest amount of iron, Americans eat too little vegetables. So, focusing on iron-rich plant-based foods to help boost your iron AND veggie intake. Add some of these iron-rich gems to your diet every day–beans, lentils, seeds and dark, leafy greens. And while you’re at it, add a dose of vitamin C-rich foods–like red bell pepper, kiwi or orange–to your iron-rich meal to help your body better absorb iron.
Bridgette and I also chat about fad diets and cleanses, supplements and eating mindfully. So, check out our FB Live video here.
PLEASE SHARE: What are your favorite food energy boosters? Please share. I’d love to hear from you!
Copyright (c) Smart Mouth Nutrition, LLC | January 18, 2019

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October 5, 20180

Tomorrow is#NationalNoodleDay and this One Pot Mediterranean Linguine will make your family smile and your weeknights easier.

Noodles are a go-to staple in my house, especially for weeknight dinners. Everyone likes them, they go with just about anything and they make a great leftover lunch. While pasta is usually fairly easy and quick to make, this meal calls for only ONE POT! That means… one pot into which all ingredients go, one pot to watch and one pot to wash. Now, that’s my idea of easy weeknight cooking.

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If you tend to avoid noodles or pasta in general because you think they’re unhealthy, think again. Noodles provide a healthy dose of carbohydrates, which our bodies use for fuel. Both whole grain and refined grain noodles tend to be low on the glycemic index (GI), but I usually opt for whole grain noodles because they contain more dietary fiber than refined noodles. In fact, whole wheat pasta can provide up to 25% of your daily dietary fiber needs in a one cup portion. Can’t do wheat? There are plenty of tasty gluten-free noodle options on store shelves these days, as well.

Try my One Pot Mediterranean Linguine. I promise, this dish will become a family fave and make your weeknights easier!

PLEASE SHARE: What is your favorite noodle dish? Please share. I’d love to hear from you.


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September 13, 20180

I don’t know about your house, but mornings can get a little hectic around here. I’m usually throwing in the kids’ refrigerated lunch items, my husband is rushing out the door and the kids are taking their sweet time getting dressed. Sometimes the kids have time to enjoy a bowl of cereal or a whole grain waffle. Other times, however, they have just enough time to microwave a frozen muffin–like these Chocolate Zucchini Muffins–before this mom-bus pulls out of the driveway.

These delicious little muffins may make your morning easier.

And, that’s where these little morsels of deliciousness come in. These Easy Morning Chocolate Zucchini Muffins are tasty, nutritious and may just make your life easier. Bake a batch on the weekend, freeze individually, thaw (or microwave) and enjoy. Plus, these muffins are a great way to use up all of that summer zucchini overwhelming your produce drawer.

Thanks to the zucchini, these muffins are rich in vitamin C (hello healthy skin and immune system!), vitamin K (necessary for bone health and blood clotting) and vitamin B-6 (important for energy metabolism and hormone production).

I like to pair with a hard-boiled egg or glass of milk for an extra protein boost. They also make a perfect addition to your morning latte or as an afternoon snack.

PLEASE SHARE: What are your favorite easy-morning grab-and-go breakfast recipes? Please share. I’d love to hear from you!


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