Protein Pack Your Quinoa!

quinoa and vegetables

Hosting a dinner party, whether its 4 people or 40 people, is never an easy task. When it comes to the meal, keep it simple! This protein packed quinoa dish is great for a dinner party or everyday meal because when made in bulk, it makes a lot of servings (perfect for a large party or leftovers for the week!)
Adding garbazno beans and black beans increases the protein and fiber content of this dish which helps keep you full. Feel free to add in any vegetables of choice to increase the nutritional value of this dish! I chose onion, heirloom tomatoes and sugar snap peas. Spinach, kale or other leafy greens is also a great addition. Enjoy!

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Ingredients (serves 4 people)

- 1 cup dry quinoa + 2 cups water

- 1 tbsp. olive oil

- 1/2 medium onion, chopped

- 1 cup baby heirloom tomatoes

- 1 cup sugar snap peas

- 1 cup garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

- 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed

- 1tbsp. garlic powder

- 1 tbsp. cumin

- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper

- 1/2 tbsp. black pepper

- Juice of 1 lime

Directions:

1. Bring quinoa and water to a boil then simmer and cover for about 15 minutes (or until all water is absorbed).

2. While quinoa is cooking, sauté onion in 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Cook for about 5 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes, snap peas and any other vegetables of choice to the pan and stir fry for about 10 minutes.

4. Add beans to the vegetable mixture along with 2 tbsp. water and cover. Cook for about 5 minutes or until beans are thoroughly heated.

5. Add all seasonings and juice of 1 lime to quinoa and combine with vegetable and bean mixture.

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A New and Improved Lunch Classic: The PB & J

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I’m inspired by my pregnant sister, who has been eating a lot of PB & J sandwiches the last few months.

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I rarely eat sandwiches for lunch, let alone a PB & J. I’m more of a chicken salad or “eating on the run” type of lunch diner but today I was seriously craving a PB & J. One problem: no jelly – so I improvise. Instead of store bought jelly, I made my own.

Here is a healthier spin on the classic PB & J:
Prep time: Less than 2 minutes

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup berries (I used blackberries)
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (I used flax seed bread, Alvarado Street Brand)
  • 2 tbsp. natural peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • 1 tsp. honey *optional

Directions:

  1. Rinse berries and put in a small cup. Use a spoon to mash berries to desired consistency.
  2. Spread 2 tbsp. peanut butter onto bread then spread mashed berries and 1 tsp. honey on top.
  3. Eat and enjoy!

sandwich

Health Benefits:

  • Real berries instead of store bought jelly decreases the amount of sugar and preservatives in your sandwich and increases the amount of fiber and phytonutrients which help boost immune system and increase energy.
  • Natural peanut butter (that contains only peanuts and maybe salt) is a good source of healthy fats and also decreases the amount of sugar and preservatives in your sandwich.
  • Whole wheat or flax seed bread provides a great source of fiber, protein and healthy fats which helps keep you full and satisfied.

sandwich bite

For more healthier tweaks to classic lunch meals contact Kelsey Dickens Gonzalez RD: 415-736-5544 or kelsey@thriverd.com and visit Kelsey’s company website ThriveRD.com.

 

Top 3 Reasons Registered Dietitians Can Save Your Life

March 12th is National Registered Dietitian day! In honor of all my amazing dietitian colleagues, here are my top 3 reasons we will help save your health (and your life):

Just a few RD’s hanging out during internship orientation!

  1. Weight management: Working one-on-one with a registered dietitian allows you to receive expert knowledge regarding the most current science-based nutrition information. You will receive a personalized nutrition plan that works with your lifestyle. It’s about habit change! You will not get a “quick fix” diet to try and lose weight quickly. You will get a plan that you can make your own. A plan that leads to long term lifestyle changes and habit changes that helps you lose weight, maintain a healthy weight and feel better about yourself. You will become healthier as most people experience lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, normalizing blood sugar levels and less cravings as a side effect of weight loss and adopting healthier eating habits. These positive side effects can be life saving!
  2. Nutrition Education: Ever feel like your swimming in a sea of confusion at the grocery store? “Low-fat! Reduced Sodium! Sugar-Free!” Food marketers are very good at their job. They lure us in with their seemingly healthy claims to packaged foods. Registered dietitians clear up this confusion. We teach you how to correctly read the nutrition label, ingredients list and determine if these health claims are true or false. This education provides you with the knowledge and tools to make healthier choices and thus prevent chronic disease like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
  3. Foodservice: Many registered dietitians work in foodservice at hospitals, schools or corporate wellness clinics. We make sure these institutions are following sanitary food preparation procedures as well as ensure the quality of the food served. This can help with patient recovery in the hospital, provide students with healthy food options in schools and can improve wellness in the corporate setting. Healthy food choices = healthier people.

Contact me today for your private one-on-one consultation with an experienced RD and start making healthy changes today: 415-763-5544 or kelsann.dickens@gmail.com.

Almond Meal: The Best Flour Alternative

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 Almond meal is a great substitute to flour and is versatile in many different recipes. It’s a great ingredient for those with celiac’s disease, gluten-sensitivities or if you’re simply trying to follow a low carbohydrate or Paleo eating plan. Added bonus: almond meal is a great source of protein and fiber!

chicken done

Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • Dash of salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • Cooking spray or olive oil spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat over to 475 degrees.
  2. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray or olive oil spray.
  3. Combine almond meal and seasonings in a shallow dish. almond coating
  4. Combine egg whites in a separate bowl.
  5. Dip chicken tenders into egg whites then into almond meal mixture. Coat chicken tenders a few times, then place on baking sheet. (I set up an “assembly line” to make it easier). assembly line
  6. Bake chicken for 20 minutes then flip over and bake for another 5 minutes.
Chicken + cauliflower rice

Chicken + cauliflower rice

Almond, Chocolate Chip and Oat Cookies

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This is my first attempt at healthy baking and what a success! Here are the substitutions I used to create healthier, better tasting cookies:

Sugar → honey

White/wheat flour → almond flour

Butter → coconut oil

Ingredients (makes about 36 cookies):

  • 1 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (and/or dried fruit per your preference!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease the baking sheet.
  3. Mix together oats, almond flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. photo 1
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry mixture: vanilla extract, beaten egg, melted coconut oil and honey.
  5. Mix ingredients well then add chocolate chips and/or dried fruit.
  6. Form “dough” into small round balls (as best as possible) and bake for about 12 minutes. ***TIP: refrigerate cookie dough for 1 hour. This allows dough to become more firm and easier to handle.
  7. Allow cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes and enjoy! (the cooling period helps cookies form together)

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Nutrition information:

(serving size = 1 cookie)

Calories: 94, Total Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Carbohydrates: 7g, Fiber, 1g, Sugar: 3g, Protein: 2g

Simple How To: Garbanzo Beans–>Hummus

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Garbanzo Beans are a great source of fiber, iron and protein and are most popularly known in the form of hummus. Hummus is very easy to make and is a great dip with vegetables, whole grain crackers or on salads. Here is my easy how to make cilantro garlic hummus:

Cilantro Garlic Hummus

 

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Ingredients:

  • One 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • 1/4 cup fresh organic cilantro
  • 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 2 tbsp. water

**Food processor**

Directions:

  1. Mince garlic and put in food processor along with juice of 1 lemon or lime, 2 tbsp. olive oil, garbanzo beans, cilantro and salt and pepper.
  2. Pulse until relatively smooth.
  3. Add cumin, water and additional 1 tbsp. of olive oil.
  4. Pulse until creamy and place in a container

Enjoy with celery, carrots, or any vegetable of choice for a healthy snack!

Grain Free Rice! Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice in 7 Minutes

As unbelievable as it may be, I just got my first ever food processor! I couldn’t be more excited to make the infamous cauliflower rice and found a recipe using lime and cilantro. I made it my own and it was absolutely delicious – a dish the whole family will enjoy!

Ingredients:
(Serves 4)

  • 1/2 large head of cauliflower
  • Handful of fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Dash of salt and dash of pepper

Directions:

1. Cut cauliflower into chunks and pulse in food processor until it becomes the consistency of rice.

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2. Set aside riced cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl.

3. Pulse cilantro in food processor until finely chopped.

4. Set cilantro aside in a different bowl.

5. Zest 1 lime and add to cilantro. Cut lime in 1/2 and add juice from 1/2 lime to cilantro.

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6. Heat cauliflower in microwave for 5 minutes, add cilantro mixture and olive oil and mix together.

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Allow cauliflower to cool for about 2-3 minutes then serve. I served mine with pork roast and spinach salad for a completely low carbohydrate and Paleo dinner!

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The BEST Healthy Treat Using Only 2 Ingredients

It’s simple! Chocolate + fruit = YUM. This Valentine’s day, make your sweetie a tasty treat that is heart healthy AND delicious. Only 2 ingredients needed. I opted to use both dark and white chocolate (because I love dark chocolate and my fiancé loves white chocolate). Dark chocolate has heart healthy antioxidants and when eaten in small amounts can actually be good for you! I used a variety of fruits but feel free to chose your favorite to dip in chocolate.

Ingredients:

  • Fruit of choice – I used strawberries, apple and banana
  • Chocolate of choice – I used dark chocolate and white chocolate
  • Parchment paper and a cookie sheet

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Directions:

  • Rinse and cut up fruit
  • Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet
  • Heat chocolate in a double boiler over low heat or microwave in a microwave safe bowl in 20 second increments (stirring every 20 seconds)
  • Dip fruit in melted chocolate and place on parchment paper on the cookie sheet
  • Refrigerate for at least 1hour

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Which Seed Reigns Supreme? Chia vs Flax Seed

Flax seed and chia seed have become all the rage! Whether you’re looking for a fiber supplement or omega 3 fatty acids for heart health, flax and chia seeds have many nutritious health benefits for your diet. But which seed reigns supreme?

Chia VS Flax Seed

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Both chia and flax seeds have a nutty flavor but chia seeds are more versatile in the kitchen. When mixed with water, chia seeds form a gel and can be used as a binding agent in place of eggs (great for vegans or those with egg allergies). Chia seeds pack a powerful punch to your health, too! Only 2 tbsp. chia seeds give you 9 grams of healthy fats, 12 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein! Add chia seeds to cereal, oatmeal, salads or yogurt for a heart healthy meal or snack.

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Flax seeds are found more popularly in baked goods such as baked breads, muffins or granola. By comparing nutrition labels, it’s easy to see that flax seed does not provide as many grams of healthy fats, fiber or protein compared to chia seeds – but 2 tbsp. flax seeds = 8 grams fiber which is still considered a great source of fiber! Fiber is important for heart health (it can help lower “lousy” LDL cholesterol) and promote a healthy digestive system. Add flax seed to dips such as hummus or yogurt or salads, granola and cereal for an added dose of fiber.

2 Must Have Munchies on Superbowl Sunday

As we gather around the TV for a day filled with food, friends and football – make sure there’s some healthy snacks available! Cauliflower is a very versatile vegetable and works well in place of grains and starches. Cauliflower is a great source of vitamin C and can help strengthen your immune system. It’s also an excellent source of fiber and can therefore help lower LDL cholesterol (the lousy kind of cholesterol).

Try these 2 snack ideas to feed the crowd without derailing your diet:

Cauliflower crust pizza (serves 2-4) – adapted from hungryhealthygirl.com

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Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower (2 cups riced)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes *optional
  • Toppings of your choice: *I’m using marinara sauce, sliced bell pepper, onion and turkey pepperoni

Directions:

  1. Pre heat over to 400 degrees F.
  2. Remove stems and leaves from cauliflower and chop into chunks and put in food processor. Pulse until cauliflower becomes similar in texture to rice. *Note: if you don’t have a food processor, I’ve used a cheese grater (pictured above) to grate the cauliflower to a “rice” texture.
  3. Place riced cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl and heat in microwave for 8 minutes.
  4. Combine cooked cauliflower and all remaining ingredients into a medium bowl.
  5. Spread and press cauliflower “dough” out evenly over a baking sheet or pizza stone (about 1/4-1/3 inch thick).
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes or until dough is golden and cooked through the middle. Remove crust from the oven.
  7. Top crust with pizza sauce or marinara sauce and toppings of your choice (I used cheese, salami, bell peppers and onion).
  8. Broil pizza for about 5 minutes or until toppings are hot and cheese is melted. Allow pizza to cool 2-3 minutes before slicing and serving.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (serves 5) – picture and recipe adapted from Mara Iaconi, NP

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Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (4 cups) cauliflower, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese (3 ounces), grated
  • 1/2 cup (1.5 ounces) parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 cup whole milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place cauliflower in steamer or in a pan on the stove top and steam for 5-7 minutes or until tender.
  3. Transfer steamed cauliflower into a medium bowl and allow to cool.
  4. Mix in cheese and spices with cauliflower then transfer to 8″ baking dish.
  5. Drizzle milk over cauliflower mixture and cover with foil. Place in oven and bake for 40 minutes.

Purge Your Pantry in 3 Easy Steps!

Now that the holidays are over and the novelty of new years resolutions have dwindled, lets get serious – you need to purge your pantry and clean out the fridge in order to really start fresh in 2014. Make this year your year to be the healthiest and happiest you!

1. Check the ingredients list. If you don’t recognize the items listed and/or the ingredients list is a paragraph long – throw it out! Example: Luna Bar VS Lara bar (click each image to enlarge and read ingredients).

 

Luna bar ingredients list

Luna bar ingredients list

 

Lara bar ingredients list

Lara bar ingredients list

2. Check the nutrition label. If it has more than 8g sugar  per serving – toss it! Examples:

Low-fat granola VS Quaker oats (click each image to enlarge and read nutrition label)

Low-fat granola: 15g sugar per serving

Low-fat granola: 15g sugar per serving

 

Quaker oats: 1g sugar per serving

Quaker oats: 1g sugar per serving

Flavored Yogurt VS Plain Greek Yogurt (click each image to enlarge and read nutrition label)

Honey Greek yogurt: 24g sugar

Honey Greek yogurt: 24g sugar

 

Plain Greek yogurt: 7g sugar

Plain Greek yogurt: 7g sugar

*Added bonus: plain Greek yogurt contains more protein and calcium than regular yogurt

3.  Avoid rotting produce. Buy enough produce to last 1 week and shop for what’s in season. Example:

January-February: Brussels sprouts, pears, clementines, collard greens, dates, grapefruit, kale, leeks, oranges,  persimmons, sweet potatoes, tangerines, turnips.

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*Stock the freezer with frozen vegetables/fruits but check the ingredients list – make sure it contains only the vegetable/fruit and no added junk.  

Contact me today for a personalized pantry dive and/or grocery tour! 415-763-5544 or kelsann.dickens@gmail.com