When it comes to cooking and baking sometimes you may not want to use whole wheat flour but still want to boost the nutrition value of what you are making. There are tons of flour options that can maximize nutrition rather than using all-purpose white flour that has been stripped of fiber and nutrients. Check out these flour options and give them a try!
Getting Started: First try replacing one-quarter of the all-purpose flour in a recipe with one of the below flour options and gradually work up to half or more of the flour! You can even get away with 100% healthier grains like those listed below works well in pancakes, muffins and quick breads!
Oat Flour: A whole grain flour made from pure oats that provides fiber and protein. Works well in biscuits, muffins, quick breads, pancakes and waffles.
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour: This is a variety of whole wheat flour that is ground from soft wheat berries, rather than wheat berries, the result is a lighter texture and taste profile compared to traditional whole wheat flour. Works well in cookies, cakes, muffins, pancakes and quick breads.
White Wheat Flour: A flour that is made from a variety of wheat, known as white wheat. It is a lighter color and more mild flavor compared to traditional wheat. Yet, nutritionally it still provides fiber and important vitamins and minerals. Works well with breads, muffins, cookies, pancakes and quick breads.
Almond Flour: This flour is literally made from ground almonds and provides monounsaturated fat, vitamin E and fiber. Plus it is gluten-free and lower in carbs compared to other flours. Try swapping out 1/4 of the flour in a recipe for almond flour to add an excellent texture and light nutty flavor. It also doubles as an excellent coating for breading chicken or fish. Works well as a breading and with muffins, cakes, cookies, pancakes and quick breads.
Buckwheat Flour: Despite the name, buckwheat is not actually related to wheat. It is actually the edible fruit seed of a plant that is related to rhubarb, contains high amounts of essential amino acids and is gluten-free. Works well is pancakes, quick breads, waffles and pastas.
Skinny Skillet Croutons are super easy to prepare and a delicious way to top a salad.
Preparation instructions: Start by cubing up a whole wheat roll or slice of bread. Then heat a skillet over medium heat and add a few sprays of olive oil or non stick cooking spray. Add the bread cubes and cook for 3 - 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Sprinkle lightly with garlic powder. Serve on top of your favorite salad!
Salad: leafy greens mix topped with sauteed portobello mushrooms, dried cranberries and Skinny Skillet Croutons.
What can boost your immune system, help keep your bones healthy and aid in muscle function? Vitamin D! When it comes to supplements, my response is usually, food first... supplements second. However when it comes to winter time, if you are in a part of the country where you are getting limited exposure to natural sunlight, taking a vitamin D supplement is worth considering.
Why? Vitamin D is formed when sunlight hits the skin, so during times of minimal sun exposure, supplementation is a must. There are a limited number of foods that have vitamin D, for example: cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, tuna and some foods are fortified with vitamin D like milk.
In the body: There are many important roles in the body for vitamin D, including: aiding in calcium absorption, playing a role in immune health, inflammation and skeletal muscle function.
How much? The needs of vitamin D vary by age (See the list below) and there as with all supplements, if some is good, more is not better. Before starting to take a vitamin D supplement first total how much vitamin D you are getting from foods and beverages (like milk and fortified orange juice) and any multivitamin that you are taking. Then figure out how much additional vitamin D to add in. Plus before starting any supplement, check with your health care provider first!
Too much? There is an upper intake limit set for vitamin D as well, which is the level at which there is an increased risk for adverse health impact. If you are taking more than the upper limit, it should be under the care of your health care provider to carefully monitor blood levels of vitamin D.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance & Tolerable Upper Intake Levels:
Choosing a supplement: Opt for a kids specific vitamin D for children and an adult specific for adults to ensure proper supplementation levels, without taking too much. Below are images of a Nature's Made chewable vitamin D that taste great plus get the daily dose of vitamin D in. Although they do taste great so make sure you stick to the above recommendations and do not over do it!
It's time for holidays which also means that punch, cookies, candies and treats will likely be around every corner! Try these tips to get you through the holidays without tipping the scale:
- Snack Before You Go! Although it is tempting to not eat before heading to a party, actually having a snack before you head out the door can help keep your appetite in check. Try something light and simple like: apple & cheese stick, air popped popcorn or carrots & hummus.
- Think About Your Drink - Calories from drinks can pile up in a hurry and typically do not make you feel full. Try alternating each calorie containing drink (punch, wine, sweetened tea, lemonade, beer, soda...) with a glass of water. If you're planning a party have bottles of water or pitchers with water and sliced fruit or vegetables for guests.
- Plan Ahead - If you have a particular diet restriction or preference, ask if there is something you can bring and then bring something that can be a 'go to' food for you.
- Squeeze It In - When the schedule gets crazy, it can be tough to stick to your usual exercise routine. If needed try, squeezing in exercise throughout your day in 10 minute blocks like taking a quick walk, doing some yoga before bed or lifting some weights to start your day. Every little bit helps and good news, you burn about 48 calories per half hour of making crafts or wrapping gifts!
- Stay Hydrated - Another motivator to sip on water is that staying hydrated impacts your metabolism! Basically the only beverages that dehydrate the body are alcohol containing beverages (another reason to have a glass of water between each alcohol containing drink). So while all beverages can help to hydrate you, focus on most of it coming from water! If you get tired of plain water, try naturally flavored seltzer waters like Perrier or Poland Springs.
Most of all... wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a healthy New Year!
You can get children interested in healthy eating with a little persistence and patience. Try these strategies to help the little ones in your lives: Cook with your Kids! There are plenty of age appropriate ways to engage children in the kitchen. The benefit is that children who are involved in the the food preparation process are more likely to eat what they make.
For an added bonus, research shows that children who cook prefer fruits and vegetables more! To help you get started, check out this great resource for recipes, tips and more: www.thekidscookmonday.org
Talk about Food & Health - There seems to be a connection that the more children understand about how food can help their body, the more willingness there is to eat healthy foods.
Foods that help eyes: carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes, yellow peppers, butternut squash, sweet corn
Foods that help blood vessels: blueberries, blackberries, black olives, grapes, eggplant, raisins
Foods that help heart health: apples, cherries, cranberries, red grapes, red peppers, pomegranates, strawberries, watermelon, beets
Keep Trying! - It can take 10 times of trying a new taste or texture before we learn to like a food (this goes for kids and adults). If trial one doesn't go well, keep trying and overtime it is possible to develop a taste for new foods.