Thursday, August 24, 2017

Back to School Lunch Tips (Plant-Based)

Summer is coming to a close and before you know it, school will be back in session. Although school lunches have come a long way in terms of healthful options, some may still choose to brown bag it due to limited lunch options or long lines at school. No matter if you choose to buy or pack a lunch, nutrient-dense foods should still be at the forefront of your menu. After all, a nutritious lunch will help to fuel your child’s growing body and give them the energy they need to focus during the school day.

If you are planning to have your child buy lunch, review with them the school lunch menu so they can pick healthy and well-balanced options for each day. When packing a lunch, it is important to get your child involved since they are more likely to consume what they helped pack. You will also help to eliminate food waste when taking into consideration their food preferences.

When choosing or packing a lunch, try to aim for a balance of lean protein, high-fiber carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Some plant-based protein options could include tempeh, tofu, beans, nuts, or seeds. High-fiber carbohydrates can include whole fruits, whole grain breads, whole grain pastas, unsweetened applesauce cups, or quinoa. Healthy fats could include nuts, seeds, avocado, or low-sugar almond yogurts. Keep lunches cool and at a safe temperature by sending ice packs, insulated lunch boxes, or frozen waters.

Check out some of the sample lunch options below for inspiration!
-Fresh fruit salad using cookie cutters for fun shapes.
-Hummus and veggies (baby carrots, broccoli, celery sticks, cucumbers)  with whole grain pita.
-Apple slices and peanut butter (or sunflower seed butter) with whole grain pretzels
-Homemade veggie soup in an insulated container with whole grain crackers.
-Salad topped with roasted chickpeas and mixed veggies and served with fresh fruit.
-Whole grain tortilla wraps stuffed with veggies and lean protein.
-Healthier PB&J made with chia jam, natural peanut butter, and whole grain bread.
-Homemade granola bars with fresh fruit.
-Brown rice bowls (or quinoa) topped with sauteed veggies and chickpeas (or tofu).

Posted also available at EatRight

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tips for Cooking Healthier

Healthy meals, whether they be for one or a family, can often be the biggest struggle my clients have. Knowing what to serve. Knowing how to cook. Having the time to cook. All of these can be barriers in the way of you and your family's health. We don't want to spend hours in the kitchen; however, we still want to make sure we (and our families) have the best nutrition available.

Check out some of the healthy cooking tips below to see what you can incorporate in your daily routine!

Try one new, healthy, recipe per week (or month)
Feel like you make the same things over and over again? Try cooking one new healthy recipe once a week or once per month. Start weeding through your stacks of paper recipes, cookbooks, or Pinterest saves. You may even find something that becomes apart of your weekly meal rotation!

Try better-for-you cooking methods
Instead of frying try baking, roasting or steaming for your veggies and protein sources. Baking can be a simpler way to get a meal on the table, since it is a bit more hands off once you get the food in the oven. Roasting is a great way to bring out the natural sweetness in veggies! Steaming can help to retain the nutrient content of your foods (versus boiling).

Leave sauces/dressings on the side
We often think about dressings or gravies on-the-side for eating out; however, try the same strategy at home. If you need to, cook with a small amount of the sauce you need and leave the rest on the side to use sparingly.

Swap it out
Do you normally use mayo? How about swapping in avocado instead? Normally use a lot of oil? Try swapping or cutting the oil with a low-sodium vegetable broth. Use white breads or rices? Try whole grain or brown rice options. Look at your typical meals/recipes and see where you can swap in a more nutritious item!

Use more herbs and spices
In place of high-salt, high-fat sauces or seasoning blends, try using fresh or dried herbs/spices - basil, parsley, sage, cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika. etc. Read through the label of your favorite seasoning blends to see if you can replicate a healthier option.

Cook once, eat twice
When cooking grains (rice, quinoa, barley, etc), cook in larger quantities. Use leftovers for the next day's meals so you can reduce the amount of time you spend in the kitchen.

Add at least 1 cup of veggies
Most Americans are not eating enough vegetables. One way to boost your intake is to commit to choosing at least 1 cup (2 servings) of veggies with each meal. Alternate with fresh, no-salt-added frozen or canned veggies. Try a variety of herbs and spices or sprinkle fresh lemon or lime juice on cooked veggies. The veggies will add a variety of nutrients (including fiber) to the meal and help to keep you fuller for longer.

How will you plan to cook healthier this week? Do you have a healthy cooking tip to share? Leave it in the comments below!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Dietitian Picks - Top 10 Kitchen Gadgets

I don't know about anyone else, but I have a ton of kitchen equipment (some of which I never use). I love trying out new products, especially if it makes my life simpler (or healthier).This week, I wanted to mix things up a bit from tips and recipes and give you a sneak peak into my kitchen! Today's post features just a few of my go-to kitchen gadgets/equipment (no affiliate links). Enjoy!

#1 - Immersion Blender
I love, love my immersion blender! It is way easier to puree a soup or applesauce right in the pot without having to transfer to a standing blender. I also really like that this is small and comes apart, which is great for storage. I originally purchased mine in a pinch at my local supermarket; however, you can also buy online. The model I purchased also came with a whisk attachment, which I use a lot for making icings (versus pulling out my hand-mixer).

#2 - Salad Dressing Bottle 
If you are looking to make your own dressings, this is a great kitchen staple. I modify the recipes a bit to decrease salt or sugar where needed. I like that the measurements are right on the bottle, so I don't need extra measuring cups. I bought this bottle from Amazon. This is also a great gift for Dietitians or just friends/family looking to live healthier.  

#3 - NutriBullet (or any blender)
I love making smoothies for a quick meal on-the-go, especially in the morning. I originally had a smaller blender, but, recently upgraded to the Nutribullet Rx. I went with this model because you can make soups in 7-minutes (and yes it works). This model is a bit big, so if you don't think you will use the hot setting, you could also go for the smaller model, which will work just as well (and take up less counter space).

#4 - Teapot with Infuser
I love my loose tea leaves, so I was really excited when I found this little teapot with an infuser built right in. It is the perfect size for just one person. I bought on Amazon; however, you can also buy other models in-store.

#5 - Stainless Steel Tea Infuser
Before buying my teapot (see above), I bought a new tea infuser for loose teas. I originally had an infuser that was made out of silicone; however, it didn't have small enough holes, so I ended up with a lot of loose tea in my cup. Also, I felt like it gave an off-taste to my tea. After my silicone one, I bought a tea ball; however, the side kept opening and spilling the loose tea all over. I really like this model because the lid locks on and it sinks to the bottom of the tea cup versus floating around. Another one of my Amazon purchases...are you seeing a theme here haha :)

#6 - Adjustable Measuring Spoon
This is great not only because it takes up less room in my kitchen drawers; but also, since I no longer have to root around looking for each individual measuring spoon. There are a lot of models out there online and in-store. I purchased this one from a catalog during National Nutrition Month!

#7 - Avocado Slicer
So this is one of the gadgets that I have that I don't necessarily NEED, but, I love how it functions! You use the left side to slice through the avocado, then the bottom portion to get out the seed, and the right side to slice the flesh and scoop out. This particular model was sent to me; however, there are a ton of inexpensive ones online and in-store. If you are an avocado lover (like me), you will certainly enjoy it.

#8 - Stainless Steel Water-bottle 
Okay, I will admit that I have about 20 different water-bottles (2/3 are in storage); however, this is my absolute favorite! It keeps my water cold for 8+ hours, even if the outside feels hot. I also have one that I use for coffee because I often never get time to drink it before it gets cold so this works perfectly.  I bought this particular one on a whim in a grocery store; however, they are literally everywhere.

#9 - Vegetable Spiralizer 
This is hands-down one of my all-time favorite kitchen gadgets! I mostly use it for zucchini-noodles; however, you could also make noodles out of potatoes or carrots too. They have larger models that sit on a counter; however, I wanted something smaller. I originally bought this one for about $8 maybe 3-4 years ago and it still works great. It also came with a small brush since it is really hard to clean the blades inside. You can spiralize using either end (varying levels of thickness).

Click the link for a healthy zoodle recipe (with fresh pesto). 

#10 - Mason Jars (or Glass Jars/Containers)
Confession time. I have a lot of mason jars. A LOT. In my defense, I do use them for practically everything though. I have a ton of different sizes, which actually serve a lot of purpose. The larger ones in the back of this picture I will use for making salads or overnight oats, storing leftover coffee or soup, or to put fresh fruit in when traveling (no leaking). The smaller jar to the left I will use for leftover smoothies or for salad fixings when I meal prep. The large, flatter, jar to the right I use for storing dips or homemade jams. Finally, the two small jars in the front I use for transporting ingredients for cooking classes or the holidays when I cook. I also will use the smaller ones for homemade jams/nut butters than I give away. I love the glass jars over plastic because they don't get funky after a while. Also, I never have spillage issues when traveling.

Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite kitchen gadgets/tools are!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Lemon-Berry Muffins

Recently, I have been looking for a better-for-you muffin recipe that I could make and have as a snack when I wanted something sweet. A lot of the gluten-free, vegan baked goods are loaded with sugar and have really little fiber. I ended up combining a few of the recipes in my cookbooks with others I found online for these sweet little treats! I love making them in mini-muffin pans; however, for the recipe below, I used a standard 12-count muffin tray. Enjoy!

Lemon-Berry Muffins 
*Vegan + Gluten-Free 

1 large banana
1/2 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons almond butter
1.5 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats (uncooked)
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup 100% pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1/2 cup blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12-count muffin tray or line with muffin cups.
2. Add all ingredients, except blueberries to a blender and blend until smooth. Mixture will be thick; however, if there are issues blending, add in almond milk, 1 tablespoon at a time.
3. Fold in blueberries. Spoon mixture into prepared tray and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Recipe Notes
-Makes 12 standard-sized muffins, serving 6.
-Can make in a mini-muffin tray; however, decrease cooking time to about half.
-Can substitute cashew milk or pea milk for almond. Pea milk will add in protein.
-Can substitute sunflower seed butter or peanut butter for the almond.
-If you are not gluten-free, can use regular rolled oats
-Store at room temperature for 2-3 days in an air-tight container or in the fridge up to 1 week.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Pizza Quinoa Bites

Welcome back to PorrazzaNutrition! Today, I want to share with you a recipe I just revamped from my old cooking files. I have been trying to weed through my collection of recipes to figure out the ones I actually use and those I was just hoarding :) I am challenging myself to 1 day per week where I try new recipes and incorporate the tasty ones into my weekly meals or party rotation (since I usually bring healthy dishes wherever I go). My challenge to you this month is to get in the kitchen and try a new recipe or revamp (in a healthy way) an old one from your collection!

Pizza Quinoa Bites

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup low salt tomato sauce **
1.5 cups water
1 small onion, diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 flax eggs **
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup nutritional yeast **
Dash of salt and pepper

1. In a large pot, bring to a boil quinoa, tomato sauce, and water. Lower and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. In a small saucepan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil for 3-5 minutes over medium-low heat.
4. In a large bowl, mix together onion/garlic, quinoa, flax eggs, basil, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings to your taste.
5. Form mixture into bite-sized patties and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Flip and bake for an additional 5 minutes (or broil for 1-2 minutes for crispier patties). Serve with fresh tomato sauce.

**Recipe Notes
-No-salt-added crushed tomatoes can be used in place of tomato sauce.
-To make a single flax egg, which is a replacement for 1 whole egg, simply mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Double to make the two needed for this recipe.
-Nutritional yeast is a substitute for dairy-cheeses and can be found online or at most health-food stores.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Simple Homemade Applesauce

This past week, I shared my super simple, no-added-sugar, recipe for homemade applesauce with my cooking class. This is one of my favorite recipes to make especially when I have some older and softer apples. I love the way my house smells while this is cooking too :)

When choosing apples, look for ones with a shiny, firm, and smooth skin. Apples are a good source of vitamin C, which boosts your immune health, and a great source of fiber, which is good for digestive health and may help to lower cholesterol levels. Apples are also high in antioxidants, which may help to reduce your risk of cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. It is best to leave the skin on your apples to retain all of the fiber and nutrients. With the recipe below, since you will be blending the final product, you won't even notice the skins!

Homemade Applesauce (Stove-top)*
Yield: approx. 4 cups

4 apples, roughly chopped, with skins
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg

1. In a large saucepan, mix together all ingredients. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes or until softened.
2. Using an immersion blender, blend apples to reach desired consistency.**
3. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge (I used mason jars).

*Recipe can be made in a slow-cooker. Cook on low for 3-4 hours (will vary based on size of slow-cooker and amount of apples).
**You can also use a fork or standing blender to mash/puree the apples to your desired consistency. 

Nutrition Per 1 Cup: 70 Calories, 150mg Potassium, 19g Carbohydrates, 3g Fiber, 14g Sugar, 13% DV for Vitamin C

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Healthy Eating During the Summer

Summer is just about here and let's face it, sometimes healthy eating gets pushed aside until Fall rolls around. It can be easy to get off track with vacations, graduation parties, BBQs, road trips and more. While I am a huge proponent of enjoying yourself and indulging here or there, your health STILL matters and shouldn't get the short end of the stick.

How do you find a balance between investing in your health (and keeping up your good habits with nutrition) and enjoying yourself this summer? The first step is figuring out what matters to you! Often I hear clients saying that they want to lose weight for a vacation or graduation party. What happens when that is all done? What is your new motivation? What is going to push you towards sticking to your plan? Figure out WHY healthy eating matters to you. Do you want to feel more comfortable in your own skin? Do you want to control a disease? Do you want to have more energy?

Once you figured out your WHY, devise a plan for yourself. What goals do you still need to work towards? Are you still trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies? Your day-to-day may change during the summer months, so have a plan for how you are going to reach your goals even while on vacation. Pack healthy snacks (carrot sticks, fruits, nuts, raisins, etc) for your beach trip. Buy high-fiber, low-sugar bars to keep on hand while hiking. Make a smoothie to take with you while on a long drive. Don't let the excuses and self-made barriers get in the way of you accomplishing your goals and bettering your overall health.

I like to think of the acronym, "PAL," for any scenario when trying to balance food choices. If you are wondering, I highly doubt this is an actual acronym that people use, just something I thought of :) "P" is for Plan or Prepare. Plan a healthy menu for your shore trip. Prepare a healthy dish for a BBQ. Plan to exercise when there is downtime. "A" is for Assess. Assess the situation you are in. What healthy options are available during a party? Assess after the fact too. What can you do better for next time? What went well for you? How do you feel about your food/drink choices? Lastly, "L" is for Live. Live your life and remember in the grand scheme of things, that extra cookie probably won't undo all of your hard work (maybe the extra 4 or 5 would though ha). Seriously though, enjoying the summer can definitely include some treats and don't let yourself wallow in negativity about your choices. If you are eating well 90-95% of the time, why not let loose and have that piece of cake or cookie? Healthy living is just that, actually LIVING. Not just counting calories, endless dieting, restriction, and guilt.

So this summer, I challenge you to figure out what is going to motivate you to keep up your healthy habits (or start new ones) and to use the acronym "PAL" for your next social outing.

Leave a comment below and tell me what your plan is for healthy eating this summer.

For more tips on Healthy Summer Sips, click the LINK