nutrients

What’s On The Menu – The Superior Nut Butter

Much like coffee creamers, the variety of nut butters has seemed to increase almost exponentially over the past 5-10 years. I imagine that the increase in childhood peanut allergies (21% increase since 2010) has been a major contributing factor.

For those of us that aren’t stricken with that terrible affliction, deciding on whether to buy peanut butter or almond butter can be a constant struggle. Well no need to worry because this menu spotlight will tell you which nut butter is nutritional superior.

Both are a great source of monounsaturated fat, fiber and plant based protein, but almond butter has more vitamin E, iron and calcium. Just make sure the only ingredients are almonds and maybe a pinch of salt. You don’t want to negate the nutritional benefits by buying something full of sugar and additives that prevent oil separation.

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What’s On The Menu – The Vegans Got This One Right

My dietary preferences are broad to say the least. Animals, plants, fungi and even bacteria are all menu options for yours truly. That means that all wholesome food options, whether they be paleo, keto or vegan, are literally on the table for this omnivore.

One such vegan item that I’ve been putting on pretty much everything as of late is this pesto from Trader Joe’s. It has a short list of whole ingredients and is high in that oh so important macronutrient, FAT.

If I could change anything in it I would substitute the cashew butter for walnuts & nutritional yeast. Shannon is a former vegan and we’ve made a lot of vegan pesto. I can say with the utmost confidence that adding nutritional yeast gives it a much more “cheesy” flavor.

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What’s on the Menu – These Veggies Could Save Your Life

Vegetables are a great source of vital nutrients. I know that’s not exactly a news flash but eating a variety of veggies is necessary to obtain a wide range of vitamins, minerals and other beneficial organic compounds.

One such group of veggies that Shannon and I try to each multiple times a week are cruciferous vegetables. The member of this veggie family, including the brussels sprouts pictured below, contain organic compounds known as glucosinolates that have been found to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects (source).

I love roasting them in the oven, but when I’m crunched for time, I simply boil them up, cover them in spices & butter and chow down. I want to point out that eating them with a fat source, like butter, helps you absorb the tremendous amount to of Vitamin K contained in these mini cabbages.

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What’s on the Menu – Goes Together Like Peas & Coffee

A few weeks ago I shared my favorite dairy coffee creamer, but I want to let all you know that I’m also a fan of nondairy creamers. As mentioned in the previous post the variety of nondairy choices you have to choose from is borderline overwhelming.

Soy, almond, and coconut are probably the most popular (besides the uber processed coffemate), but there is one that is starting to show up more in stores that I believe provides the most nutritional benefits.

Ripple Foods produces “milk” made up primarily of pea protein. Eight ounces contain nearly 5 g of fat and 8 grams of protein. It doesn’t have as short of an ingredient list as I’m use to, but it’s much more nutritious than almond milk.

Too much dairy wreaks havoc on my digestion so I like to add this and some unsweetened coconut milk to one of my daily coffee concoctions.

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What’s On The Menu – Frozen Dinners Aren’t Always Bad

When I provide nutrition counseling to clients, I always stress the importance of cooking the majority of your meals at home. Unfortunately, many people (including myself) don’t have the time during the week necessary to make a meal from scratch.

That’s why Shannon and I love wholesome frozen items like the frozen stir fry mix featured below. This skillet full of veggies take about 10 minutes to prepare and contains no additional seasonings, sauces or preservatives. I added shrimp for protein and we had dinner ready in less than 15 minutes.

Oh, by the way, studies show that frozen vegetables have just as many, if not more nutrients than fresh vegetables. As long as the ingredient list contains ONLY vegetables, than they are viable option for you to make a quick & nutritious meal.

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What’s On The Menu – Let’s Ketchup on this Micronutrient Superfruit

I apologize for the brevity of this post. I had a full blog written, with funny anecdotes and informative nutrition details about this week’s menu spotlight. Bbbbbbbuttttt, when I woke up yesterday morning to do the final edit, I discovered that I didn’t save it.

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My reaction when I realize I didn’t save this week’s blog

I don’t want to leave you all hanging this week, so the following is a short summary of why you need to start incorporating more tomatoes & tomato products, besides ketchup, into your diet.

  • Tomatoes’ macronutrient content isn’t anything spectacular – 1 medium size tomato contains no fat, 1 gram (g) of protein and 5 g of carbs; its carbs consist of mainly simple sugars & insoluble fiber (source).
  • Tomatoes’ micronutrient content is what really sets them apart – they contain a significant amount of vitamins (C, K & B-complex), minerals (molybdenum, potassium & copper) and antioxidants (lycopene, rutin, beta cartoene & many more – source).
  • The consumption of the micronutrients contained in tomatoes has been shown to mitigate certain health conditions – The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants contained in tomatoes have been shown to help with the treatment of high blood pressure, heart disease, degenerative vision conditions, depression and more (source). Lycopene, which tomatoes contain a significant amount of, has been shown in epidemiological & animal studies to lower the risk of certain types of cancer (source).
  • Shannon makes the best tomato dish EVA! –  Some may say this is an opinion, but if you’ve had Shannon’s Saucy Tomato Eggs, you would know it’s a fact. Do yourself a favor and click here to check out the recipe.

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Hopefully the wizards at WordPress can work some magic and recover the previous blog. If they do, I’ll update this one with any additional info.

In the meantime, please feel free to send us your favorite tomato recipes. Doesn’t matter if you like’em raw, stewed or smashed into a paste, send those recipes to us at elementaltampa@gmail.com. You can also send us pics of your go-to tomato dishes on social media (FacebookInstagram or Twitter).  Shannon and I will pick the most tasty looking one and repost it on all our channels.

What’s on the Menu – The Fruit that Tells You It’s Summer

We discussed the optimum growing seasons for produce in a recent episode of the Addicted to Fitness podcast (click to listen), but we didn’t discuss which produce best REPRESENTS each season. My “season appropriate produce” list is as follows:

  • Fall – Pumpkins, squash and other gourds
  • Winter – Kale and Apples
  • Spring – Berries and Asparagus
  • Summer – Corn and Watermelon

I’m OK with people disagreeing with me on most of my choices, but for those who don’t agree that watermelon is the most summer produce there is I say FOR SHAME.

I can’t be the only one who attended summer cookouts where the giant green melon was used for the appetizer, main course and/or dessert. I’m sure if you go back and look at your family photos, they’ll be a picture of you standing next to a sprinkler with a giant wedge of watermelon in your hand. The fruit’s optimum growing season is May through September for PETE’S SAKE. Anything else go on between May and September?

How bout a little thing called summer break.

I rest my case.

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Now that I’ve established the fact the watermelon is THE summer produce, let’s discuss whether or not it’s healthy. One cup of watermelon contains less than one gram (g) of fat & protein and 11 g of carbs, 9 of those grams coming from sugar.

Not terribly uncommon for a sweet fruit, but somewhat of a departure from the items you’d usually see on this weekly blog. The relatively high sugar content translates to a rather high number on the glycemic index (GI), 76. However, unlike its GI, watermelon’s glycemic load (GL) is only 8, which is considered low. In layman’s terms, a serving of watermelon can cause a blood sugar spike but only for a short period of time, which translates to a minimal insulin response (source). With that said, if you are obese or a type 2 diabetic, I’d suggest asking your physician if it’s OK to add watermelon to your diet.

If you are fortunate enough to include watermelon in your diet, expect even more benefits than just its delicious flavor. In addition to a host of important vitamins (A, B6 & C), minerals (copper & magnesium) and amino acids, watermelon contains a significant amount of the phytonutrient lycopene. This carotenoid is not only responsible for giving watermelon its red color, it also provides the fruit’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties. Recent research also suggests that lycopene can be very important to our cardiovascular and skeletal systems (source). Both of which are super important when you’re 30 something year old going head first down a homemade slip & slide.

I mean it is summer after all.

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Watermelon is also one of those fruits that pairs well with a wide variety of other foods. Shannon and I are big fans of watermelon salad with feta cheese and reduced balsamic dressing. If you have any other mouthwatering dishes that feature watermelon, please share them with us on social media (FacebookInstagram or Twitter).

Before I wrap up this menu spotlight, I want to give you a friendly reminder about ETTampa’s free fitness consultations. If you are looking for a little guidance, whether it be for exercise, nutrition or even accountability, send me an email at elementaltampa@gmail.com.

Hope to hear from you soon!

What’s on the Menu – The one soft drink that doesn’t make me sick to my stomach

Yes. There is an actual difference between ginger ale and ginger beer, at least in theory. Traditional ginger beers, use fermentation to create the carbonation & usually yield a stronger ginger flavor. Ginger beer can contain alcohol, but most available nowadays do not. Ginger ale on the other hand is sweetened soda water with added ginger flavor (source). Even though I believe soft drinks can cause serious health problems, these two ginger sodas do offer moderate health benefits, but it’s certainly not because of their sugar content.

There is a reason why they offer you a ginger ale on the plane if you’re feeling nauseous. Studies performed in the last 10 years suggest that ginger can not only help with your run of the mill upset stomach, but it can also alleviate the nausea associated with sea sickness, chemotherapy and pregnancy. It’s important to know that they did not use ginger ale in these research studies. They actually determined that 1-1.5 g of ginger (raw or powdered) could alleviate symptoms associated with these various types of nausea (source). The medicinal effects of ginger don’t stop there.

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Ginger also contains a powerful anti-inflammatory compound known as gingerol (clever name).  This compound has been linked to the reduction of certain side effects of chronic health conditions like osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes and cancer. In fact, several recent studies have determined that gingerols “may be effective chemopreventive and/or chemotherapeutic agents” in the treatment of colorectal and ovarian cancers (source). The relief of day-to-day muscle pain provided by gingerol is another beneficial aspect.

In 2010, a small study conducted at the University of Georgia suggested that regular ginger supplementation could reduce exercise-induced muscle pain (source). As someone who essentially lives at the gym, this quality alone makes throwing a couple hunks of ginger in my smoothie or afternoon tea worth the spicy kick.

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Much like garlic, I’ve eaten whole hunks of ginger root. However, the intense flavor can be a little much. Which is why I love cooking with it instead of swallowing it whole. I’m a big fan of sauteing up minced ginger in a pan before I toss in vegetables and shrimp for a delicious stir fry. I know it’s a big component of Asian cooking, but I’ve found that it can provide a whole new flavor to a variety of dishes.

I’d love to hear your preferred method of consuming ginger. As long as the recipe doesn’t contain the words “Canada Dry” feel free to send them to elementaltampa@gmail.com or just tweet us a picture the next time you cook with it. Our Twitter and Instagram handle is @ettampa. Let’s connect!