nuts

What’s On The Menu – Eating Whole Foods On The Go

I’m a man who likes structure. I love scheduling out all my appointments, meetings, training sessions and so on. Hell, I even like scheduling out what food I’ll eat on a daily basis. Unfortunately life doesn’t always allow that to happen.

Regular readers of the blog know that Shannon and I’s schedule the last few weeks was completely rearranged by Hurricane Irma. After I heard Tampa was in the path of potentially one of the strongest storms to make landfall in the U.S., I disregarded any healthy eating habits and focused primarily on fortifying our house. Thankfully, Irma caused minimal damage and allowed us to return to our normal routine rather quickly.

Then, 2 weeks later, Shannon went into labor.

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These two epic life events forced us to eat a lot of prepackaged foods on the go. Fortunately for us, there are some legit prepackaged whole foods available nowadays. Below is a list of several of my favorite whole food items that you can eat on the go:

  • Epic Bars: these “meat bars” are made with high quality protein from sources like buffalo, venison, salmon, wild boar and many more. They also focus on using other whole ingredients that are low in sugar and free of gluten, grain, soy and dairy. The sriracha chicken bar pictured below contains 4 g of fat, 15 g of protein and only 1 g of carbs (click here for more nutritional info).
  • Trail Mix Packs: individual serving packs of raw and/or lightly roasted & salted almonds, cashews, walnuts and even peanuts are a great source of dietary fat, protein and fiber. Just beware of the sugar content of any trail mix packets that are filled with lots of candy or dried fruit. The Go Raw Trek Mix packets from Trader Joe’s contain 14 g of fat, 7 g of protein and 3 g of fiber.
  • Parmesan Crisps: these crispy chip substitutes are so flavorful that you won’t even remember the word Doritos after having them. I usually grab a $3-4 container from Whole Foods when I’m out and about, but you could easily make these at home. According to the Whole Foods website, 4 crisps contain 6 g of fat, 9 g of protein and 1 g of carbs (source).
  • Upgraded coffee: I don’t leave home without my homemade coffee concoction – 12 oz of coffee, 3 tbsp of Great Lakes Collagen and 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream or canned coconut milk. This creation contains approximately 12 g of fat, 18 g of protein and <1 g of carbs. Click here to read more about Great Lakes Collagen.

Whole Foods Togo

That’s my abbreviated list of whole foods you can eat on the go. If you’ve got an item that you believe fits the criteria please let me know. Drop us a line, and by that I mean email us at elementaltampa@gmail.com or give us a shout on social media (FacebookInstagram or Twitter).

I believe that the moumental life events are done for the time being. Now Shannon and I are mainly focused on rearing our young, which means we’ll hopefully have time to make some home cooked meals. If you have any ideas for big batch dishes we can munch on during our maternity/paternity leave, feel free to send them our way.

 

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What’s On The Menu – It’s More Pea Than Nut, But I’m OK With That

Some of you may have guessed from the title what food I’ll be discussing in today’s menu spotlight, but for those who are still trying to figure it out, I’ll give you a hint: it taste DELICIOUS! I’m sure that’s all you needed to realize that I’ll be analyzing the nutrition of peanut butter in today’s post.

My love for peanut butter is borderline extreme. I don’t know if I’ve tasted a peanut butter product I didn’t like. My dedication to this faux-nut runs so deep that I mandated that Shannon eat at least a tablespoon a day while she’s pregnant with the hope that our child won’t be born with a peanut allergy. As silly as that may sound, a recent study suggested that exposing infants, that are at least 4 months old, to peanut products could make them less likely to develop peanut allergies (source). It’s probably a longshot but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the same logic extends to babies in utero.

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Peanut butter is a derivative of peanuts, DUH, which belong to the Fabaceae family, better known as the legume family. Even though peanuts are often used in the same culinary applications as true tree nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts, etc.) they are actually related to peas and beans (source).

Unlike green beans or snap peas, peanuts actually grown underground. This is extremely beneficial to the agricultural process because they can create their own nitrogen, which helps them grow. Then when they die, they release that nitrogen into the soil for other plants to use. This reduces the amount of additional nitrogen in the form of fertilizer the farmer has to use (source).

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But this post isn’t about the agricultural benefits of peanuts. It’s about its buttered version’s nutritional pros and cons. Check out the list below and make up your mind on whether or not peanut butter should be on YOUR menu:

PROS

  • Contains a significant amount of all 3 macronutrients: 100 grams (g) consists of 50 g of fat, 25 g of protein and 20 g of carbs. Also contains 5 g of the pseudo macro fiber (source).
  • Contains a significant amount of micronutrients: 73% RDA of Manganese, 67% RDA of Vitamin B3 and 45% RDA of Vitamin E just to name a few (source).
  • Contains cancer fighting antioxidants: peanut butter contains p-coumaric acid which research suggests could help prevent colon cancer (source).

CONS

  • Peanuts contain aflatoxins, which have been linked to cancer & childhood development issues. It should be noted that the process of turning peanuts into peanut butter eliminates approximately 90% of the aflatoxins (source).
  • Contains a large amount of omega 6 fatty acids. Research suggests that frequent consumption of foods high in omega 6’s can increase inflammation and create a greater risk for cardiovascular disease (source).
  • It doesn’t contain as much as roasted peanuts, but peanut butter does contain oxalate, which can contribute to the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones (source).

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After a cursory look at the nutritional data on peanut butter, I can say with all honesty that I’m still a huge fan. I don’t advocate pigging out on it, but it can be a macronutrient dense addition to your diet. Just make sure there is no one in your household that is allergic.

As you can see from the photos above, I’m a big fan of adding a smear of peanut butter to fruits and vegetables. I’d love to hear about which food vehicles you use to get your dose of PB. Please email your go-to recipes/meals to elementaltampa@gmail.com. You an also post your PB creations on any of our social media channels (FacebookInstagram or Twitter). Let’s all show our love & appreciation for this nut butter imposter!

 

What’s on the menu – Celiac disease or not, this gluten free item is a must

I do my best to avoid anything made with refined wheat flour. Over the past decade, I’ve heard that the overconsumption of this item can contribute to detrimental health issues like type 2 diabetes, obesity and “gastric distress” (all listeners of the podcast know what that means). BUT, I’d be lying if I said I never touched the stuff. Fortunately for me, I don’t have a pronounced sensitivity to gluten, but there are those individuals who can’t even look at fresh-baked bread without getting a stomach ache.

Individuals who suffer from celiac disease have an inflammatory response whenever they ingest the gluten protein from wheat, rye, barley and other related items. This inflammatory response can result in several side effects ranging from bloating and gas to anemia and/or osteoporosis (source).

Author and podcaster Anna Vocino described her trials and tribulations with celiac disease on a past episode of Addicted to Fitness (episode link). Living with this disease forced her develop numerous gluten free and grain free recipes which ultimately lead to the creation of her cookbook Eat Happy (link). The pantry item that Anna and other celiac sufferers seem to use as their preferred wheat flour substitute is the menu item we’ll be highlighting today.

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Almond flour is made up of exactly what you think: ground up almonds. Usually the almonds are blanched, skins removed then finely ground.

One ingredient and minimally processed.

If that’s not enticing enough, almond flour’s nutrition facts essentially mirrors that of blanched almonds. One ounce contains 14 g of fat, 6 g of protein & carbs and significant amounts of important vitamins and minerals. Enriched (nutrients added) wheat flour on the other hand contains 0 g of fat, 3 g of protein and 21 g of carbs in the same serving size.

In addition to being gluten free, a single ounce of almond flour contains over 30% of our daily value (DV) for both Vitamin E and manganese. Both nutrients can boost insulin sensitivity which is extremely important to individuals that have problems controlling their blood sugar. Almond flour is also a good source of magnesium, which studies have shown can help decrease blood pressure (source).

I feel that it is important to mention that there is also a product known as almond meal which is made from almonds that still have their skin and is not as finely ground. I mention this because many of the sources I gathered my almond info from suggested that the skin of the almond contains many of its beneficial antioxidants (source). However, the terms “flour” and “meal” are often used interchangeably. A tell-tale sign that you’re buying almond meal is the tiny pieces of brown skin in the mixture (see below).

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Whether you use almond meal or flour, the point is you are using a product that will have less of a damaging effect on your body than regular wheat flour. Both Shannon and I have a preferred use of both products: Shannon loves using blanched almond flour to make paleo “friendly” almond cookies, while I like using almond meal to coat baked chicken or fish.

If you haven’t tried almond flour or meal yet, give it a shot. Its mild flavor won’t overwhelm any dish you use it in. If this post inspired you to give it a try, we’d love to hear what you think of it. If you are already an almond flour user & lover, please feel free to send your favorite recipe our way. You can email them to elementaltampa@gmail.com or post them to our social media pages (FacebookInstagram or Twitter). I also encourage everyone to check out our friend Anna’s book Eat Happy for more healthy recipes.

What’s on the Menu – Efficiency Nut

I don’t know who the PR person for walnuts is, but I feel like they’re doing a pretty lackluster job. Pistachios has Richard Sherman and a giant cartoon elephant, voiced by John Cena, telling me to pick up a bag. California almonds have SportsCenter anchors pushing them and it seems like Mr.Peanut as been telling us to eat peanuts, which aren’t nuts, before the TV was even invented. All these nuts are getting positive press, but the walnut is still waiting for its big break.

I think I may have an idea of why walnuts aren’t getting promoted as much as they should. The outside of a shelled walnut is covered in a thin, paper-like “skin” that some people attest to having a bitter taste. The flavor of the skin can be off-putting to certain folks, but much like an apple, there are a ton of nutrients in the skin of a walnut.  It’s believed that 90% of the walnuts beneficial organic compounds are contained in the skin.

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The beneficial compounds contained in walnuts include a special form of vitamin E, hard to find antioxidants and the highest alpha linolenic acid (omega-3) concentration of any nut (source). The positive health aspects of walnuts prompted the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and Loma Linda University to conduct a study on the daily consumption of walnuts. Preliminary results of the study suggest that daily consumption of 1.5 oz of walnuts can reduce LDL cholesterol & inflammation which can lower your chance of developing heart disease (source).

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If all these health benefits aren’t enough to make you run out to buy a bag of walnuts, the fact that they are one of the cheaper nuts should be all the convincing you need. Raw nuts, which is what you should buy if you want the maximum health benefits, can be a bit pricey. However, compared to cashews, almonds or the luxurious macadamia nut, walnuts are at least $1 cheaper per pound (according to my research).

Walnuts: the nut with the highest ROI. It’s no “get crackin'” but I think it has potential. Let me know if you have any suggestions on what walnuts’ promotional catch phrase should be. You can connect with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or email us at elementaltampa@gmail.com.

What’s on the Menu

This week I have a bite(s) size edition of #whatiatewednesday for you. Snacking healthy can be difficult but with a little forethought, it can be a breeze. There are plenty of great healthy snack options like hard boiled eggs, olives or hard cheeses (if you can handle dairy). Take this snack I pack in my lunch everyday. A small Tupperware of walnuts (heathy fats + protein), raisins (glucose for immediate energy) and dark chocolate (caffeine + theobromine for a coffee like pick me up) is the perfect afternoon health snack. The fish oil supplement in the pic is not required to complete this snack but can be beneficial if you don’t eat enough fatty fish.

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