‘Eat Well, Be Well’
After browsing the latest Bon Appétit & Eating Well I found myself feeling the pressure to go into a baking frenzy. Everywhere you look from the Internet to grocery store magazine shelves, decadent, delicious (not to mention) festive cookies are calling your name. Normally I would feel the pressure to make every single one of them, but this year, I am going to stick to my tried and true favorites. Always a tradition, my Hazelnut Biscotti marks the beginning of the holiday season in my house. I wish I could tell you this biscotti recipe spans generations in my Italian blooded family, but alas, that would be a fable. I actually spotted this recipe years ago in a now defunct vegetarian magazine. Though it didn’t come from my Italian roots, at least I know my favorite Italian aunt, Zia Patty will enjoy these tasty bites with her morning coffee.
Hazelnut Maple Biscotti
Hazelnuts (a tree nut) are a good source of folate & dietary fiber. Consuming tree nuts may even reduce the risk of dying from heart disease.
½ cup pure maple syrup (not pancake)
½ cup hazelnut butter (I ground my hazelnuts which is actually pretty simple)
¼ cup butter
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon hazelnut liquor (optional)
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup lightly toasted hazelnuts
Semi-sweet or Bittersweet Chocolate for drizzle
|Preheat oven to 325. Line cookie sheet with parchment or silpat). In a medium bowl, cream together maple syrup, hazelnut butter and butter. Add eggs, vanilla and liquor, blending well. In a larger bowl, combine flours brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend. Make a well into dry ingredients, add egg mixture and mix until incorporated. Add nuts. (Knead by hand if necessary). On a lightly floured board, divide dough into half and roll into 2 14-inch logs. Place logs on prepared sheet, then flatten about 1 inch high. Bake for 25 minutes or until loaves spring back when touched lightly. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Reset oven to 300. Slice cookies on the diagonal. Place slices flat on baking sheet, and bake for 25 minutes (a lot of this process is trial and error; I like my cookies crisp so I bake longer). Remove from oven and let cool. Drizzle with chocolate (or dip in chocolate) if desired.|
Many people make the false assumption that as a dietitian I have “perfect” eating & exercise habits. I have even had a few people mention they hope to never see me in the grocery store for fear that I may “judge” their cart contents (rest assured, grocery cart judge I am not). While I am certainly not the food police, I recognize that I cannot teach others about proper nutrition & exercise if I am not engaging in those behaviors myself. The biggest barrier to living healthy for me is time management. Without time management I am stressed and stress equals poor lifestyle choices (more caffeine, more chocolate in my case). This year I am determined to better manage my time thus resulting in a day mostly filled with smart choices (notice the word “mostly” because after all it is the holidays).
Tips for managing holiday (or anytime stress)
1. My number one tip is developing a positive attitude. This sound cliché but it is oh so true. Attitude makes a huge difference in how my day goes. If my attitude is poor, so is my day (along with my eating habits).
2. Sleep and wake up on time. One is not possible without the other, in other words I cannot wake up early without the appropriate amount of sleep. No browsing the Internet or Pinterest before bedtime (guilty).
2. Exercise, dance to holiday music…. in other words move. Many people don’t make time for exercise during the holidays, but it is a tremendous stress reliever. Mornings are a great time to squeeze some physical activity into your day (note the above tip…sleep). If planned exercise is not a priority (though it should be), make a point to move throughout the day (take a walk break, use the stairs, etc)
3. Don’t skip meals. I repeat, don’t skip meals. More times than not this results in overindulging in foods you would not normally eat (or eat in large quantities) Plan ahead and snack smart with items such as apple slices with peanut butter, plain Greek yogurt with some granola, a handful of nuts & “healthy” energy bars. Check out this easy recipe for portable homemade energy bars from Appetite for Health.
How to minimize inflammation?
- Eat lean protein source such as chicken; cut back on red meat & full fat dairy
- Avoid refined foods & processed foods
- Spice it up. Ginger, curry powder & other spices are linked with antiinflammation
Sources: Barry Sears, MD, webmd.com, therealfarmacy.com
How to minimize inflammation?
- Eat a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids such as oily fish & walnuts.
- Limit refined carbohydrates such as white pasta & rice
- Eat plenty of whole grains such as bulgur & brown rice
I consider myself a visual learner and nothing had made me happier than the slew of nutrition infographs that seem to be popping up on the Internet lately. My current favorite is from the Pritikin Longevity Center. Titled The Juice Illusion, this infograph is a visual feast for the eyes.
This infograph is timely given recent research linking juice consumption with obesity related type 2 diabetes. Whole fruit consumption is associated with decreased risk. Furthermore, satiety (i.e. satisfaction) is increased significantly when you EAT rather than drink your fruits & veggies; there is no fiber in juice. Plus many nutrients are lost in the juicing process.
In the spirit of whole fruits & vegetables, I have included this Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette recipe that includes 2 of my favorite veggies. My personal modifications: less olive oil, roast the Brussels prior to mixing with the kale & skip the craisins & pepitas (personal preference).
Summer has come and gone and fall is here with treasured treats like apples & pumpkins. It is not even November yet and I have already made my pumpkin cookies more times than I can count. While arguably not the healthiest way to serve pumpkin, these cookies are one way to ensure a hefty serving of this nutrient rich vegetable. Why do I love pumpkin so? In addition to the multiple health benefits, the combination of dark chocolate & pumpkin is divine. Rich in cocoa phenols, dark chocolate contains potent antioxidants (i.e. disease fighters) Not to be outdone by chocolate, pumpkin offers a healthy dose of Vitamin A (great for vision) is a great source of fiber, is low in calories (only 49 per cup) & rich in the (cancer fighting) antioxidant beta-carotene.
Enjoy, but remember indulge in moderation (although easier said then done when it comes to this moist morsel),
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (you can also do half all purpose, half whole wheat)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp ginger
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin (can use fresh)
¼ cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup dark chocolate chips (optional) or dried fruit
- Preheat oven to 350 ˚ F
- In a medium bowl stir together flour, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, baking powder, baking soda & salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat butter & brown sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, molasses and vanilla, beat until smooth.
- Add flour mixture and stir by hand just until combined. Add chocolate chips and stir just until blended.
- Drop rounded spoonfuls of dough 2 “ apart on a cookie sheet (I bake on silpats).
- Bake for approximately 12 minutes.
Nutrition Facts: (one cookie):
Adapted from One Smart Cookie