Tagged "healthy eating"


Grain-free High Protein Veggie Burger Recipe

Posted by Amina AlTai on

If you've followed this blog for a bit, you might have noted that I'm pretty sweet on protein—and for good reason!  Several studies have linked high protein diets with greater satiety and a more balanced blood sugar.  And a more balanced blood sugar generally means more balanced moods, energy and performance.  

So, when my husband chose to transition to a vegetarian diet last fall, my first concern was him getting enough protein.  A vital macronutrient, protein is considered a long chain amino acid, which are the most important molecules we derive from food. The highest protein content is usually found in animal products such as meat, eggs and dairy. However, plants such as legumes and seeds also contain protein.  

Protein is responsible for supporting muscle development and recovery, building and repairing tissue and we use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals.  When we don't have enough diverse protein sources in our diets, it can lead to deficiencies in certain kinds of amino acids.  The result is usually lower energy, difficulty increasing muscles mass, poor concentration and memory, and even unstable moods and blood sugar.  It's fundamental to a healthy body.

When switching to a vegetarian diet, it's important to ensure you're getting complete protein.  Animal proteins are considered complete proteins as they contain the essential amino acids, but plant proteins are often incomplete on their own.  As such, you need to mix plant protein sources to achieve a complete essential amino acid profile.  See the chart below for ways to combine protein sources to achieve a complete protein.  

So, when I think about meal plans and a balanced plate for my husband, it's always with an eye towards complete proteins and that's where these veggie burgers come in.

Ingredients

2 cups of chopped portobello mushrooms

1 cup of fresh broccoli,  chopped

 1 15 ounce can of black beans

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup of almond meal

1/2 an onion, chopped

1 tbs of minced garlic

2 tbs of coconut secret teriyaki sauce

1/2 a tsp of pink Himalayan salt

Olive oil for frying

Instructions:

1. Chop the portobello mushrooms into small chunks and set aside

2. Drain the beans and spread them out onto paper towel.  This step is important.  Use the paper towel to press any extra moisture out of the beans.  Once dry, transfer to a bowl and mash. It's okay to have chunks, but try and mash well. 

3. Chop the broccoli quite fine and mix with the mushrooms.

4. Add the beans, garlic, almond flour, onions, eggs and seasonings to the bowl of mushrooms and broccoli.  Mix well.  

5. Heat the olive oil in a pan on medium-high heat and place palm-sized heaping of the mixture into the pan.  Allow to cook for several minutes, then flip.  

6. Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel to absorb any extra oil.  

7. Serve on a lettuce wrap or bun or your choice.

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Mercury and Seafood: What You Need to Know

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

Are you an avid podcast listener? Then perhaps you’ve tuned into S-Town, the white-hot podcast about John B. McLemore and the small town of Woodstock, Alabama. At the risk of totally digressing off-topic, the subject of mercury poisoning is touched upon repeatedly throughout the series and cited as a possible cause of some of McLemore’s more erratic behavior. While he repeatedly exposed himself to mercury through more technical methods – and the levels of exposure were much higher – it had me thinking: What role does mercury exposure play in our day-to-day lives?

 

This question is particularly pertinent for me; I am currently pregnant and ongoing, regular mercury exposure to a growing fetus can be quite harmful – producing neurological and development defects. The source of most of our mercury exposure? The foods we eat, particularly seafood. Given I’m a big fish fan, this was scary news. Are you concerned, too? Here’s what you need to know about mercury and seafood:

 

It’s an environmental issue. Sadly, our exposure to mercury is growing because of environmental pollution. In short, burning waste and coal causes this metal to be released into the air; every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so mercury then falls back into the earth, often settling in our oceans, lakes and streams. And this isn’t a concentrated issue: All 50 states have issued mercury advisories and as of 2010, 18 million lake acres and approximately 1.4 million river miles were covered by some type of consumption advisory.

 

Predatory fish are those highest in mercury. Given that mercury is found in our waterways, it’s no surprise that fish are adversely affected. In particular, predatory fish – such as shark, swordfish, ahi tuna, mackerel, marlin, tilefish and orange roughy – contain the highest levels of mercury, as their exposure amplifies as they consume other fish.

 

Pregnant women need to be the most cautious. While we all need to watch our mercury intake from the aforementioned fish (read: don’t have swordfish for dinner every single night), pregnant women are particularly at risk. Not only should you avoid eating these fish during pregnancy, if you’re considering getting pregnant you should ease up on the consumption of such food, as methylmercury can accumulate in your bloodstream over time.

 

Don’t freak out. I read all of these things about mercury after I had some mindless bites of my husband’s ahi tuna recently and basically lost my mind. But, really, I rarely did (and don’t) eat that varietal of tuna, and predatory fish are not and were not a regular part of my diet. The adverse risks significantly grow with steady, regular exposure, so simply be mindful of your consumption – and reduce it altogether when expecting. Plus, remember that other cultures – particularly the Japanese – eat a diet loaded in raw fish, including mackerel and ahi tuna  and continue to do so regardless of being pregnant. Furthermore, many fish – such as salmon and tilapia – are great sources of omega-3s, which are amazing for your growing baby and for you, regardless if you're pregnant. So, when it comes to mercury: be smart, be cautious but also be realistic. Which is pretty good life advice anyway, right? 

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The BHH Summer Shape Up Plan

Posted by Amina AlTai on

Summer is just around the corner in the Northern Hemisphere.  The trees are blooming, allergies are running amuck and in every workout class I attend there's a trainer or two who will inevitably shout something about a bikini body.  Cue the eye rolling.

At BHH, we’re big proponents of feeling great in your skin year-round, not just when more of it is showing. A lot of it has to do with self-love, but that’s a story for another post.  : ) Today, I’m sharing my tips on how to feel great quickly without crazy dieting or over-exercising.  We tap into this plan whenever we’re feeling a bit puffy, have overindulged, or just need a bit of a reset. Read on for a few of our tips, plus my personal workout and meal plan.

Working out

  1. Create a regular and varied workout schedule: Humans are creatures of habit. Sure, it’s easier to roll out of bed and frequent my neighborhood Pilates studio but if you want to change your body, you need to change up the muscle groups you’re working. Repetitive movement is not going to change your body.  A workout plan is personal and depends largely on where you are today and where you want to go. But here are a few tips to get your started:
    1. Schedule it: The best way to stick to your fitness goals is to schedule your classes and workouts like you would a business meeting. The week before, look at your schedule for the week ahead and add in your workouts. Many people like to do morning workouts so they make sure they get them done, while others prefer the energy boost of a midday workout. Some night owls even like to go post 9pm— It’s all about what works for you and your body. But make sure you add your workouts to your calendar and you honor them the way you would a business meeting.
    2. Types of workouts: I get this question all the time. “What workouts should I be doing each week?” The answer is, it’s different for ever BODY and every set of goals. If you wanted to strengthen your back, I would recommend a different set of exercises versus if you wanted to lose fat mass. However, when it comes to working out, balance is key. There are a few principles you can design your workouts around:
      1. Cardio: Make sure this has a spot on your schedule. Cardiovascular activities are great for, you guessed it, your heart. And they’re also great for the brain.
      2. Strength training: whether you want to raise your resting metabolic rate, or you just want to be able to carry your groceries up to your 3rd floor walk-up, some form of strength training is important.
      3. Stretching: This often overlooked activity is super important as we age and I can’t stress it enough. Work in a yoga class or spend time on the foam roller. Whatever you do, make time to lengthen and stretch, it will help your mobility as you get older.
      4. Rest: I coach a lot of type-A personalities in the business world and “rest” is not a part of their vocabulary. However, it’s really important to allow your body and your muscles a day or two of rest. Pushing beyond our limits can lead to injury and even adrenal burnout.

Healthy Meal Planning

  1. All the veggies please: When designing your meals, add in as many colorful veggies as possible. Plan your meals around your veggies first, making them the centerpiece and ensuring they take up at least 50% of your plate or roughly two cups full.  Cooked vegetables generally have a higher carbohydrate content than raw veggies, so if your stomach can tolerate it (aka you don’t have major GI issues or autoimmunity) keep your veggies raw. Filling up on vegetables will crowd out other less-than-healthy culprits on your plate.
  2. Protein at every meal: Protein is incredibly important for muscle development and muscle development is extremely important for raising your resting metabolic rate. If you’re working out hard in an effort to tone up and lean out, you’ll need protein at every meal to constantly replenish your muscles. Aim for 4-6 ounces of lean protein at each meal or a serving that is roughly the size of your palm. If you don’t eat animal protein, plant-based protein is great too. Hemp seeds, Non-GMO fermented soy,  legumes and vegan protein powders are all great options.
  3. Watch the sugar: Sugar has a habit of working its way into our diets without us realizing it. Most packaged foods, protein bars and restaurant meals have sugar in them.  And, what I’ve seem in my practice, regardless of age, body type and blood type, sugar causes puffiness, water retention and weight gain.  Remove white sugar and substitute it for fresh fruits or sweeter veggies like sweet potato.  Avoid synthetic sugars at all cost—not only are many of them cancer-causing, but they can also majorly tax the adrenals. 
  4. Be consistent: My personal philosophy is to avoid cheat days as it can quickly morph into disordered eating. You might eat very healthy Monday through Friday, and then the weekend becomes a free-for-all of donuts, pizza, ice cream and other body-sabotage (Note: Just because it's gluten-free doesn't make it healthy).  And suddenly you’re living for the weekends and feeling extremely out of control. I like to encourage people to be kind to their bodies as often as possible and the best way to do that is by being consistent. I’m not suggesting you never have a treat again, I’m suggesting that you work them in mindfully and not from a place of deprivation or lack.  A better approach is a treat meal once a week where you treat your body and taste buds to something lovely.  I highly encourage clients to make their treat meals as healthy as possible as well.  So, for example, if you’re craving pasta, have a bowl of lentil pasta which contains 20 grams of protein versus your run-of-the-mill wheat pasta.  Or if you want dessert, maybe you make raw, vegan brownies or protein bites instead of having a cup cake.  

So, what does this end up looking like in a meal plan and workout schedule, you ask?! I’m sharing mine below to give you an idea!  (Note, I’m only 5’5 with a resting metabolic rate of 1300 calories, so each plan should be unique and tailored to you. PS. I’m a creature of habit and don’t mind repetition).

 

 

Workouts

Breakfast

Snack

Lunch

Snack

Dinner

Monday

HIIT

Two hard boiled eggs & lemon water

1 cup of blackberries

4 ounces of grilled chicken breast, mixed greens, ½ a cup shredded carrots, ½ cup of cherry tomatoes, 1 tbs of EVOO and Balsamic Vinegar

12 raw almonds

Grilled arctic char, spinach salad with mushrooms, carrots and balsamic vinaigrette

Tuesday

Spin

Two hard boiled eggs & lemon water

1 cup of raspberries

¼ of a pound of tuna salad over spinach, tomatoes and carrots.

1 serving of roasted chickpeas

Ground turkey burger served up in a lettuce wrap with a side salad & balsamic vinaigrette.

Wednesday

Hot yoga

Two hard boiled eggs

& lemon water

1 cup of blackberries

Zoodles with pesto and grilled tempeh

A green juice

Swordfish kebabs and cucumber salad

Thursday

HIIT

Two hard boiled eggs

& lemon water

1 cup of raspberries

Leftover Zoodles and grilled tempeh

1 serving of roasted chickpeas

Grilled salmon and dairy free kale Cesar salad

Friday

Pilates Reformer

Two hard boiled eggs

& lemon water

1 cup of blackberries

¼ of a pound of tuna salad over spinach, tomatoes and carrots.

12 raw almonds

Rotisserie chicken with cauliflower mash

Saturday

HIIT

Two hard boiled eggs

& lemon water

1 cup of raspberries

Ground turkey burger served up in a lettuce wrap with a side salad & balsamic vinaigrette.

A green juice

Chilean sea bass with grilled asparagus

Sunday

Rest

Two hard boiled eggs

& lemon water

1 cup of blackberries

Carrot noodles with roasted red pepper marinara and grilled chicken

12 raw almonds

Grilled arctic char, spinach salad with mushrooms, carrots and balsamic vinaigrette

 

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How To: Healthy Shopping on a Budget

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

Buying healthy foods may be the best way to spend your money, but that doesn’t negate the fact that it can be pretty pricey. This is especially true if you’re seeking out top-quality ingredients like organic produce and grass-feed, free-range, and/or hormone-free meats. Indeed, in today’s fast food economy many people simply can’t afford to eat healthfully. But this issue isn’t insurmountable – there are ways to shop for top-rate ingredients on a budget. Ahead, we’re sharing some of them.

 

Get to know your butcher

With meat, it’s best to go to the source. Not only are you getting a higher quality product, you have the option to buy in bulk. You can save upwards of 35% if you do so; look to split the cost (and the meat!) with your family and friends. If you really get to know your butcher, discuss regularly buying in bulk for a preferred rate.

 

Hit the farmer’s market

Farmer’s markets are an amazing way to support local industry, shop affordably, and get access to the freshest ingredients out there. I love the farmer’s market for produce, but also for staples like milk, eggs, bread, and even fish and meats. A trick I have is actually to hit the market at the end of the day. Yes, the selection is more limited, but you’re more likely to be able to strike up a deal and get products at a discount, including "ugly" or lightly bruised fruits and veg. (Also, I have found fishmongers are willing to bargain with you in order to sell off inventory at the day’s end.) Signing up for a CSA or negotiating a bulk discount rate with your local grower are two other smart ways to save money, too.

 

Buy staples in bulk

Shopping the bulk section of the grocery store is a must if you're trying to save money. I use this area to buy things like nuts (and nut butter!), seeds, legumes, oats, and grains. These staples are always more competitively priced than their branded and packaged counterparts.

 

Check out ethnic markets

These are great places to pick up things like spices, seasonings, and condiments like tahini or tamari at a more affordable price. Amina loves hitting them to shop for things like exotic fruits, too -- noted! 

 

Sales!

Grocery stores and health markets alike always have items on discount. Seek out those sales and meal plan around them. Alternatively, if a product you know and love goes on sale – such as your favorite olive oil or peanut butter – buy a bunch at a time and save yourself some money down the road.

 

Get thee some canned fish

Supermarket seafood is notoriously expensive, but canned seafood is a whole different story. There is plenty of really delicious, high-quality canned fish out there for a fraction of the price. One of our favorites is Wild Planet Foods, which operates sustainably and uses BPA-free cans.

 

Go frozen!

Buying fresh fruits and veggies can be really expensive, which is why it’s worth checking out their frozen counterparts. Not only are they more affordable, new research suggests that they’re more nutritious, too. That’s because frozen fruits are picked ripe and then frozen, making them more nutrient-rich than their fresh counterparts that have been hanging around on a shelf (or on an airplane) for days.

 

When in doubt, DIY

Don’t have the dough to shell out for a fancy protein bars or prepackaged snacks? Make them at home! From almond butter cups to protein snowballs, we have plenty of suggestions for DIY snacks on the blog, or check out this protein bar recipe Amina just posted on her Instagram. By making your own snacks like these, you’ll save money and be healthier, too.

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Bye, Meal Kits – How To Pre-Plan (and Cook!) Healthy Meals

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

If you’re a busy professional – or full-time parent – pulling together a week of healthy meals can feel downright heroic, if not impossible. After all, doing so requires both time and energy: Precious commodities when your day feels packed from sunrise to sunset. As such, “meal kits” have become popular solutions to that problem; some enable you to easily prepare a healthy meal while others deliver a pre-prepared, ready-to-eat solution at your door. Genius, right?

Well, anyone who has used a meal kit service knows there are downfalls, the main one being price – they can be prohibitively expensive. For example, one unnamed organic meal delivery service costs over $80 per day. Even those of us who are cooking newbies understand that number is very, very high.

We’re here to tell you that you don’t need to choose between wellness and price to have a week of healthy meals ready. It all comes down to words: meal prep

Ideally this happens on Sunday afternoons, a time where you have more bandwidth to prep and cook. And we’re not talking super-complicated dishes here; these are simple, batch-style items that you can mix-and-match throughout the week. Ready? Let’s do this.

START WITH PROTEIN

Take chicken breast, for example: This is a versatile ingredient that can be prepped hundreds of ways. We recommend creating three different varieties – for example: lemon and rosemary, jerk seasoning, and tarragon and thyme – and cooking them all at the same time using tin foil as a separation tool for your baking tray. Use this protein as a meal centerpiece at dinner or as a salad topping at lunch.

ROAST DEM VEGGIES

Cut up sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower…whatever type of veggie you love. We’re all about staying seasonal here, so right now we’re cooking wintertime root vegetables. Dress ‘em with quality extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and/or whatever additional spices you fancy. Pop the whole thing into the oven for 30 minutes on high heat (425 degrees Farenheit) and boom! You have five days worth of gorgeous vegetables to nosh on all week. Consider these your standby ingredients throughout the week – snack on them, eat them at lunch in a big bowl, or use them as dinner sides.

STAY RAW

While you are prepping your roasted veggies, reserve some chopped, uncooked ones for the week ahead, too. These are great for snacking and for use in a lunchtime salad. Oh yeah, lest we forget: Be sure you have some regular old salad materials on hand – spinach, arugula, and kale… whatever you prefer. Wash them on Sunday so that they’re ready to use throughout the week.

GET YOUR GRAIN ON

Make a big pot of quinoa or a similar grain to be your go-to starch for the week; we use it in everything from a quinoa cereal to an evening stir-fry. We also love cooking big batches of legumes (chickpeas, black beans) on Sundays; they’re an excellent source of plant-based protein and fiber and will keep you fuller longer. Vegetarians, be sure you’re consuming plenty of ‘em!

MAKE YOUR SMOOTHIE (BAG)

If you’ve purchased ingredients like berries and spinach for your morning smoothie, why not prep it ahead of time? Just place the fruits and veggies necessary for a single smoothie in a sandwich bag pop it in the freezer. Come the morning, you’ll pull it out, add milk and/or any dry ingredients, and you’re ready to rock. Or blend. Whatever. 

PREPARE PROTEIN SNACKS

We are all familiar with the afternoon crash – the one that has us chugging coffee and snacking on donuts. Well, keeping lots of filling, low-sugar protein snacks on hand can help you avoid that. We love items like hard-boiled eggs or protein balls (here’s a great recipe if you’re unfamiliar with the latter). For those of you who are super low maintenance, try pre-bagging protein-rich nuts – almonds, walnuts – for quality snacking on the run. 

SLOW COOKERS ARE YOUR BFF

Sundays were made for slow cooker meals, right? Luckily, these are the types of dishes that actually get better when you refrigerate or freeze them. We love making things like beef chili, hearty bean-based soups, or slow-cooked proteins for Sunday dinner and then popping leftovers into the freezer. Pair them throughout the week with some of your grains and roasted vegetables and you’ll have a downright easy and delicious meal. 

LASTLY: STAY BASIC AF

Are you an almond butter fiend? Do you go through coconut oil like it’s your job? Are rolled oats your morning jam? Be sure you always stay stocked up on these go-to ingredients, using Sundays to check up on your inventory and repurchase, if necessary. We prefer to buy them in bulk, particularly when they’re on sale – Thrive Market is a great resource for this.

 

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