• 28Dec

    This blog was written by our Dietetic Intern from Georgia State, Nikki Speake.

    Good Measure Meals Vegetarian Lentil Bake with a side of mashed cauliflower

    As a vegetarian for most my life, only a fraction has been spent as a healthy eater.

    Growing up in rural Alabama — the mother of all food deserts — I consumed many ill-balanced meals of French fry-Dorito sandwiches, processed cheese, and minute rice.

    It wasn’t until my early twenties that I discovered how to properly eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet, and my health has been better for it.

    The health benefits of plant-based diets are plenty — if you do it right. Properly planned vegetarian diets have been proven to lower risks of heart disease, type II diabetes, and cancer as vegetarians typically eat less saturated (animal) fat and more fiber and antioxidants from beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables.

    However, it’s important not to base your diet on refined carbohydrates (packaged crackers, cookies, white rice, white bread and white pasta), fried foods, and high-fat dairy foods like cheese — oh, the cheese.

    I have been asked MANY questions about vegetarianism, but mostly people ask me the best way to transition into the diet.

    Here are my suggestions:

    Start off by trying a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet that includes eggs and low-fat dairy products (milk, yogurt and cheese).

    Try getting most of your protein from eggs, beans, quinoa, low-fat dairy, and tofu rather than meat substitutes, which can be high in sodium.

    Meatless Monday is a national movement, urging consumers to forgo meat once a week. Try a day of meatless recipes to ease into the diet.

    If you want to go further, but still aren’t convinced you can make it longer than a day, consider a trial of the vegetarian Good Measure Meals.   This is a great way to get the hang of the diet, and learn to balance your plate as well as taste some healthy veggie staples like quinoa or chickpea patties.

    Remember – it’s not for everyone, so don’t feel defeated if it doesn’t work out for you.

    Maybe you’re a “flexitarian,” and that’s fine too.

  • 22Dec

    This blog was written by our Dietetic Intern from Georgia State, Nikki Speake.

    It’s cold outside, and I know I should eat my super foods, but the last thing I want is a blueberry smoothie or a fresh crisp salad to remind me that it’s not summer. This means it’s time to get creative, or I’ll end up hibernating with my old friend mac-&-cheese all winter.

    Luckily, January is National Soup Month, and a fine time to work some super foods into your winter-warming menu.

    Whole Grains

    Whole grains like brown rice, barley, and quinoa are perfect for soups and stews, and can be a hearty low-calorie replacement in recipes that call for pasta. Both barley and quinoa have about 3 grams of dietary fiber per half cup, and brown rice has nearly 2 grams. The additional fiber can help you feel full longer, possibly avoiding the dreadful winter weight gain. Here are some ways to try these grains in soup:

    Mushroom barley soup. This is a no brainer — it goes together like peanut butter and jelly. Trying loading it up with carrots and chickpeas for an even bigger nutritional punch.

    Black bean soup with quinoa. Quinoa only takes about 15 minutes to cook, so you can enjoy this in no time.

    Chicken soup with brown rice – instead of noodles. (Also yummy in vegetable soup.)

    Beans

    There are millions of soups to be made with beans, peas, and lentils — and they really are a super food. Packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants, beans can keep you satiated while helping to prevent chronic disease.

    Try white bean chicken chili, or white bean kale soup.

    Add pureed or mashed white beans instead of flour to thicken potato soup.

    Try adding a can of fat-free refried beans to thicken beef stews or chili.

    Get your luck and money all in one pot, with a black-eyed pea and kale New Year’s soup.

    Veggies and Nuts

    Broccoli is super for it’s cancer fighting properties. Try a simple cream of broccoli soup made with low-fat milk.

    Avocados are rich in healthy fats and can be chopped into tortilla or black bean soup. They are also a nice thickener for stews if pureed.

    For an added crunch, sprinkle heart-healthy chopped walnuts or pistachios on top of individual bowls.

    Good Measure Meals has a great selection of soups for the month!

    You can try Chicken Jambalaya, Hearty Chicken Sausage with Kale and White Cannellini Beans, Brunswick Stew, Hearty Beef and Barley Stew, Butternut Squash and Apple, and Hearty Tomato Stew with Blackeyed Peas and Turnip Greens to name a few. Click here to view our full five week cycle menu!

     

  • 19Dec

    I’m not a trained exercise coach or a registered dietitian, but I have acquired some helpful suggestions while working here at Good Measure Meals, that I will use to help me get through the next couple of weeks.  My goal is to survive this holiday season unscathed by those pesky extra 5-10 pounds that I always seem to gain this time of year.

    Here are the things I’ve been told will be helpful:

    1)      Buddy up with a friend and keep each other accountable.  Make this person someone who has goals like your own.  Help keep each other on track by being a supportive friend and vice versa.

    2)      Don’t go to a holiday party on an empty stomach.  Make sure to nosh on something healthy before you leave for your night-on–the-town.  The chances are slim-to-none that you are going to find a healthy holiday spread waiting for you when you arrive.  If you show up with a little food in your stomach, you will be less likely to stuff yourself with all of the decadent foods that will be offered.

    3)      Limit your intake of “holiday cheer.”   A 6oz. glass of red wine has 128 calories.  Who pours a 6 oz glass of wine, especially during the holidays?  Here’s a great tip:  Drink a full 8 oz glass of water between each alcoholic beverage.  Not only will you cut down on how much you drink, but you will look great because you are keeping yourself hydrated and better yet, lessen the chance of a nasty hangover. 

    4)      Try to keep to your regular workout schedule.  Even if you shorten the duration or intensity of your workouts during the next couple of weeks, you are still making the effort.  Some exercise is better than none, and if you are usually consistent with your workouts throughout the year, a week or two of lower intensity isn’t going to derail what you’ve accomplished.

    5)      Get 8 hours of sleep a night.  I know, I know…..with all the wonderful, festive parties and all, how can you not stay up until the sun rises?  Sleep is crucial to regulate food cravings.   And having a fresh-mind will help you make healthy choices.

    6)      Wear your seatbelt.  And for goodness sake, call a taxi if you need one. 

    7)      Last, but not least, Don’t Deprive Yourself.  The holiday season only comes around once a year.  If you already have a solid nutrition foundation and fitness routine, a little indulging for a week or two isn’t going to hurt in the short-term.  Just be sure to get back on track with your routine after the new year arrives!

    I’m hoping to put some of these suggestions into practice this holiday season.  I know I won’t be perfect, and will probably eat a little more than I should, stay out a little later than is best for me, and skip a run or two.  But I’m not going to go overboard.  For me, this season, it’s “all things in moderation.”  I’m going to enjoy myself and everything this holiday season has to offer.  I hope you do the same!

    Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

    Philip Niekro, your Good Measure Meals Customer Service Representative

  • 08Dec

    During this season of giving, we shop ’til we drop for the perfect gift.  We donate to the mitten tree at church.  We chip in at the office for a coworker who can’t afford to buy the kids Christmas gifts this year.  We make cookies and candies for parties and gifts.  But how much energy do we spend taking care of ourselves?

    Personally, I love doing all of the above.  Somehow I also manage to “gift” myself the pair of leather boots on the 60% off rack (what a deal!), or the indulgent peppermint hot chocolate at the local coffee house (they only sell it once a year!).   I convince myself that these strategies help manage the holiday stress.  But are these “gifts” to myself truly helping?

    Temporarily, yes.

    But later on the guilt sets in and I’m thinking either 1) I just paid $100 for a pair of boots that I should have spent on gifts or 2) The $5.00 spent on the decadent drink should have gone to the man ringing the bell outside of Macy’s.

    An ABC news story today entitled, The Hormone Effect: Why Christmas Makes Us Nutty,  highlights the effects of stress hormones on our bodies during the holidays.  And it’s not good.  I’m afraid my splurge on boots and hot cocoa will not solve the problem.

    But what exactly are stress hormones and what do they do?  And how can we effectively manage holiday stress in a healthy way?

    Stress hormones  – cortisol and adrenaline -  were our saving grace hundreds of years ago to help us fight or flee in a dangerous situation.  A threat from nature (like a nine foot grizzly bear) triggered the stress response, increasing blood pressure, heart rate and blood glucose to prepare us for attack.  Cortisol also stopped processes that are not needed in a fight-or-flight situation, such as immune system responses and digestion.

    Where does that leave us in today’s world where we no longer fight off grizzly bears?

    The mental stress that comes from the holidays as well as our daily lives (rush hour traffic, families, school and careers) can trigger the same hormonal response.  The problem is that we are not fighting or fleeing to use the energy our body has created for that purpose.  And as cortisol halts normal processes – like immunity and digestion - our risk for catching a cold or the flu or having an upset stomach increases.

    Now don’t get me wrong, you could fight your coworker or flee the office to burn off that energy, but then you will have a whole new set of stressors – like no job.

    So what do we do with all this energy?  We can ”stew and chew” by sitting and worrying over everything and eat comfort foods to feel better.  But again, this doesn’t solve the problem.

    To help manage holiday stress, look to these activities to make you feel happy, relaxed and energetic and consider removing items from your to-do list to alleviate some of the stress:

    • Rather than ‘stew and chew’, choose to ‘walk and talk’.  Grab a coworker for a break in the middle of the day or after work to unwind and connect.
    • Spend meaningful time with friends and family to boost serotonin  - a “feel good” hormone.
    • Take time off from work if possible during the holidays.   Use weekdays off to shop in less crowded stores or avoid them altogether and shop online.
    • Get some sunshine on your lunch break.  No matter how it works or why,  we all know that it’s good for the soul.  Lunch time is most likely the warmest time to be outdoors in the winter as well!
    • Cross off non-urgent to-do list items, like the routine car maintenance,  and reschedule them for January.
    • Consider Good Measure Meals.  I signed up for the meal plan this month simply to take two things off my to-do list – grocery shopping and cooking.  I’m sharing my plan with a friend and it’s serving it’s purpose well!