The Gluten Free and Allergy Friendly Expo is back in Chicagoland! Join me April 7th and 8th in Schaumburg for a great day! This expo features vendors specializing in gluten-free and allergy-friendly foods. There are samples to try and lots of freebies to take home. It is a great way to try before you buy and also get a sneak-peek at some of the newer products out there. Check out their site here.
The expo is family friendly and lots of fun. If you need tickets, you can buy them here for a 20% off discount with the code: ADVANCE
Hope to see you all there!
National Nutrition Month is here once again!
This year the theme is “Go Further with Food.” I really like the message this portrays. Those of you who have worked with me know that I am a big supporter of eating whole foods. Food in its natural state always provides greater nutritional benefits than it’s processed competitor. Processing can strip foods of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. So grab that banana, apple, cucumber, or pepper and enjoy nature’s fast food! Your body will thank you!
Another important component of this year’s message is avoiding food waste. Menu planning (another one of my favorite topics) plays a huge part in reducing food waste. It also saves time and money. You can read one of my blog posts about menu planning here.
Stay tuned for more tips this month…….
We are days away from Halloween, which I think of as the gateway to the holiday season. Many parties, get-togethers, work events, and other festivities will fill our time. It is during this time we are often bombarded with articles and news stories related to “avoiding the holiday weight gain” or “healthy versions of traditional dishes.” While these can provide us with good ideas and healthful recipes, they often aim to make us feel guilty for actually enjoying some holiday cheer. I think we can be healthy, enjoy the holidays and all their traditions, and not feel guilty about it!
Here are some quick tips for enjoying your holidays, food and all!
- Eat a healthy breakfast everyday. Start your day with fruits, veggies, protein, and fat. These foods will give you the energy to stay focused during this busy time of year.
- Meal plan! If you have been following my posts for any amount of time, you know I am a huge advocate of planning your meals in advance. This takes the stress out of weeknights while saving you time and money.
- Drink water and lots of it. Period.
- Move your body everyday. Whether you hit the gym, walk the dog, wash the windows, or have a dance party- don’t stay still for too long.
- Stock your fridge with easy to grab snacks. Cut up veggies, fruit, and yogurt are great options.
- Try to meet your daily fiber needs. Eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts can get you there easily. Fiber will keep your GI tract (where a lot of our immune system lies) healthy and will also keep you feeling full longer. There are many other fiber benefits you read about here
- Enjoy your desserts and other treats. Don’t think of these foods as “off limits.” Often we label foods as good and bad, which can lead to a restriction-binge type of cycle. Just enjoy your dessert and don’t feel guilty.
- Listen to your body. You will thank me for this one. If you feel full, stop eating. Why be in pain? Enjoy your foods, but just be cognizant of when you are satiated. If we slow down our eating, we are often more aware of the signals our body sends.
- When at parties, scope out the food choices before you fill your plate. Figure out what you really want and be sure to eat those choices first. If you are still hungry, go back for your second choices later. This way you will eat those foods you love and not feel the need to finish the second choice foods from your plate.
- Consume alcohol during meals. Also having a glass of water after each alcoholic drink works well. These both slow the alcohol from hitting the bloodstream, keeping you sober longer! And always- don’t drink and drive!
Go ahead, eat grandma’s stuffing and have a glass of eggnog! Enjoy the traditions the holidays bring us.
The holiday season is about to begin, and that means many events and gatherings revolving around food. For folks with food allergies, it can be extremely stressful to navigate through this all. Halloween kicks it all off with the excess of candy, much of which is not allergy friendly. Peanuts, tree nuts, milk, wheat, egg, and soy are common components of many candies and 6 of the top 8 allergens. Kids really enjoy dressing up and trick or treating with friends, but some kids with allergies are not even able to participate if their allergies are severe. For those that do, they often can’t keep much of what they come home with. School parties are another place that the non-allergy friendly treats come out. While many of us parents have figured out how to handle these situations well, it seems like there could be a better way.
In an effort to promote a safe Halloween for all, FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) developed the Teal Pumpkin Project. It is a way to draw awareness to food allergies and include all trick or treaters. Those who choose to participate put a teal pumpkin or teal pumpkin sign outside their door for Halloween. This indicates that this house has non-food, allergy friendly treats. Participants can even add their address to the map so that trick or treaters can plan out their routes. This movement is getting bigger and bigger, and it is so encouraging! Check out www.tealpumpkinproject.org for more information.
Here are some of my ideas for non-food Halloween treats:
I know not every family has food allergies. From those of us who do, I want to tell you how much we appreciate when you include our kids and learn about their allergies. It gives these kids a feeling of community and belonging. It gives us parents a feeling of safety and relief.
So thank you, it means the world to us.
Every year we make a trip right over the border to visit our favorite Wisconsin apple picking spot. We load up on apples and cider doughnuts, say hello to the goats and visit the famous “Big Cheese.”
It is a wonderful tradition shared with my husband’s family. We get there as soon as it opens in the morning and get out before the crowds get out of hand and the bees attack. There are always more apples than I intended so we eat a lot of apple dishes in September and October!
Baking an apple pie is another part of the tradition. I try to make the crusts the day before we go so we can have a homemade pie the same day we pick. My lovely sister-in-law gave me an apple peeler/corer/slicer which makes prepping the apples go much quicker. I highly recommend using one if you have lots of apples that need peeling.
It is always a great day and a great way to welcome fall in our home.
The recipe I use is adapted from The Joy of Cooking, All About Pies and Tarts, cookbook.
Are you getting enough fiber? How much is enough? What foods contain fiber?
First of all, why do you need fiber? Fiber can help reduce the risk of developing various diseases such as colon cancer, diabetes, constipation, obesity, and heart disease. It can help lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels, and keep the GI system healthy. It also helps you feel full longer. Ok, great- that all sounds good, but how much do I need to eat each day? The recommendation is 21-25g per day for women and 30-38g per day for men from food, not supplements. Americans generally eat about 15g, so there is clearly room for improvement.
Let’s talk food sources. It is best to get fiber from whole foods, not processed foods. High fiber foods include vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
What foods give me the most bang for my buck? Beans are very high in fiber per serving. However, if you are not used to eating beans in large amounts, take it slowly. Gradually work yourself up to a full serving so that you do not experience bloating and gas. Also note that when increasing dietary fiber, be sure to also increase your water intake. This will decrease gassiness and help move the fiber throughout the digestive tract.
A good way to see if you are consuming enough fiber is by logging your foods for a few days, taking note of portion sizes and fiber intake. You can do this by hand and calculate yourself, or use one of the many free online apps. The USDA has one called super tracker that is user-friendly. If you are low in fiber, remember to increase slowly and also drink more fluids. Check back later this week for a high-fiber soup recipe, just in time for fall!
This week is National Farmers Market Week 2017!
Farmers markets are not just a trendy, passing craze. These markets provide fresh, in-season, nutritious foods to their communities. These farmers work very hard to bring these products to us because they see the importance of eating local, fresh food. The time from field to market is very quick, often one to two days. Compare this to the conventional produce that can be on trucks and shelves for many days to weeks. Plants can start to lose nutrients from the time they are harvested, so the sooner you eat them, the more nutrients will be retained. They also taste better!
At the markets, you can meet the people who actually grew and harvested your food, where else can you do this? These farmers will often give you ideas for recipes and educate you on the health benefits of their specific foods. One of my local farmers recently turned me on to duck eggs- I had no idea that they made baked goods so light and fluffy! Thanks to Trogg’s Hollow for that tip. Now my kids only want pancakes made with duck eggs!
There are many reasons to support farmers markets, besides the nutritional benefits. Here is a graphic that explains it very well:
Join me in supporting your local farmers markets this week. For my local friends, come visit me at the Huntley Farmers Market this Saturday from 8-1. There are lots of events and activities to celebrate this week, should be fun! Check out more here: Huntley Farmers Market