probiotic-foods

5 Foods That Are Packed With Probiotics

Nothing ruins a road trip or night on the town quite like stomach troubles. But good gut health isn’t essential just because gas and diarrhea are inconvenient: Research has identified ties between our GI health and both our immune and metabolic functions. They don’t call the stomach the “second brain” for nothing!

At the core of good gut health lies the importance of a particular type of microorganism: healthy bacteria that live in our intestines called probiotics. These bacteria help us properly digest food, destroy disease-causing microorganisms, and produce vitamins, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. So without them, you could be more prone to stomach struggles.

Much like our overall health, the hundreds of species of bacteria in our gut can be affected by our diet. Certain types of bacteria feed off of dietary fiber, and studies have shown that eating fiber boosts the populations of some probiotics, according to a review published in Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease.

Plus, the prevalence of antibiotics in our lives today—whether prescribed by a doc or in our food—has led many health professionals to encourage consuming more probiotic-rich foods, says Niket Sonpal, M.D., of Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. Over-consuming antibiotics can disrupt the balance within your microbiome, leading to stomach upset, so by consuming probiotics in food or supplement form, we may be able to replenish and re-balance the beneficial bacteria in our gut.

We gathered five of the most probiotic-packed foods so you can load up your shopping cart with that good-for-you bacteria. When searching for them in the grocery store aisles, look for a seal indicating “active live cultures” or check the ingredient list for bacterial strains like bifidobacteria or lactobacillus, says Angel Planells, M.S., R.D.N., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Related: You can also get a probiotic boost from a supplement.

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This popular, pickled cabbage contains vitamin B6 and iron, and becomes dense with probiotics through fermentation, says Planells. Fermentation is the process by which we preserve foods in salted brine, which allows that good bacteria to flourish. According to Planells, the specific types of bacteria that are able to survive through fermentation depend on temperature, pH, the food’s nutrients, and oxygen supply.

Sauerkraut also contains vitamin C, vitamin K, and some fiber, says Tori Schmitt, M.S., R.D.N., founder of YES! Nutrition, LLC. Schmitt likes to top eggs or avocado with sauerkraut for breakfast, or add it to her favorite sandwiches, salads, and wraps.

miso-soup

Next time you go out for that spicy tuna roll, order a bowl of miso soup to sip on the side. Miso is a paste or seasoning popular in Japanese cuisine that’s made from fermented soybeans.

Or, throw some grilled or marinated tempeh (a block of packed fermented soy somewhat similar to tofu that’s popular in Indonesian cuisine) into soups, pastas, and chili for a smoky, nutty flavor, suggest Planells.

Both tempeh and miso contain probiotics and make great additions to vegetarian meals because they’re considered complete proteins (meaning they contain all of the essential amino acids), plus B vitamins and antioxidants, says Planells. A half of a cup of tempeh packs on 17 grams of proteins and two tablespoons of miso contains 4 grams of protein.

Related: 6 Possible Reasons Why You’re So Gassy

kimchi

Kimchi is a spicy, fermented vegetable popular in Korean cuisine that contains probiotics, antioxidants, and vitamins A, B, and C. The most common probiotic in kimchi is lactobacillus, which survives by feeding off the sugar content of the cabbage and releasing carbon dioxide, says Planells.

Noticing a trend of fermented foods here? Turns out you can ferment just about any fruit or vegetable. Veggies like cauliflower, carrots, jicama, and daikon can all provide probiotics, fiber, vitamins, and minerals when fermented. They make a crunchy addition to a meal and go great with hummus for a healthy snack, says Schmitt.

Try it at home: Bastyr University, known for alternative medicine studies, recommends dissolving 1 TBSP of sea salt into 2 cups of water. Once dissolved, place vegetables with spices of choice into a glass quart jar, leaving 1 inch at the top and ensuring all vegetables are submerged. Cover the jar and keep away from direct sunlight for five days. If the vegetables aren’t to your liking, you can let them ferment another 2 to 3 days for a more sour taste. Once ready, place in fridge for up to two months.

kombucha

Not only can you eat your probiotics, but you can drink them, too. Kombucha, an effervescent fermented tea, is quickly becoming a trendy go-to for probiotics.

Schmitt recommends swapping soda or juices for the healthy, fizzy beverage. Just take a look at the label before you buy a bottle—some varieties may be packed with sugar.

yogurt

When you think of probiotics and food, you probably jump straight to yogurt. That’s because it’s prepared with those live and active cultures (a.k.a. probiotics), says Schmitt.

She recommends going for a strained Greek or Icelandic yogurt, which can pack up to 23 grams of protein per cup. Enjoy it for breakfast with fresh berries and sprinkle on nuts or seeds. Just steer clear of flavored yogurts, which are often loaded with sugar.

Save this handy infographic to that healthy eating Pinterest board:

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foods-to-eat-when-you-cant-poop

8 Foods And Drinks For When You Just Can’t Poop

We remind ourselves every time we feel awkward in the office bathroom: Everyone poops.

But then again, there are times when, well, not everyone can.

We’ve all been backed up at some point. According to the American Gastroenterological Association, constipation is defined by spending time struggling on the toilet, unusually hard number-twos, and/or going fewer than three times in a week.

“Even though most people don’t like to talk about it, regularity is really important for digestive health as well as detoxification,” says Robin Foroutan M.S., R.D.N., H.H.C., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition Dietetics. So let’s talk about it.

Constipation can be caused by anything from the foods we consume, to hormonal troubles, to supplements and medications, says Niket Sonpal M.D. Sonpal recommends first adjusting your diet to promote smoother moves. Check with your doctor if you’re constipated regularly, but if you’re in a bind and need something asap, here are eight foods and beverages that might help move things along.

Related: Find a supplement to support digestion and more pleasant toilet time.

water

 

 

Drinking water may sound like a no-brainer, but according to Sonpal, one of the most common causes of constipation is dehydration. When you’re well-hydrated, available water can be drawn into your colon and help get your gut going, he explains.

Sonpal recommends drinking around eight glasses of water per day. Whenever your lips or mouth feel dry, it’s time to grab a glass. And if water is too bland for your taste buds, try adding sliced lemon or fruits like strawberries to your glass or water bottle for a hint of flavor.

fruits-and-veggies

 

 

So many of our nutritional struggles can be answered by fruits and veggies, and they may also be the answer to your gotta-poop prayers. Thank you, fiber. “Fiber is an insoluble, indigestible compound in our food that later helps to bulk up our stool,” says Sonpal.

Foroutan recommends trying nomming on high-fiber foods like non-starchy vegetables, leafy greens, prunes, and pears. A half-cup of prunes contains about six grams of fiber, while one large pear contains seven grams, according to USDA. (The U.S. dietary guidelines recommend adults get 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day.)

nuts-and-seeds

 

 

Another fiber-filled food group that might solve toilet troubles: nuts and seeds. Pumpkin seeds, for example, contain four and a half grams of fiber in a quarter cup.

One of the biggest constipation-busters in this category also happens to be the most itty-bitty of seeds: Chia seeds. With more than five grams of fiber per tablespoon, chia seeds soak up tons of water, and can help bulk up your number-two, says Foroutan.

tea-or-coffee

 

 

Your morning cuppa Joe and some varieties of tea can get your bowels going. These popular bevvies stimulate contractions and reflexes in your GI system, which is why they tend to make you go soon after you finish your cup, says Sonpal.

Sonpal recommends teas like Traditional Medicinal’s Smooth Move tea, which uses natural ingredients like chai spices, dried fruits, and ginger that may help support digestion. Smooth Move, and teas like it, incorporate a plant called senna, which is often used as a natural laxative.

Just don’t guzzle coffee by the pot. “While coffee can help keep you regular, too much can dehydrate you and actually make you constipated,” says Sonpal. Everyone tolerates caffeine differently, so keep an eye on how java makes you feel.

aloe-vera

 

 

This wonderful plant can do more than soothe scorched shoulders in the summer. Aloe vera juice can be beneficial for the digestive track and promote regularity, says Foroutan.

avocado

 

 

When your poo needs an extra push, Foroutan recommends upping your intake of healthy fats, which help promote regularity. The fats in avocados and olive oil help to soften up your stool for a less strained meeting with the porcelain throne.

yogurt

 

 

One of the most commonly-recommended and recognized food sources of probiotics, yogurt is a good go-to breakfast or snack when you just can’t go.

The live organisms we call probiotics help us digest food—literally keeping our GI tracts on track, ha!—and prevent food-borne illness, says the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

If you’re lactose intolerant or just freaked out by yogurt (it’s a consistency thing, we hear you), Foroutan recommends trying fermented foods like sauerkraut or pickles, which also contain probiotics.

spicy-foods

 

 

If you’re feeling like takeout, opting for a spicy dish may help snap your system back into action.

Capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers, for example, can get your bowels going, says Sonpal. So if you’re a lover of all things heat, go ahead and order that ghost pepper salsa. If spicy foods aren’t usually your thing, though, don’t go too crazy, warns Sonpal. You may find your constipation has shifted straight to diarrhea. Wonderful.

 

Pin this handy infographic for the next time you just can’t go…

8 Foods New

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9 Ways To Pack More Protein Into Your Salad

We all love a giant, fresh salad—especially when it’s piled high with toppings. Often, however, our favorite throw-together lunch falls short on one incredibly important macronutrient: protein.

“Because people often think of salads as diet food, they may skimp on toppings, forgetting to include sources of carbohydrates and protein,” says Rachael Hartley, R.D., L.D., C.D.E. “A bowl of vegetables and dressing isn’t going to provide much energy or hold you over until your next meal.” Hence why you need protein and fiber-rich carbs (like beans, fruit, or quinoa), which take longer to digest and keep you satisfied.

To make sure your next salad is actually worthy of being called a meal, we asked nutritionists for their go-to add-ins.

Related: How Much Protein Do You Really Need?
beans

 

 

With around five grams of protein and 100 calories in a half-cup (depending on the variety), beans are an awesome plant-based protein to throw into a salad, says Lauren Pincus, M.S., R.D.N.

Karla Moreno-Bryce, M.D.A., R.D, loves adding raw chickpeas to her salads, along with fresh fennel, spinach, and homemade vinaigrette made of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, agave, and salt and pepper. “There are so many possibilities for increasing protein content on a salad – and it doesn’t have to be meat, poultry, or fish,” she says.

Not into raw chickpeas? Lindsay Livingston, R.D., recommends falafel as another way to add beans to your salad. Falafel often incorporates spices like cumin, garlic, and coriander, kicking up the spice and flavor in any salad.

whole-grains

Wait, are we talking about protein or carbs here? Well, the answer is both. Since many whole grains also contain some protein, they can be a great addition to your next bowl.

Try a half -cup of grains like farro, which packs 12 grams of protein and six grams of fiber, for a more filling meal. Livingston likes to add roasted veggies to her salad along with the farro, plus some nuts for crunch. She recommends mixing plain yogurt with salsa for a creamy dressing.

eggs

 

 

“My salad philosophy is, ‘when in doubt, add an egg,’” says Jackie Newgent, R.D.N., culinary nutritionist and author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook. “Top salads with a fried egg or two and enjoy as an anytime breakfast-inspired dish.” (Two eggs contain about 12 grams of protein.)

Dress your eggy salad with this delish vinaigrette from Newgent: equal parts avocado, extra-virgin olive oil, and lemon juice, plus salt and pepper to taste. Blend it up for a creamy dressing for your eggs and greens.

nuts-and-seeds

 

 

Without a solid crunch in the mix, salads can taste a little… soggy. To keep your mouth excited about every bite, swap the croutons and bacon bits for nuts and seeds, says Newgent.

Try two tablespoons of higher-protein options like hemp seeds (six grams of protein) or pumpkin seeds (five grams).

Related: Stash a bag of Hemp Hearts at your desk and you’ll never be without a salad-topper.

Just make sure you’re not too heavy-handed when adding these tiny toppings. Nuts can be very high in fat and calories, says Pincus. To keep your salad’s calories in reasonable range, use nuts and seeds in combo with another protein source.

seafood

 

 

Salads are a great opportunity to incorporate seafood into your diet, especially the canned stuff, says Hartley.

She often tosses wild salmon or tuna with olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs for a delicious salad protein add-in. Hartley also likes to top her seafood salad with hemp seeds, which contain omega-3s in addition to extra protein.

Pincus recommends topping your salad with three ounces of grilled salmon (20 grams of protein) or grilled calamari (13 grams).

cheese

 

 

Yep, you read that right. “Cheese is my absolute favorite food, so I love including a crumble of a flavorful cheese, like blue cheese or goat cheese, to my salad for flavor and some protein,” says Hartley.

Different varieties of cheese contain different amounts of protein. A quarter-cup of part-skim mozzarella contains five grams of protein, while a quarter-cup of shredded Colby cheese contains nearly seven grams.

If you’re going to add cheese to your salad, be mindful of creamy cheeses, which can be high is both calories and saturated fats, and skip any heavy dressing, says Keri Gans, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N., author of The Small Change Diet. She recommends including only one high-fat ingredient in your salad, like avocado, cheese, or nuts.

Newgent recommends rolling small balls of goat cheese and pistachios to add an easy fancy feel to your salad.

chicken

 

 

There’s a reason this one’s a classic. A three-ounce serving of chicken breast (about the size of a deck of cards) packs between 15 and 20 grams of protein, says Gans.

Gans loves using chicken left over from dinner in her lunch salad the next day. She piles on the raw veggies and greens, plus a quarter of an avocado and sliced tomatoes.

turkey

 

 

We’re not telling you to roast an entire T-Giving bird just for your salad, but with seven grams of protein per ounce, turkey is a great source of protein, says Pincus. She recommends cooking lean ground turkey with a low-sodium taco spice mix. Add your taco-tastic turkey to a spring mix or standard greens along with avocado, cucumber, and tomatoes. You can also toss some black beans in there for extra carbs, fiber, and protein, she says.

soy

 

 

For a filling, meat-free salad, stock your bowl with the following: two-thirds vegetables, one-third soy protein (like tofu or edamame), and a small handful of fruit (like apples or berries), recommends Melissa Prest, M.S., R.D.N., C.S.R., L.D.N. A half-cup of tofu contains 11 grams of protein, while a half-cup of edamame packs nine.

Prest recommends topping off your salad with two tablespoons total of nuts, seeds, crumbled, cheese, or avocado.

 

7-ingredients-nutritionists-wont-eat

7 Foods And Ingredients Nutritionists Won’t Eat

It’s time to face the music: A large—and growing—number of people regularly eat foods that are bad for their health. If you often consume foods fresh off the factory production line, there’s a good chance you’re one of them.

According to research published in BMJ Open, approximately 60 percent of the average American’s calories come from ‘ultra-processed food’ that contains added sugars, salts, fats, oils, and other substances. To put that in perspective, the USDA recommends that we consume around five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

We asked registered dietitians to tell us which foods and ingredients they’ve permanently crossed off their grocery lists in order to get some clearer direction about how to clean up our own diets.

  1. Trans Fats

We’re talking about those popular hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oils. “Trans fats are made through a process called hydrogenation, in which hydrogen molecules are pumped into vegetable oil to turn it into a solid,” says Jim White, R.D., A.C.S.M. Health Fitness Specialist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Cringe.

According to the FDA, trans fats have been found to increase LDL (“low-density lipoprotein” a.k.a. bad) cholesterol, which is linked to heart disease—which is why the FDA is in the process of banning trans fats in foods.

Until the ban become effective in 2018, companies can still use trans fats in foods.  .. Plus, packaged foods that contain less than half a gram of the stuff can claim to have none, warns says Robin Foroutan M.S., R.D.N., H.H.C., an integrative medicine nutritionist.

  1. Mono sodium glutamate (MSG)

“MSG is a chemical flavor enhancer, but it’s also an excitotoxin, meaning it overstimulates certain cells in the brain,” says Foroutan.

The ingredient, which is most commonly added to foods like Chinese takeout, has been shown to mess with our ability to feel full, affect our hormones, and potentially contribute to weight gain, says White.

Some people are extra sensitive to MSG and may experience symptoms like headaches, facial pressure, numbness, tingling, weakness, drowsiness, nausea, and difficulty breathing, warns Foroutan. She recommends avoiding this chemical and looking out for its undercover names, which include yeast extract, autolyzed yeast extract, or autolyzed vegetable extract.

  1. Artificial Sweeteners

With more and more people jumping on the sugar-free bandwagon, what could be more perfect than alternatives that are just as sweet and calorie-free? Don’t get lost in your daydreaming just yet.

“These ingredients are chemicals that are made in a lab, not whole foods,” says Kath Younger, R.D. “Instead, I look for products that use honey, maple syrup, or dates to provide sweetness—or better yet, products that aren’t sweetened at all.” Younger strives to maintain a diet free of ingredients or substances that aren’t natural or in their natural form.

Artificial sweeteners appear on your food labels under an abundance of names, such as saccharin, aspartame, or sucralose, explains Younger.

Related: Try a natural alternative sweetener, like plnt’s stevia.

  1. Food Dyes

As enchanting as the neon hues of sour gummy worms are, they might not belong in your belly. “Food dyes are likely not helping to promote health,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., R.D.N. “There are natural food dye alternatives like turmeric, beet or pomegranate juice, spinach powder, matcha, saffron, paprika and more.”

According to the FDA, some food colorings, like Yellow No. 5, may cause allergic reactions in some people. Yellow No. 5 is also currently undergoing testing amidst claims that it’s linked to hyperactivity in children.

  1. BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)

Ever wonder why some bread lasts so long on the shelf? It may be due to a preservative called BHA.

“BHA is mainly used to prevent oils in foods from oxidizing and becoming rancid,” says White. “Oxidation affects the flavor, color, and odor of foods, reduces some nutrients, and causes the production of free radicals [compounds harmful to our cells].” Vitamin A also prevents this oxidation, but the food industry generally prefers BHA because it remains stable at higher temperatures.

According to the FDA, while BHA shows no evidence of being harmful to public health as it is currently used, more research is required to investigate ‘uncertainties’ about the substance.

  1. Foods High In Sugar

Containing 10 teaspoons of sugar on average, soda is a one-way ticket to spiked insulin levels, and a later crash, says White. And that’s just one example of the many sugar-laden foods people eat regularly these days.

Many dietitians recommend avoiding excess sugar and ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, which is linked to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. The main problem with high-fructose corn syrup? The way it’s processed allows for it to go directly into your liver, spiking fat production, White explains.

In addition to affecting your insulin levels and weight, sugar can also lead to plaque buildup on your teeth, contributing to gum disease and cavities, says White.

  1. Excess Sodium

While some sodium is necessary in our diets, many people over indulge, says Angel Planells, M.S., R.D.N., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The American Heart Association recommends about 1500 milligrams of sodium daily, but Planells says most Americans consume more than twice that.

In moderation, sodium helps our bodies maintain fluid balances, send nerve impulses, and contract our muscles, according to The Mayo Clinic. Too much sodium, however, increases the pressure in our blood vessels, eventually overstretching and injuring blood vessel walls while forcing our heart to work extra hard to pump blood, explains Planells.

“Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, consuming less sodium over time will help protect you as you age, and help reduce your risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, osteoporosis, weight gain and more,” says Planells.

sweet-tooth

8 Nutritionists Share How They Satisfy Their Sweet Cravings

Anyone with a sweet tooth knows the struggle of not face-planting into gallons of ice cream whenever the urge for a treat strikes. Praise the food gods that there are ways to satisfy those cravings without completely blowing up your blood sugar or throwing your healthy diet out the window.

We asked eight nutritionists to share their personal go-to fixes to help you triumph over temptation. Take that, frosted supermarket cookies!

apples.jpg
photo credit: Lauren Harris-Pincus

Deconstructed Chocolate-Dipped Apple

“My deconstructed chocolate-dipped apple is one of my favorite sweet and healthy snacks,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., R.D.N., owner of Nutrition Starring You. “It contains protein, fiber, and carbs, so it’ll keep you satisfied and happy.”

Make It: Core and slice 1 medium gala apple and toss in ½ teaspoon lemon juice. Layer the apples on a plate and generously top with 1 teaspoon hemp hearts and 1 ½ teaspoons shredded coconut. In a separate bowl, stir 1 tablespoon dry powdered peanut butter with water until thick, and top apples with the mixture. Finish off the plate with 2 teaspoons cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips.

Nutrition: 170 calories, 8.7 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein

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photo credit: iStock

Sweetish Nuts

“For a healthy, sweet snack that won’t push you into a sugar coma, I love making sweetish nuts,” says Brooke Alpert, R.D., founder of B-Nutritious Dietetics and Nutrition and author of The Sugar Detox. “While these nuts are sugarless, they have a natural sweetness, thanks to the cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla. Leave a bowl out on your counter and see how quickly they disappear!”

Make It: Start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees. In a bowl, combine 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1 ½ teaspoons extra virgin olive oil. Add 4 ounces each of walnuts, pecans, and cashews, and coat well with spice mixture. Place nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Nutrition: This mixture provides protein, fiber, and antioxidants—plus, the cinnamon can support stable blood sugar levels, says Alpert.

Related: Get your crunchy snack fix here.

pomegranate-probiotic
photo credit: Jim White

Key Lime Kiwi Smoothie with Greek Yogurt

“When I’m craving a sweet dessert, I typically pick a fruit and add some type of protein,” says Jim White, R.D., owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios. “This way I’m satisfied and I don’t have an awful sugar crash.”

“This key lime kiwi smoothie bowl is my go-to all year long, because it tastes like pie or ice cream but won’t derail all the healthy choices I made during the day.”

Make It: Combine 2 peeled kiwis, ½ an avocado, 1 banana, 2 tablespoons almond butter, 3 tablespoons lime juice, ½ cup unsweetened almond milk, and ¾ cup reduced or non-fat plain Greek yogurt in a blender. Blend on low until smooth. (Makes two servings.) If you’re feeling extra adventurous, pour the mixture into two bowls and top with crumbled granola or dark chocolate chips.

Nutrition: Has 15 grams of protein, and contains calcium and potassium, says White.

Related: For a quick high-protein snack, grab a protein bar.

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photo credit: Kath Younger

Whipped Banana Oatmeal

“My whipped banana oatmeal recipe satisfies any sweet tooth for breakfast, as a snack, or even as an added sugar-free dessert,” says Kath Younger, R.D. “It’s 100 percent whole grain and packed with fiber.”

Make it: Combine 1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats, 1/3 cup 1 percent skim or soy milk, and 2/3 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the oats begin to steam or bubble, stir in ½ thinly sliced banana and whip vigorously. After about 5 minutes on medium heat, all liquid should be absorbed and the oatmeal should be at your desired consistency. Stir in a drop of vanilla extract and any other desired toppings, such as ½ tablespoon of chia seeds, almond butter, granola, or coconut.

sweet-potato-brownies
photo credit: Lindsay Livingston

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Brownies

“These chewy brownies are sweetened with dates which add some fiber, contain peanut butter for protein and healthy fats, and use sweet potato for an extra boost of veggies,” says Lindsay Livingston, R.D.

To make these delightful bites, add 1 cup chopped, pitted dates, 2/3 cup mashed, cooked sweet potato, and 3/4 cup nut butter to a food processor or high-powered blender. Blend mixture until smooth, and add 2 eggs and ¼ cup applesauce. Process until well-mixed and sift in 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and ½ teaspoon baking soda. Finally, stir in 2/3 cup dark chocolate chips or pieces. Spoon mixture into a greased 9×9 pan and bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. For some extra indulgence, top with melted nut butter and chocolate chips once brownies have cooled.

key-lime-kiwi
photo credit: Jackie Newgent

Pomegranate Probiotic Shake

“When I reach for something sweet, I want nutritional benefits, too, so one of my go-to’s is a pomegranate probiotic shake,” says Jackie Newgent, R.D.N., author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook and spokesperson for POM Wonderful.

“It’s pretty and tastes great—plus it’s a good source of potassium and contains the antioxidant polyphenols from the pomegranate, beta-carotene and vitamin C from the mango, and high-quality protein and gut-healthful probiotics from the skyr or Greek yogurt,” says Newgent.

Make it: Blend 2/3 cup 100 percent pomegranate juice, 2/3 cup frozen mango, and ½ cup Icelandic skyr or Greek yogurt. For something extra special, pour the beverage into a glass and top with a dollop of real whipped cream.

coconut-strawberries
photo credit: Tori Schmitt

Coconut-Sprinkled Strawberries

“When I’m asked to bring dessert to a party or when I’m craving something sweet at home, I’ll make some coconut-sprinkled strawberries,” says Tori Schmitt, M.S., R.D.N., founder of YES! Nutrition.

Make it: De-stem strawberries and cover with 1 tablespoon each of Greek yogurt. Toast unsweetened coconut shreds in the oven at 350 degrees until lightly brown, about 5 to 10 minutes, and roll on ½ tablespoon coconut per strawberry.

Nutrition: One of the heavenly nibbles is 30 calories, so you won’t ever feel that post-dessert guilt, says Schmitt.

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photo: iStock

Dates in Nut Butter

“My favorite healthy sweet treat is two medjool dates stuffed with almond butter,” says Abby Langer, R.D. “Dates are naturally sweet and high in fiber, and the almond butter contains healthy fats—it’s a win-win!”

Make it: Slice open two pitted dates and spoon a teaspoon of almond butter into the center of each.

Nutrition: 198 calories

 

Pin now, enjoy delicious sweet treats later!

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protein-sources-image

7 Protein Sources For Vegetarians

Whether you regularly partake in meatless Monday, live a flexitarian lifestyle, or ditched meat years ago, you’ve probably struggled with getting enough protein in your diet. But what’s the big deal with protein anyway? A couple of things, actually. For one, protein is essential for building muscle tissue and enzymes that help transport oxygen throughout your body, says the Harvard School of Public Health.

The proteins in our bodies are made up of 20 amino acids, nine of which, called essential amino acids, must come from our diets because we cannot produce them on our own, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Animal proteins are known for providing all nine essential amino acids, but most plant proteins (with the exception of a few) fall short by one or two.

But fear not, plant-eaters! As long as you’re eating the right combinations of foods, you can hit your daily-recommended protein intake. “Carefully planning meals and snacks throughout the day can ensure vegetarians meet their protein needs,” says Angel Planells, M.S., R.D.N., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

According to the USDA, women need a minimum of about 46 grams of protein per day, while men need a minimum of about 56 grams. To make sure you’re getting your fill, incorporate the following plant-based protein sources into your daily grub.

soy-products

Soy-based food products, like tempeh, tofu, and soy burgers are very nutritious and versatile protein sources, says Planells. He recommends feasting on a half a cup of tempeh (which packs 19.5 grams of protein), half a cup of tofu (10 grams of protein), or a soy burger (about 13 grams, depending on the brand).

The bean’s claim to fame: It offers all of the nine essential amino acids found in animal-based protein products.

Soy is also a good source of B vitamins and essential fatty acids like omega-3s, which can both be tricky for non-meat-eaters to fill up on without supplementation since they’re prominent in animal food sources, says Planells.

lentils

After soy, lentils are one of your richest plant-based proteins, says Planells. Just half a cup of this type of legume, called a “pulse,” packs nine grams of protein, he adds.

While lentils contain all nine of the essential amino acids, some are in very low quantities. Pair them with a whole grain food like whole-wheat pita to boost your amino intake.

“Eating a variety of whole grains and plant proteins is your best bet at meeting your overall protein needs,” reminds Planells.

nut-butter

We know vegetarians and meat-lovers alike can get behind this protein source. Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain eight grams of protein, says Planells.

Not into super-sticky nut butters? Just grab a handful—23, to be exact—of nuts, like almonds, for a healthy snack that contains six grams of protein, he adds.

Because peanuts and almonds contain small amounts of the nine essential amino acids, Planells suggests pairing nuts and nut butters with a piece of whole wheat bread to achieve an adequate amount of essential amino acids.

seeds

Vegetarians (and many healthy eaters, for that matter) overlook the small but mighty seeds as a protein source. Case in point: One ounce of roasted pumpkin seeds contains eight grams of protein, while an ounce of sunflower seeds contains five, says Planells Not to mention, these seeds offer additional vitamins and minerals, like zinc, which helps hundreds of enzymes do their jobs throughout your immune system, nervous system, and more, says the National Institutes of Health.

Go ahead, sprinkle seeds on that salad for added crunch—or just eat ‘em straight as a snack.

Related: Check out our full selection of healthy seeds and oils.  

beans

Beans are an ever-popular protein source for many vegetarians. A half cup of kidney beans, for example, contains eight grams of protein. Pair those beans with a grain like kamut for a meal that packs 12 grams of protein.

You can toss beans into soups and salads, or even try dips like hummus, which is made from chickpeas and typically packs four grams of protein per four tablespoons.

Not to mention, many beans offer a good dose of iron. Adult men need eight milligrams of iron per day and women need eighteen, says the National Institutes of Health. One cup of kidney beans contains almost four grams. And while experts previously believed animal-sourced iron was absorbed more easily by our bodies than plant-sourced iron, they now believe quite the opposite, says Planells. Three cheers for plants!

quinoa

This popular side dish actually isn’t a grain—it’s a seed! A half cup of quinoa contains four grams of protein, says Planells. It makes a great base for adding roasted vegetables, beans and other proteins, and healthy fats like olive oil, he adds.

As an extra bonus, quinoa contains all of the nine essential amino acids. 

dark-leafy-greens

Veggies may not be the food we turn to for protein, but leafy greens can boost your protein intake—as well as your calcium.

Spinach is one of the most commonly recommended leafy greens to consume for protein because it provides five grams of protein per cup. It also contains 30 grams of calcium, according to the USDA.

Dark leafy greens can be added to soups, used as a base for salads, or stirred up with additional veggies for a quick stir-fry.

 

Keep your veggie protein game strong by pinning this image: 

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