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December 14, 2023by Cook Learn Live
What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease that harms the thyroid gland. The presence of two types of antibodies —thyroid peroxidase antibodies (anti-TPO) and thyroglobulin antibodies (anti-TG)—in the body leads to chronic inflammation, resulting in progressive damage to the thyroid gland. The body can initially compensate for the damage by increasing thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to produce an “in range” amount of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. As the damage continues, however, the thyroid can no longer compensate and either produces an insufficient amount of hormones or none at all. Symptoms of Hashimotos may include but are not limited to fatigue, increased need for sleep, constipation, weight gain, hair loss, dry skin, muscle aches, joint pain, depression, concentration issues, cold sensitivity, puffy face, brittle nails, hair loss, and an enlarged tongue. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is usually treated by replacing thyroid hormone through medication.  

Nutrition & Hashimoto’s

Nutrition plays an important role in the management of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Eating a balanced diet of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates aids in protecting the thyroid. It is also important to maintain an ample intake of important micronutrients such as selenium, iron, antioxidants, zinc, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.  Eating a varied and balanced diet that includes lots of different types of vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans), nuts and seeds, lean dairy or alternatives, and lean meat and fish or alternatives will usually provide these nutrients.  However, in some cases, supplements may be recommended if a patient is unable to get what they need through diet.

Gluten & Hashimoto’s

There is a growing debate on whether eating a gluten-free diet (GFD) has benefits for Hashimoto’s patients. Hashimoto’s is frequently associated with many other autoimmune conditions, most notably celiac disease, and the two conditions share a number of similarities.. The concentration of anti-tissue transglutaminase (anti-tTG) antibodies, the marker of immune response to gluten, seems to be associated with the concentration of anti-thyroid antibodies, resulting in a possible reduction of thyroid autoimmunity. There is anecdotal evidence that avoiding gluten can help Hashimoto’s patients as it does those with celiac, but research is still being done.

Research

There are conflicting studies on the benefits of a GFD for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, with some finding it improves antibody concentration and others finding no influence. One study investigated antibody levels in women with thyroid autoimmunity after eating a GFD for 6 months. The women tested positive for anti-tissue transglutaminase but did not have any symptoms of celiac disease. The results showed a decrease in thyroid antibodies and an increase in vitamin D levels. One of the authors stated, “the most significant effect was observed in those whose level of antithyroid antibodies was the highest, and those patients might benefit from GFD.”

Other studies have not agreed. Researchers investigated 62 Hashimotos patients; one half on a GFD and the other not. Results showed no influence after 3 and 6 months. The authors ruled out the diet having an effect on thyroid hormone levels but said it may have an impact on thyroid antibodies. The study concluded that “gluten should only be eliminated by patients suffering from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, which may coexist with Hashimoto’s disease. A gluten-free diet does not affect the concentration of thyroid hormones.” 

Regardless of clinical results, many patients have reported feeling better on a GFD. Izabella Wentz, Doctor of Pharmacology, has spent the majority of her career researching Hashimoto’s, publishing 3 books. In 2015, she developed a survey to find out what factors worsened or improved symptoms. She received 2,232 responses from Hashimoto’s patients, of which 3.5% were also diagnosed with celiac disease. The results showed that 86% who reported being gluten-free had improved digestive issues and mentally related-symptoms such as brain fog and anxiety.  

Gluten-Free Nutrition Risks

Following a gluten-free diet requires knowledge and attention to detail to avoid the risk of malnutrition.  Processed, packaged, gluten-free products are complex, often containing additional carbohydrates and fats, and frequently have fewer nutrients than their gluten-containing alternatives. Deficiencies of key nutrients such as B vitamins and calcium are commonly seen in people following a GFD that relies primarily on processed, packaged, gluten-free foods.

What Should You Do?

 Should you eat gluten-free if you have Hashimoto’s? With more research needing to be done and no concrete evidence, that answer is up to you. Do additional research from credible sources, weigh the pros and cons, and look at the big picture of your life, including your health and lifestyle, to determine if a GFD is feasible for you. If this is a change you would like to make, talk to your doctor, consult with a registered dietitian, and carefully implement changes that eliminate gluten while maintaining a balanced diet.  Try a GFD for a few months to see if it makes a positive difference in your thyroid labs. We will hopefully have more solid evidence on this question in the future.

Brands/Products   

 Check out these less-processed gluten-free products and brands. Remember to check that the items are gluten-free as not every brand only makes gluten-free products. You also don’t need to be gluten-free to still enjoy!       

Try These Out!

Here are a few recipes that are gluten-free to make at home to eliminate SOME (not all) processed items. If you are not going gluten-free, still give these yummy recipes a try!

Guest author Christa Vasile, Dietetic Intern, is a graduate student in Pace University’s Nutrition and Dietetics Coordinated Masters Program. 

Oatmeal Bake

Course Dessert
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 450 kcal
Author Alyssa Wengrofsky

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.

  2. Add ingredients into blender except chocolate chips & blend.

  3. Stir in chocolate chips.

  4. Place in oven safe pan / bowl and bake for 25 minutes.

Nutrition Facts
Oatmeal Bake
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 450 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Cholesterol 201mg67%
Carbohydrates 66g22%
Fiber 8g33%
Sugar 29g32%
Protein 16g32%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Gluten Free Pizza Crust

Course Main Course
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 215 kcal
Author Minimalist Baker

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp dry active yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water divided
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar divided
  • 3 cups gluten free flour blend see notes - combination of white rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, and xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

To Make Gluten Free Flour Blend

  1. To make three cups of GF flour blend: combine 1 cup white rice flour, 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup tapioca flour and 3/4 tsp xanthan gum.

Make

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.

  2. In a small bowl, combine yeast and 3/4 cup warm water - about 110F. Too hot and it will kill the yeast! Let set for 5 minutes to activate. Sprinkle in 1 Tbsp of the sugar a few minutes in.

  3. In a seperate bowl, combine gluten free flour blend, salt, baking powder and remaining 1-2 Tbsp of sugar depending on preferred sweetness. Whisk until well combined.

  4. Make a well in the dry mixture and add the yeast mixture. Add the olive oil and additional 1/2 cup warm water before stirring. Then stir it all together until well combined using a wooden spoon if able.

  5. If using the whole dough to make one large pizza, spread onto a generously greased baking sheet or pizza stone. Otherwise, make one smaller pizza and reserve the other half of the dough, wrapped in the fridge for several days. Using your hands and a little brown rice flour if it gets too sticky, work from the middle and work to spread/flatten the dough out to the edge. You want it to be pretty thin - less than 1/4 inch.

  6. Put the pizza in the oven to pre-break for roughly 20-25 minutes or until it begins to look dry. Cracks may appear whuch is normal anf okay.

  7. Remove from oven and spread pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings of choice. Put back in the oven for 15-25 minutes (depending on toppings), or until the crust edge beings to look golden brown and toppings are warm and bubblt.

  8. Cut immediatly and serve. Reheats well next day in microwave or oven.

Recipe Notes

The gluten-free flour blend is highly suggested but if you prefer use an all-purpose gluten-free flour.

Nutrition Facts
Gluten Free Pizza Crust
Amount Per Serving
Calories 215 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Carbohydrates 48g16%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 3.2g6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Trail Mix

Course Snack
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 403 kcal
Author Jennifer Bigler

Ingredients

  • 2 cups nuts suggestion: macadamia, almonds & pistachios
  • 1 cup dried fruit suggestion: cherries & cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mix all ingredients together.

Recipe Notes

Optional: add in other ingredients you enjoy, such as pretzels or raisins! 

Nutrition Facts
Trail Mix
Amount Per Serving
Calories 403 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Fat 26g40%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Carbohydrates 37g12%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 24g27%
Protein 8g16%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Super Seedy No-Grain Crackers

Course Snack
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 195 kcal
Author CLL

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup psyillum husks
  • 1 cup flax seed ground
  • 1/3 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin ground
  • 1 tsp oregano dried
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Add pumpkin seeds to your food processor and pulse until it is a coarse powder.

  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, except water, and pulse to combine.

  4. Place in a bowl and mix with water. Set aside to gel for 5-10 minutes.

  5. Place half the dough on a parchment sheet. Spray a second parchment sheet and lay on top.

  6. Gently roll to desired thickness, adjusting the edges as you work to keep it a rectangle.

  7. Remove the top sheet and score dough with a pizza cutter or sharp knife.

  8. Repeat for the second batch of dough.

  9. Place baking sheets in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes - carefully flip and bake an additional 5 minutes for extra crispy crackers.

Nutrition Facts
Super Seedy No-Grain Crackers
Amount Per Serving
Calories 195 Calories from Fat 95
% Daily Value*
Fat 10.6g16%
Saturated Fat 0.5g3%
Sodium 377mg16%
Carbohydrates 21g7%
Fiber 16g67%
Protein 5g10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
References

1. Ihnatowicz, P., Wątor, P., & Drywień, M. E. (2021). The importance of gluten exclusion in the management of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Annals of agricultural and environmental medicine : AAEM, 28(4), 558–568. https://doi.org/10.26444/aaem/136523

2. Szczuko, M., Syrenicz, A., Szymkowiak, K., Przybylska, A., Szczuko, U., Pobłocki, 2. J., & Kulpa, D. (2022). Doubtful Justification of the Gluten-Free Diet in the Course of Hashimoto’s Disease. Nutrients, 14(9), 1727. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14091727

3. Wentz, Izabella with Nowosadzka, Marta. (May, 2013). Hashimotos Thyroiditis Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause. Wentz LLC.  

4. Wentz, Izabella. (January 2022). Is Gluten the Root Cause of Your Thyroid Condition? Dr. Izabella Wentz, PharmMD. https://thyroidpharmacist.com/articles/gluten-root-cause-thyroid-condition/

5. (January 15, 2022). Hashimotos disease: Overview. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hashimotos-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20351855 

 

 



November 20, 2023by Cook Learn Live

Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten why you had gone there? Or forget where you’ve parked? Don’t worry; this happens to all of us and is common with aging, but the good news is we can decrease the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia through diet and nutrition. 

Let’s start with the basics. What’s the difference between mild cognitive impairment and dementia? According to the Mayo Clinic, MCI is “the stage between the expected decline in memory and thinking that happens with age and the more serious decline of dementia.”  The term dementia is “used to describe a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking, and social abilities. In people who have dementia, the symptoms interfere with daily lives.” There are different types of dementias, including Vascular, Frontotemporal, Lewy Body, and the most common, Alzheimer’s. 

Health & Lifestyle

Many factors —aging, genetics, environment, etc.—can lead to MCI or dementia. However, health and lifestyle conditions are the most controllable of the causes of cognitive decline.  Of these conditions, cardiovascular health, weight management, and blood glucose control are the key areas of focus.  Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2021, one in every five female deaths was from CVD. Removing CVD and its risk factors (smoking, excessive alcohol intake, lack of exercise) would decrease dementia cases by 1-2% globally. Weight management is also important in maintaining cognitive function. A long-term study (2002-2017) in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that participants who were obese at the start of the study were more likely to develop dementia than participants with a weight in a healthy range. For those with Prediabetes or Type-2 Diabetes, good blood glucose control is vital.  New research suggests that there is a connection between increased insulin resistance and dementia. All three of these issues are controllable through dietary changes and healthy lifestyle choices, including exercise, stress management, smoking cessation, and moderation of alcohol intake.

Nutrition

Research studies have shown the positive effects of many nutrients, including B vitamins, healthy fats, antioxidants, and probiotics, on delaying cognitive impairment and dementias.

B Vitamins:  B6, B12, and folate are essential as they convert homocysteine, a common by-product of amino acid breakdown, into substances necessary for neurotransmitter production. Sources of B vitamins include meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, legumes, grains, and nuts. 

Omega 3s: These fatty acids may lower the risk of cognitive decline. A 2022 meta-analysis of over 100,000 participants showed a reduction in overall risk by 20%. However, new studies are emerging that omega 3s may not have direct preventative benefits on the brain itself.  Researchers now believe that their anti-inflammatory benefits on cardiovascular health indirectly benefit brain health. Sources of omega-3s and other healthy fats are nuts, seeds, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines), avocados, eggs, and plant oils. Other healthy fats include plant-derived unsaturated fats that are liquid at room temperature. 

Antioxidants: Studies have shown the benefits of antioxidants in protecting the aging brain. Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals—unstable environmental compounds that destroy cells. Antioxidants come from fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and many other foods.

Probiotics: You know when you get a gut feeling? This happens because of how the gut and brain are connected. Research has shown that probiotics have neuroprotective properties because they feed healthy gut bacteria, which produces over 30 neurotransmitters! Sources of probiotics are fermentable foods, including yogurt, soy, tempeh, sauerkraut, kombucha, lacto-fermented vegetables (ex: pickles), sourdough bread, and kimchi.

Mind Diet

So it all comes down to diet! The MIND diet is the primary recommendation for slowing the development of MCI and dementia. MIND stands for Mediterranean Dash Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It combines elements of the well-known Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approach To Stop Hypertension) diet. 

The MIND Guidelines 

Foods to include in your diet 

  • Green leafy vegetables (7/wk)
  • Other vegetables (7/wk)
  • Nuts (5oz/wk)
  • Berries (5/wk)
  • Beans (3/wk)
  • Whole grains (21/wk)
  • Fish (1+/wk) 
  • Poultry (2/wk) 
  • Olive Oil (mainly added if fat is used)

Emphasis on green leafy vegetables and berries, the only fruit category proven effective on cognitive function.

Foods to limit in your diet

  • Pastries and sweets (≤ 4/wk)
  • Red meat (< 4/wk) 
  • Fried foods (≤  1/wk)
  • Alcohol/wine (5 fl oz/d)
  • Regular cheese (≤ 2 oz/wk) 

Research has shown that the MIND diet can delay cognitive decline by seven years. However, a Harvard and Rush University trial has also found that participants on the MIND diet and participants in the healthy eating control group BOTH had improved cognition and weight loss. This shows you don’t need to strictly eat the MIND diet to have beneficial results, but these foods have protective factors. Looking at dietary patterns rather than individual nutrients is more valuable. 

Give it a try! 

Below are some recipes featuring neuroprotective ingredients in the MIND Diet, such as vegetables, dark leafy greens, fatty fish, legumes, pumpkin, nuts, and olive oil.

Guest author Christa Vasile, Dietetic intern, is a graduate student in Pace University’s Nutrition and Dietetics Coordinated Masters Program. 

Recipe Ideas

Egg Breakfast Muffins

Course Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 150 kcal
Author CLL

Ingredients

  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 3 scallions diced
  • 4 cherry tomatoes sliced
  • 6 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup spinach chopped
  • 4 tbs feta cheese
  • 4 tbs basil chopped

Instructions

Prep

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F

  2. Wash and dice the peppers, scallions, and tomatoes and put them in a large mixing bowl.

  3. Chop spinach and basil.

  4. Beat eggs in seperate bowl.

  5. Grease muffin tin. You can also grease muffin liners to make clean up easy.

Make

  1. Place beaten eggs in a bowl with vegetables and herb and mix well.

  2. Pour egg mixture into muffin pans or cups.

  3. Bake for about 15 minutes until set.

Recipe Notes

Option: You could also increase the number of servings to 4 and grease an 8x8 glass baking dish. Bake mixture for about 20 minutes. Cut into squares and serve. 

Nutrition Facts
Egg Breakfast Muffins
Amount Per Serving (1 Muffin)
Calories 150 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 3.6g23%
Sodium 287mg12%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 12g24%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Chickpea Artichoke Salad

Course Salad
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 5
Calories 185 kcal
Author Ilia Regini

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas drained
  • 1/4 small red onion diced
  • 10 cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 1 14 oz can artichoke hearts quartered
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives pitted and halved
  • 1 small red pepper diced
  • 2 tbsp parsley minced
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • sea salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

Make

  1. Discard the skins on the chickpeas by rubbing them gently between your hands if desired.

  2. Place the chickpeas in a medium size mixing bowl and add the remainder of the ingredients and mix well.

  3. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Recipe Notes

Total time will be shorter if skin is not removed from chickpeas. 

Nutrition Facts
Chickpea Artichoke Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 185 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Carbohydrates 20g7%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 5g10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Miso Glazed Salmon & White Bean Kale Saute

Course Main Course
Prep Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 3
Calories 495 kcal
Author CLL

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tbs white miso paste
  • 1 1/2 tbs mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1 1/2 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ginger peeled and grated
  • 3 6 oz salmon fillets skinless
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame seeds toasted
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 6 cups kale spines removed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup white beans canned, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbs pine nuts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp maple syrup

Instructions

Miso Glazed Salmon

  1. Preheat broiler.

  2. Place fillets skin side down on a parchment-line baking pan.

  3. In a small bowl, whisk together miso, mirin, rice vinegar, soy sauce, maple syrup, and ginger. Brush evenly over fish.

  4. Broil for about 8-10 minutes until fish is cooked through. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

White Bean and Kale Saute

  1. Remove spines from kale and chop.

  2. Drain and rinse cannellini beans.

  3. Saute olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.

  4. Add kale and saute until wilted and tender.

  5. Add cannellini beans and pine nuts, and cook until beans are warmed.

  6. Season with salt and pepper.

Nutrition Facts
Miso Glazed Salmon & White Bean Kale Saute
Amount Per Serving
Calories 495 Calories from Fat 270
% Daily Value*
Fat 30g46%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 94mg31%
Sodium 1064mg46%
Carbohydrates 14g5%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 41g82%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Pumpkin Spice Freezer Fudge

Course Dessert
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 16

Ingredients

  • 1 cup drippy natural almond butter
  • 1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil room temperature NOT melted
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup melted dark chocolate optional

Instructions

Make

  1. In a large bowl mix together coconut oil and maple syrup until coconut oil blends into maple syrup.

  2. Add in pumpkin puree, spice and almond butter.

  3. Lay parchment in a 9x9 pan and pour mixture into pan. Spread evenly.

  4. Freeze for at least one hour and then cut into 16 squares.

  5. Drizzle with chocolate if desired.

Recipe Notes

Store in freezer. These must be eaten straight from the freezer. They will begin to melt if left at room temperature. 

 

References:

  1. Brain, J., Tully, P. J., Turnbull, D., Tang, E., Greene, L., Beach, S., Siervo, M., & Stephan, B. C. M. (2022). Risk factors for dementia in the context of cardiovascular disease: A protocol of an overview of reviews. PloS one17(7), e0271611. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0271611
  2. Ma, Y., Ajnakina, O., Steptoe, A., & Cadar, D. (2020). Higher risk of dementia in English older individuals who are overweight or obese. International journal of epidemiology49(4), 1353–1365. https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyaa099
  3. Wei, B. Z., Li, L., Dong, C. W., Tan, C. C., Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, & Xu, W. (2023). The Relationship of Omega-3 Fatty Acids with Dementia and Cognitive Decline: Evidence from Prospective Cohort Studies of Supplementation, Dietary Intake, and Blood Markers. The American journal of clinical nutrition117(6), 1096–1109. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajcnut.2023.04.001
  4. August 2023. Dementia. Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dementia/symptoms-causes/syc-20352013
  5. May 2023. Women and Heart Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/women.htm#:~:text=Heart%20disease%20is%20the%20leading,in%20every%205%20female%20deaths.&text=Research%20has%20shown%20that%20only,is%20their%20number%201%20killer.
  6. January 2023. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mild-cognitive-impairment/symptoms-causes/syc-20354578

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August 28, 2023by Cook Learn Live

When it comes to achieving your fitness goals, nutrition is just as important, if not more, important than exercise. Have you ever felt like you’re getting further away from your fitness goals, or are at a “plateau,” even when you’re exercising regularly? Well, it turns out that your diet could be the main culprit, not your exercise routine.

Studies have shown that nutrition and exercise go hand in hand when it comes to your level of success in the gym. This is for a variety of reasons. For one, you need to be properly fueled going into a workout to get the most out of it. Secondly, what you eat following a workout will directly affect how your muscles recover and grow. 

First off, we’re going to break down the three macronutrients and review their role in performance and recovery. 

Carbohydrates

This one, I know you have all heard of. However, some of you have probably heard or seen carbohydrates as a food component to avoid and/or limit. Well, when it comes to exercise, carbohydrates are actually going to be what fuels your workout.  When you eat a banana, your body will take the carbohydrates in that banana and break them down into glucose, which is the body’s preferred immediate source of energy. When your body doesn’t need fuel right away, it will be stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver for later use.1

When glycogen stores are depleted, as a result of prolonged exercise or not properly fueling, you run out of fuel. Similarly to a car, when it runs out of gas (glycogen), it will lead to exhaustion and will not be able to continue driving.

In addition, a depletion of glycogen stores can cause your body to dip into protein stores.2 This can result in decreased lean muscle mass, reducing strength, endurance, and overall performance.

Long story short, if you’re not prioritizing your carbohydrates before a workout, you could be risking muscle breakdown.

Protein

So if carbohydrates are vital for pre-workout, what’s the key post-workout?  Well, this is where protein comes in. 

You may have heard protein being referred to as “building blocks” for the body. During a process called “muscle protein synthesis,” these building blocks actually assist in muscle repair, recovery, and growth.

When exercising, whether weight lifting, running, jumping, biking, etc., our muscle cells get broken down, leading to damage and tears in the muscle fibers.3 Consuming adequate protein after your workout will help replenish your muscles with the building blocks that they need to repair and build the muscle damage that was caused, leading to muscle growth.4

Fat

Fat is actually another preferred source of energy for your body. If exercise is continued for a significant period of time, fat will serve as the secondary source of energy once all of your glycogen stores are depleted.5

However, it’s not recommended to consume foods high in fat right before a workout, as fat takes longer for the body to digest and could lead to stomach discomfort and fatigue, which can negatively impact your workout.

What to eat before your workout

As a general rule of thumb, you should eat a snack 30-60 minutes before a workout, and a meal 2-3 hours before a workout, to allow for proper digestion.  You want to choose snacks or meals higher in carbohydrates prior to your workout for that boost of energy your body needs. Plus, they are easily and quickly digestible so they won’t leave you feeling sluggish.

Some pre-workout snack ideas:
  • Banana + 2 tablespoons of nut butter
  • Low-fat yogurt + ½ cup of berries + tsp of honey
  • ½ cup oats + ½ cup berries
  • Low-sugar cereal + ½ cup milk

Is there anything that I should avoid before my workout?

Two things you really want to limit or avoid before your workout are foods high in fat and fiber. 

Fiber is a crucial component of a healthy diet. It can help with weight management, cholesterol management, and many more. However, consuming fiber right before exercise can hinder your workout. Fiber is more difficult for our bodies to digest and it is digested in the colon. As a result, eating it right before exercise can lead to an upset stomach.

Although fat does serve as an energy source for our bodies, the breakdown process is much lengthier than it is for carbohydrates. Therefore, a high-fat meal or snack right before your workout may cause you to feel “sluggish” as the body works to break down those fats.

What to eat after your workout

As I mentioned before, protein is crucial for optimal muscle repair and growth. Therefore, choosing foods that are high in protein would be your best bet after a workout.

Post-workout snack ideas:
  • Greek yogurt + berries + nuts
  • Canned tuna + whole grain crackers
  • Hard-boiled eggs + whole-grain toast
  • Turkey slices + cheese slices + apple slices

Quick Tips:

  • Plan ahead! If you know that you’re planning to workout after work, pack a banana or some oats and berries that you can quickly eat before heading to the gym.  Or if your plan is to go to work straight from the gym, try to pack a post-workout protein source, like greek yogurt with berries, or hard-boiled eggs and some fruit or toast.
  • Give it time.  If you’re eating a full meal, try to give your body 2-3 hours to digest it before you dive into your workout.  If you’re eating a small snack, you typically will only need about 30-60 minutes before your workout.
  • Know your supplements. If you’re opting for a protein or energy bar before a workout, you’ll just want to check the label. Protein bars can be higher in fiber (and protein, of course) and sometimes lower in carbohydrates.
  • Food is fuel!  Even if your goal is to lose weight, your body needs food to move the way you want it to during exercise. Cutting corners with nutrition can cause fatigue and muscle breakdown. These two things combined can put you at risk for injury.

Honing in on your nutrition pre- and post-workout will allow you to exercise, staying injury-free and healthy!

Footnotes:

  1. Glycogen: What It Is & Function. Accessed August 24, 2023. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/23509-glycogen
  2. How to Keep Your Body Fueled for Long-Distance Riding – Cleveland Clinic. Accessed August 24, 2023. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-keep-your-body-fueled-for-long-distance-riding/
  3. Jäger R, Kerksick CM, Campbell BI, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017;14:20. doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8
  4. 5 Facts About Protein and Post Workout Recovery | Clif Bar. Accessed August 24, 2023. https://www.clifbar.com/stories/5-facts-about-protein-recovery-after-workout
  5. 5. How nutrients impact physical performance. Mayo Clinic Health System. Accessed August 28, 2023. https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/how-nutrients-impact-physical-performance
Guest author Mary Kate Lonegan, Dietetic Intern, is a recent graduate of Pace University’s Nutrition and Dietetics Masters Program.  She is a retired college athlete, marathon runner, and professional fitness coach.

Recipe Ideas:

Pre-workout Snacks

Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Course Snack
Keyword chocolate chips, dairy free, gluten free, hemp, peanut butter, protein
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 263 kcal
Author Living Plate Teaching Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cups oats quick-cook (gluten free, if needed)
  • 1/2 cups peanut butter creamy
  • 1/3 cups maple syrup
  • 1/2 cups chocolate chips mini
  • 1/4 cups hemp seeds

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Moistness of mixture will depend on type of peanut butter. Add more oats if too wet. If mixture is too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time to make mixture come together.
  2. Roll the mixture into bite-sized (~1-inch) balls.
  3. Enjoy immediately or store in the fridge for 7-10 days.
Nutrition Facts
Peanut Butter Energy Bites
Amount Per Serving
Calories 263 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Sodium 71mg3%
Potassium 190mg5%
Carbohydrates 27g9%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 16g18%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 32IU1%
Calcium 45mg5%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

 

Date Nut Protein Bars

This recipe replicates popular Rx bars. Delicious but expensive to buy, they are easy—and more economical--to make at home with just a food processor and supermarket ingredients. See notes below for flavor variations.

Author based on Rx Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup pure egg white protein powder
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2-4 T. water

Instructions

  1. Line an 8x8 baking pan or ¼ baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

  2. Process nuts and egg white powder in a food processor until the nuts have been chopped into small pieces. Add the salt and flavoring of choice (see below) and pulse a few times to combine.

  3. Add the dates to the food processor and chop until the mixture is fine and crumbly. Depending on the stickiness of the dates the mixture may start to clump together. Add water, one tablespoon at a time as needed, through the feed tube or center hole to the running machine and continue to process until the mixture comes together as a ball. Add only enough water to reach this stage.

  4. Scoop the mixture into the prepared pan and press it into an even layer. It may help to cover the top with plastic wrap or parchment paper and to use a glass or small rolling pin to roll it out evenly. Refrigerate the bars for an hour or freeze for 30 minutes before removing the set mixture on the parchment paper to a cutting board and cutting it into 12 bars with a sharp knife.

  5. Bars can be eaten at room temperature but keep best in the refrigerator or freezer. Wrap bars individually or layer with parchment or plastic to prevent sticking together.

Recipe Notes

  • Mocha bars – add 2 tsp espresso powder and ¼ cup cacao nibs or powder
  • Cinnamon spice bars – add 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Coco-cocoa bars – add ¼ cup cocoa powder and ¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes

 

 

Post-workout Snacks or Meals

Strawberry Cheesecake Chia Pudding

Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Keyword Chia seeds, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, pudding, strawberries
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 4 hours
Servings 2 people
Calories 242 kcal
Author Living Plate Teaching Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cups strawberries fresh, chopped
  • 1/2 cups cottage cheese low-fat
  • 4 Tbs Greek yogurt plain, low-fat
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs maple syrup
  • 1/4 cups chia seeds
  • 1 cups unsweetened almond milk or substitute your milk of choice

Instructions

  1. Chop strawberries.
  2. Add all ingredients to a blender and process until smooth. Divide equally into two covered containers or mason jars and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Nutrition Facts
Strawberry Cheesecake Chia Pudding
Amount Per Serving
Calories 242 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Trans Fat 0.03g
Polyunsaturated Fat 6g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 10mg3%
Sodium 344mg15%
Potassium 317mg9%
Carbohydrates 25g8%
Fiber 9g38%
Sugar 12g13%
Protein 14g28%
Vitamin A 95IU2%
Vitamin C 43mg52%
Calcium 383mg38%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Chunky Monkey Chia Pudding

Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Keyword banana, Chia seeds, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, Greek yogurt, oats, peanut butter
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 240 kcal
Author Living Plate Teaching Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cups almond milk unsweetened or other milk of choice
  • 1 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbs peanut butter powder or nut butter alternative
  • 1 1/2 Tbs cocoa powder unsweetened
  • 1/3 cups chia seeds
  • 1/3 cups quick oats see notes
  • 2 Tbs maple syrup
  • 1 banana chopped just ripe, no brown spots
  • 2 Tbs mini chocolate chips
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Chop banana.
  2. Add all ingredients to a large mason jar (at least 4 cups)
  3. Shake and let stand for 15 minutes. Shake again then place in refrigerator overnight or for at least 4 hours.
  4. Spoon into small bowls and top with additional banana and chips, if desired.
Nutrition Facts
Chunky Monkey Chia Pudding
Amount Per Serving
Calories 240 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Trans Fat 0.04g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 4mg1%
Sodium 205mg9%
Potassium 309mg9%
Carbohydrates 34g11%
Fiber 8g33%
Sugar 16g18%
Protein 11g22%
Vitamin A 58IU1%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 249mg25%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Chickpea Protein Pancake (CLL)

Chickpea Protein Pancake

Try this savory pancake for a protein packed lunch, brunch, or light dinner topped with whatever you like or as a side to soak up the sauces from a curry or stew. Try pairing with salsa, avocado, and hummus for a healthy lunch, or feel free to make your own combinations. Chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour is available where gluten free flours are sold—Bob’s Red Mill is a commonly found brand.

Servings 4 servings
Calories 104 kcal
Author based on a recipe from www.ohsheglows.com

Ingredients

  • 2 scallions finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper finely chopped
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup water plus 4 tbsp
  • cooking spray/ olive oil

Instructions

  1. Mince the scallions, garlic and red bell pepper.

  2. In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, salt, pepper, baking soda and red pepper flakes. Whisk in the water vigorously (you want a light airy batter with lots of little bubbles). Gently fold in the scallions, garlic, and bell pepper.

  3. Spray a 10 or 12 inch nonstick skillet with cooking spray or drizzle in 2 teaspoons of olive oil and place over medium heat. When the skillet is very hot (a drop of water will sizzle when it hits the pan) pour in half of the batter and swirl to coat the pan in an even layer.

  4. Cook for 4-5 minutes and then flip carefully and cook for another 5 minutes or until done through. Repeat with additional cooking spray and the remaining batter.

Recipe Notes

  • Feel free to make thinner or thicker pancakes as desired.  Crepe-thin pancakes without chopped vegetables can be used as gluten-free wraps for sandwiches.
  • Try sautéed mushrooms, corn, cooked chopped spinach or broccoli, or other vegetables inside the pancake batter as you like.  Feel free to add more spice as well.
Nutrition Facts
Chickpea Protein Pancake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 104 Calories from Fat 15
% Daily Value*
Fat 1.66g3%
Carbohydrates 16.59g6%
Fiber 3.43g14%
Sugar 3.9g4%
Protein 5.7g11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

High-Protein Peanut Butter Yogurt with Pear (or Apple) Slices

Course Breakfast, Snack
Keyword apple, Greek yogurt, hemp, peanut butter, pear
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 2 people
Calories 355 kcal
Author Living Plate Teaching Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Greek yogurt 2%
  • 1/4 cups peanut butter powder
  • 2 pears sliced (or substitute 2 apples)
  • 2 Tbs hemp seeds

Instructions

  1. Mix peanut butter powder into the yogurt.
  2. Spread on pear slices or dip, sprinkle with hemp seeds, and enjoy!
Nutrition Facts
High-Protein Peanut Butter Yogurt with Pear (or Apple) Slices
Amount Per Serving
Calories 355 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Trans Fat 0.01g
Polyunsaturated Fat 6g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 10mg3%
Sodium 168mg7%
Potassium 488mg14%
Carbohydrates 40g13%
Fiber 8g33%
Sugar 25g28%
Protein 32g64%
Vitamin A 180IU4%
Vitamin C 8mg10%
Calcium 269mg27%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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October 16, 2018by Cook Learn Live0

Most Americans get enough protein in their diets, but there are some people for whom additional protein is needed or who might have to work a little bit harder to meet their daily and weekly needs. For some, it may be difficult to consume enough protein due to a decreased appetite or interest in eating, while others choose to increase their intake specifically to encourage growth and development.  Some lifestyles and dietary patterns also require more creativity in meal planning and cooking to make sure protein needs are met.

Who can benefit from additional protein?

Children who are underweight are in need of a nutrient-rich diet. Allowing them to consume empty calories from less healthy foods will help with weight gain, but will not give them the proper nutrients needed to keep them healthy during growth. Healthy sources of protein can aid in both growth and muscle development.

Bodybuilders or those performing resistance training or strenuous endurance exercises also need more protein. The protein is used to help repair and rebuild the muscles that have been damaged during a workout. Without enough protein, the muscles will not have the building blocks necessary for recovery and growth.

Older individuals require more protein as well. Beyond age 14, the Recommended Dietary Allowances for protein remain the same, and therefore do not reflect the increased protein need of older individuals. However, it is known that as individuals age muscle loss increases and muscle growth decreases. This muscle loss is known as sarcopenia and begins around the age of 50. The rate of muscle loss can be slowed by incorporating good quality protein accompanied by physical activity.

Vegetarians and/or Vegans need to plan their meals carefully to make sure that they get enough protein.  Without the concentrated proteins found in animal products, those following vegetarian diets need to make sure that they are having enough of the plant-based proteins they rely on to meet their needs.

So how can you get more protein into your meals?  Look for as many ways as possible to add it in creatively to every meal, including dessert.   Adding protein to desserts will increase the overall protein content of your food, helping you meet your daily goal. It also means you don’t have to worry about relying on protein-heavy main courses because your dessert will be just as satisfying. The protein added to your desserts will also help replace some of the processed sugars and flour commonly used. This will cut down those extra calories, and keep you feeling great by satisfying your cravings in a more nutritious way.

Three great ways to add protein to desserts are with the use of tofu, beans, and Greek yogurt.

Tofu is made from soybeans and is a great complete protein source, containing all 9 essential amino acids. It is an excellent source of calcium and iron. Tofu comes in multiple textures (extra firm, firm, and soft) and the different textures have varied uses. The extra firm and firm tofu can be used in a stir fry, baked, grilled, fried, or crumbled. Soft tofu has a creamier texture that is easy to blend, making it a great substitution for higher fat dairy products. Silken tofu stars in these recipes for Mexican Chocolate Pudding (recipe below) and Mind-Blowing Vegan Chocolate Pie from the blog Pinch of Yum for a great dairy-free alternative with a lower saturated fat content.

Beans such as chickpeas and black beans are as healthy as they are economical. They contain protein, fiber, B vitamins, folate, and antioxidants. These rich Black Bean Brownies from the Chocolate-Covered Katie blog and my Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookie Dough Bites (recipe below) are a must-try!

Plain Greek yogurt contains less sugar and about two times more protein than regular yogurt. It is also packed with probiotics, the good bacteria in your gut that help out your digestive system. Nonfat plain Greek yogurt can be swapped for high-fat ingredients in recipes, such as cream cheese, sour cream, or mayonnaise. This will not only cut calories, but it will reduce the saturated fat content as well, while adding a significant amount of protein. Check out my mother’s recipe for rich Greek Yogurt Cheesecake and Cook Learn Live’s delicious Yogurt Blueberry Fool, both made with nonfat plain Greek yogurt.  Both recipes are below.

Enjoy these satisfying and delicious protein-packed treats. I find that the best feeling is to eat something that tastes amazing, and is also nutritionally good for you. Warning: These recipes may end up replacing your classic dessert recipes. Feel free to try substituting these ingredients into your favorite recipes to see what dessert variations you can come up with!

Guest Author Yocheved Millman, MS, is a dietetic intern at Hunter College School of Public Health. She loves experimenting with healthy cooking and baking in her spare time.

RECIPES

Mexican Chocolate (Tofu) Pudding

Rich, dark chocolate. Very little sugar. A pinch of chili powder. Easy to make in the blender when chocolate cravings strike. Oh, and dairy free thanks to silken tofu.
Servings 5 servings
Calories 295 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar OR 1/3 cup agave nectar or honey
  • 1 # low fat silken tofu
  • 8 oz high-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder or more to taste
  • Chocolate shavings optional

Instructions

  1. If using the sugar combine it in a small pot with 3/4 cup water; bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly. Skip this step if you are using the agave nectar or honey.
  2. Put the chocolate in a glass or plastic microwave-safe bowl. Cook for 1 minute on high power, then remove the bowl and stir the chocolate until it is completely melted. It may be necessary to return the bowl to the microwave and cook for an additional 15 to 30 seconds at a time to help speed the melting.
  3. Put the tofu, sweetener, vanilla, spices, and melted chocolate into a blender and purée until completely smooth, stopping machine to scrape down its sides if necessary. Divide among 4 to 6 individual ramekins and chill for at least 30 minutes. If you like, garnish with chocolate shavings before serving.
Nutrition Facts
Mexican Chocolate (Tofu) Pudding
Amount Per Serving
Calories 295 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Fat 13g20%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Sodium 34mg1%
Potassium 292mg8%
Carbohydrates 43g14%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 39g43%
Protein 7g14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookie Dough Bites

This recipe is a delicious treat that is packed with a variety of healthy nutrients and contains no flour, eggs, or oil. The chickpeas and nut butters provide a great source of fiber and protein, and the flaxseeds provide heart-healthy omega-3’s. The batter bakes up nicely into rounded cookie bites with gooey centers, or just eat it by the spoonful!
Course Dessert, Snack
Keyword chickpeas, chocolate chips, cookie dough, dairy free, egg free, flax, gluten free, nuts, protein
Prep Time 12 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 15 (2 Cookie Dough Bites or 2 Tbsp. Dough)
Calories 173 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal ground flaxseeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a food processor or high-speed blender and blend/pulse until well combined. Use a spatula to scrape the sides down and blend for another minute, checking the batter to make sure that there are no chunks or pieces of bean skin visible. The finished dough should be very soft and sticky.
  2. Transfer the dough to a bowl, fold in the chocolate chips, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  The dough can be eaten as is or shaped into balls for baking or freezing.

  3. To bake, preheat oven to 350 ˚F. Use a 2-inch scoop or a tablespoon to portion the cookie dough. Drop the dough onto a parchment lined sheet pant, rolling the dough into balls if desired. Place cookie sheet in the center of the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown. The cooke bites should be slightly firm on the outside but still soft to the touch. Remove the tray from the oven and let the cookie bites cool on the tray.
  4. To freeze, shape the dough into balls as for baking and place on a lined sheet pan. Place the tray in the freezer until the dough is firm. The dough balls can then be stored in a zip top bag or airtight container. Frozen dough balls can be eaten as is or baked directly from the freezer following the baking instructions above.

Recipe Notes

  • Make mini cookie bites by using a 1-inch scoop or a heaping, rounded teaspoonful of dough.  Bake for 12-14 minutes.
  • For a stronger peanut flavor, feel free to substitute some or all of the almond butter with peanut butter.
  • For a lower fat option, 3 tablespoons powdered peanut butter with 1.5 tablespoons of water works well in place of the regular peanut butter.
  • The honey can be substituted with equal amounts of other sweeteners such as maple syrup or stevia.
Nutrition Facts
Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookie Dough Bites
Amount Per Serving (2 bites (or 2 Tbsp. dough))
Calories 173 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Sodium 21mg1%
Potassium 229mg7%
Carbohydrates 25g8%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin C 1.7mg2%
Calcium 30mg3%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Greek Yogurt Cheesecake Bites

These light and creamy cheesecake bites are the perfect size for dessert. You would never guess, but these bites are packed with protein from Greek yogurt with absolutely no compromise on taste or texture. This recipe is made with a heart-healthy nut crust, making it gluten free, as well as a great addition to your Passover menu!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 15 Cheesecake Bites
Calories 174 kcal
Author Malka Millman

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 ½ cups ground pecans
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Filling:

  • 1 8 oz package reduced-fat cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons fat-free milk
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch or arrowroot

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 ℉. Using two standard muffin tins pans, line 15 cups with paper cupcake liners. Spray the insides with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, use an electric mixer on high speed to beat the egg white until stiff. Fold in the ground nuts and sugar. Press a spoonful of the nut mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Bake for 10 minutes, then take the muffin tins out of the oven to cool.
  3. In a mixing bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, beating in one at a time, and the vanilla and make sure all is well combined. In a smaller bowl, combine the potato starch or arrowroot with the milk and mix until dissolved to prevent lumps. Add the milk mixture to the mixing bowl and beat until completely smooth.
  4. Distribute the filling into the prepared crusts in the cupcake pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the centers are mostly set. It is ok if they are still a little bit soft at the very center when the pan is removed from the oven. They will harden as they cool.
  5. Allow the cheesecake bites to cool off completely in the muffin tin, then refrigerate until served.

Recipe Notes

Feel free to substitute any other nuts for the ground pecans in the nut crust. Try walnuts or almonds.

For those with a nut allergy, or for an even lower fat option, the nut crust can be omitted completely.

Feel free to decorate the top of the cheesecake bites with berries, fruit, or nuts for a decorative look.

This recipe also works well as a whole cheesecake. For a 9-inch round pan, double the recipe and increase the baking time to 1 hour.

Nutrition Facts
Greek Yogurt Cheesecake Bites
Amount Per Serving
Calories 174 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 31mg10%
Sodium 93mg4%
Potassium 138mg4%
Carbohydrates 15g5%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 13g14%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 130IU3%
Vitamin C 0.1mg0%
Calcium 64mg6%
Iron 0.4mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Yogurt Blueberry Fool

This is a simple and delicious dessert made with lightly sweetened blueberries combined with a whipped cream and high-protein yogurt base. It’s also a great way to get in an extra serving of antioxidant-rich fruit, while limiting added sugars. Serve in individual stemmed glasses with some fresh berries and a spoonful of lemon curd on top for a fast, elegant dessert presentation—or feel free to make it all in one glass bowl and serve family style!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 229 kcal
Author Cook Learn Live

Ingredients

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Combine the blueberries, water, and honey to a small saucepan. Warm over low heat, then simmer until just starting to soften and burst, about three to five minutes. Crush the berries roughly with a fork, leaving some whole, and allow to cool.
  2. When the blueberry mixture has cooled, combine it with the Greek yogurt in a bowl.
  3. Beat the cream with an electric mixer until peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the berry and yogurt mixture, leaving noticeable swirls. Separate into four single-serve dishes. Serve immediately or allow to set in the refrigerator for 1 hour before eating.

Recipe Notes

Feel free to substitute other fresh berries as available, or to combine the blueberries with strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries to taste.

Fresh berries not in season?  Substitute frozen berries in equal amounts, but omit the added water in the first step.

Nutrition Facts
Yogurt Blueberry Fool
Amount Per Serving
Calories 229 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 57mg19%
Sodium 37mg2%
Potassium 170mg5%
Carbohydrates 18g6%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 13g14%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 625IU13%
Vitamin C 7.4mg9%
Calcium 95mg10%
Iron 0.2mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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August 13, 2018by Cook Learn Live0

Breakfast Basics was one of the classes in our recent Feed Your Family Right series.  We covered what it takes to build a healthy breakfast and try out a few recipes for delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare ways to start the day.  Here’s a sneak peek at what we discussed about oatmeal, including some ideas for fast and easy prep!

Oatmeal is a great way to start your day.  Filling and warm, it can really keep you going through your morning.  Studies have shown that beta-glucan, the soluble fiber in oats, can help to lower LDL cholesterol and to slow down digestion time, helping with glucose control.  The insoluble fiber in the oats fills you up and reduces hunger cravings for hours after eating. Oatmeal is inexpensive and gluten free (those with celiac – make sure that your package says so), and can be the perfect blank canvas for your favorite fruits and flavorings.

Do you love homemade oatmeal but lack the time in the morning to make it fresh every day? Don’t reach for a packet of the sugary stuff, try our two hints for advance preparation and enjoy a warming bowl in as little as two minutes.

  • If you have a favorite oatmeal recipe or brand already, make a large batch and freeze in individual containers.  Take one out of the freezer and place into the fridge before you go to bed, and then zap it in the microwave in the morning for about 90 seconds at high power.  Stir to make sure that the oatmeal is fully heated and then top as desired.
  • Don’t want to even wash a pot?  Try overnight soaked oatmeal instead.  Place equal amounts by volume of old-fashioned oats and your liquid of choice (water, milk, or a milk replacer such as almond or coconut milk) into a container with a lid, stir to combine, cover and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, scoop out your serving into a bowl, heat for 60 to 90 seconds, and serve with your choice of toppings.

Ingredients for today’s batch of overnight oatmeal – equal volumes of old fashioned rolled oats and almond milk.
Want some ideas for topping your oatmeal?  Think fruit, nuts, and seeds and try to stay away from a lot of sugary sweet toppings.  Chopped fresh fruit or a spoonful of sugar free or low sugar fruit preserves add sweetness, as would a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup.  Go easy when using dried fruits as their sugars are pretty concentrated.  Toasted chopped nuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, and nutty flax seeds or hemp hearts all make great additions and up the ante with heart healthy unsaturated fats, omega 3’s and protein.  Try swirling in a bit of plain or vanilla low-fat yogurt for a creamier alternative, or even your favorite nut butter.  Turn your soaked oats into muesli by adding some apple juice to the soaking liquid and then stirring in plain yogurt and chopped apples before serving.


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August 13, 2018by Cook Learn Live0

One of the most important tools in any kitchen is a good knife.  A chef’s knife and a paring knife are all that you really need to efficiently and effectively prepare any dish – plus maybe a good serrated bread knife.  When choosing a knife, look for one that is made of stainless or carbon steel and that has a sturdy handle.  It is also important to make sure that the knife is the right size for the cook.  Most adults can work effectively with an eight-inch chef’s knife, but six-inch and twelve-inch options are available for those with smaller or larger hands.

A good knife should have some heft to it.  Remember that much of what makes a knife an effective tool is not just its sharpness (we’ll get to that in a minute) but also the power that it provides.  A knife is a lever and a wedge (remember high school physics?) and a heavier blade closer to the user’s hand will help to deliver more power.  As for that blade, keep it sharp with regular honing and semi-frequent sharpening by a professional with a whetstone or grinder.  A sharp knife is a safer knife.  Which would you rather have – a clean cut that can be easily sutured or a jagged one?  Before you purchase a knife, test it for balance to be sure that the weight of the steel is evenly distributed.  Hold out your palm face up with the middle three fingers out.  Rest the juncture of the handle and the wide part of the blade on your fingers and let the knife come to balance.  A well-balanced knife will lay still and not tilt to one side or the other.

A good knife is an investment that can last a long time.

Most good quality, basic knives cost around $75 dollars but with proper care can last for many, many years.  One of the first knives I purchased for culinary class nearly twenty years ago is a little narrower from years of sharpening, but still handles great.  If you are considering purchasing a knife for your own kitchen or as a gift, keep an eye out for Henckels’ annual factory sales in Westchester and Manhattan in the fall.  It’s a great way to get a good deal on a high-quality knife.

 

A good knife can help to make a cook more efficient, but only if used properly.  The first class in our Back to Basics series is Knife Skills for a good reason.  Once you get to know the proper way to handle a knife you will work faster and more efficiently and no longer feel daunted by a recipe that calls for lots of chopping!  Get in touch with us to schedule your knife skills class or buy a gift certificate for your friend or loved one to learn how to use their new knife.


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August 10, 2018by Cook Learn Live0

I am obsessed with savory yogurt and vegetable parfaits.  There, I said it.  Phew, its off my chest.

This obsession goes way beyond simple recipe development.  It has become an almost daily ritual to come up with new savory breakfast and lunch (and sometimes even dinner) combinations of veggies and seasonings to top off my plain Greek-style yogurt.

Yogurt is a great source of the healthy bacteria that colonize our bodies, helping to boost our immune functions and metabolism.  Greek-style yogurt – yogurt that has been drained of most of its liquid whey – is not only thick and creamy, but is also a great source of protein.  For everyday consumption, I stick with a 1% or 2% milk fat yogurt, although we do occasionally splurge on a whole milk option. I make my own yogurt pretty often (it’s really easy) but feel free to buy your favorite supermarket brand of yogurt.  Look for brands that specifically state that they include live cultures, and check ingredients lists for gums and fillers such as cellulose and pectin, trying to stay as close as possible to a list limited to just milk and cultures.

I’ve cooked with Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream for years, so the idea of using it as an ingredient in a savory dip or spread wasn’t new.  We are big tzatziki and raita fans here – used to mixing garlic, herbs, and veggies into yogurt as a cooling sauce.  One of my daughter’s favorite recipes is Yotam Ottolenghi’s sautéed chard dish topped with a dollop of yogurt mixed with olive oil and salt.  But my obsession with using yogurt and savory ingredients in parfait-style arrangements that have changed how I compose a meal.

I often lightly sweetened my plain yogurt with honey, agave or maple syrup and used it to top a bowl of fruit, but that got boring and sometimes felt too sweet for breakfast.  My veggie yogurt parfaits are high in fiber and protein, lower in carbohydrates, and honestly give me a lot more interesting flavors to enjoy.

It all started a few weeks ago when my daughter and I sampled Sohha’s savory yogurt and mix-ins at the Mamaroneck Farmers’ Market.  Not only do they make an outstanding, rich, creamy yogurt with just a touch of sea salt, they also sell a number of olive oil-based seasoning blends to add to the yogurt.  We tasted them all, and although the Za’atar blend was really good, we opted for the Everything Bagel blend of sesame, poppy, toasted garlic, caraway seed and salt. At home, I mixed a little of the seasoning with a container of their low-fat yogurt and used it as a dressing for a salad of shredded kohlrabi and apples with crumbled blue cheese over baby arugula.  So delicious!

The door was open and I was not going back.  The next day I breakfasted on a bowl of chopped raw red and yellow peppers, cucumber, grape tomatoes, and parsley topped with plain yogurt and a drizzle of the Everything blend.  When we ran out of the premade blend I began making up my own combinations, raiding my spice cabinet and crisper drawer for new ideas.  Paprika and chopped garlic?  Check! Cumin, coriander and chili powder? Yup.  Then we hit the spice blends.  The same combination of chopped vegetables tossed with a little lemon juice – basically a quick Israeli salad – was topped with a dollop of plain yogurt, drizzled with a teaspoon of good olive oil, and then sprinkled with Za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mixture featuring sesame seeds, hyssop, and ground sumac.  Dukkah, a north African spice mixture featuring toasted, ground hazelnuts got subbed in the next day and the combination of the creamy yogurt, vegetal olive oil, and rich hazelnuts was mind blowing.

On Monday night, my “to go” dinner for a late meeting was a bowl of baby spinach topped with red and yellow peppers sautéed in roasted garlic oil, cubes of toasted multigrain sourdough bread, a dollop of Greek yogurt, and za’atar.  Today’s lunch is a bowl of left over roasted vegetables – eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and fennel – topped with yogurt and some leftover pesto sauce.  I layer the ingredients in the bowl parfait-style and then dig through the layers with a spoon, getting a slightly different combination of flavors with each mouthful.  Next up on the list to try is a bowl of rainbow quinoa and chopped raw veggies topped with yogurt and dukkah.

Try opening up your spice cabinet and treating your next bowl of yogurt to some of your favorites and adding some raw or cooked veggies to the mix.  Maybe you will become obsessed, too!

Interested in making your own yogurt?  It’s really easy to do.  Try Melissa Clark’s New York Times recipe.  No special equipment is needed—just a pot and a warm location!  Email Jenna@cooklearnlive.com for my tips and tricks for making great yogurt at home.


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August 10, 2018by Cook Learn Live0

Maybe I am a bit of a science geek, but I think that it is important to understand some of the research behind nutritional choices before we decide to eliminate products from our diets or those of our families.  Are you considering or have you decided to eliminate high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from your family’s diet?  If so, on what did you base that decision?  The video below from the Washington Post was created by the American Chemical Society to explain the difference between HFCS and regular table sugar. (VIDEO IS IN ORIGINAL BLOG)

So now what do you think?  When I learned about the chemistry of sugar and HFCS back in biochemistry class it made me take a minute to think about the choice I had made to eliminate HFCS from my kitchen and to choose products made with regular sugar on both nutritional and ethical grounds.  Yes, glucose and fructose are used differently in our bodies, but either way we are taking in added sweeteners that will have an effect on us.  Sugar is sugar, right?  Yes, but… don’t forget the values question.  The production of HFCS links back to our dependence on subsidized corn and monocultures.  Plus, I try to stay away from buying foods that are “engineered” for production, so HFCS loses ground in my estimation compared to sugar in its more natural forms.  Eliminating almost all packaged, processed foods from my pantry has minimized my family’s at-home HFCS consumption.

As with many other food items, I believe in moderation vs. elimination in otherwise healthy people with no significant, nutritionally-based or managed health issues or allergies. To me, the key point of this video is not HFCS vs. sugar but more the final message about the amount of either sweetener that we choose to eat.  I don’t believe that a little HFCS now and then will kill me.  I do believe that choosing to eat large amounts of any sweetened food is a problem.  So, while I tend to lean towards foods sweetened with natural sugars, honey, agave, and maple or other natural syrups instead of HFCS, I feel that it is most important to moderate my intake of all sweetened foods regardless of the type of sweetener used. That means that desserts and sweet baked goods are “sometimes” treats, not every day requirements; that sweetened beverages are an occasional indulgence and not an everyday occurrence; and that the grain products I provide for my family are minimally, if at all, sweetened.

We are constantly bombarded with information about what we should and shouldn’t be eating.  Before you make a choice to add or subtract something from your diet, take the time to do a little research and make sure that you are making the best decision for you. Look for studies by impartial researchers and make sure that claims are not being biased by special interest groups who have an economic stake in how you spend your food dollars. Whether its HFCS or other food


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August 10, 2018by Cook Learn Live0

We’ve all heard “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and its true that apples are generally good for us.  An average medium size apple has 95 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and provides 14% of our daily requirement of vitamin C.  The soluble fiber and antioxidants in apples have been shown to have a positive impact on lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), reducing inflammation, and lowering the risk of heart disease.  Sounds pretty good, right?  Well, what do you do when you have too many apples?

My family belongs to a CSA — a community supported agriculture program where we pay in advance for a weekly share of seasonal produce from a local farm.  We generally love the vegetables and fruits that we get from Stoneledge Farm, but every fall we find ourselves falling behind (no pun intended) the weekly onslaught of apples that come in our fruit share.  This year we didn’t even do our annual apple picking trip, and we still have a huge bowlful on the counter.

So, what do we do with all of those apples?  Desserts are the obvious choice, but not always the healthiest one.  Of course, there are plenty of recipes out there for unsweetened applesauce, baked apples, crumbles, crisps and pies with limited amounts of sweeteners and saturated fats, but they all relegate apples to the dessert end of the spectrum.

I love to find uses for apples in savory dishes.  The key is to use them in recipes where their crisp natural sweetness, gentle acidity, and crunch can play well with the other ingredients.  Salads are the easy answer, especially those featuring dark, flavorful greens such as spinach and kale.  Diced or shredded apples add a nice sweetness to ribbons of Italian Lacinato (or dinosaur) kale dressed with a vinaigrette of cider vinegar whisked with olive oil and grainy or Dijon mustard.  Try adding shredded apples to shredded cabbage for a sweet turn on coleslaw, or mix with shredded carrots, beets, jicama or kohlrabi for a great, crisp salad — made even better with the addition of toasted walnuts or pumpkin seeds on top.  Apples can also add sweet magic to vegetable and grain dishes.  Try sautéing apple slices with shredded cabbage or roasting apple chunks with sweet potatoes, or toss raw or roasted apples into cooked grains.

Apples work great as a naturally sweet counterpoint to chicken, turkey and pork.  I love serving apples simply sautéed in a little olive oil — with or without onions or shallots — and a sprinkling of thyme or rosemary with grilled chicken, lean pork chops, and pork or turkey tenderloin. (If you haven’t yet discovered turkey tenderloins, search them out!)  Try Eating Well’s recipe for Chicken & Spiced Apples— a fan favorite!  For a great all-in-one autumn dinner, my recipe for Maple Glazed Chicken Thighs with Roasted Squash, Apples, and Onions is below.  Hmm, that looks like a good use for you, oh growing pile of butternut squash, also from the CSA!

So, go forth confidently into the Fall knowing that when life gives you lots and lots of apples you can make so much more than just pie and applesauce.  Take a walk on the savory side and that pile of apples will soon dwindle.  Let me know what you come up with — I can always use more inspiration in the kitchen!

Maple Glazed Chicken Thighs with Roasted Squash, Apples & Onions

The best flavors of fall - squash, apples, onions, and maple syrup - are incorporated into this healthy chicken dish chock full of Vitamins A and C. Marinating skinless chicken thighs infuses the meat with flavor and roasting the squash and apples brings out their rich caramel notes. Serve with simple sautéed or steamed greens such as spinach, kale, or chard, or crisply cooked green beans to balance the sweetness of the dish.
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups 1/2 in cubed peeled butternut squash 1 1/2 lbs
  • 3 medium onions cut into thin wedges with root end intact
  • 2 medium crisp apples cored, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 and ½ tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 tsp. salt divided
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ½ # boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • ¼ cup sherry or cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  2. Combine the maple syrup, vinegar, remaining olive oil, and remaining salt and pepper in a non-reactive bowl or lidded container. Stir to combine, add the chicken and coat well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine squash, onions, apples, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ tsp salt, ½ teaspoon ground pepper, and thyme. Toss well to coat. Arrange squash mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet or large baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once, or until squash is cooked through and all vegetables are nicely caramelized. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  4. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade (reserving the marinade) and place into the skillet, making sure that pieces do not touch or overlap. Brown the chicken evenly on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Once browned, remove the chicken and keep warm. Pour the remaining marinade into the pan; bring to a boil while scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula, and cook down until reduced by half. Remove from the heat. Place the chicken pieces into the pan of roasted vegetables and pour the marinade over everything, gently mixing to coat well. Return the pan to a 350° oven for 15 minutes to allow the sauce to glaze and ensure that the chicken is fully cooked.

Recipe Notes

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs cook rather quickly while remaining juicy. All poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165° F to ensure that it is safe to eat.