Healthy Lunch Suggestions For Work

Healthy Lunch Suggestions For Work

Question:

Two questions for you, actually! Hope you don’t mind!

1.) I’m struggling to think of easy, healthy options to take with me to work to eat for lunch. I’m not much of a meat eater, but I do like chicken. Any suggestions?

2.) I’m also struggling with the fact that it’s winter, and all my cravings seem to be the warm, unhealthy “comfort foods”. I’m lately craving mac and cheese, heavy soups, and things of that nature. Any suggestions for something that’s “warm and cuddly” without all the fat and calories? Thank you so much!

– Megan K.

Answer:

For easy, healthy lunch options my suggestion would be to assemble wraps and hearty salads/soups, or to use leftovers. Roll up some hummus, cucumber, tomato and feta in a spinach or sun-dried tomato tortilla. You can add a handful of beans and chicken breast strips to a pre-made salad in a bag. Since it takes a full can of soup (2 cups) to make a decent meal, pair the soup with raw produce so you don’t add sodium. Leftovers are quickest, of course – just place in the containers you’ll take to work when storing them.

Enjoy the comfort foods as a smaller side dishes instead of as a main entrée, or find ways to lighten the recipes. For instance, using low-fat cheese plus adding ham and peas in your mac & cheese, or having a scoop of the real thing accompanied by a grilled chicken breast and steamed broccoli. A bisque soup or chowder pairs with whole grain bread sticks and celery stalks. My all-time favorite warm treat is made by spreading almond butter on freshly made rye toast, topping with apple slices and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and placing back under the broiler. Using fresh ingredients from room temperature (except meats/dairy) enhances the flavors and makes heating quick.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

 

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


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Is Coffee OK Before A Workout? | Q+A

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Question:

Is it OK to eat/drink an apple/coffee 1 hour before working out?

– Pavan

Answer:

Yes, an apple and cup of coffee are okay to eat/drink an hour before working out.

If your workout is intense and prolonged, you may want to supplement a little protein with the apple or a light workout drink during exercise. Alternatively, if you’ve eaten a LARGE meal within 3 hours prior to your workout, you can skip your described snack.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Healthy Alternatives for Baking Favorites

Healthy Alternatives for Baking Favorites

What says “love” better than a home-baked treat? But certainly the intent is equivalent to a warm hug, not a blanket of excess sugar, saturated fat and calories. You can still indulge in a sweet breakfast or dessert without the guilt by making a few ingredient substitutions.

The key to modifying a recipe with more healthful ingredients is to retain flavor and texture. Keeping volume and moisture/dryness equivalent will help the texture turn out great. Butter and sugar don’t have strong flavors so replacing these with sweet and creamy alternatives is easy. If need be, flavor can be enhanced with extracts or spices.

Below are common substitutions to increase fiber and decrease fat and sugar. Using the appropriate option for your particular recipe will keep your baked good in top shape out of the oven.

FLOUR, 1 Cup:     use 1 C. whole wheat flour, 1 C. nut flour or 1/3 C. coconut flour. For brownies, 1 cup pureed black beans can be substituted for flour. Due to the heaviness of nut flours, you’ll need additional rising agent (baking soda or powder). When using coconut flour, add an extra egg to help hold your batter together.

SUGAR:                use natural honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, applesauce, mashed ripened bananas or coconut sugar. You may need to slightly reduce liquid elsewhere if opting for one of the first four liquid substitutes.

EGG, 1 whole:      use 2 egg whites or 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal soaked in 3 Tbsp water

BUTTER:               half the amount can be replaced with applesauce, mashed ripened bananas, or nut butters. Various oils can be used as well, but they are full-fat replacements and require less volume (e.g. ¾ C oil to 1 C butter). As another option, to replace a cup of butter (2 sticks), use 3 Tbsp chia seeds soaked in a cup of water.

CREAM CHEESE:  use Greek yogurt (may blend with cheesecake pudding mix to omit additional eggs/sugar for cheesecake)

A few more tips for healthy baked goods

A little goes a long way, so keep portions small. With a greater yield, there’s more to share and the batch will last you longer!

You don’t need to fill a serving plate or bowl to make an impression; use a doily (lace paper), leave room for mint leaves and berries to garnish, or drizzle fruit sauce across the plate.


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Key Targets of a Healthful Nutrition Plan | Q+A

Key Targets of a Healthful Nutrition Plan | Q+A

Question:

For people who are barely starting to exercise, what would you recommend on a planned diet? I am over 180 pounds and I see and read diet plans. But as a person who is starting to exercise I was curious if there are any recommendations for diet plans. I know this will all depend on maybe a personal assessment but I just wanted to ask.

– Esme

Answer:

Welcome to the LA Fitness family, Esme! It’s great that you began exercising and want to add in a planned diet. It’s okay to focus on your new exercise routine for a while and once you’ve got that established, then address your nutrition.

What I’d specifically recommend really all depends on what your diet is like now. You should start with assessing your current diet to see where you can improve. Keep a food diary for a few days and enter it into a dietary analysis program, app or website that will show the average calories, fat breakdown, protein, carbohydrate breakdown, and vitamins/minerals you consume.

If there are areas you know need to change, and you can practically address those, start there. You’ll have greater long-term success by amending how you eat rather than adopting a rigid, generic plan that doesn’t take into account your preferences and lifestyle. See our previous article “The 3 Pronged Attack for Weight Loss – DIET.”

That said, you may want to look at some key targets of a healthful nutrition plan:

  • Hydration – drink at least 1 ounce of water per 2 pounds body weight daily
  • Fiber – eat at least 25 grams dietary fiber daily from vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fruit
  • Low Saturated and Trans Fat – consume no more than 7-10% of your daily calories from saturated fat and limit yourself to 2 gm trans fat daily
  • Consistent meals/snacks – try to follow regular eating times that fit your schedule and consume similar volumes
  • Limit convenience foods – opt for fresh and raw whenever possible instead of something prepared (e.g. apple vs. applesauce, baked potato vs. French fries)
  • Practice portion control – take small servings and eat just enough to satisfy your hunger

Readers, are there other GENERAL tips that worked for you when starting out that you’d like to share? Enter them in the comments area below!

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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What Is a Good Alternative to Grains? | Q+A

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Question:

What is a good alternative to grains as a way to complement the protein in legumes? Legumes are nutrient dense in many ways, including protein. But legume protein is low in methionine, an amino acid that our bodies cannot make.  For this reason legumes have traditionally been combined with grains, which are high in methionine.  Grains are low in another amino acid our bodies cannot make, lysine.  Legumes are high in lysine.  For this reason, legume and grain proteins are said to be complimentary. But if I am considering a long term dietary shift away from grains, I cannot be reassured by that. We still need to combine our proteins well over the course of several days. Unfortunately, grains are not a nutrient dense food. They are very high in starch and low in phytonutrients. So, what are some nutrient dense sources of methionine and cysteine?  Or, in simpler terms, what is a good alternative to grains as a way to compliment legume protein?

– Benjamin H.

Answer:

Vegan diets do tend to be low in methionine1, one of the essential amino acids. Interestingly enough, it’s actually proposed that a lower methionine intake is better for longevity1.

The World Health Organization recommends the adult dietary requirement is 10.4 mg of methionine per kg body weight per day to cover obligatory oxidative loses2. Whereas the US Recommended Dietary Allowances combine the methionine requirement with cysteine (a non-essential amino acid) for a total of 19 mg combined of methionine and cysteine/kg/day3. In plant foods, there are about equal amounts of methionine and cysteine.

“Wheat and rice proteins are comparatively low in lysine but better sources of methionine whereas beans and peas are relatively high in lysine yet in lower methionine.” — www.vegsoc.org/protein

Here are selected non-grain plant foods highest in methionine, given in common portions/(gram weight) with corresponding protein content4:

 

Brazil nuts, dried

Soybeans, boiled

Chia seeds, dried

White beans, canned

Sunflower seed kernels, dry roasted

Russet potato, baked w/ skin

Chickpeas/Garbanzo, canned

Peanuts, Spanish

Red potato, baked w/ skin

Spinach, cooked

Coconut milk, canned

Peaches, dried

Turnip greens, cooked from frozen

Corn kernels, cooked from frozen

Avocado, California

Spinach, boiled

Brown mushrooms, raw

Broccoli, cooked chopped

Raw seaweed spirulina

Asparagus, cooked

Zucchini

Cauliflower

Spinach, raw

373 mg in ¼ C (33g)

192 mg in ½ C (86g)

167 mg in 1 oz (28 g)

143 mg in ½ C (131g)

134 mg in ¼ C (32g)

123 mg in large 3-4” (299g)

118 mg in ½ C (127g)

117 mg in ¼ C (36g)

105 mg in large 3-4” (299g)

99 mg in 1 C (180g)

86 mg in 1 C (226g)

70 mg in ½ C (80g)

62 mg in ½ C (82g)

59 mg in ½ C (70g)

48 mg in 1 fruit (130g)

49 mg in ½ C (90g)

42mg in 1 C (87g)

34 mg in ½ C (78g)

33 mg in 1 oz (28 g)

31 mg in ½ C (90g)

18 mg in ½ C (116mg)

16 mg in ½ C (62g)

16 mg in 1 C (30g)

4.75 g protein

15.5 g protein

4.5 g protein

9.5 g protein

6 g protein

8 g protein

9 g protein

9.5 g protein

7 g protein

5 g protein

4.5 g protein

3 g protein

2.5 g protein

2.5 g protein

2.5 g protein

2.75 g protein

2 g protein

2 g protein

2 g protein

2 g protein

1 g protein

1 g protein

1 g protein

Our vegetarian audience may also be interested in a thorough discussion at  http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/protein and some of our previous articles below for protein information.

References:

  1. The low-methionine content of vegan diets may make methionine restriction feasible as a life extension strategy. McCarty MF, Barroso-Aranda J, Contreras F. Medical Hypotheses. 2009 Feb;72 (2):125-8.
  2. Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human Nutrition. United Nations University/World Health Organization. 2007 WHO technical report no. 935.
  3. Chapter E: DRI Values for Indispensable Amino Acids by LifeStage and Gender Group. The National Academies press. 2006 Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements.
  4. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 27.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


 

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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