It’s that time of year again – back to school time! If you are dreading those hectic mornings forcing you to grab whatever random food item you see as you run out the door and call it ‘breakfast,’ you will love this recipe. I call the Veggie Egg Muffins my secret weapon in the fight against poor breakfast choices. Starting your day off with lean protein, whole grains, and vegetables is one of the best ways to jumpstart your metabolism and keep hunger and cravings at bay all day long. But, if you are like me, having the time to actually prepare and eat a meal that includes all of these things and still get out the door on time can seem impossible.
That’s how I can up with this recipe. Its super simple, you can prepare it in bulk, and it freezes perfectly! Simply whip up a large batch on a day you have a little time, freeze the muffins in a resealable container, and pop in the microwave whenever you need a quick meal or snack. With only 55 calories per serving, these muffins don’t have to be just for breakfast either. They also make a perfect recovery snack after a tough workout, or an indulgent treat when you are in the mood for something savory. And because they are so fun to make and eat, it’s the perfect way to squeeze in more vegetables to your child’s (or spouse’s!) diet!
Have fun with them too. Since you are making them in muffin tins, every egg muffin can be unique. In my last batch I made a mix of mushroom and onion muffins, tomato and onion, tomato and pepper, broccoli and tomato, and a blend of sweet and hot pepper. Get as creative as you want and let me know what vegetable combination you love the most!
- 6 large eggs
- ½ cup shredded cheese, low fat
- 1 cup diced vegetables (your choice!)
- 2 slices 100% whole grain bread, cubed
Whisk eggs and add in shredded cheese and bread. Mix together until the bread is covered in egg. Fill a muffin tray with ½ egg mixture and ½ diced vegetables. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes or until cooked throughout. Serve warm.
NUTRITION per serving (makes 12 servings)
55 calories, 5 grams protein, 3 grams carbs, 2 grams fat
This Metabolism Maximizing Salad takes less than 5 minutes to make and contains only 260 calories per serving. It’s my easy go-to on hectic days when I don’t have time to whip up a more elaborate meal. I also think it’s perfect on those hot summer days to cool down.
- 3 ounces pre-cooked chicken breast 90 calories, 21 gm protein, 2 gm fat
- 1 Cup fresh spinach
- 1 Cup spring mix
- 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
- 2 large strawberries, sliced
- ¼ cup wild blueberries
- 1 Tbs chopped walnuts
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbs balsamic glaze
Toss together greens, fruit, pepper, and walnuts
- Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze
- Serve chilled & enjoy!
NUTRITION per serving (makes 1 serving)
260 calories, 23 grams protein, 13 grams carbs, 5 grams fiber, 12 grams fat
That’s it! It’s really that simple! And the combination of the vitamin C in the strawberries and spinach, the omega-3s in the walnuts, the thermogenic properties of the jalapenos, and the monounsaturated fats in the olive oil will help to boost metabolism while burning up belly fat. It’s a win-win!
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Guest Post By Elana Natker, MS, RD
Eating well during pregnancy is important for a healthy birth and healthy baby – makes perfect sense, right? But emerging research suggests that mom’s diet may have lifelong effects on the baby – such as increasing risk of heart disease and other later-in-life chronic conditions. Known as the “Barker Hypothesis” and named after researcher David Barker in the United Kingdom, the theory is that environment – namely the environment of the uterus – plays a critical role in the development of the fetus. If the mother does not eat enough, that could activate genes to create cells in the growing baby’s body which are programmed to hold onto as much nutrients as possible. So while the baby might be born small and underweight after living in essentially a starved environment (in his mom’s belly), he might quickly catch up and then become overweight, since his body may have adapted to storing nutrients (such as fat) to draw upon later in the event of future starvation. This so-called fetal programming may also increase the baby’s risk for developing heart and coronary diseases in adulthood.
While this is still very much a hypothesis and much more research needs to be done, there is one thing we can’t argue: a healthy pregnancy resulting in a normal-weight baby is critical.
So what should a mama eat when she’s pregnant? For starters, don’t eat for two! A baby isn’t a second adult and doesn’t need the same number of calories as his mom. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a pregnant mom should:
- Not increase daily calories at all in the first trimester;
- Have about 340 additional calories per day in the second trimester; and
- Take in about 450 additional calories per day in her third trimester.
The additional calories should all be high-quality calories that promote growth and development. Foods like beans which provide folate to prevent neural tube defects, fatty fish like salmon or mackerel which provide EPA and DHA fatty acids to support brain and eye development, lowfat dairy foods like milk and yogurt for bone-building calcium and vitamin D, and lean red meat for iron which keeps blood healthy.
Of course, eating healthy foods can be challenging when pregnant and dealing with food aversions and overpowering smells (since the sense of smell is heightened during pregnancy – great for popcorn, bad for kimchi). Your best bet is to meet with a registered dietitian who can help create a plan based on your personal preferences and meal patterns. An online research I like is this meal plan developed by RDs and featured in Parents magazine: http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/nutrition/prenatal-meal-plan/.
Elana Natker, MS, RD, is a nutrition communications consultant in the Washington, D.C. area. Find her online at www.enlightennutrition.com and @elanaRD on Twitter.
Do you ever have a day like this? You way up hungry and all you seem to crave is sugar. You just wish you could indulge in cookies, ice cream, candy, you name it. No matter what you do or what you eat, you just can’t shake the craving? This was how I felt the other day. I couldn’t get the urge for sugar out of my head. Do you wonder why this happens some days where other days you could care less about eating something sweet? I’ll clue you in on a secret I discovered: you actually cause your own sugar cravings! That’s right! The decisions you make with your food and beverage selection can drive the desire for sweets.
When I think about the day directly preceding my sugar craving day, I could see the exact mistakes I made that lead to these strong sugar urges. Eating a diet rich in refined carbohydrates, drinking too little water, or consuming alcohol can all cause a rebound desire for sweets the next day. What did I eat the day before? I had went to a party where I enjoyed a few glasses of wine, some white flour bread, and most likely didn’t drink the amount of water I typically do. The result? I woke up with little energy, a hungry belly, and a urge for sweets that was hard to ignore.
The lesson in all of this isn’t that you have to give up indulging a bit at social events. Instead, you have to plan ahead and recognize when these sweet cravings can pop up so you can successfully combat them. If you know you will be having alcohol, drink plenty of water before and after to make sure your hydration level is at its peak. If you will be consuming refined carbohydrates, such as white pasta or rice, balance the meal with a good source of lean protein and vegetables to help blunt the blood sugar response at the meal. And lastly, be proactive. If you think there’s a chance that a day coming up may start to trigger sweet cravings, stock your pantry and fridge with sweet indulgences that are actually good for you. My favorite options are fresh fruit, cottage cheese sprinkled with cinnamon and vanilla, popcorn topped with cinnamon, and an ounce of dark chocolate (70% cocao or above). Being prepared will keep you ahead of the cravings, helping to prevent them from sidetracking your weight loss efforts.