Pressing Concerns and How to Fix Them – Part One

“Based on all of your research and experience, what would you identify as three of the most pressing concerns [in the nutrition world] and, of the three, which would you take immediate action to remedy (assuming you had unlimited resources to address the problem).”

-Scott Morrison

The above quotation is a portion of a comment that I received in response to a recent post about fast food.  It’s such a fascinating question!  I thought that the most effective way of tackling it would be to follow the blog format I used in a much earlier “What is Health?” two part series.  If you recall from the “What Is Health?” blog posts, the first post pertaining to the question asked for subscribers’ thoughts and opinions on the issue.  The second and final post on the topic addressed my own feelings towards the subject.  We’re going to be doing a similar thing here!  So for this week, please take a moment to identify three of the most pressing concerns that fall under the category of nutrition and health in the United States and around the world, and then determine which issue you would take immediate action to solve.  I’m really looking forward to hearing what you think, and stay tuned for my thoughts in the second part of this series!

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

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DIY Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookies

March 14th through March 20th is National Chocolate Chip Cookie week, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect!  As a refresher, the topic of discussion in last week’s post was how labeling certain food products as strictly healthy or strictly unhealthy often leads to misunderstanding.  This one-dimensional pattern of thought makes it easy to completely eradicate certain foods from our diets, and this takes away the opportunity to elevate the nutritional content of a product.  Our message this week is that while transforming a product into something “healthy” cannot always be achieved with one-hundred percent accuracy, transforming a product into something “healthier” than it was in the beginning is always within the realm of possibility! In order to illustrate this theme, below you will find quick tips on how to elevate chocolate chip cookies (typically referred to as “unhealthy”) into a healthier dessert.

The most impactful aspect of my “healthier” chocolate chip cookies is the DIY part.  With most purchases of processed, grocery-store cookies also comes the purchase of an umbrella of chemically altered substances, preservatives, artificial flavors, syrups, colors… the list goes on.  Simply committing to the DIY part of the process immediately enhances the nutritional quality of the cookie, as it is pretty much guaranteed that you won’t be adding any hard to pronounce substances that are unrecognizable by name and picture to your cookie batter… I hope 🙂

With this in mind, it is imperative that the components in your cookie batter are whole foods, or at least components with the fewest amount of ingredients in them as possible.  Elevate the usual ingredients by putting quality first.  Here’s the quick and dirty on how to do this:  Swap ordinary eggs with hormone-free, omega-three enriched farm fresh eggs.  Commit to using an equal mixture of whole wheat flour with white flour to boost the nutritional content.  Get rid of the milk chocolate chips with soy lecithin, and add dark chocolate chips for antioxidants.  Check the ingredient label on the vanilla extract that you’re using and make sure that it is from an actual vanilla bean, and that it doesn’t have contain vanillin (basically fake vanilla which is usually paired with corn syrup, sugar, or some other sweetener, none of which is found in authentic vanilla extract).

After you’ve finished elevating the typical chocolate chip cookie ingredients, you can experiment with adding a few new ones into the mix.  Nuts are frequently incorporated into chocolate chip cookie batters, and if you’re nuts for nuts, then walnuts are one of the best choices that you can make for this recipe!  Their high levels of omega-threes make this addition a no brainer!  Also, flax seed oil, oats, and wheat germ offer an abundance of fiber, making these additions worth noting as well.

I hope that this helps make my case for “healthier” vs. “unhealthier” instead of “healthy” vs. “unhealthy.”  Please let me know if you use any of these tips to make DIY “healthier” chocolate chip cookies, and also comment with your own secrets to elevating this classic American dessert!

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Mindset Shift with a Vocabulary Twist to Boot!

It turns out that eating nutritiously does not equate to munching on kale and other “superfoods” while depriving yourself of carbohydrates, fats, and sugars.  To digress, I have always thought that there is this societal hiccup that confines the definition of the word healthy.  More often than not, healthiness or unhealthiness in food is leveled to a one-dimensional comparison between products.  We tell ourselves, “apples are healthy, and cookies are unhealthy.”  We don’t usually tell ourselves, “cookies can be healthy, and apples are healthier.”  In an attempt to categorize our consumption into only two categories: healthy and unhealthy, we cut ingredients/recipes out of our diets for better, or for worse.

I’d like to propose a vocabulary shift in the nutritional world.  Instead of referring to certain foods (like cookies) as strictly unhealthy, we should understand that there are degrees to which even the seemingly most unhealthy food can be made healthier.  Simply choosing to prepare a homemade version of the food rather than purchasing a processed version of it adds nutritional value back into the recipe by eradicating the artificial flavors, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, chemicals, etc. that are ever present in grocery store products.  I will illustrate this point next week when we celebrate National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week… stay tuned!

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Happy National Pancake Day!

It’s true.  Today’s the day!  So in order to commemorate this fine moment in food history, below is a recipe for cornmeal pancakes accompanied by a warm blueberry sauce.

Cornmeal Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup cornmeal (preferably fine cornmeal)

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp Kosher salt

2 tbsp granulated sugar

2 large cage-free eggs

2 1/2 cups of whole milk combined with 2 1/2 tbsp. of vinegar (let sit for 8 minutes)

1 stick unsalted butter

Method:

Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt, and sugar together in a preparation bowl until thoroughly combined.

In another preparation bowl, whisk eggs, milk & vinegar mixture, and 6 tbsp. of butter.  (Be sure to melt the 6 tbsp. of butter first before whisking it into wet ingredients)!

Gently pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Heat griddle or skillet and pour desired amount of batter.  Depending on intensity of heat and size of pancake, cook on each side for approximately 3 minutes.

Take off griddle once fully cooked, serve with warm maple blueberry sauce (recipe below), and ENJOY!

Blueberry Sauce

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh, organic blueberries

2/3 cup 100% pure Maple Syrup

Lemon or orange zest to taste

Method:

Combine 1 cup of blueberries and all of the maple syrup in a small sauce pan.

Cook over medium heat for approximately 2 minutes or until berries soften.  Mash the berries with the back of a spoon.  Simmer 2 more minutes or until mixture foams.

Remove from heat, strain and discard any solid blueberry pieces.  Add remaining 1 cup of blueberries to the liquid and serve over pancakes (this is also delicious on waffles).  Grate lemon or orange zest on top of sauce, stir, and ENJOY!

Do you have a favorite pancake recipe and/or pancake topping combination?  Please be sure to let me know!

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂