The Silly Nutrition Undergrad

Posts Tagged ‘snacks

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To celebrate the end of the school term and to reward myself for the hard work I’ve done, I decided to make a small batch of biscotti (this was really just an excuse, I just wanted to bake during the weekend!). I had lots of dark chocolate chips and peanut butter at home, so it was only right that I made the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Biscotti from Food Network.

This was my first time making biscotti and it was super easy to make. It was very fun and if you haven’t tried before, I highly recommend trying this recipe out. Simple ingredients, easy steps, exceptional flavour!

I made a few small changes to the original recipe. I added in a tablespoon of cocoa powder (gives it that extra chocolaty flavour) and substituted in walnuts instead of peanuts. The original recipe makes 3 logs, I roughly modified the amount of the ingredients to make 1 log. The recipe posted here reflects the amounts I used for my recipe.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Biscotti

Slighted modified from Food Network

What you’ll need:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4/5 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/5 cup sugar
  • 2/3 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 40g (40ml) peanut butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Melt butter over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. The butter will foam and when the foaming subsides, the butter will brown fairly quickly. When it starts to brown and develop a nutty aroma, quickly remove from heat and let cool slight. This step should take about 5 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder.
  • In a large bowl, beat the egg with an electric mixer until light and pale yellow. Gradually add sugar while beating. Then, slowly add the butter and vanilla extract until evenly mixed. Add the peanut butter and mix until combined.
  • While mixing slowly, add the dry ingredients to the wet, in 2 additions, mixing just until absorbed.
  • Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips (it will look like an awful lot amount when you dump it into the batter, but trust me, the amount is just right!).
  • Dump the dough onto the parchment paper. Using clean hands, shape the dough into a fat log (about 2-inches wide and 15-inches long).
  • Bake until set and brown around the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Cool log on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lower the oven temperature to 325°F
  • Remove log from baking sheet and place onto cutting board. Cut crosswise at a 45-degree angel into 12 to 14 pieces using a long serrated knife.
  • Place cookies cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake until crisp, about 8 minutes. Flip the cookies over and bake until golden brown, about 8 more minutes.
  • Cook them on the baking sheet. Makes 12 – 14 pieces.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Store well in the freezer for up to 3 months.

I just had a biscotti today after a long walk in the cold, chilly winter afternoon. It was SO good! Nothing can be more relaxing and heart-warming than a crunchy, chocolaty, homemade biscotti dipped in a glass of hot, frothy cocoa! SO good…

How do you like to eat biscotti?

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A while ago, Craig from Gettin-Ripped asked me for my thoughts on protein and here’s my response.

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What is the first word that appears in your mind when I say “protein“? Did the word “meat” pop up in your mind instantly?

Indeed, meat is a key protein source for many people, but there are actually many other great protein options out there that have long been overlooked (or forgotten). In this post, I’ll like to introduce you to my top 5 protein food choices:

Tofu

150g tofu is roughly a serving of meat alternative under Canada’s Food Guide for Healthy Eating. Tofu is not only rich in protein, it can also a good source of iron and calcium. A serving of firm tofu contains about 11g protein, 30% of the daily value for calcium and 15% of the daily value for iron. Plus, tofu is plant-based, so you don’t have to worry about consuming too much saturated fats or cholesterol when you golf down that block of tofu (you won’t have to picture your arteries getting plugged up by blobs of floating fat in your blood vessels! Yay!) To find out more about the awesome health powers of tofu, visit WHFoods: Tofu. Miso-marinated tofu (same method as mis0-marinated eggplant) makes a delicious main dish for a simple weekday dinner, and make sure you grill extra so you have some tofu left for next day’s lunch (great on a bed of brown rice or a special spinach salad topping).

Beans and legumes

Beans and legumes is another great protein-rich meat alternative. A 3/4 cup portion size counts as one serving, which contains about 8g – 14g protein, nearly 30% of the daily value for iron, and a whole lot of fiber! A serving will give you about10 – 13g of fiber — that’s a huge boost in helping you to get the recommended daily fiber dose of 25g). Fiber has multiple health benefits. The obvious benefit of keeping you regular and helping your body to maintain good digestive health. Fiber can also help to slow down digestion and hence plays a role in regulating blood sugar level. It will keep you full for longer, help to diminish the craving for nibbling and avoid the evil sugar spike that makes you tired and sleepy. Among all beans and legumes, my favourite choice is edamame. Shelled edamame comes in convenient frozen packages. So whenever you need a protein quick-fix, you  simply take it out from the freezer and throw it into whatever you’re cooking without needing to thaw or do any preparation beforehand. How convenient! Try adding edamame to tofu oatmeal for an additional protein punch to jumpstart your morning.

Eggs

Eggs are the ultimate fuss-free, healthy and protein-rich on-the-go snack. They can be prepared within minutes and it can be incorporated into different dishes. The simplest way to enjoy eggs is to cook up a big batch of hard-boiled eggs and keep them in the fridge (they keep well for about a week). Then, when you’re hungry after a hard workout, you can easily open the fridge and get a quick protein boost by peeling some eggs. Reaching for eggs instead of going for a protein bar will satisfied your protein needs (each egg contains about 5.5g protein) and provide additional good-for-you nutrients. In particular, eggs is an excellent source of lutein, which is an important nutrient that helps to maintain eye health and  skin health. Although lutein can be found in other sources, the lutein found in eggs is much more bioavailable (a.k.a. the body can readily access the lutein in eggs, absorb it and use it). For more information on eggs, visit WHFoods: Eggs.

Yogurt

An 8oz container will give you about 10 – 14 grams of protein, and it will also count as a dairy serving, fulfilling your calcium needs for strong bones and teeth. I prefer yogurt over other dairy foods because it is a fermented dairy product that has added bacterial culture. These bacteria helps to improve the overall health of the digestive system by altering the environment of the small intestine so that it favours the growth of the “good” bacteria and makes it less desirable for the “harmful” bacteria to cultivate. To get optimal health benefits from yogurt, make sure to choose yogurt with probiotics and consume it on a regular basis to keep the digestive system healthy! To get an extra protein boost, try topping low-fat, plain probiotic yogurt with granola or nuts. To learn more about the goodness of yogurt, visit WHFoods: Yogurt.

Nuts / nut butter

I’ve written an extensive article on the goodness of nuts before — nuts are seriously that good for you that they deserve a separate post dedicated to praising them! I really enjoy tossing in a quarter cup of nuts into my salad or my morning cereal because they give an extra crunch plus an additional flavour. Nuts are also easy to carry around – I like to pack a small handful of nuts with me when I’m on the road so when I get hungry, I can munch on nuts instead of blindly rushing into a fast food store around the corner. Adding in a quarter cup of nuts or two tablespoons of nut butter is an easy way to add 4g – 5g protein to your diet. Honestly go nuts with nuts! 🙂

There you go! My top five protein choices.

At this point you may think I dislike meat? No, no, no! I enjoy meat, but I just tend to choose these foods more often because they offer a lot more than just protein.


I find that these foods will not only satisfy my protein needs, but also give a dramatic nutritional boost, making it a lot more easier for me to adopt a healthier lifestyle.Next time you dive into your huge steak thinking it’s the only way to get enough protein, look around and think again! Have a yogurt with nuts, or serve beans as a side dish — try to get protein from different sources.

Expand your diet, get healthier!

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Cashews, walnuts, almonds, peanuts — I love them all!

What’s so great about nuts?

Nuts are not only tasty, they are also a superfood that offers many health benefits:

1. Keeps the heart healthy. They are a great source of heart-healthy fats — unsaturated fats and omega-3 oil. Numerous research have indicated that unsaturated fats can help to lower LDL (bad cholesterol). High LDL is linked to increased risks of heart diseases so keeping LDL level low will have protective effect against heart issues. Omega-3 fatty acids helps to prevent blood clot,  thereby reduces the risk for strokes. Also, Diets rich in omega-3 oils have been shown to improve blood lipid profile by lowering triglycerides levels. Plus, studies have shown that nuts can help to relax blood vessels and aid in keeping blood pressure in check. All in all, the heart-healthy fats in nuts work in multiple ways to protect the heart and reduce the risks of developing heart diseases!

2. Help reduce saturated fat intake. Nuts and nut butter serve as a great meat alternative. By swapping out some of the meats in our diet with nuts, you can decrease your consumption of unhealthy saturated fats and increase the intake of heart-healthy fats at the same time (sounds like a 2 bird in 1 stone deal to me!).

3. Help to lower blood cholesterol level. Nuts contain fiber and plant sterols. Fiber may reduce blood cholesterol level. Having similar function to fiber, plant sterols, a  naturally occurring component in plants, is a potent substance that has been clinically proven to significantly reduce blood cholesterol levels.

4. Protective effects against Type 2 Diabetes. The latest studies suggest that eating nuts on a regular basis can improve insulin sensitivity, which will have a positive impact on Type 2 diabetes risk. Scientists propose that the many nutrients in nuts (fiber, healthy fats and magnesium) work in a synergistic manner to regulate and improve blood sugar levels and insulin levels.

5. Keep you full and satisfied. Packed with many nutrients and fiber, nuts will keep you full longer so you will be less likely to nibble on unhealthy snacks. Nuts make a great snack choice since it is packed with many nutrients, easy to carry around, and costs comparatively cheaper than other snack items. In addition, research has shown that including a small amount of nuts as a daily snack in a energy-restrictive diet can actually enhance weight loss. Stop loading empty calories into your body, grab a handful of nuts and nourish your body!

How to eat it?

Nuts are so versatile, you can practically add it to anything. To help you get creative as to how to enjoy nuts, here are a few of my favourite ways:

How much to enjoy?

Nuts offer a wide array of health benefits, but keep in mind that it is a high-calorie food. The key to eating nuts is to choose them instead of, not in addition to, other foods. Try to stick to a serving of nuts per day. A serving of nuts is a quarter (1/4) cup , or about an ounce (30g). Be sure to choose no-salt added variations and avoid candied nuts so you don’t get extra calories that you don’t need. When choosing nut butter, try to keep the limit to two tablespoons. Make sure to find a brand without added sugar, salt or vegetable oils (look for these keywords: “no added salt”, “natural”, “100% peanuts”). Nuts and nut butter are an excellent source of protein and according to the Canada’s Food Guide, they are considered a meat alternative — use them as a substitute for meats!

More Resources:

Do you have a favourite to enjoy nuts? Share it here!

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Everyone should eat oatmeal! It is such a wonderful breakfast option – healthy, simple and delicious! Oats is a whole grain with many essential nutrients and a whole lot of soluble fiber which can have a cholesterol-lowering effect in your body. Plus, it is super easy to make and you can pretty much add in any food you want and it will taste great.

To prepare basic oatmeal, all you need to do is:

  1. Boil 2 cups water in a pot.
  2. When water boils, stir in 1 cup oatmeal (quick oats, regular oats, steel cut oats – whatever you like).
  3. Turn down the heat to minimum and let the oatmeal simmer until it absorbs the water and becomes a thick goo (it becomes slightly chewy and gives a very creamy texture!).
  4. if you like it creamier, add a bit more water and boil it until the water is absorbed.
  5. While the oatmeal is hot, stir in the desired ingredients to create your personalized oatmeal breakfast!
  6. If you have leftover, just place into a container and put it in your fridge when it’s cool. When you want oatmeal again, simply reheat it in the microwave.

3 savory (crazy!) flavours:

  1. My childhood favourite: ground beef and egg. Add marinated ground beef when the oatmeal is almost done. Make sure the ground beef is cooked thoroughly. Then, while constantly stirring, add in a beaten egg to get streaks of egg immersed in the oatmeal (make sure you are stirring the whole time or else you get big chunks of egg and the egg flavour will become too overwhelming!).
  2. My recent new attempt: cheese. Grate some old cheddar, or your favourite cheese, into the bottom of your bowl, then pour in the hot oatmeal. Stir well and enjoy! To me, cheese oatmeal is  like eating a healthy version of Mac n’ Cheese.
  3. Unbelievable tasty: soy sauce + scallions. Stir in 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of soy sauce into 1 cup cooked oatmeal and then stir in about 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped scallions for an Oriental flavour. Don’t skip the scallions, it adds aroma and a lot of flavour. If you skip it, your oatmeal will taste funny…  By the way, try to use low-sodium soy sauce to prevent sodium overload!

Oatmeal is so versatile. It is actually possible to have it everyday and you will not get bored because you can have different flavours each day! Because it doesn’t have a strong flavour itself, you can really play with the flavour by adding in whatever you want and the oatmeal will adapt to what you add in.

For my next crazy attempt, I’m planning to mix oatmeal with mashed Kabocha squash with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. Any other wild combinations that you can think of but never had the courage to try? Share it with me and maybe (just maybe!) I will be brave enough to test it for you…

Question: How do you like to enjoy your oatmeal? Sweet or Savory? What do you add in?

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Running from one place to another place with nothing to eat? Instead of wasting precious time lining up at a fast food joint, why not try preparing your own healthy snacks to keep your keep your energy level up and hunger level down!

Yogurt + Granola

Try to pair a small container of low-fat yogurt with homemade granola for a delicious, nutrient-dense snack. Try to choose plain yogurt to avoid the sugar-laden and chemical-filled fruit yogurts. Buying plain yogurt also gives you more variety – you can choose to add different toppings to make it interesting. Try a drizzle of honey, handful of dried cranberries / raisins, some fresh fruits, or even a spoonful of nuts to add new dimensions!

Crackers + Cheese

All you need to do is buy some cheese, cut it into thin slices and put them between crackers and you have prepared a tasty, crunchy, cheesy snack for yourself! Minimal preparation yet very flavourful! Try buying whole wheat crackers for a chewy and nutty flavour. To make it even more interesting, try buying sharp-tasting cheese, such as Old Cheddar. For Brie cheese for a creamier texture, or try Bleu cheese for a sharp, intense experience!

Bite-sized Veggies with Dip

When you prepare vegetables for dinner, try washing and cutting up some extra and put them in ziploc bags or tupperware so when you’re in a hurry, you can just grab and go! Some good options include celery sticks, broccoli florets, red pepper slices and carrot sticks. Along with your veggies, pack some dip, such as hummus, peanut butter, or cottage cheese to make the veggies a little more tasty.

DIY Fruit Cup

Cut fruits into cubes and mix them into a leakproof tupperware container for a fresh, flavourful DIY fruit cup. Mix together some crunchy fruits (Ex. Apples) with some soft fruits (ex. Kiwi), and toss them with some seasonal fruits (Ex. Barlett pears) or add in your favourite fruits to make the fruit salad super yummy and super healthy! To prepare browning of fruits, make sure you dip them into lemon water or else they will look less appealing over time! For simplicity sake, you can also just wash a fruit and chow down when you hungry as well! Even less cutting and cleaning up, but just as enjoyable and nutritious.

Nuts / Trail Mix

It’s super easy to make your own trail mix. Throw a large handful of whatever dry cereal you have on hand (or try toasting rolled oats), then add in a bunch of nuts and some dried fruits, and you’re all set to go! To boost the health aspects of your trail mix, try choosing cereal is that higher in fiber and low in sugar.

Making these healthy snacks only take about 5-10 minutes but when you’re running late for class, that could mean disaster! So make sure you plan ahead, ideally the night before or even try mapping out your snacking plan during the weekend when you have more time.

Question: What’s your favourite healthy snack when you are on the run?

Bonus: Make your own granola!

Want to avoid the store-bought granola that is loaded with sugars and oil? Then, try making your own version! Here‘s my all time favourite recipe. It doesn’t ask you to add in a lot of sugar and oil, but it has a very unique sweetness that comes from the coconut shreds and a lot of heart-healthy fats from the cashews and almonds. Plus it’s super easy to make, just toss all the ingredients together, mix well and toast it in the oven for an hour. Then when you room starts to smell heavenly, you’ll know it’s ready! Once you try it once, I guarantee you will never buy store-bought granola ever again!

Question: What’s your favourite healthy snack when you are on the run?