January Nutrition Nuggets




While researching for our weekly Blog posts, I always come across nuggets of information that I want to share with you. Usually they don’t fit into the topic at hand. I have decided to save them until I have several & share them in one post. This weeks nutrition nuggets are varied in subjects: salads, lentils, coffee & chemo-brain to much more & not in any particular order. Oh, and take a look at the recipe at the end of the post…YUM!

I liked this idea of Salad Dumpers: Nutrition WOW . I do this too but Dawn Jackson Blatner RD, has some ideas that I hadn’t thought of. So I buy salads kits all. the. time. I LOVE the ease of just dropping everything in a bowl & then being done.

The issues….
– expensive
– too many calories (yikes)
– often times CRAP ingredients This link is to a printable list she has of CRAP ingredients.

Let’s start making our own easy CRAP-free salad kits. Let me introduce you to…Salad Dumpers. A simple way to make a quick 100-calorie side salad for any meal like a sandwich, pizza, soup, etc. I like these ideas for a quick sandwich at lunch or even for dinner.

1) COMBINE your favorite salad toppings, 100 calories-ISH per salad.
2) STORE topping combos in clear containers in the fridge.
3) DUMP! When you want a salad, DUMP toppings on lots of pre-cleaned greens. I buy boxes of fresh organic spinach & mixed greens during the winter when our garden isn’t producing. Very convenient.

Try these topping combos for your Salad Dumpers:
Each combo below is about 200 calories, great for 2 salads

Roasted butternut squash cubes (1 cup)
Shaved Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
Red wine vinegar (drizzle) Balsamic is good too, or flavored vinegar’s.

Pomegranate seeds (3/4 cup)
Crumbled blue cheese (1 ounce) Crumbled Feta is my favorite.
Orange wedge (squeeze on)

Honey-baked almonds (1 tsp honey/23 almonds)
Roasted broccoli (1 cup)
Lemon wedge (squeeze on)

– Salad Dumpers last 4-5 days in the fridge.
– Containers that are 1/5-2 cups & clear work best so you’ll see the ingredients instead of forgetting about them. I use small canning jars that hold 2 cups. You can buy plastic screw on lids for them. Makes it easier to get into them 🙂

“DUMPERS ROCK! xoxo” Go to her website link above to see all of her ideas. Here is the link to a printable graph of them. 

I would add the following:

  • Hard boiled egg chopped
  • Nuts & seeds: remember that pumpkin seeds are high in protein!
  • Sprouts: these can be purchased in the produce section.
  • Olives
  • Artichoke hearts: I buy them in jars, water packed.
  • Water chestnuts: I buy them in jars, water packed.

A legume that I use a lot of is lentils. I ordinarily cook them in an Indian dish or just plain to accompany a meal. I received this great list from OldWay’s of new ways to use them.

Lentils (click for a printable chart) are small but nutritional powerhouses of the legume family. A half-cup of cooked lentils has a whopping 9 grams of protein, more than nearly any other legume, and 8 grams of fiber. Plus, compared to other kinds of dried beans, lentils have the added advantage of being quick and easy to prepare. Although they should be rinsed and checked for dirt and debris before cooking, there is no need to presoak them. Three varieties of lentils are most widely available: green, brown, and red. The green have a nutty flavor and will stay firm when cooked. Brown lentils soften during cooking, and risk becoming mushy if overcooked. Red lentils are the quickest to cook, and will lose their shape, turning a yellow-orangey color when cooked. The different types make lentils a versatile addition to your diet!

1. Put cooked lentils in your salad! You can also “pop” your lentils by placing cooked lentils in a skillet with a small amount of oil until they plump, or pop open, and toast slightly. This gives them a crunchy texture that contrasts nicely over greens.

2. Construct creative lentil side dishes. Lentils work well with a variety of flavor profiles, so you can take a side dish in a multitude of directions. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice to pair with chicken, or take a French twist by adding cloves in a sauce of Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar to pair with salmon.

3. You can feature lentils as the main course. Replace meat with lentils for a vegetarian Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie.

4. Soups, stews and chili are ideal plates for lentils. You could make a spicy, Mexican infused chili with lime and cilantro, you could take a Moroccan twist on vegetarian stew with cumin and garam masala notes, or try a lighter Asian flavor soup with hints of lemongrass and ginger in coconut milk.

5. Add lentils to your stir-fry. You can use lentils as your protein for your favorite stir-fry combinations, or as a base instead of the usual accompaniment of rice.

6. Try lentils as a filling for Stuffed Peppers. Combine cooked quinoa, lentils, cashews and spices like thyme and basil to fill bell peppers for a unique vegetarian take on a classic.

7. Use lentils as a meat replacement in tacos. Simmer lentils in a combination of cayenne pepper, cumin and paprika to create a delicious spicy filling for your tacos, or with chipotle peppers and adobo for a more smoky flavor.

8. You can even have lentils for breakfast! Cooked lentils can be added to baked breakfast bars or muffins. Uncooked lentils can be ground up to create a protein-packed powder to add to breakfast smoothies.

9. Make your own South Indian bread with lentils. Urad Dal bread is made using urad dal lentils (which can be found online or from an Indian store) and is a dense, moist sandwich bread. Dosas are another type of South Indian food, which uses the urad dal lentils to form wide, thin crepes.

10. Sprout lentils! Sprouting lentils is a simple process that can be done with any variety as long as they are whole (not split or dal). Rinse your lentils, then soak them for about 8-12 hours. Drain your lentils, rinse again and place in a large jar filling about 1/3 of the space (remember they are going to grow!). Cover the opening of the jar with cheesecloth secured with a rubber band. Twice a day rinse the lentils and drain through the cloth, making sure there is no puddle in the jar. After about 4-5 days you’ll see the little green leaf emerge and they’ll be ready to harvest.

11. Use lentils as a meat substitute in your favorite pasta sauce. Whip up a veggie-packed lentil and mushroom ragu with bell peppers and onions, or take a twist on a classic Stroganoff.

12. Lentils are great additions to veggie burgers. Cooked lentils combined with cooked quinoa, rolled oats and spices make flavorful, protein-pack

I like to use the green lentils in place of split peas in soup. Have you noticed that they are also in 13 Bean Soup mixes?

Sorghum is the new Quinoa in 2017, according to several newsletters I have received. I cooked some for dinner this evening. It takes about 50 minutes to cook on the stove top so I decided to do it in the slow cooker instead: 1 cup rinsed sorghum in 3 cups of water on high for 4 hours, mine took 3 hours. We enjoyed the taste & texture. I used it in place of rice with roasted veggies. I will be adding this to my grains that I use. Very tasty.

I posted about Ancient Grains last August, 2016. Here is what we learned about Sorghum from that post…

Sorghum: Gluten free. 1 cup dry sorghum: Protein: 22 grams, & fiber: 12 grams. It is high in  niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, magnesium, iron, calcium, & potassium.

Oldways, Whole Grain Council: “Ask a hundred people if they’ve ever eaten sorghum and chances are, they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about. However, sorghum, a cereal grain, is the fifth most important cereal crop in the world, largely because of its natural drought tolerance and versatility as food, feed and fuel. In Africa and parts of Asia, sorghum is primarily a human food product, while in the United States it is used mainly for livestock feed and in a growing number of ethanol plants. However, the United States also has seen food usage on the rise, thanks to the gluten-free benefits of sorghum for those with celiac disease.”

I bought a bag of sorghum & tried popping it. It takes awhile to get it popping & you have to shake it frequently. Make sure you use a heavy bottomed stainless steel pan. It looked like tiny popped corn; smelled & tasted like it too. Not sure it was worth the effort other than it was a fun thing to try ? Popped sorghum is a popular snack in India. 

Recipe Links:

Always welcome news...Caffeine may counter age-related inflammation This is a very good read. “A chronic inflammatory process that occurs in some, but not all, older people may trigger cardiovascular problems, a new Stanford study shows. Part of the solution might be found in a cup of coffee.”….“More than 90 percent of all noncommunicable diseases of aging are associated with chronic inflammation,” said the study’s lead author, David Furman, PhD, a consulting associate professor at the Stanford Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection. More than 1,000 papers have provided evidence that chronic inflammation contributes to many cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and even depression, he said. It’s also well-known that caffeine intake is associated with longevity,” Furman said. “Many studies have shown this association. We’ve found a possible reason for why this may be so.” I am so loving this study! 

I started thinking about whether coffee is good for “chemo-brain”. I found this intriguing article by Kathy-Ellen Krups, RN: Coffee, breast cancer and chemo brain  After breast cancer treatment and because of the fatigue and inability to focus, I started having a cup of coffee daily in the afternoon to help “perk” me up. It worked! Coffee was the drug I needed to get me to the end of the day. I still don’t drink it in the morning, I have plenty of energy then, but by 11:00 a.m. and later, I start sniffing it out. Here’s the good news for all of us coffee drinkers: Coffee is a stimulant and it turns out that it is a good treatment option for chemo brain.” Read the rest of the article for more information. I didn’t find any definitive studies for coffee & chemo brain, but having a cup to help with focus sounds like a great idea. Moderation 🙂

Another headline that caught my eye was: Calorie Restriction Diet Found To Extend Monkey Life By Years: Will It Work On Humans Too? “The practice of restricting calories has often been wrapped in controversy — and now a new set of findings reveal that it helps monkeys live healthier, longer lives. A long-running monkey trial concluded that calorie restriction made them live around three years longer than usual, translating to about nine years in humans.

While a calorie-restricted diet may not be the right fit for everyone, better understanding the mechanisms behind its potential benefits may lead to anti-aging solutions in the future, according to Julie Mattison of the National Institute on Aging.” 

My favorite quote from this article was: Brian Delaney, who chairs the Calorie Restriction Society and practicing calorie restriction for over two decades now, said the dietary restriction already comes easy for him. For others, however, it could mean very precise planning of meals, and it may not necessarily be all that helpful.”

“I’m not at all certain that people who are a healthy body weight should restrict to some emaciation level. Life might seem longer, but it wouldn’t necessarily be longer,” explained aging expert Steve Austad from the University of Alabama.’ Cackle!

Being on a plant based diet lowers your calorie intake but fills you up! Another plug for the Mediterranean & vegetarian diet.

The last nugget I want to share is this wonderfully easy, nutritious, pancake! The recipe is from: Everyday Belle 

Greek Yogurt Pancakes

Prep Time: Cook Time: Serves: 1-2

  • 6 oz of your favorite Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • scant ½ cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  1. Open the yogurt container and stir the yogurt until it’s smooth and creamy. Crack an egg over the yogurt and stir to combine leaving. The resulting mixture should be pale yellow in color and have a few lumps here and there.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking soda.
  3. Pour yogurt/egg mixture into the bowl with the flour and baking soda. Stir to combine. The batter will be extremely thick.
  4. Spoon the batter onto a sprayed griddle or pan heated to medium-high. I usually make four big pancakes, but you could also make 8 smaller ones.
  5. Flip the pancakes when they start to bubble a bit on the surface. Cook until golden brown on both sides and serve with butter, syrup, fruit, Nutella….anything! Enjoy!

Notes: For lower-calorie Greek yogurt pancakes, use nonfat yogurt and an egg white instead of the whole egg. Equally delicious and easy to prepare.

 Have a great, healthy week!…Mary 🙂