protein

Turkey Stuffed Poblano Peppers

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Do you ever get hooked on a certain food and then end up eating it ALL THE TIME? Right now that food for me is turkey. Why? I have no idea, but I'm just thankful to be craving lean protein instead of the usual suspects (chocolate, coffee, coffee with chocolate...). This past weekend I had a pool party/ barbecue to go to and wanted to bring something amazing to put on the grill. Just a little bit of kitchen creativity yielded these turkey stuffed poblano peppers. The poblanos add just the right amount of kick to the healthy combo of lean turkey, avocado, greens, and quinoa. 

Turkey Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time1 hour

Yield: 4 stuffed peppers (and some leftover stuffing)

Ingredients:

  • 4 poblano peppers 
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup quinoa (sprouted is best)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 giant fistfuls of spinach or other greens
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, for cooking
  • sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 (unless using a grill)
  • In a small saucepan, add 1/2 cup quinoa to 1 cup water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  • While quinoa is cooking, cut the tops off the peppers and remove the insides.
  • Sautee the garlic, turkey, and seasonings in coconut oil on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, or until the turkey is thoroughly cooked. Add spinach and cook for another minute or so until the greens are slightly wilted but still bright green.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine quinoa, turkey mix, avocado, and feta cheese.
  • Pack the stuffing into the peppers. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the peppers are wrinkly and the skin begins to bubble.
  • Let cool for several minutes. I think they're best enjoyed fresh out of the oven, but they also make great leftovers!

Substitutions:

-Paleo or low-carb: sub roasted sweet potatoes or cauliflower rice for quinoa

-Dairy free: sub nutritional yeast or nuts (or both) for feta cheese

-Veggie: sub lentils and/or mushrooms for turkey

-Play with different spices and fillings! Try adding pesto, broccoli, onions, nuts, or dried fruit to your mix

Nutritional Highlights:

  • Turkey is a great source of lean protein, as well as selenium, niacin, and vitamin B6. It's also particularly high in the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is famous for helping us sleep (that post Thanksgiving meal snooze), but it's also a precursor to serotonin- the chemical that stabilizes our moods. 
  • Poblano peppers are high in vitamin C- just one pepper should meet your daily requirements!
  • Avocados are packed with healthy fats, fiber, and minerals.  These fats are what keep you satiated and ward off carb cravings.
  • Spinach is a powerhouse of micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, anti-oxidants and phyto-nutrients. These nutrients aid in almost all of our body's vital functions and are co-factors to a healthy metabolism. 
  • Quinoa is a lovely gluten free seed that serves as a great protein source. Quinoa is one of those rare plant foods that contains all the essential amino acids 
  • Garlic is a sulfurous food, making it an excellent detox agent. It is also great for digestion and boost the immune system. 

I'd love to hear your feedback on this recipes! Leave comments below or reach me directly at zaonutrition@gmail.com

Green Chai Smoothie

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I realize that "green" smoothies are very much a thing in the health/fitness world, but I have to confess I'm not really into them. I have nothing nutritionally against smoothies, and in fact they're a great way to get in some extra nutrients for breakfast or after a workout, but I guess I would just rather eat my food. So in my last nutrition workshop when a student asked me what I do for my smoothies, I had to blush and admit that...well...I don't. 

Challenge accepted. I made a green smoothie this week!

I chose to go with a chai flavored smoothie for two reason; the first being that I just love chai. The second is that I don't care for sweet beverages (probably another reason why I don't drink smoothies), and this particular recipe has much more spice than sweet.

Green Chai Smoothie

Prep Time: 5 minutes (when chai is brewed ahead of time)

Yields: about 16 oz

You'll Need:

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chai (keep in mind chai does contain caffeine, so be sure to buy decaf if you are trying to avoid the jitters)
  • 1/2 frozen banana 
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 2 cups spinach/greens (but honestly, who actually measures their greens? A couple solid handfuls should do it)
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Protein powder (optional)

Brew chai ahead of time by steeping a chai tea bag in 1/4 cup of boiling water for about 4 minutes. Let the tea cool in the fridge. The rest is cake. Everything goes in blender til smooth.  

Variations: Like I mentioned before, I like this recipe because it's spicy rather than sweet. For extra sweetness, make that half banana a full one, and/or add a couple tablespoons of honey/agave.  Also, if I'm going to drink a smoothie, it's gonna have to have some protein in it. Vega brand actually makes a chai flavored nutritional shake that has some protein in it, so there ya go.

I have to admit I really enjoyed the taste of this one. Will it convert me to a full-blown smoothie drinker? Probably not, but I hope you find it useful and tasty!

Diets, Disorders, and Real Nutrition

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Clients and friends often ask me what "diet" I'm on or what I eat to look the way I do. Every time I'm asked about my diet, I find myself stumbling over my words and not being able to really come up with an answer. So how is it that I can be so passionate about good nutrition and health and yet have nothing to say when asked about my OWN diet?Because I don't have an answer. Not an easy one anyway. 

We live in a society that is obsessed with weight loss and dieting. Just look at the countless diets and meal plans that are out there, as well as all the Joe Shmoes who just wrote that new book on the food plan that REALLY WORKS! We are also a society that wants everything to be as quick and easy as possible. LOSE 70 POUNDS IN TWO HOURS!! REALLY WORKS!!SHED ALL YOUR BELLY FAT AND CELLULITE AND CURE WRINKLES AND HAIR LOSS AND CROOKED TEETH WITH THIS ONE EASY TRICK!! And we buy it. 

Yikes. 

All these things can sound so promising and magical, but what they don't tell you is that there is NO REPLACEMENT for good nutrition, effort, and TIME.  What they don't tell you is what a tightrope walk dieting and food restriction is, or what can happen if you fall off the wrong side of the tightrope and land in a heap of eating disorders. 

I'm not in any way claiming that dieting leads to disordered eating, but I am claiming to know first hand that it is an easy trap to slide into. Too much time of my own life was lost to restricting, starving, bingeing, purging, abusing laxatives, and not to mention a difficult journey to recovery. And the scariest part about it all...I didn't fall into that spiral by "dieting" or trying to lose weight. I wanted to get healthy. I wanted to stop eating Taco Bell for breakfast and clean up my nutrition. Which is why I am so cautious about offering quick advice on nutrition to clients and even friends. Because food and body issues are not just for Victoria's Secret models. They're not JUST FOR WOMEN. 

So here is my answer to these questions, and beware, if you are looking for a quick trick, easy solution, or even a cut and dry one, look elsewhere yo. 

The way I eat has been years, 5 at least, in the making. It has been a lot of trial and error, and error, and error to figure out what works for me. I'm not even there yet. My "diet" is always evolving as I learn more about food and my own body. I have had to do all kinds of food experiments on myself to find what works for me. I've had to figure out what makes me feel good and energized, not just in my body but in my mind and emotions as well. Hear this: Food doesn't just interact with your body! It interacts with your mind, emotions, lifestyle, and relationships too! That is why I believe that there is no one diet or system that will work with everyone. 

Here's where I give you a little tough lovin'. Your body and what you put in it are IMPORTANT. Stop looking for easy answers. GET EDUCATED and take the time to create your own system of nutrition that works for you. Find legit sources to learn about carbs, fat, protein and how they function in your body. Learn about micro-nutrients, chemicals, preservatives, and the processes your food goes through to get to your plate. I know there's a lot of info out there, and it can be overwhelming, but START SOMEWHERE. And ladies...SHAPE and Cosmo magazine, even Women's Health, are NOT good sources. In fact, that shit's garbage. If you got em', toss em'. Find a mentor who lives a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Ask a professional, but make sure the emphasis is on the whole person and not just the physical body, calorie count, or a number on the scale. 

Accept that this will take some time and effort. You didn't develop your unhealthy habits overnight, so don't expect to unwind them quickly.  YOU HAVE ONE BODY and one life, and IT MATTERS! If you don't have your health, the rest of your life will suffer. Promise. Everyone makes room for what matters to them. Spend less time on Facebook. Cut your TV time. Take that $5 that you spend on your frappamochalatte whatever and buy some fresh produce. You CAN make it work, it's just a matter of how. Make small, doable changes. Pick one food to cut out for a couple weeks and see how your body reacts. Make your body your own science experiment. Learn to listen to and TRUST your body rather than accepting everything you hear and read. Even the best information might not be what's right for you. What feels good in my system might tear yours apart. Get educated, then embark on the beautiful and scary journey of going inside and asking YOURSELF what you need and don't need. Enjoy the adventure. It's worth it. 

One final note: If you do suffer from any kind of disordered eating, reach out! It's not easy, I know. Seek professional help, no matter the cost. You are valuable, and deserve to live a vibrant and healthy life. 

photo courtesy of http://mediagallery.usatoday.com/Diet-advertisements-throughout-the-ages/G1980,A8325