FORBIDDEN BLACK RICE AND TUNA SALAD

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I love tuna salad without the mayonnaise! Whether fresh or Wild Planet’s pole caught tuna it’s a great source of protein to add to any salad. The colorful vegetables are a rainbow of phytonutrients and in the summer you can find everything local and fresh. With this recipe I added forbidden rice that has a purple black color and is rich in iron and high in fiber and antioxidant nutrients.  It also includes protein! Enjoy this salad packed full of antioxidant nutrients and about 7-8 grams of fiber.

Ingredients:

4 cups spring herb mix

2 cups Arugula

1 red pepper chopped

1 orange pepper chopped

1 yellow carrot chopped

1/2 red onion sliced very thin

3 radishes chopped

8 oz. tuna (or I use two cans of Wild Planet Albacore tuna)

1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

2/3 cup Black forbidden rice cooked

Dressing:

1/4 cup sunflower oil

2 tablespoons For Pete’s Sake Honey mustard

1/8 cup water

1 lemon squeezed

Mix dressing in a jar and refrigerate until you are ready to use.

Add tuna to a bowl and all vegetables. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds and dressing!

Serves:2

Calories: 375

Protein:  10 grams

Enjoy!

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Lunch Review: Subway Turkey Breast Salad

We suppose Panera’s awesome chicken salad might have made us a bit biased when it comes to other restaurant options.  Okay, really biased.  That’s probably all it is.  Right?

Or is Subway hiding behind their cleverly executed marketing, which has convinced us all they’re the healthiest fast food option?

Today’s lunch review is not a happy one.   As Tina searches through Subway’s online menu, seeking the perfect healthy option to review for you, dear reader, in an effort to make your lunch-on-the-go selections healthier, she finally lands on their Turkey Breast Salad.  She nods approvingly.  “I would rather have the Double Chicken Chopped Salad,” she says, “but we should try something new.”

Stephanie meets plenty of friendly service and even friendlier smells at the local Subway, and walks away happy with the experience.  But when Tina takes a bite, she knows right away something is wrong.

First off, where’s the turkey?  It was almost a hopeless task, Tina digging through her salad to find any shreds of meat she could to weigh.  (Yes, we weighed it.  Don’t you want a thorough review?)

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Voilà!  Here it is.  After minutes and minutes of agonized sifting: an ounce and a half of turkey.  It’s precisely the amount they promised, but not exactly the delicious juicy turkey breast we dreamed of.  Tina tosses it back into her salad and starts in on her lunch.  “I don’t know if it’s the most delicious salad I’ve had, but it’s an okay option,” she decides.

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This picture is after Tina found the turkey hidden beneath the lettuce and veggies.

It looks as though we’re facing a mundane C+ sort of review for this salad.  But things get exciting when Tina comes across Subway’s page of Product Ingredients.  This is different from nutrition facts; here we see more into the details of each ingredient and food item they offer.

Suffice it to say Tina’s salad went untouched after she read this page.

Tina’s discovery at Subway has encouraged her to pen a more thorough, coherent article than we can offer now about what preservatives and additives can do to the body, and why we should all avoid them.  For now, we can only mention the horror at realizing Subway injects their hot peppers with Yellow Dye #5 (why?! Fresh peppers?!), and their meats have way too many ingredients that are not meat.  Sodium, fats, carbs, sugar and the like should be considered when selecting a restaurant meal, but additives like the ones Subway uses rather liberally should be avoided all together.  Soy protein concentrate, another leading player in Subway’s “meats”, for example, can create hormone imbalance, among other issues.  Some of their additives may not exactly be deadly, but why would you consume protein with so many fillers if you can help it?

For now, realize that you don’t have to limit yourself to free range, organic, hand-fed and well-loved meat.  You do want, however, to see only a few ingredients in your proteins: ideally meat, and as little after that as possible.  High-quality protein is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight, having higher energy and generally fueling your body.  Don’t settle for sodium injections, corn syrup solids or soy protein concentrate.

We give Subway’s options overall a resounding F.  Sorry, Subway.  Your food is tasty and we appreciate the gift card, but absolutely cannot recommend it to anyone.

Nutritious Lunch at Sticks Kebob Shop

We had an absolutely overwhelming response from our clients on that last post about Panera.  Making food at home is always the best option, but everyone needs a break now and then.  Our clients do a wonderful job of staying disciplined and keeping their eyes on the prize, and we know they deserve a reward.  How long can one shy away from the office deciding to order out together? or avoid going to dinner with friends for fear of breaking the rules?

Well, next time you have a say in where to go, we recommend Sticks Kebob Shop.  For you Richmonders, there’s one right in Willow Lawn.  Feast your eyes on this scrumptious delight:

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Oh boy.  Is your mouth watering yet?  As if their Mixed Garden Vegetables with Basil Oil kebob wasn’t delightful enough, they also offer an amazing Chicken Breast with Fresh Herbs kebob.

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These are the two Tina would highlight at Sticks.  They are delicious and even more delicious together.  Sticks makes a tasty little side of cucumbers, tomatoes and other delights, and we think that rounds out the meal pretty well.

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Grilled veggies and meats seem the obvious choice for healthy options, but the savvy restaurant-goer has to be careful.  We were surprised, once we really started researching, at how many dishes are wayyyy too high in carbohydrates, overall calories and sodium (good grief, so much sodium).  With this combo, though, Tina found she could get the protein she needed at lunch time as well as our old friend low glycemic index carbs through the veggies.  The extra fiber doesn’t hurt, either.  What Tina really enjoys here, though, is the healthy fat that is included without the heavy cost of loads and loads of sodium.  Total sodium for these two together is 175 mg.  Sticks has a shrimp platter which looks awful tempting (Stephanie was this close to ordering that), but with 1,270 mg of sodium it’s not quite worth it at half of your sodium need for the day.

Tina’s only complaint is that the fiber could be a little higher.  3 grams isn’t so bad, but she will have to make sure to include 22 grams more during the day so meet the daily recommendation of 25.

If you’re in Richmond, Charlottesville or Williamsburg, check this place out.  At Willow Lawn the staff is exceedingly friendly, willing to offer suggestions about their favorite items and preparing meals quickly.  Before you go, take a glance at their nutrition information, and try to make sure your selection matches those of these two kebobs in protein, carbs, and sodium.  They also offer a little side salad to enjoy with your kebob choices, which Tina gives a thumbs-up.

The Mixed Garden Vegetables with Basil Oil kebob and the Chicken Breast with Fresh Herbs kebob get an A-.  They may be no Power Chicken Hummus Bowl, but as far as we’re concerned, still a great option.  Enjoy!

A Nice Surprise at Panera

Today Tina caught wind of a deliciously amazing option at Panera: their Super Top Secret Must-Know-The-Password-To-Order Menu.  Okay, it’s not that secret, but somehow it had slipped under our radar.  How could Panera, right around the corner from our office, have such a divine bunch of lunch options that we haven’t even heard of?!  You can check this menu out in its entirety here, but we’re most excited about their Power Chicken Hummus Bowl.

Seriously, this salad is amazing.  It’s about the farthest thing it could be from a wimpy salad for a wimpy meal plan.  The nice folks at our Panera location whipped this salad up in a flash and sent us on our way with the perfect lunch.  It’s convenient and tasty, but what really caught Tina’s eye were the nutrition facts.

Waiting to be devoured.

Waiting to be devoured.

Here it is in all its well-balanced and nutritious glory.  The Registered Dietitian Stamp of Approval is owed to the fact that this salad has a very near perfect balance of nutritional elements for lunch.  The ratio here is 18 grams carbs : 4 grams fiber : 25 grams protein.  When grabbing lunch out on the run, it’s very important to check that your meal comes as close to this equation as possible.  Most restaurant meals, Tina says, push an overload of carbs, throwing your meal our of proportion.  Sticking to the figures above will ensure stabilization of blood sugar, allowing for energy levels to remain constant and for focus to increase after your meal; not to mention, keeping you sustained for a good three to four hours.  You won’t be snoozing at your desk after this salad.  The chicken is antibiotic-free and plentiful, accounting for the generous amount of protein.  Hummus is a cleverly added low glycemic index carb, while the flavor and consistency of it (AMAZING) eases one’s desire for creamy dressing.  Plenty of veggies and spinach contribute fiber and antioxidant nutrients.

Panera’s Power Chicken Hummus Bowl gets an A++ rating on Tina’s list.  It’s the best choice we’ve seen in a long, long time from a restaurant.

Way to go, Panera.  Way to go.

Kale Nicoise Salad

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We hear a lot about the newest food fads in our line of work.  Our clients and friends raise questions about sugar, certain diets, how a Google search told them this new superfruit does….whatever.  There’s plenty of mixed information and conflicting opinions out there, but one thing is for sure: you just can’t go wrong with a good old-fashioned salad.

We love kale.  We put kale in everything we possibly can.  It’s tasty in a saute, tasty in a salad, tasty anywhere.  This leafy green is starting to get the attention it deserves for its high iron and calcium content, and today we’d like to celebrate the basic-most aspect of its versatility in salad form.  Along with our superfood green, we have peppers, carrots, celery, tuna, egg and roasted almonds to contribute some protein, fiber, vitamins A and C, and omega-3 fatty acid.  You can also enjoy our homemade dressing guilt-free, as usual.

Enjoy this hearty twist on a classic health food staple that won’t leave you hungry!


Ingredients
:
4 leaves of curly red kale chopped
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
1/4 cup chopped yellow pepper
1 can Wild Planet white albacore tuna
1/4 carrot chopped
1 celery stalk chopped
1 boiled egg
5 roasted almonds chopped

Dressing:
2 cloves garlic chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
pepper – 1/4 tsp.
Directions:
Mix it up and make a delicious salad!

Sweet Potato and Blueberry Maple Sausage Frittata

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Who doesn’t love frittatas?  We do, especially with such a unique mix of flavors and so much nutritional value.  This recipe is packed full of high-quality protein as well as fiber, and obtains a low glycemic index by substituting sweet potato for bread.  Sweet potatoes are also high in antioxidant nutrients that help keep the immune system healthy.  Adding brussels sprouts and roasted mini peppers make for a great lunch, and provide vitamins A and C as an added bonus.  Reheatable, bite-sized and delicious, this dish will lift your spirits as springtime nears.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:
10 eggs
2 sweet potatoes peeled
3 links of Blueberry Maple Sausage (from Whole Foods Market)
1/2 cup shredded Kerrygold cheese or 2% mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp. of cinnamon
Pepper to taste
Truffle salt

Directions:
In a mixing bowl whisk eggs. Add cheese and cinnamon. Set aside. In a 8X10 glass baking pan that has been coated with oil on bottom of pan add cubed sweet potato. On top of the sweet potato add the blueberry Maple sausage that has been cooked. Pour egg mixture over the sweet potato/sausage combination. Put in refrigerator for overnight.

In the morning turn oven to 350 degrees. Bake casserole in oven for about 40-45 minutes or until it is completely cooked through when you test with a knife.

Butternut Squash, Borecole and Pomegranate Salad

Kale is the new superfood, full of flavor and nutrients.  Also called “borecole,” it’s closely related to wild cabbage in the way it grows.  Kale has iron, vitamin K, and is loaded with antioxidant nutrients.  Couple this veggie with pomegranate seeds and you have a powerhouse salad!

Compounds found in pomegranates are called punicalagins and have been shown to aid heart and blood vessel health.  Punicalagins are the major component in the pomegranate that have health benefits.  Some of the benefits include helping to lower cholesterol.

This salad is a delightful combination of savory and sweet flavors with the added joy of a crunchy and robust texture.  Enjoy it as a quick lunch or a side to your main protein at dinner.

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Ingredients:

Butternut squash
4 cups curly purple kale (also known as borecole)
1 pomegranate
1 cup chopped pistachio nuts
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

Place butternut squash in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Slice the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Peel the squash and cube.

Place kale in a pan with a inch of water and cover and steam about 1 minute.

Remove pomegranate seeds and place in a bowl.  Add chopped pistachios.  Add to the kale and add butternut squash to the mix.

Mix together olive oil, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup.  Add to the kale mixture and mix well.  Can serve with any protein dish including fish, chicken, pork or tofu.

Enjoy!

Cranberry Orange Zest Salad

We’ve noticed here at Lighten Up that Spring seems to be our busiest season.  Whether the motivation is to increase training over the summer or to look good in a bikini, we don’t know- or care!  We’re just glad to have clients who are excited about getting healthy, whatever their reasons.

However, this yearly influx of new clients leaves us staring at each other at the end of the day wondering where the time has gone.  Many of our clients seem to be suffering from the same experience.  Has Spring always been this busy?

It’s more important during busy times than any other to keep energy high, maintain focus, and take care of yourself.  Don’t skip lunch, and make sure you’re eating foods that are nourishing.  Today we have the perfect “recipe” for on-the-go lunches: Cranberry Orange Zest Salad!  Prepare it in the morning, store it in the office fridge and bring it out for a quick energy-boosting lunch.

The walnuts in this salad are full of omega-3 fatty acid, and veggies are always a good source of antioxidants.  Beets provide iron, folate, vitamin C and a rich source of a phytochemical compound called glycine betaine (which can help with lowering homocysteine levels in the blood).  The root of the beet, too, is a rich source of b-complex vitamins- niacin (B-3), pantothenic acid (B-5), pyridoxine (B-6)- and minerals such as iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium.  And don’t forget that salads have a healthy dose of fiber, too.

Zest Salad


 

1 cup arugula
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/4 cucumber, sliced
1 radish, chopped
1 fresh beet (cooked in boiling water until soft, then peeled and chopped)
8 walnuts halves
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon dried orange zest (I use Penzey’s)
1/8 teaspoon Szechuan salt
fresh ground peppercorns, to taste

Mix together in a bowl and add some reduced balsamic vinegar to taste with two teaspoons olive oil.

 

Tina often brings this salad in for lunch and adds fresh salmon from the previous night’s dinner, or a can of Wild Planet Tuna, which is aluminum free.  If you’re vegan, add black beans instead.  Enjoy!