5 tips to beat the summer bloat

Okay, so the sun is out, the grill is hot and the pool is luke but your feeling like an inflated beach ball. I get it. It's summer, and with that comes the endless summer BBQ's, craft beers, homemade ice cream, and possibly taking the hashtag #Roséallday far too literally. It's not surprising that summer life can leave us feeling bloated and crappy. It can be challenging to keep up with your normal healthy eating and exercise routines when you are either attending a summer cookout, away for a weekend getaway, or on the summer wedding circuit. Wouldn't it be great if we could keep the party going and have a flat tummy at the same time?! Unfortunately, this is a dream that only Kendall Jenner is living. Luckily for us non-supermodels, there are a few ways to help beat the summer bloat.

Top 5 tips for a happy GI tract: 

1. Chew Your Food

Digestion begins in the mouth so I cannot stress the importance of chewing your food throughly at each meal! Your mouth contains digestive enzymes that helps break down your food before it gets to your stomach, which is why I give my clients a goal of chewing each bite at least 20 times before swallowing. 

2. Say No To The White Stuff

White flour, white sugar, pasta, bagels, pizzas, are no bueno for your tummy! Not only do these foods spike your blood sugar leading to increased fat in the midsection but they are also very difficult to digest. Say no to the hamburger bun and instead opt for the grass-fed burger with a side of veggies instead. Swap out the bagel and cream cheese at breakfast for two sunny side up eggs with 1/2 avocado. 

3. Fall In Love With Summer's Veggies

Summer is the best time of year for purchasing fresh produce! Just take a trip to your local farmer's market and you will find tables of vibrant greens, fresh herbs, and colorful heirloom tomatoes bursting with flavor. My general rule of thumb is to make at least 60%-70% of your plate vegetables. Fill up on summer's bounty first before going in on the other dishes. Your tummy will thank you. 

4. Stay Hydrated With Water, Avoid The Carbonated drinks 

It may sound counterintuitive, but drinking a lot of water won’t create bloat. Your body often holds onto water to not to get dehydrated, but if you’re constantly staying hydrated with H20, it gives the body permission to flush out some of its stores. Aim for at least 8 glasses of filtered water per day and skip the carbonated drinks. Why? By definition, bubbles are literally gas! So it is best to go easy on them. If you’re tummy is sensitive to bloating, give up carbonated drinks even the club soda or sparkling water. This goes without saying, soda and carbonated drinks are out of the question, these are loaded with refined sugars and not only contribute to air in your gut but also teaspoons upon teaspoons of refined sugars.

5. Take  A Probiotic

Probiotics are one of those supplements I can literally not live without. Probiotics are bacteria that help maintain your body’s natural balance of different organisms…and promote digestive health. In addition they help your digestive tract do the work by assisting the process. I recommend taking a high quality probiotic daily. For added bonus points, try to incorporate fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, or kombucha to your diet. 

7 TIPS TO HANDLE PICKY EATING

One of the biggest frustrations I hear over and over again from parents is how difficult it is to get their children to eat healthy foods. Raising healthy eaters is especially challenging when you’re up against picky eating. While I don’t have the power to cure picky eating overnight, I’ve come up with a few solutions for every parent hoping to help their kids embrace healthier foods and add more variety to their diet.

1. Role Model

Monkey see, monkey do! Children want to mimic their parents so eat the food you want your children to eat. Eat in front of them and eat with them to show what a healthy balanced diet looks like. Show them with your actions and they will eventually follow your lead.

2. Eat Together

Researchers have confirmed that sharing a family meal is good for the health of all family members. Evidence suggests that children who take part in family meals are 24% more likely to eat healthier foods. Put role modeling in action and aim for at least 3 family meals per week. The entire family should sit down at the table to share a meal.

If dinners don’t work for your family, breakfast, brunch, or lunch are also great times to eat together.

3. Persistently introduce and expose your kids to foods you know are healthy

Research shows it can take up to 8-10 times for a child to accept new foods. (Brown, J. (2014). Nutrition Through the Life Cycle, 5th ed. Wadsworth: Australia.) I can’t stress how important it is to be persistent and continue to expose your child to new foods. To add variety to a child’s diet, parents should not serve the same meal 2 days in row. So if yesterday was peanut butter and jelly for lunch, today can be something different.

4. Avoid Grazing

Constantly snacking all day can fill a child’s little belly making them less hungry at mealtime. Eliminate snacks and high caloric drinks at least 1-2 hours before mealtime. Establish a regular but flexible meal and snack times that work for you and your family and stick to this schedule.

5. Upgrade What they Already Know and Love

Try new brands or add new flavors to foods your child already enjoys. Experiment in the kitchen by adding vegetables to meals they already are eating. How about making butternut squash mac and cheese or a spinach quesadillas? Finally, don’t fear condiments or spices such as vinaigrettes, olive oil, butter, cinnamon, lemon juice, fresh tomato sauce, or even ketchup. These will help make vegetables much more palatable to kids and make it easier for them to try new foods.

6. Involve Them In The Kitchen

Cooking is fun and can be a great way to get children involved with their own food choices. Involve them in everything from meal prep to grocery shopping. Children are great helpers in the kitchen so assign them tasks like tearing lettuce for a salad, stirring soups or sautés (depending on age), and mixing ingredients.

7. Take a Trip to The Farm (or farmer’s market)

Develop your child’s connection to food by discussing where it comes from and how it’s grown. Plan a fun family trip to the farmers market or a local farm and engage your child in conversation with the farmer.

For added points, you can even grow your own vegetables in your garden! When hitting the farmers market, allow your child to pick out 1 or 2 new foods they want to try or grow. Giving choices between foods empowers your picky eaters in the decision making process and may help them like or accept a new food more.

 

This blog post was originally written and published on November 18, 2015 for Azumio. To view the original article click here

Main Photo Credit: djedzura/shutterstock.com; 

Spaghetti Squash and Turkey Meatballs

Spaghetti Squash and Turkey Meatballs

I posted a photo on Instagram last week of this spaghetti squash dish I made and received a ton of requests for the recipe. Since I haven't posted a recipe in quite a while (sorry!), I figured this one would be a great one to share with you!  

I absolutely love making this recipe because it reminds me of traditional spaghetti and meatballs but is by far nutritionally superior without sacrificing any flavor. As you may know, pasta is typically void of any nutritional content and is high in refined carbohydrates. When you substitute the pasta for squash it makes this dish much more nutrient dense. Spaghetti squash is a great source of Vitamins A and C, which act as antioxidants in the body and prevent free radical damage to cells. For those trying to conceive or are pregnant spaghetti squash is a good source of folate, which supports the formation of new cells and may help prevent birth defects.  

I typically make a big batch of sauce and meatballs because it stores really well for about a week in the refrigerator.  I recommend storing the squash and sauce in separate containers so the squash doesn't get soggy and lose it's texture. 

 

Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti Squash 

Meatballs:

 

  • 1 pound ground organic meat (chicken, turkey)
  • 1 large organic egg
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup diced yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Squash:

  • 1 medium size spaghetti squash
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • sea  salt and pepper

Sauce:

  • 2 28oz cans San Marzano crushed tomatoes
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced 
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. Drizzle inside each side with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Place spaghetti squash in a baking dish and cook face up until tender, about 40 minutes to an hour. 

While squash cooks, prepare meatballs. Combine the ground meat, bread crumbs, 1 egg, cheese, fresh herbs, onion, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix thoroughly, then form the mixture into ¾-inch to 1 ½-inch balls. You should have 20 to 30 meatballs, depending on how large you form them. 

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add the meatballs in batches and cook, turning, until browned all over, 3 to 5 minutes. Don't worry if the meatballs are not fully cooked, they will cook more  in the sauce. 

In a medium saucepan, sauté onion and garlic with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add 2 cans of tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Add fresh basil and turkey meatballs to the sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes. 

When squash is tender, remove it from oven and allow to cool enough so you can handle with your bare hands. Scoop out the noodle-like flesh and place it in a large bowl. Top with homemade sauce and meatballs.