Nutrition Fact Friday: Cauliflower

Hey ya’ll! It is Friday. I’m so excited. My little brother is coming from Austin, and I am so pumped for all the fun adventures we are going to have. He is staying until Tuesday, so ya’ll know I am going to have a ton of drool worthy food pictures to share. Until then it is my favorite day of the week: Nutrition Fact Friday. This week’s topic is probably my favorite vegetable in the world, I literally came out of the womb craving this: CAULIFLOWER (Thanks mom – actually read an interesting study about how in the last weeks of pregnancy whatever the mother eats, the child tends to enjoy those tastes too).

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Cauliflower looks like the lame cousin of broccoli, but in my opinion it is like the cool older brother. Cauliflower is part of the cruciferous vegetable family, which is why it is identical almost to broccoli. This vegetable contains a large amount of Vitamin C, and actually way more than an orange. Most people don’t know that you can get vitamin C in all kinds of forms besides citrus fruit. Vitamin C protects against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, eye health, and skin wrinkling (older people should get their vitamin c on). Cauliflower also has a good amount of vitamin K in it, which is good for blood clotting and to prevent bone loss. One of the best things about cauliflower is that it contains a lot of fiber, so the more you eat the more full you will feel. It is important to incorporate a lot of fiber into your diet because it helps with a multitude of diseases and helps keep your system in check. Cauliflower has a good amount of antioxidants in it, so it helps detoxify your system by ridding of unwanted toxins in the body. These antioxidants also help fight against cancer, so try to get 3-4 servings of cruciferous vegetables in a week.

Now that we are done with the education part of this nutrition fact Friday, I am going to share the delicious food pictures and recipes. Cauliflower is probably the best vegetable because it is so versatile and you can turn it into anything that you want.

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Probably one of my favorite things to do with cauliflower is make my delicious cauliflower crust pizzas that are literally to die for. My recipe is pretty simple to make, so I recommend checking it out. These are really great because you can add whatever you want on top thus providing yourself with even more nutrition. You can either make these with individual pizzas, in case you wanted to share, or you can make it into one large pizza that will last you for a few days. I am sort of liking the larger pizza because you can make it into a bigger and better one.

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Of course I am going to share one of my more recent recipes, which was the sweet potato, kale, and caramelized onion cauliflower crust pizza. That recipe was definitely a winner in my book. This pizza was the best cauliflower crust pizza that I have ever had since I have been making this. It actually has inspired me to come up with some new delicious ones to make in the big style, such as jalapeno popper pizza. You know you are drooling just thinking about it.

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Isn’t this a pretty neat recipe? Cauliflower fried rice for the win. You are still getting all the fiber that you would have been getting from the rice, but at a much lower calorie count. This is probably one of the better recipes that I have made. You really don’t even notice that it isn’t brown rice. I mean look at that picture. It looks exactly like fried rice. My friends at school couldn’t even tell that it was cauliflower. They just assumed that I had made some fried rice.

8557474732_3f8bef055eThis recipe is from Sweet Nicks, and it is something that I have been really wanting to try out for a while now. I think this will probably be my next cauliflower recipe. It is garlic cauliflower mashed potatoes. It is something that is really simple, but tastes really good. I love mashed potatoes, I mean for chrissakes I’m a Southern girl, but damn do those things pack a ton of calories. This will probably be my go to recipe when I’m having cravings for home style comfort food, but don’t want to gain the million pounds that come with that southern diet. Now all I need is a healthy fried chicken recipe, and I am good to go.

I hope ya’ll have a great Friday. I am off to work soon. This week we are teaching the kids about whole grains, so we will be serving things like pita with fun dips for the kids to try out. Afterwards I plan on going on food adventures with my brother and his friend for dinner. I am looking forward to it!

What is your favorite cauliflower recipe?
What would you like to see for Nutrition Fact Friday?

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Nutrition Fact Friday: Calcium

Hey ya’ll! Friday is the best day because that means it is Nutrition Fact Friday. Every Friday of the week, I will be providing ya’ll with a mini nutrition education lesson on a nutrient, food, or something nutrition related. This week I have a special guest who goes by the name of Calcium. Calcium is considered to be the most abundant mineral in the body. It is found in some foods, added to others, and it can be in some medicines. This mighty mineral is needed for a variety of things to function in your body. Some things calcium impacts are vasodilation, muscle contraction, and hormone secretion. Calcium, in the average person’s mind, is considered to be a bone mineral. They are right in some ways because 99% of calcium is stored in the bone, but there are so many functions of calcium! One of the most common problems in society is that most people assume calcium is found in milk, so they push milk consumption like crazy. However this is not completely true! Calcium is found in a ton of options, so lets check them out:

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Since calcium is found in so many foods, you can plan your diet around many options in order to get your daily intake amount in. This is especially important to notice if you are vegan or lactose intolerant because you don’t consume milk in those populations, so having many options like different vegetables allows every population to not be calcium deficient. Calcium deficiency, also known as hypocalcemia, can be a huge problem since calcium regulates many things such as blood pressure and it helps construct bones. Side effects that occur when there isn’t enough calcium in the body are osteoporosis, eye damage, and abnormal heartbeats. Therefore it is extremely important to consume calcium regularly in the diet.

The recommended intake for individuals, male or female, from ages 19-50 is 1000 mg. This is a pretty good number to try to reach every day. For individuals that are younger the requirement is usually less than 1000 until children reach the age of development, which is 9-18 years old and they consume around 1300 mg. The same is true for the population as it ages because there is an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. There is no maximum amount of calcium to limit yourself to because no adverse effects have been seen. It is important though to mix up your sources of calcium because when you consume things such as spinach, collard greens, and oranges you are giving your body other vital nutrients and minerals that are needed for the daily intake. One of the key things of living a nutritious and healthy life is following variety!

Now for the fun part of the nutrition fact Friday. The recipe ideas to help you consume more calcium. Each week on Friday, I will round up some of my favorite recipes that utilize a major source of that week’s topic in them. So this week it is all about those delicious calcium recipes!

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What a good way to get a good amount of calcium then by consuming more than one source in one sitting! This amazing recipe from Simply Life uses tofu and broccoli to create a stunning Chinese inspired dish. For one thing, it is sesame tofu, which maybe one of my favorite dishes to order at a Chinese restaurant (specifically Rice Bowl in Austin, currently having a drool sesh right now as I write this post). This recipe is incredibly easy to follow, it contains tons of healthy ingredients, and it is packed full of awesome flavors. This probably contains around 446 mg of calcium in it. That is a pretty great amount. The more broccoli you put in the dish, the more the calcium level will increase. A great idea would be to include some bok choy too. That way you are getting a large amount of fiber with your calcium, so you will feel fuller for a longer period of time.

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Another great recipe to get in your calcium requirements is seen on the Preppy Paleo. This recipe is for Maple Almond Salmon. Once again the recipe is using two sources of calcium, which is amazing. Coating fish in a crust is a good way for people that don’t eat a lot of fish or particularly like the texture of fish to enjoy it. I love almonds and salmon, so I will definitely have to try this one out. This recipe has a little lower average value of calcium, which would be around 250 mg for a serving. However you could definitely increase your amount by adding a side of broccoli to the dinner or a nice plate of collard greens, which pack in a total of 357 mg of calcium (wow, those Southerners sure now how to get that calcium in their diet).

Calcium is really easy to consume throughout the day as long as you are having balanced meals. One of the easiest ways to get a dose in with breakfast is to consume dairy products, such as yogurt, cheese, or milk. However for those who don’t want to go the dairy path, focus on having an orange or a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice. Other options include a vegetable omelet with spinach. Snacks are easy to because you can just grab an orange or a handful of nuts to take along with you.

Keep those bones and teeth strong and the heart pumping! Don’t forget to get your calcium in daily. A healthy reminder is that consuming calcium chews or multivitamins does not help you reach your daily value. When you consume those, they tend to go out of your body immediately through your urine. That means that you need to eat fresh foods daily in order to consistently reach your daily requirements!

What is your favorite source of calcium?
Do you have any good calcium rich recipes?

Sweet Potato Nachos

Hey ya’ll! I have a delicious recipe in store for you. Now that I live in New York City, I’m pretty far away from my delicious Mexican food (although I live in a Dominican neighborhood, so I’m at least getting some Spanish food in my life). I decided that I wanted to make something Mexican inspired in honor of my home. However Mexican food is full of fat, calories, and food items that are not so healthy for you. That gave me the idea to “healthify” one of my favorite dishes: Nachos! I could have made tortilla chips from baking corn tortillas, but that is the easy way out. I ended up making my base or chips from baked sweet potatoes.

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Sweet Potato Nachos

2 small sweet potatoes
1-2 tsp of olive oil
1 pinch of garlic powder
any other spices or seasonings you want to add
Cheese of choice (I used fat free Mexican Blend)

Topping ideas:

Cilantro
Tomatoes
Jalapenos
Onions
Black Beans
Banana Peppers
Chives
Chicken/Beef

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1. Preheat oven to 350. Wash your sweet potatoes and peel them until there is no skin left.

2. Then slice both potatoes in thin round slices.

3. Place in a small container, pour in olive oil, and mix well.

4. Place slices on a baking sheet and sprinkle with garlic powder. If you have added other spices, sprinkle them on at this point.

5. Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.

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6. Take it out of the oven, but leave the oven on. Then sprinkle on cheese. Depending on personal preference you can either add on the rest of the toppings now or wait until all the cheese is melted. Personally I put the toppings on then put the cheese on top because it made the toppings cheesier (ya’ll know I love cheese). Then place in the oven to monitor until the cheese is melted.

7. Enjoy!

This was the perfect dish. I wish I would have had more things to place on as toppings, but I had forgotten things such as avocado at the supermarket. Next time I will definitely be having black beans and avocado on top of my nachos. It would have been creamy and delicious. Plus including more protein would help you stay fuller. I added Greek yogurt on top of mine instead of sour cream. It was a much better option that putting sour cream on it. Sweet potatoes are a much better option than regular tortilla chips for a variety of reasons. Sweet potatoes are extremely high in vitamin B6, which helps reduce homocysteine in our bodies. Homocysteine has been connected to a variety of diseases and has even shown a role in heart attacks, so eating more sweet potatoes is definitely a good move for those that are heart health conscious. Other nutrients that sweet potatoes contain are Vitamin C, Vitamin D, iron, magnesium, and potassium. While that is a long list, one of the most important and well known compounds that sweet potatoes contain is carotenoids. More specifically, sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene, which helps with eye function and to boost our immune systems. Besides the many health benefits of sweet potatoes, they are extremely versatile to cook with. Just look at my recipe! You can make sweet potato chips. How awesome is that?!

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I just look at these and it makes my mouth salivate. Thank god I bought 2 lbs of sweet potatoes at Trader Joe’s! But actually I wont be making these anytime soon because I have a ton of different sweet potato recipes for ya’ll coming up sometime soon. I hope everyone had an awesome Sunday! Mine has been extra special since the University of Texas Longhorns won against no. 2 Stanford today in volleyball (not to mention that they also beat number 1 Penn State the day before). Hook em! Ya’ll know how much I love my volleyball. It has been hard not being able to go to the games, especially since they were extremely exciting this weekend. My mom and brother went, so at least they were sending me the scores, videos, and hilarious quotes from the crazy people in the audience!

See ya’ll tomorrow!

What do you like to do with sweet potatoes?
Do you eat other foods with carotenoids and Vitamin A in them?

Breakfast Cookies

Hey ya’ll! It is Sunday and I’m currently dying. This will probably be my last post until Wednesday because I need to focus on my paper on the biochemistry of type 2 diabetes. I need to really rock it out and study for my biochemical nutrition final/all my other finals. Senior problems, but really. I have the worst case of senioritis, which is not really beneficial at this moment in life. I just need to make it to Wednesday and I can be done with undergrad life forever! Since I’m on a break from working on my paper, I thought I would share a delicious recipe with ya’ll! Cookies for breakfast? Umm yes, you heard me right. This is a super low calorie recipe that provides a ton of functional aspects with the oatmeal, bananas, and cinnamon! You can actually eat these anytime during the day, but I call them breakfast cookies since the ingredients are typically what I eat for breakfast.

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Breakfast Cookies
2 extremely brown bananas
1 c of old fashioned oats
1 tbsp cinnamon
1-2 sprinkles of chocolate chips

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1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Take two bananas (make sure that they are brown or starting to brown because it is easier to mash super soft bananas) and mash them in a small mixing bowl until it has reached a smooth and creamy consistency.

3. Add in the oatmeal, chocolate chips, and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly.

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4. Take a spoon and make a small dollop of mixture on a baking sheet. If you do a small-normal size, it will make around 12-15 cookies. My batch made 15 cookies with some being on the larger side, so it could potentially make up to 18 cookies if they are all small.

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5. Place in oven for 15 minutes and cook until brown. You may want to cook them a little longer if you want them crispier because when I cooked them for 15 minutes the bananas still provided a small amount of mush, but I like that. If you don’t, just cook for longer.

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This is such a healthy and nutritious snack to keep around your house or apartment. I placed two-three cookies in a snack size ziploc bag to carry around in my backpack to class. It is such a good idea to do since this recipe contains a lot of fiber, which helps keep your stomach full. The oatmeal provides a ton of functional benefits such as increasing appetite control hormones so you don’t get hungry right after eating, the beta-glucans in the oats improve immune system functions, they can potentially help decrease type 2 diabetes through lowering insulin resistance, and they help control blood pressure. Now you know why I always try to start my day with oats! If you consume more functional foods in your life, you will live a happier, healthier, and potentially longer life. Bananas have a ton of functional benefits too such as protection from cardiovascular disease due to potassium and fiber in bananas, protection from the development of ulcers, and promote kidney health. Finally cinnamon provides a ton of benefits. You definitely need to use more spices and herbs in your diet because they have tons of hidden functional properties. Cinnamon helps lower your cholesterol, regulate your blood sugar thus impacting diabetes, plays a role in cancer prevention, it is an anti-bacterial and an anti-clotter, it helps relieve joint pain from arthritis, and works with brain health. Wow, cinnamon you rock. Sorry to get all science nerd on ya’ll, but functional foods was one of my favorite nutrition classes. Plus I work for my functional foods professor now in her lab studying tomato and broccoli’s effects on prostate cancer cells. It is pretty awesome!

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Enjoy the cookies and have an awesome Sunday! I am going to go coach at volleyball practice right now. Then I have a ton of work to do after that. My never ending life.

What is your favorite type of cookie?
Do you consume a lot of functional foods in your diet?

Life as a Dietetics Student

Hey ya’ll! Today I’m going to post a new addition to the blog: Life as a Dietetics student. I will show ya’ll what my daily life is like as a nutrition student, what sort of things you need to do to get a dietetic internship, and other random dietetic major tidbits. For today, I’m going to focus on a fun project we are doing in my advanced food science class. Advanced Food Science is a class that focuses more specifically on the science of food with a heavy impact on biochemistry, organic chemistry, and biology.  We had to keep a food diary for one week following a limited processed foods diet. I thought this was excellent for health reasons and just for fun.

My epic food journal. I’ve actually almost lost it multiple times during the week while recording my food because it is just a stapled together thing of paper. I also have random food stains on it because I was eating and recording at the same time. I probably should have waited till after I was done eating, but oh well I’m proactive.

At first I was freaking out because I was like oh god this is going to be so awful, but then I realized I actually do not eat that much of processed foods. Once I came to that realization, things were much easier. When we ate something we had to record whether it was not processed, slightly processed or processed. Take my oatmeal for instance, it is slightly processed because the oats were run through a factory, but are out of a bin from the health store.

When I went to the grocery store for the week, I mainly focused on not buying anything that was in packages. When I got home I realized that I only really bought whole foods, so I was going to have to get creative when it came to dishes. The dish above is my version of a mashed potato, but with cauliflower instead. Some of it is processed, but it is way healthier than eating something like a microwave meal because it provides me with tons of nutrients and health benefits.

This was a delicious snack I had. I made this yogurt combination with vanilla yogurt, a mashed banana, some brown sugar, cinnamon, and a splash of vanilla extract. It was so good and I used a grannysmith apple to dip in it. I’ve been making this yogurt combo a lot since I started making it for the assignment. Definitely a good low calorie treat to have.

WIAW #4: The Breakfast Club

Hey ya’ll! It is that awesome time of the week: What I ate Wednesday. Shout out to Jenn for hosting such an awesome blog link up party online. While everyone else is having epic Wednesdays, I’m sitting around my apartment all day waiting for the energy company to come hook up the gas. Yeah, no fun. Luckily I have my computer, books, and my roommate’s cat to keep me entertained. Let’s get to the good stuff. Today I’m doing a post all about breakfast. Seeing as it is my favorite meal of the day, I thought it was appropriate. However, I’m also going to give you a little nutrition lesson too.

Black Forest Oats Parfait

Breakfast is probably the most important meal of the day because it gives you a healthy start to the day. Most people think that by skipping breakfast, they will be able to lose more weight. However this is actually a myth. Eating breakfast actually increases your metabolism, which in turn helps you lose weight quicker. Also, if you don’t eat breakfast by the time lunch rolls around you are hungrier and therefore more inclined to eat more food than you would have. This leads to more weight gain. Obviously the key point here is to eat breakfast, but there are also many other benefits that can be connected to eating breakfast.

Studies have shown that breakfast has a huge impact on cognitive function. Most studies have been done on school aged children showing that by eating breakfast they perform better on tests and in school. However this information can be used for adults too since our brains need fuel to function properly. Breakfast is also connected to concentration. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast have an easier time focusing on the task at hand compared to those that do not consume a morning meal.

S’mores Oats

Another reason that breakfast is an important meal of the day is because of energy. By eating breakfast, we are supplying our bodies with nutrients and substance. From this, our body gets energy. When you sleep at night, the body goes through seven to eight hours without eating, so it is important to eat breakfast. Otherwise you will lack the energy needed to get through the day. No one wants bad grades or to get fired, so EAT Breakfast.

Pistachio Pancakes

A healthy breakfast doesn’t have to take long to make or be super fancy. All you need is plenty of fiber and a healthy source of protein. These are things that help you stay satisfied for a long period of time, provide a good amount of energy, and keep your metabolism going. For fiber, one can consume whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. For protein, there can be a variety of sources based on the diet. Obviously you can have meat, but other choices include beans (for vegans and vegetarians), eggs, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, or tofu (I saw a great recipe at Jenn’s for Tofu french toast – definitely going to try it out soon).

The lesson is you need to eat breakfast. I find that breakfast is fun. Don’t worry. I will share all of these recipes pretty soon! I wouldn’t show you pictures without telling you how to make it. I hope everyone has an awesome Wednesday. I’m just hoping that the energy guy comes soon, so I can finish unpacking and doing stuff that I need to do.

What is your favorite breakfast?
Do you ever skip breakfast?

Welcome To A New Adventure

Hello to all the nutritionally conscious and the not so healthy eaters out there (not that there is anything wrong with that)! Welcome to Conscious Cravings. Have you ever found yourself wondering what foods help reduce the risk of what diseases? Or what you can eat to help satisfy your stomach while still maintaining a balanced diet? Well, through Conscious Cravings, I will take you on my adventure of eating healthy while trying to utilize the disease prevention benefits of food. Not only will I keep you entertained with my ridiculous mishaps that are sure to occur, but I will also share my experiences cooking, important nutrition facts, and so much more.

You may be saying to yourself, “not another healthy living blog” and “why is she going to be different than the other 5 bajillion blogs out there?”. I want to be able to provide everyone with the knowledge that I am learning through my studies as a nutrition student, real life experience, and my internship with a local dietitian. My blog is a mix of part project for my internship and part I’ve always wanted to have an awesome blog that people come to for healthy eating related things.

Here I am, ready to take ya’ll on a nutritious adventure, so let’s get going.

Nom nom nom.
Lindsay