TLT (Tofu, Lettuce n’ Tomato) Sandwich

I just made this divine TLT sandwich for my lunch today and I cannot stop raving over it! I will definitely be making this my lunch staple a few times each week!

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Ingredients

  • 1 medium tomato
  • 2 pieces Kale (or your green “a.k.a. lettuce” of choice)
  • 14 ounces water packed extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Reduced Sodium Tamari (Wheat Free Soy Sauce)
  • 1 Tablespoon Veganaise (Vegan Mayonnaise)
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Scallions
  • Toasted Bread of choice (Pita, Bread, Bagel, Naan)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Combine Tamari and Dijon mustard in a small bowl.
  • Pat tofu with a paper towel to soak up excess water and slice tofu crosswise into 8 pieces
  • Using a spoon, spread the mustard mixture on the tofu slices (both sides)
  • Bake tofu for 20 minutes
  • Spread Veganaise onto toasted bread and place the tofu, lettuce, tomato, cilantro and scallions on top.
  • Enjoy!

I love Tofu, not only is it delicious, it’s healthy and packed with a beneficial amount of iron and has no saturated fat or cholesterol.   Tofu is also high in calcium and magnesium as well as a great source of soy protein.  Moreover, the FDA claims, “25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

Although I am Not a vegetarian, I do love my tofu.  Do you enjoy Tofu?  Share with us some of your favorite ways to prepare and incorporate Tofu into your meals.

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Super Foods on a Budget

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In this day n’ age…the economy isn’t looking too shabby.  We all have to learn to cut back on certain things, however, we should not be cutting back on our nutritious foods as we must continue to feed our bodies with healthy super foods everyday.  Here are a few of my favorite super foods that will keep you on (or hopefully under) your budget!

Swiss Chard

  • An excellent source of beta carotene (an antioxidant and pre-cursor for vitamin A), vitamin C, and a good source of potassium and magnesium.  Research has shown that vitamin C and beta carotene may prevent the oxidation of LDL “Bad” cholesterol and therefore may decrease risk of heart disease.  Moreover, research has also shown that magnesium and potassium may lower blood pressure levels.  Swiss Chard is reasonably priced- a bit more expensive then some of your other greens, but still about $2/bunch.

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Kale

  • This dark, leafy green is loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, and calcium.  Not to mention a good source of potassium and magnesium.   Like most greens it is usually fairly cheep at $1.50/ bunch.

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Spinach

  • One of the best green leafies out there- it’s an excellent source of folate, antioxidant vitamins A (formed from beta-carotene) and C, and a good source of potassium and magnesium.  Studies show that folate can help prevent heart disease by lowering levels of the amino acid homocysteine.  Plus, you can usually find it year round for less than a $1/bunch.

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Broccoli

  • An excellent source of folate and vitamin C, a good source of fiber, calcium, Vitamin A, potassium and vitamin B6.   If that isn’t enough broccoli is also packed with phytonutrients, compounds that may help prevent heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.  Plus, it’s low in cost and calories.

Tomatoes

  • An excellent source of vitamins  A and C, a good source of potassium and contain the antioxidant lycopene.  Depending on the type of tomato, they can be pricey, however, review your choices in the food store and purchase the cheapest, best quality tomatoes.

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Parsnips

  • A good source of vitamin C, fiber and folate.  Fiber helps promote heart health by reducing levels of LDL “Bad” cholesterol and that vitamin C decreases risk for heart disease by preventing the oxidation of LDL “Bad” cholesterol.  These fun veggies are close in price to carrots, perhaps a few cents more, but still fairly cheep.

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Avocados

  • Rich in monounsaturated “GOOD” fats and contain potassium and folate.  Research shows that monounsaturated fats can lower LDL “Bad” cholesterol.   Avocados add the perfect touch to any meal and for the inexpensive price, you can’t beat it!

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Omega 3 Fatty Acids

  • Omega 3’s are known to lower heart disease risk, help arthritis, and may help with depression, memory loss and Alzheimer’s.  Most prevalent in fatty, cold water fish such as WILD (not farmed) salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring.  Also found in fortified eggs, flax seeds and walnuts.  All of these super foods are high in monounsaturated fats, which is a huge benefit since this can lower cholesterol.  Fresh fish can be quite pricey, however, for the nutritional punch these Omega 3’s provide–it’s worth the extra cash–treat yourself!

Bananas

  • Loaded with Potassium and fiber, these yellow treats are not just a monkey’s favorite.  Not to mention they are about 20 cents a piece–a dollar can get you a banana for every day of the workweek!

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Steel Cut Oats

  • High in fiber and complex carbohydrates, oats have been known to lower cholesterol-and boy are they cheap! A dollar can buy you more than a week’s worth of warm, satisfying steel cut oats!

Sardines

  • These relatively cheap little fish come with big benefits such as B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc.  And, because they are low on the food chain, they do not accumulate mercury.

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Whole Grain Pasta

  • A delicious complex carbohydrate that is high in protein and B vitamins-not to mention it’s one of the cheapest staples you can buy!

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Tofu

  • This inexpensive protein source is not just for vegetarians and can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.  It’s high in B vitamins and Iron, but low in fat and sodium, making it a healthful addition to many dishes.

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Beets

  • These purple guys are sweet to the palate while their rich flavor and color make them nutritious for our bodies; they are powerhouses of folate, iron, and antioxidants.  Look for fresh beets in your food store, most beets are reasonably priced and found near the root veggies.

Nuts

  • Packed with good-for-you fats, both unsaturated and monounsaturated, these are a good source of essential fatty acids, protein, and vitamin E.  Because they are so nutrient-dense, you only need a handful or two to reap the nutritional benefits.  Although macadamias and pecans can be costly, nuts such as walnuts, peanuts and almonds are low in cost.

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Wild Rice

  • This gluten-free complex carbohydrate is a whole lot better for you than “white” rice and it’s low in fat, and high in protein and fiber.  This rice is loaded with B vitamins and potassium, not to mention the delicious, nutty, robust flavor.

Garbanzo Beans

  • No only are they a great source of protein and fiber, but they are high in iron, folate, manganese and fiber, and may help reduce cholesterol levels.  If you don’t like Garbanzo beans–try another-lentils, lima, black-the varieties are endless.  Additionally, with beans, you’re getting your money’s worth because they are much cheaper to purchase than animal proteins.

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Blueberries

  • Packed with phytoflavinoids and antioxidants, these berries are also high in vitamin C and potassium, which are anti-inflammatory and lower your risk of heart disease and cancer.  The darker the berry, the more antioxidants they have.  And remember, frozen fruits are just as good as fresh.  Fresh berries get a bad rep for being pricey, however, their frozen friends are just as delish and good for you, not to mention cheaper! Head to the freezer isle if the fresh berries are too pricey.

What do you consider your Super Foods? How do their prices fair against the ones I have listed above?  Have you had to cut back at the food store due to our current economic times?

Fiber-ific!

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We’ve all heard, “Eat more Fiber”…for crying out loud…it’s in every health magazine article, mentioned in numerous commercials,the topic of convo at lunch, and advertised on thousands of food products we encounter every single day. So, what is all of this fuss about fiber?

Let me start by saying that FIBER is FABULOUS. I myself, eat about 30 grams of fiber per day and sometimes more!  “How?”, you ask…Simple…here’s the down low on fiber and why you should include more into your day.

There is only one way to get fiber- through plant foods such as vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fruits, which are quality carbohydrates loaded with fiber!  These plant foods deliver minerals, vitamins, fiber, and phytochemicals along with carbohydrates such as whole grains, beans, veggies, and fruits.  Now, don’t get scared about the word carbohydrate because you cannot judge these foods without knowing its fiber content.

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Fiber is the edible part of plants or carbohydrates that humans can not digest.  Now, although this fiber is not absorbed, it does wonders for our bodies.  First off, fiber slows down the absorption of other nutrients eaten at the same meal, including carbohydrates.    This slowing process may help prevent spikes and dips in our blood sugar levels, which reduces our risk of Type 2 Diabetes.  Moreover, fibers found in beans, oats, and some fruits can help lower our blood cholesterol.  And the best part is that fiber helps people stay full and satisfied.  Who knew?

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However, most Americans do not know this.  Therefore, they spend their day eatingprocessed and refined “white” grains- bagels, buns, muffins, pizza, bread, white rice…I could go on forever.  A quick tip for your knowledge: the “whiter” the grain-based food, the lower the fiber. 

To increase your fiber intake, be sure to switch to whole grains at every meal and snack in such items as: pasta, tortilla wraps, chips, pretzels, bread, crackers, buns, rolls, and pizza.  The whole wheat/ whole grain variety of these products are available in most food stores.  Moreover, it is important to include beans and bean products as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables.  There are countless beans, veggies, and fruits-  experiment and taste a new fruit and veggie each day to see what your taste buds enjoy! The best part is you’ll know you’re doing your body good by giving it some much needed fiber.  In addition, these forms of fiber are unprocessed/ minimally processed whole foods, which contain natural sugar such as the fructose in fruit.

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There are two types of fiber; insoluble and soluble. 

Soluble fiber binds with cholesterol in the intestines and prevents it from being absorbed; which may cholesterol levels.  Moreover, this type of fiber is also thought to help minimize the rise in blood sugar levels after a meal (helpful for people with diabetes).

Good Sources of Soluble  Fiber (Dissolves in Water) include:

  • Oatmeal / Oat Bran
  • Citrus fruits, Strawberries, Apples, Pears, Mangoes, Plums, Blackberries, Raspberries, Peaches, Dried Apricots, Prunes, and Figs
  • Peas, Lentils, Beans
  • Rice Bran
  • Barley

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Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stools, helps treat diarrhea and constipation and may reduce the risk of colon problems.  This fiber has been known to help people with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). 

Some sources of Insoluble Fiber (Does not Dissolve in Water) are:

  • Vegetables such as Cabbage, Beets, Cauliflower, Tomatoes, Zucchini, Celery and Carrots
  • Whole Wheat Breads, Cereals, and Wheat Bran
  • Whole Grains, such as Barley
  • Skins of Many Fruits and Vegetables

Now when looking at the nutrition facts, be sure to check the ingredient list to make sure the whole grain is the first or second ingredient on the list.  Surprisingly, products that claim, “100% wheat” or “multigrain” are NOT usually whole grain.

According to the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, the daily needs of men and women for fiber differ and change as they age:

Age 50 and Younger:    Women: 25 Grams     Men: 38 Grams

Age 51 and Older:           Women: 21 Grams      Men: 30 Grams

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As for how to get those fiber numbers into your diet, here are a few easy tips that will get you loving fiber in no time!  Please note, however, to avoid stomach upset, increase your fiber by only a few grams each week over the course of several weeks.

  • Start your day off with a nutritious high-fiber breakfast such as a bowl of oatmeal or oat bran.  Be sure to top it off with fiber-rich foods such as blackberries and bananas instead of sugary syrup.
  • Enjoy a whole wheat sandwich spread with fiber-rich hummus instead of mayonnaise and filled with fiber-rich vegetables.
  • When reading labels, be sure to look for “rich in”/”high in” or “excellent source of” fiber–but be aware, you want the product to provide you with 5 grams of fiber per serving!
  • Snack time? Nosh on a homemade trail mix of seeds, nuts and dried fruit or reach for a fresh, crisp apple (be sure to keep the skin on)
  • Juicing is a great way to get your daily veggies, however, REMEMBER…when juicing, all the fiber is stripped from the veggies and fruits.

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How do you incorporate fiber into your day? What have you changed/added to your diet to “up” the fiber intake?