By Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN
As a nutritionist, I am a natural lover of food. Tell me not to eat something, and human nature will get the best of me and I’ll probably dive head first into whatever it is you say I can’t have. This is why I have been, for years, telling my clients to think about what they CAN eat. Eating empowered, a critical component to my 8 pillars of a Nutritious Life philosophy, is all about what you can eat. It’s not you can’t have the tortilla chips, it’s you can have the jicama with that guac instead. And, how much better do you feel having it? Try these three things you CAN have, and CAN add into your diet to take it up a notch.
1) Happy Hour Veggie Soup
Many of you know that a snack of something protein, fat, and/or fiber-filled can actually work for you and help you eat less at your next meal. It can also help you feel happier (yes, research shows that), and even reduce your “bad” LDL cholesterol. I am a big fan of a snack such as an apple and 2 teaspoons of natural peanut butter, Greek yogurt with chia seeds, or a simple hard-boiled egg in the afternoon. But, what happens when you have a really late dinner to go to? Or, you had a harder than normal workout and you’re feeling just a little bit hungrier? Do you pick at your leftovers or dive into the bag of tortilla chips in the back of the pantry? Nope. You have on hand an all-veggie loaded soup. This soup is the perfect 5 or 6 pm (or anytime) snack. It’s low in calories, high in nutrients, and high in water and fiber volume to keep you full. Make a big batch and freeze it in individual portions. I promise this is your new trick.
Time: 20 minutes / Serves: 2
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced or petite diced organic tomatoes
- 1 small carrot, peeled and cut into ⅛” thick rounds
- 1 rib celery, cut into ¼” thick slices
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced (about 2 large cloves)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup button mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 cup baby spinach
- ¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup water
1. Add tomatoes and ½ cup water to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the carrot, celery, and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Halfway through the cooking time, stir in the mushrooms.
2. Add the spinach and basil, stir, and cook 1 minute longer, or until the spinach wilts.
3. Stir in the vinegar and serve.
2) Avocado Oil
Yes, of course, there is no margarine to be seen in your home. Your packaged foods wouldn’t dare read partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredient panel, and you’ve done away with the flavored creamer you used to add to your coffee. Kudos to you! But, now I want you to think about adding avocado oil into your diet versus just ridding your kitchen of the “bad” stuff. Avocado oil should be your go-to oil for cooking (I’ll warn you, it is more expensive than many oils, but this is one place I think it is worth spending). Olive oil has a lower smoke point than avocado. That means that all those healthy fats in olive oil, which I do love, are altered into not-so-good fats for you when you cook at high temps. I like to save olive oil for using it cold. Drizzled on salads, on top of roasted veggies etc. Avocado oil has a high smoke point of 400°F, which makes it just right for sautéing or stir-frying. The mild taste makes it very versatile, so I promise your next veggie tofu sauté won’t taste like guacamole!
If you’re killin it with your greens and getting in your kale, spinach, and mixed greens like it’s your job, you’re ready to take it up a notch. I want you to add seaweed to your diet. Sea vegetables are high in minerals such as selenium, zinc, and calcium. Add nori sheets to your grocery list, and use them in place of a wrap at lunch, spread hummus on them for an afternoon snack, or crumble and top a salad.
Keri Glassman is the founder and president of Keri Glassman, Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice in New York City, as well as The Nutrition School, a 12-week online course created to provide an unprecedented nutrition education and a springboard for building a successful career as a nutritionist. She is on the advisory board for Yahoo Health, is a contributing editor and advisory board member for Women’s Health Magazine, the Health and Wellness partner for JW Marriott hotels, and contributes monthly to Livestrong.com and Foodnetwork.com.
Keri was Lead Nutritionist for Turner’s health and wellness entertainment brand, Upwave, and the Nutritionist and Judge on the healthy cooking competition show, “Cook Your Ass Off.” She has authored four books, including The New You, Improved Diet, and The O2 Diet. Keri is regularly featured on national television programs including The Today Show, Good Morning America, and Access Hollywood Live. She is a spokesperson for national brands that align with the Nutritious Life mission, and is a prolific writer and commentator for many media outlets. Keri resides in New York City with her children, Rex and Maizy.