How to Get Fiber during Passover

It’s Passover and during these 8 days, Jews do not eat any fermented grain products: wheat, spelt, barley, oats, and rye.  Many Jews also eliminate: legumes (beans, lentils, peanuts), rice, corn, soybeans, millet and other grains.

Without whole grains and legumes, how are you supposed to get in your fiber for the day?

Fruits and Vegetables need to be the base of all your meals, this will help fill you up for less calories, especially around all of the calorie dense Passover foods.

Sweet Potatoes (and white potatoes too) are a good source of fiber and are a common ingredient in Passover meals.  Now that the Seders are over, try a simply baked sweet potato with your lunch or dinner.

Quinoa is one of the only permissible grains, since it’s actually a seed.  Quinoa is a great source of fiber, so don’t skip it this Passover!  Read my old post about why quinoa is so great here.

Whole Wheat Matzah is a great alternative to traditional matzah and has the added benefit of a few grams of fiber per slice.  Try it for lunch topped with some low fat cream cheese and smoked salmon or low fat tuna salad.  Or make it into matzah pizza for lunch or dinner!

Nuts and Seeds (note: some are not kosher for passover) in particular almonds are a good source of fiber.  Yes they are high in fat, but it’s healthy fat.  Want to know how many nuts are in one serving?  Then don’t miss my post on overdoing nuts.Try a small handful of almonds with a piece of fruit for an afternoon snack, or a bowl of plain yogurt with fruit and nuts for breakfast.  Also try adding flaxseed to your breakfast.

How do you get your fiber in during Passover?

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Yesterday, I told you that I made mashed potatoes to go with my Roast Chicken Dinner.  Mashed potatoes, get a bad rap since they are usually loaded with butter and heavy cream.  Today I’m sharing with you a super simple recipe that yields an incredibly flavorful end product that is healthy to boot!

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 8 red potatoes, washed and quartered (yukon gold work well too)
  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. To roast the garlic, slice off the top 1/4″ of the head to expose all of the garlic cloves.  Wrap in aluminum foil and roast in the oven for approximately 45 minutes or until tender.
  3. While garlic is roasting in oven, prep your potatoes.  Cook potatoes either by microwaving or boiling.  Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your potatoes, check after 10 minutes and continue cooking until fork-tender.
  4. Combine cooked potatoes, milk, salt and pepper in bowl.  Remove garlic from oven and squeeze all the cloves out and add to the potatoes.  With a potato masher or two forks start mashing to combine all ingredients.  If you want very smooth mashed potatoes use a hand blender.
  5. Serve!

I like the rustic feel of the potato skin in mashed potatoes.  If you do not like the skin, make sure to peel potatoes before boiling.  The nutrients are split between the flesh and the skin, therefore, if you remove the skin you will be removing a lot of the fiber, folate, iron and potassium.

Potatoes are part of the dirty dozen. Meaning that they contain high levels of pesticides.  If you have the monetary means and can access organic potatoes, I recommend doing so.

The Best Roast Chicken Breast

I know it’s a bold statement to call something “The Best” but I’m going to go ahead and call this the best, because I feel that I’ve really nailed the recipe down!  My husband said to me: “this is so much better than going out to eat!” and that says a lot!

I believe the 3 components to a successful roast chicken (in particular breasts, since they dry out so easily is): brining, preserved lemons, and fresh thyme.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
  • Brine solution
  • 1/2 preserved lemon
  • fresh thyme (~10 sprigs)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Brine the chicken breasts.  This is a very important step, so make sure not to skip it!  Brining is a solution of water, salt and sugar, it allows the chicken to remain moist and flavorful.  A typical brine is 1 gallon of water, 3/4 cup kosher salt and 1/2 cup sugar.  For 2 breasts you probably only need half of this, as long as you’re covering all the exposed chicken.  Place the chicken and brining mixture in glass or stainless steel container and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Remove chicken in brine from refrigerator.  Rinse well and pat dry.  Place chicken in a pyrex dish or roasting pan.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Slice preserved lemons with juice.  Combine with leaves from thyme (~2 TB), minced garlic cloves, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  5. Place lemon mixture underneath skin and then use the remaining mixture to coat outside of skin.  I also add a few thyme sprigs on top.
  6. Cook chicken breasts for 35 minutes in oven or until juices run clear.

Cooks Note:

Preserved lemons can be bought at Whole Foods or you can make them on your own.  They add such a dimension of flavor to roast chicken that cannot be replicated.

Nutrition Note:

The chicken skin contains most of the fat and calories.  I recommend cooking with the skin on to keep the breasts moist, however, remove it before serving to cut back on extra fat and calories.

Serving:

I served this chicken with homemade mashed potatoes and kale chips.  The breasts were huge (maybe ~8oz of meat), so I had about 2/3 of one breast, I served the skin but did not eat it.  Check back tomorrow for a recipe on mashed potatoes, that taste super creamy and indulgent but are virtually fat free!

Pregnancy: Morning Joe or No?

CAFFEINE! It’s something that the majority of our population relies on for staying alert and to keep going throughout the day.  Suddenly, you find out you’re pregnant: what to do?

Most experts say that 1 cup of coffee each day is ok – but drink responsibly!

Here are the risks:

  • Caffeine slightly increases your blood pressure and heart rate.
  • It is a stimulant and it can cross over the placenta to the baby.
  • Some studies have shown that it can increase your baby’s heart rate and affect his/her breathing patterns.
  • But do these things hurt that baby?  The answer is unclear.
  • Some studies have linked high caffeine consumption with: higher risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, and other problems.

Bottom line limit your caffeine consumption to 200 mg/day.

Here are some examples:

  • Tall Starbucks coffee: 250 mg
  • Grande Starbucks iced coffee: 190 mg
  • 8 oz generic brewed coffee: 95 mg
  • Grande Starbucks cappuccino: 150 mg
  • Grande Starbucks Tazo Green Tea Latte: 80 mg
  • 8 oz brewed black tea: 47 mg
  • 12 oz Mountain Dew: 71 mg
  • 12 oz Diet Coke: 47 mg
  • 12 oz Pepsi: 38 mg
  • 12 oz Coke: 35 mg

Skip all Energy Drinks!  These are usually loaded with caffeine.  Also be mindful of chocolate which contains caffeine.

My recommendations:

  • If you can’t live without your morning cup of joe, always choose the smallest size and only have one each day!
  • If you can tolerate half caf/half decaf that’s a great option too.
  • For those who can try switching over to decaf.
  • When it comes to tea, stick with decaf if you are drinking a cup of coffee in the morning.  If you don’t drink coffee or are drinking decaf you can have a cup of caffeinated tea but be mindful of how much you sip throughout the day.

How I’ve Handled Caffeine:

  • When we first started trying to get pregnant, I decided to cut back on my caffeine consumption (we make strong french press coffee).  So I made myself half caf/half decaf.
  • Once I become pregnant the half caf/half decaf made me sort of nauseous and I had no taste for coffee!  I slowly gave it up.
  • Now it doesn’t make me nauseous anymore, and I really enjoy coffee so I save it for when I’m really in the mood and get a decaf misto from Starbucks (if I’m really tired sometimes I tell them to use a little caffeinated coffee with most decaf).  Or I get a decaf latte to help fulfill my calcium needs for the day.

Did you give up caffeine during your pregnancy?

Spicing up Sandwiches

Are you bored by the same bland sandwich? Maybe you’ve gotten into a plain turkey sandwich rut lately?  Well, before you decide to go out for pizza or chinese because of this boredom, think about ways you can spice up your sandwich to make it tastier and more exciting!

Here are some of my favorite toppings to add lots of flavor without a ton of calories:

Vegetables add lots of flavor and nutrition:

  • Roasted Red Peppers
  • Sundried Tomatoes (drain well if packed in oil)
  • Cucumber
  • Shredded Carrots
  • Raw spinach or Arugula
  • Sprouts
  • Jalapeno Peppers

Here are some healthy spreads

  • Light Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges
  • Low fat goat cheese
  • Jam
  • Pesto (use sparingly!)
  • Hummus
  • Baba Ghanoush
  • Harrisa (hot chili sauce)
  • Avocado or Guacamole
  • Horseradish mustard (or other flavored mustards)

The list is endless, look in your fridge for creativity and you may be surprised at how delicious your sandwich creatino will taste.  Just be mindful of toppings with fat and go easy on the portion size (think cheese, hummus, avocado, pesto, etc).

One of my all time favorite sandwiches is:  Turkey on whole wheat bread with hummus, avocado, roasted peppers and arugula!  It’s so delicious.  I also love grilled chicken with low fat goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, spinach and pesto on a whole wheat wrap – yum!

What is your favorite sandwich combination?

Want to Lose Weight? Slow Down!

How quickly do you eat a meal? Do you shovel it down in 5 minutes, or make it last 20-30 minutes?  Have you ever thought that you could lose weight just by slowing down?

Your brain takes about 20 minutes to get the signal that food has entered your stomach, therefore, if you eat your sandwich at your desk in 5 minutes you’re probably looking for more food after.  However, if you try to slow down will feel more satisfied with the same amount of food.

Here are some tips for slowing down:

  • Put your utensil down between each bite and finish chewing each mouthful before taking another bite.
  • Try to focus on eating, rather than eating while doing another task.  If you eat while working, watching tv, or talking on the phone you probably aren’t enjoying your food to its fullest and do not feel satisfied after.
  • Drink water with your meal, and take sips between bites of food.
  • Try eating with chopsticks (and not just for asian food) – they will slow you down for sure!

How long do you take to eat your meals?  What do you do to slow down?

Pregnancy: Another Food to Avoid – Sprouts

The laundry list of foods to avoid can seem daunting, but there’s good reason for everything!  Today I want to warn you about raw alfalfa and bean sprouts.  Raw sprouts are something you want to avoid during your pregnancy because of the high risk of bacteria (E. Coli and Salmonella) they may contain – this is the same for homegrown or commercially grown sprouts.  Cooked sprouts are fine!

If you’re used to adding sprouts to your sandwiches or salads, think again!   All other vegetables are fine.  When eating out, ask if sprouts are on the salad or sandwich, and make sure to request it sans sprouts.

Washing the sprouts will not remove the bacteria, only cooking will.

My Pregnancy Update: Week 32

Time is flying – I can’t believe it’s only 8 weeks until my due date!  I’m still feeling great and full of energy, well I definitely feel more tired on long hard days than previously, but overall nothing to complain about.

I was finally offered a seat on the subway and bus this week!  I think I have really popped lately and am looking much larger.  She’s moving around so much inside of me it’s so much fun!  I really can’t wait for her arrival.

During the 3rd trimester, it’s very common for women to experience a lot of swelling.  I’m lucky and haven’t experienced this yet.  However, if you do, make sure to drink lots and lots of water, get up and walk around as much as you can, and wear support stockings if you like (they are amazing!).  If I’m going to be on my feet all day I wear them and it’s amazing how much more energy my legs have on days I’m wearing them.

Do you enjoy sprouts?