Monday, October 24, 2011

Work at...Nutrition

Who doesn't love food? As a dietitian, I love nutritious foods. But as a caterer and not-so-secret fan of butter, I love good food.

Good foods comes at a price though. As we head into the holidays (Halloween to New Years generally generates a lovely five pound gain), consider how you take thought for nutrition, despite the busy season. Are taking care of your health with some good tasting, but good-for-you foods?

I have been seeing a lot of clients lately in my private practice who are having problems controlling their insulin levels, and thus, their weight. One of the ways you can start doing this is by cutting down on your refined carbohydrate intake (i.e. sugar intake).

Although I advocate for carbohydrates all the time, weight loss is easily achieved by following a modified low-carbohydrate diet (for those of you looking for more specifics, just email me here  for a free handout). Some of the challenges of these kinds of dietary modifications is that you really miss some textures, especially the crunchy one.

Here are three popular crunchy recipes I give clients when they are trying to follow this diet: Two of them use seasonal vegetables for salty crisp additions to your salads or snacks and one of them is a new way to think of chicken fingers.
from all
Baked Kale Chips
1 bunch of kale, washed and thoroughly dried
1 Tbsp olive oil or olive oil spray
1 tsp. pink sea salt (or other rougher texture salts)

Lay kale in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with Silpat or parchment paper. Spray or sprinkle kale with olive oil. Bake at 350 preheated over for 10 to 15 minutes until brown, without edges burning. You may need to turn and shake the pan several time to ensure even baking. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt.

These add a great crunch to boring salads that are missing their croutons.
Crispy Leek Rings
2 leeks, thinly sliced (only whites and light green parts)
Cooking oil spray
Pink sea salt

Lay out thinly sliced rings on a baking sheet lined with Silpat or parchment paper. Separate rings as much as possible and spread in a single layer. Spray with cooking spray or olive oil. Toss to coat. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, turning frequently, until onions are brown. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with salt and let cool.

Lastly, an old favorite, that replaces bread crumbs with almond flour

Almond Chicken Fingers
1 lb chicken tenders, tendons removed
Wet mix: Whole milk yogurt, about 1 cup mixed with 1 Tbsp lemon juice
Dry rub: 1 1/2 cups almond flour (I use Trader Joes-- not too finely ground)
1 tsp pink sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp corn starch
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Herbs de Provence

Heat oven to 400 degrees F and place oven rack in middle-high position. Dip chicken pieces in yogurt mixture to coat. Then roll individually in dry mix until covered. Shake excess dry rub off before laying each coated piece on a baking sheet covered in non-stick foil or parchment paper. Spray all the coated tenders with a non-stick spray or drizzle with olive oil. Season again with salt. Bake for 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and almonds begin to brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
The yogurt coating keeps the chicken moist and tender and the cornstarch add minimal carbohydrates to the overall meal. The carbohydrates contributed by the yogurt is less than one might think as the proteins cook in the heat similar to the effect of heat on milk as you make cheese.


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