So Many Protein Bars To Choose From!

Okay, fine, I’ll help you out a little bit. It is a huge challenge to choose a good protein bar because there are way too many choices. The truth is that most protein bars have tons of processed ingredients that aren’t good for our health. The biggest problem that I have with protein bars is quality and quantity of sugar used to sweeten them. There are also usually way too many ingredients smooshed together in 1 bar.

While my preference is to eat real “whole foods,” I do understand that there are times where we have to make some exceptions. Protein bars and protein powder are to be used as a supplemental snack/meal in addition to an already existing whole foods diet.  They are not meant to be a replacement for a whole foods diet.

I just found my new favorite pre-workout bar and I am more than happy to share the secret. RISE protein bars! There are several flavors, however don’t be fooled– only 2 of the flavors are protein bars, the rest are “energy bars,” which contain much higher sugar levels and barely any protein. The two flavors that are on the ‘Nourished-Balance’ approved-list are:

  • Crunchy Carob Chip
  • Honey Almond

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These tasty little bars have 17grams of protein. Both of these bars are gluten free as well. There are 13 grams of sugar in each of the bars, which is considered pretty high for a snack. In nutrition there is always a better & best option. These bars would be considered a “better” option because they use higher quality sugars than most of the other bars on the market.

The ingredient list for Crunchy Carob Chip includes: almonds, organic agave, whey protein isolate, carob powder and crisp rice.

The ingredient list for the Honey Almond Bar is: honey, almonds, whey protein isolate

The bars are available on Amazon or at Whole Foods (and if you buy the whole box you get 10% off). My local health food store, Jimbo’s…. Naturally, also carries these yummy snacks.

If you still don’t like either of these options, you can try my homemade protein bar recipe. (coming soon!)

Summer Fruits – Affect on Blood Sugar and Weight Loss

Going into summer, we are surrounded by a lot of amazing, fresh, and flavorful fruit. It is good to know that  some fruits have a larger impact on your blood sugar than others.

Fruits in general have a high mineral content, thus they are important to incorporate into the diet.

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The glycemic index is a scale that measures how fast sugar for various foods releases into the blood stream. Foods that are high on the glycemic index scale will give us a quick release of energy but they will be followed by a crash in blood sugar. Whereas, foods that are lower on the glycemic index scale will have a less dramatic affect on blood sugar. We want to limit foods in our diet that are rated higher on the glycemic index.

  • High= 71-100.
  • Medium = 50-70.
  • Low = < 50

Fruits that are low on the glycemic index scale

  • Apples – 39
  • Berries- low to mid 20s
  • Cherries- 22
  • Grapefruit – 25
  • Figs- 35
  • Oranges- 40
  • Peach- 42
  • Pears- 38

Fruits that are medium-high on the glycemic index scale

  • Mangos- 55
  • Pineapples- 66
  • Kiwi- 52
  • Bananas- 55 (high on glycemic index but a good energy source- better than tropical fruits
  • Cantaloupe Melon- 65
  • Watermelon- 72

It is interesting to compare natural sugars to processed sugars on the glycemic index scale. Remember that fruits, vegetables and whole grains are much better options than processed carbohydrates. Don’t be scared of fruit! Eat it in moderation.

You can search for the Glycemic index of other carbohydrates on the Harvard Health Publications website.

Other articles you may be interested in:

Carbohydrates 101

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If your goals are weight loss, controlling diabetes or managing blood sugar for hypertension, hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, be sure to place emphasis on quality carbohydrates:

-natural (vs. processed)
-high-fiber
-unrefined
– and unprocessed

Through the Atkins diet and several other nutrition trends, we have become afraid of carbohydrates. Often times we believe that carbohydrates are THE answer to weight loss and managing blood sugar. The problem is that when you cut them out completely the body craves more sugar for energy, leading us right back to the carbohydrates we have been desperately trying to avoid. Clearly, cutting out all carbohydrates or severely limiting carbohydrate intake is NOT “the” answer.

Think of carbohydrates as your fuel. They provide the body with energy. Rather than cutting out them out completely (which has proven to be extremely harmful to health), choose better quality carbohydrates and moderate your portion size. Another key nutrition concept-that will help regulate the affect of carbohydrates on the body- is to consume fiber, fats and protein with carbohydrates as opposed to eating the carbohydrate on its own.

Here are some of my favorite “healthy carbs”:

  • apples
  • Berries
  • cherries (in season now!)
  • grapefruit (also in season now!)
  • beets
  • carrots
  • sweet potatoes
  • quinoa
  • brown rice
  • adzuki beans

When it comes to your health, these choices far surpass the options for the processed white sugar and white flour products such as pizza and pasta.

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Notice: All the Same Color = Low Nutrients

The amount you consume depends on your body type, metabolism and fitness level however, about 1/2 cup of the healthy carbohydrate choices listed above, is a good average serving size.

Remember that you do not —and actually should not– completely eliminate carbohydrates from your diet. Make good choices, work on moderate portion sizes and create a balanced diet.

 

Other articles you may be interested in:

Spring Veggie Wrap

This Spring Veggie Wrap makes for a great light snack! You also have the option to load it up with additional veggies, tofu, or animal protein to make it a more substantial meal option.

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Nutrition Suggestion: Consume at least 1 salad, smoothie, or veggie wrap each day

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients
1 Tortilla*
1 Tablespoon of Pesto (Recipe: Kale & Almond Pesto)
4-5 leaves arugula or spinach
Broccoli sprouts
Cucumbers, thinly sliced
Radishes, thinly sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste
Optional: organic feta or goat cheese

* Whole wheat, organic corn, or gluten-free tortillas are widely available alternative to white flour. I like the Rudi’s Brand! If you’re looking for a lighter meal or snack, you can also try wrapping your ingredients in collard greens.

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Eating Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat

Fat is commonly scrutinized by the conventional ‘diet & health’ world. While there are some unhealthy fats (namely trans fats) it is important to understand that we need fat in our diet.

The common thought is that “fat makes you fat,” which is actually very misleading. Fat plays several important roles in the diet:

1. It helps the body absorb the fat soluble vitamin: A,D,E & K.

2. It helps keep us full for longer. This feeling of satiety will prevent us from snacking & overeating.

3. Helps to stabilize insulin (or blood sugar) levels.

4. Plays a vital role in brain development

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Here are some examples of healthy forms of fat that you can add to your meals:

  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Cheese (go for full fat or low-fat… choose lower caloric cheeses)

Now that you know some healthy fats to add into your diet, it would be helpful to know what fats to avoid. TRANS Fats are found in many packaged food products. You want to avoid these fats as they are linked to cancer, weight gain and diabetes. You also want to avoid vegetable oils, sunflower and safflower oils.

Small changes will help you reach your goals!

 

 

Toasty & Nutty Snack-Bars

Nutrition fact- Always include some protein and fats when eating carbohydrates! This method helps to regulate blood sugar and will keep you full for longer.

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Sweet, salty, nutty, tasty… Couldn’t be more delicious! These bars also happen to be gluten-free, egg-free and dairy free. Oh Joy!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients
Dry

  • 1 1/4 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Wet
  • 1/4 cup organic tea seed oil or organic grapeseed oil
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Additions
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup raisins
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees
  2. Mix almond flour, baking soda, sea salt and oats together in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients together
  5. Add pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and raisins to the mixture. Mix until well incorporated
  6. Oil an 8×8 inch baking dish with tea seed oil. Bake form 20 minutes. Let cool.
Makes 6-8 bars

Spring Cleaning- Pantry Makeover Guidelines

Spring is a perfect time to clean out the “junk” in your pantry. Healthy eating starts with healthy ingredients. The choice to reach for sugary snacks happens in the grocery store, not in the kitchen. Follow these guidelines, or contact a nutritionist to get the support you need!

From this:

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To this:

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Nourished Balance Healthy Pantry Guidelines

  • Move from processed food to unprocessed foods

White flour ——–> Whole wheat flour

White sugar, cane juice, high fructose corn syrup——-> Palm sugar, honey, maple syrup, dates, molasses

  • Get rid of artificial food additives & artificial food coloring

Yellow 5, citrus red 2, red 3, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, blue 1, blue 2, green 3, MSG (also known as autolyzed yeast), sodium benzoate etc.

“food dyes—used in everything from M&Ms to Manischewitz Matzo Balls to Kraft salad dressings—pose risks of cancer, hyperactivity in children, and allergies, and should be banned.”

  • Start adding more fresh foods into your diet instead of all packaged snacks

If you shop in a conventional supermarket, it is almost impossible to avoid harmful ingredients. Unfortunately we need to be “food detectives” to make sure that we are not consuming substances that are proven to cause major diseases, learning disorders and chronic fatigue.