It's May (my favorite month of the year... because it's my birthday month :) and I'm excited to get around to sharing this post. We all have our "favorites" when it comes to colors, months, clothes, food etc. Today I am sharing about 5 foods that I've really enjoyed over the past few months and have evolved into consistent contenders in my daily diet.
I've known about Amy's Organic Soups for quite a while, but only began to stock them in my pantry more recently. The lentil soup is my favorite as has served as a quality source of iron (1 can of lentil soup provides 30% of my daily value). The soup itself makes for a convenient and tasty lunch or dinner on days that are busier than norm or when I am simply lacking the energy to cook. Likewise, I have been giving the hubs a few cans to keep at work for days when he forgets his lunch. Personally I like to blend quinoa into my lentil soup for extra protein, carbs, fiber and iron and pair with a side salad for a well-rounded meal. I also enjoy the black bean variety which I prefer to top the black bean soup with greek yogurt and avocado and some shredded cheddar cheese.
While these soups can be a little more pricey than other canned soups, I look for sales and stock up accordingly. I also know that my $3/can (roughly) investment is much cheaper than eating out most days, something I am trying to do less of for budget reasons.
When it comes to snacks, pistachios have found their place into my pantry as a power-packed snack. Pistachios serve as a quality source of protein, fiber, B-vitamins, magnesium, iron and potassium, with one serving having as much potassium (290mg, 8% of the Daily Value) as a half of a large banana (250 mg, 7% of the Daily Value) and 3 grams of filling fiber. For more information on the power of pistachios, check out this fact sheet from the American Pistachio Growers. I have been pairing them with turkish apricots for a new and different snack in my routine, but pistachios themselves go well over salads, parfaits or desserts.
Also talking snacks, I am currently LOVING Lara bars (especially the chocolate chip cookie dough variety, which is my favorite!) In order to keep my body adequately fueled, I aim to keep snacks on hand with me at all times. I can make my own energy bars and still do on occasion, but this spring life has been crazy (like woah!) and having a stash of Lara bars in my pantry, book bag, swim bag, car, etc has been crucial in keeping energy levels high and my body adequately fueled throughout the day. Personally, these have become my go to snack before class as I also like a little chocolate before teaching :)
As I dietitian, I often push myself to try new things (foods) for the sake of "research" but also dietary variety. Sardines are a completely new edition to our pantry, and quite honestly I never expected them to disappear off the shelf quite as fast as they do (apparently my husband is quite the sardine fiend, who knew??) My favorite use for them is in the Omega Sardine Salad from the Run Fast, Eat Slow Cookbook, but the hubs will pretty much put them over anything (his favorite combo being rice, eggs and sardines). So why sardines? First and foremost, they serve as a quality source of omega-3 fatty acids, and unlike tuna, I can consume them without worrying about mercury. Canned sardines can easily be found in most grocery stores and make a great addition to sauces, salads, soups, and more. A 3-oz serving of sardines 23 grams of protein, 11 grams of healthy fat (the good kind!) and is a rich source of vitamins B12 & B3, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium and other trace minerals. As an athlete, I am especially attracted to the anti-inflammatory benefits of the omega-3 content of sardines, but also know that they help meet my other vitamin and mineral needs.
One of the goals I set for 2017 was to include more probiotic-rich foods in my daily diet. While I range to eat a variety of probiotic-containing foods (yogurt, miso, kombuchi, kimchi...) lately I am all about this Farmhouse Culture Sauerkraut! Growing up I remember eating sauerkraut alongside pork chops and mashed potatoes, but I probably haven't eaten it since. I first learned about Farmhouse Culture through a dietitian colleague and more recently I noticed they were stocking their products at our local nutrition specialty store, EATS Natural Foods. I picked up a bag to try and it became a fast favorite! Especially when the weather warms up, I crave SALT after longer workouts aim to keep salty snacks close at hand. While I used to be big on tortilla chips and salsa, this sauerkraut really satisfies my salt cravings while boosting my intake of probiotics. Not to mention it pairs pretty well with a wide variety of foods!
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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