Fork Fed: Salads

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Many of us turn to salads when thinking of a low calorie meal option, yet we neglect to realize that some additions to our salad could actually sabotage the caloric amount in that salad. I thought it would be interesting to look at ways we are adding extra calories (perhaps unnecessarily) to our salads.

Going nuts with healthy fats
I’m guilty for this one. Just because olive oil is a healthy fat that does not mean we can add an abundant amount to our salads and still stay low in calories. Always keep in mind that 1 tablespoon of olive oil does has about 120 calories, adding more tablespoons could easily sway your salad to a 500 + calorie salad. Choose a nut or an avocado (not both) and limit the oil in your salad to control your calories and still get some healthy fats.

Romaine is your green of choice
With salads it’s important to discover other greens that could be added besides romaine. Many of us rely on romaine lettuce due to its availability virtually everywhere, which is a great source of vitamin A; but mixing up your greens will make sure you get plenty of fiber, feel fuller and get a variety of nutrients. Think of using rocca, baby spinach or even kale every once in a while.

No chicken please
Many of us avoid sources of protein in our salads, and we tend to get hungry again within an hour which could lead us to overeating. It’s always a good idea to add protein to any of your salads, and keep in mind that protein doesn’t just mean chicken or steak; you could also add eggs, low-fat cheese or even salmon or tuna as sources of protein.

Croutons and toppings
You’d be surprised how many added calories croutons and other toppings could add to your salad. Most croutons or breads have been deep fried to give you that crunch in your salad – and to me, crunch always means one thing -HIGH CALORIES! Beware of these added toppings even if you are having your salad as a main course. The same goes with toppings like dried fruits and nuts, yes they may be healthy but if we’re not careful with the amounts in our salad the calorie amount could go overboard. Instead, measure out your toppings and make sure you have more veggies and greens to feel full.

Extra dressing please
Now we all don’t want to have a dry salad, but dressings could increase the caloric amount of your salad to be the same of a huge burger. Really watch what dressing you choose to add to your salad. Creamy dressings are a big no-no and filled with calories, the same goes with balsamic vinegar. Unless you are buying expensive aged balsamic vinegar, most of the ones found in restaurants or even the grocery store are actually loaded with added sugars. My tip, ask for your dressing on the side, this way you can measure how much is added to your salad. Also, always aim for vinegar like apple cider vinegar or even lemon to enhance the flavor of your salad minus the added calories.

I hope you enjoy these tips, just remember that with any food – healthy or not – portion size is key.

Post by Hyatt Al Sayegh, a Clinical Dietitian and Dr. Sears Health Coach.
Founder of Fork Fed.


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Fork Fed: Pickle Juice

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juicehangover

Is pickle juice the new health hype? Many new health claims state that pickle juice can enhance athletic performance, and improve blood sugar control for those with diabetes; which makes me wonder whether drinking pickle juice can actually be worth it?

Before we take a look at the nutritional aspects of pickle juice, we need to keep in mind that this drink is definitely going to be a salty one! So those with high blood pressure issues should definitely stay away from this drink. In regards to carb, protein or fat amounts, pickle juice doesn’t really have much to make it stand out in a special group. What pickle juice does have is lots of sodium as well as a decent amount of probiotics.

In the old days, pickle juice was the result of combining cucumbers, salt and water. The cucumbers are fermented by the bacteria Lactobacillus resulting in some probiotic content in the pickle juice. Nowadays, pickle juice is the result of combining cucumbers in vinegar, therefore no probiotics are really available, so stick to your yogurt if you want the probiotics. Regardless of the probiotic content, pickle juice is claimed to have other health benefits that may or may not have any truth to them.

1 – Pickle juice can help relieve muscle cramps.
Muscle cramps could be the most annoying thing, especially when they happen when you’re asleep or during a workout. There could be a cure, but only after the cramp takes place. Recent research has shown that taking 1 ml per kg of your current body weight of pickle juice during a muscle cramp could help you recover faster than drinking plain water or ignoring it and not having anything at all. The verdict: TRUE! Keep your pickle juice jars on your nightstands or take them with you to the gym if you frequently get muscle cramps. It could be worth it for you if it takes you a while to recover from that cramp.

2 – Pickle juice can help with stomach cramps.
Stomach cramps usually happen due to low amounts of acid in the stomach. Adding in the acidic pickle juice could potentially help since we are re-adding acid to our stomachs. Unfortunately no scientific evidence has proved that re-adding acid could help with stomach cramps. The verdict: FALSE! Maybe sticking to antacids or just avoiding some foods could be best with stomach cramps.

3 – Pickle juice can help enhance athletic performance.
The theory is behind the high salt content in pickle juice. Since salt retains fluid, the idea is that having pickle juice prior to exercising could keep you more hydrated and enhance your athletic performance for exercises requiring stamina. Unfortunately most studies have not shown any effect making this claim worthwhile. The verdict: FALSE! Stick to regular water, good training and sleep to enhance your performance.

4 – Pickle juice can control blood sugar.
Vinegar and blood sugar have been researched for a while. The link is between vinegar and insulin to be precise, where vinegar has been shown to improve sensitivity to insulin in the body – therefore reducing blood sugar levels. Vinegar has also been found to slow down the absorption of food in the stomach, when taken with a meal; that could also help potentially lower blood sugar levels. The verdict: True! I would consider adding vinegar but not necessarily consuming a cup of pickle juice with my lunch or dinner. Perhaps some apple cider vinegar in my salad dressing would be a more palatable choice.

So, would you be consuming pickle juice? I certainly will continue to enjoy eating my pickles and until more research has been conducted, I will be holding off on the pickle juice.

Post by Hyatt Al Sayegh, a Clinical Dietitian and Dr. Sears Health Coach.
Founder of Fork Fed.

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Fork Fed: Does Time Matter?

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For many years we’ve heard our parents tell us to have our breakfast, because breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Don’t have dinner and sleep, you’ll get fat! Are all these claims really true? Well, that’s the beauty of research and science – we come to new conclusions everyday! The current research shows that when you choose to have your meals is not really correlated with your weight. I found that to be quite interesting because I, for one, hate having food when I wake up and could usually satisfy any hunger I may have with a coffee and banana.

So, you’re probably thinking what nutrient timing is really about? The idea really started with athletes and body builders to be more specific. Nutrient timing mostly referred to the anabolic window also known as the 15-30 minutes post workout where one could load on carbs and protein to replenish their muscle stores. Research has later on shown that we do not all need to be consuming a high carb high protein meal post workout to replenish our stores within 15-30 minutes, and we can actually do it within an hour or more. Again, this is RESEARCH and research is ongoing. As for consuming a meal before working out, that is only necessary depending on the intensity of your workout. Many research papers have shown that exercising in a semi-fasted state can actually help burn more fat. Again, timing your meals will all depend on what your goals are.

Let’s take a look at breakfast. Have people that changed their habits and consumed breakfast lost weight in comparison to those that opt not to have breakfast? The quick answer is it depends. The idea behind having a meal “breakfast” before lunch is to be able to better control your portion at lunch. If I choose to not have breakfast then by the time lunchtime comes around I will probably overeat and/or make wrong dietary choices. If you are not used to having a meal for breakfast and can somewhat control your hunger by lunchtime then having breakfast may lead to an over consumption of calories. Therefore you might not necessarily lose weight.

As for having dinner before going to sleep, no science has shown that it can lead to weight gain. While completely eliminating carbs at dinner or night time has not been associated with significant weight loss either. On the contrary, some research has shown that consuming carbs can actually help with relaxation and the release of serotonin at night.

So you’re probably thinking what could we further do to enhance our lifestyle and lose some weight? It all boils down to the number of calories you eat! Of course quality is important, but when it comes to weight control specifically, it doesn’t really matter when you have certain foods. As long as you stay within a certain caloric requirement for weight loss (food in is less than energy burnt) then you’ll be losing weight. Now, to stay on track and avoid falling of the bandwagon, it is important that you focus on whole grains and lean protein as well has healthy fats with lots of fruits and veggies to stay full all day! It’s not when you eat your food, it’s how much you choose to eat that will really make an impact.

Post by Hyatt Al Sayegh, a Clinical Dietitian and Dr. Sears Health Coach.
Founder of Fork Fed.

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Fork Fed: The “Pre” and “Pro” Biotics – Explained!

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I don’t know about you guys, but pre- and probiotics have always been confusing for me. It hasn’t been until recently that scientists and nutritionist have felt that strongly about the benefits of pre- and probiotics, as well as the importance of including them in our diet. Personally, I don’t like taking supplements and always prefer taking in my nutrients from a natural form. Let’s take a look at them in a bit more detail.

– Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria (good bacteria) that enhances our gut flora. These types of bacteria helps protect our digestive tracts from fungi.

– Prebiotics are usually found in the fiber that our gut is unable to digest THAT the probiotic bacteria uses as food.

You might be thinking why it is important to include the probiotics to enhance your gut flora?

– The reason is that sometimes we make food choices that can impact our gut health, which could make us feel bloated or easily prone to getting sick. We already have both good and bad bacteria in our gut, the key point is to enhance or help the good bacteria overgrow the bad bacteria and therefore helping us feel better and digest food better.

– High-sugar and high-fat foods enhance the growth of the bad bacteria in our gut, which could slow down the digestive process making you feel unhealthy and could stop you from losing weight.

Taking a look at our food:
Prebiotic Foods (foods that feed good bacteria):
Foul (broad beans)
– Chickpeas
– Bananas
– Berries
– Garlic
– Onion
– Oats

Probiotic Foods (foods containing the good bacteria):
– Kefir
– Fermented  Cheese/yogurt (soft cheeses)
– Miso
– Non-pasteurized pickles
– Kombucha
– Kimchi

As you can see, getting probiotics from your diet is a bit difficult, while getting prebiotics is much easier. This is were probiotic supplementation could come into play. When looking at supplements, make sure they label the number of live bacteria available per dose (20 billion should be your target),  as well as the type of bacteria being used, and the expiry date (live bacteria can’t live on forever). I hope this helps!

Post by Hyatt Al Sayegh, a Clinical Dietitian and Dr. Sears Health Coach.
Founder of Fork Fed.

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Fork Fed: It’s NOT All About the Numbers

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scale

Recently, I decided to measure my body fat percent on a body composition machine and boy oh boy was I nowhere near happy by the numbers. I’ve been going to my workouts religiously and watching what I eat, for the most part. My pant size has gone down 2 sizes, I’m much more toned and definitely stronger than I’ve ever been before. Why haven’t my numbers changed?? Here are some reasons as to why numbers do not really reflect that change that is DEFINITELY going on within you.

Equipment used to measure body fat percent is not always accurate!
The most common of all equipment to measure body fat percent is the bioelectrical impedance, and despite the fact that this machine is commonly available and easy to use, it is probably the least accurate way to measure body fat percentages. Bioelectrical impedance works by sending electrical impulses through the body and measuring how long they take to return; the quicker the return of the impulses are equates to a leaner body (fat hinders the movement of the impulses). This technique is not always accurate because hydration levels can also affect how fast the electrical impulses move through the body. The more hydrated you are the faster the impulses move; therefore if your body was somewhat dehydrated, you will be getting a false reading in regards to your body fat percent. The calipers are probably the most accurate, BUT you need to have a skilled person taking measurements and the measurements need to be taken in the same place at different times to ensure accuracy. It can be hard to remember the exact skin-fold that was measured previously.

The scale and BMI are the worst measures of weight loss.
Both the scale and body mass index (BMI) do not take your muscle mass into account. Therefore if you are someone that is working out and doing a lot of resistance training – you are building muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat. So, your weight might increase or stay the same regardless of the fact that you are actually losing fat and dropping in size. If you are not exercising and only restricting your food then using a scale to monitor your weight loss could actually be beneficial. Although to be completely honest with you, I do not like the term weight loss and prefer to focus on fat loss. Taking a look at BMI, it is a calculation of your weight and height. It does not take into account how much of your weight actually comes from muscle or fat, therefore it is the worst indication of whether or not you are at a healthy weight range.

The numbers may frustrate you, but don’t let them bring you down! Numbers do not always reflect everything. As long as you feel good about yourself, then that is all that matters. Make sure you are exercising, eating and sleeping well. Remember, any change you make should be a lifestyle one and not a temporary one. I hope this helps you if you’ve been let down by your weight.

Post by Hyatt Al Sayegh, a Clinical Dietitian and Dr. Sears Health Coach.
Founder of Fork Fed.

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Fork Fed: Going Bananas!

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banana

As I’m getting ready to move apartments, I can’t help but feel like I’m going bananas! Which, brought me to think about discussing bananas. I’ve realized that people can be divided into 2 groups – a group that loves bananas and think they’re healthy and a group that wants to stay away from one of the starchiest fruits out there. So are bananas worth the calories? Let’s take a look.

Taking a look at the Nutrition Facts (please keep in mind that a banana comes in a variety of sizes and ripeness, this information is for the average medium sized banana)

– Energy: 105 kcals
– Carbs: 27 grams
– Protein: 1g

The calories in bananas are mainly from 2 types of carbohydrates – resistant starch and pectin. Both are mainly found in unripe (green bananas).  These type of starches are essential in maintaining gut health (feed your good bacteria), keeping you full, and helping avoid a blood sugar spike post meal. All of which are key factors to helping anyone eat less and hopefully lose some weight regardless of the caloric amount. This makes banana an excellent choice for a quick and easy breakfast, along with a nut butter, or alone as a snack. Keep in mind that the more ripe a banana is the less pectin and resistance starches are available, BUT don’t let that bring you down, ripe bananas contain a good amount of soluble fiber, the kind that attracts water turning the food into a gel-like consistency and slowing down absorption. I guarantee you you’ll be full regardless of the ripeness of the banana.

Bananas are also high in antioxidants like dopamine and catechins (similar to those found in white tea), provide your body with many nutrients and help protect your heart’s health. The antioxidants and nutritional profile make a banana an excellent snack for athletes as it provides a quick source of energy as well as many electrolytes to help avoid dehydration.

I personally find bananas to be worth every single calorie. I know that some may prefer another 100 calorie snack, but not all calories are the same, and if you choose to alter your taste buds to favor the unripe kind, bananas could actually keep you full and help you achieve your weight loss goals. In the midst of packing up my kitchen and not having any cookware to prepare a meal, a banana with 2 tablespoons of almond butter might just be my dinner of choice.

Post by Hyatt Al Sayegh, a Clinical Dietitian and Dr. Sears Health Coach.
Founder of Fork Fed.


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Fork Fed: Vitamins and Your Weight – Is There a Link?

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vit

We have been blaming carbs, fats or overeating for our weight problems, but none of us or at least I never blamed my weight issues on vitamins. There is a link! Yes, some  vitamin deficiencies could be the reason why you’re not losing the weight you’d like to (provided you are eating well). Before you run to the first multivitamins bottle you see, let’s take a look at what specific vitamins play a role in weight management and where we could find them naturally.

Vitamin E – isn’t only for your skin, but this powerful antioxidant can boost your immunity therefore ensuring there is no distraction when trying to burn calories. Some research has shown that individuals who consume enough vitamin E rich foods tended to have a higher metabolism in comparison to individuals within the same age group that were deficient. Now, it makes sense that people consuming healthy fats would have a higher metabolism than those deficient in Vitamin E and therefore consume a lot of empty calories. This study could have many interpretations. It doesn’t hurt to make sure you get your dose of vitamin E though.

What to eat?
Think of oily foods when you think of this vitamin. Almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds are loaded with vitamin E. Aim for 1/2 a cup to avoid excess calories.

Vitamin A – also commonly known as beta-carotene can actually help with fat regulation. Yes, you are not seeing things, this vitamin can actually help control the hormones secreted by your body and further help you to maintain a healthy body weight. With vitamin A you should be careful of toxicity, therefore getting it from a food source is always better than a supplement and also keep in mind that Vitamin A deficiency is somewhat rare.

What to eat?
1/2 cup of cooked spinach, 1 cup lettuce, 1 cup carrots or 1 medium sweet potato will all give you a good dose of vitamin A for the day. Remember it’s a form of beta-carotene so aim for greens, reds and oranges in your food.

Vitamin D – is probably one of the most common and frequent of deficiencies in Kuwait. Almost everyone I’ve met has a deficiency. Leptin, the hunger hormone, is controlled by levels of vitamin D. Meaning, enough vitamin D levels can help control how hungry you feel and research is still being conducted on whether or not it can help control where fat is stored.  Again, you can get toxicity from over-consuming vitamin D, so be careful if you choose to go the supplement route.

What to eat?
Vitamin D is best obtained from the sun, but if you have a job that requires you to spend most of your time indoors then you might be in need of a supplement. Otherwise, 1 egg, 3 ounces of wild salmon or 1 cup of fortified milk can give you small doses of vitamin D.

I’m definitely heading to the grocery store to make sure my fridge is filled with greens.

Keep in mind that all the information provided for you here is based on research being conducted, and with research many things change over time. The main message that I am trying to deliver is that having a variety of fruits and vegetables can help change your lifestyle into a healthier one, which could improve your overall health and perhaps your weight. Weight is definitely not the most important marker of someone’s health. Not all weight is the same. I hope this helps!

Post by Hyatt Al Sayegh, a Clinical Dietitian and Dr. Sears Health Coach.
Founder of Fork Fed.

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Fork Fed: Avocados

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avocado

If there is just one food item I think you should add to your diet everyday, it’ll definitely be avocados! Creamy, delicious and most importantly super nutritious! There just isn’t one reason I can think of as to why you shouldn’t have this food everyday, except for the fact that if you’re not careful your calories could get out of hand.

When talking about fats to any of my clients I always sense some hesitation in adapting them into their day-to-day eating habits; but not all fats are created equal, after all i’m only pushing for them to have more fruit – but a fatty one this time. Despite being called a fat, some fats can actually make you thinner! Let’s take a look at avocados because I really believe they are one of the supreme fats out there.

Bye-Bye Hunger!
Yes, fats will keep you feeling full for a very long time. Who wouldn’t want to feel full? I certainly do! Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats, the healthy fats that keep your heart happy and tummy feeling full. Research has proven that eating just 1/2 an avocado can help keep you feeling full for hours to come; just be sure not to have chips with your avocados and instead aim to have them in a salad to feel fuller for longer.

Hello Waist-Line
We all want to shrink our waist-lines and believe it or not avocados have been proven to help. High in fiber and low in carbohydrates, no wonder this miracle fruit can help us with weight loss. But! It’s not just general weight loss that we’re talking about, research has actually found an association between reduction in belly fat and consumption of avocados. Yes, we can still eat and lose weight. It’s the type of fat in avocados that has been linked to regulating the gene that stores fat in your belly area. It definitely is worth a try, just make sure to swap your avocado for other fats you were eating and not add it to your diet. A swap will help cut down some of the calories.

Nutrient Booster
Not only are they loaded with antioxidants and minerals, but avocados can also help boost the absorption of other vitamins. Adding avocados to other veggies (like your salad) can help you absorb about 3 to 5 times more antioxidants than you would had you chosen to have that salad alone. See some vitamins (A,D,E,K) need fat for better absorption and you can’t go wrong with a fat like an avocado. But, like I said not only does it help you absorb more nutrients but avocados are also loaded with nutrients like vitamins K, C and potassium.

Bad Fat Crusher
Worried about your cholesterol? You shouldn’t be worrying if you’re including healthy fats in your diet like avocados. Avocados are loaded with mono and poly unsaturated fats which boost your heart function by increasing the good kind of cholesterol (HDL) and lowering the bad kind (LDL). Stronger heart, stronger you!

Control that Sugar Spike!
My favorite benefit of having avocados is the fact that it will limit how much your blood sugar spikes after a meal. There are many times where we have sugary foods and if you don’t pair those sugary treats wisely you could end up with a sugar spike which is always followed by a crash! Ever feel sleepy after indulging in carbs? My solution is to always add a healthy fat to whatever you’re eating, this way you somewhat control your sugar from spiking too high. Avocados on the other hand, are not just healthy fats, they’re loaded with fiber and vitamin K – both have been shown to improve your insulin sensitivity helping control your blood sugar levels.

Before you run and grab your avocados keep in mind that 1/2 an avocado contains 161 kcals, 15g fat, 8.5g carbs (of which 6.7g are fiber) and 2g protein. If you choose to substitute your oils with avocado oil (which I think is a great idea) then 1 tablespoon contains 124 kcals and 14g fat – you do lose the fiber and protein if you choose to have the oil. With this in mind, baby steps are all it takes to achieve a healthier lifestyle, you can do it!

Post by Hyatt Al Sayegh, a Clinical Dietitian and Dr. Sears Health Coach.
Founder of Fork Fed.

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Fork Fed: Superfood – Seeds

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superfood

Ever since the paleo diet gained popularity, seeds have had a new and profound role in our diet. What was once looked at as a garnish or snack food has now been found to be an essential addition to our diets to reap the benefits they have to offer. Today we’ll be taking a look at the different small but mighty seeds that you can include in your diet to get the much needed nutritional boost.

Chia – we can’t talk about seeds without mentioning the infamous chia seeds. Believe it or not, chia seeds actually come from the mint plant family. What makes chia seeds so versatile is their ability to absorb almost 10 times their weight, therefore they have become a great thickening agent to add to foods like puddings, pancakes or even shakes. Let’s take a look at what makes this seed a number 1 superfood (nutrition facts provided for 1 ounce/28g/2 tablespoons):

  • Protein: 4g
  • Fiber: 11g
  • Fat: 9g (5g are Omega 3)
  • Calories: 137 kcals
  • Rich in manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium this tiny seed is a great addition to your daily dietary habits. I would personally add it to water sometimes (but drink up quick or else it’ll form a thick gel), green juices, and salads. Weight loss capabilities of this seed have not been scientifically proven!

    Flax – this super oily seed is rich in omega 3’s, fiber Vitamin B1, copper and magnesium. Definitely a must add to your daily eating habits. Flax seeds should be ground before consuming, but do keep in mind that it is a seed rich in fats therefore it can go rancid if ground and not refrigerated. Let’s take a look at the nutritional profile of flax seeds (per 1 ounce/28 grams/4 tablespoons):

  • Protein: 5g
  • Fiber: 8g
  • Fat: 12g (6g are Omega 3)
  • Calories: 150 kcals
  • Looking at the nutritional profile, you can see that the flax seed contains more fats that the chia seed yet almost the same amount of omega 3’s; making the chia seed a greater source of omega 3’s with lesser calories.

    Sesame – very commonly used in our region, yet I for sure never thought twice about the nutritional benefits of this mighty seed. Sesame seeds are rich in calcium, great for your bones and migraines, and zinc, an immune system booster! Definitely worth thinking twice about, before skimping on the zaatar mix or bread with sesame seeds. As for it’s nutritional profile for 1 ounce/28 grams/2 tablespoons, the following is what sesame seeds have to offer:

  • Protein: 5g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Fat: 13.6g
  • Calories: 161 kcals
  • Compared to the previous two seeds, sesame seeds are the fattiest so far, but still has a decent amount of protein in it. Sesame seeds stand out with their iron content, one of the richest seeds in iron, I highly recommend it for vegetarians suffering from anemia.

    Pumpkin – who would’ve thought that this nutritious vegetable would also have very nutritious seeds? How nutritious? Let’s start by saying that pumpkin seeds are loaded with zinc and manganese, which have huge effects on helping boost your immune system, bone health and possibly help control blood sugar (to a certain degree of course). Looking at the nutritional facts, pumpkin seeds have the following to offer (1 ounce/28 grams/2 tablespoons):

  • Protein: 10g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Fat: 14g
  • Calories: 160 kcals
  • All those seeds provide us with various forms of antioxidants, minerals, fiber, protein and healthy fats! You cannot go wrong by adding them to your diet, just be sure to control your portion by measuring out how the amount you’d like to eat. I love adding them to salads or my oatmeal and my green juice at times. How would you add those seeds to your food?

    Post by Hyatt Al Sayegh, a Clinical Dietitian and Dr. Sears Health Coach.
    Founder of Fork Fed.

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    Fork Fed: 2015 Nutrition Trends

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    2015

    As we’re approaching the end of 2015 and going onto 2016; I thought it would be interesting to go through some of the food/nutrition trends that have emerged this year and discuss whether or not we should take them with us onto 2016. Quinoa was a big hit in 2013, that year was even declared as the “International Year of Quinoa” by the United Nations; while gluten-free products became a hit in 2014. Reflecting back at the year 2015, many nutritional trends have been adopted, some are great while others are not so great. Let’s take a look at the top 5 nutrition trends for this year and you can decide whether or not they are worth keeping in your diet.

    Kale – I would have to say that nothing made it big this year as much as kale did. Loaded with vitamins A, C and K this leafy green vegetable is a great addition to any diet; but so are most leafy greens! Kale is not the only veggie that is a nutrient powerhouse; therefore if you like the taste and enjoy it keep it, otherwise just stick to locally grown seasonal veggies like spinach, jute leaves (molokhiya), parsley and coriander leaves.

    Greek Yogurt – This dairy food is one of the most versatile out there. Used as a snack or accompanied with a main dish, Greek yogurt is very high in protein and low in carbohydrates making it a favorite food among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. You do have to be cautious with Greek yogurt as it can be very high in fat. My recommendation is to choose a low fat option and aim for around 2 servings of dairy a day.

    Green Tea – This has been a trend for a while and I have yet to understand why. Yes, green tea is loaded with antioxidants but so is black and white teas. Green tea does have a high amount of polyohenols (antioxidants) which can be absorbed at higher amounts by adding lemon to it. So if you can have your green tea without any sugar and add a lemon to it, you’ll be doing your body a huge favor! But don’t worry if you haven’t developed a liking to green tea as research shows black and white teas are just as good as long as you have them sans the sugar!

    Avocados – My favorite trend of the year! I have been a fan of avocados ever since my freshman year at university; creamy, delicious and a great addition to any meal to help boost that good cholesterol in your body. Definitely a keeper in my book! Loaded with healthy fats, potassium and fiber this fruit is a great daily addition to anybody’s diet. Add it to your salads, your breakfasts or even shakes but be careful to not over do it – 1/2 an avocado is all you need as it is a very nutrient and calorie dense food.

    Coconut Oil – This craze, in my opinion, will go on to 2016 in the nutrition world. Researchers have not reached a conclusion as to whether or not it does cause heart disease, increase weight loss, or even suppress your appetite, but the research is still going on, and it will take time before any conclusions will be made. Coconut oil is high in saturated fats (the heart disease causing kind) and therefore we should be a bit more cautious when using them, despite the fact that many argue otherwise. I think olive oil seems to be the safest fat to use in moderation, so until I hear more from research I’ll be using coconut oil as a beauty product and hold off on using it in my food.

    What do you think of this year’s nutrition trends? Are there any that you are planning to keep? I think the best advice I can give is for you to test foods out yourself and see how your body reacts to them. What could be beneficial to one person might not be to another. I, for example, have tried adding in quinoa to my diet several times but was not successful because of my sensitive colon. Just remember that no one knows their body better than you do. I wish you all a very happy new year filled with health and happiness!

    Post by Hyatt Al Sayegh, a Clinical Dietitian and Dr. Sears Health Coach.
    Founder of Fork Fed.

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