vegan veggie bean burgers

BEANS•QUINOA•VEGETABLES•FLAX. These healthy veggie burgers are delicious and packed with vitamins, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids (good fats!), and high quality plant-based protein. They are vegan and gluten-free (besides the buns) and have almost 0 saturated fat (unlike normal greasy hamburgers). These are a wholesome, heart-healthy substitute for meat!

legumes

I used black beans, kidney beans, and lentils because they are some of my favorite legumes and are at the top of the list of healthiest beans. Everyone should consume legumes daily and reap the benefits of these little superfoods.

quinoaQuinoa is a “pseudocereal” (not a grain) grown at the tops of the Andes Mountains of South America for more than 5,000 years, consumed by the Incas as a vital nutritional staple. Known as “mother grain,” quinoa is gluten-free, easily digestible and a complete protein, and also provides iron, fiber, magnesium, riboflavin, and phosphorus. Did you know that 2013 is officially the “International Year of the Quinoa”?mushrooms_bellpepper_onion_garlic

Mushrooms are low in calories and provide some amazing nutritional benefits, including vitamin D, potassium, selenium, and other disease-fighting phytonutrients. Bell pepper is also one of my favorite vegetables because of its abundance of vitamins and phytonutrients. Red bell peppers have more beta-carotene and vitamin C than other colors of bell pepper (2X the vitamin C of oranges), and have a sweeter taste. Garlic and onion not only add flavor, but also have have important health-promoting properties – vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Tahini, a thick paste made from ground sesame seeds, also gives a nutritional boost – in addition to being high in essential fatty acids, it includes B vitamins, calcium, iron, copper, and magnesium.

Ground flaxseed is one of my favorite ingredients- I always add it to baked goods, oatmeal, or anything because of its omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and other beneficial phytonutrients.

As for the cooking oil – extra virgin olive oil is okay for sautéing and does give a healthy dose of monounsaturated fat, but I prefer canola or walnut oil for cooking because they have higher smoke points and higher concentrations of polyunsaturated fats.

There, now you can take a big juicy bite and feel comforted that you are doing your body a favor!

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healthy_grilled_salmon


Distinguishing between healthy fats and bad fats is one of the most important first steps to improving your diet, long-term health, and the way you feel. I used to believe that a healthy diet meant consuming as little dietary fat as possible. Trying to follow the “fat-free” craze, I was immediately turned off from anything with even a trace amount of fat in it, even if it contained mostly healthy fats. Under the impression that all fats were evil, I never really paid attention to the little subcategories…

Taking an amazing nutrition class this past semester with Roberta Anding, MS,RD/LD,CSSD,CDE opened my eyes to the truth about fats: that banning them completely from your diet is NOT the healthiest way to live, and that “eating fat will make you fat” is actually a misconception. The key is understanding the different types of fat. Replacing bad fats with right kinds of fats (in moderation of course) in a healthy overall diet actually promotes health and prevents disease more effectively than getting rid of all fats.

The basic types of fat:

  • Saturated
  • Trans
  • Unsaturated
    • Monounsaturated
    • Polyunsaturated
      • Omega-3
      • Omega-6

 The BAD fats: trans and saturated

toxicTrans fat is evil and you should avoid it at all costs. It raises bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers good cholesterol (HDL), a thin mints transdouble whammy for your heart. Common sources of trans fats are margarine, vegetable shortening (crisco), deep fried things, fast food, processed foods, especially packaged baked goods. Some trans fats are found naturally in animal products, but most are created through food processing. Food manufacturers take unsaturated liquid oil and partially saturate the double bonds by adding hydrogen gas (process of hydrogenation), transforming it into a solid trans fat to increase the shelf life of foods. These oils are called partially-hydrogenated – whenever you see this phrase in the ingredients list, sound your alarms! Even if the package claims “no trans fat,” there might STILL BE TRANS FAT because of lax regulations- anything that has less than .5 g is allowed to say it has no trans fat. Food manufacturers can be sneaky by simply decreasing the serving size so the amount of trans fat falls within these requirements.

~MM healthy tips~

1) The best way to reduce your chances of consuming malicious trans fats is don’t eat processed junk or fast food. But if this isn’t an option for you, at least check the ingredients to make sure you don’t see “partially-hydrogenated” or “shortening” anywhere!

Crisco_shortening

2) Even if something says “cholesterol-free” doesn’t mean it won’t raise your cholesterol! Vegetable shortening obviously has no cholesterol itself being a plant source, but the trans and saturated fat it contains can have WORSE effects on your blood cholesterol than consuming dietary cholesterol itself.

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garbanzos con espinacas



“Garbonzos con espinacas” (chickpeas with spinach) is a healthy dish popular in Sevilla, Spain and can be eaten alone or as a side dish or tapa. It uses ingredients commonly found in the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, and uses olive oil as the main source of fat. Lower rates of heart disease and cancer are no-doubt connected to a diet so packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber!

olive oilOlive Oil: While there is no difference in calories from 1 tsp of butter and 1 tsp olive oil, their effects on your body are COMPLETELY different. Butter, solid animal fats, and the fat found in many processed junk foods are saturated fats, which are bad because they will raise your cholesterol, and this effect is heightened in combination with an unhealthy overall diet high in simple sugars. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat which has one double bond and is liquid at room temperature. It is one of the two types of fats (the other is omega-3) that are actually beneficial and heart-healthy. Olive oil also has antioxidants and other beneficial plant-derived compounds. (Read more about choosing healthy fats)

saffron

Saffron: An exotic spice highly valued for its color, flavor, and medicinal properties. It has vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidant properties. Just a pinch can give rich flavor and color to an entire dish. It is used widely in Spanish cuisine in dishes like saffron rice and paellas. Studies suggest saffron combats depression, helps maintain memory and cognitive functioning, protects the liver, reduces risk of cancer, helps prevent/treat macular degeneration, and promotes good eyesight!

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Ingredients

(Serves 4-5 people)

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Oatmeal Protein Powerbars

These are a delicious and wholesome breakfast or snack bar packed with healthiness and high quality protein to keep you full and satisfied – they are super convenient and you can avoid spending money on packaged bars loaded with added sugar and preservatives.

  • Take along while traveling as a go-to snack/meal to avoid stressful never-ending searches for healthy options in unfamiliar locations and skip the questionable airline food
  • Energy bars for road trips, camping, and hiking
  • Everyday convenient breakfast or snack to satisfy munchie cravings
  • Replenishing post-workout snack
  • Add chocolate/carob chips to make ultra-healthy chocolate chip dessert bars

Each ingredient adds a bit more nutrition to this delicious recipe. I basically just combined some of my favorite healthy ingredients and came up with this recipe that I love – feel free to customize and add your own variations!

Recipe: Oatmeal Protein Powerbars

(Makes about 24 circular bars and two mini loaves)

Ingredients

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