Quinoa: 10 Reasons to Love It

First, happy Friday! I know I’m excited for the weekend. Work has been crazy as usual so it will be nice to get a rest. I have a Guster concert tonight that I’m really psyched about and tomorrow I am going to my hometown in NJ for my bridesmaid’s baby shower (it’s a boy!). On Sunday Bobby and I are going to a family dinner here in NYC and I’m also hoping to find a way to get in at least two yoga classes this weekend (haven’t been in over a week). But anyway, onto the topic for today…

Here are 10 reasons to start eating quinoa – NOW.

tricolor-quinoa-trader-joes

(source)

1. It’s filling. The protein + fiber in quinoa will satisfy your hunger and keep you full longer.

2. It’s packed with protein. One cup of cooked quinoa has just over 8 grams of protein (source). Divide your body weight (in pounds) by 2 and that is approximately how many grams of protein you should aim for. For women, between 50-75 grams is probably plenty.

3. It’s delicious. I will never say no to a big bowl of quinoa.

4. You’ll stay slim eating quinoa. What helps me lean out when I’ve been over-indulging? Filling grains like quinoa. I can’t get full on veggies alone and quinoa stops my cravings on the spot.

5. Quinoa is a great alternative to other typical grains. Bored of rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread? Cook up a batch of quinoa for a chewy, hearty, delicious side dish.

6. It’s versatile – have it for breakfast! Mix quinoa, Greek (or regular) yogurt, some peanut butter, and slice a banana on top. OR try using quinoa flakes to make a healthy breakfast cookie.

14 breakfast coconut cookie 400x265 Coconut Breakfast Cookies Recipe

(^^my breakfast cookies^^)

1 quinoa cookies Womens Work and a Recipe: Quinoa Flake Cookies (Gluten Free)

(^^i also have made gluten-free cookies with quinoa flakes^^)

7. It’s versatile – have it for lunch! Mix quinoa, seaweed salad, a chopped hard-boiled egg, and some lettuce together for a protein-packed & Asian-inspired meal.

01 quinoa tabbouleh 300x225 Quinoa Tabbouleh

(^^or maybe some quinoa tabbouleh?^^)

8. It’s versatile – have it for dinner! Make burritos filled with chili meat (cook chopped onions + turkey + pack of chili spice + can of tomatoes), quinoa, lettuce, cheddar cheese, and avocados.

9. Quinoa is vitamin-rich. I like to get my vitamins from whole-food sources, not a pill. Quinoa has iron, manganese, riboflavin (B2), magnesium, lysene, and more. You can ditch the daily vitamins if you just eat real foods.

10. It’s a prebiotic – good for the digestive system (feeds good bacteria). Your belly will thank you. For those of us with IBS, it’s so important to eat foods that nourish the stomach and intestines. And even if you don’t have IBS, it’s still good to nourish yourself.

So… what are you waiting for? Go get some quinoa! I recently discovered the tri-color quinoa at Trader Joe’s and it is awesome.

The Non-Hunger Diaries: How I Eat And Move {Part 1 of 2}

***Update #2***

See my response to The Hunger Diaries

***Update***

Interesting timing that I wrote this post today, in light of Marie Clare‘s “The Hunger Diaries“. Maybe I will write my reaction to the article sometime this week. I am retitling this post:

The Non-Hunger Diaries

***

A while ago I got a question from a reader about what my daily exercise and food routines look like. My initial response has changed somewhat since I replied via email (about 3 months ago) so I thought I might post it here because it’s a question I get a lot! I was going to post both workouts and food in the same post but it got long, so today is just going to be my food. I’ve been chatting about the gym a lot lately anyway so it’s time for a change.

This is me (sorry for the awful lighting and the weird angle – it was last night, I only have 1 full length mirror in the house, and my overhead light went out and I haven’t gotten around to putting a new one in). Note the book problem in the background – I have 2 more of those shelves completely full and we are running out of room. (Katie, I still have to mail your book!) I guess this is what happens when you don’t like or watch TV.

You can kind of see my new hair cut. I am wearing my standard uniform of yoga pants and a tank top. It was good to hear that you guys agree with me – you should do what YOU want to with your hair (and everything else) – not what other people tell you. I like having my hair short because I flip my head over, blow dry for 3 minutes, and I’m done. I don’t even need a brush or any products. I have a very simple beauty routine. The only makeup I wear is concealer mixed with oil-free lotion. I rarely wear anything else like mascara or blush. I do always wear jewelry outside of the house – earrings and my wedding and engagement rings. I can be ready in 8 minutes, including my shower. I am not a girly girl and yes I do wear yoga pants to parties. At least I wear cute shoes.

A Chillax Diet Routine

My diet philosophy is: be very chill. I don’t want to be vague though, so I will give examples (not exhaustive, but these are my staples). Something to note – unlike most bloggers, I eat out a lot. I eat out for about 80% of my meals.

    • Morning before work: a big cup of tea or coffee, sometimes with milk, always with NuNaturals stevia.
    • Breakfasts: Greek yogurt, or some fruit, or bacon, or hard boiled eggs. If I’m feeling frisky I might have part of a healthy scone from Whole Foods or a buttered bagel. An omelette with greens (whole eggs, not the whites). On weekends we tend to have larger breakfasts and my favorites are actually just huge salads, or big omelettes. This is a far cry from what I used to eat – back at Cornell we’d go to Mate Factor in downtown Ithaca and I would get this great Belgian waffle with whipped cream (sometimes for dinner too). Bobby would get the salmon bagel.

    • Lunches: a big salad with lots of toppings (my favorite is a chopped unlimited topping salad from cafe metro: romaine, marinated tofu or tuna, grapes, mandarin oranges, tomatoes, cucumbers, whole egg, avocado, sprouts, beets, peppers, and more); leftover dinner. I often have an apple after lunch to clear my palette.

    • Dinners: whatever I’m missing out on and craving from the day (luckily for me my body tends to know what it needs). This could be another big salad or a big veggie stir-fry with some kind of protein and lots of fats (butter, coconut oil, peanut oil, olive oil, avocado). If I’m in a macro mood I might have a macro plate – brown rice, beans, hijiki seaweed, steamed greens, and steamed squash, doused in whatever dressing the plate comes with (it varies by the restaurant). I recreated my favorite dressing, the miso-tahini sauce recipe from Souen.

    • Healthy Snacks: fruit, veggies and dip, yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts, etc… I used to have a bad habit of mindlessly snacking too much after dinner but I’ve been working on it and I’m doing much better these days.

I have tried to track my calories and it just makes me crazy. I would guess that I eat anywhere from 1800-2000 calories a day, and it definitely varies all the time depending on time of month and my exercise levels. (I am 5’10” so I am not a teeny girl.) I have never ever had a day where I knew how many calories I ate. (I have nothing against calorie counting if it works for you – it just is not right for me, at all.) The fact that I eat out so much also makes it hard to calculate.

Just some notes – I am NOT vegetarian/vegan/macrobiotic/raw. If anything I’m paleo/primal. I eat meat because I feel that my body needs it. I love butter and cream cheese and Greek yogurt, but don’t eat much dairy besides those (I’m semi lactose intolerant but sometimes I do cave for McDonald’s $1 soft serve). I love fish. I don’t have any known food allergies, but I do have IBS. I love carbs but to be honest I don’t eat many grains these days. I don’t really worry about getting enough protein. I do make sure to eat a lot of fat, which is good for your brain and your skin. I don’t care for nut butter (gasp). My favorite foods are changing all the time, but I generally love squash, seaweed, bacon, and butter.

Other linkies on food:

***

Hope this answers any questions! Do you eat like me? Have you found a way of eating that works for your body? Anything else you want to ask me? (If you have exercise Q’s I will try to answer them in Part 2.)

My gosh this turned into an epic post. I promise the exercise one is much shorter.

Balance & a Blogger Sweetheart: Clare

One blogger that makes me smile every time her posts pop up in my Google Reader is Clare. She always offers up nuggets of wisdom about yoga, food, and life in general. Recently I won a giveaway of hers and got some yummy protein packed cereal…

Which was perfect for a quick breakfast/snack before work this week.

Thanks, Clare! (And Kay’s Naturals!) I also forgot to mention that I won another one of Clare’s giveaways a while ago and I have been wearing these ever since I received them…

These earrings remind me to stay balanced. Here are my other favorite ways to keep balance in my life:

  • Listen to people that care about me
  • Practice yoga daily (even if it’s only 5 minutes)
  • Give Bobby hugs
  • 5 minutes (preferably more) of “me time” every day
  • Wake up early in the morning to get stuff done
  • Pet my cats
  • Eat salads (enough, but not too many or too few = balance)
  • Get enough sleep
  • Sometimes do absolutely nothing

What are your tricks for staying balanced?

How Much Protein Do I Really Need?

How much protein do I really need?

::Steps onto soapbox::

The current accepted answer (in the medical community) is .8 grams per kilogram of body weight. This is what I learned in my nutrition class (from a PhD in nutrition). This means that a 125 pound woman needs about 45 grams of protein a day. This is actually down from many outdated recommendations.

Want to hear something crazy? That number might be overestimating.

I saw my brother about a week ago and he is STRONG. Rob is a vegetarian and has been for probably 7 or 8 years now (he’s 20). Rob is 6’4″ and close to 200 pounds, but he wears the same size shirt as my 6’1″ 165-170 pound fiance (hope they don’t mind me telling their weights, heh – and the shirt size is a men’s medium).

What I’m trying to say is that Rob is skinny and all muscle. I asked him how he bulked up. “I’m working out and eating tons of protein,” he says to me. “How much is ‘tons’?” I respond. “Oh, you know – maybe 50 or 60 grams a day.” The fact that he could gain so much muscle on just 50-60 grams of protein a day is quite a shock to some people, but Rob is living proof.

For some people that amount of protein may seem like a pittance. Those people would be wrong (IMHO). As a disclaimer, I will admit that protein needs can vary drastically if you are sick or have a specific medical condition. I’m speaking more about the average person, not those in extenuating circumstances. And I will admit that there is variation within the average – maybe Rob and I need less protein than the “average” person… but not that much less. I do best on a high-fat, high-veggie diet.

According to this site, the body burns about .34 grams of protein a day per kilogram of body weight. To add in a margin of safety, we can bump that number up to about .45 grams per day per kilogram of body weight (this would be just 26 grams per day for that 125 pound woman). That’s barely half of what the medical community is telling you the “required” amount is. I’m not shocked at this anymore. Our country likes to prop up big business – what better way to promote the meat industry than by telling our citizens that more protein is better?

If the requirements really are that low, it is nearly impossible to be protein deficient if you’re eating enough. Fresh vegetables and whole grains are fantastic sources of protein. Have you ever met someone who had a protein deficiency? Probably not. People that are protein deficient are usually junk food junkies or people who aren’t eating enough, period. One other way to be deficient is by eating poor sources of protein that are hard to digest (dairy comes to mind).

This is a direct quote for this site, because I can’t say it better:

By the way, breast milk, which has been the ideal food for human babies for hundreds of thousands of years, provides 6% of calories as protein – far less than cow’s milk, which has 22% of calories as protein.”

How interesting. 6% of a 2000 calorie diet is just 120 calories – or just 30 grams of protein.

If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates (or enough in general), your body will start to use its protein for energy – a process called gluconeogenesis. If you have too much protein in your diet, gluconeogenesis breaks down the protein into glucose. You pee out the extra amino acids. One benefit of getting glucose from protein is that it doesn’t cause sharp spikes in your blood sugar (which is why higher protein diets can be good for people with diabetes). However, gluconeogenesis is taxing on the liver which is why high protein diets can damage the liver.

Basically, if you’re eating enough carbs, the your body uses carbs and spares protein – and is able to use the protein for the amino acids it needs. If it breaks down the protein for energy all those extra amino acids are wasted.

The other neglected and ostracized nutrient that I think is incredibly important is… FAT! Specifically healthy fats (this can include animal fats). Healthy fats promote hormone balance, fight depression, and fill us up.

::Steps off of soapbox::

What’s your favorite carb? Fat? Protein?

How much protein do YOU feel that YOU need?

(Back later with today’s journal-y entry. Just had to get this post out there.)