Peanut Butter Energy Balls + Olympics

I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen the past few days testing out some new recipes so expect lots of yumminess soon. Today I thought I would share one of my favorites: Peanut Butter Energy Balls. They are perfect to grab as a quick snack or to enjoy when you need a little sweet snack after dinner. They are incredibly easy and fast (and don’t require any baking). Just mix all the ingredients together, roll ‘em into balls, and enjoy!

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In Other News…

Guess what today is?! The opening ceremony of the Olympics (aka my favorite time of every other year); in fact, I am watching them as I type this! Seriously, I am obsessed with the Olympics. I have already downloaded 5 iPhone apps to make sure I’m always up to date on scores and medal counts, and my butt will likely be glued to the couch for the next few weeks watching everything from gymnastics to synchronized swimming to beach volleyball.

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Olympic Training Center 2010

On a more serious note, I attribute my love for the Olympics to my involvement in sports throughout my life. If I had not been an athlete myself, I would not have the same appreciation for all the athletes competing in the Olympic games. As a rhythmic gymnast, I learned the importance of being healthy a living a balanced life. I saw first had how eating habits could impact my energy and performance at practice and competition. These experiences are really what have guided me on my path in college to become a dietitian. Whether I work with athletes in the future, that is tbd.

Enjoy the games and go team USA!

My First Blogiversary!

IMG_4328It’s hard for me to believe that one year ago today I made my first blog post on The Lemon Wedge. Over the past 12 months I have written 40 blog posts, received 221 “likes” on my posts, and gained 88 followers. To some that might not seem like much but I never thought anyone more than my family would be reading my posts. In high school I swore I would never write anything that wasn’t for school assignment. It is amazing how writing about something I love has turned my most hated school subject into a hobby. Over the next year I hope to write more, cook more, and learn more about food and nutrition that I can share with you.

Enough with my rambling and onto the celebration. Yes, my blogs 1st birthday calls for a celebration! In true Lemon Wedge fashion, I decided to conjure up a lemony and healthy dessert for the occasion. The result: Lemon Frozen Yogurt. It came out a little more frozen and icy rather than smooth and yogurty, but it still tasted great and made for a good celebration treat! I scooped it into a hollowed out lemon for this photo op, but if I make it again, I would definitely make it into popsicles to enjoy on a hot and humid summer day. The recipe is below so you can freeze it in whichever form suits your fancy.

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Thanks for reading my blogs over the past year and I hope you look forward to another year full of posts. What topics would you like me to write about over the next year?

Say Ta-Ta to Trans Fat

New research is always coming out telling us what we should and shouldn’t eat. From red meat giving us cancer to avocados making us skinny, the information we get about food can be confusing. One thing that hasn’t changed is the research regarding trans fat (the type of fat in partially hydrogenated oils). Trans fats are the worst of all the fats in our food and are strongly linked to causing cardiovascular disease.

Fortunately, just about one year ago, the FDA removed partially hydrogenated oils from the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) list. That means, from that date, companies have three years to remove all trans fats from their products. Currently, trans fats can be found in products like margarines, fried food, non-dairy creamers, cookies, and crackers.

Until 2018 when trans fat is removed from our food, you should still be checking food labels and preventing consumption of trans fats. It is also important to make sure the ingredients do not include any partially hydrogenated oils. That’s because companies can legally label their product as having zero grams of trans fat as long as they have less than .5 grams per serving. Meaning, there can still be trans fat in a product even if the label says there is none.

Read more about the ban on trans fats here.

Read more about how different types of fat affect the body here.

Avocado Toast

Throughout middle and high school I was never much of a breakfast person, but over the past few years I have discovered how important breakfast really is. It took a while for me to get use to eating food so early in the morning, but it is nice to not be starving by the time lunch rolls around. Over the past year, oatmeal has always been my go-to breakfast, but in the spirit of trying new things (and after drooling over foodie Instagram posts), I decided I would give the avo-toast trend a try.

Want to make my favorite avocado toast breakfast sandwich?

  1. Toast a piece of whole grain bread (or use a piece of homemade spelt bread)
  2. Mash half of an avocado on the toasted bread
  3. Layer on some smoked salmon
  4. Top it off with a fried egg

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This sandwich combo may not be as fast or easy as oatmeal in the morning, but it definitely makes for a more complete meal. It has healthy fat (avocado), protein (smoked salmon/egg), and whole grains (bread) to keep you full and energized all morning.

What is your favorite avocado toast combination?

Homemade Bread

Since coming back to the United States after studying abroad, I have missed the bread-filled lunches I had with my host family. I tried buying bread at the grocery store but it just didn’t add up to the seed-filled bread I learned to love in Europe. Thankfully, a friend in Germany sent me a bread recipe to try and it was just what I was looking for! I also love this bread because all the seeds give it protein. Depending on what types of seeds you use, one slice can have over 6 grams of protein!

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The recipe is below, but here are some more helpful hints to make this delicious bread:

  • Be sure to pay close attention to the measurements. Since the recipe is from Europe, all measurements are in weight (grams) so you will need a small kitchen scale to make it.
  • As for the ingredients, I found everything I needed at Whole Foods. The trickiest one to find was the fresh yeast, but a Whole Foods employee knew exactly what I needed when I asked. It comes in a small cube in the refrigerator section.
  • As the recipe says, I used an electric mixer but you can also mix the ingredients with a spatula. Either way you mix it, the dough should be slightly thicker than cookie dough but still sticky and wet.
  • You can bake the dough as soon as you are done mixing. No need to wait for it to rise!

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Enjoy the bread fresh for 3 days or freeze some to eat later! I like mine with honey as a sweet snack, but it is also good for making sandwiches.

New Nutrition Facts Label

You know that nutrition facts panel you stare at on the side of your cereal box during breakfast? After over 20 years of staring at that exact same label, you will soon have a new label to look at. Just over a month ago, the FDA approved the design and information to be included on the new nutrition facts panel you find on all packaged food. It has been over two years in the making, and now, after input from many focus groups, doctors, and scientists, the FDA has finally made it official. While you probably won’t see the new label on packages for a while (it is required until July 2018), here is what it looks like compared to the current label.

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The greatest change to the label, in my opinion, is the addition of the “added sugars” line. Foods like dried fruit, dairy products (yogurt and milk), and honey all have natural sugars but often times have sugar added to them as well. This new line on the label will help consumers differentiate between what is natural and what is added when it comes to sugar.

What do you think about the new label?

Read more about the changes to the food label here.

Which Organic Produce Items Should I Buy?

Buying organic has become one of the major health and diet trends of the 21st century. Therefore, it is no surprise that sales of organic products in the US has jumped more than 30 billion dollars since 1997, and 51% of families are buying more organic products than they did a year ago (Organic Trade Association). While we all want to buy organic products for their health and environmental benefits, it can be tough for your bank account to keep up with all your organic purchases. Conveniently, The Environmental Working Group, an organization that aims to “empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment”, comes out with two lists each year that can help you choose which items to buy organic: The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen. These lists are based on a series of pesticide residue tests that the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducts on nearly 7,000 produce items. The Dirty Dozen is a list of the twelve “dirtiest” produce items – meaning those found to have the most pesticide residues. And if you haven’t already guessed, The Clean Fifteen lists those produce items that were found to have the least pesticide residues. Here are the lists for 2016:

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So, if you are looking to incorporate some organic products into your weekly shopping list but don’t want to go 100% organic, it might be handy to bring these lists with you to the store. Buying the organic version of “The Dirty Dozen” products would be of greater health benefit than buying the organic version of “The Clean Fifteen” products.

How do you decide which items to buy organic?

Read more about The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen here: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php