Be Fit For Life

with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan

Seven nutritious trends for 2015 and healthy holiday recipes

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Quinoa Porridge ML5010 Mediterranean chicken



1. Plant-based foods- While this is not new, the evidence is mounting that a plant-based diet decreases incidence of diabetes, heart disease, digestive diseases, high blood pressure, and various kinds of cancer. Vegan diets exclude all animal products, not just meat, chicken and fish, but also eggs and dairy. Proponents find ways to get enough protein through legumes and nuts, as well as soy products like tofu, tempeh and soy milk and milks made from rice, almonds and hemp. Quinoa is a good way to get protein and carbs in one dish. Even spinach and broccoli have protein. A vegan diet is not necessary to reap the myriad benefits of eating mostly plants. Vegetarian diets are fairly easy to keep because there are so many tasty ways to prepare vegetables with herbs, spices and condiments. A vegetarian diet includes dairy products such as eggs, cheese and yogurt.

2.  Prebiotics and Probiotics – Most of you have heard by now that it’s essential to have plenty of good flora in your intestines. They not only aid digestion, but also enhance your immune system. There’s a new focus on foods that probiotics (healthy gut bacteria) feed on, called prebiotics. Any fermented foods, like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and certain raw vegetables such as Jerusalem artichokes, garlic and leeks help probiotics to proliferate.  Whenever I have to take antibiotics, I double up on the probiotics, as the medication can wipe out all the good bacteria, along with the bacteria that are making you sick.

3. Pre- and post-workout foods – I often hear the question,  “What should I eat before I exercise.?”  Some excellent pre-workout foods are oatmeal or yogurt with fruit, smoothies with yogurt or protein powder, nut butters (peanut butter still has the most nutrients) on some thin grain crackers, cereal or granola with any kind of milk. A caveat is that you should try not to eat more than 3-4 ounces of food so you can digest it in time. Ideally wait 45 minutes to 1 hour between eating and exercising. Post-workout, the same foods work, but eggs, cheese, and protein packed foods with a small amount of healthy carbs are preferable.  My favorite is a veggie and cheese omelette after an intense workout.

4. Prepackaged healthy foods- Gone are the days of TV dinners with that little square of apple cobbler I used to look forward to!  Now there are some really good options at Trader Joe’s, Whole foods, and other forward thinking companies that keep low sodium, natural ingredients and minimal preservatives at the forefront of their product lines. Amy’s Kitchen and Simple Truth frozen meals are a good place to start. Be sure to check labels to make sure that sodium and sugar are low on the list of ingredients. Sodium intake should be no more than 1500 mg a day if you’re over 51. Decreasing or cutting out sugar will  not only aid weight loss, but it will also reduce the body’s inflammatory response.

5.  Food as medicine- Finally!  What you eat is a key to maintaining overall health and strengthening your immune system. Whole, nutritious foods can help you avoid or even reverse many medical conditions from high blood pressure, to heart problems, to intestinal disease. There are many knowledgeable people at the forefront of this movement- Dr. Andrew Weill, Dr. Barry Sears, Michael Pollan are some people you can google to find out what all the buzz is about.  For more information about anti-inflammatory diet, and how food impacts wellbeing, see

Use the following criteria below for all foods, not only healthy snacks.

6. Healthy snacking meet the following criteria:

  1. zero grams of trans fat and no cholesterol
  2. no artificial colors or flavors
  3. no preservatives
  4. gluten-free ingredients
  5. all-natural recipes
  6. simple ingredients
  7. delicious flavor (Watson 2014

You can read some options in the article, here are some of my favorites:

  • baked delicata squash with cinnamon (drizzle with olive oil, bake for 30 mins at 425 degrees)
  • baked sliced sweet potato, baked, lightly salted- same prep as above
  • tuna with lemon, 3 oz
  • 1-2 tablespoons of hummus with sliced carrots, cucumbers, red or yellow peppers
  • non-fat yogurt with berries, or any cut up fruit
  • roasted eggplant slices , or baba ghanoush
  • soups- homemade with beans, tomato or chicken broth as base
  • edamame or sugar snap peas

7. Super foods- This is the second most frequently asked question I hear- “What about those chia seeds, hemp plants, goji berries, acai, flax seed, ___________ (fill in the blank of the latest rage). Yes, there are a lot of great foods out there. Be sure to get high quality items, and know their uses and potential overuses. Some current sweethearts of the superfoods trend are kale, berries, salmon, açai, broccoli, oats, pumpkin, tea, tomatoes, walnuts, pomegranates, kefir and beans. If you integrate these into your diet, you’ll be doing your body a favor.

For more info, check out the full article at

Last, but not least, it makes sense to get pumped about eating new foods with some new recipes- so here you go- let me know which ones you think are the best.

And now for some low calorie Easter desserts-

Here are some low calorie Passover foods. I won’t pretend that the granola is low calorie, but it makes a good breakfast.  Go to

Happy holidays and here’s to a healthy, happy and active springtime!

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