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HelloFresh: High Fiber Meals Dropped at Your Door

10 Nov

HelloFresh: High Fiber Meals Dropped at Your Door

Are we living in the Golden Age of Food?

It seems that in almost every corner of this country people increasingly have access to high quality, healthy foods. Sometimes it comes at a price. And sometimes it comes to your door.

With all of the home-delivered, semi-prepared meal options out there, it can be challenging to sort through the noise. And while many home-delivery meal services do deliver on taste, price and nutrition are sometimes relegated to the back seat.

That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to discover HelloFresh – a company that delivers delicious and healthy recipes with all the pre-measured ingredients to your door each week.

 

How it Works

HelloFresh provided me with 3 sample meals for this blog post. They have a Classic Food Box (for omnivores) and a Veggie Box (for herbivores). The classic meals start at $10.75 per person, per meal (including shipping) while vegetarian meals start at $9.08 per person, per meal (also including shipping).

The box arrives on your doorstep (appropriately refrigerated I might add…food safety first!); and each meal is perfectly packed with individual, pre-portioned ingredients and beautiful, descriptive recipe cards.

And when it comes to the chef’s selections, this is not your run-of-the-mill mac-and-cheese type of vegetarian menu! The week I received meals included:

The ingredients were packed individually to maintain freshness and each recipe card has a step-by-step preparation process laid out with gorgeous acompanying food photography.

I love that all of the HelloFresh recipes include the nutritional analysis – and each of the meals I sampled had between 9-26 grams of fiber per serving.

 

Why Cook at Home More?

Cooking at home(vs. eating out) is your best bet for health – and your wallet. A service like HelloFresh can infuse life back into your home cooking routine. Having food come to you (vs. you going to it) forces you to try new ingredients. I had been meaning to try both sunchokes and kale chips – and voilà…they showed up on my doorstep to work their way into my weeknight meal!

Another impressive component of HelloFresh’s operation is their nationwide delivery options. So many innovative home food delivery companies are limited to New York, San Francisco and not much else; but not HelloFresh (unless you live in Hawaii or Alaska…they’re not there yet).

All of the HelloFresh recipes are available online, so you can continue to make your favorite meals at home. They also have an incredible blog filled with great information on how to cook, tips about cooking tools and recipes and stories from their team.

If you’re looking for a healthy (and high fiber) home-delivered meal service, I would highly recommend HelloFresh! Check out my favorite HelloFresh recipe – Afghan Red Lentil Soup with Cumin, Mint, and Lemon below.

 

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Afghan Red Lentil Soup with Cumin, Mint, and Lemon

Recipe from HelloFresh, Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 6 oz carrots
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 oz fresh mint
  • 1 can whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1 Tablespoon oil

Instructions

  • Prep the veggies: halve, peel and dice the onion. Peel the carrots and then finely dice. Finely chop the celery. Mince or grate the garlic. Zest the lemon, then halve. Cut one half into 4 wedges. Thinly slice the fresh mint, reserving a few leaves for garnish.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot and cook, tossing, for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the cumin and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the tomatoes and the dried mint to the pot. Using a potato masher or wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes until almost smooth. Add the lentils, and 2 cups water to the pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the sliced mint and the juice of half the lemon and stir to combine. If you have a blender, you can blend the soup for a creamier consistency.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with lemon zest (to taste), reserved lemon wedges, and fresh mint leaves. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information 

Amount per serving; recipe makes 2 servings

  • 530 calories
  • 8 g total fat
  • 134 mg sodium
  • 93 g carbohydrate
  • 26 g dietary fiber
  • 29 g protein

Disclosure: I was provided with sample meals from HelloFresh for this post; thoughts and opinions are my own and I was not otherwise compensated for this post.

Fresh Food From a Blender: The Vitamix Cookbook

5 Nov

Fresh Food From a Blender: The Vitamix Cookbook

I recently received a copy of The Vitamix Cookbook: 250 Delicious Whole Food Recipes to Make in Your Blender to review here on the fiber blog. Although I’ve been a Vitamix owner for about 5 years, I’m always eager for more recipes to test the limits of this timeless kitchen appliance.

For some historical context, I was a reluctant convert to Vitamix. My husband – Mr. Fiber – brought me on board following an unauthorized trip to Costco that happened to coincide with an in-store Vitamix Road Show.

He was as mesmerized by the demonstration as I was dumbfounded by the price. I plotted to return it (as I do with roughly all of his Costco purchases), but after flipping through the Whole Foods Recipes book that came with the Vitamix, I was sold.

Sure, I figured, you can continue to keep buying, breaking and replacing $30 blenders with crappy motors that can’t handle frozen fruit…or you can buy the Cadillac of blenders that is so powerful, it can make both hot soup AND frozen desserts.

 

High Fiber Soup in a Snap

Although most people think smoothies or juices when it comes to blending, for me, it’s all about the soup. I have always been in awe of the power of the Vitamix, with its blades that can reach speeds fast enough to create friction heat that bring soup ingredients to steaming hot in 4-6 minutes.

When I got my copy of The Vitamix Cookbook, I flipped right to Chapter 4 for Soups, Salads and Sides. The book features 40 fresh, new soup recipes that bring flavor to life in just a few minutes.

Most of the soups in the book have at least 3 g dietary fiber and under 500 mg sodium per serving, a good balance for homemade soups, which are hands-down healthier than canned, store-bought versions.

 

A Bit About the Book…

The Vitamix Cookbook is authored by Jodi Berg, the current President and CEO of Vitamix and a fourth-generation member of the 100-year old Vitamix company family. I thoroughly enjoyed the historical introduction in the book, which explains the foundations of the company.

Jodi explains how her great-grandfather founded the business, and that other Vitamix family members were challenged by digestive problems that caused them to seek solace in whole foods.

I love that all of the recipes in the Vitamix Cookbook are accompanied by accurate nutrient analysis, including dietary fiber (since most cookbooks forget fiber.) The food photography is beautiful and the layout of the recipes makes it easy to navigate and plot what’s going to go into the Vitamix next.

 

The Power of Whole Grain Flours

Chapter 2 features Breakfast and Brunch recipes, with great ideas for incorporating a variety of whole grain flours.

I have been using my Vitamix to make my toddler daughter baby food since she could eat, and I’ll certainly be incorporating the Banana Waffles (3 g fiber) and Bran Cherry Muffins (6 g fiber) recipes from this cookbook into our morning meals repertoire.

 

Recipe Rundown

I tested 8 recipes from the book – one from each chapter – and not surprisingly, my favorite was the soup sample, “Spiced Butternut Squash Soup”. With just 160 calories, 110 mg sodium and 4 g dietary fiber, this is a notably nutritious step up from your typical squash soup.

The Spiced Butternut Squash Soup recipe is below – but in the meantime, check out your own copy of The Vitamix Cookbook over at Amazon, and for more great Vitamix tips, tricks, videos and recipes, visit the Vitamix website.

 

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Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

Recipe from The Vitamix Cookbook by Jodi Berg

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (471 g) peeled, chunked butternut squash
  • 2 medium Gala apples (11 oz / 317 g), seeded and cut into small pieces
  • 4 cup (89 g) torn kale leaves
  • 1 cup (128 g) diced yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 5 cups (1.2 liters) carrot juice
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup (73 g) raw almonds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Instructions

  • Combine the squash, apples, kale, onion, vinegar, carrot juice, almond milk, almonds, and spices in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Ladle half of the hot mixture into he Vitamix container and secure the lid. Select Variable 1. Turn the machine on and slowly increase the speed to Variable 10, then to High. Blend for 1 minute.
  • Pour the pureed soup into a clean pot. Repeat with the remaining soup. Stir together both batches to combine. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information

Amount per 1 cup (240 ml) Serving

  • 160 calories
  • 4.5 g total fat
  • 0 g saturated fat
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 110 mg sodium
  • 27 g total carbohydrate
  • 4 g dietary fiber
  • 6 g sugars
  • 5 g protein

Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of the Vitamix Cookbook for this post; thoughts and opinions are my own and I was not otherwise compensated for this post.

 

Stack a Smarter Sandwich

3 Nov

Stack a Smarter Sandwich

Today is National Sandwich Day; but America’s favorite handheld meal isn’t always the greatest go-to when it comes to nutrition.

According to one study, 49% of Americans age 20 and older eat a sandwich every day. And sandwiches account for roughly 1/5 of daily sodium intake.

If you stack it wrong, your next sandwich could set off a hypertensive crisis.

Here’s how to build a better sandwich working your improvements from the outside in:

 

Beware of Your Bread

The salt in cheese and processed meat is low hanging fruit in the sandwich sodium conundrum. You should actually be more afraid of your bread and the sodium that it’s sheltering.

A typical slice of bread can have 250-400 mg sodium – and that’s per piece. Considering that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend less than 2,300 mg per day, it’s not worth it to suffer so much sodium in sliced bread.

A few rules of thumb for selecting better breads:

  • Go for whole – look for the word “whole” in the first ingredient & avoid products “made with” while grains; “made with” just usually means white bread batter with a bit of whole grain thrown in at the end
  • 3 g fiber rule – a bread with whole grain in the first ingredient will usually have 3 g dietary fiber or more per slice; 3 g fiber per slice is a good bet when you’re picking your pan
  • For sodium sleuths – look for around 150 mg sodium or less per slice

Some best bets for lower sodium whole wheat breads are:

For a good read on sodium sneaking around in your breads, check out this CSPI article “Finding the Best Sliced Bread”.

 

Get Choosy with Your Cheese

Cheese and salt are synonymous. You can’t eat low salt cheese because a.) there’s no such thing and b.) it would be revolting if there were.

Instead, choose naturally lower-sodium cheese selections, such as:

  • Mozzarella
  • Cream cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Swiss
  • Monterey Jack
  • Ricotta
  • Parmesan

When it comes to lower sodium cheeses that actually taste legit, I like Alpine Lace – they cut the saturated fat and salt, without compromising taste.

 

Lower Lunch Meat Sodium at Home

One surefire way to curb the sodium in your sammies is to select meat or cheese, but not both. Luncheon meats and cheese are naturally higher sodium choices, and to be honest, you don’t need both.

But if you must maintain meat in your lunch, look for lower sodium versions of old standbys like turkey, ham and roast beef.

Another easy (and cheaper) option is to just rinse your standard lunch meat under running water. This is estimated to reduce sodium by about 30%.

When it comes to firing up the faucet, keep in mind you are also rinsing away the preservatives, so be sure to eat your rinsed lunch meat right away vs. re-storing in the refrigerator.

 

Cool it on the Condiments

If you cut the sodium in bread, meat and cheese, you’ve got the most serious salt problems out of the way. But sodium lurks in condiments too.

Keep these high sodium condiments on the minimum:

  • Ketchup (150 mg sodium in 1 tablespoon)
  • Relish (160 mg sodium in 1 tablespoon)
  • Barbecue sauce (175 mg sodium in 1 tablespoon)
  • Steak sauce (280 mg sodium in 1 tablespoon)
  • Low fat salad dressings

If you want to slather your bread with lower sodium condiments, why not try making your own? Check out these home made lower-sodium condiment ideas from Cooking Light. They whip up in no time and taste so much like the real deal that you won’t miss the salt.

 

Sandwich Day at SUBWAY

If you want to get in on celebrating National Sandwich Day – Subway is offering a buy one, give one sandwich deal at participating SUBWAY restaurants. They’re launching this along with their “exclusive” SUB Emoji on Twitter.

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You can get in on the game by tagging your tweets with #savelunchbreak. And if you want to really soup up your SUBWAY, ask your Sandwich Artist to “run it through the garden“. Piling your SUBWAY high with all of the fresh vegetable offerings in a footlong can net you up to 4 full servings of vegetables.

Legumes in Your Linguine? Edamame Spaghetti Fiber Find

27 Oct

Legumes in Your Linguine? Edamame Spaghetti Fiber Find

Cruising through Costco this week, I was delighted to encounter Edamame Spaghetti from Explore Asian in the aisle.

The ingredient list is short & sweet: organic edamame (green soybeans) and water.

Now, I love pasta as much as the next person – but it’s generally low in fiber, low in protein and packed with refined carbs that I can do without.

What lacks in traditional pasta is what rocks this edamame pasta. A 2 oz serving (roughly 1/2 cup dry pasta) provides:

  • 200 calories
  • 5 mg sodium
  • 21 g carbohydrate
  • 11 g dietary fiber
  • 24 g protein

With traditional pasta, for 200 calories you usually get twice those carbs with not much else. Here you’re banking almost half of your daily fiber and protein needs in 1 generous portion.

This protein and fiber-packed pasta alternative is also a great find for those on gluten-free, vegan or kosher diets. It’s USDA certified organic, non-GMO project verified and provides 30% daily value for iron per serving.

But does it taste as good as pasta? You bet. I found I had to cook the edamame pasta a little longer than the recommended 4-5 minutes on the package. But at about 8 minutes in boiling water, the texture was perfect and surprisingly close to real pasta.

You can serve the edamame pasta in place of any spaghetti or linguine in a traditional Italian dish. I chose to serve it up fake-Pho style with this simple soup recipe.

Fake Pho Edamame Spaghetti Soup

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, remove the tough outer leaves and smash the inside
  • 1/2 bunch scallions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 8 cups low-sodium broth
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 cup mushrooms (I used Japanese shimeji mushrooms, but any will do)
  • 4 oz (2 servings) edamame spaghetti
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Basil leaves to garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in pot over medium-hi heat. Add lemongrass, scallions and ginger and sauté until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add broth and fish sauce and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add mushrooms and edamame spaghetti and boil for 8-10 minutes
  4. Garnish with basil leaves and lime juice

Nutrition Information

Per 2-cup serving:

  • 260 calories
  • 10 g fat
  • 500 mg sodium
  • 23 g carbohydrate
  • 7 g fiber
  • 23 g protein

 

How to Drown Your Pomegranate Problems

15 Sep

How to Drown Your Pomegranate Problems

Fall is about to befall us, meaning that pomegranates are coming into peak season.

Pomegranates (Punica granatam) are a fruit-bearing shrub native to the area from Iran to the Himalayas. According to California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc., the fruit was first introduced in California by Spanish settlers in 1769. In the northern hemisphere we find pomegranates in peak season from September-January.

Like most fruit fans, I’m taken by how pretty pomegranates are. Their rich red arils (the brightly colored cover of a seed) augment any fall salad and make a colorful confection…but that same hearty hue will also stain the crap out of your clothes!

For a long time I was content to buy pomegranates already removed from the fruit’s inedible pulp. The convenience was a plus, but as a cost-conscious consumer, pre-prepared fruit is rarely worth the cost.

So I was pretty pumped when I heard about the best pomegranate preparation trick ever: the secret underwater pomegranate plucking.

All you have to do to get at that juicy goodness without the ensuing mess is:

  • Quarter or halve your pomegranate fruit
  • Fill a bowl with water
  • Submerge the quarter or half of fruit
  • Dig the arils out of the pulp under the water using your fingers

Voilà! You’ve got your own pack of pomegranate seeds at a fraction of the cost. The pulp and the mess stays submerged and you emerge with this fabulous fruit.

For not much work, pomegranates pack a nutritional punch. A one-half cup of arils pomegranate serving provides 72 calories and 3.5 grams of fiber and is a good source of vitamin C (14% daily value).

Like all fruit – you’re better served to eat your pomegranates than drink them. Don’t waste your time on pomegranate juice. Most commercial pomegranate “juice” contains more apple juice than actual pomegranates, not to mention that you forfeit the fiber when you extract its juice.

For a super fast supper feast, try out this pomegranate kale salad recipe:

Pomegranate Kale Salad

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 8 cups chopped baby kale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils (about 2 pomegranates)
  • 1 English cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese crumbles
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In salad serving bowl, massage chopped baby kale with 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 30 seconds.
  2. Add pomegranate arils, diced cucumber and goat cheese crumbles to kale.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk remaining olive oil with pomegranate vinegar, dijon mustard and citrus juice.
  4. Add dressing to salad, season with salt and pepper and serve

Nutrition Information

  • Calories 275
  • Protein 10 g
  • Carbohydrate 39 g
  • Fat 12 g
  • Saturated Fat 2.5 g
  • Fiber 11 g