Good nutrition news: apple crisp

Who loves apple crisp? The cinnamony-syrup covered apples, topped with bites of buttery, crunchy oats. Mmmm. I have been known to eat apple crisp for breakfast or dinner as well as dessert. And after this post, you might consider an apple crisp breakfast too!

close up of apple crisp in a glass dish

Here’s some good nutrition news about apple crisp:

Apple crisp can totally count as a serving of fruit

Right off the bat, if you’re eating an apple crisp (or any type of fruit crisp) you’re eating some fruit! Recommendations for daily fruit intake vary from 1 cup to 2 1/2 cups. Even a small serving of crisp will probably have at least 1/2 cup of fruit, which will give you a good portion of your recommended fruit intake regardless of whether you’re aiming for 1 cup or 2 and a half!

Apple crisp can be a source of whole grains

Most apple crisp recipes I am familiar with include oats (quick or rolled) as part of the delicious crumbly topping. Both of those forms of oats are whole grains, which compared to refined grains, have higher fiber and more protein. The USDA recommends at least 1/2 of your daily grains be whole grains. So there you go, by eating apple crisp, you’re moving toward that goal!

Now that you’ve got fruit and whole grains, all you need to make a meal is some protein, maybe some vegetables or calcium

  • For breakfast, serve with some scrambled eggs or a scoop of yogurt for protein
  • Apple crisp + slice of sharp cheddar cheese is a classic combination that provides protein + calcium and you should try it if you haven’t
  • For a vegetarian/vegan breakfast option, serve alongside a handful of nuts and a calcium-fortified beverage
  • Serve the above options in the evening for a breakfast-for-dinner option
  • Pork + apples is a winning combination. Some pork chops + steamed or roasted vegetables + this crisp …*chef’s kiss*
  • Serve alongside your favorite sausage and a green salad

Ways to make your apple crisp even more nutritious:

  • Use whole wheat flour as the flour portion in the recipe for even more whole grains
  • Don’t peel your apples. A large part of the fiber in an apple is in the skin. (Plus, this way you don’t have to spend all that time peeling apples)
  • If you want to replace some of the saturated fat with unsaturated fats, replace the butter with a plant-based substitute like Smart Balance which has more unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids

Now, I just want to say that apple crisp is a magical food that will solve all of your problems or that you can eat as much as you want because it can do no wrong. Like any food, balance is key.

The main thing I want you to take away is that this cozy dessert has plenty to be happy about. So next time you’re enjoying some cinnamonny, crumbly, apple-y goodness, rejoice in the ways it is nourishing you!

If you are inspired and want to make your own, here’s the recipe I usually use. And if you need a gluten-free option, here is a gluten-free apple crisp recipe from Cookie and Kate.

This post is intended to be informational only and is not medical or nutritional advice. If you have questions about your unique needs, ask about a custom meal plan or speak with a registered dietitian-nutritionist near you.

What does a dietitian – nutritionist eat? The truth.

“so what do you eat?”

I get asked this question as a dietitian often enough that I figured I would write out the answer. But I want to start out by saying that as real humans, we have different bodies, needs, preferences, beliefs and values about food. So consider this more of a post to satisfy curiosity than any recommendation.

And not to sound like a broken record (but this is important) this is not a prescription or a recommendation. This is a description. This is just what I eat.

The good news of nutrition is there are lots of ways to eat healthy. So while this is how I eat, (and I consider it healthy) it will not be the right solution for everyone. You might have different dietary needs due to a medical condition, or a family member’s medical condition. You might have different dietary preferences – or a different lifestyle that make these choices impractical. That’s ok.

That’s the beauty of Nutrition for Real Humans, and that’s why I work with each client to design a plan that will make healthy eating work for them.

Now, onto what you clicked on this title for: What does a dietitian eat? (Or more accurately, what does this dietitian eat?)

I thought about it and wrote down some patterns that I tend to follow when I’m deciding what to eat. I don’t really have strict rules; in the words of Captain Barbosa:

A fruit or vegetable with each meal.

At least one, sometimes more. This could look like a banana with breakfast, eating a carrot alongside my sandwich, or adding a bunch of vegetables to the soup I’ve made for dinner.

Benefits of fruits and vegetables

  • High water content (good for hydration)
  • Generally high in fiber
  • Source of a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C
  • Source of phytonutrients and antioxidants that we don’t even fully comprehend the benefits of yet
  • Often add beautiful color, flavor, and texture to the meal!

Most grains whole grains.

I try to make whole grains the default grain that I eat. If I make rice, it’s brown rice. When I make bread or muffins or waffles, I make sure at least half the flour I use (if not more) is whole wheat flour. When I buy grain products (tortillas, cereals, pasta), I usually choose products where the first ingredient listed is whole grain or whole wheat.

Benefits of whole grains

  • Higher fiber content (more filling, digest more slowly)
  • Slightly higher protein content
  • Naturally contain more vitamins and minerals than refined grains (although most products made with refined grains have vitamins and minerals added back to make up for this loss)

This doesn’t mean I don’t eat refined grains. When I bake, usually at least part of the recipe is made with white flour because the texture is better, and if I’m making a dessert, I just use white flour.

It’s hard to pass up a good sourdough if it’s white bread, and our favorite instant mac and cheese is made with white pasta.

Protein source with each meal.

Benefits of protein with each meal

  • Personally, I feel full longer and have better energy between meals if I eat some protein.
  • Helps ensure I get enough protein during the day.
  • Spreading protein through the day has been shown to be helpful in building and maintaining muscle mass
  • Many foods that are sources of protein are also important sources of other essential nutrients, like iron, calcium, or B-vitamins.

Vary sources of protein, and include plant-based proteins frequently.

Learn more about protein , and specifically plant-based protein

Benefits of varying protein

  • Gain the different benefits of different types of protein (e.g. omega-3 fatty acids in fish)
  • Spreads out the drawbacks of different types of protein (e.g. high sodium content of cheese)
  • Keep it interesting
  • Eating more plant proteins generally reduces cost of meals and environmental impact

Keep nutrient-dense snacks around.

So when I’m hungry between meals I have something available to eat that will help provide me with more nutrients and energy as well as satisfy my hunger.

Learn more about what I think about snacks.

Some snacks that I like to have around:

  • Roasted salted almonds
  • Roasted salted mixed nuts
  • Yogurt
  • Dark chocolate
  • Cheese
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Hummus
  • Carrots
  • Popcorn
  • Mandarin oranges/tangerines
  • Whole grain muffins
  • Dried fruit
  • Lara Bars (snack bar made with dried fruit and nuts)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Peanut butter
  • Seaweed snacks

I don’t always have all of these around, but these are examples of what might be laying around our house.

Use healthy fats when cooking

I embrace fats in general when cooking, especially olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, to help make a meal more satisfying and tasty. I also really like dairy fats: cheese, butter, full fat yogurt. There is evidence showing that intake of fats from dairy, especially from yogurt and cheese is not associated with increased heart disease or diabetes risk or death. We also personally don’t have any health conditions that would make it especially risky for us to eat saturated fat.

Benefits of fats

  • Take longer to digest, and help promote satiety (satisfaction)
  • Help your body absorb certain vitamins
  • Important carriers of flavor

Drink mostly water, milk, coffee and tea (unsweetened or lightly sweetened)

These are the drinks I have at home. It doesn’t mean we never have soda or juice or alcohol, but we mostly only buy these if we are hosting guests, or if we are out to dinner or as a special treat

(No pictures because I don’t often take pictures of just glasses of water or milk haha).

Mostly cook and eat at home

This is mainly because of how I grew up and how I ate when I was first on my own and didn’t have lots of money. But it also lets me be in charge of what’s in my food.

Probably more sweets than you expect

We both have sweet tooths (sweet teeth?). We probably have dessert at least half of the nights of the week (more if I’ve baked something). This could be ice cream, a handful of chocolate chips, kettlecorn, or a microwave brownie.

This is one thing that I am tempted to feel guilty about. But most of the time I don’t, and my husband really helps me be a balanced, reasonable human here. Dessert is something we both enjoy (and often a way to share celebration or just spend time with other people), and the way we eat it does not cause us health problems.

Benefits of sweets/desserts

  • Delicious
  • Often a way to spend time with people
  • I like baking
  • Sometimes an opportunity to get extra nutrients in: dark chocolate contains iron, kettlecorn is a whole grain, milk-based desserts contain calcium, fruit-based desserts provide extra fruit! Don’t think something is immediately of no value just because it has sugar!

Just in cased you missed that excellent GIF in the beginning, these are general descriptions of what I eat. I don’t follow them like strict rules. Sometimes I just don’t have a vegetable or fruit with a meal, or don’t have a protein with a meal. And again, this is not THE RIGHT way to eat. There is no one right way.

If you really want to know what I eat, just follow @nutritionforrealhumans on Instagram, or Facebook. That’s where all of these pictures are from 🙂

If you feel you must take a recommendation away from this post:

Make most of your guidelines and nutrition goals positive or additive

Notice, that most of these guidelines are things I DO, not things I don’t.

There is some evidence that adding foods, or having positive goals (vs. don’t eat that or eat less this) are easier to maintain. Positive goals are awesome. You get to feel accomplished when you do them!

What small thing can you start doing?

Any food can be a snack. Don’t overthink it.

Snacking for real humans part 1

What is a snack? What foods count as “snack foods?”

According to the dictionary, a snack is:

“a light meal : food eaten between regular meals also : food suitable for snacking”

merriam-webster.com

In other words, a snack is any food you eat that you don’t consider a meal.

Cubed watermelon on a hot afternoon? A refreshing snack

Those chocolate-chip granola bars you keep in your car? Snack

Your post-workout protein shake? Snack

An evening bag of popcorn? A delicious snack

A little bit of salad leftover from lunch? Also a snack

An apple with peanut butter? Snack

Bag of chips from the vending machine at work? That is a snack

Leftover rotisserie chicken you eat cold right out of the refrigerator because you needed a little something? Definitely a snack

Cup of milky tea and a muffin in the afternoon? One of my favorite snacks

What should you eat for a snack? That depends on what you have available, why you’re eating a snack, what sounds good, so many different factors. We can talk about that more later. But don’t worry about if foods fall into the “snack” category.

Snacking for real humans part 1:

Any food can be a snack

Don’t overthink it 🙂 What do you like to snack on?

Simple, flexible “stir fry”

Jump straight to instructions

Back with another recipe that’s more of a framework than a recipe because of how flexible it is. It’s a great way to eat veggies because they’re automatically included in the meal. It’s also an easy way to eat veggies that you might need to use up before they go bad. It comes together fairly quickly – even quicker if you use frozen veggies, and makes good leftovers.

Please note, this is the way I have found easy for stir-frying. Certainly it is not an authentic Asian stir-fry – I don’t even use a wok. But it makes edible, nutritious, and pretty tasty food.

Update September 2020: If you want to learn how to make an authentic stir-fry, I suggest you learn from The Woks of Life . This blog, written by a family of four excellent cooks, is an encyclopedia of Asian cooking. Super informative and interesting to read, I haven’t even made a dent in their content and I’m learning so much. The link above will take you to their post on how to make stir fry.

The ingredients you will need:

stir fry ingredients: garlic, ginger, cooking oil, veggies, soy sauce
  • Garlic cloves, or minced garlic
  • Ginger, or minced ginger
  • Veggies (whatever veggies you would like to have in a stir fry. Some ideas include: broccoli, cabbage, carrots, green onions, sugar snap peas, peas, mushrooms, green beans, mushrooms, zucchini or Italian squash, turnips. You can even use frozen veggies to save chopping time)
  • Cooking oil that can withstand a fairly high heat, like canola, grapeseed, or avocado oil
  • Soy sauce
  • Some sort of protein (Check out a list of protein foods here in case you need ideas. I often like to use chicken, pork, or scrambled eggs. In the pictures I’ve used shrimp and tofu)
  • Optionally but recommended, some grains to serve your stir fry with
bowl of brown rice

I recommend preparing some whole grains to serve with your stir fry – I usually use brown rice, but you could use noodles, or even quinoa if you want. The stir fry cooks pretty fast so you will probably want to cook them beforehand.

First you will need to mince your garlic and ginger. Unless you’ve purchased pre-minced garlic and ginger (hooray! one less thing to do!)

chopped cabbage

Next, you will want to chop up your protein and vegetables into bite-size-ish pieces. Make sure you wash your hands, knife, and cutting board with soap and water after cutting raw meat. If you are using frozen vegetables, they are already probably chopped so you can skip this too! (There are broccoli and carrots under that cabbage, just so you know).

Note, some proteins are already in bite-size pieces, like shrimp or beans

If your protein needs to be cooked (raw meat, poultry or fish, or egg) you will cook the protein first, and then the vegetables. If your protein just needs to be warmed through (tofu, cooked beans, pre-cooked meat) you will cook the vegetables first and then just add the protein for the last few minutes to warm them through.

ginger and garlic in a cast iron pan

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a few tablespoons of oil. Once the oil is warm (it shimmers or moves easily when you tilt the pan), add half your ginger and garlic and stir around. Let cook for just a few minutes to flavor the oil

slighly overcooked ginger and garlic

Here I’ve accidentally cooked this a little too long – those brown bits toward the top will taste a little burnt and bitter. It’s fine to eat, just try not to get to this point.

shrimp cooking in cast iron pan

If your protein needs to be cooked, add it to the pan now and stir occasionally until it’s cooked through. Click here for the minimal internal temperatures for different types of meat. Once the protein is cooked, remove it to a separate bowl while you cook the veggies. If you’re not concerned about overcooking your protein, you can also just leave it in the pan while you cook the veggies.

carrots, broccoli, and cabbage in a cast iron pan

Now, add the other half of the garlic and ginger (and a little more oil if you think it needs it). Then add all your veggies. Look at all these pretty colors! To be honest, that’s sometimes how I pick what to include in my stir fry – how many colors can I include. Stir these veggies around so the flavorful oil, garlic, and ginger is well mixed and so they cook.

carrots, cabbage and broccoli in cast iron pan with glass lid - steamy

Sometimes to help the veggies cook a little faster with less stirring I will add 1/4-1/2 cup water and then cover the pan so that they steam a little bit. I only do this sometimes, but since I don’t have a wok and I put a ton of veggies in here, they aren’t getting as exposed to the direct heat of the hot pan. Again, this isn’t necessary, just helps them get tender faster. Stop cooking once the veggies are your desired tenderness. I like mine pretty crunchy still – especially because they’ll get less crunchy when I warm it up for leftovers

bowl of stir fry with tofu, shrimp and veggies

Once your veggies are cooked, add your protein back in along with soy sauce (as much as you want). Stir and cook until your protein is heated through. Serve over your preferred grain!

Enjoy!


Just the instructions (no pictures)

  • Cook some grains if you like (rice, noodles, etc.)
  • Mince ginger and garlic, set aside
  • Chop vegetables into bite-size-ish pieces (skip for frozen vegetables)
  • Cut protein into bite-size pieces if needed. Wash hands, cutting boards, and utensils with soap and water after touching raw meat, fish, or poultry
  • Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan
  • Once the oil is shimmery, add half the ginger and garlic and cook for a just a few minutes (don’t let it turn brown)
  • If your protein needs to be cooked (not just warmed), add it now and stir occasionally until it is fully cooked (minimal internal temperatures here)
  • Remove protein to a separate bowl (or leave it in if you’re not worried about it overcooking)
  • Add the rest of the garlic and ginger and the vegetables. Stir occasionally until veggies are the tenderness you like.
  • (Optionally to cook faster without stirring, add 1/4-1/2 cup water to the pan and cover with a lid to let the veggies steam for a few minutes)
  • Add protein back in along with soy sauce to taste and stir until warmed. Serve over your preferred grain
  • Enjoy!

Simple, easy tomato soup recipe: Only 5 ingredients

Jump straight to the instructions

Why should you make this tomato soup?

  • It’s a great way to get a serving (or two) of vegetables
  • It goes really well with grilled cheese.
  • It can be a great throw-together-from-the-pantry dish
  • If you make it yourself, you can control the flavor, texture, and the nutrition!
  • This recipe is really flexible so you can make it how you like it
  • Think of how accomplished you’ll feel as you sip that nutritious soup!
grilled cheese and tomato soup in a mug
I always like grilled cheese with my tomato soup. This one is slightly burnt but it was still good.

Just a heads-up: this is not a particularly quick recipe. It requires time for the onions and tomatoes to cook down, probably 30 minutes at minimum to get a nice flavor. But it does not require a lot of active time. Most of the time you can be doing something else you want to do as long as you’re making sure the kitchen isn’t burning down. Anyway, if you’re still here:

The minimum ingredients you will need are:

can of tomatoes, chopped onions and garlic
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Chopped onion
  • Minced garlic
  • Salt (not pictured)
  • Cooking oil or butter or margarine – some sort of fat to cook your onions and garlic in

There are some extras you can add to change the flavor or texture to your liking: spices like basil, oregano, chili flakes, chili powder, cumin, pepper, etc.; sugar, broth, milk, or cream. But these aren’t necessary to make a basic soup. I’ll let you know when these would come into the recipe.

To make this recipe even easier, you can buy frozen, pre-chopped onions and minced garlic in a jar. (Not sponsored, just want to make your life easier)

onions cooking in oil

Heat a little oil (or your preferred cooking fat) in a pot over low heat. Add your onions and a pinch of salt. The salt helps build the flavor of the soup and helps draw out the water from the onions so they cook to where we want them faster. (Learned that from SORTEDfood)

cooked onions for tomato soup

Cook those onions on low heat for a long time (like 10-20 minutes) until they are nice and golden and soft. Stir occasionally, but not that often. While you’re waiting for them to cook, you can mince your garlic or wash dishes or read a book (just don’t forget about them)

onions and garlic and herbs

Once your onions are nice and cooked, add your garlic and any herbs or spices you will use. I used a generous sprinkle of dried basil and a bit of oregano here. Let them all cook together for just about a minute. If you cook garlic like this too long it will burn and get bitter.

Add your canned tomatoes and stir to combine everything. Then turn up the heat to high and put a lid on. Let it heat up until it starts simmering (occasional bubbles), then turn it down again and keep the lid on.

At this point, the longer you simmer it, the longer the flavors will meld together. I simmered mine for probably around 20-25 minutes. You can simmer longer if you like (just don’t let it cook so long that all the liquid goes away and it burns), or shorter if you like. The tomatoes are already cooked – they just need to be heated up.

Once it’s simmered, you have options. If you like a chunky tomato soup, just taste it to make sure it doesn’t need more salt, sugar, or spices of your choosing and it’s ready to eat!

tomato soup

If you want a smooth, creamier soup, puree it with an immersion blender or a regular blender (careful, HOT), adding water or broth or cream to get it to the thickness you like (I used water for this one).

Adding milk can be more tricky as the acid from the tomatoes might curdle it. Warm your milk up separately, then add a little tomato soup to the milk, stir it in, then add a little more tomato to the milk. Repeat this until no more tomato will fit in your milk container, then slowly add the milk and tomato mixture back to the pot.

I’ve also read you can add 1/2 tsp baking soda to the tomatoes to neutralize the acid so it won’t curdle the milk, but I haven’t tried that.

Finally, taste! If it’s too sour, you can add a little more salt (believe it or not it helps balance out the sour taste) or some sugar.

Enjoy!


Just the instructions (no pictures)

  • Chop onion and mince garlic (I used a small onion and 1 large clove garlic)
  • Heat a bit of oil/butter/margarine over low heat in a pot
  • Add the onions and a pinch of salt and let cook until the onions are very soft and yellow (at least 10 minutes)
  • Add the garlic and any spices you are using and cook for 1 more minute
  • Add canned tomatoes and stir (I used two 14-oz cans)
  • Turn the heat up to high and cover the pot with a lid, but stay there and watch!
  • Once it starts to simmer (occasional bubbles), turn the heat down to low again. Keep the lid on.
  • Let it simmer for as long as you want, but at least until the tomatoes are heated through (I recommend 20 minutes)
  • If you like chunky soup – taste and add more salt, sugar, spices as needed!
  • If you like smooth soup, blend until it’s as smooth as you want, adding water, broth, or cream until it is the thickness you want (see note about adding milk above)
  • Taste and add more salt, sugar, spices as needed!

Need protein? Here’s a list of foods that provide a good amount of protein

This post is a list of foods that provide protein. This list is for you if:

  • you’re not sure which foods have protein,
  • you are tired of the protein foods you are eating and want to find different ones,
  • you’re looking to add more protein to your diet and need ideas

Keep reading to find some new protein foods to try!

Poultry

  • Chicken breast
  • Chicken thighs
  • Chicken drumstick
  • Chicken wings
  • Chopped or shredded chicken
  • Ground chicken
  • Canned chicken
  • Chicken feet
  • Turkey, white and dark meat
  • Shredded or chopped turkey
  • Sliced deli turkey
  • Ground turkey
  • Turkey jerky
  • Turkey bacon
  • Duck
  • Pheasant
  • Liver and organ meats (pretty much any kind)

Eggs and Dairy

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Soy milk
  • Goat milk
  • Sheep milk
  • Cheese (pretty much any kind except cream cheese)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Goat cheese
  • Sheep cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Kefir

Beans/Lentils/Pulses

  • Black beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • French lentils
  • Split peas
  • White beans
  • Lima beans
  • Garbanzo beans/chickpeas
  • Hummus
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh

Meat

  • Pork chops
  • Pork loin
  • Pork shoulder
  • Ground pork
  • Ham
  • Bacon
  • Canadian bacon
  • Sausage
  • Bologna
  • Salami
  • Ground beef
  • Roast beef
  • Corned beef
  • Hot dog
  • Hamburger
  • Steak
  • Beef roast
  • Beef jerky
  • Bison
  • Elk
  • Venison
  • Lamb
  • Mutton

Various Plant Proteins

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Cashews
  • Pistachios
  • Pecans
  • Nut butters
  • Soy milk
  • Quinoa (at least 1 cup)
  • Seitan
  • Meat substitutes like veggie burgers or vegetarian sausage (always check the label for protein content)
  • Edamame
  • Sprouted peas
  • Green peas (1 cup)
  • Grilled Portobello mushroom (1 cup)

A word about protein powders: Many people find protein powders helpful, however I haven’t included them separately because most of them are made from one of the foods listed above like milk, eggs, soy, or peas.

These foods, in a typical serving size, provide at least 10% of the recommended daily amount of protein (%DV). Note that many of them provide much more than 10% and that the the %DV is based on a very general figure. This post does not give serving sizes or recommend amounts of protein to eat. Protein needs vary widely, and there is a wide amount of protein intake that can be healthy! If you have questions about how much protein you need, speak with a registered dietitian or your doctor!

Roasting Winter Vegetables

Skip right to the instructions.

I realize it’s almost spring, but it is still the time for winter vegetables – at least in the northern hemisphere. I’m thinking of squashes: butternut squash, acorn squash, kobacha, and delicata squash. I’m also thinking of those hearty root vegetables: potatoes, turnips, carrots, and onions to name a few.

I’m here to tell you that if you have an oven, or even a toaster oven, roasting vegetables is highly recommendable. Why?

  1. Out of the total cooking time, only a small portion actually requires you to be in the kitchen. The rest is done by your oven while you read a book or wash your dishes or make the rest of your dinner or scroll through Instagram. I am writing this post while Brussels Sprouts roast in the oven
  2. It brings out the natural sweetness and tenderness of these veggies – sometimes this can make them more palatable to kids (or adults) who aren’t vegetable fans
  3. Roasted vegetables are versatile: they can be a side for meat or eggs, stirred into pasta or cooked grains, cooled and put in a salad, or pureed to go in a soup or sauce.
  4. Everyone needs to eat vegetables. Roasted vegetables is a delicious way to eat vegetables that is adaptable to almost any diet pattern
  5. It’s a flexible and pretty forgiving method for cooking
  6. It will warm up your house and make it smell good

Imagine half your plate full of delicious roasted vegetables, either tender and sweetly-flavored or savory, browned, and crisp.

Instructions

1. Preheat your oven so it can be heating up while you prepare your vegetables. Preheat to 350 F if you want slow-cooked, tender and sweeter vegetables. Preheat to 500 F if you want crispy, browned vegetables that will roast faster. Or go for something in the middle. If you have something else you are baking (meat, fish, bread) and it needs a certain temperature, you can roast the vegetables at that temperature so it can all be in the oven at the same time. It’s flexible 🙂

2. Wash and cut your vegetables so they are pretty evenly sized (or skip this step altogether by using frozen vegetables, which are already washed and cut for you). It doesn’t really matter what size the pieces are as long as the size is fairly consistent. This is important so they will cook at the same rate. If they’re not exactly the same, it’s ok; they’ll just be cooked to slightly different levels. Watch this video from America’s Test Kitchen for instructions on how to cut vegetables safely. (Have a butternut squash? Here’s a video specifically on how to cut this sometimes tricky vegetable)

3. Put your veggies in a bowl and toss with oil. I like to add oil because it helps the seasonings stick, and it helps the vegetables not stick to the pan.

From a nutritional perspective, using a vegetable oil like olive oil, canola oil, or avocado oil can add some healthy fats, which are important for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin A (which you’ll be getting from those yellow and orange veggies). Use a small amount if you are aiming for a low-fat or low-calorie diet (a teaspoon will go a long way). If you prefer to avoid adding oil altogether, I will refer you to the Minimalist Baker who has written this great post about oil-free vegetable roasting; it’s not an area where I have much experience.

4. Add seasoning and toss some more. This can be as simple as salt and pepper or a seasoned-salt. You can also get creative – use curry powder or garlic powder and oregano or taco seasoning – whatever sounds good to you. For a lower-sodium option, use only spices for flavor – no salt. Go light on seasoning at first. You can add more after it’s cooked if it’s too bland.

5. Roast! Spread the veggies out on a baking pan. You can line the pan with parchment paper, foil, or a silicone mat to help with clean up, but it’s not necessary (especially since you added some oil to your veggies). Now put them into the oven! Set your timer for 15 minutes.

6. After 15 minutes, shuffle the vegetables around on the pan by pushing them around with a big spoon or spatula and check to see if they are done by poking them with a fork to see how tender or crisp they are.

7. Keep roasting for 5-30 more minutes, (unless they are already done) until they are the texture you like. The amount of time will depend on which vegetables you are using (harder vegetables will take longer), the temperature of your oven, the size of the cut, and the texture you want.

Eat and enjoy!

What vegetables do you like to roast? How do you like to eat them? Share in the comments, or on instagram or facebook with #nutritionforrealhumans

Nutrition for this real human this real weekend

I wanted to share with you what my weekend was like to illustrate what my more abstract definitions look like practically. Weekends seem like maybe they would be easier because extra free time, but I find when I don’t have the weekday routine, sometimes things get a little piecemeal and hectic. So here’s how it went, food-wise, and how it fits into my definition of nutrition for real humans.

The menu of my weekend

  • Saturday Breakfast: Fried eggs, whole grain rolls, a perfectly ripe amazing pear, and a cup of coffee with almond milk. So – some protein (even pasture raised eggs because they were on sale – oooh), whole grains, fruit, and some calcium-rich liquid.
  • Saturday Lunch: Leftover squash soup (yeah veggies!) and whole grain rolls, with pepper jack cheese for some protein and calcium
  • Saturday Dinner: Slow cooker pot roast with potatoes and carrot: an all-in-one meal with protein, starch, and veggies. Slow cooker meals are awesome for weekends as long as I remember I planned them and start them before it’s 5:30 and we’re getting hungry. Heheh. Thankfully this weekend I put all the ingredients in while we were making lunch and it went about cooking and making the house smell delicious while we went about doing our chores and relaxing.
  • Saturday Dessert: Cookie dough ice cream. Which while it does have more sugar and fat then say, a glass of milk, is also a source of calcium
  • Sunday Breakfast: almonds on the way to church and a mini-chocolate donut when we got there because we got up late. Not the ideal breakfast, but better than no breakfast.
  • Sunday Lunch: Annie’s Shells and White Cheddar (read: box mac and cheese) because we had to rush to a friend’s place to hang out and ate ½ a LaraBar (fruit and nuts) on the way. Still not my ideal nutrition but at least there were more than 2 food groups included and again, better than not eating.
  • Sunday Second Lunch: Vegetable chili and meat chili and a roll and some shredded cheese and chips made by our friends (and some Halloween candy).
  • Sunday Dinner: Leftover pot roast with hot sauce – I didn’t love this pot roast, but it provided sustenance.
  • Sunday Dessert: Microwave brownie with peanut butter and milk. The peanut butter adds some protein and the milk some calcium, but mostly it’s just a winning combination. How can you go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter?

So how does this fit with nutrition for real humans?

1) Evidence-based. I try and make my day look like USDA’s MyPlate. Obviously not each meal (and sometimes not each day) looks like these portions, but that’s my overall goal for the day. Protein and fruit or veggie with each meal, and multiple calcium-rich servings/day – keep in mind these are the things I’m focusing on. What you focus on may be different which leads me to…

2) Each person has unique needs/goals/preferences. I know for me it’s important that I eat at regular intervals through the day or I can’t think straight. Thus why for me a mini chocolate donut is better than no breakfast.

3) Life and meals don’t exist in a vacuum. They’re affected by your family’s preferences (that’s why we eat dessert more often – I’m married to my husband), friend outings, waking up late, or forgetting the meal you planned.

4) Do-able and practical is better than perfect! It’s why I have Lara Bars and boxed mac and cheese – because having convenient healthy-ish fast meals and snacks can make it easier to eat a meal or snack at home, rather than going out, or eat a healthy snack at all. It’s also why I had leftover pot roast with hot sauce on Sunday because even though it wasn’t my favorite, it’s still fuel.

5) What I eat doesn’t determine if I’m a good person. If Sunday’s nutrition was not “ideal”, it provided me with calories and nutrients to go through my day, and Monday is another day.

Please note, this is a description, not a prescription. See #2: every person has unique nutrition needs and goals, so what you need and what works for you might be different 🙂

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