The Pegan Diet

I hear about the paleo diet fairly frequently still, but I recently heard about new variant of paleo – the pegan diet. The pegan diet is sort of a combination of paleo and vegan. At first, I thought that sounded impossible. The whole point of paleo is to eat meat, the whole point of vegan is to not. But this a unique diet that takes ASPECTS of each individual diet.

Followers of the pegan diet eat 75% of their food as fruits and vegetables. These should mostly be non-starchy and “low glycemic” fruits. All of this is to help balance your blood sugar levels.

The other 25% of the diet is made up for grass-fed, responsibly raised animal protein. Fish is especially encouraged. Healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, and omega-3s are also encouraged.

Both of these steps seem much less restrictive than the original diets to me, and mostly in line with a general healthy diet. The real kicker is eating less than ½ cup of gluten-free grains per meal and less than 1 cup of legumes(beans) per day.

The diet creators state that the benefits are reduced inflammation and better blood glucose control. There are no long term studies to prove any benefits of this diet.

Overall, I don’t see anything wrong with the diet itself. It would be difficult to follow and could be quite expensive – focusing on organic, responsibly raised foods, etc. Some sites point out dining out would be quite difficult which could be isolating to some. It does seem unnecessarily restrictive – if you aren’t allergic to dairy or gluten, there isn’t a NEED to avoid them. However, if you are diversifying your intakes, you could have a nutritionally adequate diet without them.

My final thought: compared to vegan or paleo, this is less restrictive and possibly easier to follow. But I don’t know that it is necessary for good health.

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Greek Chicken Bowl

Spring is here! Fall is my favorite season, but spring has to be a close runner up. It’s so great to have the sun out more, a little warmer weather, and feel like everything is coming alive again. I have definitely spent more of my waking hours today outdoors than in, and I love it.

Spring also feels like a great time for some lighter, faster meals. Still filling, but with a fresh feeling. I love these Greek chicken bowls for lunch or dinner. Easily adaptable to whatever tastes you have in your house. Also easy to use some store bought ingredients to save yourself some time. Enjoy!

Greek Chicken Bowls (Serves 4 at least)

Greek Chicken Bowl

1 cup quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp oregano
1 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
¼ tsp garlic powder
2 tsp lemon juice
½ seedless cucumber, diced small
½ cup hummus
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, diced
½ seedless cucumber, diced small
½ cup feta cheese
kalamata olives, optional

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with foil.

2. Combine quinoa, broth, and lemon juice in a pot. Cook quinoa as long as package directs. Fluff with a fork.

3. Place sweet potatoes on one baking sheet and chicken on another. Drizzle sweet potatoes with oil. Combine salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic. Toss half over potatoes, rub half on chicken. Bake for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender and chicken is 165 degrees (rotate pans halfway through cooking time).

4. Combine yogurt through chopped cucumber in a blender, pulse until combined. (tzaitziki sauce)

5. To serve, place 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/2 sliced chicken breast, 1/4 of the sweet potatoes, 2 tablespoons hummus, some red onion, some tomatoes, some cucumber, and 2 tablespoons feta in a bowl. Drizzle with tzaitziki sauce and olives to taste.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 652
Protein: 54 g
Fat: 18 g
Saturated Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 120 mg
Carbohydrates: 70 g
Fiber: 10 g
Sodium: 787 mg

Recipe notes: This recipe looks complicated. You can simplify if you have rotisserie chicken meat on hand. Also, buy storebought hummus (any flavor) and tzaitziki sauce if you like. The toppings listed here are yummy, but you could also throw in some spinach or any vegetables you like.

Source: adapted from Everyday Reading

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Pear Cinnamon Smoothie

Starting about a year ago, I finally joined the breakfast smoothie band wagon. I would make them off and on before that. But I wasn’t a huge fan. I always felt hungry soon after or wanted more food. Something finally clicked with me though, and I’ve loved them. I think it helps that I can drink it as part of my cool down from exercising. And I can sip as I go about my morning mom duties – grabbing breakfast for kids, cleaning up, making beds, etc. It feels less time consuming.

I’ll admit that the a berry-banana-chocolate protein powder smoothie is my go to, since I always keep the ingredients around. But it is nice to liven things up sometimes. This pear cinnamon smoothie is really easy to throw together and is yummy and satisfying. Enjoy!

Pear Cinnamon Smoothie (Makes 2 servings)

Pear Cinnamon Smoothie

2 pears
1 cup vanila nonfat greek ygourt
1 banana
¼ – ½ teaspoon cinnamon, to taste
ice, as needed for desired consistency

1. Blend ingredients until smooth.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 272
Protein: 14 g
Fat: 1 g
Saturated fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 4 mg
Carbohydrates: 57 g
Fiber: 8 g
Sodium: 54 mg

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Mashed Potatoes – a showdown with a nemesis

Back when my husband and I were first married, we basically stopped eating regular potatoes. Our apartment had a VERY warm kitchen, where they always seemed to rot. And sweet potatoes were less expensive at our local produce market. We made the switch and didn’t look back for several years.

In the past three years, I’ve started moving back into the realm of regular potatoes more. My kids really like them. I have run across a problem though – mashed potatoes. They seem to be my nemesis. The only way I could make edible mashed potatoes was turn off my dietitian brain and add so much salt, butter, sour cream, cheese, etc. They were delicious, but I knew I needed a compromise.

I found this recipe and LOVED it. I will say, I don’t know that they are a good stand in for ALL uses of mashed potatoes. For a holiday dinner, I would still go for regular and just turn off my dietitian brain. It’s the holidays. It’s ok. But for a regular weeknight, these are quick and delicious!

Mashed Potatoes with Turnips and Apples (Serves 4)

Mashed Potatoes with Turnips and Apple

2-3 large turnips, chopped (1½ cups)
1 large yukon gold potato, chopped
1 fuji apple, chopped
1 bay leaf
¼ cup light sour cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

1. Place turnips, potato, apple, and bay leaf in a medium saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil; cook 10 minutes or until tender. Drain. Discard bay leaf.

2. Return vegetable mixture to pan. Add remaining ingredients; mash to desired consistency.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories:
Protein:
Fat:
Saturated Fat:
Cholesterol:
Carbohydrates:
Fiber:
Sodium:

Recipe notes: I have subbed russet potatoes here, although I did peel it then. I’ve also subbed gala and red delicious apples. All worked fine. If you are concerned, you can flip the turnip to potato ratio and gradually play with the amounts over time to find the taste that best suits your family. I’ll post the recipe that includes the gravy pictures soon!

Source: Cooking Light

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Chili Sauce Salmon

Lent season is coming soon, which for many people means Fish Fridays. We like fish at my house. Even my kids eat it well, which surprises me literally every time I make it. As a kid, I only ate fish sticks. But the mild flavor of salmon really appeals to my kids. Which I think is a win.

This salmon is super simple to grill or bake in the oven. Chili sauce is kind of a random ingredient, but I’ve never had trouble finding it in the condiment section at the grocery store. Enjoy!

Chili Sauce Salmon (Serves 4)

Chili Sauce Salmon

4 (6-7 ounce) salmon fillets
¼ cup chili sauce
¼ cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

1. Combine chili sauce thorugh soy sauce. Place in a resealable bag. Toss salmon to coat in marinade. Refrigerate and marinade for at least 30 minutes, up to 4-6 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 375. Bake salmon 30 minutes, or until internal temperature is 145 degrees.

OR Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Grill salmon 5-7 minutes per side, or until internal temperature is 145 degrees.

Recipe notes: You have a couple options on the marinade. It is delicious just marinated and cooked. If you want sauce (like picture), you can save the marinade and boil it and use it as a sauce. Or make a second batch of the marinade after. I did the later to have something to picture, but I halved the amount which was plenty.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 287
Protein: 36 g
Fat: 8 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 79 mg
Carbohdyrates: 18 g
Fiber: less than 1 g
Sodium: 623 mg

Source: original recipe

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Mu Shu Pork Burritos

Growing up, my family ate the same few things from Chinese restaurants: sweet and sour pork, cashew chicken, and beef and broccoli. Don’t get me wrong. Those are delicious and easy crowd pleasers with kids. But as an adult, I’ve branched out a bit more and discovered and AMAZING world of options. One of those: mu shu.

These mu shu pork “burritos” simplify homemade Chinese by subbing easy access flour tortillas for the delicious little pancakes you get at restaurants. These are super simple to throw together and delicious! Have a great weekend!

Mu Shu Pork Burritos (Serves 4)

Mu Shu Pork Burritos

1 lb pulled pork
8 small whole wheat flour tortillas or 4 regular tortillas
3 eggs
2 teaspoons sesame oil
¼ head green cabbage, thinly sliced
½ onion, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons rice vineagr
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
sriracha, to taste
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 green onions, thinly sliced

1. Wrap tortillas in foil. Place in a 300 degree oven to warm (5-10 minutes at most).
2. Heat a large nostick skillet over high heat. Add 2 teaspoons sesame oil. Add eggs and scramble. Remove to a plate/bowl and set aside.
3. Add cabbage, onion, carrot, and garlic to skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables have softened.
4. Mix vinegar through sesame oil in a small bowl. Pour over vegetables. Stir until thickened. Stir in eggs and pork until all combined.
5. To serve, make “burritoes” of pork/vegetable mixture and top with green onions.

Recipe Notes: You could sub ground pork for the pulled pork. I would brown it first, then remove it from the skillet to scramble the eggs.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 445
Protein: 26 gm
Fat: 21 gm
Saturated fat: 6 gm
Cholesterol: 197 mg
Carbohydrates: 38 gm
Fiber: 4 gm
Sodium: 878 mg

Source: adapted from Keeping Up Cookbook

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Q&A: Keto diet

Q: Is the ketogenic diet safe? Does it work?

A: Thank you as always for the question. I always enjoy responding to reader questions.

The ketogenic is a popular low carb diet right now. Different from Atkins or South Beach diet, the keto diet focuses on high fat, moderate protein, and very low carbs. The diet has been used for years in neurological settings, helping with uncontrollable seizures.

The idea behind the diet is a bit complicated, but, similar to intermittent fasting, focuses on burning fat and lowering insulin. Our body wants carbs for energy. When we don’t consume them or have anymore stored, the body will break down fats into products called ketones (the source of the name ketogenic). The body then uses these ketones somewhat like carbohydrates. (This is an oversimplification, but works for our purposes). Since the body is burning fat (consumed and stored), insulin isn’t triggered.

There are some risks with this diet, like any.

-It could be lacking in vitamins and minerals. Over a very short term period, this isn’t as concerning as in the long term. Fruits and vegetables are often the most diverse sorts of micronutrients in our diets, so restricting these as strictly as many keto diets recommend could be dangerous.

-If you have liver or kidney problems, a diet very high in fat could exacerbate these problems and would not be recommended.

-This diet is low in fiber. The benefits of fullness seem to be covered by the full feeling provided by fatty foods. But you could become constipated.

-High ketones in the blood can alter neurological functions. This can be good in the case of epilepsy, and possibly Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (there is promising research here). But for normal, healthy adults, it could lead to difficulties in memory and fuzzy thinking.

-Risks for heart health and diabetes. The keto diet is often very high in saturated fat. Some studies have even shown increases in LDL or bad cholesterol with heart health. Experts have mixed thoughts on diabetes. Very low carb diets are not recommended for those with diabetes. And people with diabetes are at increased risk of heart disease, so our previous discussion on saturated fat applies. However, some carb restriction could lead to lowered insulin. Just likely not as low as keto diets recommend.

There are not enough long term studies yet to know if the keto diet is safe and effective in the long term. Short term studies do show it is very effective at weight loss.

Personally, I would not recommend this. I doubt it is sustainable in the long term, and question it would be healthy to do so. A more mild approach would likely be fine.

Hope that helps!

Do you have a question? Comment here, on Facebook, or email me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com.

Sources: Harvard Health, US News, Cleveland Clinic

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