Guest post by: Lwiindi Mumba, dietetic intern at Priority Nutrition Care
The new year is a time for fresh beginnings and new goals. But let’s be honest, how many of us actually stick to our goals long enough to see results? I have heard several people say that they want to increase fruit and vegetable intake while cutting out carbohydrates from their diets. That just doesn’t add up, and here is why.
Grains are not the only food source that have carbohydrates. There are five major food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. The ONLY food group from this list that does not contain carbohydrate is protein, meaning almost everything has carbs. Carbohydrates, or carbs, are one of three macronutrients in which the body obtains energy and they are absolutely essential for your body to function properly. They provide fuel for the central nervous system and provide energy for muscles. In fact, about 60% of your body’s energy expenditure is from carbohydrates, so it is recommended that the average adult get about 45 – 65% of their total daily calories from carbs. The key is to know the different types of carbs your diet is providing and from there selecting better choices.
There are two types of carbs: simple and complex carbs. Simple carbohydrates contain just one or two sugars and are broken down quickly in the body. This can act to spike up blood sugars and can cause a crash shortly after. Simple carbs are found naturally in fruits and milk products, and can also be found in processed or refined products such as candy, sodas, and syrups. Complex carbs contain three or more sugars. They are often found in starchy foods such as corn, peas, beans, lentils, potatoes, peanuts, cereals, and whole grain products. These are broken down and released much slower in the body, allowing for more sustained energy.
Foods with more concentrated carbs are usually grain-based such as pastas, breakfast cereals, potatoes, breads, and rice. This means that they will have a higher carb content per serving. When eating these foods, make sure to choose whole grain, high fiber options and be aware of your serving sizes. The complex carbs provided from these foods will be slower burning, more satisfying, and will not spike up your blood sugars as much. Incorporate proper portions of these foods into your diet as they can provide you with various nutrients that your body needs. For a less carb-dense option, try non-starchy vegetables to fill your plate or even as a snack. These are naturally less carb concentrated, high in fiber, and tend to be more nutrient dense than grain options. Since vegetables are mostly comprised of water, your portion sizes of these can be much bigger therefore more filling.
The recipe below is an example of a way to substitute your carb choices to those from more nutrient dense, higher fiber foods. I replaced my usual plain rice with cauliflower rice, allowing me to have a larger portioned, filling meal. For a meal like this, be sure to add a grain component such as a slice of high fiber, whole wheat garlic toast for more satiety.
Remember that almost everything will have carbohydrates in it as they are essential for your body to function properly, so it is virtually impossible to completely eliminate them from your diet. Nor would we want you to! To start off your new year right, try substituting much of your refined-grain carbs to whole grain and vegetable-based carbs, allowing you to get your recommended carbohydrate intakes from nutrient dense foods.
Lemon Pepper Pan-Seared salmon
Servings 4 | Prep time 5 mins | Cook time 15 mins
(4) 5oz wild salmon filets
1 tbsp lemon pepper seasoning
2 tbsp olive oil
- Season all sides of salmon fillets to your liking with lemon pepper seasoning
- Heat frying pan on medium heat then add oil to it (hot pan, cold oil). This helps to prevent the oil from sticking
- Add salmon to pan skin-side up and cook fillets until about half way done, about 4-5 mins (you will see a distinct line on the side of the salmon)
- Carefully flip the salmon over skin-side down and cook about 3 more minutes. Turn off the stove and cover pan with lid; allow to steam 3-4 more minutes until ready. Cook 2-3 minutes longer for well done salmon.
Cilantro lime cauliflower rice
Servings 4 | Prep time 5 mins | Cook time 10 mins
1 Large cauliflower head
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ large white onion, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 avocado (optional)
- Chop cauliflower into florets, place inside of food processor, and pulse until cauliflower has a rice-like texture. Another option would be to carefully use a food grater on the smallest size to hand-grate the cauliflower
- Heat skillet to medium heat; add olive oil
- Sauté garlic and onion about 2-3 minutes or just until translucent
- Add cauliflower rice and continue to sauté an additional 6-8 minutes until tender
- Add lime juice and cilantro and gently mix; immediately remove the rice from the stove while cilantro is still fresh
- (Optional) Slice avocado and season with salt and pepper to taste. Plate the salmon, cauliflower rice, and avocado. Enjoy!
Lwiindi is a dietetic intern through Priority Nutrition Care Distance Dietetic Internship. She received her undergraduate degree from Purdue University and relocated to Texas shortly after, where she plans to plant her roots. She enjoys community wellness and the clinical side of dietetics, and wants to later pursue a career working with neonates.