This is a short list of my favorite things to eat on a daily basis. I may not eat everything on the list every day, but I can guarantee that I will eat at least 3 of the things on this list each day.
The king when it comes to a food that will make you feel satiated, plus it’s darn good for you. I like to add whey protein to my oats (check out “Protein Oats” in my Muscle Chow book on page 50). Adding whey protein will give your oats a great flavor without having to add a bunch of needless sugar, plus it helps balance out the carb-to-protein ratio. Put all of these factors together, then take into account the soluble and insoluble fiber content in oats and you’ve got a sustainable energy meal that is glycemically low. In other words it won’t spike insulin levels because the fiber helps slow digestion and the protein adds balance nutritionally; two very important factors that are especially important for the first meal of the day. Oatmeal also helps lower cholesterol (a statement that the American Heart Association back up), it’s high in magnesium for energy production, selenium for thyroid support and fat metabolism, plus manganese to help with blood sugar regulation. I buy the regular old fashioned rolled oats rather than the quick 1-minute oats because they are less processed, boast higher fiber content, and have less of an effect on glycemic load. In the microwave old fashioned rolled oats only take 2 minutes to cook.
I love apples because they’re the perfect fruit! They travel well, are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, contain the natural fiber pectin, quercetin to help fight free radicals, and have little effect on blood glucose. Apples are sweet, crunchy and satisfying. I like to get the smaller organic apples by the bag because they aren’t coated with that unhealthy wax to make them look shiny and haven’t been sprayed with pesticides like conventional apples. They make a great in-between meal snack to munch whenever you’re hungry, and I find that I’m less likely to overeat when I chow an apple before a meal. This is one fruit that I tell all my clients to keep as part of their diet.
When it comes to vegetables, we should be getting at least three servings daily for optimum health. For me broccoli is a no-brainer! Broccoli comes from the cruciferous family of veggies and contains cancer fighting phytochemicals. It also contains indole-3-carbinol, a compound that helps metabolize estrogen (good for both men and women alike) and is a powerhouse when it comes to being nutritionally sound. A single stalk boasts about 3.5 grams of both fiber and protein, with as little as 6 grams of carbs and 350 milligrams of potassium. It’s also choc full of vitamin C, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin which helps aid in eye health. Without a doubt, broccoli is on the menu in my house at least five days a week. The best way to prepare broccoli is to steam it, then drizzle about a teaspoon or two of olive or flax oil over the top to help with the absorption of the nutrients it contains. Sometimes I boil my broccoli in a large sauce pot with a small amount of whole wheat pasta and edamame (you can find that recipe “Ultimate Power Pasta” in my Muscle Chow book on page 131).
I like fish because it’s choc full of clean, lean protein - plus fatty fish like salmon and sardines are high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega3 fatty acids help support heart health, brain health, inflammation, circulation, mood, hormones and metabolism. Need I say more! Among my favorites, wild caught salmon, sardines packed in water, and tuna (both canned and fresh) rank at the top of the list. The key when purchasing salmon is to only get the wild caught. Farm raised salmon are kept in very crowded environments that cause anxiety and disease (hence the use of antibiotics) and they are fed grain rather than a natural diet of other small fish. Therefore the quality of the meat and healthy fats in farm raised fish are significantly diminished. Sardines are one of those fish that you either like or you think are gross! It always makes me laugh when I mention sardines to one of my clients because 95% of them will make a funny face and cringe. The good news is that sardines are super high in healthy omega-3 fats, they’re high in vitamins like B12, calcium, zinc, and more - plus they’re conveniently packaged in easy-to-open cans, and the risk of mercury is among the lowest in fish. If you’re willing to give them a try, check out the “Fix’n’Eat Sardine Sandy” in my Muscle Chow book on page 117. Tuna is great on the grill, it’s popular sashimi style, and canned is super convenient. When I buy canned tuna I always look for smaller specialty companies that pole catch their tuna (it will usually say “pole caught” on the can). Pole caught tuna has the lowest incidence of mercury in comparison to the long-line commercial caught tuna. Whole Foods carries a couple of these smaller brands and while they are usually more expensive, the taste and quality is well worth it. You can also order specialty tuna online. One such company operates out of their 95-foot boat, “the St. Jude” and I’ve been ordering from them for years. This Seattle based company is family owned (the Malley family) and they offer some of the finest tuna available online at tunatuna.com.
Talk about one of my favorite foods, eggs rank among the top of the list simply because they’re one of the world’s most perfect foods. Eggs are loaded with easily digestible protein and they contain zero carbs so you can pair them up with other carbs and still maintain a good protein-to-carb ratio. They are loaded with vitamins, and the main players include vitamins A, B, D, E, and selenium. They’re also high in choline, which is essential for cardiovascular and brain function, plus lutein and zeaxanthin for eye health. I love the fact that you can prepare eggs dozens of different ways, use them in baking dishes, and eat them any time of the day - breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks in between.
Choosing the right eggs
As a humanitarian, my concern over the poultry industry and how chickens are treated is of great concern of mine. And that’s only the beginning. The beef, pork, dairy, and fish industries have sucked the integrity right out of the very food they’re selling to us. It’s nutritionally stripped down, fed with hormones and harvested inhumanely, yet it still makes its way to millions of restaurants, fast food chains, store shelves, and our dinner tables. Unfortunately we continue to support this industry each and every time an item is scanned at the grocery store. When I choose eggs, I look for packages marked as cage-free, free-range, certified organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free, but recently I’ve found that this is not enough due to labeling loopholes. Chickens are still being cruelly treated, packed in wire cages one on top of the other, they can hardly move, rarely see the light of day, their beaks are clipped, and they are abused. While I still look for cage-free, free-range, certified organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free, I now look for the words “Certified Humane Raised & Handled.” Unfortunately I haven’t found eggs bearing this stamp in South Florida yet, but you may be able to find them in yours. Visit certifiedhumane.org to access a listing of producers of meat, dairy, and eggs in your area.