Smart Nutrition

  • Easy Meals for Busy People

    Posted by The Chef Marshall O’Brien Group on 2/4/2019

    Tip: One-container meals are simple to make, quick to clean up, and keep you nourished and feeling your best when you are short on time.

    Modern busy lifestyles leave little time for meal preparation, eating and clean-up – but resorting to fast food when time gets tight leaves you depleted and dragging when you need your energy most. One-container meals are perfect when you need to make something quick and eat on the go, but don’t want the ill-effects of fast food. Chef Marshall offers his tips for creating scrumptious one-container meals that are easy to prepare, portable and a cinch to clean up.

    Fool-Proof One-Container Meals
    Salads, grain bowls, stews, stir-fries, even sheet-pan dinners make great one-container meals. Keep these tips in mind to create nourishing, delicious meals for eating on the go, easy clean-up or as a simple way to eat for one.
    Balance Your Bowl – Make every meal balanced with this simple formula. Aim to fill your container:
    o Half full of veggies
    o One quarter protein
    o One quarter whole grain, legume or other complex (slow) carbohydrate

    Think in Layers – Place wet ingredients on the bottom of your container and dry ingredients toward the top so things don’t get soggy. When you are ready to eat, shake to evenly distribute sauces, dressings and toppings.

    • Keep Add-ons Handy – Stock up on items that add flavor and texture to your container meals, so you can easily ramp-up the flavor without added hassle.
    o Nuts and seeds –Packed with fiber, nutrients and healthy fats, nuts and seeds are a nourishing way to add crunch to your grain bowls, stir-fries and salads.
    o Savory sauces – Tamari, hot sauce and dressings add a lot of flavor to one-container meals. Remember to layer them on the bottom.
    o Fresh avocado –Add a dose of healthy fats to any meal. Toss avocado in lime juice, or cut up and add avocado right before you eat to prevent browning.
    o Dried chickpeas – These crunchy, nourishing morsels come in a variety of yummy flavors.

    • Get to Know Your Sheet Pan – Sheet pan suppers make clean-up a cinch – only one dirty pan! – and they provide perfect one-container leftover meals. Roast root veggies, your protein of choice and non-starchy vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, peppers, even lemons, all together to allow flavors to meld. Line the pan with foil for easy clean-up.

    One-Container Recipe Round-Up

    Try one of Chef Marshall’s favorite one-container recipes:

    • Overnight Berry Oatmeal (see recipe below) – This fiber-loaded, high-protein breakfast is great for a cold winter morning and it couldn’t be easier to prepare. Mix it up the night before, stir in berries in the morning and breakfast is served - or ready to take with you to the office and warm in the microwave.

    • Pork Tenderloin and Brussels Sprouts (see recipe below) – This one-pan meal is a great combination of lean protein and yummy slow carbs, with both sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts that get nicely caramelized in the oven.

    Streamline Eating with Easier Meals

    When you are pressed for time, one-container meals are the fast-food-free way to streamline eating without cutting corners on nutrition. Nourish yourself with simple one-container meals that are easy to make, quick to clean up and keep you feeling energized and vibrant during busy, stressful times.

    You will love the way you feel!

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  • Foods to Improve Your Mental Clarity

    Posted by the Chef Marshall O’Brien Group on 1/15/2019

    Chef M.O.

    By the Chef Marshall O’Brien Group

    Tip: Give your brain a boost with foods that support mental clarity today and help prevent dementia as you age.

    Have you ever had one of those days when your brain just seems to be in a fog? You can’t remember where you put your car keys or you can’t focus on the task at hand? Do you look at the growing number of people with Alzheimer’s disease and wonder if that might be in your future? In this article, we highlight the ways smart nutrition not only stabilizes your mood and improves your mental clarity today but may also help stem development of dementia in your later years. Optimize your mind with smart nutrition, so you can think clearly, perform your best and get what you want out of life.

    Fuel Up for Your Day
    Breakfast is, quite literally, a breaking of the nighttime fast. You would never try to drive your car on an empty fuel tank – why start your day without fueling your body? The most important way to ensure mental clarity throughout your day is to begin it with a meal that provides protein and fiber for lasting energy. Chef Marshall’s Turkey & Sweet Potato Hash (see recipe below) is a delicious, hearty breakfast that provides ample protein to keep you well-fueled and focused until lunchtime.

    Feed Your Brain
    Load up on these foods that nourish your brain and support clear thinking:

         • Fruits and vegetables are loaded with polyphenols and other antioxidants, like beta-carotene and vitamins C, D, E and K, that improve cognitive performance, decrease oxidative stress and inflammation, and may help ward off Alzheimer’s disease.

         • Fatty fish, like salmon, herring, sardines and rainbow trout, provide omega-3 fatty acids that are linked with improved brain health and reduced cognitive decline. Fish is also a good source of vitamins B6 and B12, which show promise in maintaining mental clarity and warding off Alzheimer’s disease.

         • Spices have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce cell damage. Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, is particularly effective at reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines, oxidative damage and cognitive deficits.

         • Water – Staying hydrated is one of the simplest and most powerful ways to maintain mental clarity. The symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, headache and lightheadedness, all of which make it difficult to think clearly.

    Stay off the Sugar Rollercoaster
    Foods high in processed carbohydrates or added sugars cause your blood sugar to spike then plummet, leaving you feeling sluggish and more likely to get ‘hangry’ (hungry/angry) before your next meal. Emphasize whole grains and complex carbohydrates, which deliver a steady
    stream of energy to your body and brain, and help you stay sharp throughout your day.

    Caffeine-Free Ways to Revitalize
    You may be inclined to reach for that cup of coffee when your energy and mental vigor dip following lunchtime, but caffeine puts you on its own energy rollercoaster. Pull yourself out of the mid-afternoon slump with these caffeine-free ideas:

         • Take a brisk walk outside.
         • Sip a cup of hot decaf or herbal tea.
         • Do some gentle stretching exercises at your desk.
         • Dab peppermint essential oil on your temples or the back of your neck.

    Give your Brain a Boost
    Eating the right foods improves your attention, mental clarity and mood. And when you eat mindfully, you transform meals into built-in periods of calm and mental rejuvenation in your busy day. Fuel up on a protein-packed breakfast, steer clear of sweets and excess caffeine, and load up on nourishing foods that feed not only your body, but also your mind.

    You will love the way you feel!

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    Question: The Smart Nutrition program seems complicated to me. Can you give me a simple overview?

    Answer: We’re glad you asked. Smart Nutrition is not complicated and even if you occasionally eat something you shouldn’t, you will still be far better off by focusing on the following three “rules”.

    Eat three meals and one or two smaller snacks each day to keep your blood sugar stable.

    Eat mostly three types of food:
    1. Lean protein
    2. Healthy fats
    3. Slow carbohydrates

    Avoid four things:
    1. Added sugars
    2. Unhealthy fats, including trans fats
    3. Fast carbohydrates
    4. Chemicals, preservatives and other artificial ingredients, including sweeteners

    Again, you don’t have to get it right all the time. Smart Nutrition is about baby steps!




    Hydrating foods are a great way to supplement your water intake. For proper hydration, we should consume about half our body weight in ounces of water each day. Hydrating foods can supply part of this:
    • Soups, stews, yogurt and cooked cereals contain a generous amount of liquid.
    • Vegetables and fruits. The following varieties contain over 90% water, as well as important vitamins and minerals: cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, strawberries, watermelon, broccoli, grapefruit.