Healthy Valentine’s Recipe: Strawberry Kefir Smoothie

I have been doing a lot of research, writing and speaking on super-foods, and Kefir is definitely on my list. I am so excited about Frozen Kefir by Lifeway because it has is only 90 calories per 1/2 cup serving, 18 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of fiber. It is also 99% lactose free, all natural and gluten-free. In addition, it is packed with 10 probiotics which rev up your immunity and are great for digestion. My kids absolutely went wild over the strawberry, especially in this Strawberry Kefir Smoothie. With only 3 ingredients, you will have a refreshing and healthy smoothie perfect for breakfast, afternoon snack or light dessert.

I get a lot of questions about probiotics. What are they? Probiotics, which literally mean “beneficial to life,” are live cultures that provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition. Most probiotics include the live active cultures often added to foods like yogurt. Researchers have studied bacteria extensively and considerable evidence indicates that there are several strains of essential good-for-you bacteria that have an ability to promote healthy gastrointestinal functions. Lifeway Kefir contains seven to ten billion CFU’s of 10 strains of bacteria, plus ProBoost, an exclusive pair of clinically proven probiotics to balance your body’s ecosystem, support digestive health and immunity. That’s 12 live and active cultures per cup to produce a wide array of health benefits. You can find Lifeway frozen Kefir at Whole Foods.

My Top 10 Favorite “Power” Foods

I get a lot of email, and I mean, a lot. So many people ask me cooking questions, nutrition questions, entrepreneur advice, blog advice, social media advice, have comments and more. Sometimes, I get the simple questions such as, “How do you keep so fit? “What do you eat all day?” etc. I thought I would share my top 10 favorite “power” foods. When I say “power”, I mean foods that I love, foods that I feel give me energy, keep me healthy and foods I can’t go without most every day.

1. Greek Yogurt-With 2.5 grams of protein per ounce and hardly any fat or carbs, what could be better? I stir honey into mine with blueberries or bananas, nuts or whole grain cereal, and I eat it for breakfast or an afternoon snack. It is so filling and tastes great (I use the nonfat or low-fat by the way). See Greek Yogurt Banana Bread

2. Blueberries-These have the highest antioxidant value of all fruit plus they have many vitamins: B, C, E, and they boost your immune system. We always have a bowl of fresh blueberries ready to grab. See  Blueberry Pancakes

3. Almonds or Walnuts-These are a great heart-healthy snack filled with protein, vitamins, minerals and good for your digestive system. I don’t go one day without a handful. See Chunky Granola

4. Acai or pomegranate juice-Acai has been said to have antioxidant benefits and anti-aging properties and omega fatty acids. I think it gives me energy as well. You can buy the frozen Sambazon smoothie packs at Whole Foods, in solid bars, or in a bottle (I like the 100% Genesis Today Acai juice).  See Cranberry Pomegranate Granita

5. Salmon-High in the health promoting fat, omega 3 fatty acids, high protein, and low in calories. I prefer Alaskan wild salmon. Salmon is one of my tried and true favorites. The best part of all is that my 3 kids love it too. See Salmon Burgers

6. Edamame-High in protein, fiber and calcium and low in calories and fat.  I can’t get enough of these. I purchase them already shelled in the frozen section and just thaw. They are great served in a salad, as a snack or as a topping. See Edamame Salsa

7. Gold Bars-These bars are my all-time favorite snack bars. With 11 grams of protein from soy, nuts and whole grains, these satisfy my hunger as well as sugar cravings. I love them in the morning with coffee or as a snack. See Grab the Gold Bar

8. Flaxseed-High in fiber and omega 3 fatty acids, I put ground flaxseed in everything from cereal, to yogurt, granola and even as a crust on salmon or chicken. See Flaxseed Crusted Salmon

9. Arugula-High in Vitamin C and K, I love arugula for it’s peppery taste and beautiful color. Try it with golden raisins, nuts and freshly shaved Parmesan or simply topped with grilled chicken or steamed shrimp. I’m a huge fan and can’t get enough of it. See Black Eyed Pea Salad over Arugula

10. Dark Chocolate-Dark Chocolate is said to contain flavonoids so it’s heart healthy, contains antioxidants and may even reduce aging. Try Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

“Take Out” Food Ideas for Super Bowl Sunday

I was recently asked by the Editors of Magic City Post, to write a Super Bowl feature for their site on my favorite pick-up or to-go foods in Birmingham. I had many friends ask me to share this list on my site as well, so here you go. For those of you not in Birmingham, I am hopeful this will spark you top picks for buffalo wings, great appetizers and desserts in your home town. This list is great if you are short on time this weekend like I am. I am at my daughter’s dance competition out of town and won’t be back until right before game time. Go Steelers!

APPETIZERS

-Guacamole, fruits and vegetables, Whole Foods Market, Mountain Brook

-Queso dip and quesadillas, La Paz, Crestline Village in Mountain Brook

-Elkmont’s Belle Chevre goat cheese, shown at right, Whole Foods Market, Mountain Brook

-Mozzarella sticks, Mafiaoza’s Pizzeria and Neighborhood Pub, Crestline Village in Mountain Brook

-White pimiento cheese, Piggly Wiggly

MAIN DISHES

-Buffalo wings, Billy’s Bar and Grill, English Village in Mountain Brook and Liberty Park in Vestavia Hills

-Chicken fingers and cheese biscuits, Jim ’N Nick’s Bar-B-Q

-Mini-Reuben or any deli sandwiches, Max’s Delicatessen, Colonnade

-Marinated steak and chicken kebabs to grill, Fresh Market

-Pizza, Bongiorno Italian Restaurant, Crestline Village in Mountain Brook

-Friday-Sunday chicken penne pasta special, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe

DESSERTS

-Pie (any flavor), Johnny Ray’s BBQ

-Baby Bites, Pastry Art Bake Shoppe, Homewood

-Strawberry Signature Iced Cake, Ashley Mac’s, Bluff Park in Hoover and Cahaba Heights in Vestavia Hills

-Cupcakes, Dreamcakes Bakery, Edgewood in Homewood