The entire reason I started Made Simple by Sarah is because understanding the fundamentals of nutrition and fitness is complicated...but it doesn't have to be!  So I'm starting the "ask me anything" series.

Ask me anything and I will strive to not only give you the best answer, but also simplify to it.  Your questions, My answers, Made Simple.

This is completely anonymous so I encourage you to share your questions with everyone.  I guarantee you're not the only one curious!  So lets go, what do you want to know?

Q: I want to know how many calories are in a guac burger from By Chloe.
A: This is an estimate because I do not know their exact recipe, but with the Guac Burger as is (sweet potato & black bean patty, guacamole, corn salsa, tortilla strips, whole grain bun, tortilla strips and chipotle aioli) I would estimate this nets in at ~700 calories.  

Q: Why are coconut oil and vegetable oil better than corn and/or vegetable oils?
A: Coconut and olive oils are preferred because they are healthy fats.  Corn and vegetable oils have no redeeming qualities.  Other great oils to experiment with are avocado, flaxseed, and any nut oils.  These too, come from healthy fats.  But make sure not to cook with these.  These oils have much lower burning temps than coconut and olive oil, so they are not great for high temps.  Better for salads and adding flavor at the end of the cooking process. 

Q: What's the deal with all these flours (coconut, almond, etc.)?  How do I use them, are they healthier, can I substitute for all purpose flour?
A: Alternative flours such as coconut, almond, etc. have recently become increasingly popular as more gluten free diets are becoming increasingly popular.  They go hand in hand because these flours are gluten free substitutes for all purpose, wheat flour, etc.
You can definitely substitute these flours for all purpose flours, however it's not always 1:1 so make sure to research alternative recipes (or of course, ask me!).  Coconut flour, for example, is highly absorbent and if your liquid ratios aren't properly adjusted you will end up with a dense, almost gummy, funny tasting, baked one wants that.
As for if these flours are healthier, most often they have more nutrients than all purpose white flour that has been highly refined.  There are more alternative flours than I ever knew, all of which contain different properties and nutritional value. For example coconut flour is higher in fiber, while arrowroot flour is high in protein.  That's not to say that a gluten free diet is automatically healthier.  You still have to make smart, clean choices.  

Q: If there can be a lot of chemicals in store bought almond milk, are there any that I should particularly wary of?  Or most are fine but just generally, making your own is healthier?
A: Almond Breeze is particularly high in synthetic chemicals and contains far less almonds than many other brands.  In general, be wary of the almond milks that live outside of the refrigerator aisle.  These have way more preservatives (what increases their shelf life) and are therefore best to avoid.  Making your own is obviously the best way to ensure that you know exactly what goes into your almond milk, but it's not necessarily realistic or cost effective.  If you're not planning to make your own almond milk, which admittedly I don't always do either, I like the brand Califia.  Also the "original" almond milks are more natural than any of the flavored varieties.  Try adding your own flavors at home with a splash of vanilla, dash of cinnamon, or tsp of cacao powder.

Q: What's the difference between almond milk and soy milk health-wise?
A: These are both healthy alternatives and depend entirely on your nutritional goals or preferences.  I know that's not the easiest answer but there are several factors:
Almond milk is higher in fat content than soy milk but don't let that scare you.  It's healthy fat (combo of omega-3s and omega 6-fatty acids) and also less starchy than soy milk.  Therefore, in terms of total calories, almond milk is usually more advantageous for dieters.
Soy milk on the other hand holds more proteins.
It all boils down to your goals and preferences.  I prefer almond milk because I try and avoid soy on my mostly Paleo diet.  There also are some concerns with the hormonal effects of soy.  But if soy milk is a staple in your diet and hasn't given you any trouble thus far, it has great nutritional benefits!

Q: I've heard romaine lettuce is "bad?"  Is it particularly unhealthy, or just doesn't have the good qualities of other lettuces?  What's the best/medium/worst lettuce?
A: Romaine lettuce, or any vegetable for that matter, in my opinion is not "bad."  When it comes to eating clean, and making smart choices, if you're opting for a salad with romaine lettuce over a sandwich, you've made a good choice, so give yourself a pat on the back.  
Romaine lettuce is a low-calorie vegetable high in fiber and water content.  What it lacks compared to other lettuce options, such as kale and spinach, are additional nutritional benefits such as protein, vitamins A, C and K, iron and calcium.  The most nutritious greens generally have more color, or are a darker green.  Eating more color is a great rule of thumb when it comes to all vegetables.  Generally speaking, the more color and/or the darker the hue the better.  Don't eat skittles but do "taste the rainbow."

Q: Is a sweet potato actually healthier than a regular potato?
Similar to the lettuce question above, sweet potatoes simply offer more nutritional benefits than regular potatoes.  Both potatoes pack a powerful nutritional punch, but sweet potatoes provide 400% of your daily requirement for Vitamin A! They also have more Vitamin C, fewer calories, more fiber, and fewer total carbs than white potatoes, despite having more natural sugar.

Q: I've been seeing a lot about brothing/souping lately -- is the trend real, and if it's good for you, is there an easy to make my own?
A: Check out my post on 2016's up and coming nutrition trends.  Here I talk about the myths and benefits of brothing.

Q: I know cheese isn't that healthy, but are there any that are better for me than others?
A: Feta, Parmesan, and Swiss are the healthier cheeses on the cheese plate.  
Feta is lower in fat and calories than most cheeses, and is a staple in the Mediterranean diet, which is proven to be one the of the healthiest diets and regions.
Parmesan is also low in calories, but high in sodium.  Parmesan's strong nutty flavor, packs a potent punch in just a small bite so you may eat a smaller portion, than with other, more mild cheeses.
Swiss is higher in calcium and phosphorous, which are linked to bone health. 

Q: Does preparing an egg one way or another change its healthiness?
Yes!  Eggs are always a great source of protein but poached, baked or hard-boiled eggs, are your healthiest cooking style for eggs because there is no oil aka added fat.  Poached eggs and hard-boiled eggs are cooked in water.  Baked eggs, such as shakshuka, simmer in whatever sauce they are baked in.
While sunny side up, fried eggs, etc. still have the same protein properties, they are cooked in oil, and therefore slightly higher in fat and calories.

Q: Can you help me navigate my way around cocktails?  Is there anything in particular to avoid or gravitate too?
A: Check out my cocktail and drink list here that all net out at under 100 calories.  Avoid high sugar drinks and of course, limit your drink count to limit your calories.

Q: How many calories are in the Thai Salad at By Chloe.
A: Again, this is an estimate since I do not know the exact recipe from by Chloe.  The Thai Salad contains apricot-siracha glazed tempeh, almonds, quinoa, edamame, scallion, crispy wontons, peanut dressing. I would estimate this nets at -450 calories.


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