March is National Nutrition Month {Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle}

NNM

Hello friends! I can’t believe it’s already March! As a registered dietitian nutritionist, this is one of the most exciting months of the year because it’s National Nutrition Month! I still have some things to share with you as a recap from National Eating Disorders Awareness Week last month, so be sure to come back and visit this week! This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month is “Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle” which can be a great motivator for any health goals you’ve set for yourself this year.

My personal goal for National Nutrition Month this year is to be very purposeful about planning meals and snacks this month, not only for nutrition purposes, but also for budgeting purposes! If you’re up for the challenge with me, be sure to comment and keep me in the loop! If you need some additional inspiration, one of my favorite RDNs and one of my first mentors and preceptors, Paula Gonzalez Rothschild, has some wonderful advice and resources on her website : Plan, Prepare, Portion.  I first met Paula, along with my other preceptor, Monica Montes, during my independent study experience in Pasadena, California. Monica and Paula founded N.E.W. Health Consultants, a Nutrition, Exercise, and Wellness business with dietitians, a naturopathic physician, massage therapist, family therapist, personal trainer, and personal chef to meet all needs of wellness. I’d certainly like to say that they were my first set of mentors that really inspired me to be the RDN I am today!

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Monica Montes (left) and Paula Gonzalez Rothschild (right), summer 2006 during my NHM 491 Independent Study Experience in Pasadena, CA

As far as dinner tonight, I thought my hubs and I would start National Nutrition Month off right with a vegetarian plate. Roasted red onions, sweet potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, brown rice, black beans, and baby kale salad made up our meal. As far as tomorrow goes, I’m planning a spinach and strawberry smoothie for breakfast, yogurt as a snack, leftover whole wheat spaghetti with sausage at lunch, and roasted veggie leftovers for dinner.

Sound off with your plan for Monday! Happy National Nutrition Month!

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Gluten-Free Halloween Candy Guide 2014

gluten free halloween

Happy Tuesday to all of you! I don’t know what the weather feels like in your neck of the woods, but here in Alabama we are finally feeling the seasons change. With the arrival of this cold weather, I know that Halloween is just around the corner.

Halloween is always a fun time for neighborhood gatherings and hayrides, trick or treating, or perhaps an office Halloween party. However, Halloween can also be a high stress time for parents and children who battle multiple food allergies. Celiac disease and various levels of gluten-intolerance have now put gluten-containing foods and candies on the “watch out” list.

Thankfully, organizations like the Celiac Disease Foundation have worked hard to research candy companies and make extensive lists for folks to use when preparing for this ghoulish holiday. Below I have listed links for resources from the Celiac Disease Foundation as well as About Health. Please note that these resources are only a guide. Formulas and ingredients by the company can be changed at any time.

Wishing you all a safe and delicious Halloween season!

 


Nutrition and Oral Health

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Last week I went in for a long overdue teeth cleaning. As a dietitian, I’m always thinking about how important good dentition affects our food intake. However, I think it’s important to remember how good nutrition affects our dentition. This can be especially important when teaching your kids good eating and dental hygiene habits. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a great info graphic on nutrition and oral health…check it out!

Nutrition_and_Oral_Health


Calling All Cruise Veterans

enchantment

Hi friends! I apologize for my lack of posts in the past week or so. It’s been a little hectic around the office, and I’ve been gearing up for my little brother’s college graduation this Saturday as well as a cruise with 3 girlfriends next week (also lovingly known as LADYPALOOZA 2014), AND my 2 year anniversary with my husband. As a first time cruiser and someone who does get significantly affected by motion sickness, I’m open to any suggestions from my followers. I’ve read the tips for First Time Cruisers on Cruise Critic but I’d love to know if you have any recommendations from personal experiences. We’ll be on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas leaving from Port Canaveral for a 3 night trip to the Bahamas so I’ll be excited to share pictures with everyone when I return. So with that said, fire away with any recommendations you may have whether it’s food selections, wardrobe, or anything in between!

 


Ingredient Substitutions

Happy Monday, folks! I don’t know how it is in your neck of the woods today, but in my area of west Alabama, it is an extremely rainy Monday. One thing that I hate about rain is that it doesn’t exactly get me in the mood to run to the grocery store to get the ingredients I may need for a particular recipe. Clients always ask me about recipe substitutions not only for a healthier alternative but sometimes because they just don’t have certain staple ingredients in the pantry. Have no fear, friends! The good folks at MyRecipes.com is here to save the day. You may remember me mentioning the site’s nutrition search last summer which is another very helpful tool.

recipe substitutionsAs you can see, this site has quite the variety of ingredient substitution possibilities for those days you just don’t have time to run to the store. Check out this resource for yourself and let me know what you think. What are the most common things that you substitute when cooking your favorite recipes? Let’s chat!

 


Tips for Using Spices and Herbs for Low Sodium Cooking

herbs-spices

Hello lovelies!

In honor of the last day of National Nutrition Month, I thought we’d send off this year’s theme of “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” with some tips for using spices and herbs. Early in my career, I worked in a hospital setting and frequently provided diet counseling for those with congestive heart failure (CHF). With CHF and other heart-related conditions such as hypertension, reducing sodium intake is a must. Thankfully, we’ve been blessed with taste buds that can adapt to a tapering of salt/sodium. Check out my tips below!

 

  • Conversion: 1 tbsp fresh herb =  ½ tsp dry = ¼ tsp powdered.
  • Use sparingly – ¼ teaspoon per pound of meat or pint of sauce. You can always add more.
  • When doubling a recipe, add only 50 percent more seasoning.
  • “Freshen” herbs by crushing or rubbing between your fingers before adding to recipe.
  • In dishes requiring long cooking times such as stews, add herbs toward the end of cooking.
  • In chilled foods such as dips, salads and dressings, add herbs several hours ahead.
  • For maximum freshness, purchase in small quantities, keep in airtight containers.

Seasoning suggestions for Meat 

Beef                 Bay leaf, dry mustard, marjoram, nutmeg, onion, pepper, sage, thyme

Chicken           Dill, mushrooms, paprika, parsley, sage, thyme

Fish                 Bay leaf, curry, dry mustard, lemon juice, paprika

Lamb               Mint, mint jelly, garlic, rosemary

Pork                Garlic, onion, sage

 

Vegetables

Asparagus       Lemon juice, toasted sesame seeds

Broccoli           Lemon juice, oregano

Cabbage          Dill, caraway seeds, savory

Carrots            Mint, nutmeg, parsley

Cauliflower     Nutmeg, tarragon

Corn                Chives, green pepper, tomatoes

Green Beans   Dill, lemon juice, marjoram, nutmeg, unsalted French dressing

Potatoes          Chopped green pepper, mace, onion, parsley

Squash             Ginger, mace, nutmeg

Tomatoes         Basil, green pepper, onion, oregano, sage

 

Ethnic dishes

Indian              Cardamom, cayenne, coriander, cumin, curry, garlic, ginger,mustard seeds, turmeric

Italian              Basil, bay leaf, cayenne, garlic, onions, oregano, thyme

Mexican           Cayenne, chili powder, chorizo, coriander, cumin, fresh chilies – green and red, garlic, oregano

Oriental           Cayenne, cumin, garlic, ginger, green pepper, sesame, sherry

 

Soups

Creamed         Bay leaf, dill, marjoram, paprika, peppercorns, tarragon

Vegetable        Basil, bay leaf, curry, dill, garlic, onion, oregano, thyme, wine

 NOTE: Tomatoes and mushrooms used for seasonings should be fresh or unsalted canned. Also always make sure to use something listed as a powder versus a salt such as garlic powder instead of garlic salt.

What are your favorite herb/food combinations? Let’s chat!


The Best Roasted Vegetables EVER | Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right During National Nutrition Month

Hello folks! And a happy Wednesday to all of you! Since the theme of this year’s National Nutrition Month is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” I thought I’d share a delicious roasted vegetable recipe. If you Google “roasted vegetable recipes” and one of the first things that pops up is a link to a recipe called “The Best Roasted Vegetables Ever” then curiosity makes you want to find out if these are truly the best roasted vegetables ever 🙂 Today’s recipe is from The Wednesday Chef. I invite you to check out her blog; it has some pretty delicious looking goodies!

Happy veggies

Now I’m going to be honest. I love my vegetables, and I sure do love roasting them. But, I’ve got to come clear about why I hopped on the vegetable train last night. I get in the habit of calling my husband on the dot at 4 p.m. every day to get a game plan for dinner. Typically we decide if we’re doing leftovers, takeout, or one of us is cooking. After my husband told me we had the leftover pork and some deer meat he cooked last night, I knew that wouldn’t suffice for a well-rounded meal.
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There’s something about veggies that just makes me giddy. I really think it’s the variety of colors. I veered away from the original recipe just a bit with the addition of a small sweet potato. I love my beta-carotene, but I REALLY love a little bit of starch.IMG_1964I decided to use the beautiful dish my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas this year from Sur La Table. This picture doesn’t give this piece justice but let me just say, IN.LOVE.

IMG_1971Veggies are chopped up and ready for a mixing with herbs and olive oil.

IMG_1984Gorgeous, beautiful color!

IMG_2006And here’s a close up of the veggies post roast. DE.LISH,US!

And here’s the recipe!

Roasted Vegetables
The Wednesday Chef
Serves 6 as a side dish

1 medium onion
1 medium or 2 small carrots
1 zucchini
1 eggplant
2 small potatoes
5 small tomatoes
1 red or yellow pepper
2 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary, wild fennel are all good choices – either individually or combined in some form)
4 to 5 tablespoons of olive oil, plus more to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F (180 C). Quarter and slice the onion thinly. Dice all the vegetables into pieces that are approximately the same size (no larger than 1/2 inch). Pile the vegetables into a baking dish so that the vegetables lie a few inches thick. Season with salt, pepper and herbs to taste and then pour the olive oil over the vegetables. Mix thoroughly but gently – you don’t want to destroy the tomatoes before the dish goes into the oven. Now check the vegetables to make sure they are well-coated and glistening with oil. If need be, add more oil.

2. Put the dish in the oven and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Halfway through the cooking process, remove the dish from the oven and very gently stir the vegetables so that the ones at the bottom come to the top. Towards the end of the cooking process, stir a second time. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Check for seasoning and serve.

Now, if you’re a newbie at roasting vegetables and want to try other roasted veggie combinations, some of the best tips and tricks can be found from 100 Days of Real Food so please check it out!

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Taking Time with Meals and Snacks

food-clock

With the “spring forward” time change upon us, I thought I’d talk a little about timing. For some folks, timing and length of meals and snacks can make a difference in weight gain or weight loss.

Timing Your Meals

When it comes to the timing of our meals and snacks, avoid going longer than 4 hours without eating anything (ideally you want to try to eat about every 2 ½ to 3 hours). If you’re in a meeting or running errands during a meal time, make sure to at least have a snack (trail mix, peanut butter crackers, pretzels, etc.,)  to tie you over until you can get an actual meal. If you’re going out with the girls for dinner or any other meal, try to avoid being ravenously hungry when you get to the restaurant. To do this, have a snack such as a small peanut butter sandwich or an apple about 30 minutes to an hour before going out to eat. This snack will help curb your appetite so that you’re still hungry enough to enjoy your main entrée but you’re not so hungry that you mindlessly eat copious amounts of chips and salsa, bread and butter, or any other pre-entrée items that are usually served at restaurants.

Taking Time with Your Meals

Are you a quick eater?  Hectic schedules and society in general tend to make us eat quickly out of necessity. Unfortunately though, rapid eating leaves little opportunity for our body to provide us the sensation of fullness. It takes about 15-20 minutes for our brain and stomach to communicate that we’ve eaten something and give that full feeling. Often times, we end up eating so quickly, that within the first 5 minutes of eating, we’ve already eaten the volume of food it takes for our stomach to feel full BUT since the brain and stomach haven’t had time to communicate yet, we keep on eating and eating until about 20 minutes later we feel that “overfull” feeling (I call it gross full or that level of fullness that makes us want to unbutton our jeans or take off our Spanx) since our brain and stomach have finally caught up with us.

Slow down your pace of eating so that it takes you at least 15-20 minutes to eat your meal. One way to accomplish this is making sure to put down the fork in between every bite of food. Sometimes we end up eating so quickly and we end up already having the 4th bite of mashed potatoes ready to go on our fork before we’ve even completely swallowed our first initial bite!  Other ways you can slow your pace of eating include taking a sip of water (or other low calorie beverage) in between bites of food or even having conversation in between bites of food. Slowing down your pace of eating not only helps with getting full off of a smaller portion size but also allows you to take time to really enjoy and savor each bite of food.

And…..March is National Nutrition Month! This year’s theme is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.”  By timing our meals and taking time with our meals, we can really enjoy and savor how delicious and healthy food can be. I’ll be having more upcoming posts about National Nutrition Month, including my upcoming trip for the Alabama Dietetic Association annual meeting so stay tuned!!


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4th of July Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

Hi friends! Today I wanted to share a few quick tips to help you keep up healthy habits during the 4th of July holiday. Cookouts are infamous for copious amounts of red meat, alcohol, and high calorie side items; luckily though, cookouts also provide great opportunity for enjoying fresh veggies and fruit, especially on a hot day!

  • Do NOT show up to the get together famished.  Though “saving up your calories for the big meal” sounds like a great idea, it can do more harm than good by setting you up to eat overly large portions.If your cookout or gathering is at lunch, make sure to have breakfast beforehand….if it’s in the evening, have a light breakfast and lunch- you get the idea 🙂 Having a snack 30 minutes to an hour before eating can help avoid eating “with your eyes” and let you take your time to enjoy the foods that you really want to eat.
  • Eat slowly…take at least 15-20 minutes to consume your meal. It takes about 15-20 minutes for our brain and stomach to communicate that we’ve eaten something and give that full feeling. Often times, we end up eating so quickly, that within the first 5 minutes of eating, we’ve already eaten the volume of food it takes for our stomach to feel full BUT since the brain and stomach haven’t had time to communicate yet, we keep on eating and eating until about 20 minutes later we feel that “overfull” feeling (I call it gross full or that level of fullness that makes us want to unbutton our jeans or take off our Spanx). Putting the fork down in between every bite of food or taking a sip of a low calorie beverage between bites can help you pace your eating.
  • Build your plate using the plate planner method: 1/2 of your plate as veggies, 1/4 of your plate with starch, and 1/4 of your plate with protein (try also using a smaller plate if available). Often times we make about 3/4 of our plate something starchy like mac n cheese and potato salad with a hunk of meat on the side and no veggies in sight. Making a plate that has non-starchy vegetables as the star can help you feel full (from the water and fiber content of the veggies) without excessive calorie intake. This brings me to my next point…
  • Eat the ‘healthiest foods’ first. Having those veggies full of water and fiber can help slow digestion and provide that feeling of fullness. Additionally, having something that contains protein and some fat (maybe in the form of olive oil in a salad dressing) can help you feel full sooner.
  • Make sure to drink ample amounts of water throughout the day. If your cookout is outside, chances are you may get dehydrated more quickly outside due to the heat. If your “non-water” beverages contain alcohol or caffeine, these can also exacerbate the need for water due to their natural diuretic effects. If you need to be more convinced on the need to hydrate in the heat or strategies for naturally flavoring your water, check this out. Also, if you’re wanting to be mindful of calories from alcohol, be sure to look at my previous article comparing calories from different types of alcoholic beverages.
  • Be mindful of foods that do not provide fullness. Potato chips, crackers, and other types of refined carbohydrates can pack on unnecessary calories without providing a sensation of fullness. This can lead to mindless eating of these munchies. Instead, choose items that have a high water and fiber content, like a salad or some fresh fruit. If you want something salty, having an item with protein such as peanut butter, nuts, or hummus can be a nice option.
  • Try to be active during the day. Sure after eating a big plate of food, we totally want to crash on the couch. Instead, think about going for a family/friends walk in the afternoon or playing a game of flag football. These activities can keep you from being sedentary during the day and also allow you to socialize with your friends and family you’ve been wanting to spend time with 🙂

I hope you find these quick tips helpful 🙂 Please feel free to share your own strategies when it comes to holiday eating. And for those of you doing some traveling for this summer holiday, please check out a post from my fabulous RD friend, Cindy at Newlywed Nutrition— she has some great tips for eating healthy on the road including the best choices at gas stations as well as how to pack snacks for your car.

Happy 4th of July, friends!


My Recipes Nutrition Search

myrecipes search

Do you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease or any other chronic health condition that makes you more conscious of the calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein, sodium, etc. in the foods that you eat? If you do, I invite you to check out the awesome nutrition search at www.myrecipes.com. Just click on the nutrition search as seen below and this will take you to this nifty page. You can search for recipes based on your health needs and set parameters for calories, fat, fiber, cholesterol, etc. How cool is that? ANNNDDD….many of these recipes are pulled from Cooking Light and tested by their very own registered dietitians.  Have any of you ever used this before?