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

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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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My {Not So} Green Smoothie

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Happy Thursday, friends! I don’t know about you, but I’m a little bit on the sore side. Last night me and a girlfriend tried Pure Barre for the first time. I hear my patients talk about it all the time and many of my friends and colleagues swear by it, including Chelsea from It’s a Wonderful Lifestyle. Other than it hurting to laugh, sit, lift, walk, and talk, I survived. I decided to sign up for their Breaking Down the Barre class later this week to get a better understanding about form and technique. With a monthly unlimited membership feeling like a car payment, I have yet to make a decision on continuing this fitness option. If you also swear by it, please let me know 🙂

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Skinny Girl Cosmo I had right after class…Please note I do not recommend this as a post-workout recovery beverage.

Ironically, my Nutribullet Pro had arrived by the time I got home from Pure Barre last night. I would not consider myself to be a smoothie aficionado but after watching a little too many infomercials lately, I thought I’d “bite the bullet” (pun intended) and get one. Since I’m not hardcore in the smoothie arena, I thought I’d wait before considering a Vitamix or Blendec blender. Speaking Blendec, have you ever seen their videos, Will It Blend? If something can blend an Iphone, well then surely it can blend anything else in my house including produce. 
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I was planning on making a smoothie for both me and my husband this morning but since he’s fairly adamant about his fiber cereal routine in the morning, I had the big cup all to myself. My mix had about 1 1/2-2 cups of spinach, one frozen banana, a half cup of frozen blueberries, two tablespoons ground flaxseed,two tablespoons chia seeds, and water.

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So….not exactly the beautiful green smoothies you’d find other people making. However, it did taste pretty good!

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As the day has progressed it has started to turn more green. Again, not a gorgeous pretty lime green, but I’ll attribute the army green color to the blueberries and black chia seeds involved. And honestly, I think I needed to blend it a little bit longer now that I think about it in hindsight. I will try again and keep you lovely folks posted!!

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I really am hoping to make a habit of using my Nutribullet often.  I don’t consider this to be a replacement for my fruit and veggie intake throughout the day; so many of the recipes I share with you all feature veggies as the superstar 🙂 For now, I’ll be looking to my friend Cindy at Newlywed Nutrition for all of her fabulous smoothie recipes— this girl is an expert in the smoothie arena!  If you’re feeling like joining the green smoothie bandwagon, July 1st is your chance!

Alas, now, it’s time for my lunch and as much as I’d love another smoothie, I’m pretty pumped about my Greek chicken salad from Zoe’s Kitchen. Yum! Bottoms up and Bon Appetit!

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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!

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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!

 


A {Quick} Trip to Earth Fare

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Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope you all had a lovely weekend. In some ways I feel like I had an extended weekend due to being out from work on Monday for a few appointments with my husband in Birmingham. On the way home, we decided to stop by Earth Fare since our little town of Tuscaloosa doesn’t have one. We decided to go after a late lunch just so we wouldn’t compulsively shop based on our hunger level (very smart for us).

 

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What I really appreciate about this grocery store is the commitment to properly label “local” items. I’ve been on a “local” kick lately after working on a piece for a publication about restaurants in Tuscaloosa that use local vendors. I’m also a big fan of a grocery store that focuses on “wholesome” eating whether it’s avoiding artificial colors/flavorings or avoiding synthetic growth hormones.

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One of the things that I wish we had gotten but didn’t due to extreme fullness was the pasta. It all looked so delicious!!

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We did come away with a few goodies including beer and dessert. If it’s any redeeming factor, we opted to get one single beer to try and I just got individual macarons instead of a whole lovely dozen 🙂 The beer ended up being a little too strong in the coffee department but still tasty nonetheless.

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These are salted caramel, pistachio, and chocolate macarons. The long day of appointments warranted something sweet. Definitely #winning macaron

 

Do you love Earth Fare? If so, what are your favorite products? How about favorite grocery store? As far as every day groceries, we really love Publix, but that may be because it’s right by my house. However, if we had an Earth Fare down the street, I’d shop there every day. Let’s talk and let me know what you think 🙂


Tips for Using Spices and Herbs for Low Sodium Cooking

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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!


Movie Theater Popcorn and Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizzas

A happy Friday to all of you! I hope everyone has some great things planned for the weekend. Last night I had the opportunity to watch Divergent with my book club. If you’re a fan of young adult fiction, I do believe you’d really like this series. I could go on endlessly about how I feel about the third book and the way the series ended, but I’ll refrain. As not to spoil anything about differences between the movie and the book, I’ll refrain from any details other than saying that I really enjoyed the movie last night 🙂

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Due to a busy schedule before getting to meet my friends, I was a little panicked about what to eat. I knew I wanted movie theater popcorn but wasn’t sure how much I wanted it as my full-fledged dinner, especially since we weren’t watching the movie until 8 p.m. I had to give a presentation to a student group at 6:30 p.m. and had run out of packed snacks in my purse. The building that I was speaking in had a small food court, including a Pizza Hut Express. Now mind you, when you reach Defcon 1 overt hunger, you pretty much pick foods based on what smells good versus thinking things through and making a healthful choice. Enter the supreme personal pan pizza. I would have taken a picture right when I picked it up, but I was so hungry I forgot. After I ate one of the four individual slices, I decided to stop. I knew that popcorn and a personal pan pizza would not make the most pleasant situation in my stomach. I didn’t want to waste the pizza either, so after flattening the whole thing with a napkin to get the grease out, I stuck the pizza box in a brown paper bag and into my purse, making my way to my lecture. One of the students said I smelled like really good pizza. GREAT!

This the pizza AFTER it had been to the movie theater with me stuffed in my purse and AFTER I gave the dog part of one of the slices. Doesn't really look so appetizing 5 hours after I bought it....

This the pizza AFTER it had been to the movie theater with me stuffed in my purse and AFTER I gave the dog part of one of the slices. Doesn’t really look so appetizing 5 hours after I bought it…. (Excuse the photo quality or lack thereof!)

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Moving on to the movie theater popcorn. Have you ever wondered what makes movie theater popcorn so delicious? It might be the fact that they cook it in coconut oil. After doing some research on the internet, I found that a lot of movie chains are going cheap on this end and going back to canola oil. I decided to call the corporate office of the theater chain I was attending to see what they use. The lady on the phone told me that they did indeed use coconut oil. There’s been a lot of concern about movie theater popcorn but honestly, if you haven’t had it in forever, then go ahead and enjoy it. I’ve been in a bad habit the past few years of woofing down a small popcorn, adding the pseudo butter topping, and then sprinkling some regular and peanut butter M&M’s in the bag (oh good golly it’s delicious). I decided to be a little more healthful in my decision and went with a medium diet coke and a small popcorn sans candy. Now granted I still had the pizza stuffed in my purse (yes gross, I know). When I got home from the theater, I realized I was so engrossed in the movie (and perhaps a particular movie character…) that I only ate about 1/4 of this bag. The only thing that’s a bummer is that “unfresh” movie theater popcorn kinda tastes gross.
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To put a little more perspective on how many calories, fat, and saturated fat (often from coconut oil used to pop corn which gives a better mouthfeel) in your golden buckets of pleasure, check out the graph from City Girl Bites
***Popcorn Size ↓ Calories Total Fat Saturated Fat
Kid’s with butter 470 37 22
Kid’s without butter (5 cups) 300 20 14
Large with butter 1640 126 73
Large without butter (20 cups) 1160 77 55
Medium with butter 910 71 41
Medium with butter 1220 97 56
Medium without butter (11 cups) 650 43 31
Medium without butter (16 cups) 900 60 43
Small with butter 630 50 29
Small without butter (7 cups) 400 27 19

Are you a movie theater popcorn lover or a personal pan pizza lover? What about a Divergent reader? Let’s sound off here boys and girls! 🙂


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!

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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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Potatoes and a little Happy St. Patty’s Day!

a little saltyHello friends! I hope you all had a lovely St. Patty’s Day! Last night I had the pleasure of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with my church small group. Our small group centers around food (of course) while we enjoy our book this semester, A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Alabama resident, Sophie Hudson. Since our gathering fell on St. Patty’s Day, we thought we’d go with a potato bar theme….no toppings left behind, especially pulled pork barbecue (we’re in the South for goodness sakes). Here’s a little schooling on our Irish Potato connection.

Our group is all about some appetizers, main course, and dessert :D

Our group is all about some appetizers, main course, and dessert 😀

Now I will say that potatoes do tend to get a bad rap when it comes to weight loss, weight management, etc. The truth is, potatoes are a wonderful bundle of nutrition but are often the medium of added fat and salt from how they are prepared.

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If you keep the skin on your delicious potato, you’ll be consuming a good 2 grams of fiber. The skin is also packed with B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and potassium. Eating an entire potato with skin gives you about 620 milligrams of potassium depending on the size.  Usually we like to add copious amounts of butter, salt, sour cream and cheese to our potatoes or just toss them in a deep fryer.  If you’re looking for potatoes on the lighter side, I invite you to try one of my favorite potato recipes from Cooking Light Magazine. Check it out and let me know what you think. I’ve included a delicious photo from MyRecipes.com.

Roasted Potato Salad with Creamy Dijon Vinaigrette

Photo: Iain Bagwell; Stylist: Cindy Barr

Photo: Iain Bagwell; Stylist: Cindy Barr

Ingredients
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cut into wedges
3 Tb extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 Tb sliced garlic
1 tsp minced fresh thyme
3/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 Tb white wine vinegar
2 Tb minced shallots
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon

Preparation

1. Place a large heavy baking sheet in oven. Preheat the oven to 400° (keep the baking sheet in oven as it preheats).

2. Combine potatoes, 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, garlic, and thyme in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Arrange the potato mixture on preheated baking sheet, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until browned and tender, turning after 20 minutes.

3. Combine remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, vinegar, shallots, Dijon mustard, and tarragon in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle dressing over potatoes.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 145
  • Fat: 5.1g
  • Saturated fat: 0.7g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 3.7g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.5g
  • Protein: 2.9g
  • Carbohydrate: 21.6g
  • Fiber: 1.5g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0mg
  • Iron: 1.1mg
  • Sodium: 218mg
  • Calcium: 7mg

Alabama Dietetic Association Annual Meeting

Hello friends! As always, Happy National Nutrition Month! Once again, I’ve left our annual Alabama Dietetic Association meeting recharged and excited about learning new ideas and catching up with old colleagues and friends. This was an extra exciting year for me to participate not only as an attendee but also as a speaker in one of the breakout sessions to share the efforts of the Alabama Obesity Task Force that you might remember me mentioning last year.

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I’m excited for my upcoming posts, especially since I’ll be talking in detail about some of the yummy and interesting items I found at the Food and Nutrition Expo geared towards our school nutrition folks. I honestly probably ate my weight in commercially prepared whole grain pizza and pastas. All of the different products out to meet the USDA school nutrition guidelines blew my mind and made me wish we had some of these products when I was in school.

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Another highlight of the meeting was getting to listen to and meet Kathleen Zelman, registered dietitian and Nutrition Director for WebMD. After meeting Ellie Krieger in the fall, I feel like my bucket list of meeting all-star dietitians is slowly but surely getting checked off. I loved Kathleen’s inspiration and reminder that as a dietitian, we live in a world where we are constantly competing with the pretty and famous about nutrition advice. As a registered dietitian, we definitely have to stand our ground as the most qualified in providing nutrition advice. I could go on my personal soap box about this so I am glad that Kathleen reminded both students and seasoned RDs about this.

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Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD,LD

Last, but not least, our state association was able to celebrate Alabama’s very own, Evelyn Crayton, Ed.D, RD,LD as newly elected president-elect of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Super proud to be a dietitian in Alabama…such an exciting time for our state!

Dr. Evelyn Crayton during the ALDA Business Meeting Luncheon

Dr. Evelyn Crayton during the ALDA Business Meeting Luncheon

Okay folks, I think that’s all I’ve got for now. I’ve got some upcoming posts on some featured products from the Food Expo that I don’t think you want to miss 🙂