A Filipino Foodie goes to A Filipino Party!

Hello friends! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend doing something fun and delicious. This past weekend I had the pleasure of coming back to my hometown of Fort Payne, Alabama to celebrate my aunt’s 70th birthday. Many friends and family including my mom and dad worked hard to create a special surprise event for a landmark occasion. Though I only live two hours away from my family, I’ve found that I don’t get to visit as often as I’d like so having an opportunity to see so many friends and family PLUS chow down on some Filipino favorites was incredibly exciting. The color theme for this party was white and khaki:women in all white, men in khaki and white…we had a black and white party a year ago for my other aunt during her 50th birthday (our family LOVES birthdays!). My mom had been working diligently to create the perfect centerpieces and overall decor for the party. Below is one of her creations using coffee filters, painted branches, and a revamped vase. What do you think?

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My aunt was definitely surprised upon entering the house full of old friends and family!

photo by Jesar Quizon photography

photo by Jesar Quizon PhotographyWe thought an “07” would look much cuter on the cake than “70” 🙂

On top of the excitement of my husband and I getting to see so many of our Filipino friends and relatives, we got to enjoy some of my favorite childhood dishes. Between an hors d’oeuvres table, a dessert table, and a buffet of various Filipino delicacies, we had quite the spread. My photographer cousin Jesar Quizon took some gorgeous pictures of our food selection…check it out!

Photo by Jesar Quizon PhotographyAh fruit!

10538064_10152678281337927_8790287291428846717_oA creamy Alfredo pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and roasted chicken

10838259_10152678279522927_3551597531357317356_oMy cousin Happy made these puto flan cakes…OH MY LANTA…delicious.

10854465_10152678278422927_5509912970962003008_oMy talented Aunt Gayle who also made my delicious wedding cake created these delectable caramel maracons.

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10955015_10152678280942927_2214983393392635779_oGorgeous butter lettuce leaves for lettuce wraps with the ground chicken and mushrooms seen below.

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11008813_10152678280757927_8524095545649533705_oIt’s not a party without fried rice!

11016793_10152678279087927_1957488489216933595_oMy Aunt Gayle’s famous carrot cake

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11033069_10152678277932927_4336291857299983686_oMy cousin Ashley made some incredibly tasty white chocolate bars (worth every calorie!)

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11038109_10152678280042927_4715430861833728115_oOne of my favorite Filipino dishes…ASADO!!

11038696_10152678280327927_4586791690413506870_oBaby cucumbers in a rice wine vinegar and sesame seed mix.

11041925_10152678278922927_6127576121760501219_oUbe cake!

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10955015_10152678280457927_784410524930748753_oAnd last but not least…pancit: the pinnacle and definition of all Filipino get together foods.

 As you can see, we’re all about food in my family. It’s actually inspired me to make some pancit and asado here in Tuscaloosa soon (future post ALERT!).  However, no Filipino party is complete without some singing and line dancing!

11016130_10152678299047927_2539784957184882014_oMy dad rocking out!

11063809_10203278859885969_72576554953388386_oA little cha-cha slide

Until next time!

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Me and my hubby with my mom, dad, and little brother


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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Oven Roasted Corn and Okra Salad

oven roasted corn and okra salad

Okay clearly I have been on an okra kick lately! I’m not sure what’s gotten into me, but ever since buying some okra a few weeks ago at the farmer’s market, I haven’t been able to stop myself from purchasing this amazing vegetable another time.  I am happy to say that this recipe was inspired by this recipe from Cook Up a Story Blog that I am so happy was shared in the comments to my Sauteed Okra with Heirloom Tomatoes and Bacon dish from a few weeks ago. I love both corn and okra so when it was suggested to me to try them together, I could not resist. The delicious flavor of the roasted okra was well paired with the contrasting sweetness of the corn that I roasted in the oven, off the cob. If I had to make this recipe again I’d likely use a little less okra (I bought 2 lbs and used all of it) so that I could roast the corn and the okra on the same cookie sheet.

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Ah take a look at this beautiful okra from the farmers market!!

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After I washed up the okra, I chopped it up, only omitting the heads and placed them on a cookie sheet.

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After coating the okra, I seasoned with freshly ground black pepper, ground sea salt, and a little sprinkle of some garlic powder. After seasoning, I put the okra in the oven pre-heated to 425 degrees then started to work on prepping my corn. I knew that I’d have to use a separate cookie sheet for the corn and from the recipes I saw on the internet, it looked like the corn wouldn’t need as much time to roast but would need an oven temperature adjustment (~475 degrees).

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Picked up this package of corn from Publix grocery in my city.

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I feel like I made a mess during this process but was still able to avoid not losing too many kernels. Next time I am going to plan to use this technique with a bundt pan.  🙂

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All 4 ears of corn with the kernels removed raw off the cob. I did the same light drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder as I did with the okra. About 8 minutes into the okra cooking I raised the oven temperature to about 475 degrees. At the 10 minute mark I added the corn in the bottom rack of the oven and roasted both the okra and corn for an additional 15 minutes with an additional 5 minutes at the end rotating the corn and okra to the top rack to broil on low for a little teeny extra browning 🙂

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Okra out of the oven!!

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After the veggies finished roasting, I added an additional drizzle of olive oil, some extra salt and pepper to taste, garlic powder (although I think that minced garlic would be really nice with this too) and a few shakes of red pepper flakes to give it some kick.

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We ended up pairing this concoction with some steaks off the grill. I apologize for the blurry picture; I honestly didn’t want my husband to catch me “again” taking pictures of my food before eating it….and I was pretty anxious to get to try all these yummy flavors in my mouth 🙂

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And without further ado, here is my recipe:

Oven Roasted Corn and Okra Salad

Ingredients
1-2 lbs okra, washed and chopped
4 medium ears corn
sea salt or kosher salt grinder
freshly ground black pepper
garlic powder (or minced garlic if available)
red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions
Begin by preheating oven to 425 degrees. Wash okra, chop into 1 inch or so sections, removing the “head” but leaving the tails. Place chopped okra on a cookie sheet, drizzle lightly with olive oil and using a brush or hands, make sure okra is lightly coated. Next add 1 tsp or so of sea salt or kosher salt followed by black pepper and garlic powder as desired. Place in oven and set timer for 10 minutes. While okra is cooking, wash raw corn and remove kernels from cob; place raw corn on a separate cookie sheet and oil and season in the same way the okra was prepared. At the 8 minute mark on the oven timer, increase your oven temperature to 475 degrees. When the timer goes off at ten minutes, add corn to your bottom rack of the oven and roast both okra and corn for an additional 15 minutes. If you’d like to get some additional browning on your okra or corn, alternate the vegetables to the top rack and broil on low for about 5 minutes total or as desired. After roasting and broiling is complete, add cooked vegetables to a mixing bowl and mix together, adding an additional drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder (or 1 tsp minced garlic) along with a few shakes of dried red pepper if you want it spicy. Serve warm.

There really is no specific way to make this dish and you may find yourself wanting to experiment with the oven temperatures a bit. The next time I try this recipe I will likely heat the oven to 475 from the get go and also use a tiny bit less olive oil on my okra to yield a slightly crispier texture. If you try out this recipe, please let me know how you like it and if you had some additions so that I know some things to try next time!! 🙂


A trip to the Farmer’s Market and Sauteed Okra with Heirloom Tomatoes, and….BACON!

sauteed okra with tomatoes and bacon

Gah! Yes I know, it has been quite too long since my last post and I’m sad that I went an entire month of August without any posts! But today I am back at it with some current happenings going on. I’m hoping to catch up from summer activities to be able to share on here. But in the meantime, I wanted to share my recent trip to the farmer’s market as well as a yummy little Pinterest recipe to use with the okra I picked up.

Below is a picture of me and my interns that are currently doing their community rotation with me. We decided it would be fun to have a table set up at our campus farmer’s market to share recipes featuring the seasonal produce available at the market. My interns also created a nifty Pinterest account for folks to follow in they didn’t feel like being bogged down with paper recipes. Don’t they look cheery? 🙂

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The great thing about the campus farmer’s market is that we have folks that drive in, ride their bike in, or walk in from after class.

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Many of the vendors are featured at our local restaurants in Tuscaloosa, including Epiphany Cafe (I will have a post on them coming up soon!) which boasts a Farm to Fork concept. Market goers can purchase meats, veggies, handmade soaps, cheeses, baked goods, and a variety of other goodies 🙂

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At my most recent trip to the Farmer’s market, I picked up okra (yum), tomatoes (red and green), basil, sweet potatoes, and a watermelon. I absolutely love okra but always forget to buy it in season and make something yummy out of it.  I did a pinterest search (I LOVE the search feature on pinterest BTW) for okra and tomato recipes and found a Sauteed Okra with Heirloom Tomatoes and Bacon (YES BACON) recipe from the Martha Stewart website. Apparently the original recipe came from Scott Peacock and Edna Lewis in their cookbook, “The Gift of Southern Cooking” which already screams delicious from its title. The original recipe from Martha’s website can be found here.

Sauteed Okra with Heirloom Tomatoes and Bacon

Ingredients
5 slices bacon
1 pound (next time I’d go with 1.5 to 2lbs) okra, washed, trimmed, and sliced about 1/2 inch thick
1 large sweet onion cut into 1/3 inch wedges
coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 medium heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch wedges

Directions
In a large, skilley, cook bacon over low heat until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove bacon and set aside. Next add okra to skillet (yes in the remaining bacon grease— everything in moderation, right?) and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes. Add onion wedges, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and reduce heat to low. Continue cooking, partially covered, until tomatoes are just heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Crumble bacon slices over tomatoes; serve warm.

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Oh okra, I truly believe you are one of my favorites.

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Chopping up those delicious tomatoes!

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Can see why I’d like to double the recipe on the okra next time? Just not enough 🙂

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Delicious sweet onion

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Adding those wonderful tomatoes

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And finishing it off with some crumbled bacon. YUM.

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And ta-da! It was very yummy. If you are weird about the texture of your onions, you may want to cook them a little longer prior to adding your tomatoes. I did add just a teeny tiny dash of garlic powder while sauteing the okra that I did not mention in the previous recipe instruction. I would love for you to share YOUR favorite okra recipes— when I pick up okra again this week I think I’ll be making some bhindi masala— WEE!


A {Very} Little Taste of Charleston

It is hard to believe that it’s nearly been a month since my trip to Charleston — and sadly I am just now getting to upload a few of the pictures from my short trip! I can honestly say that Charleston food is worthy of a food coma for sure. Thankfully though, I was with 5 other lovely ladies that are foodies in their own right, so our eating adventures were quite fun. Unfortunately I didn’t get to take a picture of every single meal we ate (probably a good thing 🙂 ) but I did want to take an opportunity to share a few pictures from my eating excursion, especially if anyone thinks about visiting this beautiful area any time soon. This was my first trip out there and I am dying to go back soon!!

When we first arrived in Charleston, my best pal Sally and I ate at East Bay Meeting House for a late breakfast… super delicious. She had the smoked salmon on bagel while I had the Portobello mushroom, ham and cheese quiche with fruit as seen below – simply divine.

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That evening, the six of us ended up at Cypress for dinner. We decided to order several different appetizers on the menu including their fried mac & cheese, sweet and sour meatballs, beau soleil oyster platter, and pimiento cheese with grilled bread and pepper jelly. Everyone also opted to get salads as we shared appetizers and I opted for the Almond-fried Brie salad (below) with cranberry-walnut chutney, baby greens, and a champagne vinaigrette. OH MYLANTA this was delicious.

20130531_215114During the small time frames during the day that we weren’t at the beach, we decided to check out the Historic Charleston City Market which had bookoodles of fun things, included a lot of gourmet sauces, mixes, and food items. This is one time that I regretted flying with just a carry-on bag.

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As a lover of any kind of rice, I was really interested to try this plantation rice. I’m sure I looked funny inhaling/savoring the aromatics of the rice bags 😉

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The Charleston Bloody Mary Mix is something I really wanted to bring home; my husband loves some Bloody Mary’s, but unfortunately this was a no-go for my suitcase. Boo.

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🙂

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We have some of this Slap Ya Mama at home as well as Tony’s seasoning..MMmmmmMmmm.

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Sweet Charleston is where I picked up the crickette snacks, which you may remember me eating in my youtube clip.

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There was a man with all of these funny hand-made signs…I took a few pictures of my favorites:

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After we went to the market, we had brunch at Fleet Landing Restaurant which was probably my favorite dining experience out of everything that we had in our short stay in Charleston. I will say that this is a must if you are going to visit 🙂

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Our delicious fried-green tomato appetizer with lump crab meat…..

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The quiche of the day that several people at our table got served over creamy lowcountry grits. This quiche had cheese, spinach, rock shrimp, and bacon. I asked Sally for a “small” bite and it was as delicious as it looks. Note the size difference between this quiche and the one from East Bay Meeting House 🙂

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Me and Lori both ordered the pulled BBQ pork with buttermilk biscuits, fried eggs, and Carolina Bar-B-Que sauce…my husband would have been proud.
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Two of us also ordered the Pan Roasted Crab Cake with poached eggs, grits, and red pepper Hollandaise. I didn’t have a bite but the girls assured me it was delicious.

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To take a break from eating, we stopped in a hat shop. I needed a photo op to send to my husband so he knew I hadn’t died yet of a food coma.

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Once we “walked off” our brunch, we stopped at River Street Sweets which is famous for their freshly made pecan pralines. They were oh so delicious and I’m trying to forget the calorie count I saw on the box after eating one.

20130602_150004Why yes I’d love a free sample!!

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That evening we ate at Mercato since it was in close proximity to the walking ghost tour we decided to take our last night there. Below is my lasagna. Super delish!
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On our ghost tour we got to stop at Poogan’s Porch since it was named by the Travel Channel at one point in time as the third most haunted place in America. Unfortunately though, we weren’t able to get reservations but it’s definitely on my list for next time 🙂

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Okay folks, I guess that’s about it! There are still plenty of places that are on my list to eat the next chance I make it to Charleston. The weekend left little time to eat at every place on my list but I think it just gives me a reason to go back very soon 🙂  If you’ve been to Charleston yourself, let me know some of your favorite places and dishes so I can make sure to add it to my list! 🙂


Balsamic Basil Summer Pasta Salad

balsamic basil summer pasta salad

Today I’m going to share a recipe of one of my most favorite pasta salads. I originally got this recipe from a close family friend after she brought it to my parents’ house for a family get together.  If I’m ever tasked with bringing something to a potluck, especially on short notice, this is my go-to item. Any of my friends, family, or co-workers that have been to a potluck function with me have likely tasted this at some point in time. Some of the things I love most about this salad is how well the basil enhances the taste of the pasta along with the sweet and salty tones of grape tomatoes, feta cheese, and olives. Overall however, I really like how this dish is so quick and easy to make!  P.S. this would be totally great dish to bring to an upcoming 4th of July get together 😉 😉 😉

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When I headed to Publix to pick up the ingredients, I spent a good bit of time trying to decide which pasta to pick up. I noticed that Dreamfields pasta that boasts 5 grams digestible carbs/serving (still very questionable on this) had a penne rigate, but since I had tried their pasta before with some sundried tomato chicken sausage, I figured I’d go with something else.

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I noticed the Barilla Plus pasta had a decent bit of protein per serving but not necessarily as much fiber. Though the Dreamfields contained less sodium as well, I found myself going with the Barilla, since I was accounting for cost as well 🙂

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$1.19 vs. $3.79 per box sounded like a great deal to me!  The Barilla also had about an ounce more in the box compared to Dreamfields.

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Getting all my ingredients together: fresh spinach (on sale!), Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette (sale!), Barilla pasta, fresh basil, 1 container grape tomatoes, slided olives, and crumbled feta cheese (yuuummmm)

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You want to start by cooking your pasta per package directions— I always like my pasta al dente.

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While your pasta is on the stove, start prepping your other ingredients. Wash your grape tomatoes thoroughly, slice length-wise and set aside.

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Next you’ll want to grab your basil- wash it down and dry thoroughly with a paper towel. I like to get the basil leaves, put them in a little stack and roll them up for quick cut as you see below. Fancy folks like to call this technique, chiffonade.

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You can place your chopped up basil in the same bowl as your tomatoes.

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You’ll do the same chiffonade technique with the spinach. I personally like to remove the stems from the spinach leaves. I bought a 9oz bag and ended up using about 1/3-1/2 of the bag. It’s more so personal preference as to how much spinach you want in there. You are also more than welcome to add more than one package of basil, or enhance the flavor by adding dried basil in addition to the fresh that has been chopped up. I used a good bit of spinach simply because I wanted me and my husband to get a good serving of veggies from this dish 🙂

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Once your pasta is done cooking, drain and let cool.

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I only waited about five minutes before I decided to proceed with the pasta. You’ll put your pasta in a large bowl (you want something big enough so that you get mix up the ingredients pretty well) and add your balsamic vinaigrette…I only use about 1/2 of the bottle so that the other 1/2 can be saved to add to the pasta the next day if needed. Don’t worry about seeing some of the dressing towards the bottom of the bowl or the pasta not appearing to absorb it; once you add your other ingredients, everything tends to mix pretty well.

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Next you’ll add your feta cheese— you can use plain crumbled feta cheese but sometimes i like going with the flavored ones like basil and tomato. I bought two 4 oz cartons and ended up using about 1 1/2 cartons. Again, it depends on your preference for how much cheese you want in there. Letting your pasta cool down can also be helpful in preventing the feta from getting “mushy” in your pasta. *I should have waited for my pasta to cool a little bit longer. Oh well, c’est la vie.

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Next you’ll add your bowl of chopped of veggie/herb goodies and mix well.

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Drain your olives and add those in too.

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I decided to do a little bit of fresh ground black pepper and mixed again

So there you have it! I used Newmans Own Balsamic Vinaigrette simply because that’s what the original recipe that was given to me called for. I’ve used the Publix brand tangy balsamic before and was really just not a fan. If you have a personal favorite balsamic or like to get fancy and make your own (I wasn’t feeling too motivated when I made this dish to get fancy with it) then I’m sure that would be super delicious too! I primarily made this dish this past week per my husband’s request… he told me he noticed that I don’t make a lot of the things I used to whenever I was “pursuing him”/dating him, which included this pasta salad…hahaha. I”ve included the recipe below for your use. If you make it, please let me know how you like it or anything you did to enhance it. I’m always looking for tips 😀

Balsamic Basil Summer Pasta Salad

Ingredients
1- 14 oz box penne pasta (or whichever you prefer)
1 package fresh basil 2/3-1 oz)
4 oz fresh spinach (I bought a 9 oz bag from the grocery store and used about 1/3-1/2 the bag)
4-6 oz crumbled feta
1 small can black olives
16 oz bottle Newmans Own Balsamic Vinaigrette (or any other brand you like)
1 container grape tomatoes
ground black pepper, to taste

Directions
Cook pasta per package directions, drain and set aside. While pasta is cooking, prepare other ingredients: slice grape tomatoes length-wise and set aside, chiffonade entire package of basil and about 4 oz of spinach (or as much as you’d like), set aside with tomatoes. In a large mixing bowl, add pasta and about 6-8 oz vinaigrette. Next add feta cheese, mix, then add remaining ingredients and mix well.

The pasta usually tastes best after chilling in the fridge overnight so the flavors can meld. The leftover dressing can be mixed in just prior to serving  as needed.


Monday Mind-Pick: What’s Your Definition of Healthy?

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Me and my 5 lb fat model after a lunch and learn presentation today.

Since it’s Monday, I thought I’d take advantage of today and do a little Monday Mind-Picking. What I want to know from my readers today is, “What’s Your Definition of Healthy?” when it comes to food/eating? This summer with work I’m doing a series of group nutrition presentations to help my clients with summer weight loss goals. I believe a lot of times our biggest gamechanger with our eating habits involves our own personal definition of what we consider to be a healthy food.

I know that my dietitian colleagues will likely have their own definition of “healthy” and I too will share my intepretation soon as well, but I’d love for you all to comment today on what your definition of a healthy food is. As tempting as it is to Google the phrase “healthy” or “healthy food” today, I encourage you to just share what comes up off the top of your head.  Say for example, would you consider iceberg lettuce healthy because it’s low calorie and it’s a vegetable? Or would you consider a potato unhealthy because it’s white and a starchy carbohydrate?  These are just a few examples of some things, but I’d like for you to provide your own food examples as well.  I’d like to use your responses to create a series of posts this summer that will correlate with some of the information I’ll be sharing with my Summer Slimdown series at work.

The more responses the better so please feel free to comment 🙂


Quick and Yummy Jasmine Rice Pilaf

Today I’m going to share a simple recipe for a deliciously fragrant jasmine rice pilaf you can easily make in your rice cooker. Earlier this week the hubs and I wanted a starchy side to go along with some leftover smoked chicken and veggies we had in the fridge. We always have jasmine rice on hand and luckily I had some other things in the pantry and fridge from some previous recipes this month that helped pull things together. My recipe for this rice pilaf is similar to others I’ve seen before, but for the sake of what was in my fridge at the time, I put my own little spin to some traditional recipes I’ve seen before.

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Jasmine Rice Pilaf

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice

2 cups chicken stock (chicken broth will also work)

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1 bay leaf

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 small shallot chopped (can also use regular onion)

2 teaspoons olive oil or margarine

3 teaspoons minced garlic cloves

Directions
In a small to medium frying pan, saute chopped garlic and shallot in olive oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat. In your rice cooker, combine the rice, chicken stock, almonds, bay leaf, mushrooms, and garlic/shallot mixture. Cover and hit the “cook” button 🙂 Your rice should be done in about 20-30 minutes 🙂

I don’t know about you, but I’m all about simple, especially when I can utilize things I’ve already got in the pantry. One modification you can also do is making this recipe with a portion of brown rice to add fiber. I absolutely love jasmine rice vs the traditional long-grain white rice because of it’s fragrant qualities — very nostalgic for me as a child. White rice usually gets a bad rap as a starchy carbohydrate but this is typically due to eating it in large amounts or adding copious amounts of sugar, salt, and fat before and after cooking. Using the natural flavor profile of garlic and onions and adding heart healthy fats from the olive oil and almonds can bring your typical side of rice to an all new level 🙂

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Don’t be alarmed to see some of your mixture’s components collect to the top of the rice.

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Give that rice a nice mixing so that each serving gets a good mix of the mushrooms and other ingredients.

20130424_193615Bon Appetit!


Wine, Paula Deen, and Everything in Between

I apologize that it’s been a minute since my last post…between work and a dash of vacation, it’s been a little hectic around here. But today, I’m uber excited to share a few pictures from my recent outing to Sandestin. In addition to traveling for the Southern College Health Association Conference, my in-laws also included me and the hubs in their annual trip to the Sandestin Wine Festival.

IMG_20130418_142631During my time at the SCHA conference, I had the pleasure of presenting one of the breakout sessions about partnering with community entities to enhance student engagement in health and nutrition promotion. Other breakout sessions with our speakers included peer education, stress management for college students, medical management of eating disorder patients, and other topics pertinent to college health. After the conference ended on Saturday, I got to spend the rest of my time with the family at the wine festival.

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Notice that Diane Hendricks is an RD and a chef? AWESOME!

One highlight of the festival was Paula Deen as one of the celebrity chef guests! And guess what? I even got to chitchat with her before they whisked her away on a golf cart for her lunch session. I mentioned to her that her banana pudding changed my life. She laughed and said “well, it ain’t yo mama’s banana pudding!” and I almost responded with “you’re right, my mom is filipino and doesn’t make banana pudding” 🙂 If I had to be honest though, I really wanted to ask her about her diabetes medication, but I did not want to have that kind of a conversation in such a public place 🙂

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Paula while talking to me about that good ole banana pudding.

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Look at that Mr. Sparkles picture on the menu…below I have a picture with the description of the Mr. Sparkles challenge.

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I don’t know about you, but that Kitchen Sink looks like fun.

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Can we say Woman Vs. Food? I don’t think I could do it.

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Beautiful view of the courtyard from my in-laws townhouse/condo front porch at The Village of Baytowne Wharf.

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A handful of VIP guests visiting the tents before the hundreds come in for the festival.

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Me and the hubs.

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$40.00 gummy bear at the candy shop

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More wine please?

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A handful of the wines we eventually picked out…. you can see I tend to go for the sweet “girly” wines 🙂

Me and the husband got to be on the Food Network stage for our pilot of "What Goes With Beer?" ....I think we could hit it big :)

Me and the husband got to be on the Food Network stage for our pilot of “What Goes With Beer?” ….I think we could hit it big 🙂

I apologize for the lack of commentary with today’s post; I mostly wanted to share some fun pictures with you guys. Soon I’ll be posting a review of the calamansi beverage that Nomsi in San Francisco has sent me— I can’t wait to share 🙂


Healthy Vending Machine Snacks

20130411_104541  Ah vending machines…depending on our mood, our hunger level, or our personal dietary restrictions (or lack thereof) they can be our best friend or source of frustration. Yesterday morning I was running through the house like a madwoman trying to get ready to help with a wellness event at 7am, right afterwards I had a meeting and conference call which left me sans breakfast and with a very hungry and desperate stomach by 10:30 a.m. After scraping the bottom of my purse and desk drawers for loose change, I found myself standing in front of the vending machine for several minutes deciding what would be the most appropriate choice so far from breakfast but oh so close to lunchtime.

I’m sure many of you can relate to my anecdote on various levels. Working in a college town, I find many of the clients I encounter in counseling and group sessions inquire about how to eat healthy from the vending machine if it’s the only option at the time or if they should even eat at all. One thing that we should definitely take into consideration is understanding that though the vending machine may not be our first choice when it comes to a source of nutritious food, there are certainly some appropriate options available that can help us avoid going long periods of time without eating…especially if you’re in a class, meeting, or work function that rolls into a meal time.

When choosing a snack from the vending machine, it’s helpful to know the nutrients that will address our hunger and keep us full for the longest amount of time. Below I’ve listed some nutrients to keep in consideration when picking the best snack choice:

Fiber: not only does fiber aid in keeping our bowel movements regular, lowering our cholesterol, and controlling blood sugar levels, but fiber can help us feel full for an extended amount of time. Unlike simple sugars, fiber takes longer for the body to digest and provides “bulk” to our meal or snack without tacking on excessive calories.

Protein: Not only is protein used for repair & maintenance of cells in our body, but protein can also address our hunger quickly and provide fullness for an extended period of time. Though carbohydrates are our body’s preferred fuel source (and the only thing our brain can run off of in the form of glucose), protein and fat are more chemically complex and take longer for the body to digest thus leaving us fuller for a longer amount of time.

Fat: When it comes to fat, it depends on the type. Mono and polyunsaturated fats that come from sources such as nuts, seeds, fish, olive oils, etc. are extremely heart healthy. Luckily for us, vending machine options such as trail mixes and nut packs provide these heart healthy fats. When it comes to feeling satisfied and full in a meal, fat can provide that feeling of satiety that we’re looking for, keeping us fuller for a longer amount of time.  Keeping that in consideration, you do want to avoid convenience snacks that provide high amounts of saturated and trans fat (not to mention simple sugars), for example, a honey bun, poptart, or regular potato chips.

If you’d like some specific examples of some specific vending machine choices, check out these recommendations from Fitness Magazine:

 Planters Sunflower Kernels (1/4 cup)
160 calories, 14g fat, 1.5g sat fat, 4g fiber
The Bottom Line: Full of healthy fats

 Baked! Lays Original
210 calories, 3g fat, 0g sat fat, 4g fiber
The Bottom Line: Surprisingly fiber-full

 Snyder’s of Hanover Mini Pretzels (20)
110 calories, 0g fat, 0g sat fat
The Bottom Line: Naturally fat-free

Smartfood Reduced-Fat Popcorn
120 calories, 5g fat, 1g sat fat, 2g fiber
The Bottom Line: Low fat, and has fiber!

Nature Valley Granola Bar, Oats & Honey
180 calories, 6g fat, 0.5g sat fat, 2g fiber
The Bottom Line: Beats hunger

Planters Honey Roasted Peanuts (39)
160 calories, 13g fat, 1.5g sat fat, 6g protein
The Bottom Line: High in protein

Quaker Chewy Low-Fat Granola Bar, Chocolate Chunk
110 calories, 2g fat, 0.5g sat fat, 1g fiber
The Bottom Line: Guilt-free chocolate

Triscuits
240 calories, 6 grams fiber
The Bottom Line: High in fiber but don’t resort to Wheat Thins Toasted Chips when they’re out of stock which won’t provide as much fiber and packs a punch of sodium

For some helpful additional guidelines in picking up some healthy vending machine choices, check out recommendations from the Alabama Department of Public Health‘s 10-10-5 guidelines when it comes to healthy vending choices 🙂


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Happy Snacking 🙂 🙂