Happy New Year!!!

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and that your New Year is starting off great! I was thinking of new year resolutions today and was thinking that I would set a challenge for everyone, including myself! I want to propose that everyone change one unhealthy or add one healthy habit a month for the next year. It takes more time to unlearn a habit then to start one so I feel that a whole month will help to keep us on track for the unhealthy habits. I think that we can do this!

To be responsible for these habits you can write them in the comments or just put them up on your fridge. You don’t have to choose all the habits now but on the first of every month change one thing to better yourself. It doesn’t even have to be nutrition related, maybe you just want to stop swearing! That’s fine, let’s just start making better choices and feeling better about ourselves! Just think, that by the end of this year you will have changed 12 things for the better!

I’ll start…for January I’m going to stop eating white potatoes. Potatoes are a healthy food but I have a very unhealthy attachment to them! I love potatoes but more importantly I love fried potatoes! French fries and potato chips are my weakness and I know that I can’t just eat a couple of bites, so I am just going to cut them out all together.

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

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Fresh Produce

At the request of my smart, beautiful, talented sister-in-law, Candy (follow her blog at candysbrain.com and see for yourself), I am providing a couple of ideas on where and how to buy fresh produce.  Note that not all of these options are year round in some places so make sure to read the details at all sites/markets.

Option 1 – Find a Farm Co-op near you:

This option is a great way to explore what is in season and what fruits and vegetables grow around where you live.  In most situations you pay upfront for a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly box of fruits and/or vegetables from a local grower.  Some farms will let you pay per box but this is harder for the farmer as they need the money upfront to pay for the seeding and growing of the plants.  Depending on where you live you may be able to buy a full year.  I know by me (Midwest region) you can only get three seasons at the most, but it is  sooooo worth it!  This can be a pricy option upfront but compare what you normally pay for produce in the same time line and you will see that it may be very comparable.  If you feel that this might be an option for you I highly recommend http://www.localharvest.org/ to help find an organic farm near year.  I have to warn you that most of the time you do not get to choose what’s in the box, it is whatever is ready to be picked at that time and you may not recognize everything in the box.  If it is an unusual vegetable or fruit most farmers will provide a description of that item as well as how to eat/use it.

Option 2 – Supermarkets

Every supermarket has the potential to have great produce, you just have to be willing to take the time to find it.  As a rule of thumb buy what is in season.  For one it will be less expensive and two you will be more likely to find better quality items.  If you need help knowing what is in season the Eat Local app (as I mentioned before in Eat the Rainbow) is a great way to find what is in or you can go to http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/what-fruits-and-vegetables-are-in-season and search by season before trekking out, they even provide some great recipes to try!    Also, make sure to check your produce before putting it in your cart as well.  I’ve listed below some guidelines on how to pick ready to eat fruit and vegetables.

Every region has a different set of grocery stores so I don’t think I can accurately suggest the best store to buy from but if you have a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods near you these are your best options.  Not to say there are not other great stores, I just know these two to have a great variety and provide great organic produce.

Option 3 – Online

There are probably more options online than I can even begin to think of but I know only know of a couple and I personally have only tried one, PeaPod.  I am a big fan of PeaPod, especially in the summer and fall when they offer a box of locally grown vegetables that I can order along with everything else that I need from the grocer.  They also offer a year round “what’s in season” fruit box where they pick 8-10 in season fruits for you.  It’s fun not knowing what you are going to get and finding new recipes or trying something you’ve never had before.  I have had a couple of family members be disappointed in PeaPod’s produce but it has never let me down (yet)!  Another option is again http://www.localharvest.org/.  They have an option to search for an online store for items that you may be looking for!

Whatever option you decide is best for you here are a couple of tips for picking the best produce.

1.  The following should always be organic:  potatoes, apples, pears, nectarines/peaches, any berry (i.e. strawberries, blueberries, etc), spinach, celery, and bell peppers.  Anything that has a skin that is removed before eating is not as much of a concern of containing high amounts of pesticides as the above.

2.  Look for non-blemished, bright colored fruits/vegetables.  Not all fruits/vegetables should be squeezed.  Most ripe fruits will smell like that fruit (I know this sounds funny but an unripe peach will not smell like a peach, check it out the next time you go to the store).  Melons should be heavy for their size; cantaloupe, mangoes and avocado should have a little give when you push into them; and most vegetables your eyes and nose are the best way to know if they are ready to be used.

3.  Don’t panic if you realize when you get home that you didn’t see the blemish on that apple or two of the strawberries are mushy.  You can still eat that apple (do not throw it out because of one bruise) just cut that section off.  Those strawberries can still be eaten, just throw out the ones that are over ripe to prevent them from ruining the rest of the batch.   Use your best judgement, though, if it smells rotten or you see mold toss it!

If there is something here that I did not cover and you would like information about or more information about any of the above please ask!  I love inquiries and comments!

Uh Oh, Thanksgiving’s back

Well my fellow Americans one of our favorite (and diet scary) holidays is back.  I know that everywhere magazines and t.v. shows are telling you what to eat, what not to eat, how to eat it, etc.  I will spare you the do not eat list and caloric value of the traditional holiday foods and will just say a few things to help you out.

  1. Exercise….I don’t care if it’s the day before and after, the morning of, or after your meal.  If you want to feel better about your holiday do something physical (playing tag football with the family is a fun way to burn off some of those extra calories).  Then lets try to keep it a routine!
  2. Eat breakfast….I cannot emphasize this enough.  Make sure you eat within 1 hour of waking up.  If you are having a later meal and there is time, eat lunch too.  This will keep you from being “starving” when you get to your holiday destination and then gobbling down everything in sight!  (Pun intended)!
  3. Eat off a small plate….Eating off a small plate fools you into thinking you are eating more than you actually are.  If you can’t fit all you want on that small plate feel free to go back for seconds, but only after you’ve waited 20 or so minutes to feel how full you really are!
  4. Keep your serving sizes small….If there are 20 dishes to choose from please try to take a serving size of 2-3 bites of each (if you intend to try everything) and not a full serving size of everything.  The small plate will help with this as you won’t be able to put more than that on it anyways!
  5. Choose your dessert wisely….Like I said I am not going to give you a do not eat list but choosing a better dessert will make you feel better.  Instead of pecan pie or cheesecake eat a slice of pumpkin pie with a small dollop of homemade whipped cream.  You will be saving your self time on the treadmill if you do!

Hope this helps you have a wonderful day.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!!!

Eat the Rainbow

No I don’t mean Skittles!  I mean fruit and vegetables.  Everyone knows that we need to eat our fruits and vegetables, but why?  Fresh fruit and vegetables help our bodies to maintain a healthy weight, boost our immune system, reduce heart disease, reduce our risk of certain types of cancer, and can even help with problems that naturally occur from aging like vision loss.

Keeping variety with your fruits and vegetables also means that you will be eating a lot more vitamins and minerals.  You can get away with not taking a multivitamin just by eating them in natural foods.  Plus you get all the healthy fiber, phytochemicals (natural occuring compound in plants that may help to reduce cancer risk), and antioxidants (helps maintain and promote good cell growth) that a multivitamin cannot provide.  I highly suggest that all your fruit and vegetable choices be fresh.  If you must, frozen is the next best choice but stay away from anything that comes with a sauce on it.  Canned fruit tends to have a lot of sugar added to as well as dyes and canned vegetables almost always have sodium added to them.  Both tend to lose a lot of the essential nutrients that is found in their fresh and frozen equals because of the canning process. 

I understand that price is sometimes a concern and that the only thing some can afford are the canned options.  If you feel this is your only choice, rinse the fruit or vegetable under cold water in a strainer to remove as much of the canning liquid as possible.   I do want to say, though, that there are many inexpensive fresh choices if you buy what is in season!  The abundance of these fruits and vegetables allows the markets to sell them for less.  How do you know what’s in season?  Well, the internet is a great way to find out but my favorite is an app called Eat Local.  It tells you everything to look for right now!  For example, right now (Mid to late November) Eat Local says apples, cabbage, onions, peas, and squash are all in season.   Now when I go to the market I can go straight to these items and know that I will be getting a fresh inexpensive choice.

So on to how to eat the rainbow.  Below is the rainbow as I learned it in school ROY G BIV.  Some of the colors are combined as they offer the same benefits. 

Red 

  • Some fruit choices are: Raspberries, tomatoes, strawberries, pomegranates, and watermelon.  
  • Some vegetable choices are: Beets, red peppers, rhubarb, and red onions.

Orange/Yellow: 

  • Some fruit choices are: Oranges, peaches, cantaloupe, pineapple, and yellow figs.
  • Some vegetable choices are: Yellow/Orange peppers, carrots, butternut squash, and pumpkin.

Green

  • Some fruit choices are: Avocados, green apples, green grapes, kiwi, and honeydew.
  • Some vegetable choices are: Spinach, brussel sprouts, broccoli, lettuces, green beans, (so many to name here)!

Blue/Indigo/Violet

  • Some fruit choices are: Blueberries, purple grapes, plums, raisins, and figs.
  • Some vegetable choices are: Purple potatoes, eggplant, black olives, purple asparagus, and purple cabbage.

White

I know that this is not a color but this category should not be ignored.  White fruits and vegetables offer many immune boosting nutrients. 

  • Some fruit choices are: Bananas, white flesh nectarines/peaches, and pears.
  • Some vegetable choices are: Cauliflower, kohlrabi, ginger, garlic, onions, parsnips, jicama, and potatoes.

I challenge you to go outside your box and try something new at your next meal.  You’ll be surprised at how many different types of fruits and vegetables there are out there.  If you are looking for an extra challenge buy something you’ve never heard of and then look up different recipes for that item.  I never had kohlrabi until this past summer and I found that when grilled it has a very mild sweet taste that’s goes great with white fish.

For help on how to prepare and cook vegetables one of my favorite books is Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop.  It has saved my butt a couple of times and I have to thanks my sister-in-law for purchasing this book for me.  Not sure I could do with out it! 

 

 

Dietitians Don’t Eat Cereal for Breakfast

Eating breakfast is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy.  Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast everyday tend to have lower weights than those who don’t.  Eating a healthy breakfast every morning helps to rev up your metabolism.  This helps you to burn the energy you need for the rest of your day and for a healthy weight.

I know cereal seems like a great start to your day.  Cereal companies have you believe that their product is super healthy with heart saving properties and high fiber to keep you regular.  Truth is, though, most cereals are extremely high in sugar and very low in complex carbohydrates (the good carbs), protein, and nutrients you need to keep you going through the rest of your morning.  Even most “healthy” cereals do not provide the proper balance for a great breakfast. 

To have a great balanced breakfast to keep you going all morning you need a great balance of complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruit, yogurt), lean protein, and fat.  Yep, fat is not an enemy as long as it is in moderation!  Here are some of my favorite breakfasts:

-Egg White Breakfast Sandwich

Cook 2 egg whites in a pan with a 1 teaspoon olive oil, butter, or cooking spray if you prefer, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Toast half a whole wheat English muffin and top with a slice of provolone cheese then egg whites.  Every once in a while I will also place a slice of turkey bacon on it.  Complete the meal with a piece of your favorite fruit (try to eat your fruit, not drink it.  You lose a lot of essential nutrients as well as fiber when you drink it)!  If you do not have time to scramble your egg whites, place in a coffee mug or ramekin and microwave for 1 minute.

-Yogurt Parfait

Combine 1 cup (8 oz) of your favorite flavor of low fat Greek yogurt with blueberries (a handful), sliced strawberries (about 8), or your choice of fruit.  For added protein add a few sliced almonds.  I sometimes add 1/4 cup of low fat granola to give the meal some extra crunch.  If you have a sweet tooth in the morning try vanilla low fat Greek yogurt with 1 oz chopped dark chocolate and 1 tablespoon coconut flakes.

-Oatmeal

I love a great bowl of warm oatmeal on a cold winter day.  Try to avoid the instant oatmeal and make your own.  Quick cooking oats are very easy to make in the microwave and will have a lot less sugar in them.  Add low fat milk (soy, almond, regular…whatever you like) instead of water for extra flavor, with a dash of vanilla, a teaspoon of brown sugar or agave nectar, and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.  Accompany your bowl of oats with a piece of your favorite fruit or better yet cut up the fruit and add it to your oatmeal. 

 

I know that not every morning allows for you to take the time to make a great breakfast so here a few fast healthy breakfasts:

-Peanut Butter Breakfast Sandwich

Toast 2 pieces whole wheat bread (I love Ezekiel sprouted bread).  Top one piece with 1 tablespoon of Natural Low Fat Peanut Butter.  Top the other slice with a teaspoon of your favorite jelly and place 2 slices together.  Eat on the go if needed with a piece of fruit (are you catching on to the fruit thing yet?).  I like to slice half a banana and place in the sandwich.  Just a personal preference.

 

-Smoothies

Smoothies can be a great time saving breakfast.  Skip the smoothie shop and make your own lower sugar version!  One of my favorites is a 1/2 banana, 1 cup low fat milk (again soy, almond, regular….your choice), 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1-2 teaspoons honey (or agave nectar) and 1 cup ice.  Mix in blender and enjoy.  You may add 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder if desired.  Try to mix it up by adding 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen fruit instead of the banana (omit ice if adding frozen fruit).

 

-Whole Grain Waffles

Make sure you are not grabbing the Eggos on this one.  Try to eat whole grain waffles like Vans or Trader Joe’s.   Top 2 toasted waffles with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and enjoy.   Of course, have a piece of your favorite fruit along side it!

 

Please be creative when it comes to breakfast.  You can find so many great ways to change a lot of these ideas up and make them your own.  Some examples are using a different nut butter like almond or cashew butter instead of peanut butter, make an egg white omelet with peppers, onions, and pepper jack cheese instead of a breakfast sandwich, etc.   Just remember to use low fat or non-fat options when a choice is available.  Serving size is very important as well…don’t go overboard (more on that in a later blog)!

Being a dietitian is hard!

As some of you know I am a registered dietitian, traveler, groupie, wife, etc.  I have a very unusual lifestyle (thanks to my wonderful husband) that doesn’t allow me to have any type of routine.  For some this would be daunting and make them go crazy.  For me, however, it’s the life I couldn’t imagine being any better!  As I do travel a lot with my hubby I get to see a lot of very interesting things, try a ton of different foods, and get to have fun little adventures all over the world.  Here is where it gets tricky…how do I stay healthy when I have so many obstacles and tempting bad habits in front of me?  Well, let me tell you it is not an easy task. 

Being a registered dietitian has helped me immensely.  It has taught me that a healthy life with good food choices and exercise are essential.  I’ve learned how to take control and live my life the healthiest I can.  That said, life has taught me that making the right choice is hard and that the little voice in my head saying, “go ahead, eat those chips,” sometimes wins.   Even I battle with bad choices…I love food!  I love to cook and I especially love to bake.  I’ve learned through my studies (and many trial and errors) what makes food good and how to make my life healthier.  Not everything I make or eat is super healthy but that’s what portion control is for!  Everything in moderation is my motto. 

I hope to share some of my knowledge and experience with you to help you with making better choices and living a healthier life.  Sharing is caring (plus it may just help keep me accountable).  I am always up for questions and comments, so please feel free to share with me too!