Category Archives: Nutrition

New Year and I’m back…again

Friends. So sorry for the long hiatus again. I’m sort of perennially working on a menu project that someday I’ll be super excited to share with you. And then I had a baby and being a mom of 3 has rocked my world. It’s all good things, but means I’m struggling to get over here to share recipes and tips.

But it’s a new year and my resolution is to post here at least once a week. And in the spirit of resolutions, here are some thoughts on health related resolutions.

1) Have your heard of Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies? It is a framework for seeing how you relate to changing behavior. If you haven’t taken the easy quiz to find out your tendency, you should check it out here. It will you help you actually achieve your resolutions this year.

2) Try to make your resolutions specific enough to measure but broad enough to help you succeed. Here’s what I mean. Don’t say “lose 20 pounds”. That is super specific and there is only 1 way to succeed. On the inverse, “eat more vegetables” is too broad. How do you measure that? Try: Get 2 servings of vegetables at lunch 3 days a week. Specific enough to measure but broad enough that you can have a couple off days or slip ups while still succeeding.

3) Keep overall health and sustainability in mind. One of my friends started a weight loss journey in December that she is chronicling on social media. She had some great success immediately after a week long juice fast. Now as she is back to eating food, her weight loss has stalled. So she is going back to the juice fast. While I don’t think she is going to do any permanent damage, she should try to focus on food and a pattern that is sustainable while losing weight. It may not be fast. But even if she isn’t losing weight, the exercise and healthy food should make her feel better and is better for her body. Keep those ideas in mind.

4) Slow and steady wins the race. As I mentioned with my friend above, achieving health related goals is rarely a quick process. But if you keep at it, you will feel better. You may not succeed in 1 week or even 1 month. But keep on keeping on. If you slip up, laugh it off and try again the next day.

Good luck and I’ll be back next week with a recipe!

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Pre-shredded Cheese – yes or no

I recently made a recipe that said the sauce would be creamier if using self-shredded cheese versus pre-shredded cheese bought at the store. I’ve often heard people say they don’t like the pre-shredded cheese. I’ll admit I’ve gone in phases of which I buy. So is there really a difference?

The answer is yes. Pre-shredded cheese is coated with anti-clumping agents, such as starch and/or cellulose, and often also with anti-molding agents. These make them last longer and not melt together into a large clump in the bag. But it can also mean they won’t melt together as well when putting them in a sauce or on a dish.

So what should you buy? That is a matter of personal preference. None of these additives change the nutrition to a level that matters. Personally, I buy big bags of pre-shredded mozzarella that I store in the freezer. Then I’m always ready for pizza or pasta, which are “back-up” meals for me. And I find mozzarella a pain to shred. I buy block cheese of other cheeses for cost and varied utility.

Happy eating!

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To comfort or not to comfort

Truth: sometimes we all have bad days. Today was one for me. Most people I know turn to comfort foods when times are tough. Desserts, ice cream, and candy are common. Or maybe it is take-out chinese food for you. I know someone whose comfort food is chicken noodle soup over mashed potatoes. I sometimes find a Big Mac comforting. We all have our food.

But does that food actually make us feel better? I can’t find the reference now, but I recently heard about some research done that indicates the answer is no. Eating a healthy food had the same effect as the comfort food. Some research has shown that not eating has the same effect.

I’m curious if this rings true for any of you readers out there. I have mixed thoughts on this.

1) I’m not convinced that a lab stimulated “depressed” mood from watching a sad movie is the same as how we feel after a bad day.

2) Not all comfort foods are created equal. No one food is the right answer every time (or any time if you believe the research).

3) I will admit that sometimes eating something healthy gives me enough of a positive boost (Hey look, I did something good for myself) to get through. And exercising can have the same effect as well.

4) Most of the time, the effects of anything, comfort food or otherwise, are fairly short lived on your overall mood for the day.

I’ll admit without shame that I ate some ice cream to help me through my rough day.

Let me know in the comments what your comfort foods are and if this research rings true for you or not!

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Coke Zero Sugar

Last week, there was an announcement that Coke Zero would be going away and a new product, Coke Zero Sugar, would be taking its place. Based on conversations I’ve had with several groups, there has been a lot of confusion about this upcoming change. So I thought I’d outline the facts.

-The old Coke Zero had no sugar or calories. This is simply a name change to better reflect that.

-The same sweetener will be used in Coke Zero Sugar as Coke Zero.

-The only change in the product is a new recipe to improve the taste of Coke Zero Sugar.

-There will be a label change to make it look more like original Coca-Cola, which is what the product is aiming to taste like.

Hope this helps as you make decisions about your no and low calorie beverages. Happy eating everyone!

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Find something healthy AND delicious!

One meal I really try to be conscious about what I’m eating is lunch. For me, lunch is an easy meal to just eat junk or graze through random leftovers. It is also an easy meal for me to get some servings of vegetables in, if I make a conscious effort.

I’ve found lots of easy ways of putting veggies in my lunch.

-Having carrot and celery sticks for dipping in peanut butter or ranch ready to go.
-Throwing leftovers on top of a bed of greens for a salad.
-Microwaving some spinach down and mixing that into whatever else I’m eating.
-Mixing some microwaved frozen mixed veggies into my noodles or soup.

However, over time, I’ve realized something very important. It has to taste good! If it doesn’t, I won’t eat it. Today, I mixed a random assortment of stuff from my fridge onto some lettuce. I was trying to clean out my fridge, so it was an odd mix. Usually that works out ok. Today, not so much. And guess what? I ate about half and threw the rest away.

My point is: don’t buy a bunch of food you don’t like just because it is healthy. Find the “healthy” foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains) that you enjoy and focus on those. Eating healthy should still be delicious and enjoyable!

Happy eating!

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What’s the deal with eggs?

Q: I just read this article about nutrition and eggs. While I don’t particularly like eating eggs, it was intriguing to me. What are your thoughts on the incredible, edible egg?

A: This was a very interesting article. Thanks for sharing it with me.

On the whole, I think there is enough research out there that shows one egg per day is safe for MOST people. There are hyper-responders, as mentioned in the article, who may need to be more cautious. Eggs are a great source of protein. And they are generally a “filling” breakfast, which can be helpful for those trying to limit calorie intake.

I think this article points out something critical about almost all nutrition recommendations/advice. Very little in nutrition is black and white. Consumers are always looking for “eat this, not that” advice. But it isn’t that simple. There are better choices, but it always depends on what you are comparing it too.

I really like the quote from Dr. Willett at the end. “In terms of health, they {eggs} seem to be in the middle somewhere.”

So, enjoy your eggs occasionally. But that doesn’t mean you need to eat only eggs for breakfast forever.

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Put Your Best Fork Forward!

It’s March which means it is National Nutrition Month! This year’s theme:

nationalnutritionmonth2017-2

I love the idea of putting your best fork forward. It means doing what is best for yourself, every day. Make choices that count, make you feel good, and help you become the person you want to be. Here are 3 tips for putting your best fork forward this month and any time.

1) Plan ahead. Good nutrition and health doesn’t just happen. Make a menu, write a grocery list, prep veggies ahead of time, join a gym, buy workout equipment, etc. Think through what it takes to eat and feel the way you want, then take steps to doing that. Set yourself up to succeed.

2) Move on from a set back. Did today get the better of you? Not feeling like exercising this morning? A party at work led you in the path of a bunch of sweets? It is OK. I repeat, it is OK. But move on. Don’t let one side step from your plan turn into a complete new path. Step back on track with you next choices and move on.

3) Start your day out right. Try to start you day with a good for you breakfast or exercise. A good choice first thing in the morning can really help set the tone for your day. I’ll admit, I don’t LOVE exercising. It’s work, guys! But, I do love how I feel the rest of the day when I do exercise and get myself going on the right foot.

And in that mindset, here’s a delicious smoothie I tried this morning that helped set me up for success today.

Berry-Beet Smoothie (Serves 3-4)

Berry Beet Smoothie

¼ cup orange juice
1 cup plain or vanilla fat free Greek yogurt
1 ½ cups frozen mixed berries
1 medium raw beet, peeled chopped into chunks
1 bunch beet greens, large stems removed
1 banana, frozen
Water or skim milk, as needed

1. Layer ingredients in order in a blender. Start blender on low, then gradually increase speed as needed to get smooth consistency. Leave blender on each setting at least 30 seconds. Add water or skim milk if needed to thin out the smoothie. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 158
Protein: 12 gm
Fat: 1 gm
Saturated Fat: less than 1 gm
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Carbohydrates: 28 gm
Fiber: 5 gm
Sodium: 114 mg

Recipe Notes: I just squeezed a fresh orange and pulled some of the pulp in too. Bottled orange juice would be fine. I used plain yogurt. It tasted fine to me, but the kiddos around me were a little less thrilled. The vanilla yogurt with its extra sweetness would have helped them. I just used the greens from my bunch of beets, then roasted the extra beets up for my lunch. You might not need extra liquid; it will depend on how thick your yogurt is and how strong your blender is.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

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