Tag Archives: nutrition

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Nutrition, q&a

Q&A: Sources of Omega-3’s

Q: Is it okay to take a flaxseed oil pill and a fish oil pill (omega 3 fatty acid) both at the same time? Or is one a better supplement than the other?

A: Great question!

We need to first talk about fats. There are 3 kinds of fats for our discussion: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated.

Saturated fats: Generally bad for our health, we want to limit these kind. They are found generally in animal products and solid fats, like butter, whole milk, meat.

Monounsaturated fats: Generally good for our health. They are found in olive oil and avocados, among other foods.

Polyunsaturated fats: There are several kinds of polyunsaturated fats. These are generally good for our health as well, but we want to have the right “mix”. In our diets, we mainly talk about omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. As Americans, we eat too much omega-6 fats, which are found in vegetable oils. Omega-3 fatty acids also have several types, including ALA, DHA, and EPA. These are also found in some vegetable oils and fish.

Now, how much do we need to eat each day?

Saturated fat intake should be kept to less than 7-10% of calories. For an 1800-200 calorie diet, that would be 14-22 gm per day.

There aren’t specific recommendations for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat intake. However, total fat intake should be 25-35% of calories. If you account for saturated fat intake as above, that leaves 15-25% of calories for unsaturated fats.

The World Health Organization has recommend some daily amounts of omega-3’s. They recommend 0.3-0.5 grams of EPA and DHA and 0.8-1.1 grams of ALA daily for general health. For specific conditions, you can read more information here.

With all that information, back to the original question.

First, it is probably fine to take both supplements at the same time. However, I don’t know that it is entirely necessary. I’d compare the amounts in each one with the above recommendations.

I might say the fish oil is better DEPENDING on the composition. Flaxseed oil is high in ALA, but not EPA and DHA. Fish oil should have EPA and DHA as well as ALA. To truly compare them, I’d look at the labels and see the total amount of omega-3’s and types in each one.

AND, I would feel remiss if I didn’t say you don’t HAVE to take a supplement. The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish at least twice weekly as well as other food sources of omega-3’s, such as tofu, walnuts, and canola oil.

Hope that helps!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

Leave a comment

Filed under Nutrition, q&a

Getting back on (or staying on) track

How are your New Year’s health resolutions (or word-solutions) coming along? Are you still on track, or did you fall prey to “Fall of the Bandwagon Thursday” and “Fat Friday” (mentioned in an earlier post)? If you aren’t where you’d like to be, never fear! Here are some tips to help you get back on track. If you you are still cruising along, great job! You can still use these tips as motivators to keep doing what you are doing.

1) Realize change doesn’t happen overnight. You aren’t going to magically not want chocolate, sugar, coffee, or whatever it is you are trying to avoid more frequently. You won’t lose 15 pounds in a month (if you did, go see a doctor because that isn’t healthy). You won’t love getting up early to exercise for the first little while (or ever). Change takes time. Hopefully, you set goals for 2017, meaning you have ALL YEAR to accomplish them. Cut yourself some slack.

2) Focus on the positive little steps you make rather than focusing on any missteps. Even if your progress is two steps forward, one step back, you are STILL getting one step forward in the net. I also like to think of “good” and “bad” choices as two separate accounts rather than one. That way, a “bad” choice doesn’t negate any good. It just fills up the wrong bank. I still have my “good” choices accumulating.

3) Know when to quit. Did you make a goal to exercise and you hate every minute of it and every day is a struggle? Maybe that goal or that exercise program isn’t right for you right now. Be ok to give up on that AND pick a new goal or routine. (That AND is very important). Not every goal is right for every person at every time. Learn about yourself and figure out what is right for you right now. For example, I used to run quite a bit. I had hoped to start running again. But I never can seem to get myself out of bed for a run. A workout video is a struggle, but manageable. So, right now, running isn’t for me. It was in the past, and it may be in the future.

4) Find intrinsic rewards. Exercise (generally) makes you feel more energtic and happier. Eating healthy food (generally) makes us have a more positive outlook. Look for these rewards in your choices rather than just the numbers on the scale, the distances/weight/time improvements, etc.

Hope these tips help you no matter where you are on the goal track. Happy health!

Leave a comment

Filed under Nutrition

Peanut Butter Quinoa

Shortly after my husband and I got married, we put together a picnic dinner. I was so excited to make a delicious quinoa salad. We started eating, and I noticed my husband wasn’t eating any of my salad. I asked him, and he said he doesn’t care for salads like that. I had just bought a big package of quinoa, and I needed a new way to fix it. I found lots of recipes for casseroles or soups, but not many regular side dishes.

So, I finally took a salad recipe to make this side dish. And it turned out great. This is great with fish or chicken. Or stir in some chicken and make a meal out of it. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Quinoa (Serves 6-8)

Peanut Butter Quinoa

1 cup uncooked quinoa or 2 cups cooked quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 rib celery, sliced thin
2 carrots, sliced thin
½ medium onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
¼ cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
dash sriracha
½ teaspoon ground ginger

1. If not already cooked, cook quinoa according to package directions.

2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or saute pan. Add celery, carrots, onion, and bell pepper. Saute 5-7 minutes, until vegetables begin to be tender.

3. Mix together remaining ingredients in a small bowl. It is not essential that they combine perfectly. You can heat it in the microwave for 15-30 seconds and they will combine better.

4. Add quinoa and peanut butter mixture to vegetables. Stir and cook until well combined and all is heated through. Serve.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 172
Protein: 6 gm
Fat: 8 gm
Saturated Fat: 1 gm
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 21 gm
Fiber: 3 gm
Sodium: 253 mg

Recipe notes: You could substitute any vegetables you like. The “sauce” is pretty thick. You could add in some water or more soy sauce to thin it out more, if you like a saucier side. I liked mine fairly thick, almost like a fried rice.

Source: adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes

Q&A: Leg Cramps

Q: I’m pregnant and have been waking up every night with horrible leg cramps. My researching online says I maybe need more magnesium. Do you have any suggestions how to work this into my diet?

A: Ouch! That is no fun. I had leg cramps with my second pregnancy, and I can remember how much those hurt.

The hard fact is that no one 100% knows why leg cramps happen, because there are lots of things that can lead up to them. Here are four common nutrients that are suggested or that I have seen be helpful. The good news is that many of these are found in the same foods (another reason it can be hard to identify exactly the cause/solution). Also good news, the same answers apply to pregnancy leg cramps or non-pregnancy related leg cramps.

1) Magnesium. As your researching suggests, magnesium is commonly recommended for leg cramps. In general, good sources are nuts, dark leafy greens (like spinach), and whole grains.

2) Potassium. Potassium rich foods are bananas, citrus fruits/juices, potatoes, tomatoes, yogurt, and dark leafy greens.

3) Calcium. Calcium rich foods are dairy products, dark leafy greens, and broccoli.

All three of these nutrients are part of normal muscle function. If one is depleted, it can cause cramps. Since all three work together, it can be hard to know exactly which one is missing, unless you are on a specific medication that we know depletes that nutrient.

4) Water. Water requirements in pregnancy can be hard to determine. You need a lot. Most say at least 8-10 cups a day, others will say up to 16 cups. I personally found that if I was better hydrated, my leg cramps went away. It’s hard, because we tend to not drink water late in the day so we aren’t up in the night using the bathroom. But I’d rather have to go to the bathroom than be up in pain.

Good luck! Hope this helps!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

Leave a comment

Filed under Nutrition, q&a

Have your pie and eat it too

Thanksgiving Card

A fellow dietitian sent me that card. I found it very amusing.

I hope you are enjoying getting ready for Thanksgiving. I am now that my grocery shopping is over. And I hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving full of delicious food.

How does this dietitian approach Thanksgiving? With very little thought to calories, more to strategy. My stomach can only hold so much without feeling sick. So, I prioritize foods I want. And I also keep my portions small. Why? Because I can eat more things that way. Like stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes with gravy, turkey, Brussels sprouts, jello, homemade rolls, etc.

Do dietitians eat dessert? Heck yes. My annual white chocolate pumpkin cheesecake is on the menu, as are several pies. I plan to eat more than one kind. But, again, I will keep to small pieces. Again, this is more of a stomach space issue than calorie issue.

Holidays are not the time to think about calories. You’ll go nuts and be miserable. But try to focus on not gorging or making yourself sick. Feeling overly stuffed isn’t enjoyable either. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Leave a comment

Filed under Nutrition

Blue Apron Review

I have been hearing about Blue Apron for a couple years now. It is one of several meal delivery services available these days. They send you ingredients and recipes for you to cook yourself. They offer a variety of meal plans – vegetarian. Most advertise sustainability in some form or other. The ingredients are fresh and seasonal. It seems like a busy person’s dream – groceries perfectly matched to recipes show up at your door.

I looked into Blue Apron a few times, partly because I heard of discounts on a variety of podcasts. But, I wasn’t ever quite willing to take the plunge. While the meals are pretty affordably priced, I always seemed to look when my grocery budget was feeling extra tight. But last week, I happened to stop by a friend’s house right when she got her Blue Apron box AND her fridge was broken. She didn’t know how long it would take to fix it plus she was leaving town in a day or two. So, she generously gave me her box of two meals.

I thought I’d share some pictures and my thoughts on the meals for you today.

First meal: Pan-Seared Barramundi with Prince of Orange Potatoes and Spinach

Blue Apron Barramundi

I thought the recipe had the timing of steps very well planned out for you. There was generally something to be doing even if another item was cooking. I liked the efficiency of that, which I’m not the best at figuring out on my own.

I think they could have been a bit more specific on size of dice for the potatoes, as mine cooked MUCH faster than the recipe suggested.

I did find on both recipes I made that the cook time on the front of the recipe card did not match the actual cook times on the back. For example, the potatoes were supposed to roast 28-30 minutes. But the front of the card said cook time was 25-35 minutes for the whole meal. I was confused on that.

I really enjoyed the spinach. I definitely want to try and cook spinach like that again on my own. Made for a yummy side.

Overall, this meal was okay, but I wasn’t wowed by it. It seemed under seasoned overall to me. There are a lot of steps of adding salt and pepper throughout, but I felt it could use more variety in the seasonings. Even some garlic powder or something for the fish and potatoes.

I will say my kids devoured the fish and potatoes, which is always a win in my house.

My biggest complaint with this meal was the portion size. I don’t know what four small people would be able to divide the amount of potatoes I received and feel satisfied. I had to ration them between me, my three year old, and my one year old to leave ANY for my husband (who ate later).

Second meal: Lemongrass Roasted Pork with Braised Cauliflower and Bok Choy (sorry the picture isn’t great)

Blue Apron Pork

My husband and I enjoyed this meal a lot more than the barramundi. I think a lot of it had to do with the seasoning. This had a lot more flavor: spice rub for the pork, cilantro in the rice, a chili sauce.

I did not feel like this meal was as well timed out as the fish. I found myself standing around waiting a lot. And I found their time estimates on almost everything to be off. I braised my cauliflower almost twice as long as they said. And I live at high altitude, so it should have gone faster. My sauce and rice cooked faster than they said. And there was the same issue with the overall cook time being off like I mentioned above.

I think part of the reason we liked this meal more was I felt the portion sizes were more accurate. We all ate until we were full and even had a (very) little left over. I would expect to have leftovers from a meal designed for four, since two of our four people are toddlers.

I did enjoy the cauliflower, and especially liked pairing it with bok choy. I feel like I always want to try and use different vegetables more but never know how. I do feel like this was a little under seasoned. Soy sauce or something like that would have really made this work better for me.

The chili butter sauce was very good. Really tied the whole meal together. We are sauce people, so I would have liked a little bit more, but it was sufficient.

As an overall service, I think Blue Apron could be a great option for busy people that still want home cooked meals. The meals are balanced, well-rounded, and have a great variety to them.

I personally will not be switching to Blue Apron any time soon. And here are my reasons:

-We have leftover night once a week, every week. With this service, there are no leftovers. As odd as that may sound for many of you, just cleaning out my fridge and not really having to cook dinner once a week is a lifesaver for me.

-I’d still have to grocery shop. I need lunch, breakfast, snacks, etc for my family. This doesn’t eliminate going to the store. So for me, might as well go for everything.

-Maybe it was just the two meals I tried, but neither exactly hit the flavor profile I’m going for in my cooking. I prefer to use other seasonings besides just salt and pepper. I try to limit my salt use actually. Their philosophy seemed to be salt and pepper is the only thing you need. While that is simpler for a service like theirs, it kind of made for food on the bland end of the food taste spectrum.

-Cost. I don’t think they are unreasonably priced, by any means. However, I try to feed my family for about $10/day. Their cost is over $8 per serving. And that is only one meal. For the quality you are getting and the service, it is probably worth it for some. In my life circumstances, I can’t justify that expense.

However, those are very personal reasons. Overall, I think it would be a great idea for many people. Hope this helps anyone who has been thinking about it. If you are interested, they are usually offering $30 off your first order and free shipping when you sign up.

Happy eating!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized