“Christmas” and “cookies” are words that should always be together, right? But sometimes with all the cookies we make and receive around the holidays, we want something a little healthier to offset icing and sprinkles! Try out these apple “cookies” for something nutritiously sweet!
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Using an apple corer, remove the core of the apple.
Slice the apple into thin rings.
Spread peanut butter over one side of the apple slice.
Sprinkle pecans and chocolate chips on the peanut butter.
November 14th was World Diabetes Day. To acknowledge this, it is important to understand why there is a day dedicated to diabetes awareness. The burden of diabetes has quadrupled over the past decades; the World Health Organization estimates there are 422 million adults who currently have diabetes worldwide. That is 1 in 11 adults. Data from the National Diabetes Statistics Report found that in 2017, there were 30.3 million people who had diabetes, of which 23.1 million people are diagnosed and 7.2 million people remain undiagnosed.
The burden of diabetes is not just in the numbers affected but also in health costs, and, most importantly, quality of life. Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputations. WHO projects that diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death in 2030. Currently, it is estimated that 1.6 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes and another 2.2 million deaths were attributable to high blood glucose in 2015 and 2012, respectively.
The above numbers are why we must focus on awareness, prevention and treatment of diabetes.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Diabetes can be treated. Dietary and lifestyles factors have been proven to make the largest impact on decreasing, preventing and treating the complications from diabetes. As with most progressive illnesses, diabetes onset typically goes unrecognized by the patient for a number of years, with the exception of type 1 diabetes, which is typically a sudden onset of symptoms. So what are the warning signs of high blood sugars and possibly undiagnosed diabetes?
Symptoms of hyperglycemia to look for:
Frequent thirst and hunger, even right after eating
Changes in vision
Sores that won’t heal
Gum disease, gums pulling away from teeth, red, swollen gums or changes in the way your dentures fit
Tingling, pain or numbness in hands or feet
How does a diabetes diagnosis happen?
When should someone consider getting screened for diabetes?
Are overweight (BMI >25)
Are 45 years or older
Have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
Have ever had gestational diabetes or given birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
Are African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, or Alaska Native (Some Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are also at higher risk.)
What tests will my providers/doctors order, and what will they mean?
less than 5.7%
5.7% to 6.4%
6.5% or higher
Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG)
less than 100 mg/dl
100 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl
126 mg/dl or higher
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)
less than 140 mg/dl
140 mg/dl to 199 mg/dl
200 mg/dl or higher
Your doctor will typically use two methods to confirm a diagnosis of prediabetes or diabetes.
What comes after a diabetes diagnosis?
In either case of prediabetes or diabetes, the treatment includes a healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco. It is important to incorporate these with any medication regimen your doctor may prescribe. In fact, diet and lifestyle changes have been shown to decrease your hemoglobin A1c by one to two percent!
When you are thinking of beginning a new dietary plan, you must incorporate schedule, food behaviors, and even your favorite foods. For example, if you grew up on meat and potatoes, I would not say you could never eat those foods again. Instead, it is important to discuss healthier cuts of meat or poultry or healthier types, portions and ways to prepare potatoes. Many people think a diet is depriving yourself of food—instead think of adding new foods to portion-controlled foods you enjoy. A good guideline is the USDA’s Plate Method.
Using this method, you can incorporate a controlled amount of carbohydrate sources, while increasing your non-starchy vegetable intake. The most challenging part for most individuals is making half of your plate non-starchy vegetables. It helps to get creative with your vegetables—explore zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash pasta or even eggplant pizzas! Or, try this cauliflower rice recipe:
Cauliflower “Rice” Salad
12 ounces of cauliflower florets or pre-made cauliflower “rice”
1 cup cucumber, diced
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
2 green onions, sliced
3 tablespoons sliced Kalamata olives
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Make your own cauliflower rice by placing cauliflower florets in a food processor and processing them to rice-like consistency. (Be careful not to over-process.)
In a salad bowl, combine all salad ingredients.
In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
Pour dressing over salad and serve with reduced-fat feta cheese, if desired.
Try cauliflower rice in other traditional rice dishes—you might be surprised!
Oh, the smell of winter is in the air. The colder temperatures, snow, ice, winter coats, skiing, sledding and root vegetables. Can you tell this is an enjoyable time for me?
No, actually it isn’t. I don’t like cold, I don’t like skiing, and I’m not a big fan of snow. Yeah, yeah I know, I live in Illinois, but I’m still not use to it! However, I do love root vegetables because you can roast these vegetables and they are fabulous to eat. They are like a guilty pleasure, almost too good to be good for you! Plus, it is super, super easy to do.
Hello, my name is Megan Klemm and I’m so glad to be writing this guest blog post, but more so, I’m finally here as a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator for Springfield Clinic! I’m also a very busy mom. So how do I manage to put a decently healthy meal on the table with my hands full and working part-time? My secret is a crock-pot! I love to make all sorts of meals in the crock-pot, and many times you can make a complete meal all in one.
In our house we follow the plate method (¼ plate carbohydrate, ¼ plate protein, and ½ plate non-starchy vegetables) to plan our meals and make sure we get in each food group, especially at dinner time. The recipes I use ones where you can throw everything in the night before or the morning of, set the crock-pot and walk out the door. If the recipe takes too much prep time, you can be assured that I will not use that recipe. Additionally, if the recipe says to cook less than 4 hours, I’m not going to use it either. It would be burnt by the time I got home.
I’ve gone so extreme as to have a crock-pot meal almost every night of an entire month. I did allow 1-2 nights a week for leftovers and if the leftovers can be frozen, I will do that to stretch the meals for another time.
Jicama (HEE-kah-ma) is becoming more common in grocery stores and restaurants, but is still unfamiliar in the kitchens of many. So what is it exactly? Jicama may also be referred to as a “Mexican yam” or a “yam bean.” That is because jicama is technically part of the bean family. From the outside, it can easily be mistaken for a brown, Idaho potato! The inside is white and crisp. The flavor is slightly starchy, but also sweet and tangy. It is similar to biting into a raw potato combined with a tart apple.
The peak season for jicama runs from fall into early spring. It is made up of 80-90% water, so it is a great hydration source. It’s an excellent source of fiber, and contains a type of prebiotic that is good for digestive health. It also contains potassium and vitamin C. It can be eaten in a variety of ways:
Raw! Once the outer skin is peeled, slice into strips and dip in ranch dressing or hummus. This may be a good way to try it if introducing to kids.
Sautéed. Jicama makes a great addition to stir-fry. It can be cut into strips or chunks and incorporated with the other vegetables. It can easily take the place of water chestnuts, as they have a similar texture.
Roasted. Peel the outside and cut into cubes. Drizzle with olive oil and favorite spices. Pop into the oven alone or with other root or hearty vegetables.
Toppings. Makes a great addition to any salad!
Jicama, Avocado and Radish Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
1 medium-size bunch radishes (5 ounces), trimmed and sliced very thin
1 large Hass avocado, diced
1 medium jicama (about 400g), peeled and sliced in matchsticks or julienned
4-5 Bird’s-eye chili or any dried red chili, roasted and ground for garnish
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)
salt to taste (optional)
Dry-roast dried chili peppers in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes until darkened, but not blackened. Keep stirring to get all sides toasted evenly. Remove from heat and let them cool before grinding. When cooled, remove the stems and grind them using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. This makes about 1 tablespoon or so. Keep the ground chili pepper in a jar in the pantry for up to a year.
In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice and salt. Add olive oil in a thin stream into a bowl while whisking, about 10 seconds.
In a large bowl, combine radishes, avocado and jicama. Add vinaigrette to taste (all may not be needed), and toss gently. Add salt to taste (optional). Sprinkle with ground dried chili (used 2 teaspoons) and chopped cilantro leaves
Advance preparation: The vinaigrette can be made a few hours ahead. The salad keeps well for day or two in the refrigerator. Keeping: Store the vinaigrette in a covered container and use within 3 days. Whisk before using. Note: For a spicier version, add 1½ tablespoons freshly ground dried chili instead.
One of the first things that come to mind during winter is getting cozy with a nice, warm mug of (fill in the blank). Many people don’t realize how many of their daily calories come from beverages, and this is especially true during winter months. Every year, retailers come out with holiday drinks to get us in the holiday spirit. A 16 oz salted caramel hot chocolate made with whip cream from Starbucks has 480 calories, 17 g of fat, and 71 g carbohydrates. McDonald’s white chocolate mocha with whip cream has 320 calories, 11 g of fat, and 47 g of carbohydrates. These calorie amounts would be more ideal for a meal vs. a drink that we sip as we do holiday shopping!
Here are a few tips on enjoying these drinks in a healthier way:
Skip the whipped cream. As this does add a decorative touch, whipped cream is high in fat and calories. Almost 100 calories can be deducted with this change alone!
Forego any additional toppings such as chocolate shavings or sprinkles.
Many coffee shops have the option of adding “flavor shots.” Unless they are sugar-free and calorie-free, these shots will add just that! Always order the smallest size. Some of the larger drinks can be upwards of 600 calories!
A healthier alternative would be loose leaf tea. Depending on the ingredients, most loose leaf teas are virtually free of calories. These can be flavored with lemon or a drizzle of honey once brewed. If needing an afternoon pick-me-up, choose black coffee. Plain coffee is low in calories and high in antioxidants. Lower calorie, lower sugar lattes can be made using soy or almond milk, with Stevia or Truvia for an added touch of sweetness! You can also download our “Rethink Your Drink” tip sheet for more ideas.