When it comes to healthy eating, there is simply no “one size fits all” approach to meal planning. Helping people find their perfect diet (from the Greek word diaita meaning “a way of life, a regimen”) is one of the reasons why I love my job so much. As a dietitian, I understand that not everyone likes to consume milk or animal proteins or even gluten. It is my job to help find the most nutritionally well-rounded meal plan for patient’s to follow while still being considerate of dietary preferences, cultural habits, finances and most importantly, the patient’s goals.
Please join me this Wednesday, Sept 3rd for a free presentation on “Understanding Diets: How to find the best one for you”. I will explore many popular styles of eating from the Weight Watchers meal plan to Paleo . Topics that will be addressed will include what a sample day of each diet looks like, advantages and disadvantages of the different meal plans as well as recommendations on which eating style may work best for you.
Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and less foods that are manufactured in plants.
Pizza rolls, hot pockets and bagel bites…these should be our after-school treats or snacks used for entertaining friends, right? Well, at least that’s what the commercials on TV lead us to believe. Unfortunately, all of these common items are nothing but processed starchy, unhealthy menu items. The next time you have the kids or friends over; entertain them with this simple, nutritious and fun snack treat.
1. Arrange apples on plate/serving platter. To keep your apples from browning, squirt a small amount of lemon juice over the apples (or you could even toss the sliced apples in a small bowl with the lemon juice for even coverage).
2. Scoop some almond butter into a Ziploc bag. Cut the tip-off of one of the corners and squeeze a thin drizzle of almond butter over apples. Top with shredded coconut, dark chocolate chips and nuts.
3. One may also add sliced bananas or any other fruit to the dish.
*Try to avoid using caramel as this would make the dish less healthy with all the added sugar. Remember the focal point is the apples and fruit, so the chocolate chips should just be used sparingly.
It’s been one year since we launched Something To Chew On! Thank you for continuing to stop by and read, comment, or share my blog posts!
What better way to celebrate than with cake, right? After all, we can have “everything in moderation.” Before I get to my amazing gluten-free cake recipe, I want to address a few concerns regarding the definition of moderation. The whole “moderation rule” implies that you can eat anything you want, as long as you consume the less healthy foods “in moderation.” One big flaw with this statement is that everyone seems to have a different definition of what moderation actually is. For example, many think that moderation is having only a couple of chocolate candies every day instead of the entire bag. I’ll note that this is showing better portion control; however, this isn’t necessarily moderation. This is a habit. You have to look at the big picture,when analyzing your moderation skills. I’ve had patients state they only have cookies a couple of times per week, but they also had pancakes, ice cream, pizza, fast food burgers, chicken tenders “a couple times per week” as well. Try to limit unhealthy foods to no more than 2-3 times per week. This encompasses all unhealthy foods combined, not individuals foods as mentioned previously. This may be somewhat strict for some people, but it will really help open your eyes to how much unhealthy food we are accustomed to consuming on a regular basis.
Another problem with this is that there are some really bad foods out there that we should try to limit as much as possible, such as sugar substitutes, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats and processed white grain products, to name a few.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a perfect diet, but I do practice good moderation with less-healthy food items. I do enjoy ordering French fries when I dine out; however, my husband and I only dine out about once a month. We both also love pizza, but typically only have pizza once every 2-3 months. We didn’t always practice this type of moderation; believe me, when you start eating clean, unprocessed home cooked meals on a regular basis, your body will feel on top of the world. When we go out for something that is unhealthy, I almost immediately feel bloated, sluggish and experience abdominal pains.
This is a gluten-free chocolate cake that I made for a celebration. Like all sweets, this is something that should only be enjoyed occasionally and good portion control should still be practiced. This is certainly not the healthiest recipe I have submitted, but if you have children that have celiac disease, then you know how hard it is to find a good gluten-free celebration recipe.
One thing I have been trying to work on is being more open to recipe ingredients I am less familiar with. When I first looked at this recipe, my immediate reaction was “fennel seeds?…next please.” It’s a good thing I am overcoming my fears, because this chicken dish was a burst of citrus, fresh air for these cold snowy winter days.
I used the leftover lemon for my haricot verts (basically fresh green beans) and this became one of my new favorite side dishes. Haricot verts are a low-cost, low-carb side dish that goes well with any entrée!
1 lb of fresh green beans/haricot verts (I use a 1 lb bag of haricot verts from Sam’s Club)
2 shallots, sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ sweet onion
1 tbsp of olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Pre-heat oven to 375oF. Mix first 5 ingredients for chicken recipe together in a small bowl. Pour ingredients over chicken and coat evenly.
2. Place chicken in oven and cook 30-35 minutes.
3. While chicken is cooking, place steamable bag of haricot verts into microwave and cook for 5 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Once heated, add shallots, garlic and onion. Sautee for a few minutes until onions and shallots become tender, but do not brown.
5. Add steamed haricot verts to skillet and season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir into mixture for a couple minutes and serve warm. Optional–you can garnish this dish with chopped almonds or tomatoes.
September is one of my favorite months. It marks the beginning of fall, campfires, football season and hoodies. It also happens to be National Cholesterol Education Month. Cholesterol was a word that I knew at an early age. Grandma was always yelling out across the farm, “Karl, did you take your cholesterol pills?” As a child, I believed that cholesterol was a problem that only old people had. Today, we now know this is not the case. Thanks to the Bogalusa Heart Study, http://tulane.edu/som/cardiohealth/ we have learned that children as young as 5 can begin developing risk factors for heart disease. This study and others like it show how important it is to adopt healthy lifestyles in childhood.
It’s important to know your numbers. Everyone over the age of 20 should have their cholesterol levels checked at least every 5 years. This is an important matter because one does not feel symptoms of high cholesterol. When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it begins to build up on the walls of your arteries. Over time, this build-up can lead to a hardening of the arterial walls which can slow down blood flow to the heart or even form a blockage. Lowering your cholesterol can help lessen the risk for developing heart disease.
The three most important factors that you can control to help lower your cholesterol levels are: DIET, PHYSICAL ACTIVITY and WEIGHT.
Check back on Monday, Sept. 9 for part 2 of the Cholesterol Month Blog series where we discuss diet in regards to cholesterol management.
While skipping off to the coasts of Greece and Italy may seem like a fantastic idea, a less expensive option may be to bring the Mediterranean style of eating into your home. Research consistently shows that following the Mediterranean diet can help reduce one’s risk for developing heart disease, diabetes and possibly degenerative cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
Principles of the Mediterranean diet include:
Consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, chicken and eggs, beans and nuts, olive oil and small amounts of dairy.
Regular daily physical activity.
Family meal times.
Focus on plant foods and minimal consumption of red meat and processed foods and beverages.
Increased use of herbs and spices, not condiments to flavor foods.
Diet low in saturated fat with olive oil as the main fat source.
Foods to include on your next grocery list:
Fresh green beans
White, Black, Pinto Beans
Whole Wheat Pasta
While this is not an all-inclusive lists of foods found in the Mediterranean diet, it can be a great place to start.
What are the pros for following the Mediterranean diet?
Increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. Healthy fats containing omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help reduce LDL (the bad) cholesterol levels, help prevent degenerative eye disorders and possibly reduce inflammation.
Increased fruit and vegetable consumption. Most people miss the mark for consuming 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Incorporating Mediterranean recipes into your meals can help you easily reach that goal.
Limited red meat consumption and dairy consumption. Red meat and high-fat dairy products are some of the highest sources of saturated fats. Diets high in saturated fats have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
Family meal times. Research shows that families who eat together consume more fiber, calcium, iron and Vitamins B6, B12, C and E and consume less sodium and added sugars. Children and adolescents who share family meal times are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier eating patterns.
The potential cons?
Meal planning. Most recipes require fresh ingredients that take to time to be chopped, cooked and prepared. However, planning ahead can help you utilize preparation and cooking time more efficiently.
Cost. Some items such as salmon, seafood and nuts can be more costly compared to other proteins.
Kid-friendliness. Consuming more natural flavors may take time to adjust to for young kids. Keep in mind that many children with unhealthy BMIs often consume too many processed food items and sugary-sweetened beverages.
Whether you take the Mediterranean diet on full-storm or simply incorporate a few Mediterranean-style meals into your week, consuming minimally processed foods is a great habit for a healthy lifestyle.