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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Balance: The Key to Success In All Things

When it comes to your health, the quote "Balance is the key to success in all things." comes to mind. This is especially true when it comes to nutrition! Let's look at two examples: water and food.

Water
A large percentage of our body is and should be water and most all things in our body need water to work. Too little water results in dehydration and too much water can result in issues like, hyponatremia as a result of flushing sodium from the body, which can be dangerous and even deadly.

Food
The same holds true for food and food is literally fuel for the body providing calories (aka energy). Too few calories can be damaging to our health and too many calories adds excess weight which overtime can lead to obesity, heart disease, etc...

When it comes to food the idea of balance holds true even when we breakdown nutrition into nutrient groups: carbohydrates, protein, and fats - each nutrient plays integral roles within the body and too little of any particular nutrient overtime can negatively impact our health. For example - protein helps build muscles, nerves, etc... without it overtime muscle mass would decrease and our body won't work the way it should.

My tip of the week is when it comes to food and water is think about balance.... Investing the time to plan your meals and balance your food intake will help your overall health and well-being. If you need help striking that balance, work with a registered dietitian, you can find one near you at www.EatRight.org. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Great Diet Debate & A Few Things I Know For Sure

In my 15-years as a registered dietitian, I frequently get asked questions about my thoughts on particular diets and diet books, for example: low carb? low fat? high fat? paleo? vegan? vegetarian? gluten-free? 

While science continues to debate and attempt to figure out which diet is 'best'. Here's what I can say with certainty: if you eat more calories than what you body needs, you will gain weight irregardless if it is paleo, gluten-free, low fat, etc... And unless some day we reach the Jetson's era where our food comes in on-demand pills, we'll have to keep eating everyday to sustain life, after-all, literally, food is fuel.

With that said, I challenge everyone to think of food as fuel rather than approaching food as a diet, unless of course you have to follow a specific diet (e.g. gluten-free for celiac disease). And when it comes to moving the scale, focus more on the amount of food you are eating. 

Why focus on the amount of food you are eating? Everyone needs different amounts of calories based on their age, height, weight, and activity level. For example - if you're a 6-foot tall professional athlete you can and should eat probably around 3600 calories or so per day, although if you're a 6-foot tall man that sits in meetings most of the day, you need significantly less calories each day. If you're struggling on the right balance of how much to eat, work with a registered dietitian to determine the right amount of calories you need everyday to fuel your lifestyle.

Another thing I know for sure is that most people need to eat more fruits and vegetables. In fact, on average adults in the US report eating fruits and/or vegetables only 2.7 times per day, according to Centers for Disease Control 2013 report.

This is problematic because fruits and vegetables are positioned to help our health from providing compounds that help our hearts to fighting against certain types of cancer. The foundation to fueling your body with any type of eating routine should focus on eating plenty fruits and vegetables -- and not in the form of fruit strips or gummy snacks.
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Lastly, here's one of my all-time favorite nutrition quotes, Michael Pollan: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”  While the great diet debate goes on and on if you tune out the noise and focus on eating the right amount of fuel for your body, I can almost say with certainty your health will improve.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Quick Tips for a Healthier Smoothie

Smoothies are refreshing and delicious but they aren't all equally as healthy... some smoothies have added syrups or a lot of added sugar. Check out these quick tips for a healthier smoothie:


Focus on fruit and vegetables - they will provide vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals to your smoothie. Plus the natural colors of fruits and vegetables help to make beautifully colored smoothies! Tip: A great way to add-in vegetables is with vegetable juice like: 100-percent carrot juice!

Probiotics - add-in probiotic rich ingredients like yogurt, Greek yogurt, kefir, or kombucha tea to your smoothies for dose of good bacteria. 

What's kefir? Kefir is a fermented dairy beverage that is somewhat like a drinkable yogurt. Typically you can find kefir in the dairy or natural foods section of the grocery store. It is sold as plain or flavored and has many different types of probiotics; in fact Lifeway Kefir has 12 different types of probiotics. Also kefir is 99-percent lactose free. 

Click here to check out Molly's Tart Cherry Kefir recipe from her latest book, Drink Your Way to Gut Health.

Boost it up - you can add a health-helping nutrient boost to your smoothies with omega-3's, greens, or powders like: flax or fish oils (e.g. Barlean's Omega Swirl), ground flax seed, chia seeds, spriulina, wheat grass, pomegranate powder, or vitamin C powder. 

Blend first, sweeten second: when you are whipping up your smoothies, first start by blending all of the ingredients together EXCEPT for the sugar or sweetener. Then take a taste of the smoothie and determine if you think it needs sweetening. 

If you're stuck with a lot of leftover smoothies... freeze them in ice cube trays, ice pop molds, or paper cups with a popsicle stick!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sneak Preview - Tart Cherry Kefir Recipe

It's March 31st which means.... my latest book, Drink Your Way to Gut Health is now available
where books are sold! Here is a sneak preview of one of my personal favorite recipes from the book: Tart Cherry Kefir on page 110.

Are you wondering what kefir is? Kefir is a yogurt-like probiotic rich beverage that makes a great base for this smoothie. You can find kefir in the dairy section of your grocery store or sometimes in the refrigerated area of a 'natural' foods section of the store.

Tart Cherry Kefir
Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 cup frozen dark cherries
1/2 cup 100 percent tart cherry juice
1/2 cup plain kefir
4 - 5 ice cubes

Directions:
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until icy and smooth.

Divide between 2 glasses and serve, or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 or 4 days.

Nutrition facts (per serving): 110 calories, 0.5 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 40 milligrams sodium, 22 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 18 grams sugar, 4 grams protein, 4% vitamin A, 8% calcium, 10% vitamin C, 4% iron

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Healthier Dessert - Cranberry Oat Squares




Looking for a delicious, healthier dessert? Try these Cranberry Oat Squares! They are pretty easy to mix together and there are lots of ways you can switch them up - for example, try dried cherries or diced apricots instead of cranberries.

Cranberry Oat Squares

Serves 16

Ingredients - CRUST:
1 cup white wheat flour*
1 cup oats*
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons orange juice
Cooking spray

Ingredients - FILLING:
1 1/3 cups dried cranberries (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons white wheat flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

*Substitute almond flour and choose gluten-free oats to make these gluten-free

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare a 11" X 7"-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. To prepare crust, in a medium mixing bowl combine the white wheat flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, and baking soda. Stir well to combine.

3. Add the butter and juice over flour mixture, stirring until moistened (mixture will be crumbly). Reserve 1/2 cup the oat mixture (to crumble on the top). Press remaining oat mixture into the bottom the prepared baking dish.

3. To prepare filling, in a medium bowl combine: dried cranberries, sour cream or Greek yogurt, granulated sugar, white wheat flour, vanilla, and egg white. Stir the mixture well. 

4. Spread the cranberry mixture over prepared crust; sprinkle reserved oat mixture evenly over filling. Bake at 325°F for 40 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool completely in pan and slice into bars.

Option: Cherry-Oatmeal Bars: Substitute dried cherries for the dried cranberries.

Nutrition Facts (per bar): Calories 135, Total Fat 4.6 grams, Saturated Fat 2.5 grams, Sodium 68 milligrams, Cholesterol 10 milligrams, Carbohydrates 21 grams, Fiber 1.3 grams, Protein 1.7 grams


Friday, March 6, 2015

Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle

Healthy eating can taste great and it doesn't have to be complicated. Here are some fun tips, recipes, and facts to help you and motivate you to bite into a healthy lifestyle!


Roast veggies and fruits - Cooking vegetables and fruits can actually increase the bio-availability of some nutrients. For example, researchers have found that cooked tomatoes actually have more absorbable lyopene as compared to raw tomatoes. Specifically, heating tomatoes for 30 minutes at 190.4 degrees (the temperature of soup simmering on a stove) boosted the levels of absorbable lycopene by 35 percent. For more information on this, click here, to read a recent article from the Washington Post.


Try this super quick recipe from my book, Skinny-Size It, Bake Apple Pie Parfaits that features roasted apples! 

Baked Apple Pie Parfaits
Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:
2 medium McIntosh, Golden Delicious (or other varieties good for baking) apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 ounces low fat vanilla yogurt
¼ cup KIND Healthy Grains Maple Walnut Clusters with Chia & Quinoa (or similar granola with 130 calories and 3.5 grams fat or less per serving)

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Place the apple slices in a small mixing bowl, add the agave nectar and cinnamon, and toss to coat. Transfer the apples to a baking sheet.
3. Bake the apples for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are tender.
4. Serve the baked apples over vanilla yogurt and garnish with the granola.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 230 calories, 1.5 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 65 milligrams sodium, 53 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber, 39 grams sugar, 5 grams protein

Skip the fried foods new study shows that the more fried foods that you eat, the more your risk
for heart failure increases! In fact, men who had fried foods just one to three times per week had an average of 18-percent increased risk of developing heart failure. That risk jumps to 25-percent higher risk when fried foods are eaten four to six times per week. 

Skip chicken wings and instead try my quick, easy, and tasty DIY Crispy Chicken Fingers recipe that I shared with Men's Fitness. 

March is National Nutrition Month! Stay tuned for more tips throughout the month! 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Are All Fats Created Equally?


In some ways yes, all types of fat have 9 calories per gram, but nutritionally some are better than others. The basics: The two healthiest types of fat: monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated. The one type of fat to limit overall intake of is saturated fat. The one type of fat to avoid is trans fat. 


Monounsaturated fats: This type of fat has been linked to decreasing fat around the waist, to boosting healthy (HDL) cholesterol levels, which is a good thing for heart health, and to controlling blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes,

Food sources of monounsaturated fat: almonds, pecans, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil, and avocado.

Research link: A new study (January 2015) found that when on a diet, those that included avocado daily improved their blood cholesterol levels more than those that followed a diet lower in fat. 

Polyunsaturated fats: Popular types of polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Both omega-3 and omega-6 are linked to positively helping heart health and cholesterol levels. Generally, most people consume plenty of omega-6 fats it is typically the omega-3 foods that need to be an area of focus. 

Food sources of omega-3: fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines), flax seeds, flax oil, walnuts, hemp seeds, and chia seeds (Pictured left). 

Food sources of omega-6: vegetable oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, and soybean oil. 

Saturated fats: Generally, saturated fats contribute to increased cholesterol levels and mainly come from animal foods like cheese and red meat. Other sources of saturated fat include tropical oils like coconut and palm oil. It is important to note that it isn't necessary to skip saturated fat all together, rather limit it to about 10-percent of your calories or less per day, for example, if you have 1800 calories per day that would equal 20 grams of saturated fat or less. 

Food sources of saturated fat: cheese, butter, whole milk, red meat, coconut oil, and palm oil.

Trans fat: A majority of the trans fat we eat comes from processed foods. On a food label, many nutrition facts panels today will ready "0" grams of trans fats. Although, if you look at the ingredient list, partially hydrogenated oils are listed, which are trans fats. This can happen because if there is less then 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, federal labeling rules allow the value to round down to "0" grams (See example to the right). Bottom line, the goal is to AVOID trans fat so skip those products too that have partially hydrogenated oil listed in the ingredients!

Food sources of trans fat: mostly from commercially prepared/processed foods like donuts, cakes, and cookies.

Help your heart an place emphasis on monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fats! Keep your saturated fat intake in-check and avoid trans fat all together.