Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Grilled Focaccia Pizza

The weather has been unseasonably warm in St. Louis this winter, so we've definitely kept grill season open! Nothing really stops us but snow and ice anyway. But also, my husband picked up some fresh garlic focaccia bread at a little Italian grocery last Saturday when traveling back from Des Moines. Mmmm... We decided to turn it into grilled pizzas--Bobby Flay style.

Making homemade pizza is both fun and a great way to reinvent a traditionally higher fat food into something healthy and satisfying. Plus, everyone in the household can create their own pizza just the way they like it! Mr. Patton (he chooses to remain nameless) and I definitely have different tastes when it comes to pizza. Usually we make our own crust and bake them in the oven, but this was a bit easier since the "crust" was already made.

Start by slicing the focaccia horizontally through the center, kind of like you would filet a piece of meat. Then brush both sides of each piece with olive oil and seasonings, if you wish. Since our focaccia was already infused with garlic, we didn't add anything this time. Grill each piece cut side down for about 4-5 minutes, until it starts to get brown, but not charred.

I couldn't help it--I took a nibble!

Then bring 'em back in and layer on the toppings! The toppings also go on the cut side of the bread. Here was my ingredient list this time:

A very fine spread of pizza sauce
A thin layer of shredded mozzarella
Frozen spinach (rinsed to thaw, then drained)
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced, seasoned green olives (from the Italian grocery too!)
Sliced Kalamata olives
Sliced mushrooms
Just a few crumbles of Italian sausage (cooked at breakfast)
Herbed goat cheese

Bobby's always seem to get done on the grill, but seeing as though our pizzas were a lot thicker on the focaccia, we had to bring them back in and broil them in the oven for a few minutes. But then...delish! As if it couldn't get any better, I ate the remainder for lunch yesterday. Nice treat.

How will you make yours?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why a Tax On Soda Won't Save Us

Lately there’s been some talk of placing a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened soda. Academics at Columbia University estimate that such a tax would reduce the incidence of diabetes, heart disease and stroke in America.
Will a “soda tax” solve America’s health problems? I’m going to get straight to the point here: I don’t think so.
Our nation’s weight-related health crises are serious. But the solution lies in a much deeper approach, and the foundation should be based in education on overall nutrition, physical activity and moderation. Any food (or beverage) is okay to consume in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle.
At the risk of sounding childish, it also just plain isn’t fair. As a health conscious consumer, I can’t help but feel penalized by the idea of this. I occasionally drink sugar-sweetened beverages and don’t think that I should be taxed because of this choice! Furthermore, there are some people who cannot consume artificial sweeteners, and they shouldn’t be further limited in their choices either. 
It’s a completely different issue than taxation of cigarettes for example, because sugar in beverages is not the primary cause of obesity at all. In fact, a study published in the September 2011 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that, although the amount of sugar we eat does exceed recommended limits, the consumption of added sugars decreased significantly from 1999 to 2008. It should also be noted that the decline in consumption of added sugars is mostly because of a decline in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages! Two-thirds of the decrease to be exact. And by the way, for the first time in decades, obesity rates are holding steady. Demonizing sugar in beverages as the cause of poor health clearly isn’t the answer.
To prevent obesity and other health conditions, we need to pay more attention to our overall lifestyle. My advice as a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator is to stick with a plan you can live with for the long-term: eat a balanced, portion-controlled diet, eat mostly meals that have been prepared at home, be physically active and enjoy sweet treats in moderation.
If we single out sugar, we’re totally missing the point. There are many sources of exorbitant amounts of calories in Americans’ diets that we should call attention to. Take this for example: ordering a double cheeseburger, large fries and a diet soda.  Over a thousand calories and 70 grams of fat, but no sugar in the soda. See what I’m getting at?

What do you think about a tax on soda? Don't worry; differing opinions welcome!

Photo credit: Cola Splash by Paul

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Recap: 12 Foods to Eat More of in 2012

If you're just now tuning in to the series, here's a recap. My goal with the "12 Foods" series is to provide some ideas on freshening up your diet by including some really nutrient-dense foods. Quite simply, foods that give you a lot of bang for your buck. Switching your focus [from meticulous counting, weighing and measuring] to the benefits of the food you're eating can help you achieve your health and wellness goals. It's about dietary quality as well as calories.

Here's the list:

2. Yogurt
3. Milk
4. Beans
5. Salmon
8. Bulgur
12. Walnuts

Throughout this series, I hope you've picked up some new ideas and recipes to add some powerful nutrition to your diet this year! If you'd like some help incorporating these good foods into your diet, visit my website! I've got pre-planned menus (complete with grocery lists) available to help you put it all together. And don't forget, my New Year's Special is still going on through February (available in person or over the phone/FaceTime)!

Now I'd like to know, which food(s) off the list will you try to fill your plate with this year? Please leave your comments!

Photo credit: Empty Dish on Wood Table by chawalitpix

Saturday, January 21, 2012

#12 of 12 Foods to Eat More of in 2012

Drumroll please...The final food to make my list of 12 foods to eat more of this year is:

12. Walnuts

Sure, we've been hearing about this one for a while, but walnuts have remained on the list of "powerhouse" foods for a good reason. Walnuts are a rare source of polyunsaturated fat, one of the types that can help lower cholesterol. They also contain protein, fiber, omega-3s and minerals. Monounsaturated fats, like olive oil and almonds, have reined supreme, but polyunsaturated fats are starting to get even more hype lately for their heart-health benefits. 

I've met with many clients who initially think fat intake should be held to a minimum when trying to eat a healthy diet. So untrue! Aside from health benefits, fats are also very filling, so they have a rightful place on your plate. It's actually the type of fat that matters. Saturated and trans fats are harmful to heart health, so watch out for them. But unsaturated fats should be included in multiple servings every day! Since they are a fat, a small amount will help fill you up fast. So exercise caution; an 1/8 of a cup (same as 2 tablespoons) contains about 100 calories.

I love to add walnut pieces to cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, trail mix, salads and pasta. Use them in place of meat/cheese/eggs to avoid between-meal hunger or as a healthy snack. Check out this website for more information.

Stay tuned for a recap of the entire list tomorrow!

Photo credit: Walnuts by Suat Eman

Friday, January 20, 2012

#11 of 12 Foods to Eat More of in 2012

11. Butternut squash

It's a winter squash, which means it's a little starchier than yellow squash or zucchini, but not as starchy as a potato. In fact it only contains 80 calories and 20 grams of carbohydrate per cup! Talk about a filler-upper.

On the inside, it's another one of those veggies that is deeply-colored, meaning it's packed with antioxidant vitamins. And also, you guessed it, fiber. Upwards of 5 grams per cup! Bright orange veggies, like carrots too, are know for carotenoids, which can help you retain good vision. One serving of butternut squash supplies an enormous amount of vitamin A; I'm talking over 200% the daily value, and 30% of your daily vitamin C needs. Better yet, it's really easy to prepare and many grocers sell it pre-cut, so you don't even have to do the prep work.

If you haven't tried this one yet, definitely give it a shot. Click here for more facts and a simple recipe, inspired by my mom.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

#10 of 12 Foods to Eat More of in 2012

10. Mushrooms

I refused to eat a mushroom until I was about 24 years old--really.  This is odd because I could probably count on one hand the foods that I won't eat! When I learned they were one of the only vegetables my husband would eat, I decided I had to try to like them. It worked! Now we put them in almost everything. I’ve found that they're great to bulk up so many recipes because they have a meaty-kind of texture. Plus they cook very quickly, so it won't add much time to your dinner prep. Try many varieties as each are slightly different in flavor and texture: portabella, button, baby bella, cremini, oyster or shiitake. Baby bellas and buttons are staples in our fridge.

Mushrooms are good sources of cholesterol-lowering dietary fiber, B vitamins and several minerals including potassium and selenium. They're also a source of vitamin D, found in very few food sources besides dairy. Portabellas even have prebiotic properties (encourage growth of heatlhy bacteria in the colon). All together, no matter the variety--a very powerful package.  

Reap the rewards with some of these ideas for incorporating mushrooms into your daily fare:
  • Toss raw mushrooms into a salad
  • Sauté with Worcestershire sauce, garlic and pepper to top steaks
  • Sauté in olive oil with chicken breast and peas, then mix with pasta
  • Use as a topping on homemade pizza
  • Stir into rice, cous cous, quinoa or bulgur
  • Add to red pasta sauce and lasagna
  • Mix into soups--I especially love them in split pea and barley soup
  • Use a large portabella mushroom in place of meat on a burger, then add some blue cheese. YUM.
And the list could go on. See--extremely versatile! How do you incorporate mushrooms into meals?

And P.S.: My husband now eats many more veggies. It's a great example that it is possible to like new foods! You just have to keep trying. Or marry a dietitian. Either way, I think it's a win-win. Right, honey?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

#9 of 12 Foods to Eat More of in 2012

9. Blueberries

Blueberries always make the "super foods" list--and that's because it's well-deserved. They get most of their clout because they're a super-rich source of cancer-preventing antioxidants, like other deeply-colored fruits and vegetables. But also, compared to all fruits, they are one of the best sources of fiber, coming in at 4 grams per cup. Just that single serving gets you about 15% of your daily fiber needs! I'll never stop going on about the overwhelming beneifts of fiber: weight management, fullness after eating, intestinal regularity, cholesterol-lowering and improved blood sugar control. Wow!

Blueberries aren't always at their prime (which would be summer), but frozen ones are a great option for the fall and winter months. Simply toss a handful into whole wheat pancakes, oatmeal, cereal or yogurt. They're perfect for simple parfaits, which can be enjoyed with a meal, for a snack, or for a treat. Just layer plain, non-fat yogurt with strawberries, blueberries and a touch of low-fat granola.

Here's a recipe for baked oatmeal that I just tried this past weekend. I made this one with cranberries, since they were in my co-op basket, but I absolutely can't wait to try it again with blueberries. This recipe was adapted from my newest cookbook purchase, Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen, also mentioned yesterday :) Worth it already.

Baked Oatmeal

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups skim milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon butter melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix oats, walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk milk, egg, butter and vanilla.
Coat an 8x8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle the majority of the berries on the bottom of the dish. Spread oat mixture over the top. Slowly pour the milk mixture over the oats and gently shake dish to ensure even coating. Scatter the remaining berries over the top.
Bake for about 40 minutes in the top third of the oven until golden and set. Sprinkle with sugar.

Cut it into 4-6 portions, package leftovers in a to-go container and enjoy it all week. I call it a one-stop balanced meal. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

#8 of 12 Foods to Eat More of in 2012

8. Bulgur

Huh? Yes, I'm serious. This funny little word is a type of whole grain wheat. It's similar to rice or cous cous, but even more nutritious and super versatile. Since it's a good source of protein (5g per 1/2 cup serving) and is very high in fiber (a whopping 7g per serving), it's very filling. It's a unique plant source of iron which makes it an excellent component of vegetarian dishes and it's chock-full of energizing B vitamins.

Bulgur is a grain that's relatively new to me and I've been collecting some new uses it for it lately. It's a quick-cooking grain when it comes to mealtime because it's actually pre-cooked, then ground. Most commonly, you'll see bulgur used in the Greek salad, tabbouleh (recipe below). But come summer time, I'll be freshening it up by mixing it with strawberry and mint. I also discovered a breakfast recipe for bulgur in my newest cookbook purchase, Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen by Heidi Swanson. Don't worry; this one's definitely going to be featured on my Resource List real soon!

Tell me you won't be full after this lunch:

First, prepare this recipe for tabbouleh salad:
1 cup bulgur (presoaked in 1 cup hot water for an hour)
1 1/2 cups fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 medium cucumber, diced
6 kalamata olives, sliced

Presoak the bulgur by pouring 1 cup into a small bowl with 1 cup hot water. Let stand for 1 hour (all water should absorb, if it doesn't, drain it well). In a medium bowl, gently mix the herbs and spices. Add bulgur, lemon juice and oil. Stir well. Add tomato, cucumber and olives and stir again. Let stand for at least 10 minutes to allow flavors to marry.

To serve, layer these ingredients in a bowl or to-go container for lunch:
Spinach or lettuce
1/2 cup tabbouleh salad
1/2 cup garbanzo beans, rinsed
1 ounce feta cheese

No more mid-afternoon tummy growl! 

Monday, January 16, 2012

#7 of 12 Foods to Eat More of in 2012

7. Cruciferous veggies, like broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts

Cruciferous vegetables were named for their flowering petals (I think they're lovely). And I have one word for these veggies: YUM. In fact, if I had to name a favorite non-starchy vegetable, kale would be at the top of the list. Cruciferous vegetables are nutrition powerhouses because they're packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants and fiber. Even better--they're in season during the cold winter months! That means they're some of the cheapest vegetables to buy at the supermarket and at their peak in taste and freshness.

You can incorporate cruciferous veggies into your diet in a variety of easy ways. Here are some examples:

Broccoli: Rinse and trim up the stalks ahead of time and store in the fridge or take a shortcut and buy it in a bag already prepared. Eat it raw dipped in hummus with lunch or for a snack. For dinners, steam it as an easy side dish or toss it in pasta dishes or a stir fry.

Kale: I eat this often sautéed as a side dish (see recipe below), but it's also wonderful mixed in smashed potatoes or tossed in soup. Did you know that kale is only 99 cents per bunch at the grocery? Thrifty!

Brussels sprouts: What's better than a dish you can just throw in the oven on a weeknight and ignore? Mix up your family's dinner one night and try roasted Brussels sprouts. Line a cookie sheet with foil. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, toss trimmed and halved sprouts with olive oil and seasonings (my "house" blend is Kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper, garlic and crushed red pepper). Spread in an even layer on the cookie sheet and roast at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes or until tender. Turn once mid-way through cooking time.

Here's my favorite way to prepare kale as a side dish (this method will also work for any of the above):
  • Rinse one stalk of kale leaves and cut the tough "vein" out of the middle. Cut the kale into pieces, approximately 2 to 4-inches or so. (For Brussels sprouts, cut the ends off and cut each sprout in half). Chop up some fresh garlic (you may use garlic powder if you prefer).
  • Pour 1/2 cup water in the bottom of a high-sided skillet, add the veggies, put the lid on and steam on medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Turn every so often so the leaves begin to soften and don't burn. The water should begin to evaporate. 
  • Just when the water is almost gone, remove the lid and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Toss veggies in oil so they're coated. Allow to cook on one side, then flip them around every couple of minutes. 
  • Add garlic, crushed red pepper and a tiny dash of Kosher salt.
  • The veggies are done when some portions are beginning to brown and they have reached desired tenderness.
  • Serves 4.

You'll find out how easy this is once you try it. I cook a ton of my veggies this way (including spinach and green beans too, which is a family favorite)! It's quick for weeknights, makes a lovely side dish for a party and tastes delicious no matter what the occasion. 

Trying to get the kids (or the husband) to warm up to this one a little? Add a sprinkle of sharp cheddar cheese or shredded Parmesan. Please don't smother in cheese sauce :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

#6 of 12 Foods to Eat More of in 2012

Halfway to #12 already?! Yep. And we'll keep on rolling with #6...

6. Oatmeal

Oatmeal with dried cherries, golden raisins and walnuts

On this one, I have to admit the commercials are not stretching the truth; oatmeal does help lower cholesterol. That's because it's just like beans--a super source of soluble fiber. Oatmeal also tends to be more filling than cold cereal and has many more options for variety. Keep some staple ingredients on hand and you can keep mixing it up! Here's two of my favorite ways to enjoy a quick, comforting breakfast on a weekday morning (seriously--it will be cooked and eaten in 10 minutes--you can do it!):

1. Cook 1/2 cup of quick-cooking oats mixed with 1 cup water in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Remove and stir in a dash each of cinnamon and nutmeg, a splash of skim milk, 2 tablespoons of walnut pieces and 2 tablespoons dried cherries. Enjoy with a glass of milk. What does this equal? Whole grain. Fruit. Healthy fat. A serving of dairy. Score! The thing I especially like about this throw-together recipe is that everything can be kept on hand. In other words, if you keep the right staple items in your pantry, you can put together a healthy breakfast even if you haven't been to the grocery in a while.

2. This recipe calls for the addition of barley. I like to cook a batch ahead of time and freeze it in 1/2 cup servings for later. Cook 1/3 cup of quick-cooking oats with 2/3 cup water in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Thaw the barley and mix it into the oatmeal. Stir in a dash each of cinnamon and nutmeg, a splash of milk, 2 tablespoons of walnut pieces and 1/2 of an apple, chopped. Serve with a glass of skim milk. What else says comfort food in the morning besides apple-walnut oatmeal? Mmmmm.

Want a shortcut? Take your oatmeal to go? See oatmeal packets recipe here.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

#5 of 12 Foods to Eat More of in 2012

5. Salmon
I know some of you may already be scowling. But salmon (also tuna, mackerel and sardines) are excellent sources of heart-healthy omega-3s. The American Heart Association recommends that we all eat at least two servings of fish, especially oily fish, per week to prevent heart disease. 

See that heart?

If you aren't a big fan of fish right now, keep trying! Our taste buds will adapt to new flavors, but it may take ten tries before you begin to like a new food. Start with a milder fish like tilapia and work up to the "fishier" salmon. I'd say it's totally worth it--for health and for the sake of variety.

Salmon makes surprisingly easy meals. 

Breakfast: One of my favorite breakfast treats is lox (similar to smoked salmon) and light cream cheese on a bagel. That one's not for everybody, but it comes from my half-Jewish roots and I LOVE it. 

Lunch: Lately, I've been using this little trick to mix up my lunches too:
  1. Buy canned salmon that has been cleaned and de-boned. This is important because it saves you a ton of work (as well as a fishy mess)!
  2. One night when you make a pasta dinner, make some extra noodles and package them in a to-go container.
  3. Drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil over the pasta. Season with a sprinkle of garlic powder, Kosher salt and black pepper.
  4. Rinse the salmon under water (I do this while the salmon is still in the can with lid cracked). Add about a 2 ounce serving to your pasta.
  5. Season with a sprinkle of dill and a drop of lemon juice.
  6. If you have any frozen vegetables (or leftover veggies from dinner), add those to the container too.
  7. At lunch the next day, heat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Yuuummy!

Dinner: Here's an easy quick-fix for salmon that I featured before on the blog; this one's great for easy weeknight dinners (bonus! easy clean up).

Don't succumb to the idea that chicken is the only lean source of protein when you're trying to slash calories. Try salmon! It's an easy, healthy and refreshing change.

Photo credits: Piece of Salmon by dan and Bagel with Salmon by piyato

Friday, January 13, 2012

#4 of 12 Foods to Eat More of in 2012

4. Beans

Did you know that beans are one of the best sources of soluble fiber? That means they're super-effective at lowering-cholesterol. In fact, one study shows that including only half a cup of beans daily could lower cholesterol by 8%! So if your cholesterol level is 250, we're talking about 20 points. That's a big deal when it comes to your heart.

High fiber foods, like beans, digest more slowly, helping you stay full longer, aiding in weight management. This also means more stable blood glucose levels if you have diabetes. And of course, they keep you regular, so that means a healthy belly. 

Pick any kind you like! Black beans, pintos, kidney, garbanzo (chickpeas) or lentils. Be creative in how you incorporate them--try soups, salad or a bean wrap. Keeping canned beans on hand makes it really easy to add them to meals. Just check the Nutrition Facts label and look for the lowest amount of sodium you can find, then rinse them in a colander before using. I buy Full Circle Organic--only 300 mg sodium in the average can, and rinsing them removes another 40%!

Don't fret over their reputation as the "musical fruit." Any higher fiber food, like beans, can cause some gas when you introduce it to your diet. But gradually begin to incorporate beans and your digestive system will adjust. 

Here's my simple and healthy recipe for a bean wrap. It makes a yummy, meatless lunch!

Combine and rinse:
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

Scoop 1/2 cup of the bean mixture in a whole wheat tortilla or wrap. You can choose to warm the beans first or eat them cold. Top with:
Fresh, diced tomato and jalapeño (or salsa)
2 tablespoons shredded, sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon plain, non-fat Greek yogurt. 

Wrap and enjoy! Refrigerate extra beans for more wraps (or salads and soups).

Do you eat beans on a daily basis? How do you incorporate them into meals? Please share your ideas with the other GoodFoodies!

Reference: Winham DM, Hutchins AM, Johnston CS. Pinto bean consumption reduces biomarkers for heart disease risk. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2007;26:243-249.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

#3 of 12 Foods to Eat More of in 2012

3. Milk

That's right--two dairy products made the list! You might be asking yourself, is dairy that important? Absolutely. Most Americans don't get the recommended three servings of dairy every day and are lacking in calcium and vitamin D. In fact, calcium and vitamin D were identified as nutrients of concern when the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released last year. Dairy products are unique because they are some of the only foods (or drinks) that supply these very important nutrients! We need three servings of dairy daily, so consider this is an easy one. Have a glass of milk with breakfast, a yogurt mid-day (#2 of the 12 foods) and another glass of milk with dinner or for a bedtime snack. Done.

Skim milk is preferable (versus 1%, 2% and whole milk) because it has no fat and only about 90 calories per cup. It supplies just as much calcium and vitamin D as the higher-fat versions. If you're not used to drinking skim milk, make the adjustment in baby steps by gradually working your way down. If you can't tolerate dairy products, have lactose intolerance or follow a vegan diet, no worries. Try soy milk, almond milk or rice milk--just make sure they are fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

The list of benefits is long, and includes: weight management, bone health, feeling better, cancer and diabetes prevention, and more. Read more about vitamin D here.

Wear your milk mustache loud and proud!

Photo Credit: Man Pouring Milk by Ambro

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

#2 of 12 foods to eat more of in 2012

Up next on the list of foods to eat more of this year is...

2. Yogurt

Yogurt is a natural source of probiotics (the good kind of bacteria) that keep your gut and immune system healthy. You'll get the benefits from most any type, as long as the package says it contains "live, active cultures." That means, yes, you can buy all those fun flavored ones too and you're still doing something good for yourself!

Perhaps even more importantly, yogurt is one of the few food sources of calcium and vitamin D. Most Americans are lacking in these two very important nutrients that help our bones stay healthy and may even prevent a multitude of diseases and conditions, ranging from diabetes and cancer to obesity. 

Yogurt also packs a powerful punch of protein! You don't have to eat cheese, eggs or meat to get your morning dose of protein. Eat low-fat or fat-free yogurt instead to save some calories and cholesterol-raising saturated fats.

My favorite is plain, non-fat Greek yogurt because it's flexible and it doesn't contain a lot of added sugar or sweeteners. I buy the big tubs at Trader Joes (money saver--cha ching) and use it in a variety of ways:
  • Mixed with fresh or frozen fruit for a snack
  • Layered with fruit, granola and nuts for a simple breakfast
  • Topped with fresh strawberries and a drizzle of honey for an indulgent dessert
  • In place of sour cream as a topping. That's right--on top of a potato, taco, soup, etc. In fact, I don't even buy sour cream anymore.
  • In place of sour cream in a dip.

All in all, a great nutritional package! How will you enjoy it? 
Watch for food #3 tomorrow!

Photo credit: Master isolated images

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

12 foods to eat more of in 2012

The holidays are over and we all have our sights set on a fresh, new year. Since many New Years resolutions include freshening-up eating habits too, over the next twelve days, I'll be blogging a series entitled, "12 Foods to Eat More of in 2012." These 12 days will help you focus on improving the quality of your diet by resolving to include some nutrition "powerhouse" foods. Forget the typical, generalized New Year's resolutions like, "I want to lose weight." Adding these 12 super-nutritious foods will help you in your journey of achieving good health and a healthy weight by including good food.

Sure there are many great foods to eat other than the ones I list in the upcoming posts. But many of our diets are lacking in certain key nutrients. So over each of the next 12 days, I'll give you one of my recommended foods to eat more of this year (they're in no particular order), reasons why it's so nutritious, and tips for easily incorporating it into your diet. Follow along--you won't want to miss it! With no further adieu...number one!

1. Soybeans (edamame)

A simple and delicious snack enjoyed by kids and adults alike. Soybeans are the perfect combination of protein, healthy fat and carbohydrate. Energizing and filling! They're also loaded with fiber and packed with antioxidants. Soybeans are one of the few non-dairy sources of calcium (10% of the daily value) and they also contain vitamin C and iron. Does the list need go on?

Whole soybeans are preferable to processed soy products (just as anything that has gone through minimal processing is preferable). So if you're looking to incorporate soy into your diet, better edamame than soy burgers and the like. If you've never tried edamame, there's one thing you need to know--how to eat it. You can purchase edamame in the shell or shelled. If you buy the kind in the shell (pictured above), just use your teeth to "pop" the beans out.

I recommend buying the frozen, pre-cooked kind so there's no preparation at all (and they'll store in the freezer for a while). Just take out a handful and seal in a snack-sized plastic baggie and they'll thaw by lunchtime. They make a great go-to snack, but I especially love them with low-sodium tomato soup and whole grain crackers for a quickly-put-together and balanced lunch. You can also toss the shelled beans onto a salad or mix in a pasta dish.

Stay tuned for food number 2 tomorrow!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Get a Fresh Start this New Year!

Are you looking for a fresh start this New Year? I've told you that I don't believe in New Year's resolutions, but I do think it's a great time to start working on improving your health. However, it can be hard to go it alone. There's a lot of nutrition information out there, and sometimes it's hard to separate fact from fiction. Maybe you just need help getting organized. Or figuring out realistic goals. That's where I come in.

If you've been following the GoodFood blog, you'll know I'm a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Diabetes Educator. I specialize in weight management and diabetes management, but am also experienced in nutrition therapy for almost any health condition. That also means you can trust me for accurate, evidence-based nutrition information. I'm passionate about food and health and it's my goal to help you suceed in these areas. I really care about my clients and I make it my mission to partner with you to meet your wellness goals. Whether you are looking to treat a medical condition, prevent one or just want to learn about good nutrition, there are many ways I can help. Through my company, RDbyyourside, I offer:
  • Pre-planned nutrition programs (which include a combination of the following)
  • Single nutrition consultations or multi-visit packages
  • Food diary analysis
  • Pre-planned menus or custom menus
  • Grocery tours
  • Goal-setting
  • Group or family visits

Just for New Year's, I'm offering a special addition to my Nutrition Fresh Start Package. The package already includes:
  • Six visits with me in person or over the phone (one 90-minute consultation and five 30-minute follow-ups)
  • Personalized nutrition assessment, meal plan and goal-setting
  • 14-day Pre-Planned Menu (easy to prepare meals, includes grocery list)
  • 6 weeks of food diary analysis (using paper food journal or food logging software)
  • Continued support and fresh ideas from the GoodFood blog!
For a limited time, these special New Year's extras are included for FREE! (approximately $75 value, must sign up by February 29)
  • A specially selected cookbook or a nutrition reference book
  • 50% discount off a grocery store tour, including Liz's "Well-Stocked Kitchen" List

If you are interested in a smaller package or an individual visit, don't worry; I can cover that too. Please visit my website for more information or email me with any questions. I'm happy to email a list of services and pricing for you to review. Remember: living well is easier with an RDbyyourside.

Here's to a fresh start to a permanently healthy life!

Monday, January 2, 2012

New logo debuts today!

Introducing you to the new face of RDbyyourside: the official debut of my new logo! A fresh start, just in time for the New Year. My hope is that this logo will better represent the mission of my company and promote RDs as the nutrition experts that we all have worked so hard to be. The look may be changing, but I'll still be providing the same quality nutrition care and personalized service to my clients (and readers!). Expect tons of fun stuff this year on the blog--recipes, tips for simplified healthy eating, taste tests and more. Subscribe so you don't miss a thing.

Please let me know what you think! Comment or send me a message if there's something you would like to read about on the GoodFood blog. I love your feedback. The updates to my website will be rolling out soon too. You can also find me (and the new logo) on Facebook and Twitter. Follow my activity as part of your plan for a happy, healthy New Year!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Resolution smesolution!

That's right. I don't believe in New Year's resolutions. I'm more of a constantly improving kinda girl. Just about as far from "if it ain't broke don't fix it" as you can get. Don't stop reading yet, I'm not a skeptic, it's just that New Years resolutions don't tend to lead to long-term success! They promote the idea that if you fail you should just give up; until next year, that is. It's a vicious cycle. I like to think more along the lines of, "If you fall, pick yourself up and try, try again." Forgive the cliches, but tomorrow's another day.

The New Year is a good time to make a decision to make improvements. But the key to long lasting success is setting goals that are manageable (realistic) and achievable. Here are a few examples of some winning resolutions:

Won't Last: I'm going to be more active this year. That is, when I join the gym.
Why this won't work? You should be able to start your resolution NOW. It shouldn't depend on someone or something else. And it's not specific--nail down how many days you plan to exercise and for how long. It's okay to start with a few days and build from there.

Winning Resolution: I will do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, 3 times per week. My options are a workout video at home, walking outside if it's nice or going to the gym.

Won't Last: I'm going to lose 10 pounds by swimsuit season.
Why this won't work? 10 pounds weight loss by early summer is a realistic goal for most people. But what's missing here is how we're going to get there. Be specific about what you're going to do in order to lose weight. If you need help with this, contact me for nutrition counseling!

Winning Resolution: I'm going to eat 3 meals a day and keep a food log to stay on track with my calorie goal.

See the difference? If you've set New Year's resolutions or are thinking of some goals of your own, take this time to re-evaluate. Are your goals specific? Are they small steps toward a bigger goal? Can you keep up with them forever or are they too hard?

If you need help setting goals or want some personalized help with meal-planning, get a hand from me. My nutrition programs will help you create a healthy lifestyle for you and your family in a realistic, affordable and achievable way. Check my website for nutrition counseling programs and my New Year's special: the Nutrition Fresh Start Program. After all, living well is easier with an RDbyyourside!

Here's to a happy, healthy New Year!

Image courtesy of: Vlado