Monday, July 30, 2012

Introducing the GoodFood Store!

My mission in hosting the GoodFood blog is to simplify healthy eating by providing scientifically-based advice and recipes that can be applied in a real life sort of way. Now the GoodFood blog will also house the GoodFood store! It's a hub where you'll find hand-picked products and books that will help take the guesswork out of finding healthy lifestyle solutions. From appliances, cooking gadgets and cookbooks to gardeing supplies, they're some of my favorite products--many of which have been tested and used in my home! It's another way RDbyyourside is there for you when it comes to living and eating healthfully.

I encourage you to check it out by clicking on the tab at the top of the page or by clicking here. The store will continue to grow as I find more products that fit the GoodFood mantra: good food tastes good, is good for you and is achievable too. If there are any products you love and think simplify healthy living, please share them--they could be added to the GoodFood store too!

The GoodFood store can be accessed by using the tab at the top of the page. You will be redirected to RDbyyourside's webpage; the home of the GoodFood aStore (Amazon store). Via this site, you can purchase any of the products you see. Just add them to your shopping cart (this is actually your Amazon shopping cart). You'll need an Amazon account to make your purchases. When you're ready to check out, simply click the "Proceed to Checkout" button and you'll be redirected to the Amazon website to securely make your purchases. Please let me know if you have any questions or if you have difficulties using the site. I appreciate your support!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Best Type of Diet for Weight Loss

If you've decided it's time to lose weight, you've probably gotten a lot of conflicting information on the best type of diet to follow. Vegetarian? Low carb? High protein? Paleo Diet? Weight Watchers? MyPlate? The list goes on and on. It can be really hard to figure out what's best to meet your weight loss goals...and for your health.

As an RD (Registered Dietitian), this is my specialty. I review the scientific evidence and research on different types of weight loss diets routinely in an effort to give my clients the most up-to-date, accurate and safe advice when beginning a new diet. It's my job to help you sort through the mis-information that's out there. But that doesn't mean that I'm not met with misconceptions every day! It can be hard to stick to "just good-old healthy eating" when the next "best thing" or "shortcut" is broadcasted all around you.

In fact, certain diets can cause more harm than good. Losing weight too rapidly can also cause major health issues, like gallstones, syncope (fainting) or heart arrhythmias, not to mention the long-term negative health effects. Researchers have found that women who followed a low-carb, high-protein diet increased their risk of cardiovascular events (heart attack and stroke) by 28 percent. (Read more here.) There have not been any long-term studies, lasting more than 2 years, on the effects of different diet compositions. But we do know that higher intake of saturated fats and lower intake of nutrient-dense, fiber-containing carbohydrates can increase the risk of many diseases from cardiovascular disease to cancer. Rapid weight loss due to over-restricting food (or certain foods) also often leads to rebound weight gain in the end because it's just too hard to stick to.

So what is the best diet to follow for weight loss? Although it may not be what you want to hear, it's really nothing special or outrageous. There are no tricks or secrets--just learning what your body's individual needs are, eating a variety of healthy foods and incorporating regular exercise. No pills. No exclusion of any single food or nutrient. And yes, that dreaded word "exercise."

I view this in a positive light because it means you never have to diet! You can forget those dreaded cycles of dieting, then going back to your old habits, then dieting again...only to weigh more in the end. The best (and healthiest) way to lose weight is through calorie reduction, a balanced meal plan and increased physical activity. Consuming a diet that is moderate in all food groups, even those "less healthy" foods, will help you to maintain your plan and your weight for the long haul.

For some guidance, start with MyPlate and begin an exercise routine. Meet with your dietitian for individualized guidelines, nutrient goals and meal-planning assistance to incorporate MyPlate into your lifestyle. Ask your doctor if it is safe for you to begin exercise, especially if you haven't exercised in a while or have cardiovascular risk factors.


MyPlate emphasizes choosing a variety of foods from each food group, focusing mostly on:
  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein, seafood, eggs and soy
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy
  • Plant sources of fat, such as nuts, nut butters, avocados and oils
And don't forget physical activity! Work your way up to at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity, combined with strength training and flexibility activities too.

If you're ready to get healthier and lose weight the right way, contact RDbyyourside with questions or to schedule your nutrition consultation!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thankful Thursdays

It's time again to reflect on the past month in this month's Thankful Thursday. My how time flies! Join me today on Facebook for the discussion. What are you thankful for today? Remember, the little things and the big things count!

Click here to be directed to RDbyyourside's Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Baby's Flavor Preferences Are Born With Them

There are many nutrition and pregnancy myths (or old wives' tales) out there. Have you ever heard any of these? You shouldn't eat nuts while pregnant so your child won't have food allergies... You should eat more meat if you want to have a boy and more veggies if you want to have a girl...

Whether results are merely anecdotal or actually have some truth, now there is some evidence that suggests that children's flavor preferences are actually born with them and can be shaped until the age of 3 to 4 months. So if we want to raise some healthy eaters, who are perhaps less picky and have less of a sweet tooth, we can get our kids to start off on the right foot by choosing healthy foods while we're pregnant.

This research also suggests that breast-feeding is preferable to formula-feeding and formula is preferable to bottles prepared with cow's milk when it comes to a widely varied palette. In the study, babies who were breastfed preferred more savory flavors, which in time develops into the flavors of vegetables, like broccoli, versus sweets. Babies who were given cow's milk were more likely to consume fewer savory flavors and lean more toward sweets.

Not only could this research blossom into valuable information for helping our children to eat as nutritionally as possible, it is also a step in the way of obesity prevention. Although we all enjoy sweet treats, it's important that they don't become a stable in our diets since consumption of high-fat, high-sugar treats can lead to excess calorie intake and displacement of healthier foods. If what mom is eating during pregnancy may start to influence baby even before birth, women have a unique advantage in helping their babies have a broad sense of taste for all types of foods. Breastfeeding is preferable (and cow's milk should be avoided until age 1) to help shape baby's flavor preferences during the first few months--a window of opportunity that may make staying healthy easier for the rest of their lives.

What's a healthy meal look like? Find out more here! If you are interested in more specific meal-planning strategies, no matter where you are in life, check out RDbyyourside.

Source: Food Navigator

Monday, July 23, 2012

How to Freeze Peaches Perfectly


Yes, still on the subject of my favorite fruit, peaches. As I said in a recent post, I purchased a peck of peaches at the local orchard so I would have extras to freeze--just so I could hold on to my favorite flavor of summer a little longer. Peach season is just about over, so I thought I would pass along some tips (and lessons learned) in case you'd like to hold on to it too :) There are many ways to freeze and can fruit, but I wanted to freeze peach slices without sugar. That's slightly more difficult. I found, after a bit of trial and error, a great way to do this that will preserve the peaches' color and texture. In other words, using the following technique, your peaches won't turn to brown mush after you thaw them! Yuck.

This was a project, so allow yourself a couple of hours and enlist some extra hands if you can (thanks, Mr. Patton). So why go through the trouble? Let me just ask you this question: Have you ever had frozen peaches from the grocery store? They're hard and lacking flavor. Total bummer. By freezing your own fruit, you get a much tastier product and you'll save money too. In my opinion, totally worth it.

So here's my step by step approach. You'll be blanching and peeling peaches working in batches of 4 to 6 peaches at a time. My peck of peaches (which filled over half a brown grocery bag) yielded 4 gallon-sized freezer bags filled 3/4 full of peach slices. The supplies you'll need are:
  • Large pot, filled with boiling water
  • Slotted or mesh spoon
  • Ice bath: a large bowl filled to 1/3 with ice, then filled to 2/3 with water
  • Towel or drainboard to dry peaches after they're removed from the water
  • Knife
  • Fruit preservative (I used Ball's Fruit-Fresh, found at my local grocer)
  • Additional water
  • Small bowl
  • Cookie sheets, lined with wax paper (plus extra wax paper on hold)
  • Gallon-sized zipper-top freezer bags

1. Gently wash peaches to remove dirt. I filled my sink with water and about a tablespoon of produce wash. Rinse peaches.


2. Cut an "X" on the top of each peach. This will make them much easier to peel after they're removed from the water.


3. Gently place 4 to 6 peaches in boiling water. Set a timer for 2 minutes. Remove the peaches using a slotted or mesh spoon after 2 minutes and place them immediately in the ice bath. Allow them to sit in the ice bath for a couple minutes, gently stirring occasionally, until they no longer feel warm. Remove them from the ice bath and place them on a towel or drainboard to dry. Congratulations; you have just blanched peaches. This halts the cooking process and will ensure the peaches retain their color and a palatable texture. I found this step to be absolutely essential. I tried freezing peaches without doing this and they turned brown and became mushy when thawed.



4. Peel peaches by pulling the skin where you made the "X". The skin will come off very easily after blanching.



5. Slice peaches into 8 slices each. Hold the peach gently and make a few cuts to create 2 to 3 slices right next to each other. The slices should then start to fall off the pit easily. This helps so you don't bruise the peach by trying to remove slices in the process of cutting.


6. Combine fruit preservative with water in small bowl according to your package's instructions. I used Ball Fruit-Fresh Produce Protector which called for 2 teaspoons preservative mixed with 3 tablespoons water.


7. Place peach slices in the bowl (I did 2 peaches=16 slices at a time) and gently turn to coat.


8. Remove 1 slice at a time, allowing extra wash to drip off, and place it on your wax paper-lined cookie sheet. You will have to make a fresh bowl of water+fruit preservative every so often; my package recommended after 4 cups of fruit to ensure effectiveness (although I stretched it a little further). Continue this process until you have a complete layer of peaches on your cookie sheet. Place peaches close together, but not touching. This will ensure that peach slices freeze individually and can be easily removed from your bags once frozen. When one layer is complete, lay another sheet of wax paper across the top and create another layer of peaches. When the second layer is complete, lay another sheet of wax paper across the top.

Tip: I didn't have enough cookie sheets, so I tried this in cake pans and created 4 layers (below). When I removed them from the freezer, it was difficult to remove the peach slices...they were stuck to the paper. That's why I would advice using a cookie sheet and creating no more than 2 layers!




9. Place cookie sheets in the freezer (temperature below 0 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least a couple of hours. Freezing times may vary; just check that peaches in BOTH LAYERS are frozen solid before removing.

10. When peaches are frozen solid, remove the slices from wax paper and place in zipper-top freezer bags. Label them with the date. Peaches should retain their quality in the freezer for six months.


When you're ready to eat some, remove slices from the bag and thaw either in the fridge or at room temperature. Here they are completely thawed. See how pretty they stayed!




And here's my favorite way to indulge in frozen peaches. Just like my grandma served at her house in the summer--with vanilla ice cream. Such a wonderful memory! I added half a crumbled graham cracker on top. Yum.


You can freeze many other types of fruits in this same way too, especially if they are soft-fleshed fruits that have a tendency to brown at room temperature. You may be able to skip the fruit preservative, but I thought it improved color retention. It's just vitamin C (ascorbic acid) anyway, so no harm done.

I hope you enjoy yours as much as I do mine! Click here for my Peach and Honey Yogurt recipe--great for fresh or frozen peaches.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Turn That Boring Salad into Something Fantastic!

What do you think of when you hear the word “salad?” Here's what comes to my mind: Diet. Boring. Deprivation. At least when you feel like it might be the only thing that's healthy to eat when you're trying to lose weight.

Well think again! When I have a meal, I want it to be satisfying, flavorful, filling and enjoyable, not something that’s going to leave my stomach and tastebuds starving afterwards. That’s what good food is all about! So read on; salad no longer has to be a "four letter word." Just add the right ingredients! The following additions will make your salads a meal that you'll look forward to. They're seriously flavorful, they'll fill you up and have lots of nutritional bang too.

1. A strong cheese
Strongly flavored cheeses add tons of flavor in a much smaller quantity. Since cheese is naturally a source of fat, it keeps your tummy full long after eating. Try adding goat cheese (chevre), blue cheese or feta. Just stick to a 1-ounce portion size, about the size of your thumb, to limit the fat and calories. And here's a bonus: by adding cheese to your salad you can check one serving of calcium off your list! Try my Spring Asparagus and Penne Salad that contains goat cheese.


2. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are a heart-healthy, filling substitute for meat on your salad. One-quarter cup of nuts
contains about 200 calories; approximately the same amount as 3 to 4 ounces of lean meat, but you’ll also get a healthy dose of unsaturated fats and fiber. If you have time, toasting nuts adds additional flavor. Just toast them in a dry pan over medium-heat, turning gently until they start to turn golden brown.


3. A nutty starch
This is a great way to add whole grains to a meal that might otherwise not contain them. Whole grains, like brown rice, bulgur and whole wheat pasta, are chock-full of B vitamins and fiber—they’re filling elements that will really last. Their chewy texture is one that I really enjoy. Try my Bulgar Salad; it contains three ingredients from this list! And watch for a new recipe coming soon...Wild Rice and Cherry Salad.




4. Flavored oil and vinegar
Flavored oils and vinegars add an unexpected major boost of flavor to your salads. You can find them at many grocers or specialty shops (yes, there really are shops that sell just oils and vinegars!). Whisk vinegar with oil and pour or spritz onto your salad. I received some samples of diOlivas Blood Orange Olive Oil and Cranberry Pear Balsamic Vinegar as a gift from a friend last Christmas. Combined, they came together to form a fabulous treat! Try a mixture such as this on top of spinach salad with chicken breast, mandarin oranges and slivered almonds.

Try an oil mister to easily add controlled amounts of vinegar and oil dressings to your salads! I'm keen on these that spray without chemicals or propellants: Misto Gourmet Olive Oil SprayerNorpro Stainless Steel Oil Mister or Prepara Oil Mister.


5. Avocado
Nothing compares to the cool, creamy texture of avocados. They’re a filling source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat that will add to your post-meal fullness factor. Slice an avocado and add it to most any salad or mix up a batch of guacamole to dollop on top of your healthy taco salad. Limit the calories by only adding about one-quarter of the avocado at a time. Seal the remainder, unsliced, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Don't they look filling? Try one and let me know what you think.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Do You Love Raisins? Here's Why You Should


Raisins are an underutilized fruit, especially considering their portability, convenience and nutritional goodness! If raisins aren’t already your fruit of choice, consider the findings from some new research, recently presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 72nd Annual Scientific Session.

Raisins are a good source of potassium, carbohydrates and fiber. They’re all natural; and I mean it. Unlike other dried fruits and fruit snacks that undergo processing and often the addition of sugar, raisins are created from simply grapes and sunshine. A portion size of 2 tablespoons contains 60 calories, 15 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fiber and 140 mg of potassium (nearly half the potassium in a medium banana). Both your typical raisin and my personal favorite, the golden raisin, count.

New findings show that raisins may also benefit your blood sugar control. Researchers found that by replacing pre-packaged commercial snacks with raisins three times per day significantly reduced post-meal blood sugars and hemoglobin A1C, an indicator of overall glycemic control. Study participants had slightly elevated blood sugars, but had not been diagnosed with diabetes. By replacing commercial snacks with raisins, participants' post-meal blood sugars were reduced by 16% and A1C values were reduced by 0.12%. From my perspective as a diabetes educator, this means a lot in reducing the incidence of diabetes and the risk of complications due to elevated post-meal glucose excursions. Researchers hypothesize the results are due to the relatively low glycemic index and fiber and antioxidant content of raisins compared to other snacks.

So if you’re on the diabetes “fence,” it’s the opportune time to make minor modifications to your diet. This seems like an idea that would certainly be worth a try! Even if it doesn’t change your blood sugars (or you don’t have pre-diabetes), swapping some typical snack foods for raisins or other healthier options will certainly yield otherwise positive dietary improvements. It’s just more evidence that shows the importance of eating your fruits and vegetables!

Creamy Golden Oatmeal
Here are some simple ways to add raisins to your diet. Most people need two to three servings of fruit per day. A 2-tablespoon portion of raisins counts as one serving of fruit.
  • Carry a small box of raisins in your purse or lunchbox for a snack
  • Make a simple trail mix with raisins, peanuts and almonds
  • Try my recipe for Creamy Golden Oatmeal or toss some raisins into your usual favorite oatmeal or cold cereal
  • Add raisins to your salad along with chicken breast and sunflower seeds
  • Mix raisins with boiled sweet potatoes or butternut squash.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Peach and Honey Yogurt


I love just about any fruit you could name, but peaches are my favorite! The only downside is that they have such a small window of availability (in their freshest, most delicious state) during the year. And that would be now. So Mr. Patton and I dropped by the local orchard, Eckert's, last weekend to pick up a peck. That's about half a paper shopping bag full! I'll use what I can while they're ripe, but will be freezing the rest to use throughout the year. Stay tuned for a "how to" on freezing peach slices.

I take fruit and yogurt often for lunch or for a snack; usually I just spoon some yogurt on top of the fruit and sometimes add either nuts or honey. It's fast, easy and a great way to get in a variety of healthy food groups. I was really in the mood for some blended yogurt this time, so I decided to liven-up it up a bit with the following recipe. And my favorite flavor, of course, is peach! It was delicious. It's also a simple blend of natural flavors with very little added sugar (and you can opt to skip the honey if you like--that cuts about 5 grams of sugar). The following recipe serves one, but you could certainly adjust it to feed the whole family or make leftovers. Keep any extra in a sealed container in the fridge for up to five days.

Peach and Honey Yogurt

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt (I prefer Greek yogurt because of it's thicker consistency)
  • 1 small peach, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Mint leaves, to garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Add yogurt, 3/4 of the peach and honey to a food processor. I leave the peel on the peaches to get the maximum nutritional boost and extra fiber.


  • Blend to desired consistency; leave it "chunky" or blend until completely smooth. The best thing about making your own yogurt is that you can have it your way! I like mine chunky.


  • Place remaining 1/4 of the peach in a small bowl. Add yogurt mixture and stir.


  • Top with mint (this mint is from my garden).

Enjoy the wonderful flavors of summer! Peach yogurt makes a fabulously nutritious dessert, a satisfying snack or can balance out a lunch. Yogurt is a terrific source of calcium and vitamin D and may aid in weight management. Aim for three servings of dairy per day for optimal health. Try it with any other fruit you crave too; each color contains different vitamins and antioxidants--disease-fighting nutrients.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Garden Envy


We returned Sunday from a five-day 4th of July "pre-vacation" at Mr. Patton's parents' house in Tennessee. It was a great weekend! We celebrated the holiday with family, played and lounged at the pool for three days, I caught up on my magazines and organized my Pinterest account. Yes; many priorities were taken care of :) But it was some much needed R&R.


I also spent a lot of time ogling my father-in-law's giant garden! As you may have read earlier in the season, we expanded our home garden this year, but I was still a little jealous. Check out these rows of tomatoes and giant squash plants!



When I took my morning run each day, I would pass by the garden on each lap and just stare. Like a garden stalker or something. I'm just so in awe! Especially since ours is lagging a wee bit behind. It seems to be a late bloomer. Literally. My in-laws live on over 50 acres of land, so of course they can afford the space that us city-dwellers can't. And Daddy Patton also spends a lot of time and hard work caring for this beautiful and bountiful garden; especially in the overwhelmingly hot weather we've been having in this area of the country. They already have picked boxes full of produce! And we got to reap the delicious rewards all weekend...fresh homegrown tomatoes, blackberry jam, pickles and cucumbers. Yuuummy!



Basil, jalapeƱos, parsley and rosemary on the deck.
So yes, I'm coming home from our relaxating mini-vacay with a bit of a case of garden envy.

Here's our progress at home so far:



Lots of green, but not many vegetables to pick yet! We have been able to use lots of fresh herbs so far from the plants on the deck. Here's our very first little harvest this year:

A few cherry tomatoes and jalapeƱos.
Even though I don't have my dream garden yet, it is in progress, my green thumb keeps getting greener, and I'm always picking up tips from a true master--and enjoying the fruits of his labor (and mine) year-round.

How does your garden grow? Send or post your pics!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Congratulations to Our Winner!

Congratulations to the winner of our BIG Breakfast, Little Biscuit contest, Jess! Courtesy of our sponsor, Kellogg's, she'll receive a box of Frosted Mini Wheats, a plush white bathrobe and a matching pair of slippers. Perfect for enjoying a healthy breakfast. Thanks for participating, Jess!

Be sure to check back for future contests and also stop by Jess' blog, Floptimism.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Get Your Grill On: Reducing Cancer Risk

Wait...I thought grilling was a healthy, low-fat way to cook meat?

Don't worry--it still is. But it is important to be aware that charring meat can increase the presence of two cancer-causing agents, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These carcinogens may form in the presence of fat coupled with extreme heat.

PAHs are created when fat drippings from grilled meats create smoke, which transfers onto the surface of the meat. HCAs are formed when compounds react inside meats, chicken and fish after grilling at high temperatures for long periods of time. In lab studies, PAHs and HCAs have been shown to trigger breast, colon and prostate tumors in mice. Researchers have also found that certain human populations who have consumed PAHs over long periods of time have higher incidences of breast and stomach cancer.

So should grilled meats be avoided? No. And not to worry, grilling can still be the heart of your cookout. A few small steps can help reduce the risk of these compounds forming in your food.
  1. Precooking meat in the microwave for as little as one minute reduces grilling time and almost eliminates HCAs.
  2. Choosing leaner cuts of meat and trimming excess fat reduces the amount of fat that could drip into grill flames, decreasing the amount of PAHs that could potentially form.
  3. Smaller portions of meat cook faster, cutting down on the time meat need to stay on the grill. Butterfly or filet thicker cuts of meat to reduce cooking time.
  4. Cook meat on the grill for as little time as possible. If you can, remove meats before they are over-done and charred.
  5. Keep meats away from direct flames.
  6. Grill on medium heat instead of high heat to reduce charring. If meats begin to char, reduce heat further to complete the cooking process.
  7. Using marinades decreases meats exposure to cancer-causing compounds so fewer HCAs are formed.
  8. Drain marinades from meat before grilling so less liquid drips onto the flames.
  9. If portions of meat do become charred, cut this portion off before eating.
Keep watching for more cookout tips and recipes as the summer goes on. If you have any simple solutions for keeping good food good, please share!

Happy Independence Day!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Don't Skip the Dressing!

A recent human trial out of Purdue University and published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that to get the most nutritional bang out of your salads, you need to add some fat. That means don't hold the dressing!

Carotenoids, such as lutein, lycopene, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, are fat-soluble vitamins found in deep green, orange and yellow vegetables. Lots of salad veggies! Fat-soluble vitamins require dietary fat optimal absorption and utilization by the body. So pairing fat with veggies, either through adding dressing to salad or sauteing a vegetable in olive oil, is the perfect solution for maximizing your vitamin intake.

Some fats are healthier than others though, so make a wise selection (and don't go overboard, either). The study found that monounsaturated fat-rich dressings required the least amount of fat to get the most carotenoid absorption, while polyunsaturated and saturated fat-based dressings required more to get the same benefit.

Monounsaturated fats are a healthy type of fat found in oils, avocados and certain nuts. Polyunsaturated fats are also a healthy type of fat, but did not yield as much absorption. Saturated fats, primarily found in animal products, are a less healthy type of fat that has been shown to raise cholesterol levels.

This study validates the concept that all foods are okay (and perhaps even beneficial) in moderation. In this case, adding some fat to your diet is definitely helpful! So don't hold the dressing, or even look for fat-free versions. When choosing to add an oil-based dressing to your salad, prepare it with an oil that has the highest quantity of monounsaturated fats: pick olive, safflower or canola oils. Try some oil and vinegar or an oil-based vinaigrette and enjoy! Just make sure the portion size that you use fits into your overall meal plan and calorie budget.

Try my favorite homemade salad dressing: Lemony Dill Dressing.

Sources: Wiley Online Library, Purdue Newsroom

Enter my Kellogg's give-away by tomorrow, July 3!

Photo credit: www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net