Sunday, March 22, 2015


In case you hadn’t heard about what’s going on in the nutrition world this week.  This happened this week:

And the late night comics had a ball with it (who wouldn’t??).  It starts at 4:37.

You really can’t make this stuff up.  Let’s face it.  Kraft is a well-known sponsor of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).   Seals are usually money-raising gimmicks.  As Marion Nestle, Ph.D, M.P.H. from NYU shared on her web site Food Politics, “I’m wondering if ‘proud supporter of’ means that Kraft pays AND for use of this seal.  If so, I’d like to know what the seal costs.”  We’d all like to know Marion, we’d all like to know.  AND claims that no cheesy deals were executed (pun intended).  They stated that they do not endorse any products, brands, or services.  They furthermore went on to say that the seal is simply an indicator of the brands that support Kids Eat Right.  Totally not confusing.  But the damage has been done – the appearance of a seal on a product allows for the public to believe that as an organization of nutrition experts we do back this product.  Fellow colleagues put together a campaign to allow our voices to be heard - #repealtheseal 

I truly believe that this does unfortunately now put into question the integrity and credibility of our profession.  The very governing body that require us to take an ethics course yearly for our continuing education.  The policy calls for the “highest standards of honesty and integrity, and for members to not engage in false or misleading practices of communications.”   The petition asks for full disclosure on the terms of the financial agreement between Kids Eat Right Foundation and Kraft.  The petition even requests for the discontinuation of the relationship with Kraft and the removal of the Kids Eat Right logo.  AND needs to correct this wrong.  I certainly hope the $$ doesn't win this time.

While this week has provided negative publicity to my profession I have chosen to use it as a way to promote positivity.  I continue to post daily recipes/tips/suggestions/articles on how to be healthy for National Nutrition Month – the whole reason why I started the blog, to help provide accurate nutrition information in the face of confusing messages (now more than ever with the social media presence).  I have a shelf in my office at work where I actually put different products up to create discussion.  Not all of the products on the shelf are products I would recommend the patients to buy, however, this creates discussion on how to navigate the supermarket.  Bottom line it IS confusing.  I always tell my patients that the more they’re able to decrease the amount of packaged products in their cart, the better.  Here are a few of the products that I would actually put a seal on if I was able to and proudly promote:

Peanut Butter – Ingredients:  Freshly Ground Roasted Peanuts.  That’s it.  That’s all it should say.  The minute they start adding sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil, and whatever else, you’re in trouble.  Sure the natural nut butters require you to stir them.  The oils separate, but guess what? That’s what they’re supposed to do!!  I don’t need any trans fat added in (thank you very much) to help keep my peanut butter stuck together.  That trans fat will help stick in your arteries and no amount of trans fat is recommended.  I’ve gone the route of making my own nut butters and in all honesty it simply takes a good food processor, patience, and time.  I have the food processor, I sometimes have the time, but rarely have the patience to continuously push the nuts down to continue doing their thing.  Instead I’ll opt to buy some that simply states their ingredients are:  peanuts.  Publix sells this in their deli section freshly ground each day.

365 Beans – As a vegetarian beans are a staple ingredient in my recipes.  I know I should make my own beans, but I’ll be the first to admit I’m looking for convenience when it comes to cooking.  And if there’s a short-cut that’s healthy, I’m in.  Enter 365 brands of beans.  Ingredients:  Organic cannellini beans, water.  That’s it, that’s all.  Organic??  No added preservatives??  No Added Salt??  And they’re cheaper than the other brands??  I go to Whole Foods and literally buy $20 worth of beans, no lie.  I think the cashier thinks I’m crazy.  But there are some foods that Whole Foods sells that are cheaper.   Their beans are one of them.  And to top it off, they’re organic and don’t have the added salt and preservatives that most other brands do have.   It’s a win win for me!

Trader Joe’s Organic Tricolor Quinoa – I originally started out with just the white quinoa from Trader Joe’s.  /keen-wah/ in case you are still having problems pronouncing it J  Quinoa from a nutritional standpoint is a powerhouse.  For a cup of cooked quinoa you’re getting 222 calories, 8 grams of protein, 40 grams of carbohydrate, 5 grams of fiber, and many other vitamins and minerals.  If you’re not including into your repertoire, you should.  I started getting the tricolor quinoa because it really does make the food look prettier that I’m making.  I made a spinach quinoa patty the other day and it was truly beautiful.  The white always looked so plain.  This way as I’m teaching my patients about healthy, whole grains, the food looks interesting and they’re more apt to listen.  No one wants to eat ugly looking food – it needs to appeal to us not only from a taste standpoint but also from an aesthetic look.  Trader Joe’s organic tricolor quinoa has brought my food photography up a notch J
Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk – If you find any, please let me know.  It’s as if there’s been a run on the coconut milk.  It’s only $0.99 a can and the only ingredients are coconut milk and water.  No wonder they’re having an issue with production and no longer carry it in their store (at least here in the MIA).  I just made a coconut curry recipe over the weekend and luckily I still have a few cans left (that’s right the last time they did have it I bought 20 cans.  Just to stock up, you know - or maybe I created the shortage?!).   Other brands that I’ve looked at always have something else added in – guar gum, carrageenan, emulsifiers I can’t pronounce.  While the guar gum isn’t going to kill me I’d prefer to go with as minimal ingredients I can.  So I may have to write Trader Joe’s and find out what’s really going on.  Until then, I’ll be on the search for a coconut milk without too many additives, even if it is $2.49 a can.

Spring Vegetables – 15 Healthy Green Recipes for Spring

Cookie + Kate is a website I came across and have been using to make some recipes.  She always does a section that shows the recipes of the season too.  If you’re forever wondering how to change the asparagus up instead of just steaming it – there’s a recipe and an idea for you here!  I lack creativity when it comes to what flavors go good together.  That’s why I leave that to the experts and use their recipes. 

There you have it, a few products that I would actually endorse and put a seal on if I could.  Eating healthy shouldn’t be confusing, but it can be (no help from the embarrassment that was this week).  That’s where my role as an educator comes in to help guide people into making healthier selections.  I’m not a famous celebrity endorsing these products, just a passionate dietitian trying to make one person healthier at a time. 





Sunday, March 8, 2015

"That's A Keeper!"

I’ve been in the kitchen a LOT lately.  I’ve always said that I don’t like cooking (and I don’t) but I do LOVE to eat delicious food.  So, that’s been my motivation recently.  That, and the countless people that come into my office that don’t cook for themselves.  Yes, believe it or not that has inspired me too.  Cooking takes time.  The last thing someone wants to do when they come home from working a long day is to cook dinner!  It’s easy to be tempted to take your car through the drive through and let someone else do the cooking for you.  I get it.  At least I get the convenience part of it.  I definitely don’t get the flavor part and the feeling “ick” after you’ve eaten that greasy gross food feeling.  I digress.  The convenience part of it I truly do get.  Along with the cooking comes the planning.  Planning is key.  Maybe you make your rice up for the week (it really does heat up easily).  Then all that’s left to do is steam a vegetable and sauté or bake your protein up.  It’s the planning and knowing what you’re going to have for the week that allows you to not dread the preparation part of it.  That’s why I love Rachael Ray’s concept of 30 minute meals.  If you do have all the ingredients on hand (and you will if you plan to have them) and the meal can take just 30 minutes from start to finish, why not make something healthy and good for you?  My challenge to my patients is to simply start making a few meals at home and limit the frequency of the meals eaten out.  And when you do eat out try and make some of the healthier choice selections that are more readily available than used to be.  Here are a few recipes that I promise are “Keepers” and won’t leave you wondering if they’ll turn out or not.    They’re tried and true and are simply delish. 

Snack:  Raw Hemp Bites
I started making my own “energy bars” a few years back.  Most of the packaged ones have too many additives or added sugar that I felt that I should explore making my own.  Lära bars are my go to if I don’t have time to make any.  They simply have dates and a nut with a few spices here and there to give you as natural as can be energy bar.  There are many that I make, but I stumbled across this one the other day and love that it had the hemp seeds mixed in.  It’ll definitely be in my rotation of bars that I’ll be making from now on:


 Salad:  Pear & Arugula Chickpea Salad

Not too much to say about this one, but simply delish.  I’m pretty boring when it comes to my salad.  It’s most times just my leafy greens, tomatoes, and a nut with a couple different of my go to salad dressings.  The dressing always gives me that different taste feeling so I don’t think I’m eating the same thing over and over.  But recently I’ve been stepping my salad game UP!  I think the more things I can throw in my salad, the better!  And this one doesn’t disappoint.  I love how she marinated the chickpeas in a little of the dressing ahead of time.  It really does enhance the flavor.  And then the combination of pine nuts, feta, the garbanzos, and hemp, oh my!!  I’ve made it two weeks in a row it’s that good.

Soup/Stew:  Butternut Squash, Kale & Quinoa Stew

This one is for all of you in those cold weather states that need some warming up.  It’s 74° and overcast today but next week it’s going to be in the 80s.  Definitely not soup weather here in the MIA.   The thing is even here people love soups.  We just eat them to warm up from the cold air conditioner J  This soup has it all – a great mix of flavors and you can spice it up as much as you like.  A great combination of butternut squash, kale and quinoa.  The color on my stew was off (hers was WAY brighter and prettier) and I didn’t realize until later that my smoked paprika was old.  It’s been replaced and this stew needs to be made again.  And to think it’s going to taste better than the 1st time!

Main Dish – Seafood:  Halibut with Coconut Creamed Kale and Quinoa in a Papillote
Every so often I will have seafood.  It’s not often, but sometimes it’s a good option when eating out.  Not every restaurant is vegetarian friendly.  You’d think by now most restaurants would have an idea of how to make a vegetarian meal that wasn’t just vegetables and more vegetables.  Maybe they need a dietitian to give them an example of a well-balanced meal with protein, carbohydrates and fat.  I made this dish a couple of weeks ago for a friend.  Needless to say it was my 1st time cooking with parchment paper (yes I had to watch the video to make sure I cooked the fish the right way.  I even got my friend involved to make sure I was doing it right – note to self, next time don’t make a meal for the 1st time for someone, too stressful!)  I had some extra quinoa already cooked up, so I didn’t cook the quinoa in the coconut milk.  Regardless it still turned out amazing!  The parchment paper makes clean-up easy and it only takes 15 minutes to bake – too easy NOT to cook a dinner like this at home. 

Dessert:  Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Truffles
Chocolate and peanut butter.  Peanut butter and chocolate.  Yeah, they just go together.  They really really do.  This recipe made quite a few, so I even shared.  And these are not just I think they’re “keepers” good these were everyone’s “keepers” good.  Yeah, that good.  So make them.  Share them.  I bought the crisped rice cereal in an individual container, no need for a whole box that’ll go to waste.  And that way I can have some always on hand and not be stale when I need it.  I must now go look for another of her truffle recipes to try. 

So there you have it – a few more recipes that have recently made it into my “keepers”.  I hope you see a recipe or two that you might like to try.  I currently have a stack of recipes that are just waiting to be made.  So I’m off to cook and look for more “keepers” of my own.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to need a new folder soon to hold all of these “keepers”!