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Asparagus & Mushroom Tarts

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Serves 8

2        sheets frozen puff pastry, thaw

¼ c    unsalted butter

12 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, cut strips

1 t    sea salt, divided

½ t     ground black pepper, divided

1 Ib    slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut 1” diagonal pieces

1½ t  chopped fresh thyme

1½ t  finely grated lemon peel

½ c    crème fraîche or greek yogurt

½ c    grated Gruyére cheese (packed)

 

1. Preheat oven to 400°F

2. Roll pastry sheets to 10” square, cut each into 4 squares

3. With knife, score ½” border around inside edge each square

4. Arrange squares on baking sheets

5. Sauté mushrooms, ¼ t ea s&p 4-5 mins, cool

6. Mix mushrooms, asparagus, thyme, lemon peel, ¾ t salt & ¼ t pepper, crème fraîche & cheese

7. Mound filling atop pastry squares, leaving ½” border

8. Bake tarts 8-10 mins, rotate sheets. Bake 6-8 mins more until puffed & golden

9. Transfer to plates: garnish with thyme

Listening to the Heartbeat

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If you get lots of emails, you probably have a system for keeping up. Recently, I created a filter in Gmail to grab all emails from SmartBriefs (my main source of self improvement reading material) and label them “To read” so they get out of my inbox and into one spot I can go to when I have a moment (and when I am writing Cliff Notes). Pretty cool. Google will organize me if I ask it to!

 

Trust, respect, and dignity. Three keys to a great workplace. With my new filter in place, this one caught my eye in a list of articles.  And in the first paragraphs, I thought, wow, what great timing! This short article basically says, hey companies…it’s good that you care what your customers think and that you survey them…but what about your employees? “Too few organizations measure how satisfied employees are with their company, their boss, their colleagues and their work environment.”

 

But not us! Our employee survey is live (see link below) and we want everyone to respond…every single employee’s opinion matters. Ultimately, how we frame our days at work (our sense of purpose and satisfaction) is our collective heartbeat.

 

“There is undeniable proof that when work environments demonstrate trust, respect, and dignity to every player in every interaction, engagement goes up, customer service goes up, and results and profits go up.”

 

This is the smile-smile-smile that makes it all worthwhile…rhyme unintended!

Food Branding, Is it All a Mind Game?

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Anyone who has ever been grocery shopping with a child knows how enticing a food package can be.  My 3 year old is fascinated by Curious George and squeals in delight when he sees that curious little monkey’s picture on boxes of “fruit” snacks.  Needless to say, if that box didn’t feature his favorite monkey, he probably wouldn’t even take notice.  Marion Nestle, a food political writer brings up the topic of food packaging in one of her recent blog posts.  

Is there any evidence that plain packaging for unhealthy foods would reduce demand? Research has focused on marketing’s effect on children’s food preferences, demands and consumption. Brands and packages sell foods and drinks, and even very young children recognize and desire popular brands. When researchers compare the responses of children to the same foods wrapped in plain paper or in wrappers with company logos, bright colors or cartoon characters, kids invariably prefer the more exciting packaging

Plain wrappers, no more marketing gimmicks?  Do we see that in our future?  I know many parents out there would certainly rejoice.

Hello March…and Fresh Starts

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February is the longest-shortest month of the year, so hello March! As we begin to think of spring – and fresh starts, here’s something to consider from Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love.
 
“…what I try to encourage people to do is forget about passion and focus instead on leading a life that’s based in curiosity. Curiosity is so much easier to access than passion. You may not know if you have a burning life passion, but you’re probably curious about some stuff. If you’re awake at all, right? There’s something in the world that kind of interests you—that little bit makes you want to turn your head a quarter of an inch. That sort of catches your ear. That sort of catches your eye. That’s where the inspiration and the ideas are hiding like fairies off in the corner.
 
So what I tell people is, don’t worry about finding your passion. Just look around today and ask yourself if there’s absolutely anything that you can find in the world that you feel even one percent curious about. And then follow it. Make the effort to turn your head more than a quarter of an inch. See what it is. Examine it and then find the next thing. And the next thing. And that trail of pursuing your curiosity very loyally—with a kind of discipline—knowing that your curiosity will eventually take you to your destiny, I think that’s where you find your passion. Eventually, it will lead you there.”

Battling Nutrition Misinformation on the Internet

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As a registered dietitian I am constantly battling the nutrition misinformation (i.e. quackery) that is published on the Internet.  Luckily for me I have many esteemed colleagues who are in this fight right along with me. …. 

5 Things a Dietitan Would Never Say

As a registered dietitian, I spend much of my day helping clear up confusion around which foods are healthy (and which are not). As more and more people hit the Internet to consume and share (via social media) food and nutrition information, misinformation is spreading faster than the latest Grumpy Cat meme: One week, maple water is the best thing for your health; the next it’s coconut oil, and now …bone broth.

So, where does all this nutrition hype come from? Many times it stems from a popular blogger, celebrity or website that highlights a new food trend. The buzz is generally based on preliminary or flimsy (poorly designed) research or simply anecdotal information.

Unfortunately, because anyone can claim they’re a “nutritionist,” this misinformation can pose a health threat. In some cases, adding trendy foods to one’s diet may elevate risk factors for chronic diseases. And eliminating entire food groups, as is often recommended without justification, can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Here are five common phrases I’ve heard five “nutritionists” say (these are things a dietitian would never say):

1. It works for me … so it will for you, too.

Just because the so-called expert lost a lot of weight or improved his or her health doesn’t mean their trick will work for you. A one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition generally works for no one. Nutrition recommendations should be individualized, based on one’s genetic makeup, age, sex, food preferences and lifestyle.

Anyone who believes that a particular type of diet would be beneficial for everyone makes no scientific sense. As a dietitian, I don’t expect an Olympic athlete or cardiac rehab patient to eat like me. Instead, I provide a personalized approach to help each client achieve his or her individual health goals.

2. I have no formal training in nutrition.

While all registered dietitians can be called nutritionists, not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. To be a registered dietitian nutritionist, you must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in nutrition science and supervised training in an accredited program that includes clinical and community settings. In addition, all RDNs have passed the national comprehensive exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. RDNs must also complete continuing education requirements to maintain our RDN credential.

The term “nutritionist” is not accredited. In fact, it may represent someone who has taken an online certification course, or it could be someone who feels entitled to call themselves a “nutritionist.” If your nutritionist isn’t qualified to work for a hospital or physician’s office, that’s cause for concern.

3. You can’t trust the medical “establishment.” When someone uses charged statements such as “If you want the real truth…” or “The FDA is using us as guinea pigs,” it’s most likely not credible. Trusted health organizations such as the American Heart Association, Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health develop nutrition recommendations based on overwhelming peer-reviewed evidence and can, in fact, be trusted. While it’s true that as the science evolves, recommendations may be updated, reputable health organizations make evidence-based recommendations.

4. The food industry fills our foods with toxic, addictive and cancer-causing ingredients that are essentially unregulated.

“Toxic.” “Cancer-causing.” “Made from petroleum.” These are terms often used by so-called nutrition experts to describe ingredients in the foods we eat every day. The statements are often misleading and an exaggerated s-t-r-e-t-c-h of the truth designed to raise fear about our food supply and the government agencies that oversee the safety of our food.

However, a real nutrition pro will focus on your personal diet, and assist you in finding the right foods – in the right amounts – to help you achieve your health goals. When you follow healthy eating principles, it’s great to be aware of what’s in your food, so you can make informed food choices, but no one should be fearful of the U.S. food supply. For the most part, ingredients singled out by some watchdog groups are generally found in soft drinks, fast food and other foods that aren’t on most RDs’ recommended lists of foods to enjoy.

5. This ____ (fill in the blank recommendation) helps “brain fog,” “elevate energy,” “leaky gut, “adrenal fatigue,” “acid-base balance.”

Often, I can identify non-dietitians just by the terms they use to promote a food or their diet philosophy. They will use non-medical terms that sound intriguing but can’t be proven effective, as there is no standard diagnosis for terms they use, such as leaky gut or adrenal fatigue. In fact, these highly subjective terms are not even recognized by most qualified medical professionals.

As dietitians, we are trained to treat risk factors for chronic conditions that have been proven effective through research. These include risk factors such as overweight and obesity; elevated blood glucose and insulin; high blood pressure, elevated LDL-cholesterol or C-reactive protein; and other clincally measureable risk factors for diseases.

By: Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD
http://www.usnews.com/topics/author/julie-upton

BBQ Chicken Pizza

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1 T olive oil

¾ c red onion, thinly sliced

2 boneless chicken breast halves

½ c homemade or commercial Korean bbq sauce

2 c smoked Gouda cheese, shredded

1/3 c fresh cilantro, chopped

1 16 oz. fully baked thin pizza 

1. Heat oil in large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add onion. Sauté until caramelized, about 8-10 mins

2. Preheat grill to high

3. Coat chicken with bbq sauce. Grill, marking both sides, until chicken is 165°F

4. Slice chicken into ⅓” wide slices

5. Mix cheese & cilantro

6. On crust, spread ½ cheese mix, chicken, rest bbq sauce, red onion, remaining cheese mix

7. Transfer pizza to hot baking sheet. Bake pizza on hot sheet about 15 mins

Stop Focusing on the Actual Goal

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For a company that is wild about wildly important goals…say what?!?

You need a goal (or two, but not more than 3!) and it needs to be measurable. The process of identifying and agreeing upon a goal (what can be even better, cleaner, tastier, safer) brings focus…to everyone. And, by the way…”focus” is the single word to which both Warren Buffett and Bill Gates attribute their success — not determination, not smarts, not courage, not creativity — but focus. 
BUT, to achieve your goal? Spend your time focusing on your “systems“.

“If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day…When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time. None of this is to say that goals are useless…goals are good for planning your progress, while systems are good for actually making progress.” 

So, you have a goal…pulse-check…what are your systems for achieving it and maintaining the desired result? Focus, focus and refocus on that.

Focus on Eating Real Food

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Even a science based professional finds their head spinning with all the contradictory information about dietary fats.

Recently another study was published disputing years of recommendations to keep our total fat consumption to less than 30% and saturated-fat to less than 10% of our calorie intake. Although this particular study I am referring to was not the ideal way to measure the effect of dietary fat on cardiac mortality (i.e. death), it helps put things in perspective. Rather than demonizing one specific macronutrient, be it carbohydrate, fat, or protein, we should focus on eating whole food. When we consume whole food we naturally eliminate processed foods with little nutritional value. Perhaps this is another lesson to teach us that it is far better to focus on real food rather than individual nutrients. When you eat a balance of real food there is no need to count carbohydrates, protein or fat because you naturally get what you need.

Bottom line, consume whole foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts and seeds, vegetables and fruits and whole grains; and limit (or avoid) consumption of processed foods. You don’t need a science background to understand that.

Focus on Eating Real Food

veggies

Even a science based professional finds their head spinning with all the contradictory information about dietary fats.

Recently another study was published disputing years of recommendations to keep our total fat consumption to less than 30% and saturated-fat to less than 10% of our calorie intake. Although this particular study I am referring to was not the ideal way to measure the effect of dietary fat on cardiac mortality (i.e. death), it helps put things in perspective. Rather than demonizing one specific macronutrient, be it carbohydrate, fat, or protein, we should focus on eating whole food. When we consume whole food we naturally eliminate processed foods with little nutritional value. Perhaps this is another lesson to teach us that it is far better to focus on real food rather than individual nutrients. When you eat a balance of real food there is no need to count carbohydrates, protein or fat because you naturally get what you need.

Bottom line, consume whole foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts and seeds, vegetables and fruits and whole grains; and limit (or avoid) consumption of processed foods. You don’t need a science background to understand that.

Come Together

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Whether you watch football or not, chances are you heard a lot of hype during the last two weeks. This year there was plenty to discuss and debate. Emotions can run very high when folks have strong feelings about “their team,” and with the opinions around “deflate-gate” there was more “who are you cheering for?” buzzing around.

How does this relate to our business?

How often do you see something differently from your colleague, employee, client? Every day we are faced with different opinions, beliefs, viewpoints and preferences. Sometimes, these differences are in areas we feel very strongly, if not passionately about.  What if someone criticizes “your team” or your work?

There are many scenarios and opportunities for folks to disagree. But what we do and how we react makes all the difference in how we work together:

  • Will you listen to what the other person has to say completely before landing on what you think?
  • Do you really hear how the other person feels and why?
  • Do you want to understand where they are coming from?
  • Can you be accepting of their opinion even if it differs from yours?
  • Can you let go of the fact that they may not agree with you?

The more we can answer yes to these questions, the further we will all go. Reaching yes gets easier and easier as we focus on CV#5.  Regardless of how we feel about a situation, we can always Be Kind, Be Positive, and Be Gracious. 

Yes, even when we are cheering for different teams we can do that.

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