Blog

The Gluten Free Diet Trend

wheat

There are endless trends when it comes to nutrition but the one that appears to be taking center stage is gluten free diets.   It is estimated that around 22 % of adults are trying to avoid gluten, creating an estimated 8.8 billion dollar market.  It goes without saying that this is big business for food companies.  But, is a gluten free diet really the way to go?  Is the big boom in gluten free diets out of necessity?  Anyone who has considered going gluten free should read this article The Gluten Enigma appearing in the March/April issue of Eating Well.   This article explores gluten sensitivity and addresses the myth of gluten free diets for weight loss. Although this article is unlikely to totally clear up the controversy regarding gluten free diets, hopefully it will help consumers make the best decision when it comes to their diet.

Ways to Eat Smarter this Spring

asparagus

We all could use a little help with our eating habits and Appetite for Health has provided some great tips to get us started with healthier eating for the warmer months.

 1. Snack Smarter.

Start by changing the “snack ratio” in the house. Slowly and gradually have more fruits, veggies, and healthier snack choices around, rather than the typical, higher-calorie junk food. Fresh produce is abundant in the spring season – so make watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, peaches, blueberries and other fruits your “go-to” sweet snack items in place of  cookies, ice cream or candy bars.  I love to combine fresh fruit with non fat greek yogurt as a way to keep me full between meals, while maximizing taste and good nutrition. Want more great snack ideas?  Check out Julie’s list of “Skinny 100-Calorie Snacks”.

2. Get a “Hand”le on Portions.

Regularly consuming super-sized portions is one of the quickest ways to derail your diet.  Develop a healthy habit of selecting sensible-sized food portions. If your plate has a serving of rice that can’t fit into the cupped palm of your hand then you’ve probably taken too much. Using this “cup of your hand” technique is a good way to mentally measure the amounts of foods that go onto your plate. For a good guide to estimating healthy portions using your hand, check out this chart.

3. Slash Your Soda Intake.

Can you commit to going soda-free this summer?  Why not! Try slowly weaning yourself off calorie-containing soft drinks.  Delicious, thirst-quenching alternatives include unsweetened iced tea or water with slices of orange or lemon . If you want to keep your ‘fizz’, try a beverage of ¼ cup 100% fruit juice mixed with seltzer.

4. Choose Low-Calorie Sauces and Dips.

Take advantage of great summer salads for main courses and appetizers, but have sauces and dressings served on the side. This step alone can save you hundreds of calories. Instead of dousing salads with rich dressings, dip your fork into a small dish of dressing and then pick up your food. This will impart the flavor of your dressing with every bite, but without adding too many calories.  If you find yourself at a party with lots of chips and dips… either avoid them altogether, or portion out a handful of chips (better yet – opt for veggies if they are available) and pair with a few tablespoons of healthier dips like hummus, salsa, or bean dip.

5. Eat Breakfast.

Really.  I mean it.  This one can make a big difference in how many total calories you consume for the day. A healthy breakfast choice may establish your hormonal appetite regulation system for the day.  A scone or muffin with coffee might sound good, but won’t tame your cravings or temper your appetite as much as a protein-rich breakfast from eggs (6 grams protein per 70-calorie med egg), egg whites (the protein is split between the yolk and white but the white is lower in calories), oatmeal with peanut butter or yogurt (esp Greek yogurt); yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit; or nut butters with a protein-rich whole-grain bread. If you’re eating cold cereal, look for brands that provide at least six grams protein per serving and have with a cup of skim or 1% milk will add an additional 10 grams protein.

For good ideas on what to eat for breakfast, check out our article on 10 Healthy Breakfasts in Less than 10 Minutes.

6. Make Mondays Meatless. 

You may have heard the “Meatless Mondays” slogan, which started as a way to help the war effort during WWI. Now it’s a nationwide movement (meatlessmonday.com). Why take the pledge? Going meatless just one day a week can decrease your risk for cancer and other major health issues.

7. Expand Your “Grain Universe”.  

You’re into quinoa? Great! Now venture a little deeper into the world of whole grains. Not only do they taste terrific, there are many health benefits to be gained by expanding your “Grain Universe”.  Studies show that eating whole grains instead of refined grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases. While benefits are most pronounced for those consuming at least 3 servings daily, some studies show reduced risks from as little as one serving daily. The message: every whole grain in your diet helps!  Don’t know how to cook more exotic whole grains?  Check out this great guide from Cooking Light.

Source:appforhealth.com

On the Move

color-run

I heard a personal trainer say last week: “sitting is the new smoking.”
 
This startled me. I’m sure that was his intent. And then I found this article with nearly the same title. Ok, let’s add this to the ever growing list of things that are bad for us. For many of us, that’s not a problem — food service operations doesn’t involve a lot of “sit time.” 
 
And, yet, we hear how important (like super, super important) it is to not just move around during the day, but to get your heart-rate pumping for a sustained 30 minutes (minimum) every day (strive for 5 at least!). Heavy breathing…is so good for us. 
 
Now that the snow has melted, the birds are singing, and spring is in the air, what are some ways to make this a habit and a gift to yourself?
 

Asparagus & Mushroom Tarts

Slider_April15

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

Asparagus & Mushroom Tarts

Slider_April15

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

pride-in-food-service
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?

grocery-store

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

burger-ljp-resized

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

nutri-facts-label

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

Slider_March15

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