Healthy Eating “Headlines”

There is no shortage of headlines toting the latest development in nutrition science and I will fully admit that it makes my head spin. We all know how important science is, but sometimes it appears that the science is constantly contradicting itself.  To avoid this conundrum, I only seek out information written by qualified (i.e. science) experts, but that doesn’t mean I can ignore what consumers are readings.

Recently I read an article simplifying some of the more confusing messages about nutrition science.   And despite all the hype we hear, it still comes down to the simple message of eating more plant-based foods, less processed meats & lower sugar intake.  The first part of this blog I will sum up the basic messages (which many of us have already heard) and part 2 will address more of the catchy headlines we have seen lately (gluten free among others).

Part 1: Nutrition Priorities
10 dietary factors that show strong evidence as causes of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure & diabetes.

  • Excess sodium (i.e. salt) intake
  • Low intake of nuts and seeds
  • High intake of processed meats (such as bacon and sausage),
  • Low seafood omega-3 fats consumption
  • Low vegetable & fruit consumption
  • High sugar-sweetened beverage intake
  • Low whole grains consumption\\
  • Low polyunsaturated fats, (vegetable oils)
  • High intake of saturated (unprocessed) red meats (beef, lamb, pork).

Optimal dietary intake
What does “optimal” dietary intake look like? Optimal daily intakes include:

  • Vegetables-400 grams daily (~ 2 ½ cups) this includes dried beans & peas
  • Fruit-300 grams daily (about 2 medium pieces of fruit or 2 cups)-not including juice

o   Whole grains-at least 125 grams daily (total 5 or more)-1 slice whole grain bread, ½ cup whole grain ready to eat cereals, cooked whole grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa or other
o   Nuts & seeds-equivalent of at least five 1-ounce servings per week

o   Seafood-supplied omega 3 fats-at least 250 mg per day-available from 8 oz of a variety of fish per week or 4 oz /week of high omega 3 fat
Source: Healthy Eating Roundup: Behind the headlines

What’s headed for your trash?

You can be less wasteful. Guaranteed. Wasteful of what, you might ask. Lots of things. But, let’s start with food.

You’ve heard this before: 40% of edible food ends up in the trash. Globally, about 1.3 billion…TONS. So much…it’s hard to even imagine, but let’s try. An average elephant weighs 4 tons. That’s 325 million elephants worth of good food in the trash. Still hard to imagine. The average skyscraper weighs 222 tons. That’s 5,842 skyscrapers. Did that help, or are you still mind-boggled? It’s tempting when we see or hear something that is unsettling to just walk away from it…to try to put it out of our mind because we feel bad about it.

Salt & Straw is a small ice cream shop in Portland, Oregon, and they are whipping up some new flavors using food bound for the trashcan. Get inspired to be less wasteful, to find a way to use ALL of your edible food and to have nearly nothing end up in the trash.

Quinoa Cakes

Serves 6

2T olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2½c cooked, chilled quinoa

14oz can black beans, drained & rinsed

3lg eggs, beaten

½t fine sea salt

1/3c fresh chives, chopped

1/4c grated parmesan

1/4c goat cheese

2c gluten free bread crumbs

1T olive oil or clarified butter


1. Combine quinoa, eggs, black beans & salt in bowl

2. Lightly sautée onion & garlic in oil, DO NOT brown

3. Add onions to quinoa, stir in other ingredients (except oil/butter)

4. Form into 12, 2″ patties. Best chilled before cooking

5. Heat oil/butter in skillet, med high, sautée 3 mins per side

Serve with red onion marmalade, tomato chutney, and/or horseradish cream


Guess what leadership “interaction skill” has the most impact on a team member’s job performance…clarifies details?  Encourages involvement? Supports? Develops others’ ideas? No, no, no. And no.
Listens and responds with empathy.

Yep. That’s it. And it’s a bona fide superpower.
[It] is not just about being able to see things from another perspective. It’s the cornerstone of teamwork, good innovative design, and smart leadership. It’s about helping others feel heard and understood.
Even Albert Einstein agrees, “empathy is patiently seeing the world through the other person’s eyes. It is not learned in school; it is cultivated over a lifetime.”

Veggie Moroccan Stew

Serves 8

1T olive oil

3/4c ea diced carrots & yukon potatoes

1½c ea diced eggplant & butternut squash

½c ea diced mushrooms & leek

1/4dried cranberries, raisins or prunes

14oz can chickpeas, rinsed

14oz can diced tomatoes

1C veggie broth

2t ea cumin, coriander, paprika

1 cinnamon stick

pinch crushed red pepper, s&p


1/4C fresh parsley

1/4C sliced almonds


1. Sautée veggies in oil, over med heat, 8-10 mins

2. Add other ingredients (except garnishes), bring to boil

3. Reduce to simmer, cook 20-30 mins

4. Remove cinnamon stick

5. Serve over basmati rice or couscous

6. Top with fresh parsley & almonds

Note: cut veggies small dice, ½”

The Eager Eater

Life is busy, for all of us.  Multitasking is the story of my life and one thing I can say with a definitive conclusion is that most of the time I don’t do it well. I find every aspect of my life improves when I tackle one task at a time simply by slowing down & paying attention. This certainly applies to eating. Many of us find ourselves rushing through our meals without giving the food we eat much of a second thought.  How can we change?  Below are a few strategies (adapted from Rebel Dietitians) for learning how to eat without distraction.
7 Ways to Stop Multitasking While you Eat
1. Take a few deep breaths-this could apply to everything we do.  Take a few deep breaths & focus on the task at hand (eating).
2. Ask yourself what you are hungry fornormal eating is actually consuming foods you enjoy. Basing your food choices solely on health only leads to overall dissatisfaction to your palate & the endless quest for satisfaction.

3. Set the table and plate your food-make your meal an actual dining experience.  Plate your food instead of picking.

4. Engage all your senses while eating

5. Taste your food-multitasking while you eat actually inhibits the pleasure you derive from eating.  Before you know it, your meal is finished, yet you can’t quite seem to remember what your food tasted like (or even how much you ate).
6. Think about ways you could explain this food to someone who has never seen it before.

7. Pause in the middle of eating for at least two minutes-in other words, slow down.  Remember your brain takes about 20 minutes to register that your body is full.

Stop Focusing on the Actual Goal

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 Buffet 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.

A Twist on Tradition

Before Valentines, take time to read “True love starts in the kitchen“… with Chef Anne from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, highlighted in Richmond Times-Dispatch! Sink your teeth into these Valentines Day foods with a makeover.

Bacon Bourbon Jam

12oz bacon, diced

½c onion, diced

pinch salt

3T brown sugar

2T bourbon (Maker’s Mark best)

2½c chicken stock

1T butter


1. In medium stock pot, cook bacon until it begins to crisp, 5-7 mins

2. Add onion & salt, cook 5 mins

3. Add bourbon & brown sugar, stir

4. Crank heat high, add 1 c stock, stir until liquid is almost gone, 7 mins

5. Add 1 more c stock, repeat

6. When “jammy” consistency, add last ½ c stock

7. Blend mixture in blender to smooth

8. Return to pan, cook on low 7 mins

9. Remove from heat & stir in butter

Excellent on steaks or other grilled or roasted meats

The One Thing You Can Count On

January 1. New calendars go up. We write 16…scratch through, no, 17. Eventually it becomes natural. We think about the year behind and the year ahead – to ourselves – out loud – maybe both. We make a resolution to change something — or consciously decide not to.

And yet, the one thing we can count on in life…every single one of us…is change. It’s happening whether we like it or not, embrace it or not, believe it or not.

“The secret of change
is to focus all of your energy,
not on fighting the old, but
on building the new.”
– Dan Millman

Here’s to a New Year!

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