Monthly Archive for: ‘September, 2011’

New plates on the table

September 29, 2011
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

This year, the U.S. government scrapped its MyPyramid icon in favor of the fruit-and-vegetable rich MyPlate-an improvement, yet one that still doesn't go far enough to show people how to make the healthiest choices.

There are better alternatives: the new Healthy Eating Plate and the Healthy Eating Pyramid, both built by faculty members in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, in conjunction with colleagues at Harvard Health Publications. The Healthy Eating Plate fixes the flaws in USDA's MyPlate, just as the Healthy Eating Pyramid rectifies the mistakes of the USDA's food pyramids. Both the Healthy Eating Plate and the Healthy Eating Pyramid are based on the latest science about how our food, drink, and activity choices affect our health—and are unaffected by businesses and organizations with a stake in their messages.
Click here to see Harvard's "Healthy Eating Plate"

Here’s a look at the HSPH’s Healthy Eating Plate and how it differs from USDA’s MyPlate

* Vegetables:  The HEP puts more emphasis on veggies and makes it clear that potatoes and French fries don’t count. Eat an abundant variety, the more the better. Limited consumption of potatoes is recommended, however, as they are full of rapidly digested starch, which has the same roller-coaster effect on blood sugar as refined grains and sweets. In the short-term, these surges in blood sugar and insulin lead to hunger and overeating, and in the long term, to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic disorders.

* Fruits: Choose a rainbow of fruits every day.

* Whole Grains: MyPlate is simply “grains” while HEP focuses on whole grains.
Choose whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown rice. Refined grains, such as white bread and white rice, act like sugar in the body. Eating too many refined grains can raise the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

* Healthy Proteins: MyPlate gives no indication of the best types of protein options.
Choose fish, poultry, beans, or nuts, which contain healthful nutrients. Limit red meat and avoid processed meats, since eating even small quantities of these on a regular basis raises the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and weight gain.

* Healthy Oils: Use olive, canola, and other plant oils in cooking, on salads, and at the table, since these healthy fats reduce harmful cholesterol and are good for the heart. Limit butter and avoid trans fat.

* Water: MyPlate recommends milk but shows no other beverages; HEP gives more details about calorie-free beverages and limits dairy.
Drink water, tea, or coffee (with little or no sugar). Limit milk and dairy (1-2 servings per day) and juice (1 small glass a day) and avoid sugary drinks.

*Stay Active: HEP promotes physical fitness; MyPlate does not address exercise.

I love the foods of summer… and fall!

Sep 27, 2011
Denise Simmons, Corporate Chef

I love the foods of summer…tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, squash, anything cooked on a grill, peaches, cherries, nectarines, watermelon, anything cooked on a grill…you get the idea.

But I also love the foods of fall, which is coming closer every day.  I noticed today the leaves are starting to change colors, there’s a little nip in the air first thing in the morning, the smell of wood smoke wafting by…it all makes me feel cozy & comfortable.

Dinner last night was just that: a little pot roast with onion jus, mashed potatoes, roasted butternut squash and best of all-a big pot of southern style braised local collard greens.  I’m a big fan of any & all types of greens, but collards, done well, are my favorite. 

I cooked dinner for my family-mom, dad & my niece, Aja.  Aja had never had collard greens before (I just can’t understand that…she’s my niece and has been in my life a lot in the past 20 years, how’d she miss collards?!?).  My dad asked her if she’d ever tried them, and when she replied ‘no’, he cautioned her to take just a little…’collard greens are one of those things you either love or hate’ (this from a man who tries very hard to never eat anything green).  Aja sort of gingerly tasted the first bite, then continued to pile more on her plate…and go for seconds!  A huge compliment since she’s a little bitty thing-just over five feet tall, maybe a size 3, and a VERY picky eater!  It was so nice to see her enjoy them!

I can’t wait until it’s cold enough for chili!  I came across a recipe for black bean chili with butternut squash & swiss chard…come on winter!

October featured recipe: Black & white bean chili

6 servings

1 T  — olive oil
1 1/2 cups — chopped onion
1 — 4 oz can chopped green chilies
1 — thai red chili peppers*, diced (optional)
1 tsp — dried oregano
1 tsp — ground cumin
1/8 tsp — cayenne pepper
1 — 15 oz can great northern beans, rinsed
2 — 15 oz can black beans, rinsed
6 cups — reduced sodium chicken broth
2 cups — diced cooked skinless turkey or chicken
2 T — cider vinegar

  1. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion & thai red chili peppers; cook until soft (about 5 min).
  2. Stir in chilies, thai chili peppers, oregano, cumin, and cayenne; cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in beans and broth; bring to simmer; stir occasionally for 20 minutes.
  4. Add meat & vinegar; cook 5 minutes more. Serve.

*Note: when handling any type of chili pepper, even very mild ones, be sure to wear gloves, or capsaicin will burn your skin for hours!

Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does.

Weekly Wisdom – Don't drink your calories

September 26, 2011
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

Don’t drink your calories.

Eat fruits & vegetables instead of drinking them. One study compared weight loss with solid produce vs. juice

  • Participants in an 8 week study lost an average of 3½ lbs by increasing their intake of solid fruits & vegetables (400-550 calories)
  • The “juice” group gained an average of 4-5 lbs.
  • Weight loss magic? No, the weight loss group got more satisfaction from the solid produce & ended up cutting back on total calories.

Weekly Wisdom – Need a multivitamin?

September 19, 2011
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

Need a multivitamin? Vitamins won’t prolong your life or keep you from getting sick.
But they can fill in “gaps” if you don’t get what you need from your diet.

Before you buy:

  • Look for a QA seal: USP or NSF label
  • “Whole Food” multivitamins aren’t necessarily better-there is little evidence they are absorbed better
  • Don’t spend more than 10 cents a day-there is almost no connection between price & quality

Weekly Wisdom – D for diabetes?

September 15, 2011
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

D for diabetes? Vitamin D may protect the pancreas from diabetes in people who are at high risk.

  • In one study, Vitamin D supplements improved beta cell performance…..the worse your beta cells perform the greater your odds of diabetes.

How to get more Vitamin D?

  • Aim for food sources of Vitamin D which include salmon, mackerel, tuna, and fortified milk & egg yolks
  • Consume ~ 600 IU per day


Changing tastes with the seasons…

September 13, 2011
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian, 

Normally this time of year I am savoring every last bit of the bountiful produce that is on its way out. Succulent tomatoes, savory eggplant and summer squash, fresh basil and of course, the last of the cold, juicy peaches... Unfortunately this year I am “plagued” with 24/7 “morning” sickness that has left me without a taste for the beloved summer produce. It is ironic that this year our basil plants were bountiful and I cannot even stomach the smell. I am not without hope though, as the summer season ends, fall brings some flavors that may be a bit more appealing to my 2nd trimester body. Already I have consumed the first of the apple crop, without any protest from my ornery body. The thought of root vegetables, butternut squash, and kale doesn’t leave me squeamish; I have hopes that as the leaves slowly vanish, so will my constant nausea. Perhaps I will be able to truly enjoy the upcoming holiday feasting and have the energy and appetite for cooking and baking once again.

Trash Talk – It's apple season!

September 12, 2011
Leslie Phillips, President & COO

It’s Apple Season, right here, right now!

Warm days, cool nights, rich deep soil make Virginia's climate ideal for apples. Love your local orchards!

  • Apples have ZERO fat, cholesterol or sodium
  • The average apple has only 80 calories and 5 grams of fiber
  • (20% of your daily need in one apple!)
  • Eat them as a snack, bake them, make them into applesauce

Trash Talk – Take a deep breath

September 7, 2011
Leslie Phillips, Director of Business Development & Client Relations

Come to the woods, for here is rest.
-John Muir (1838-1914)

  • Take a mature, leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year. What’s more?
  • Trees absorb pollutants, protect us from wind lowering heating costs, provide shade lowering cooling costs, help control noise, ease erosion, lock away carbon dioxide in wood.

Go ahead – hug a tree.

Weekly Wisdom – End of Summer recipe

September 06, 2011
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

Leftover end of summer produce?
Prepare a quick end of summer succotash that is loaded with fiber & other nutrients.

  • Sauté 1 cup of fresh corn kernels, baby lima beans, diced zucchini & diced red pepper in 1 tbsp of canola oil until sizzling hot.
  • Stir in 1 cup chopped tomato & season with salt & pepper.
  • Bon appétit!