National Nutrition Month Pledge

F O O D

For National Nutrition Month, I’m taking a pledge to try one new fruit or vegetable each week of March! The first week I tried Uniq fruit. This week, I’ve tried kalettes (which are awesome by the way). Please join me by taking this pledge too! ¬†Answer the poll if you plan to do it and comment below with the fruits or veggies you want to try ūüôā

And… you all get off easy since one week’s already gone ūüėČ

I pledge to try one new fruit or vegetable each week for the month of March.

Happy National Roasting Month

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Did you know that November is National Roasting Month?

Roasting is one of my favorite ways to prepare veggies and can be very healthy. This cooking method¬†is very simple and easy¬†to use. Here’s how you roast:

  • First of all, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Then place some chopped veggies on a cookie sheet and drizzle with oil.
  • Sprinkle some of your favorite seasonings over the veggies, which can be as simple as¬†a dash of salt and black pepper.
  • Bake¬†until the veggies are tender and start to brown.

Adding oil to your vegetables can actually increase their health value. Many vegetables contain fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K. Eating them with a small amount of fat such as oil can help your body fully absorb these great vitamins.

Choosing the right oil:

Many people do not realize that not all oils are created equal. While olive oil is often touted as one of the healthiest oils, it does have a low smoke point which means that it degrades easily when heated to high temperatures such as those used during roasting or sauteing. Olive oil is a very healthy fat, but it is best to use an oil that can withstand high temperatures when roasting. Some good choices for roasting include canola oil, grapeseed oil, or sunflower oil.

Choosing your veggies:

Go with a variety of veggies that are a variety of colors. Mix and match ‚Äď choose whatever combination of veggies that you like together. Here are some good combinations to get started:

  • Carrots, green beans, tomatoes and potatoes
  • Butternut squash and Brussels sprouts
  • Zucchini, yellow squash, baby bella mushrooms and red onion
  • Any frozen veggie variety pack ‚Äď just realize that it will take a little longer to roast from the freezer

This holiday season, instead of making that green bean casserole loaded with creamy, high-calorie dressing; try roasting some of your favorite veggies and add some great colors and nutrition to your plate!

Why You Should Freshly Grind Your Wheat

About 17¬†years ago, my mother got her first wheat grinder. From the first loaf we made, we knew there was a huge difference in freshly ground wheat. Our bread didn’t even taste like wheat bread! It was so light and fluffy and had a beautiful mildly nutty flavor with a hint of sweetness.

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Wheat Kernels – we use the hard white variety

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Freshly Ground Flour – still warm and fluffy!

After some research, we quickly discovered that freshly ground wheat not only tasted better, but was much more nutritious as well. Below you will see a diagram of a wheat kernel. The germ is the baby plant that is waiting to grow – it has many vitamins, minerals, and even omega 3 fatty acids. The endosperm is food for the baby plant to grow – it is mostly starch. The bran is the tough protective outer layer that is where most of the fiber is found.

Wheat Kernel

photo source: thegearedlife.com

White flour has had both the germ and the bran removed, and then is usually bleached to produce the beautiful white color. Often it will then be enriched with vitamins and minerals added back in after processing.

Whole wheat flour has the bran included – which increases the fiber content. However, the germ still must be removed because the fats in it will oxidize and become rancid. Often when you purchase wheat flour from the store, they will add in preservatives as well to further increase the shelf life.

The great thing about freshly ground whole wheat flour is that the entire kernel is still intact. You get the fiber from the bran, as well as the healthy fats and the vitamins and minerals. The trade off with this is that it is not very shelf stable. You must use the flour within 1-2 days or it will begin to oxidize and turn bitter. If the flour is stored in the freezer, it can last up to a month.

wheat grinder

An electric wheat grinder like this costs $200-$300 and can even be found on Amazon.com

What type of wheat should you use? There are red and white varieties, as well as soft and hard varieties. Basically, red wheat variety has an additional color compound that also gives it a stronger, more nutty flavor. We like the white variety because it has a slightly milder, sweeter flavor – but it’s all up to your personal preference. The hard varieties have more protein than the soft varieties, making them better for breads whereas soft wheat is better for cakes or pastries.

There are many reasons why you should grind your own wheat. For flavor. For nutrition. For health. Not to mention, it’s cheaper and it’s just more fun! (If you want a great recipe for freshly ground whole wheat bread click here.)

Do you grind your own wheat? What are some of your favorite reasons and/or recipes that you use?

fresh grains

Healthy Lunch Packing

As I’m getting ready to start a new job, I’ve been trying to plan ahead and think about healthy, easy lunches to pack. The key to this is really just thinking about MyPlate so you get a variety of food groups in:

MyPlate

Below is an infographic that I created to give you a few ideas to get your creativity flowing. Leftovers are also always great – just don’t forget to pack your fruits and veggies as well! Here are a few additional tips:

  • Choose whole grains whenever possible
  • Choose plant-based protein sources more often and animal proteins less often
  • Pick a different color veggie each day to increase your variety
  • Always make sure half of your meal is fruits and veggies!

Do you have any tips for packing healthy lunches? Comment below and let me know!

Happy packing (:

 

healthylunches

Protein Food Group

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Why is it important? 

Protein is the building block for muscles, bones, cartilage, blood, and skin. Foods in the protein food group also provide vitamins such as the B vitamins (niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and B6) as well as vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium. B vitamins play a role in energy production and function as part of the nervous system and red blood cells. Iron carries oxygen for use throughout the body. Magnesium helps bone strength and growth. Zinc plays a role in chemical reactions and helps the immune system. Omega 3’s fatty acids are also found in seafood and may help reduce risk for heart disease and lower cholesterol.

 

Recommendations/Guidelines:

Limit meat consumption – choose plant based protein sources more often.

recprotein

Source: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/protein-foods.html 

 

Good Sources: 

  • Meats
    • beef
    • ham
    • lamb
    • pork
    • bison
    • rabbit
    • venison
  • Poultry
    • chicken
    • duck
    • goose
    • turkey
  • Eggs
  • Beans and Peas
    • bean burgers
    • black beans
    • chickpeas
    • falafel
    • kidney beans
    • lentils
    • lima beans
    • pinto beans
    • soy beans
  • Nuts and Seeds
    • almonds
    • cashews
    • hazelnuts
    • mixed nuts
    • peanuts
    • peanut butter
    • pecans
    • pistachios
    • pumpkin seeds
    • sesame seeds
    • sunflower seeds
    • walnuts
  • Seafood
    • catfish
    • cod
    • flounder
    • haddock
    • halibut
    • herring
    • mackerel
    • pollock
    • salmon
    • snapper
    • trout
    • tuna
  • Shellfish
    • clams
    • crab
    • lobster
    • mussel
    • octopus
    • oysters
    • scallops
    • shrimp

Life as an Intern 4 (Highlights)

For the final “Life as an Intern” post for National Nutrition Month, I thought I would talk about my favorite parts of my job. I’ve seen some negative posts lately about how hard it is to be a dietetic intern, and while I probably agree with most of what has been discussed, I wanted to put some positive thoughts out there because in all honesty – I love my job. Is it hard? Yes. Do most people realize all we have to go through to become dietitians? No. And I’m all for raising awareness, but let’s be honest. We probably chose this field because we are passionate about it. And because I’m passionate about it, I love it. I love teaching people about nutrition and food and eating right.

So here they are Рthe top reasons why I love being a dietetic intern:

  1. My patients/clients. The patient who eagerly listens to what I teach them and asks a million questions. The patient who writes everything down and wants all my handouts. The patient who shares a story with me or gives me a compliment. The patient that I return to check up on and their eyes light up as I enter the room. Sure, there are difficult patients, but the ones that take what I teach them to heart make everything worth it.
  2. Teaching. I love sharing my nutrition knowledge. I’ve devoted the last 5 years of my life to learning everything about this subject – I think it’s about time I start sharing it with people. I love those client meetings where I get to interact with a client one-on-one and educate them¬†on nutrition and eating better.
  3. Food. I mean, seriously. I get to teach people how to cook healthy and delicious food, and I get to taste it. What job could be better than that? Not to mention, since dietetics is usually connected to foodservice, dietitians often get discounted or free meals. And we get to be the official taste-testers; dietitians are usually required to do so many test trays each week.
  4. Learning. As an intern, we get the best of both worlds. We get to do the job of dietitian and teach clients, while still under a dietitian and learning from her. If there’s something you can’t figure out, your preceptor is sitting in the desk beside you and chances are, she’s had a similar case¬†that she can share with you to help you figure it out.
  5. Friends. Most internships have multiple interns, and aren’t usually too large. What better way to make friends than to be stuck in close proximity to 33 other people who are going through exactly the same thing as you? You all have similar interests and passion about nutrition, you all understand exactly what the others are going through, and chances are you’ll make a few friends along the way.

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Eating More Plants

I’m reblogging a post that I wrote for the SLU blog about eating more plants. The article hasn’t technically been posted yet so I will update this as soon as I get a link.

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‚ÄúA healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains.‚ÄĚ -2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

This is the first time that the Dietary Guidelines Committee has specifically stated that meat (especially red and processed meat) should be lower in our diets. As more and more scientific evidence is pointing towards plant based living as being healthier and more sustainable, many Americans are starting to follow a more plant based diet.
Eating a diet heavier in plants is not that difficult to do with some simple planning. One common misconception that is associated with plant based diets is that it is hard to get enough protein. This is not true, as long as the diet provides adequate energy.

The¬†American Institute for Cancer Research suggests that we start viewing meat more as a condiment and less as the main portion of the meal. Their recommendations are that a maximum of 18 ounces of meat be consumed in one week. Their guidelines also state that there is ‚Äúno safe amount‚ÄĚ of lunch meat or other processed meats. Below is a link to their guidelines:

With research indicating that eating more plants can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, excess weight gain, and even some cancers; perhaps now would be the best time to start adding more plants into your diet. Even if you are not quite ready to give up meat for good, starting to reduce your intake could benefit your health.

Grain Food Group

grainss

Why is it important? 

Grains provide fiber, B vitamins (riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, and folate), and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and selenium. B vitamins play an important role in metabolism and folate is especially important for pregnant women to prevent spina bifida. Iron and folate both play an important role in red blood cell production and prevent anemia. Magnesium helps build bones and helps release energy from muscles. Selenium protects cells from oxidation and helps the immune system.

 

Recommendations/Guidelines:

Make AT LEAST half of your grains whole grains.

grains

Source: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/grains-amount.pdf 

 

Good Sources:

  • amaranth
  • brown rice
  • buckwheat
  • bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • millet
  • oatmeal
  • popcorn
  • rolled oats
  • quinoa
  • sorghum
  • whole grain barley
  • whole grain cornmeal
  • whole rye
  • whole wheat bread
  • whole wheat tortillas
  • wild rice

Omega 3s and Your Health

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some fish in an international grocery store…

I’m reblogging an article that I wrote for the Saint Louis City Department of Health when I had my rotation there in September. If you would like to visit the original article click here. I have edited this article.

Not all fat is bad. In fact, some types of fat have numerous health benefits. Perhaps you have heard about omega 3s lately. This type of fat is polyunsaturated, and you may notice that it is liquid at room temperature. Consuming omega 3s can positively affect your health in many ways. One way is by decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease by decreasing inflammation in the body. Inflammation causes cardiovascular disease when it damages blood vessels and the heart. Omega 3 consumption also decreases blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and reduces blood clotting, therefore reducing risk of stroke and heart attack. Because the brain has a high concentration of fat, omega 3s greatly improve cognitive ability. They have even been shown to reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In children, omega 3s are associated with increased learning ability.

Good sources of omega 3s are usually animal-based such as fish and seafood. Seaweed is also a good source, along with flaxseed, chia, and vegetable oil. Omega 3s can also come from fortified foods such as milk, yogurt, eggs, or bread fortified with omega 3s.

Here are some good sources:

  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed, 3.19 g
  • ¬ľ cup walnuts, 2.72 g
  • 4 ounces tuna, 1.6 g
  • 4 ounces salmon, 1.32 g
  • 4 ounces shrimp, 0.34 g
  • 1 cup cauliflower, 0.21 g
  • 4 ounces cod, 0.19 g
  • 1 cup spinach, 0.17 g
  • 1 cup raspberries, 0.15 g
  • 1 cup kale, 0.13 g

During pregnancy and early childhood, the need for omega 3s increases along with the need for fat. Nearly 60% of energy consumption during early life goes towards brain development, making fat a vital nutrient. Omega 3s are needed for brain and eye development, cognition, and many hormones that regulate growth. Since certain fish are not recommended for consumption during pregnancy due to potential exposure to mercury, supplementation with fish oil may be necessary.

Food is always the best source of nutrition, but if you don’t eat a lot of fish taking a fish oil supplement may be beneficial. When choosing a fish oil supplement, look for one with the highest level of omega 3s. You should aim for about 1,000 mg per day. Some studies show that taking fish oil can be protective against heart disease and help you recover quicker from a heart attack because it helps reduce inflammation in the body. Always choose fish oil over flaxseed because plant sources of omega 3s must be converted into the fatty acid before your body can use it. This conversion process is very inefficient and you will end up not getting very much omega 3 for your money.

In summary, omega 3s are good fats that should be increased in your diet. Some of the many benefits they provide are decreased cardiovascular disease, decreased inflammation, and improved cognition. Omega 3s come from many sources, and should be incorporated into a healthy diet.