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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holiday Candy: Easter Dream or Dread?

Another holiday is approaching and sadly, the commercialism surrounding it markets to our American sweet tooth and our love of a gimmick.  Take any candy, add a pastel wrapper or miniaturize it and Viola!  You have more and more Americans paying to gain weight.  Now don't get me wrong - I'm not the kind of dietitian that believes in a sugarless holiday.  Heaven only knows that I will be consuming a token Peep, and a dark chocolate egg or two, however, that is about the extent of it.  That is where we trip up as a nation - we rarely adhere to the "too much of a good thing" rule. 
Here are some ways to control the sugar-overload:
  • Limit to seasonal favorites.  Just because a KitKat has bunny ears embossed on the chocolate doesn't mean you have to eat one this Easter.  Leave the candy you can get anytime for another time. 
  • Portion control.  A strip of Peeps has always been meant to be shared - sorry folks but 12 peeps isn't an appropriate serving size.  :)  Take advantage of the small, miniature sizes and eat just one after a meal.  
  • Spread it out.  Fight the urge to binge on the contents of your Easter basket or Easter eggs all on one day.  A lot of our holiday candy consumption comes not from true cravings, but from tradition or mindless habit.   Not only will this save you one, whomping stomachache, but older candy is less appealing and easier to throw out.
  • Don't hesitate to toss it.  Just because you have it doesn't mean you have to keep it and consume it.  Keep a few favorites and toss the rest.  This is a great way to teach your kids moderation and a healthy relationship with food.  There is no reason for you to continue to eat candy that you don't absolutely love.  (And lets face it - a lot of the candy at Easter is cuter than it is tasty).
  • Use for decoration, not consumption.  A lot of the charm of Easter candy comes from it's spring-colored packaging.  This makes it ideal for decoration, so take advantage of that.  So instead of in a candy dish, put it between two glass vases with flowers inside, or string your Peeps for a festive banner, but remember, we don't eat decorations, we throw them out.  You get the color and charm without the calories. 
  • Fill your eggs and baskets with non-edibles.  Instead of stuffing your eggs with candy, use stickers, or coupons ("good for staying up 30 minutes past your bedtime" or "good for making your bed").  Fill your Easter baskets with fun items that encourage activity, not just gorging on sugar.  Ideas include: Jump ropes, bubbles, an apron and chef's hat, footballs, frisbees, etc.  
Hopefully that gives you some ideas on how to curb the holiday sweet-tooth-syndrome this Easter season.  I'd much rather enjoy a strawberry-topped angel food cake than forgettable, foil-wrapped cheap chocolate.  Remember - just because you bought it or were given it as a gift, doesn't mean you have to eat it.  When in doubt - toss it out.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Broccoli Cheese Soup

The votes are in - and cream soup won.  So here's a lower-fat version to try that is full of calcium and protein.  

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Serving Size: Makes 6 10.5 oz (1 1/3 cup) servings


1 cup finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
cooking spray
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
16 oz. frozen broccoli florets
2 1/2 cups 1% milk
1/3 cup flour
4 oz. reduced fat Velveta
4 oz. reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
1-2 dashes tabasco
black pepper to taste


In a large pot coated with cooking spray, saute onion over medium-high heat until clear (3-4 minutes). Add garlic and saute another minute. Add chicken broth and broccoli florets. Reduce heat to medium. Blend milk and flour in blender or whisk together well. Add to broth mixture. Stir well until thickened. Add cheeses and stir until melted and combined. Add tabasco and black pepper to taste. Blend half of soup and return to pan or use an immersion blender to partially blend soup. Serves 6.
Nutrition Info per 10.5 oz serving:
Calories: 220
Fat: 8.7 g
Protein: 16.7 g
Carbohydrate: 18.2 g
Calcium: 40%
Sodium: 713 mg
Fiber: 3 g

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

RDN: Why the Change?

Recently, a new credential has been offered to all Registered Dietitians.  In the past RD was the credential that signified all the intensive schooling and practical experience required to become the most reliable source of nutrition information.  However, there has long been some confusion regarding the differences between "dietitian" and "nutritionist".  Most people are more familiar with the term nutritionist and may naturally seek information from a nutritionist.  However, keep in mind that all Registered Dietitians are Nutritionists, but not all Nutritionists are Registered Dietitians.  Anyone can claim to be a nutritionist without the training, schooling and rigorous credential process.  So to clarify to the public that Registered Dietitians are Nutritionists (and the most expert ones around) they offered a new credential: RDN = Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.  The take home message is this: if you are looking for reliable, expert nutrition & wellness information, you should look for a Registered Dietitian - whether they be listed as RD or RDN, they are still the experts in the nutrition field.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Greek Yogurt & Strawberry Parfaits

For all you class attendees - here is the recipe for the strawberry yogurt parfaits.  Enjoy!

Greek Yogurt & Strawberry Parfait



2 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
2 Tbsp. honey
32 oz. plain, non-fat greek yogurt
3/4 cup reduced sugar strawberry jam
1/2 cup honey-roasted sliced almonds (or plain toasted, sliced almonds)


Combine chopped strawberries and honey in a bowl, set aside. Combine yogurt and strawberry jam - mix well. In 12 glasses, layer strawberries, yogurt, strawberries and yogurt, then top with almonds.

Serving Size: Makes 12   6-oz servings

Nutrition Info
  • Calories: 147.8
  • Fat: 3.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 23.4g
  • Protein: 8.0g 
  • Calcium: 11% DV

Monday, March 11, 2013

Broccoli Carpaccio: Reinventing the Salad

Inspired by a Cooking Light recipe, I modified a Broccoli Carpaccio recipe. Carpaccio is traditionally a thinly sliced raw beef appetizer.  This version substitutes broccoli for beef (let's be honest - we'd all rather eat raw broccoli than raw beef).   I love the idea of vegetable sides and salads that go beyond leafy greens.  Don't get me wrong, I love my leafy greens, but they can grow a bit monotonous.  It takes about 15 minutes to assemble and should be served immediately so the avocado doesn't brown.  It can be made in advance, but wait to add the avocado, and top with the dressing until ready to serve.  Hope you enjoy the variety of flavors, colors and textures of this salad.

Broccoli Carpaccio Salad


4 cups matchstick carrots or carrot shreds
1 cup spring greens salad mix or mixed leaf lettuce
3 broccoli stalks, peeled and thinly sliced

1 avocado, sliced thin

2 Tbsp. lime juice
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. fresh, minced ginger
1/4 tsp. chili paste or 2 dashes hot sauce
2 Tbsp. fresh, chopped basil

Directions: To assemble salad, layer the matchstick carrots, the spring greens, the thinly sliced broccoli stalks (a mandolin works well to slice the stalks lengthwise), and top with the avocado slices.
Combine all dressing ingredients and pour over the salad. Serve immediately.

Serving Size: Makes 12 3/4-cup servings.

Number of Servings: 12

Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 12
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 91.2
  • Total Fat: 6.3 g
    • Monounsaturated: 3.9 g 
  • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
  • Sodium: 136.9 mg
  • Total Carbs: 8.7 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 3.8 g
  • Protein: 2.2 g 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Snack Attack: Spicy Fruit and Nut Mix

Prepare ahead of time for those snack attack moments.  Make a batch of this fruit, nut & seed mix, then preportion into small plastic bags.  This mix will keep well for weeks in your pantry.  It satisfies the salty, crunchy, sweet and spicy cravings that we tend to get mid-day or late at night.  Plus it is full of fiber and contains heart-healthy fats.

Spicy Fruit & Nut Mix

Nutrition Info
  • Calories: 96.9
  • Fat: 4.9g
  • Carbohydrates: 12.8g
  • Protein: 2.3g


1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg white
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 to 1 tsp. ground chipotle powder (depending on desired heat level)
1 cup dried blueberries
1 cup reduced sugar dried cranberries


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Toss nuts and seeds in a bowl. In separate bowl, whisk egg white until foamy. Stir nut mixture into egg whites. Sprinkle sugar, salt, remaining spices and mix well. Spread on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or silicon baking mat. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring half-way through. Turn oven off. Stir dried fruit into nut mixture and let mixture sit in cooling oven for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Makes approximately 24 servings. (Serving size = scant 1/4 cup)

Serving Size: Makes 24 scant 1/4-cup servings

Number of Servings: 24

Monday, March 4, 2013

How healthy is your relationship with food?

How do you really feel about food, and how much power do you allow it to have over you?  Unhealthy food-relationships are much more common than you might think and often pop up in the so-called 'healthy' folk among us.  How can you tell if you have a healthy relationship with that tasty, nourishing stuff?  Ask yourself a couple questions:
  •  Do you eat differently in front of people than you do alone?
  • Do you alter the amount or intensity of exercise based on what you eat?
  • How often do you eat in front of a tv or computer screen?
  • Do you rely on hunger and satiety to determine when and how much to eat?
  • Do you count calories?
  • Do you compare what you eat with what others are eating?
To find out how your relationship scores, try an online quiz.   Here are just a few sites that offer quick, free food-relationship quizzes: