About Me

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Technically speaking, I'm a dietitian, but I see myself as a listener, a motivator, coach and teacher of nutrition. I prefer to end a busy day with a glass of red wine while chopping vegetables. Lover of almost anything pickled and fresh baked scones just not at the same time. I'm happiest when I'm cooking for people I love. Why am I so into food? Because I KNOW how much eating well can change your life. What you eat every day is going to impact your body and your mind. It's a confusing world out there - full of diet and food advice that always leaves you feeling like it's that one next diet that's going to be the weight loss answer. Stop waiting for that magic diet, and begin to take one step at a time in the right direction. I'm here to help you on your life-long journey, there's no better time to start!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Eating Made Easy - Smoothie Mania!

Amelia Winslow of "Eating Made Easy - Food Solutions for Your Busy Life" has great recipes for healthy smoothies. I wanted to share them with you. Even if its cold outside you can re-fuel after a good workout or share one for an evening snack.

I love these smoothie recipes because they offer a nice balance of protein and carbohydrates without a big sugar bomb.  Smoothies are also a great way to eat on the go, get in your daily fruit, or have a healthy dessert!

Amelia's smoothies are  kind of like eating ice cream, only with fewer calories and more nutrients.  Below are some of her favorite smoothie recipes, but first, a few smoothie-making tips from Amelia:
  • Good places to find cheap frozen fruit: Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Costco.  Or freeze your own.
  • Use milk or milk substitutes as the liquid instead of juice, to keep your smoothies high in calcium and lower in sugar.
  • Use plain yogurt instead of flavored, to limit sugar.
  • Put the liquid & yogurt in the blender first, fresh fruit in second, and the frozen fruits in last, so your blender blends more easily.
  • If you’re blender struggles, use the “pulse” button, or stop it and shake the carafe around a little to loosen things up.  (Don’t stick a spoon in there, you’ll end up with injury or a big mess).
  • Think of a smoothie as a meal or part of a meal, not just a drink.  Smoothies are only nutritious if they’re not adding excess calories to your diet.
For all of the following smoothie recipes, simply blend the listed ingredients (put soft stuff in first) until you reach desired consistency.  These amounts are approximate.  No need to measure, just experiment to see what you like.

Peach Mango Smoothie
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup frozen peach slices (about 1/2 a large peach)
1/2 cup frozen mango cubes
splash of Amaretto (unless this is is for a kid)
a few toasted sliced almonds on top for garnish & crunch

Strawberry Banana Smoothie (shown above)
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
1/2 frozen banana
5-7 frozen strawberries
crushed or cubed ice to taste

Pina Colada Smoothie
1/3 cup Light coconut milk
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/2 frozen banana
1 Tbsp shredded coconut (found in baking aisle)
squeeze of lime juice
cubed or crushed ice to taste

Vegan Berry Smoothie
1/2 cup silken tofu
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 Tbsp honey
crushed or cubed ice to taste

Ultimate Chocolate Smoothie
1/2 cup low-fat milk
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
6 oz container nonfat vanilla yogurt
1/2 banana
lots of ice

Banana Oat Smoothie
Find it here on Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food website.
(I use this recipe, only with a frozen banana and some ice).

Raspberry Lime Smoothie
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup limeade or lemonade
big squeeze fresh lime juice
1 cup frozen raspberries
cubed or crushed ice to taste

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

You Can Cook Fish! 4 Easy Steps to a Delicious Omega-3-Rich Dinner

Wild pacific salmon is a great source of protein, polyunsaturated omega-3 fat, vitamin D, and selenium.  If you enjoy eating salmon and other fish, but feel a little uneasy about preparing it yourself at home, read on. Here is a quick and easy four-step game plan with very little to clean up when you're done. You will have perfectly cooked, flaky, and satisfying salmon in less than 20 minutes. 

Step 1: Buy a fresh, firm piece of fish. Preferably de-boned to avoid hazardous eating! Place it on a large piece of tin foil on a baking pan or dish. Previously frozen is OK too, just let it thaw in the refrigerator. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2: Squeeze the juice of half a lemon and thin slices of lemon on top. (Bonus Tip: Vitamin C helps absorb iron when you eat it at the same time!) with fresh thyme sprigs and salt and pepper to taste.  I love grabbing fresh thyme from the garden, but feel free to play around with any herbs, dried or fresh.

Step 3: Completely wrap up the fish inside the tin foil and into the oven it goes! Depending on thickness, cook for approximately 15 minutes, until fish is opaque and flaky. If you take it out, and its not quite cooked through, just wrap it back up and cook for another 5 minutes. Be careful not to over-cook it... you will end up with dry fish. You'll learn as you go how long it will take in your oven.

Step 4: Once your fish is cooked squeeze on a bit more fresh lemon, and serve with steamed asparagus, roasted red potatoes or wild rice sprinkled with fresh herbs.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Your body is a detox program: A Review of Kaeng Raeng

Thanks for asking what I think of the popular detox program, Kaeng Raeng:

 Let me start by saying I really don’t promote detox drinks or detox supplements for many reasons, but primarily because I feel that feeding the body “less toxic foods”in the first place is a better place to start. However, I am always committed to doing some honest investigating into any product before I make a statement about how I feel it stands up nutritionally. I understand and respect that everyone leads a unique lifestyle and I’m not here to judge a person’s choices be it food, drink or a detox formula. I did not try the product, but wrote my opinions based on information available on the website.

Whats in it:  Freeze-dried fruit with soybeans, fiber and some added sugar from cane juice.  Why not just blend some frozen berries with 1/2 cup of organic tofu, soymilk or yogurt and a couple tablespoons of ground flaxseed? They claim is has probiotics in it. Most live probiotic formulas need to stay refrigerated to maintain effectiveness, and there was nothing written about how many live probiotic strains are present in the freeze-dried powder formula. That raises a few questions in my mind.  You can eat some kefir or yogurt and get your daily dose of probiotics.

As I browsed the website, I have to be honest that right off the bat, I’m scared. The website has 3 levels of detox. They suggest you start at the beginner level... stating it’s “Our most gentle formula”. I worry about what is in the “Master” level for regular detoxers. In my opinion feeling your best shouldn’t put you through harsh or uncomfortable experiences. Also - might exercise be a little challenging when going through your detox? They recommend stretching and low impact weight training but don’t mention aerobic exercise.

It also stood out to me on the website they recommend to do a detox when you feel “fatigued, bloated, or just plain gross” from your usual diet. This is subjective and very vague. I would rather see someone make changes to their lifestyle to prevent feeling bad in the first place. There are really effective ways of improving energy, and removing excess fluid retention than a detox formula. What are these, you ask? Try drinking more water, reducing dietary sodium, drinking tea, exercising, and meeting nutrient needs with minimally processed, balanced meals, and sleeping.

There is nothing spectacular, or particularly “detoxifying” about this shake. In fact, you would be better off blending your own shake and saving your money. Most people won’t feel very satisfied just drinking liquid all day for a week. If a plan isn’t realistic or sustainable, it likely is not going to result in the kind of changes you might be looking for if you’re feeling low energy. 

The plan suggests 6 detox drinks a day which only provides 1200 calories - so sure it will promote weight loss, but is a recipe for rebound weight gain immediately after stopping the regimen! Keep in mind 1200 calories can be too low for a lot of people, putting them at risk for lean tissue loss. If someone were to do this every month, I would be concerned that they might cycle up and down with quick weight loss over the course of a week (fat, water and muscle weight) and then put on some rebound weight gain once normal eating is resumed. I also can’t ignore the possibility that a person might feel deprived on their detox and overeat, overindulge at the end of the week.

The bottom line: Eat a balanced, varied diet that includes fruits, veggies, protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, fish and flax. The best way to detox is to limit the amount of added sweeteners, refined sugars, saturated fat, alcohol and trans fat in your daily diet. Exercise, healthy sleep patterns and adequate nutrition will allow your body’s liver and kidneys to do all the detoxing you need.  We are fortunate to have bodies built to sustain all that we put them through for as long as they do.  Be good to yourself, eat well daily and move. You will be amazed at how great you can feel in just a few days once you turn to a lifestyle that promotes health. 

Thanks for asking! ;)  -Sumner

Friday, December 17, 2010

Healthy Holidays and Special Occasions - Healthy Holiday Survival Guide - Naturally Savvy: Your Guides to Natural, Organic & Green Living

Three cheers... the holidays are here! I teamed up with RockIt Body Pilates this holiday season for their first ever Holiday Fitness Challenge. It has been a blast keeping the members motivated and pumped up to stay fit through December and start the new year off on the right foot. Read on below for an article I wrote for NaturallySavvy.com; a Healthy Holiday Survival Guide! My number one tip for you this holiday season - stay present. Try not to worry about yesterday or tomorrow, but enjoy today and each moment for what it is. Enjoy your family and friends, time off from work, delicious holiday treats and some fresh winter air. I hope you enjoy these survival guide tips!

Healthy Holidays and Special Occasions - Healthy Holiday Survival Guide - Naturally Savvy: Your Guides to Natural, Organic & Green Living

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Most Important Thing You May Not Be Doing

As a dietitian, there are times when I feel inundated with questions from acquaintances , family or friends. Everyone wants to know, what are the secrets to success? What are the best foods?  To be perfectly honest, sometimes these are the hardest questions for an RD to answer. Why? Because, there are no perfect foods, there is no magic answer to how to eat to look great, lose weight or get that perfect body. This blog, Not On A Diet, is about helping people move into a place where they recognize that there is more to food and feeding your body than about what happens on the scale.  I read a great blog this morning and a sentence really stood out to me. It said that we live in a world where chronic dieting and obsession about weight is accepted as the norm.  The most common things I hear.. "I want to look better, I want to be smaller, I want to lose weight.." these are all about how a person wants to improve on the outside, but what about the inside? Why are we so scale-obsessed?

I have a tip for you. Trust yourself. Try truly honoring your hunger and asking yourself to eat, freely, without deprivation or restriction of any foods. Honoring your hunger is one of the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating. Read more about Intuitive Eating by picking up the book by Evelyn Tribole. For the most part Americans, including myself, have lost touch with our natural intuition to eat what we need when we're hungry. We can thank our society's obsession with thinness and dieting. As I personally try to move away from a dieting mentality (which was ingrained in my mind since before I can even remember), I have found that this sounds easier to do than it actually is. Learning to eat mindfully happens over time, and I encourage you to remind yourself of this daily. When you find yourself labeling foods as "good" or "bad", or returning to old diet habits, stop and say "I can eat whatever sounds good to me, there are no rules, and I'm not on a diet." Then, when you eat, stay in tune with your body's signals of fullness. This may sound totally counter-intuitive, like a recipe for weight gain, but you need to trust your body.

I am on a mission to help you break the cycle, and here's how the cycle works:  Unrealistic expectations for perfection -> Negative body image -> strict rules are applied to what/when to eat -> deprivation leads to binge or "falling off diet" -> weight gain sparks more obsession and guilt -> diet ensues -> yo-yo dieting and feelings of failure.  Are you a chronic dieter? These diets are most likely just what keeps you from reaching your goals.

Eat when your body tells you you're hungry, and stop after you've had enough. After you read this, I want you to take 5 minutes and really ask yourself - are you dieting? Are you restricting? Do you over-eat during the holidays because you feel that you are not "allowed" to have certain foods at other times of the year? Holiday weight gain gets a lot of press and you are likely putting pressure on yourself to look great, or not look "too fat" when you see relatives you only see once a year. This type of obsession and anxiety can take you away from the present moment. It can consume you to the point where you're putting more energy into the food and your weight than you are into the people who surround you.  Read this great blog called "Weighless" written by an expert with many links and topics to help you get better acquainted with what it means to stop dieting: http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless
You can enjoy real, wholesome, foods like olives, cheese, bread, olive oil and fruit without guilt.  The above is a typical spread of how we like to do it right at my house. You'll be surprised how much more you enjoy life when you're not on a diet. 

So, friends - what's the secret?  Trust yourself and your hunger; Eat freely and mindfully without rules. Incorporate healthy food because you want to and that's what helps you feel your best, not because they help you stick to your diet. When you have no restrictions your food choices become based on what makes you feel good (healthy foods!) and the physical manifestations of eating to feel good can then come as a result.

Be good to your body! Move daily and eat to live

Happy Holiday Season  - Sumner

Sunday, November 14, 2010

5 Tips to Eat Like a Registered Dietitian

It's a beautiful, crisp and sunny Southern California morning today, and I'm happy to be getting in a blog post after a hectic week prepping for the launch of the Hot Mama Workshops in less than 2 weeks!  As I sat down to write this post; however, I couldn't write a word. It's like nothing was connecting between my thoughts and the keyboard. I realized I was stomach-growling, need-to-eat something now, hungry! So here I am, after a satisfying and slightly sweet mug-full of Trader Joe's Fruit and Nut Fiber cereal with fresh blueberries and low-fat milk, I'm back with the brain fuel I need to tell you my 5 Tips to Eat Like a Registered Dietitian:

1. Plan Ahead! RDs know the importance of not skipping meals to keep your blood sugar stable and energy at it's max. Without food, carbohydrates in particular, your blood sugar may drop significantly. Carbohydrates are your brain fuel. Very rarely do I meet an RD who doesn't have some food close by, so bring snacks with you when leaving the house and always eat breakfast!

2. Eat Colorful Meals: Phytonutrients are the colorful compounds in fruits, veggies, grains, beans  and even nuts and seeds.  Packed with antioxidants, phytonutrients are your body's defense line against harmful free radicals you're exposed to daily. Dietitians try to chose meals and snacks that include a variety of colors from a wide variety of plants. This maximizes your line of defense and helps with weight management because most colorful foods are also lower in calories and higher in fiber. Eat your rainbow! Get at least one color in every time you eat.

3. Don't over-fill your fuel tank! When your car is on empty, does it do you any good to over-fill your gas tank? RDs are often skilled at estimating the amount of calories and nutrients just by looking at a food, but for many of you that's not the case. When you eat, ask yourself how hungry you are and start decreasing portions by about 1/3 of what you typically eat. Eat slowly and give your stomach 10 minutes or so to tell your brain that you've had enough. You can always have more later when you get hungry again. The bottom line: eating more than you need will result in weight gain and physical feelings of over-fullness which can make you tired and low energy.  It feels so good to only eat what you need and over time, you will lose weight at a healthy rate.

4. Choose flavor to feel satisfied: Instead of high-calorie processed condiments, add fresh or dried herbs and spices to your food to enhance every bite. Flavor makes everyday foods exciting, and it's simple to do. Add cinnamon and ginger to your breakfast: sprinkle on toast with PB, stir into oatmeal or cottage cheese and fruit or blend into a morning shake. On sandwiches I love to use whole basil leaves instead of lettuce and at dinner chop up rosemary, thyme, parsley, cilantro or chives and mix them into almost any dish to enhance flavor.  Dried herbs and spices have an incredibly high Orac value, (Antioxidant effect). In fact, cloves and cinnamon have almost 3 times the amount that Acai berry has, so what are you waiting for?

5. Eat Mindfully, Don't Diet: As the experts in food and nutrition, RDs know that dieting and depriving yourself of foods you love are not sustainable or healthy ways to lose weight. Eating mindfully, is an approach to eating that can result in greater satisfaction from a smaller amount of food. Instead of sitting on the couch with an open container or box, decide how much of  a food you're going to eat and put the box back. Try to not multi-task when you're eating (emails, tv, Facebook, work) and definitely slow down and taste your food.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Living with an Eating Disorder is Hell, but..."

Portia De Rossi; now Portia Degeneres, was interviewed by Oprah on Monday and bravely talked through some chapters of her new book, The Unbearable Lightness.  She suffered terribly from anorexia and bulemia. Two things from that interview stuck with me the most: Portia said her eating disorder started with her first diet at age 12, but spun out of control when a friend told her she looked "like a normal, healthy woman" during a scene in Ally McBeal  in her underwear. The other statement she made that was really gripping was: "Living with an eating disorder is hell; but living every day on a diet, failing one after another, is also hell."

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I truly believe that weight management in a healthy way begins with what you say to yourself when you look in the mirror.  There have been numerous recent studies citing how early and how significantly body image can become distorted. I was alarmed to read that one study found 81% of ten year old girls had already tried at least one diet. We know that humans start recognizing their face in a mirror around age 2 and body image awareness can begin just a few short years after. 

 Today, think about how the following questions relate to you: 

Don't you need to feel good about the person you're taking care of, especially and even when that person is yourself? What is the first thing you say to yourself when you look in the mirror?  When it comes to making decisions for a healthy body and mind (like eating right and moving more) do you feel that you are worth it?

Many people (including women, men, kids and teens) are overwhelmed with the unrealistic physical expectations set by the media, fashion industry and magazines. It has been reported that within 3 minutes of reading a fashion or beauty magazine the reader begins to have negative self-thoughts. 

This is not healthy! Let's STOP the diets and start living well, moving often and partnering with food for life.   ~ Sumner

Positive Body Image is Always In Season  - tips for a healthy body image from the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt, shared by Evelyn Tribole.

  1. Plan ahead. It’s always okay to schedule a positive body image session for a later date.  Page through your daily planner (or scroll into the future on your iPhone calendar) and jump ahead a few weeks or months.  Insert positive body image statements on random days or write down empowering statements on birthdays and special events that will help you remember and commit to appreciating your body and being “fat talk free”.
  2. Don’t forget to share. Have you seen this Tri Delta Fat Talk Free Video from the 2008 campaign?  This is powerful stuff!  Post it on your Facebook page or share it with co-workers any day of the year.  Spread the word so that you can begin building a support system of body positive people around you who also choose not to engage in “fat talk”.
  3. Speaking of Facebook…check out the Center for Eating Disorders FB page and become a fan to receive positive body image status updates, motivational quotes, and links to helpful resources and events.
  4. Reconsider monthly magazine subscriptions.  Research has shown that even just 3 minutes of looking at fashion/women’s magazines can have a significantly negative impact on our self-esteem and body image.  Similar effects can be attributed to men’s health/fitness magazines which have been shown to encourage body dissatisfaction and unhealthy weight control behaviors among males.  Consider switching subscriptions or signing up for a positive affirmation email so you get a reliable dose of confidence in your inbox instead of a monthly blow to your self esteem.
  5. Celebrate the seasons. As the season changes and autumn is here, feel the brisk air as you breathe, notice the colors of the leaves you can see, taking in all that nature can offer and remember that it is your body that allows you to have these experiences.   Start to focus on your body’s functionality more often.  In each season there are opportunities to reflect on what the body can do and its ability to maintain balance even as things change around us.
  6. Break it down. For individuals with eating disorders or severe body image distortion even just one day of “loving” your body may seem like an insurmountable or overwhelming task.  Setting goals is good but when we set goals too high too quickly we set ourselves up for failure.  If  loving your body doesn’t sound do-able at this time in your life, remember that body image is not an “all or nothing” concept.   Any changes, even small ones, that can be made to help you realize how special, unique and beautiful your body truly is can be seen as an important step forward in recovery that often leads to further acceptance of self and health.  Start with something small like giving yourself permission to accept a compliment instead of immediately trying to disprove it.  Or, you can work with a therapist to come up with a specific body image goal that’s right for you.
  7. RSVP. If you’re local to the Baltimore area, grab your friends and check out this upcoming event…”Intuitive Eating: Making Peace With Food” featuring author and national nutrition consultant, Evelyn Tribole.  This will be a fantastic (and free!) way to learn about honoring your body and ditching the diet mentality that is so often intertwined with negative body image.  Don’t forget to RSVP to reserve a seat…more info here.
What else have you tried to keep the positive body image momentum going?  Share your comments below or on our Facebook Page, and check out some of our most popular body image blogs from the past year:
Written by Kate Clemmer, CED Outreach Coordinator and  Amy Scott, CED Admissions Coordinator

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Weekend Breakfast: I'm Lovin' The B.E.S.

This weekend, my boyfriend John and I were looking for something good to eat for that late Saturday breakfast time of day, and I threw together a twist on a classic breakfast sandwich. Take the bacon out of the typical bacon, egg and cheese sandwich and add basil! The basil leaves I had this week were enormous so I thought they would fit perfectly atop a tower of lite Jarlsberg Swiss and scrambled omega-3 eggs, sandwiched between a toasted multi-grain English muffin from TJ's.  Here is what you end up with:
The red you're seeing is a dab of ketchup - I'll put ketchup on anything - but with or without my favorite lycopene -loaded condiment, this sammy is going to fill you up.  You've got your carbohydrates from the muffin, protein from eggs and a little fat and flavor from the Swiss cheese. Play around with a new combination - add salsa or tomatoes and even cilantro!

How does the B.E.S. breakfast break down: "The Basil, Egg & Swiss Breakfast Sandwich"
  • Muffin 160 calories, 5 grams fiber, 7 grams protein
  • 1 1/2 eggs 105 calories,  9 grams protein
  • Jarlsberg Lite (1 slice) 50 calories, 7 grams protein
  • Basil leaves - zilch calories - but loaded with good nutrition
Total: 315 calories,  23 grams protein, 30 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber

Healthy Way Tips: Buy Omega-3 enriched eggs as another way to up your intake of these anti-inflammatory fats.  When scrambling the eggs, us a canola spray instead of butter or liquid oil. Use half a slice of cheese on each side of the muffin instead of 2 slices.

If you need a little more - a great addition would be to add some fruit on the side like a cup of mixed berries or an orange. Why would anyone need to make a run to McDonald's for an Egg McMuffin?  I'm Lovin' It!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

25 Naturally Gluten-Free Snacks

I had a first session with a wonderful new client yesterday, and realized that it can be troubling and time consuming to have easy, go-to snacks around for anyone who has to avoid a food or ingredient. For everyone who is gluten sensitive or intolerant - this one's for you!  
Do you tweet? Twitter is such a great resource for tips, recipes, and support for leading a healthy, active lifestyle. If you check out my twitter profile "MyDietitian" I have a whole gang of great nutrition professionals that I follow.  Get yourself a Twitter account and have access to all of that on your own!  Click here to find me on Twitter.
25 Naturally Gluten-free Snacks
Finding healthy, grab-and-go snacks can be challenging for the gluten-free eater. Gluten is pervasive in most packaged snack foods. Whole foods that are naturally gluten-free like cheeses, fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, and grains make wonderful snacks when combined. Listed below are 25 original combinations of gluten-free whole foods to meet your snack needs. These snacks must be constructed by hand. They do not exist in these forms in any supermarket.

1. Corn tortillas with hummus and sprouts
2. Smoked salmon on rice crackers
3. Blue corn chips and salsa fresca
4. Bananas and cashew butter
5. Bosc pears and gruyere
6. Make your own trail mix: raw cashews, raisins, almonds, hazelnuts, dark chocolate chips
7. Plain yogurt with maple syrup, cinnamon, and apple slices
8. Celery sticks and goats chevre
9. Hard-boiled egg with sea salt and crushed black pepper
10. Honey crisp apple slices and peanut butter
11. Dark chocolate squares and fresh strawberries
12. Black bean dip with yellow corn chips
13. Next day rice with crushed nuts, seeds and tamari
14. Fresh blueberries and heavy cream
15. Avocado and cherry tomatoes
16. Canned tuna fish, carrot sticks and sweet pickles
17. Red grapes and swiss cheese
18. Baked sweet potato with ricotta and sautéed chard or spinach
19. Cottage cheese with peaches
20. Warm corn tortillas with smoked salmon, tahini and greens
21. Edamame (soy beans)
22. Tofu chive spread on Mary's Gone flax crackers
23. Sliced deli meat and avocado on a brown rice tortilla
24. Van's whole grain GF waffle with honey and hazelnut butter
25. Air popped popcorn mixed with crushed dried nori, garlic salt and pepper

Genevieve Sherrow, Candidate Master's of Science in Nutrition and Samer Koutoubi, MD, PhD, Professor and Core Faculty, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Slimocado" gets C rating in my book

My website is live! Visit www.notonadiet.com and check it out.  If you want to know how you're doing - look for the Food Diary Swap service: Send me a food record for 1 or more days, and I'll analyze it to let you know. The best part is - I'll send you a meal plan back in return to help with any suggestions or "holes" in your eating that I think will help you with your goals! 

Tonight at the grocery store with my sister, I couldn't resist picking out a nice ripe "Slimocado".  First of all - it was HUGE! About three times the size of the avocados I usually find.  Nope, it's not a hybrid or a genetically modified product like I initially assumed. After doing a little research, I found that it is a Florida avocado, which is just naturally 35% fewer calories and half the fat of a California Grown Hass avocado. I was not impressed with the taste; and I personally prefer the delish, buttery, rich texture of the avocados I'm accustomed to.  That being said, since it does still provide some of the healthy fat (monounsaturated fat) you might want to consider making guacamole or other recipes that call for avocados with half Hass and half Slimocados to decrease total calories.

I want to remind you- that the approach for sustainable, healthy weight loss is to learn to adopt new eating habits - not dieting!  Today's post, is to impress upon you the importance of including healthy fats in your diet.  Fats are important for absorbing fat soluble vitamins (A,D, E, and K) and for almost all the cells in your body including your hair and skin. Do you know what healthy fats are? Do you know how much is enough? Let's take a look:

Monounsaturated Fats: Olive oil, avocados, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, peanuts
Polyunsaturated Fats: Omega -3 Fats -> Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, halibut, trout, mackerel others; ground flaxseed (we don't break down the shell so make sure to grind yours!), hemp, canola oil, walnuts

Generally - eating a variety of the above mentioned foods are the best bet.  Eat a variety of nuts and seeds, fish at least 2-6 times per week,  and mainly olive oil when cooking. Coconut oil can hold up well to very high temperatures which olive oil does not. You don't need to eat the same thing every day - but I do want to encourage you to consciously include healthy fats every day. Fat helps you feel satisfied, even when you're cutting back on how much you're eating - so by including healthy fats you feel better and more satisfied on less total calories.

Important things to keep in mind to include healthy fats and not gain weight due to the high calorie nature of fats: 1 Tablespoon of oil (any oil, yes, even olive oil): 120 calories and approx 15 grams of fat.There are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon, so 1 teaspoon of oil: 40 calories, 5 grams of fat. What does that mean? That means it's a good idea to teach yourself what does 1 Tbsp and 1 tsp look like when you're cooking or dressing your salad. Measure at home using measuring spoons and find out! 

The average person requires about 4-6 teaspoons of added fats/oils daily to reach fat targets. Remember - your fat goal is about 25-30% of your total calories. You will also consume some additional fat that is present in meats, dairy and other foods you eat on a typical day.

How to add in healthy fats:
1 Tablespoon of all natural almond butter on sprouted toast; 2 Tbsp ground flax in your oatmeal or yogurt; 2-4 avocado slices on your sandwich or salad; substitute salmon for chicken or beef 2 x a week; dress your salad with lemon juice and olive oil instead of store-bought dressing; add a few chopped walnuts into your yogurt or cereal; snack on mixed nuts and small piece of fruit;

Lastly, be aware of portion sizes with fats - a couple tablespoons of nuts is typically a good serving size. If you've got a question about fats - don't be shy! Leave a comment or a question below!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Your Best Gift Ever

Despite the fact that the economy is still pretty crummy, the holidays will come as they do every year. It can be stressful for many. Having to buy presents for everyone on the list. Preparing large family meals and celebrating all the special occasions that go along with the last three months of each year.  I happen to love the holidays - starting with the very first cold day of Fall. However; there is that feeling that another year is coming to an end, which is often a bit overwhelming to accept.  How will you feel about the way you lived in 2010? Did you do your best to stick to those resolutions you set for yourself back in January? Did you change your lifestyle to make it fit your goals and your visions of health?  Maybe you did... but maybe you didn't. Well, instead of feeling sorry for yourself and having a big pity party for the remainder of the year; here's what I want you to do.  Don't wait until January, after you've gained another 5 or 10 pounds to top off the year, to start again. This year, give yourself and your family the best gift you can possibly manage. It's a gift that doesn't cost a penny. Show those who care about you, and show yourself, that you're worth it. That you are going to be the healthiest, fittest you that you can be. Your family needs you. If you don't do it for yourself - do it for the people who love you.  Have you ever seen someone you care about finally do something for herself or himself? And did you see how happy, how confident, and how alive they became when they lost weight or started exercising?  If you have ever experienced that feeling of being so proud of someone you care about - then you know that is the best gift you can give to those around you this year.  You have a good amount of time left in 2010 to still make it a great health year.  You can still tackle that resolution you set ten months ago - and head into the holiday celebrations this year feeling and looking your best! Don't miss out on family activities, brisk morning walks or jogs with people you only see once or twice a year.  I want you to participate in your life - not just sit there and watch others living a life that you happen to be observing. Where can you start today? Check out my healthy shopping list. Get yourself a pair of walking or jogging shoes. Put them on. If dinner has to be on the table 30-minutes later tonight so you can get some exercise then so be it.  Focus on eating balanced meals that satisfy you but leave the meal not feeling overly full. Do your best to eat meals and planned snacks, and leave grazing and mindless eating behind. That mean's no skipping breakfast, no skipping meals. Bring 200-calorie snacks with you when leaving the house so you aren't tempted to eat out or hit the drive through.  That is all part of the gift you're giving this year. One day at a time, one workout at a time, one meal at a time.  It is worth it. Starting right now... ready, set, go! Happy Holiday Season!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

When You Want to Lose Weight Quickly…

When You Want to Lose Weight Quickly…

This article (link above) was written by Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD a well-known sports dietitian. I think this might be the number one thing I have to remind clients of over, over, and over again. In our busy crazy world, we Americans want everything to come immediately. I don't think it is our will power we have lost sight of; rather, our PATIENCE! I'll admit it - I LOVE immediate gratification -but we can't always have things just the way we want them. I have had to learn to help people see, that when reaching a weight goal, the only way you can get there and stay there - is to take it one day at a time. Stay consistent, minimize time spent "off the wagon" or however you put it, and believe in the science of nutrition. Otherwise, it's like your running to a finish line that keeps moving and you'll never get there. Can you accept that there is no magic pill, magic drink, or magic diet?

Losing weight is a journey. It takes time. It is a living, changing, flexible, unpredictable journey. You will face new barriers and old barriers multiple times. If you think weight is a destination... that one day you will be there, at your goal weight, and you don't have to keep up with healthy behaviors, you're fooling yourself. Imagine you can wake up tomorrow morning at your goal weight, with your dream body. Are you ready to eat, drink and live the way you will need to in order to maintain that body size and weight? Maintenance is just as important as the losing part. So - if you say "Yes, I am ready to live the way I need to to maintain my goal weight" then go ahead - start today! You'll have to do that eventually to maintain your weight anyway - right? This includes exercise and food. So, Ive been lecturing recently on fad diets and how to avoid falling victim to them. That led me to choose a "Fad Diet of the Year Award". Here's the winner:

The fad diet of the year award goes to... The Lap Band! Not only is it the number one fad diet advertised in LA, but it is also the most mis-understood diet based on what I hear from people. I have to say, it was a tough call between The Master Cleanse and the lap band, but I went with the one that gets the most publicity. I think I've been getting a lap band flyer in my mailbox once a week for a while now. What bugs me the most are the billboards, the radio commercials & the signs on the side of public buses. You, your friend, your parents, the guy next door.... we are all victims of clever marketing tactics from the fad diet industry. The fact that there is so much money being spent on lap band procedures (in order to take up all the most expensive advertising space in Los Angeles) is incredibly upsetting. So... where are all the people who are losing weight, changing their lives, and getting healthy from the lap band? I have worked with numerous post-lap-band clients. I feel sad for them. Sad that they are in pain, not able to enjoy food in a natural way. The worst part is, they have subjected themselves to a surgical procedure, that implanted an inflatable tube around the top portion of their stomach, and still - they don't lose weight. Why not? Because the physicians and staff at the money-hungry lap band office neglected to disclose all the information. The patient is too-often not informed of the necessary changes you have to make in order to be successful with the band. You see, the truth is, losing weight with a lap band is NO DIFFERENT from losing weight naturally on your own. You have to eat healthy foods (with protein and fiber), in smaller portions, exercise regularly, and confront your emotional eating triggers and habits. Thousands of people are now paying for these "safe, one-hour, outpatient procedures" without sitting down to talk to a dietitian who can help them determine if they are honestly ready to change. A couple years ago, when I worked with patients who were in the process to get lap bands - I'd say "You've got to go home and try to live the way you'll have to live with the band. Try it out, see how you do. No soda, no juice, no ice cream or milk shakes, small meals, 6 x day. and exercise most days of the week. You see, a self-confessed chocolate addict, (or soda, cookies, ice cream...) is not going to lose any weight with the band if chocolate is the problem unless they learn to foster a healthy relationship with food. Overeating with the band is still totally possible. You just know how to "cheat". Candy goes down really well, so do creamy rich soups and sauces, liquid calories, potato chips.... all the junk. It has no protein, no fiber so it basically dissolves when you eat it and slides right through the narrow band opening, allowing you to continue to eat the way you always have. If you're not losing as fast as possible, the doctor will "fill" the band more. It is like an inner tube - they inject saline into a port directly under your skin on your abdomen, and the tube fills up, creating a smaller and smaller hole for food to fall through from the upper portion of your stomach to the lower portion. So, sometimes they fill the band so much that patients vomit up most of what they eat. But hey ... as long as that weight comes off, what's the problem, right? WRONG.

You should know by now, after reading some of by blogs, that the best indication of fat loss is not how fast you are losing. Quick, drastic weight loss from severe calorie restriction results in loss of lean body mass aka muscle. You will store fat and lose muscle, making your body fat % even higher than it was when you started. Don't do this to yourself.

You can lose weight. You can do anything you put your mind to. Don't start tomorrow, start right now. Go take a 5, 10 or 30 minute walk. Make your next meal or snack something nutritious. Something with a good balance of carbs and protein. Try to eat less foods out of boxes and wrappers, and more foods from the ground. One thing at a time, one day at a time. But please - beware of fad diets. You're smarter than that.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reach Your Goals with Lifestyle Changes

I wanted to share this article from ABC news that confirms data from recent studies demonstrates lifestyle changes are where it's at for long term weight loss.

How are you doing with not dieting?  If you still find yourself turning to old habits to get weight off quick, and feel like you're not making progress toward your overall goals guess what - that is NORMAL.  I consider relapse part of the process of change.  It's just a speed bump. Tomorrow is a new day. Forget about wasting any energy on what you didn't do right, or what "bad foods" you ate.  Do what you can to re-focus on what's important to you the very next time you make a food choice.  You can't erase the past, but there's always tomorrow.  I challenge you to make one goal right now- about 1 behavior you will work on this week. Write it down, and post it somewhere you will see it each morning to remind you of your new behavior.  It takes weeks to truly change a behavior, so stay consistent and soon your new behavior will become a lifestyle habit.

For example:

The behavior you want to change:  Getting home from work ravenously hungry and grabbing junk food because it's the quickest thing available.

Goal: This week I will bring a healthy snack to work to eat in the afternoon that is satisfying enough to last me until dinner time.

Ok - now that you are about to set 1 measurable goal for yourself this week, I'll share some of what I'm loving now for healthy meal and snacks:

1/2 cup nonfat plain organic European style yogurt from TJ's + 1/2 cup lowfat cottage cheese + 1 cup of fresh berries (I mix raspberries, blackberries & chopped strawberries). ~ This is a really filling breakfast and lasts all morning. It is a good balance of protein and carbohydrate + powerful antioxidants and fiber.

Air-popped popcorn: snack on 3 cups of this for around 140 calories. Make sure to choose one that is low fat and definitely trans-fat free. Read the ingredient list and make sure your product does not have hydrogenated oil in it. Popcorn is a whole grain too!

Wasabi Wow - a fabulous mix from TJ's. It has peanuts, almonds, wasabi peas, golden raisins and cranberries and I think some other goodies too. 1/4 cup is lower cal than most trail mix and the flavor combination really satisfies sweet and salty cravings.

2 omega-3 hard boiled eggs + fresh cut veggies. This is a fresh and filling afternoon snack.  Eggs are such a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Very satisfying and easy to grab n' go. Boil eggs at the beginning of the week and have them ready to go each day.

So - go ahead and take a couple minutes to dedicate yourself to that 1 goal this week.  7 days from now, check back in with yourself to see if you met your goal. Remember to make is realistic and measurable. If you accomplished your goal, add on a new goal next week.

It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle. Make choices that match your goals to make your goals your reality.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Soup Season is Here!

It's soup season! Fall has arrived and there is not a better way to welcome the fresh cool air than with a hot cozy bowl of soup. Soup is basically a meal in a bowl. Make a big pot of soup on Sunday and enjoy it all week for quick dinners or bring some to work for lunch. Usually when I make soup, I tend to throw a bunch of stuff in a big pot, let it simmer and see how it comes out. I guess there is some structure to this madness though.. let me share with you how I like to make soup!

Lower cal soups are just as easy to make and are still filling with less calories per serving. Load your soup full of your favorite vegetables like: shredded cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, zucchini, kale, onion, mushrooms, potatoes, okra and tomatoes. Whatever ingredients you like - and toss it all in the pot!

Step 1: Sautee some veggies: generally onion, carrots, bell pepper, and celery make a great start. Cook for 5-10 minutes on medium heat in 2 Tbsp olive oil. Then add some flavors like crushed red pepper flakes, 2 tsp of dried thyme and garlic powder. Thyme is that amazing woodsy flavoring that reminds you of Thanksgiving, chicken soup, and other fabulous comfort foods.

Step 2: Add your protein - some suggestions are lean ground meat, shredded roasted chicken or cubed chicken breast. You can also go the vegetarian route and add a couple cans of beans later on if you don't want meat.

Step 3: Add your liquid - this can be vegetable, chicken or beef stock or a mix. I suggest you use low sodium, then add salt to your liking to keep it under control. Also add 1 large can of crushed or diced tomatoes. Bring all that to a boil, then drop the heat and simmer!

Step 4: Create more flavor- some additional ingredients that add depth to your soup are a few dahes of cider vinegar, italian seasoning, tomato paste or for a spicy soup go for chile powder and cumin; worcestershire sauce or even some ketchup.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Are you out of touch with your food?

Well, starting a new job a couple weeks ago led me off the blogging path for a bit... but this weekend has inspired me to share with you something that I always try to make a part of my day - being in touch with what I eat.  Working with dozens of different people each week to help improve their diets can be challenging in many ways, but one thing I notice so frequently is how out of touch Americans are with their food. Unfortunately- I can't step into my clients' kitchens, grocery shop for them, or plant a box of gourmet lettuces outside their back door to help them make getting in touch with their food a priority.  Many dietitians I know agree, that food is medicine, and eating well is the most important thing you can do for your health.  Have you ever realized how you can feel so crappy from an unhealthy food choice after eating... or how you can feel so great after just one day of eating well - fueling your body the way it needs to be fueled?  Now that's powerful stuff if you ask me.

Ok.. now about getting in touch with your food.  Think about a typical day for you - what and where do you eat breakfast, where does that food come from?  How far did it travel to get to your plate? Are you eating a Starbucks egg sandwich, perhaps a scone, bowl of cereal, or instant oatmeal?  Do you know anything about any of those foods - have  any idea where those oats were grown? Do you have a clue where the eggs in that breakfast sandwich were shipped from and then prepared before they got to the facility that put the eggs together with a piece of ham from another far away corner of the country... and then traveled to another destination that finally shrink wrapped it and put it in a box to be delivered to one of the hundreds of Starbucks locations in your city? A little overwhelming to think of it that way isn't it?  The truth is, most of us are completely out of touch with the food we eat every day. I want to encourage you to take some small, realistic steps to getting more in touch with your food - and just by default I think you will be eating better, appreciating your food more,  slowing down a bit and perhaps even eating less as a result.

So, what have I been doing to get more in touch with my food?  About 4 weeks ago, John and I cleared a plot of weeds and dead palms in our front yard, got our hands dirty, and planted a vegetable garden.  4 short weeks later we are no longer buying bagged lettuce from the store. We are eating fresh picked salads right out of our own soil.  I can't describe to you how flavorful and tender freshly picked salad greens are.  We're waiting on the squash, beets, onions, carrots, peppers and tomatoes. The herbs - the herbs are fantastic. Basil, thyme. parsley, cilantro and chives. Absolutely delish! Although I've known before how great it was going to be to finally get off the pre-packaged salad bandwagon - I never realized I was going to have such appreciation for each little leaf, and taste the difference between each variety, and really slow down when eating my salad.  It has truly brought me a new appreciation for our food supply, the variety of choices we have available, and how much work, energy, and time goes into producing food.  Here is a picture of the greens and herbs from Thursday's dinner:

Ok, so I'm well aware that not everyone has the space to plant an outdoor garden, and that in most places of the country summer is disappearing and fall then winter is upon us.  Do your best to buy what's in season locally where you live. Maybe its potatoes, spinach, butternut squash, cranberries, pumpkins... there are so many choices if you open your eyes, ask questions, and think outside your usual box. We are trying to switch things up here to eat better, so push yourself outside your comfort zone and take a look around.  Nutrients and taste will be far better if you can minimize the travel time between farm and table - not to mention the benefit to our environment.  I met with a pro athlete from Africa who was not eating vegetables. When I asked why, he told me the vegetables in our country tasted bad, like chemicals. I knew then he was right - most likely getting conventionally grown produce, artificially ripened after it was picked, and transported from 1,500 miles away. Many people ask me,  "Is eating conventionally grown produce better than not eating any produce at all?" I think, yes.  But is there a big difference between that and organic, vine-ripened, locally produced fruits and vegetables? - Absolutely. The point is to slow down, really taste what you're eating and appreciate it.  If you do this at all your meals, you will fill up on less food and get much more of an experience rather than just a plate full of calories.

Besides growing your own, or buying locally grown food - there are other ways I want to encourage you to get in touch with your food.  This one is hard to beat.  Make it yourself! Now that we have moved, unpacked, planted the garden, thrown our housewarming party and the summer is over - things are finally slowing down and I can spend a bit more time in the kitchen.  This weekend it was all about baking.  Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with walnuts. You're probably thinking - the dietitian must have taken out the butter - added some fiber junk, used fake sugar.. blah blah blah.  Nope! These cookies are the real deal.  Remember, how we are Not On A Diet?  Fresh baked cookies fit right in to a healthy and normal eating pattern.  We knocked on a few doors last night and gave our new neighbors a plate of warm cookies - chocolate chips still gooey and all. There's something really warm and fuzzy about surprising someone with fresh baked cookies that feels even better than eating one! Share your food experience: invite friends over for a local organic dinner party or potluck; or bring in something to share with co-workers. You will have a great day at work - I promise.  Don't forget about the joy and pleasure of eating delicious foods, whether it is fresh arugula out of your garden, or fresh cookies straight from the oven.  

I also made pumpkin flax muffins - yes, these are made from a recipe that was altered to lower some fat, improve the protein and fiber and still taste great.  I'm not trying to confuse you,  but want you to see that not being on a diet is about balance, moderation; viewing food for what is provides us and also appreciating it for the experience and pleasure it can create. The cookies are for treats, not so much for breakfast. I would love to tell you to grab cookies for breakfast but I'd like you to try and start your day off with some protein and fiber...which are just what these muffins have.  I like to freeze them and have for an easy grab-and-go breakfast or snack.  It's better than a packaged bar filled with sugar  and preservatives. The  pumpkin is packed with nutrients and the flavors of fall are perfect for this time of year.

So whether  its fresh vegetables or fresh baked cookies - this week slow down, enjoy, and do your best to get back in touch with your food in some way.  Eat something local this week - leave a comment and tell me what you ate!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Eating Your Favorite Foods and Learning to Balance

Monday night's dinner was delish, I can't help but share the love. Homemade spaghetti with meat sauce and vegetables. OK, so I didn't have time to make the pasta myself (wouldn't that be amazing!) but I did roll up my sleeves to create some serious sauce - made with grass-fed beef. Below is a great recipe with the nutrition facts for you so for anyone who's counting you can portion appropriately. I came across a well-written article from TIME magazine that happens to be 4 years old, but still a great overview of why YOU and everyone else needs to be buying and eating grass-fed beef and other meats. There are many reasons why, Here's the link to the article: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1200759-1,00.html

How many of you read that today's recipe is for spaghetti and immediately tossed it out as a "healthy"option for dinner? How can a person lose weight and eat spaghetti? Impossible - right? Wrong! I want to encourage you to stop categorizing foods into "allowed" and "not allowed" groups. What is important to pay attention to is not over-consuming more spaghetti than you need. That amount is going to be different for everyone, depending on his or her size, level of physical activity that day, time since last meal, hunger level, weight goals, etc. We want to focus on balance of the meal. Eating an entire plate full of spaghetti (as I did many many times in highschool after playing soccer for hours) is very high in carbohydrates and calories. All you need to do to spaghetti to keep it waistline-friendly is manage your portion, and balance out your meal with vegetables or a salad. No matter what the food happens to be - balance of the meal as a whole is key.

What do I mean by manage the portion? Well, 1 cup of spaghetti (2 standard portions) is about 180 calories and 38 grams of carbs. Add on 1 cup of cooked veggies, and a nutritious sauce with some protein and you have a calorie-controlled, fairly large portion that will prove quite filling. Often, people (or restaurants) will bulk up the pasta to 2 or more cups (4+ servings!!) and leave out the vegetables. THIS is where you're going to run into extra calories and prevent weight loss.

I encourage you to start thinking about your meals in terms of balance- not in terms of good and bad foods. Where is the starch/carb and how much do you plan to have? What about protein - tonight's protein is the beef, and for protein a little goes a long way. I used 1 lb of ground beef in the spaghetti sauce which makes 8 servings and still comes out to 17 grams of protein per serving. There is also protein in whole grains so by choosing whole wheat pasta you get more protein in your spaghetti (and better overall nutrition profile than white pasta). Then round out your meal with veggies! Not only are they super-nutritious and prevent diseases, but they are loaded with fiber so if you're trying to shed pounds add in more veggies to your pasta to fill up with only 1 serving of noodles.

Lastly, I have to insist on leaving you well-informed about spaghetti sauce in general. Please - take a look at the sauce you buy in the grocery store. Avoid sauces that have high fructose corn syrup or added sugar. You will be shocked at how difficult this might be! Also, look for one that is made without oil, or at least is made with healthier oils (still high calories though) such as olive oil or canola oil. It is truly shocking to see how much sugar is being plugged into foods that don't need it - especially tomato/pasta sauce. Look for canned tomato sauce - organic if possible. Then season it yourself and you can really create a health-promoting, delicious, sensational sauce!

Alrighty - if you've read this whole post you definitly deserve to get the recipe. ENJOY!!

Healthy Homemade Spaghetti with Grass-Fed Beef Sauce and Veggies

Nutrition Facts:

Sauce: per ¾ cup serving – 182 cal, 6.5 g fat, 10 g carbohydrate, 17 g protein

¾ cup sauce + 1 cup pasta + ½ cup veggies:
378 cal, 7.5 g fat, 53 g carbohydrate, 25 g protein, 6 g fiber

Sumner’s Sauce Recipe:

1 lb ground organic grass-fed beef or bison
1 medium yellow onion - chopped
4 cloves garlic – minced. (use more garlic if you love garlic!)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes – more for extra spicy!
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 16 oz. can authentic recipe marinara sauce (Trader Joe’s has a good one)
8 oz. can diced Italian tomatoes
1/3 cup red wine (optional)
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 cups steamed vegetables (cut into large bite-sized pieces)
• (Veggies that work well: zucchini, yellow squash, button or crimini mushrooms, cauliflower & broccoli)
1 package whole wheat linguini noodles (or the pasta of your choice)
Fresh grated parmesan cheese

*Make a large batch of sauce as it freezes well and also can be re-heated quickly for lunch and dinner.

**Calorie-cutting tip: Serve yourself more veggies and less pasta to decrease caloric density of this balanced and tasty favorite.


In a large pan sauté minced garlic and chopped onion in 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat until tender (about 3-4 mins). Add the ground meat and cook well, chopping with a spoon or spatula into small pieces. Season with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and thyme. When meat is nearly cooked, add marinara sauce and diced tomatoes. Simmer sauce for 5-10 minutes and stir to mix the flavors. Keep heat medium to high, and stir in red wine and balsamic vineagar. Continue simmering sauce for another 10 minutes, until it thickens. The longer you simmer it the better it gets!

Cook pasta per directions on package and Steam vegetables in a separate saucepan or in the microwave for 4 minutes with 1 inch water in a microwave-safe dish.

Serve the sauce over veggies and pasta and sprinkle with 1-2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Are You Creamy or Crunchy?

People often think of peanut butter as a food to avoid for weight management and weight loss. Good news! It’s time to put that thought to rest and start enjoying peanut butter for its great taste, satisfying texture, and most of all for its health benefits! This creamy comfort food has a high content of both mono and poly- unsaturated fats; the good fats we want to eat more of for heart health. Eating healthy fat in moderation helps to stay satisfied from smaller portions and snacks, to keep hunger and cravings at bay throughout the day. Eating peanut butter and other nut butters, like almond butter, can be an easy way to fit in your daily recommended one ounce of nuts to reduce your risk of heart disease. Nuts are also a great source of fiber and protein (think post-workout recovery snack).

Unfortunately, some of the most popular brands of peanut butter also contain high amounts of added sugar and trans-fat. Trans fat is the worst type of fat to consume and serves no purpose in the body. In fact, trans fat lowers your “good” cholesterol (HDL) and raises your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides. Neither you nor your kids should be consuming peanut butter that contains trans fat, even if it is in small amounts. If you don’t have to mix the oil yourself – then you can assume the product has trans fat. Look for peanut or almond butter that contains very few ingredients: peanuts and salt (optional). If you see “hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oil” listed, choose a different product. Be aware of clever marketing slogans that can trick you into thinking a product is healthy. “Natural” really doesn’t mean anything; you need to look at the ingredients list. Depending on the product, peanut butter can go from a very healthy snack choice to a very unhealthy choice with the addition of a few unnecessary ingredients.

Read this article from the Mayo Clinic to learn more about trans fat:

Lately John and I have been loving a product called Naturally More. It is basically peanut butter with a boost of Omega-3's from ground flax and protein from egg white. There is a small amount of honey and cane sugar added in - but only 2 g sugar for 2 Tbsp - totally worth it in my opinion. The calories are slightly lower than regular peanut butter because of the higher protein content which displaces some of the fat.  I love this stuff. Y-U-M.   You can even go all the way and get the Organic Naturally More! Here's what it looks like:

Now that you know what to look for, enjoy nut butter in moderation. 1 tablespoon of this good stuff contains 100 calories, 7 grams of protein and 8 grams of fat. Spread it on whole grain bread, sliced apples or add to a shake to boost calories and protein.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The value of weight - what really matters?

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending a sports nutrition workshop hosted by a co-worker of mine. Isn't it amazing how much you can learn about something, even when you've heard it, read it and preached it yourself - but then you hear the words again out of someone else's mouth and it's like you're hearing it for the first time all over again? The topic was nutrition for athletes, and yo-yo dieting; losing weight pre-season and gaining back the same 20 or 30 pounds over the course of the season, only to have to try and lose it again to get in shape for the next season. This cycle is incredibly stressful on the body. Even yo-yo-ing 10 or 15 pounds is hard on the body. We know that yo-yo dieting is not specific to athletes, but to everyone who has lost and re-gained weight once, twice, or ten times because of diets. Diets that are not based on sound nutritional since. Diets that do not support mindful eating, balanced eating and eating for your body's needs. One thing about diets I've mentioned before is how they are not sustainable. Guess what happens when you follow a strict diet for 2 weeks and lose weight, then try to go back to "normal eating"? Weight re-gain is what happens. The cycle has begun  and you are stuck. I want to get you unstuck. There was a person attending the workshop from Germany, and what was so interesting I thought our host did a great job of pointing out to him, is that in this country, as a dietitians, we spend a great deal of our time trying to educate people how to get away from the black and white mentality of being "on" or "off" with healthy eating. That more often then not, a client will not come back to see me if he feels he messed up his diet, failed, or fell off the wagon. This is what is keeping people overweight. This unnatural relationship with food and eating. But even before you can start learning about all sorts of wonderful healthy eating principles, recipes, calories and protein, you have to start in your own head. You have to decide that you're ready and that you're worth it, and that you CAN trust yourself to eat well, eat in moderation, enjoy food and say active. You need to trust the facts- that foods are not "good or bad" but it is the diet mentality, the fear of "falling off the wagon" and the temporary plan of diets which will leave you without reaching your goals.  I feel like what may be the number one most important factor for someone to lose weight, change her eating habits, and maintain whatever a healthy body weight might be for her is how that individual talks to herself in the mirror.

Giuliana Rancic is a celebrity who was recently interviewed on The View and she spoke out about her very personal struggle to get pregnant. She talked about how her doctor strongly recommended that she gain 5 or 10 pounds in order to improve her chances of conceiving. Sadly, as a woman working and living in Hollywood this is not something she has been able to commit to doing -even though it may mean the difference between having a baby of her own or not. I'm not sure how many of you know what this beautiful woman looks like, but she is very thin. She is beautiful, happily married, successful and ready to be a mother - but she cannot face the thought of putting on a few pounds because it may make her a little less of exactly what our society has created as the ideal picture of beauty.  To me, that is heartbreaking. I was literally talking to the TV - "Is she nuts!! Is she really that afraid of what people might say or think if she gains 5 pounds, that she is willing to sacrifice getting pregnant to stay ultra-thin?"  But then I realized, this is not her fault - it is the outcome of our environment, our culture, and the unrealistic, unhealthy ideals we all know have been created over the past few decades. Doesn't everyone see, that there is a strong correlation between obesity rates in our nation and the obsession with dieting, thinness and extreme ideals of beauty?  Beautiful, wonderful people who may happen to be overweight are getting stuck in the diet cycle that is the result of a society so foolishly invested in fad diets and thinness that it is a multi-billion dollar industry and growing each year. The diet industry is banking on the fact that none of their products or fad diets work - that we will continue to gain weight and continue to buy the lies. Throw in a food industry which makes it easier and cheaper to buy 500 calories of corn syrup and trans fat then it is to buy 500 calories of real food and you have one messed up place full of unhealthy people who are set up with ideals and expectations that are not achievable... a place where a woman does not even know if she can afford to gain 5 pounds to meet her daughter.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Have you told them yet?

I'm talking about your friends, co-workers, family, roommates....have you told them about how you're not on a diet? If you're like a lot of people, and have in the past bravely announced to a host of important people in your life how you are about to start the "greatest, most sure-to-succeed, weight will drop like flies, this has to work this time, diet" then they will probably ask you to repeat yourself and wonder if you didn't fall out of bed last night and hit your head. And then you can respond by saying "That's right - you heard me. I am officially not on a diet and don't plan to be on one ever again!" Try it - it feels great. You are free from the diet gremlin voice that starts creeping up after the first couple days...when if you have one morsel of something that's "not allowed" you are doomed to failure and consumed by guilt.  We all know the popular diets you hear people raving about these days, low carb,  no fruit, raw cleanses....there are too many to name. Why put yourself through that? Food is quite possibly the most valuable, pleasurable, and health-promoting part of our lives - learn to appreciate food and what it is doing for you instead of battling with food. Now, please understand, I am not bad-mouthing diets because I don't want people to get healthy and lose weight. Its just that I've never met a diet I liked, nor one that worked for someone long-term and allowed them to keep off lost fat.  It's all too often mis- understood;  that the faster a person loses weight on a diet the better that diet is.  The truth is, slow, gradual fat loss (1/4 - 2 pounds /week) is a GOOD sign...that you are truly losing unwanted fat; not water, stored carbohydrates, and muscle tissue.

So today's thoughts are these:  Go out there, start your Friday and get talkin'! Tell some people that Friday is a great day to stop dieting - and never start again! You might be used to stopping your diet every Friday anyway.. right? But usually you then face... Monday!! The diet must start again - and the guilt, Oh the guilt of everything you ate and drank that you swore you wouldn't over the weekend, and now it's time to start again. Well, this time Monday rolls around you won't have to face that. What I want to encourage you to start doing today, yes today, not tomorrow, not Monday, but TODAY, is thinking about how food is your partner in this. Whatever your goals are: lose weight, feel better, lean up, etc, you can't do it without the right fuel.  Think about all the times during the day that you have a choice - and make the choice that's going to leave you feeling good at the end of your meal or snack. That is a good goal for today.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Shopping List to get you Going

It may sound a bit strange to some, but shopping for food is one of my favorite activities. If I can make it to the Sunday Farmer's Market (we call it the "FM") I am really excited. It's an experience that envolves all your senses: smells, sights, sounds and makes you want to eat delicious, fresh foods.  After I've filled all my canvas bags, spent all my cash, and tasted fresh-picked fruits from local farmers, I get to come home, unpack all the goodies, wash and clean the crispy veggies, store the sweet-smelling tomatoes and basil and I'm all set for the week!

If you don't have the right food around, chances are you're not going to eat as well as you want.  Grocery shopping is essential to changing eating habits.  Our eating environment makes it very difficult to eat healthy when eating out.  So the solution becomes- stock up at home with good choices! What you need to keep in mind:
1) Your Lifestyle - how busy are you and how much time are you willing to dedicate to preparing food?  If you are very limited, opt to buy foods that can be easy grab-and-go options. Some examples are natural bars like LARABARS, individual yogurts, string cheese, pre-made salads (great at TJ's!), pre-washed and cut fruit and veggies... you get the idea.  It is quicker to grab a greek yogurt on your way to work than it is to scramble an egg or eat a bowl of cereal. There's no excuse for missing breakfast or for not having snacks with you during the day. It just takes a little planning and a little practice.
2) Your favorite foods!  Healthy eating does not mean boring or tasteless eating. Now...unfortunately I can't magically make fried chicken or onion rings healthy...but there is almost always an alternative way to prepare foods to make them more "health promoting", you just need to make it yourself.  If you're not a cook don't fret - learning and experimenting is the fun part anyway! Make pizza at home with fresh ingredients and everything can be enjoyed in moderation. I encourage you to plan to include your favorite foods and flavors in your weekly and daily food choices - remember- you are not on a diet!

I posted a shopping list under the Pages section to get you started. It's a long list, to encourage you to eat a variety of foods and think about all the options you have to start eating well! Pick out foods that appeal to you in each category, make your list, and head to the store.  It's easy- the more you do it, the more of a habit it will become and soon you will look forward to your grocery shopping if you don't already.  

Stock your own kitchen with fresh, flavorful foods that YOU like! The key word is “You”. These are some of my suggestions for foods to start with, but you need to have options on hand that taste good to you, otherwise you are likely not going to be eating the healthy food you bring home from the store. Lastly, make sure you buy what fits into your lifestyle – for example, if you’re always busy running around and trying to eat better, look for pre-cut and washed fruits and vegetables to minimize prep time. There are no rules here, no magic foods. Choose a variety and buy organic and local when possible. Always bring a list and of course eat something before you go so you are less tempted by things you don’t really need or want. Happy Shopping!

Stores you’ll Love:

Local Farmer’s Markets of course!

Trader Joe’s

Whole Foods

New Seasons - Portland

Santa Monica Co-op

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Belly Bulge - slim it down to reduce risk of serious complications.

Your health is not just based on a number on the scale - in fact, I always encourage my clients to look at all the indicators of their progress - fitness level, waist circumference, body composition (% body fat and lean mass), how they FEEL, quality of sleep, blood cholesterol and triglycerides, blood pressure, medication levels (can you reduce or eliminate one or more meds that are nutrition-related?).....

Here is a summary of expert opinion on what we are starting to learn about abdominal fat and it's effect on morbidity and mortality. My Dad sent me this....and now I'd like to share it with you.

Study: Belly bulge can be deadly for older adults

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Partner with your Metabolism - Feed It!

Think of your metabolism as a campfire.

What do you need to do to make sure your fire burns consistently all night, so that it doesn’t go out but that it doesn’t become out of control? To start, you need proper fuel for your fire. The same way you need dry wood to build a campfire, your body prefers certain types of fuel to work at an optimal level. If you don’t fuel your body adequately what can you expect to happen? Your metabolism function will decline and you will not burn as many calories. The campfire will weaken and eventually extinguish without proper fuel. Consequently, if you provide more fuel than you need, you will store calories (fuel) as fat to be used later. Keep this analogy in mind as you go through your day and plan for your workouts. Weight management is about balancing fuel type and timing with your energy needs. At the end of the day, did you burn more than you ate? If you can answer “yes” then congratulations, you have lost weight that day.

What is the “right” type of fuel for optimal burn?

There are no magic foods. Repeat: There are NO magic foods. A balanced combination of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein is ideal. Fad diets that focus on one of these nutrient groups more than another are not sound, and likely not realistic. If a diet is not realistic, you can bet you will have a pretty difficult time managing to keep lost weight off for good. Set yourself up for success and eat a variety of foods in the right amount for your needs. Don’t force yourself to stick to a “diet”. Focus your energy on learning what foods provide you healthy calories for energy to complete those tough workouts. Pay attention to your body’s natural hunger and fullness messages to prevent consuming more energy (calories) than you require. It is important to eat adequate carbohydrates when losing weight and building lean tissue. This is known as “protein sparing”. Since ‘carbs’ are your body’s preferred source of energy, if you do not eat at least 40% of calories from carbohydrate you will need to use the protein and fat you eat for energy. What does this mean for your muscles? The protein you eat will be converted in to energy at a very inefficient pace which leaves your muscles without adequate recovery protein available to repair tissue damage from exercise. You will risk losing the lean tissue you are working so hard to build. Do your body a favor and eat 40-55% of your total calories from carbohydrates so that the protein you consume can do its job and build muscle, repair cell damage and maintain lean tissue!

Why are certain carbohydrates better fuel choices than others?

Compare wood to newspaper: which is a better source of fuel for your campfire? Wood does for your fire what complex carbohydrates do for your body. They are slower to digest and provide long-lasting energy. On the other hand, newspaper is like refined sugar and simple carbohydrates; it gives you a big flame, then burns up quickly, leaving you starving for more! Choose complex carbohydrates most often, for more fiber and a longer lasting source of energy.

Examples of complex carbohydrates:

• Whole grain products (read ingredient lists and look for the word “whole”): pastas, quinoa, cereals, bread, crackers, brown rice, etc. Read labels and pay attention to serving sizes.

• Beans & Legumes (1/2 cup = 1 serving)

• Whole Fruit (with skin) 2-4 servings/day

• Vegetables – the more color variety the better

Examples of Refined Carbohydrates:

• Enriched or white flour

• All Sugar (read ingredient lists to identify sources of sugar): brown sugar, fructose, honey, molasses, corn syrup, cane juice, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, etc

• Soda and Juice – diet soda does not contain carbohydrates

• Sweets, sugary cereals, sweetened drinks (coffee drinks, shakes), etc.

Getting the most “bang-for-your-buck” from your food:

Foods can be considered “empty” foods if they aren’t providing you proper fuel to burn. When snacking, look for snacks that contain at least 3 g of protein and 3 g fiber. The protein will help to satisfy you and slows down the absorption of carbohydrate into your blood, giving you a more gradual rise in blood sugar instead of a quick spike followed by a “crash”. The fiber will help keep you full longer. For example: if your usual granola bar is 180 calories, but only has 1 g protein and 1 g fiber, you are getting 180 calories primarily from a refined source of carbohydrate. Look for a bar that contains a whole grain like oats, or a bar that contains nuts which will provide protein and a healthy dose of fat. You can swap that old granola bar for a bar that gives you the same amount of calories, but will be a better bang-for-your-buck to keep that “fire” burning stronger and longer. If you can choose more functional foods (think filling and a proper source of fuel), it will be easier to eat within your calorie targets for your weight goals. Is it better to eat a 100-calorie pack of Oreo’s with zero protein or fiber and feel hungry 20 minutes later, or to eat a 200-calorie bar made with nuts and fruit which will fuel you for 2-3 hours? What do you think? Remember – exercise and nutrition go hand-in-hand when it comes to reaching your goals. If you aren’t fueling properly you are not setting yourself up for success. A restrictive diet too low in calories or carbohydrates will not get you where you want to be long term.