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!

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.

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