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!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Apricot Banana Pancakes

Its so nice to have a holiday Monday, where I can make breakfast for my fiance Johnny while he sleeps in. I had a large apricot from the farmers market, a frozen banana, and Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Pancake mix. You can find Bob's Red Mill products in the baking aisle of your neighborhood grocery store. They make a wide variety of whole grain mixes, baking flours, soup mixes and much more. Check out everything they offer on their website BobsRedMill.com.

Here's what I came up with: 


2 Cups Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Pancake Mix
2 Large Eggs
1 Cup 1% milk
2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
2 small or 1 large apricot, skin removed and chopped
1/2 a large banana, thinly sliced
Cinnamon 1 1/2 teaspoons
Butter or coconut oil

In a large mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients with a whisk until combined. You can adjust the consistency of the batter to fit your liking, and you can use water instead of milk if you're not a dairy person. Feel free to add in other fruit options, such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries or mango. 

Melt a teaspoon or two of butter or coconut oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Scoop a half cup of batter into the skillet and cook approximately 3-4 minutes on each side. 

Enjoy with maple syrup, lemon and butter with powdered sugar or fresh berry preserves.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Damage and the Stigma of Being Fat

I came across this refreshing article on Twitter today which was posted by a fellow Tweeter @VoiceInRecovery.  Every time I read credible information, evincing how you don't have to be thin to be healthy, I am reassured that my professional work to help people learn about Intuitive Eating, Health At Every Size, and respecting your body is the right approach. We've heard it before, about how the pressure from society to be thin has created unrealistic body ideals for women, men and even children. We know this, yet we don't seem to be adapting our ideals or our goals to meet more realistic body sizes. Everywhere I look, from the lap band billboards to the flat belly diet plans - America is still obsessed with thinness. From what I see and hear daily from beautiful, healthy people asking me "how do I get skinny?" or "my life will be so much better if I can just lose this weight" I think we have a long journey ahead of us to really come to terms with what healthy actually looks like. Here's a quote from Dr. Thomas's findings:

Dr Thomas found that obese people believed the constant attention to their bodies was making things worse. They felt anxious and isolated. This generated feelings of low self-esteem and encouraged them to go down more extreme pathways of trying to lose weight “which we know do not work in the long run”.  Read the full article Chewing the Fat Over The Reality of Obesity

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Voices For Action in Los Angeles

How aware are you that there are families, communities and entire sections of your city where moms and dads can't put food on the table every night?  And have you recognized that for some of these families fresh fruits and vegetables are the hardest foods to come by?  We all know fresh food from the ground is important for health, and we all know we should eat more of it, but do we do enough to make sure that everyone has equal access to it?  Voices for Action, a non-profit organization in Los Angeles, is hard at work to reduce health inequities in vulnerable communities. 
Porsche Johnson, the organization's Founding Director, is committed to making a change. One of the current projects underway, is the mini-farmer's market project. I was lucky to be a part of the most recent event, held in a church parking lot in Compton.  What I saw happening there brought goose-bumps to my arms and I was so proud to see a group of strangers I was just meeting for the first time, so willing and committed to what they do. 

The idea for the Mini Farmers Markets, is to offer full grocery bags of organic, fresh, seasonal and local produce at very discounted prices to members of the community, where otherwise access is incredibly limited. The produce was beautiful - colorful, crisp, and inviting. Bags were sold for $5 - $7 per bag. 

Offering access to fresh food is great, but even better is helping people learn healthy ways to prepare it! Voices for Action provided participants with free recipe notebooks in Spanish and English and we did a food demonstration with samples of an easy black bean and corn pita. 

As community members strolled by on this cold, gray morning, they came in curious and left smiling; energized from free Zumba lessons, and happy to have a heavy bag of delicious healthy food to eat. Within less than two hours, all the bags were gone! We hope they come back. Check out these smiles, they are the same smiles you see when you share a good meal with people around your table. Now that's the power of giving and Voices for Action is sure doing a lot of it. 

The VFA website will introduce you to the all the ongoing initiatives they're working on. This work is meaningful, absolutely necessary, and making a difference in many lives. Support is needed, so if you have a minute and want to find a way to donate please reach out. You can contact Porsche through the website or contact me

Want to help this weekend? Attend my nutrition event "Feeding You and Your Family Today: Small Steps for Big Nutritional Benefits" on Saturday, April 2nd in Manhattan Beach. All proceeds will go directly to VFA!  Details.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Promoting weight loss or weight-focused programs fail to be effective and may cause more harm than good

I wanted to share with you this very interesting post from Phsychology Today . What do you think about weight-focused interventions? Even in your own personal journey, is it really a number you're reaching for... or a feeling, quality of life, or experience that you want? Reading this certainly forced me to take a second, and a third look about the conversations I have with clients in my office. I encourage all dietitians and health care providers to do the same.

Study showing that weight loss interventions are ineffective and harmful published - January 24, 2011
The online scholarly publication, Nutrition Journal published an article "Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift" by Linda Bacon of University of California, Davis and Lucy Aphramor of  the Applied Research Centre in Health and Lifestyle Interventions at Coventry University in the United Kingdom.
This meta-study reviewed major studies on dieting, weight loss, and Health at Every SizeSM and examined the basic assumptions behind weight-centered interventions for both prevention and care. Similar to the lap band decision, this data review examines the implications of what to do if diets do not work. The implications drawn by the authors, however, are far different from the FDA decision.
Bacon and Aphramor make a compelling case that promoting weight loss or weight-focused programs fail to be effective and may cause more harm than good. In other words, a weight-centered paradigm is unethical.

Weight loss as a focus may violate a basic tenant of health care.
Beyond the questions of efficacy and unintended harm, there are questions of social justice, in that weight-focused programs promote inequality and undermine efforts to fight for equality. Finally, they make the case that a weight-centered paradigm is costly, with nearly 31% of the population being misdiagnosed when BMI was used as a screening parameter.

Perhaps, like all studies, their case needs to be scrutinized with skepticism, but what interests me most as a sociologist is two things.
First, no national discussion has broken out regarding this study. This is radical stuff. It is saying that a 57.8 billion dollar a year industry is unethical. The use of the word "paradigm" is accurate. This is a major shift from current accepted practices and wisdom. In a meritorious world, this should have been front-page news.
Press releases have been sent and, for a short period of time, the article had a "most viewed" status on Nutrition. But, except for some small stories or articles here or there, the media didn't pay much attention. I googled the title of the article and saw a little over 30,000 hits. The first few pages were hits for Linda Bacon's website and other HAES-friendly websites. I googled the title in just a news search and received no results.  I googled "FDA expands indications Lap Band" and got 180,000 hits with a news search showing 535 articles. The FDA announcement was constantly addressed on the 24 hour news channels for 2 or 3 days after the announcement, as well as all four network morning shows having some sort of story.
Second, while an obvious profit motive and conflict of interest existed, the FDA used data generated from Allergan to make its decision with little marking of that motive or conflict. In fact, the press release from the FDA announcing the expansion referred to "a recent US study" without disclosing that Allergan was one of the financial sponsors of that study. (source Women's News online). Bacon and Aphramor disclosed that they indeed make money from promoting HAES, usually through speeches and books. But this "profit" is small, probably not more than 4 or 5 figures annually and usually goes into more research and covers costs for attending conferences and sharing their research work. Allergan predicts NET sales in 9 figures ($220 to 240 million in 2011) and this will most likely keep growing. Yet they were not required and the FDA did not announce their conflict of interest and profits from this decision.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

AOX Salsa!

Tonight I'm headed to celebrate the housewarming of my good friends Jay and Gabrielle in Santa Monica. I'm bringing Blood Orange & Avocado Salsa with Pomegranate Seeds, a recipe I found from Oprah.com. Served with some baked tortilla chips, it ends up being a healthy appetizer full of Antioxidants from the Vitamin C rich blood oranges, pomegranates, and avocado. Let's call it AOX Salsa (AOX is short for antioxidants). I have a thing about adding in my own personal touch to recipes - so for this one I'm adding chopped fresh mint. You watch me here at the unbelievably beautiful farmers market here in Redondo Beach buying fresh ingredients for the salsa!  

  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 blood oranges
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 large Hass avocado , halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2/3 cup diced red onion
  • 1 jalapeno chili , seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 2 green onions , including green tops, cut on the diagonal into thin slices
  • 2 Tbsp  chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4 Tbsp fresh chopped mint leaves
Active time: 35 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, salt, and pepper until salt dissolves.

Remove all skin, white pith, and seeds from the oranges, reserving any juice that's squeezed out in the process. Drain juice into a measuring cup and set aside. Cut orange segments into 1/2-inch pieces and add to bowl containing lime juice.

To extract the seeds from the pomegranate, cut the fruit into quarters. Submerge the quarters in a large bowl of cold water and place it in the kitchen sink to contain any squirting pomegranate juice. Using your fingers, gently detach the seeds from the membrane and rind. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Discard any pith, drain the water, blot the seeds lightly with paper towels, and add to the bowl with the orange segments.

Add the avocado, red onion, jalapeƱo, green onion, mint and cilantro to the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the ingredients together, being careful to not mash the avocados. Add reserved orange juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, until salsa is moist but not soupy. Taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover, and set aside for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to meld. Serve at room temperature with tortilla chips.

Per 1/4 cup serving: 46 calories, 1.6 grams fat, 1 gram protein, 2 grams fiber

Note: This can be prepared up to 8 hours in advance.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Wild Blueberry Breakfast Muffins

Hello Not on a Diet followers! My name is Kaitie and I’ve been interning with Sumner for the past couple of months. My time with Sumner at Not On A Diet, has been such an eye opening and helpful experience. I have learned so much, not only about nutrition, but also about living a healthy lifestyle. Sumner has helped me to learn more about my obsession with delicious food and focus on my passion for health!

So, the other day Sumner and I decided to use some ingredients that we found in her kitchen to try to make some delicious but also healthy muffins! I was a little nervous because baking is not my specialty and normally I would try to follow a strict recipe so that I don’t make something inedible. But, these muffins were SO delicious and I was truly shocked at how amazing they turned out!  Here's what we found in the cupboards to work with (we didn't end up using the oats, but everything else went in!)

These muffins would be a great quick breakfast choice or even an on-the-go snack. So, for all of you out there that never have time to make breakfast or like me, think you have time but then look at the clock and see you only have 5 minutes before you need to leave - this recipe is for you! You could always make these ahead of time and freeze some for later use. You can spread some peanut butter on the top or maybe add some light cream cheese. The recipe was SO easy and surprisingly only took us about 45 minutes to make!

So, many of you may be wondering why we were so proud of this muffin recipe? Well, set aside from the fact that these muffins are delicious they are also nutritious! Each muffin has 3g of fiber, healthy fats from the almond meal, Omega-3s, very little sugar, and are only 140 calories per muffin!  Compare that to a Starbucks “Blueberry Streusel Muffin”, which has more than double the amount of calories (360 calories), 11g of fat - 7g of which are saturated fat- and a whopping 33g of sugar, you will want to have these muffins on hand all the time!

So here is the simple and delicious recipe that could change your mornings:
Wild Blueberry Breakfast Muffins

Ingredients: makes 15 muffins. Double the recipe to freeze for later!
1 cup frozen, wild blueberries (wild blueberries are smaller than others, but any will work)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup almond meal *
1/4 cup ground flax (flax seed meal)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce*
1 mashed medium ripe banana*
2  large Omega-3 enriched eggs
1/2 cup plain non-fat European style yogurt (We get it at Trader Joe’s)
1 1/2 Tbsp melted Coconut Oil* (Coconut oil is a solid at room temperature so to melt put the coconut oil in a small microwavable bowl and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute until the coconut oil becomes a liquid)
2 tsp Bourbon Vanilla Extract (Substitute Vanilla Extract if you don’t have the fancy stuff we used)
3 Tbsp brown sugar (2 Tbsp for the mix, 1 Tbsp to sprinkle on the tops of the muffins)
Cooking spray for greasing the muffin tins

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and grease muffin tins by spraying cooking spray evenly.
  2. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, almond meal, ground flax, cinnamon and salt. Then whisk to blend the ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients: apple sauce, yogurt, melted Coconut Oil, mashed banana, vanilla extract, and the eggs. Mix with a whisk so that all the ingredients combine.
  4. Then add 2 Tbsp brown sugar to the wet ingredients and whisk to dissolve sugar.
  5. Make a well in the dry ingredients and mix the wet into the dry with a rubber spatula just until moistened. Like this! 
  6. Using the spatula fold in the frozen blueberries.
  7. Use a spoon to put the mixture into the muffin tins - making sure that each one is just over half way filled (should make about 15 muffins).
  8. Finally sprinkle a pinch of the 1 Tbsp of brown sugar evenly on top of each muffin for a little crunch and extra sweetness!
  9. Bake for 15 - 17 minutes at 400°F. Test with a toothpick, they're done when it come out clean.

Here are some of the secrets as to why these muffins are healthy yet still delicious!

*Almond meal is, as you may have guessed, ground up almonds with the skins left on. It can be used as a substitute for flour and is high in protein, healthy monounsaturated fat, low in carbohydrates, and is also gluten-free.
*Ground Flax is ground up flax seeds, they are high in fiber and rich with Omega-3 fatty acids.
*Unsweetened apple sauce adds moisture without using oil or butter to reduce saturated fat content
*Banana was used to add moisture and sweetness to the muffin without using refined sugar.
*Coconut Oil, as I learned from Sumner today, can replace butter as a healthier type of fat and adds a nice flavor

Nutrition Facts:
Serving Size = 1 Muffin (standard muffin tin size)
Calories: 140 calories
Fat: 7g
   Saturated Fat: 2g
Carbohydrate: 15g
   Fiber: 3g
   Sugar: 5g
Protein: 4.5 g
Cholesterol: 29 mg

Kaitie showcasing the recipe success!
We made "mini" and regular-sized muffins to have some bite-sized options too. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Latest and Greatest of Cooking Blogs

If you're even the least bit interested in cooking, recipes, or vegetarian eating, you've got to take a tour of a unique and stunning blog I came across this morning, 101 Cookbooks. Heidi Swanson, of San Francisco, writes and archives about recipes that "intersect her life, travels and interests."  She also offers a recipe sampler from her upcoming book due out in April 2011 titled Super Natural Every Day. Beautiful pictures and even more amazing recipes. I can't wait to try Ravioli Salad with black olives and pepitas shown here: 

Thanks, Heidi, for providing such culinary inspiration!

Monday, February 28, 2011

You Ate, but did you Appreciate? Beauty of Food

One thing I try to teach clients, is to learn to appreciate food more. We tend to take food, in such abundance in our country, for granted. Mindless eating is a behavior that so many of us work hard to change. Instead of trying to change the old, perhaps you can try to focus on something new, appreciating and staying mindful of food. This post is all about reminding you just how excellent food can be. 

In Portland, Oregon ( the city I'm proud to call my hometown) there is an amazing market. It's called New Season's and they provide an abundance of organic, locally grown products as well as specialty items I've yet to see anywhere else. Its being in a place like New Season's, that makes me stop and realize how awesome food is. Natural, beautiful, nourishing foods. I mean, look at this Easter Egg Radish!

 Here are some shots I took just for you. (I also wish someone would see this and open a New Season's down here in the South Bay or at least in LA somewhere!) I am lucky enough to have what I think is the world's best farmers market (blog to come!), so I'm not complaining. But I tip my hat to New Season's for doing a great job of purveying such fine foods.

Local trout stuffed with sun dried tomatoes, garlic and herbs. When was the last time you ate like this?

Our good friend Chris, perfectly helpful with all things produce

An abundance of SUSTAINABLE seafood

See What I mean!??

And their canned goods and products are so special:

Talk about Organic Whole Grains!
The New Season's Bakery - baking fresh every day; sans preservatives, sans high fructose corn syrup

Love This! On a large mural when you walk in: "Sustainable: to keep in existence"

Seemingly endless local specialty products, jams, juices... I am in heaven every time.
A big part of Intuitive Eating, is to eat with awareness. To taste and appreciate your food.  I think too often people are in such a rush, or perhaps so hungry, that we don't take the time to stop and appreciate what we are eating.  When you do this, and truly commit to eating slower and tasting your food, you can be satisfied on less total food. When one slows down, you are able to listen to your body's fullness signals. If you do this, eating all foods in moderation becomes instinctual and simple.  If you struggle with overeating, or you think you have room in your life to appreciate food more - make this a goal to focus on this week.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

An Unexpected Tasting

Last weekend I spent a dreamy three days in wine country. We were in Santa Ynez, CA and the surrounding areas. You might know this beautiful place if you've ever watched the movie Sideways - a wine-o classic! (If you missed it, watch the trailer here!) It rained and it poured, and on the second day the sun came out. More to come on all the wine later, but for now I want to share what I think is one of the best olive oil and vinegar producers in California. 

We were so lucky to arrive at Lafond winery, a place to go for great wine, on a day when they weren't only pouring wine, but olive oils by il Fustino as well. We met owner Laura and Claire. Laura and her husband started il Fustino oils and vinegars when they realized 3 weeks after retirement that they weren't done working. This time around though, business would be an artful combination of his love for great food and her passion for cooking. They couldn't have done better with this family owned and run operation. These olive oils are fruity, silky, pure and full of depth, you almost want to drink it right out of the bottle! They're amazing all on their own, but I've already begun to experiment with the Extra Virgin Garlic Olive Oil (EVGOO) and 25-year aged balsamic vinegar we took home. The garlic oil is not just olive oil infused with garlic. Both olives and garlic are pressed together so the flavor is out of this world! If you love the flavor of great olive oil you will want to order some il Fustino oil, or perhaps stop in at their charming store the next time you visit beautiful Santa Barbara. 

Here are some ideas I've taste-tested in my own kitchen this week:
  • Fresh Popcorn tossed with two teaspoons of EVGOO
  • Sweet potato wedges baked in the oven with sea salt and drizzled with EVGOO after cooking and just before serving
  • Butter lettuce and arugula salad with heirloom tomatoes, drizzled with aged balsamic and fresh meyer lemon juice
  • Whole wheat linguine with diced tomatoes, and broccoli, shaved Parmesan and drizzled EVGOO
Gorgeous Santa Ynez wine country

So, although we went expecting wine, we left with wine and an amazing new duo of out-of-the-ordinary oil and vinegar I'll be experimenting with for months! Thanks, il Fustino!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thoughts for you on Valentine's Day
We all have someone unique we love:

Perhaps you love your neighbor

You may spend Valentine's with your closest girlfriends 

You might be speding today with the little ones you love

There are some who have romantic plans with their loved ones

Or perhaps today there is a little extra love for something sweet

But wherever you are today, and whoever you're with, don't forget to love yourself! You're not a number, you're YOU! 

 Let's raise awareness for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week starting Feb. 20th.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Living With an Eating Disorder Is Not a Choice

In recognition of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which starts Feb 20th - I'm posting one of the official poster images from the National Eating Disorders Organization. One of the messages I want to spread is "Talk About It". There are so many suffering from shame and silence - and it's time to help the nearly 50% of teen girls and nearly 30% of teen boys who practice unhealthy behaviors that lead to eating disorders. 

Let's stop ignoring this epidemic in our society and start talking about it. Join me and leave comments or questions to get the dialogue flowing. 

Here are some questions to get us going: 
1) What do you think are some of the main contributing reasons why eating disorders are on the rise?
2) How have you helped a friend or family member with an eating disorder?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An Oil Obsession in Whole Foods Market

So.. there I was, walking the aisles of my local Redondo Beach Whole Foods Market for lunch and a Kombucha, when I noticed some beautiful oils staring at me. As a food professional,  one of my favorite topics to educate clients on is FAT and OILS.  Fat plays such a powerful role in fighting or contributing (Omega-6's) to low grade inflammation in the body.  By now, you've probably heard about some of the health benefits of Omega-3's, but if you missed it make sure to check out my Reasons to Eat Your Omega-3 post to learn more.

I desperately wanted to share with you what I came across today. In constant search of tasty salad dressings that are not made from soybean oil, (I look for Olive or Canola Oil based dressings because they are lower in Omega-6)... I started turning to the backs of some new dressings I haven't seen before. Here are some good finds:
Why I like it: Made with cider vinegar and olive oil, plus some nice lemon peel, pepper, onion and other goodies. I will definitely try this one, or even attempt to make it at home

Wild Thymes Parmesan Walnut Caesar Vinaigrette
Why I like it: Much lower calorie than other traditional Caesar dressings and it is made with heart healthy oils.

I could not pass up taking a shot of these beautiful cans of oil from La Tourangelle. Hazelnut Oil is super high in Monounsaturated Fat (MUFA) making it great for your cholesterol and it also has a particularly high smoke point so it is good for cooking at higher temps. It is also a good source of Vitamin E. With great nutty flavor, whats not to love about this?  Walnut oil is a rich source of Omega-3's, but needs to stay at a lower cooking temperature than Hazelnut Oil and also needs to stay refrigerated to keep the precious Omega-3s from losing their spunk. This would be a great oil to use with lemon or vinegar as a home made salad dressing.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tackle your Health Goals with Your Honey this Valentine's Season

As a girl who aims to stay healthy and happy, I know that I'm always the most successful with my eating and activity routines when my live-in boyfriend, Johnny, is by my side.  When we're both feeling our best, we have more fun and have more energy.  Just because you've got love in your life, doesn't mean all your healthy habits like cooking dinner at home and working out after work have to be thrown overboard.  Living your best life is all about BALANCE. Love and relationships are as equally important as taking care of your body and mind. Read some of my healthy tips for couples in this article on Naturally Savvy, a fun website hub for everything savvy about health, wellness and balanced living

Very often when you find yourself holding hands with someone new, you may let go of  the hold you had on your health and fitness routine. Believe it or not, it is possible to be in a relationship, whether new or existing, that creates a supportive, motivating, and sustainable way for you both to stay healthy and in love. With Valentine’s Day coming up, here are some tips on what you and your honey can do to support each other’s health and  be the best you can be for yourself and your relationship.
Talk about your goals
Share what is important to you with your significant other. Communication is the key to keep expectations of each other’s time realistic. How will you agree on fitting in workouts, keeping a healthy kitchen stocked, and eating out less? If your health and fitness goals are not necessarily similar (and often they are not), talk to your partner about the importance of these routines for your well-being so you can continue to be the awesome person that you were on your first date!

Cook healthy meals together
Use a weekly meal planner and shopping list as an easy way to stay organized during the week. One of the best ways you two can relax and enjoy each other’s company is to throw on some old aprons, get comfortable, and whip up a tasty, healthy meal together. Make sure to keep copies of recipes that turn out great so you can make it again another night. Your recipe database will grow quickly and so will your affection for each other in the kitchen!

Go on dates that do not revolve around a meal
Eating out is usually the center of romantic dates, but if you end up feeling full and weighed-down from rich food, the night might end on the early side. Think outside the box and set dates that include excitement and activity. Get to know each other from another angle, rather than from across the table. Try ice skating, surfing or stand-up paddle board lessons. Jogging or hiking through a state park, or going to an arcade are activities that can help you stay active and get to know each other in a unique setting.  You can even register for a race or marathon together, which will help you both stick to your exercise and healthy eating habits.
Give the gift of health
These gifts are not only generous and thoughtful, but will help motivate your partner to stay active and get fit!  Great gift ideas include a new mp3 player, workout clothes, Wii Fit, or a stability ball for at-home exercises. For the ladies, I cannot leave out perfume or jewelry - we can wear those while staying healthy any day!
Take the lead
With all team activities, it can help if one person stands up and takes the reigns. If you have both been considering getting gym memberships, go tour a local fitness center. Be the one to make the call and sign up for a couples meeting with a registered dietitian in your zip code. Visit www.eatright.org to get more professional support, information and accountability. 
The better you both feel about yourselves, the stronger and more stable your growing relationship will be.  It is also important to remember to schedule some “me time” to decompress, maintain friendships, and of course, make your sweetie miss you just a little.

Written by Sumner Brooks, RockIt Body Pilates’ Registered Dietitian. Follow Sumner on Twitter @MyDietitian or learn more at www.NotOnADiet.com

Monday, January 31, 2011

It's Time to Get Moving America!

This post is dedicated to a guy who we consider a part of our family, and with it I ask you to send out wishes his way for a speedy and healthy recovery.  

Recently, a tragedy struck our family. Someone who has spent most of his life being active, playing basketball, running and enjoying being able to use his body will face a challenge to re-learn how to do some of these things in a new way as a result of severe injury. Although things will never be the same, without a doubt, we know that he will make a strong recovery due to his love for being physically active and spirited will to overcome struggles. My message to you today, is to appreciate your body and all that it does for you, just as he has always done. If you find it hard to exercise after a mentally and emotionally exhausting day at work or school or even caring for your little ones, think about the importance of maintaining the strength and awesome ability that is your body. As you've heard before, "if you don't use it, you lose it" - get moving, get motivated, and don't wait until it's too late to appreciate your body.   

Food for Thought: Here is a guest post by Terri Graham, Master's level ACE certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Author, Speaker, Owner: The Metabolic Treatment Center in Orange County, California.  

I think a lot of this has to do with mindset. Just look at the number of people in rehabilitative facilities who fight like mad to 'exercise'. They'll give anything just to move again, let alone walk. They go to great lengths, including being tethered to a bicycle so they can peddle or literally hung in a sling from the ceiling just to 'walk' on the treadmill. Christopher Reeves used to 'exercise' (assisted of course) for hours on end six days per week. As a quadriplegic who couldn't even breath on his own was he technically 'healthy' enough? Doubtful. But what he did have was a desire to exercise, a dogged determination, and a motivated 'can-do, 'mind-over-matter' attitude. Look at all of the para-athletes and amputees who find a way to move their bodies with both purpose and joy despite their very real physical limitations. Without intending judgment towards anyone, it is almost shameful in this country the number of perfectly able bodied people who don't exercise or who cop to excuses for not exercising. I'm sorry, but if a quadriplegic can exercise daily, so can ANY of the rest of us. I would say that unless someone were in a coma they would have an excuse, but guess what? Even comatose patients in good facilities are exercised weekly by trained staff who come in and move their limbs for them. There are a multitude of adaptive exercises that can accommodate and benefit just about anyone. And not exercising is so detrimental to lean body mass (especially bone) it is quite literally the equivalent of going to the moon. Having seen for myself soldiers returning from war with missing limbs who cannot wait to start PTing (exercising) again and training to get back to their original military duty (including jumping out of airplanes) I now know for a fact that to exercise or not is a CHOICE! I bet a great many of those people who think they can't exercise or who say they hate to exercise would have an entirely different attitude if they were suddenly confined to a wheelchair or lost their leg due to an accident. Shameful and sad that we often don't appreciate our opportunities (including to exercise) until they are taken away from us for real instead of just in our minds.

Clear or Confusing? The New 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans

This morning the new 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans was released. Before reading it, I was quietly hoping that this time there would be new strategies to educate America on eating right. My fingers were crossed for key messages that clearly communicated: eat at least 25 grams of fiber, slow down when eating, move your body and find activities you enjoy, consume more plants and less meat, replace red meat with fish at least two times a week, and drink fewer sodas. The new guidelines focus a lot on calorie balance, but my biggest question is how people can be expected to know how many calories is right for them? Also - if you're a seasoned "Not On A Diet" reader, you hopefully realize by now, that the quality and contents of your foods can make a bigger mark on your health than just counting calories. I wish the USDA 2010 guidelines would more clearly help Americans focus on eating whole foods from the ground. If a person starts focusing just on calorie balance, they might think the 100 calorie pack of Oreo's out of the vending machine is a perfect snack to cut calories, when in truth that will just make a person hungrier and want to eat more. For suggestions and guidance on what you can do to eat well and feed your family right - please find a local Registered Dietitian in your zip code by going to www.eatright.org and search for a professional. An RD will help translate the new 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines in a way that makes sense for you.

It's hard to tell by reading the new guidelines what is better: A 100-calorie pack of cookies? or a 200 calorie snack made with whole grains and nuts? I think you know the answer, but not everyone might. That's my concern. 

Here are the 2010 Guidelines for you to download and read yourself. For the Summary and Key Messages - click on the Executive Summary, third bullet down on the top left side. (Even that was hard to find!)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Reasons to Eat Your Omega-3 Fats



Omega-3 and Arrhythmias
Omega-3s seem to have a stabilizing effect on the heart. They can lower heart rate and reduce the risk of life-threatening arrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythms. Several common sources of omega-3s are shown here: fish, walnuts, broccoli, and edamame, green soy beans that are often steamed and served in the pod.

Omega-3s can lower your level of triglycerides, a type of blood fat that’s linked to heart disease. Triglycerides collect in the bloodstream and in the body's fat cells (seen here). Unfortunately, omega-3s increase cholesterol – both the “good” (HDL) and “bad” (LDL) kind. People with high triglycerides should consult with their doctors before taking omega-3. Eating more omega-3-rich fish is generally safe.

Omega-3 and High Blood Pressure
There’s strong evidence that omega-3s lower blood pressure. The effect is small, though. If you have high blood pressure, eating fish could be helpful along with other dietary changes and medications, as recommended by your doctor. One strategy is to replace red meat with fish during some meals. But it’s best to avoid salty fish, such as smoked salmon

Omega-3 and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Studies suggest omega-3s can reduce symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis. A diet high in omega-3s may also boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Omega-3 and Depression
Omega-3 fatty acids may help smooth out mood disorders and make antidepressants more effective. However, results of studies have been mixed so far. Countries with higher levels of omega-3 in the typical diet have lower levels of depression. Although more studies are needed, the evidence so far is promising.

Omega-3: Catch of the Day
The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is fish, though some varieties deliver a higher dose than others. Top choices are salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, anchovies, and tuna. The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings a week of fish, which is 3.5 ounces of cooked fish or ¾ cup of flaked fish.

Dangers of Contaminated Fish
For most people, mercury in fish is not a health concern. But the FDA has this advice for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children:
Limit albacore tuna to 6 ounces/week.
Limit fish lower in mercury to 12 ounces/week.
Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish.

Omega-3 for Vegetarians
If you don’t eat fish or fish oil, you can get a dose of DHA from algae supplements. Algae that is commercially grown is generally considered safe, though blue-green algae in the wild can contain toxins. Vegetarians also can get the ALA version of omega-3 from foods such as canola oil, flaxseed, walnuts, broccoli, and spinach – or products fortified with omega-3s.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cilantro Chile Turkey Burgers and Rainbow Salad

You might know that feeling of just wanting to sink your teeth into a hot, juicy, burger and it always tastes best when it's grilled right in your own backyard. Here's a simple recipe I came up with that has now become our favorite burger recipe to make at home for bar-b-ques or weeknight dinners. 

Cilantro Chile Turkey Burgers
Makes 5 Burgers

1.25 lb ground lean turkey breast
1 4 oz can diced green chilies
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 large egg
1 tsp chipotle crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp cumin
salt and pepper
Whole wheat hamburger buns

Directions: With clean hands, combine all above ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Divide the turkey mixture into 6 even parts and form patties by rolling then patting the mix between your palms.  Heat grill on medium. Before placing burgers on the grill, spray lightly with canola cooking spray to prevent sticking.  Grill on medium until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes per side. 

 While the burgers are grilling, assemble the  
Corn Cucumber Chile Relish:

Start with 1 jar of tomato-less corn and chile salsa from Trader Joe's. Dice 1/3 of an English cucumber into small pieces. Mix together the juice of one lime, 2 tbsp chopped cilantro, half the jar of salsa and the chopped cucumber. You can't get much simpler than that!

On a toasted whole wheat bun, add burger, a slice of tomato and top it off with a mound of  corn cucumber relish.

I served up our burgers with this colorful and delish Rainbow Salad. It's a spinach and arugula salad which is high in antioxidants from the blueberries, Vitamin C from the spinach and satsumas and topped with a bit of creamy goat cheese. Here's how: Fill 2/3 of a large bowl with organic baby spinach, arugula or both. Top with 1/2 cup blueberries, sections from 1 or 2 satsuma tangerines, 1/3 cup goat cheese crumbles and drizzle with 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar.


In about 30 minutes, you have a lean, high protein turkey burger that is exploding with flavor from the fresh cilantro, smoky cumin and mild spicy chiles. The bright and slightly sweet corn relish is also great on top of a salad the next day, or in a pita with black beans and tomatoes. Let me know if you try it!