Strong is the new pretty. (And my little piggy bank is pretty in pink)
Whether it’s spin classes to boost your cardio, yoga to strengthen you abs or working with weights to tone arms and legs….exercise does way more than burn up a bunch of calories. It makes you look and feel good.
But did you know your bones benefit from work outs too? Yup, weight bearing exercises- like taking the stairs or playing a set of tennis-are super important for building bone health.
What you eat and drink can make or break your bone health, too. Bone is built and repaired with a terrific trio of nutrients including the mineral calcium, vitamin D and protein. Dairy foods, including milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese and frozen yogurt are a fabulous package of all three of those needed nutrients.
How much is enough?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 3 servings of calcium rich foods every day for bone health.
The best sources of calcium are dairy foods, fortified breaks and cereal, canned salmon (with the bones), tofu and dark green leafy vegetables such as collards, kale and spinach. (By the way, you have to eat 10 cups of raw spinach to equal the calcium in cup of milk!)
An eight ounce glass of milk provides one -third of the vitamin D needed daily.
The Sunshine Vitamin (That’s why the pig is wearing sunglasses )
Our bodies can make vitamin D, but we need sun exposure on our skin. About 15 minutes a few times a week is advised.
Fascinating nutrition fact from history: Vitamin D was first added to milk in the 1930’s to help prevent bone weakening rickets in children. Then rickets became history! Go Team Nutrition!
Bone Up on Bone Health
Today we worry about osteoporosis. If bones are starved of good nutrition, they become porous and brittle and that leads to fractures. The disease is called Osteoporosis and according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office an estimated 10 million Americans over the age of 50 suffer from this debilitating disease. But, osteoporosis can be prevented if we ‘bank’ enough nutrients in our bones during childhood, teen years and adulthood.
Delicious Dairy to Build Bone-gevity
Click on the name of the recipe to find what you need to make these delicious nutritious dishes! They’re all from the Southeast Dairy Association’s wonderful website! (Click here for more nutrition tips.) Here I am on the set of NBC Atlanta & Company for Mother’s Day and May as National Osteoporosis Awareness Month.
Squeaky Clean. Clean as a whistle. Making a clean cut and a clean getaway. Coming clean. The word clean conjures up a streamlined approach to cutting through the clutter, telling the truth, as well as simplifying and often sanitizing life. Clean eating has joined the contemporary nomenclature to describe healthier, more nutritious food choices. Clean: Perhaps meaning that a food product has fewer total ingredients, all natural ingredients and all the information you need to know where your food is coming from is revealed. Clean infers transparency.
But, what does CLEAN really mean?
There is no official definition of ‘clean eating’ but the original intention of suggesting we move towards cleaner eating was to guide folks to choose minimally processed foods closer to the whole foods in nature. For instance, rather than a banana nut muffin, how about eating a banana and some nuts?
While chefs are creating wonderfully simple dishes starring seasonal fresh ingredients, cooking at home allows you to control every bite. Clean eating principles encourage us to cook more at home so you can see what you’re adding to recipes and control the amounts of added sugars, salts and fats.
The meal kit delivery service, PeachDish, takes you step by step, ingredient by ingredient – most sourced from local Southern farms – to create your own chef-inspired, cooked by you deliciously nutritious meals. How about Bulgar Wheat Salad with Arugula and Apricot with a sherry vinegar dressing?
Why this dish is a clear clean winner: bulgar wheat is a minimally processed whole grain, fresh arugula and shallots are raw, apricots are simply dried and therefore maintain the fiber and other nutrients, sliced almonds provide nut nutrition and the dressing is a simple vinaigrette with olive oil and sherry wine vinegar.
Before we can fully embrace clean eating by rejecting ‘processed foods’, we should know a bit more about what food processing entails and to what extent.
For instance, a slice of bread or bowl of pasta made with whole grains is a better choice because the external, fiber containing part of the grain hasn’t been milled away, as with refined white flour.
But, freezing foods, which is a process, does not decrease the nutritional content of foods. For instance frozen green peas are a wonderful source of vegetable protein, fiber and the heart healthy mineral potassium. I like to make a green pea hummus with a little olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and season with a dash of salt and pepper.
The US Department of Agriculture serves up some pretty specific definitions for food processing. So here goes:
Processed foodis defined as any raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to washing, cleaning, milling, cutting, chopping, heating, pasteurizing, blanching, cooking, canning, freezing, drying, dehydrating, mixing, packaging, or other procedures that alter the food from its natural state.
This may include the addition of other ingredients to the food, such as preservatives, flavors, nutrients and other food additives or substances approved for use in food products, such as salt, sugars and fats.
But there’s a spectrum of how MUCH a food has been processed.
Foods such as sliced fruits and vegetables, bagged salads and leafy greens and roasted nuts are all examples of minimallyprocessed
The next category of processed foods includes canned foods such as beans, tuna, fruits and vegetables, as well as frozen fruits and vegetables.
Jarred pasta sauces, yogurt and salad dressing have added oils, sweeteners and preservatives, which makes them a processed food as well.
Examples of heavilyprocessed foods include crackers, deli meat and granolas.
The most heavily processed foods examples include pre-packaged and/or frozen meals.
Remember that wine and cheese are ‘processed’ too.
So keep in mind that the catch-all-phrase ‘processed’ often connected to ‘poor’ choices, may in fact lead you to some pretty darn good choices, too.
CLEAN EATING TIPS for REAL
Eat Your Vegetables….and Fruit; whole, seasonal, fresh.
Enjoy cooking at home to choose healthy ingredients.
Limit added sugars. (including agave, honey, maple syrup)
Limit saturated fats. (the kind in bacon, butter, coconut oil)
Practice food safety in your home kitchen. (Clean utensils, plates and counters!)
Perhaps, don’t clean your plate. Listen to your hunger cues and enjoy foods mindfully.
RECIPE for Sweet Pea Hummus, from The Slim Down South Cookbook by Carolyn O’Neil
2 (9-oz.) packages frozen sweet peas, thawed
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/16 tsp. table salt
½ cup (2 oz.) crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese ( optional )
Place peas and garlic in a food processor; with processor running, pour oil through food chute in a slow, steady stream, processing until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and salt; season with freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cover and chill 2 hours.
Spoon pea mixture onto toasted baguette slices or serve with sliced cucumber; sprinkle with cheese.
Happy disclosure: I’m thrilled to be working with PeachDish as one of the registered dietitian nutritionists who champion the great food and good nutrition in the meal kit delivery service available nationwide. Visit the PeachDish website to drool over the delicious meals and marvel at all of the terrific information about their tasty dishes. – Carolyn O’Neil, MS RDN LD
Late Night TV Binge Watching Leads to Late Night Snack Binging: What to do???
We’ve all been there. Binge watching a TV series into the night. Just one more episode. Just one more episode and I’m going to bed. But then another cliff hanger leads to another cliff hanger.
It’s late, it’s dark and no one is there but you and your TV screen friends. Dinner was hours ago and you’re getting a little hungry so let’s rifle through the fridge and pantry for something fun to eat.Something to help keep you company while the on-screen suspense mounts!
Could be cheese and crackers, could be leftover pasta, could be a large spoon diving into chocolate caramel sea salt sorbet.
You say to yourself, “These calories don’t count.” and “This is fun and who cares?!”
But, a few seasons of this bad habit and the pounds will find you.
OK, two bad things are happening here.
1. Not getting enough sleep
2. Consuming excess calories.
So when I watch a TV series now, I brew a pot of chamomile tea and sip it slowly while the drama unfolds.
Maybe with one small cookie. Usually not.
Here’s what happens next. The chamomile herb tea (I like Celestial Seasonings Chamomile or Sleepy Time Tea) makes you feel sleepy and lulls you into a comfortable calm that helps you realize you can wait to watch the next episodes tomorrow.
Sometimes the best souvenirs are memories of uniquely wonderful dishes that add a delicious dimension to travel experiences.
This veggie packed meatloaf recipe created by Executive Chef Josh Drage of The Ranch at Rock Creek is beautiful when sliced revealing jewel like pieces of carrot and celery.
Take a bite, close your eyes and ‘taste travel’ to the ranch lands of western Montana.
Thank you to Gena Berry of Culinary Works for translating chef’s measurements into home cook lingo.
The Ranch at Rock Creek Montana Meatloaf
1 teaspoon, olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 carrots, peeled, 1/2″ dice
3 stalks celery, 1/2″ dice
1 medium onion, peeled, 1/2″ dice
1 large egg
1/2 cup part skim ricotta
1 shake hot sauce
1 teaspoon, salt
1/2 teaspoon, black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, stemmed and chopped
¼ cup breadcrumbs
1 lb. lean ground beef
In a large sauté’ pan, heat oil and sauté’ shallot until soft and starting to caramelize. Add carrots, celery and onion and cook until just softened. Remove from the heat and let cool.
In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg with a large fork, stir in the ricotta, hot sauce, salt, pepper and sautéed vegetables to combine. Add the breadcrumbs and ground beef and gently stir until well mixed.
Form the mixture into a slender loaf and bake on a sheet pan.
Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, until a meat thermometer reaches 160°, about an hour.
Let the meat loaves rest a bit, then slice using a serrated knife into once inch thick slices. Serve with roasted new potatoes garnished with fresh thyme.
More on the Ranch at Rock Creek.http://www.ranchatrockcreek.com From trout fishing to taking a spin on the mountain bike parked outside your door, this getaway is the essence of ‘glamping’!
Stay in the main house or tuck away into the tented suites complete with footed bathtubs and a fire pit to warm your feet next to the gurgling creek steps outside.
This western Montana Relais & Chateau property is an outdoor lover’s western adventure and luxe lover’s fresh air pampering all under the same big sky.
It’s time to stretch on the spandex, hit the gym with folks who look like they’ve never been there before ( or in a long time )- bless their hearts.
In fact, YES, bless their hearts because no matter what it take to get back on board with health and fitness enthusiasm- good for you!!!
But, here are my Top 3 New Year’s Diet Traps to avoid:
#3. If I buy the foods on the 2017 Trend List I’ll be so much healthier this year.
No, jack fruit probably won’t change your health. But, it might affect how much change you have in your wallet. Often, these ‘super fruits’ are super expensive.
January is citrus season.
Eat more affordable in season delicious and nutritious oranges, grapefruit and add flavor to cooking with freshly squeezed lemon and lime.
#2. I’m going to cook more at home and avoid eating out.
Well, that depends what you’re cooking.
Restaurant meals can be very healthy and in fact, in May 2017 all restaurant chains ( with 20 or more outlets ) have to provide Nutrition Facts information on menu items so you can see what you’re getting into when you order the deep fried calamari or double fudge brownie cake. Or that the hamburger you really want has fewer calories and fat grams than the entree salad you thought you should order. (:
Back to cooking at home; good idea!
Get everyone in the family to learn to add more vegetable to all meals, even meatloaf! This recipe from The Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana is one of my all time favorites because the meatloaf includes big jewel like pieces of carrots, mushrooms, and leeks.
RECIPE FOR MONTANA MEATLOAF: Scroll down below! OK it’s written by a chef, so measurements are in weights. But the ratios work for smaller batches, too.
Learn to season with no calorie flavors such as salsas, vinegars, mustards, hot sauces, herbs and spices.
The Slim Down South Cookbook: Eating Well and Living Healthy in the Land of Biscuits and Bacon is great place to start building your healthy cooking skills.
(My recipe below for Shrimp and Grits-(see recipe posted below).. is just one of many easy and delicious weeknight meals in The Slim Down South Cookbook.)
Also, jump into a fabulous new healthy food trend- home delivered meal kits such as Peach Dish, based in Atlanta featuring southern grown foods but shipped locally and nationally.I’m working with Peach Dish as one of their registered dietitians to provide nutrition information and healthy cooking tips.
Now drumroll…..my favorite New Year’s Diet Trap to AVOID!!!
#1.This year I vow to NEVER eat ice cream or French fries EVER again!
Hey, good luck with that. Chances are by Super Bowl Sunday you’ll be knee deep in nachos.
So, rather than making huge promises that will be a huge burden to keep, make small, measurable changes. For instance, when I enjoy ice cream after dinner I’ll serve myself two small scoops in a bowl and top with fresh strawberries or blueberries. I honestly love French fries, so I’ll allow myself to enjoy them once a week- especially if they’re really good! Try mustard ( no calories ) with fries, as opposed to ketchup (lots of sugar).
And as always remember that The More You Know, The More You Can Eat!
Happy and Healthy New Year Friends! Carolyn O’Neil, MS RDN ( French fry lover, especially shhhhh dipped into Champagne.)
Shrimp and Grits from Southern Living’s The Slim Down South Cookbook, by Carolyn O’Neil, MS RDN
2. Prepare Creamy Shrimp Sauce: Peel shrimp; devein, if desired. Sprinkle shrimp with pepper and ⅛ tsp. salt. Cook in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat 1 to 2 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turn pink. Remove from skillet. Reduce heat to medium. Add oil; heat 30 seconds. Whisk in flour; cook 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk in broth and next 5 ingredients; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened. Stir in shrimp and spinach; cook 1 minute or until spinach is slightly wilted. Serve immediately over grits.
Serving size ½ cup grits and about ⅓ cup shrimp sauce CALORIES 235; FAT 6.1g (sat 1.9g, mono 2g, poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 19.1g; CARB 25.2g; FIBER 1.4g; CHOL 119mg; IRON 3.3mg; SODIUM 74
The Ranch at Rock Creek Meatloaf
• 5# ground beef
• 1100g (2.5#) carrot
• 550g (1.25#) celery
• 550g (1.25#) onion
• 300g (10oz) shallot
• 500g (2 cups) ricotta
• 1 ¼ cup bread crumb
• 4 large eggs
• 20g (.75 oz) salt
• 5g (.2oz) black pepper
• 5g (.2oz) fresh thyme
• 5g (3 shakes of) Tabasco
Sauté carrots, celery and onion until just softened.
Sauté the shallots separately and cook until sweet and almost caramelized.
Mix all ingredients in the stand mixer until just combined.
Cook off a test piece and check seasoning.
Split into two or three loaves making them long and slender, the same width all the way down.
Bake on sheets, leaving space between each loaf.
Bake at 325-350 degrees uncovered for 45 minutes.
It’s the holiday season and time for you to sparkle too.
Enjoy yourself and know that weight loss is a rare bird during this season of indulgence. But you don’t have to gain any weight.
In fact, maintaining your weight should be the goal so that you don’t wake up on January 1st with a bigger New Year’s diet resolution than you had anticipated.
SLIM DOWN SOUTH COOKBOOK There’s a reason it’s called SLIM!
I have four tips and they spell out the word SLIM!
S- Savor the fresh flavors of the season (enjoy in season squash, apples, dark greens and citrus)
L- Linger longer ( take your time and be mindful of flavors )
I- Indulge a Little ( choose smart portions of splurge foods)
M- Make it Happen (go walking, say no to sugar sweetened beverages)
Please enjoy this video from NBC Atlanta & Company where I explain it all…plus an easy holiday appetizer. Mozzarella, Prosciutto and Mango.
Weeknights are often busy nights with after school activities, late hours at the office and let’s face it America….the stress of fighting rush hour traffic just to get home. The dream scene of a home cooked meal made from scratch every night is just that…a dream scene…so why not rely on your freezer as your personal chef a few nights a week?
Whether you’ve batch cooked and frozen entrees on the weekend, when you had a little extra time….or you simply reach in and find a frozen entree prepared by chefs in their professional kitchens…the freezer really is your best friend. I’m happy to be a spokesperson for Stouffer’s where dietitians and chefs work together to come up with recipes that really are the win-win for taste and health. Their meals are freshly made and simply frozen.
Stouffer’s Lasagna with meat and sauce is certainly a family favorite and guess what? One serving contains 18 grams of protein and only 300 calories.
There are no preservatives because the freezer does the preserving!
Oh and now the ingredient label reads like a recipe with vine ripened tomatoes, freshly made pasta and real mozzarella listed on the package. It’s Stouffer’s new “Kitchen Cupboard” commitment to simplify recipes to include ingredients we all can recognize (and immediately start getting hungry!).
OK, you’ve dashed in the door. The lasagna is baking in the oven. Now it’s time to take a deep breath, hug the kids, get them started on their homework and toss a salad. Don’t want another boring salad? Then, I say, don’t make one. I have two recipes for easy to make and easy to love weeknight salads from my Slim Down South Cookbook that help you balance your plate.
I work with the good folks at Stouffer’s on their #balanceyourplate nutrition campaign. Did you know that the majority of American families don’t eat the number of fruits, vegetables and whole grains they should for a balanced diet?
So let’s fix that by fixing a well balanced dinner.
It’s fall y’all! So toss in some of fall’s deliciously crisp apples into a salad. Apples are a good source of vitamin C , potassium and fiber.
Or if you like grapes, cut them in half and toss into a salad with avocado and grapefruit segments. I like to top with crunchy sunflower seeds for even more good nutrition.
Here’s another way to #balanceyourplate. While the Stouffer’s Lasagna with Meat and Cheese is baking and starting to fill the kitchen with ‘I can’t wait for dinner’ aromas…..go back to your freezer and find frozen green peas to make a great sweet pea hummus.
The kids ..and you…can dip carrot chips or whole grain crackers into the pea hummus ( another great source of fiber, potassium and protein) for a healthy snack to tide them over before you serve the lasagna and salad. Recipe: green peas in blender, a little olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper. Whirr, stir and serve. Smile.
So, using your freezer as a personal chef not only helps balance your plate, it helps balance your life because you’ll have more time to talk to the. kids, relax and enjoy those family meals on busy weeknights.
Now, this is the way to celebrate good nutrition and great taste on any night!
RECIPES FROM THE SLIM DOWN SOUTH COOKBOOK by registered dietitian, healthy foodie, Carolyn O’Neil
Farmers’ Market Fall Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing
Hit the farmers market or your super market produce section for delicious seasonal vegetables. Can’t decide what to toss in a salad, toss it all in to celebrate your fresh finds.
Makes 8 servings
1 green apple, diced
1 red apple, diced
½ cup thinly sliced green onion
1 cup chopped baby kale
1 cup sliced Napa cabbage
1 cup sliced red cabbage
½ cup golden raisins
Makes 12 servings
Hands-On 5 min.
Total 5 min.
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup honey
2 Tbsp. hot sauce
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. celery salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container up to 3 days.
Serving size 1 Tbsp. CALORIES 43; FAT 2.4g (sat 0.2g, mono 1.5g, poly 0.7g); PROTEIN 0.1g; CARB 6.1g; FIBER 0g; CHOL 0mg; IRON 0mg; SODIUM 146mg; CALC 1mg
On your mark, get set, go! The brand spanking new US Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) have just been released. They’re based on the latest and greatest food and nutrition research and are translated into advice on what we should be eating MORE of and what we should be eating LESS of to promote good health and prevent chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. US Health and Human Services Secretary Syliva Burwell says, “We can’t get broccoli to taste like ice cream but we can give Americans tools to choose healthier eating patterns.” That’s my favorite quote of the day!
Here’s a link to my sassy summary of the new DGA’s on WXIA Channel 11, Atlanta.
Go to www.choosemyplate.gov and you’ll find an easy summary and how-to follow for the new dietary guidelines which are good until until 2020, by the way. The guidelines are released every five years. A lot can change and a few things did this time, too.
Sweet call out– for the first time the advice on sugar is to limit added sugars to less than 10% of total calories. They are referring to the extra sugar added to coffee, tea, sodas or even to yogurts. They’re not talking about the naturally occurring sugars in dairy products and fruit. So keep an eye on the grams of sugar listed on the Nutrition Facts Label on foods and drinks you buy. Bonnie Taub Dix, registered dietitian nutritionist, explains it really well here.
“Sugar: The guidelines suggest that added sugars should not account for more than “10 percent of total energy.” So what does that mean? Here’s the quick math: The average caloric recommendation equals 2,000 calories (even though that’s more than many of us need). So 10 percent of 2,000 calories equals 200 calories. Then 200 calories of sugar equal 50 grams (g) of sugar. One can of cola soda has 35 g of sugar. One bottle of water has zero grams of sugar.”Bonnie Taub-Dix, MS RDN
Cholesterol Gets a Pass- Sort of:
Dietary cholesterol, found in foods such as eggs and shrimp, is NOT associated with increased blood cholesterol levels, so the new DGA’s no NOT include a limit on dietary cholesterol. Enjoy your eggs as part of the list of healthy protein foods encouraged. How about celebrating with a low country shrimp boil from the Slim Down South Cookbook?
But, saturated fat, the kind in heavily marbled beef and in bacon, IS associated with increased blood cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease so the new DGA’s limit saturated fat intake to less than 10% of total calorie intake.
Bonne Taub-Dix to the rescue again, “Less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats. The Nutrition Facts label can be used to check for saturated fats. Foods that are high in saturated fat include butter, whole milk, meats that are not labeled as lean, and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil.”
The recipes and road rules for slim and trim healthy eating in The Slim Down South Cookbook follow the new US Dietary Guidelines in a delicious and nutritious way.
How about starting with eating more vegetable based protein with a Slow Cooker Veggie Chili. A super food for the Super Bowl. Great for game day or any day!!!!
Here’s the recipe!
Slow-Cooker Veggie Chili
Corn, beans, and squash are known as the Three Sisters in Native American agriculture because they can be grown at the same time in the same soil. This tasty, easy recipe makes enough to feed you and up to 15 sisters.
Makes 16 servings
Hands-On 20 min.
Total 8 hours, 20 min.
4 medium carrots, diced (1 cup)
2 celery ribs, diced (½ cup)
1 medium-size sweet onion, diced (1¼ cups)
Vegetable cooking spray
2 (8-oz.) packages cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 large zucchini, chopped (2 cups)
1 yellow squash, chopped (1 cup)
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. seasoned pepper
¼ tsp. salt
1 (16-oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (16-oz.) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5-oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed