Tag Archives: nutrition

Fine Tuning Cruise Fare


Ahoy there from the Sunny Med!

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Hello from the Nieuw Amsterdam, one of the elegant ships of Holland America Line, as we sail on a 12-day dream cruise from Venice to Barcelona with many exciting and beautiful ports of call.

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View of the Nieuw Amsterdam from one of the ship’s tenders. Port of Kotor in Montenegro.

On the Menu Out to Sea

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Small plates are making big waves in cruise ship cuisine. From tiny dishes of mozzarella with fresh tomato or hummus with feta cheese, dolmades and olives, an artfully arranged selection of tastes from breakfast to late night snacking is set out for passengers dining casually in the Lido Market on Holland America Line ships.

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There’s no shortage of comfort food favorites such as roast beef and mashed potatoes and vacation treat foods including burgers and fries.

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But gone are the serve yourself steam table vats and buffet style trays that passengers used to fill to capacity.

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How about a Mediterranean meze plate?

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Now at each step of the way from the salad bar to the hot entrees, members of the culinary team smile and place what you want on a plate and hand it to you.

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The salad bar is a fresh cornocopia of creative ingredients

Prettily packaged sandwiches such as chicken salad with arugula on freshly baked multi grain bread take the place of a deli concept where you’d typically stand in line.
There are three distinct dining advantages here.

-Fewer people handling the food improve food safety. -Portion control allows passengers to enjoy a wider variety of tastes and decreases food waste. -And because the culinary staff create and garnish the plates they look much better for your vacation food photography.

Foodies at Sea

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My recent vacation on the Nieuw Amsterdam to celebrate a rather big birthday served up a bucket-list Mediterranean itinerary and a peek into current cruise fare philosophy.

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So much fun to dress up at night and enjoy dressed up dishes.

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I took notice that menus afloat from the elegant Manhattan Dining Room to made-to-order thin crust pizzas on the pool deck reflect dining trends ashore.

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There’s a sushi bar in Asian inspired Tamarind and shared platters of salumi and pastas at Italian themed Canaletto.

Popup dinners such as a special evening of dishes from famed New York restaurant Le Cirque add more glamour to gourmet meals in the Pinnacle Grill.

Lobster salad with grapefruit is a Le Cirque classic.
Lobster salad with grapefruit is a Le Cirque classic.

Specials on the Distant Lands menu connect to the local cuisine of each port of call. While docked in Dubrovnik, I sampled Croatian foods onboard including pastry stuffed with seasoned beef, meatballs with coriander sauce and a flaky cheese pie called Burek Sa Siron.

Croatian traditional dishes served with view of Croatia!
Croatian traditional dishes served with view of Croatia!

Chefs’ cooking demos and mixology classes add extra entertainment for food lovers on board.  After completing a series of four mixology classes you get a diploma!

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Nice work guys!
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Of course I joined the class!!

Galley Ho!

A behind the scenes tour of the ship’s gleaming galley leads guests everywhere from the dishwashing to dessert stations.

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I learned that 137, 000 pounds of fresh vegetables are consumed by two thousand guests in a typical week.

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Oh, and nearly 1700 pounds of butter.

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“At the start of the week passengers eat a lot because they’re excited about all of the choices,” says Martin Van Winden dining room manager of the Niew Amsterdam’s Pinnacle Grill “Then we do see a decline in food consumption as the cruise continues.”

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The elegant Pinnacle Grill on the Nieuw Amsterdam.

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Ship Shape

Special diet requests and food allergy concerns are taken seriously with gluten free choices and creative vegetarian fare such as barbecue tofu with creamy grits one day for lunch.
While there’s a fabulous fitness center and spa on board, my chosen exercise was taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

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When you walk up and down from deck 2 to deck 11 a few times a day it’s a work out. Especially when realizing you’re looking for a place that’s aft when you’re at the stern so have to walk another five minutes. Then you forget something in your stateroom……we racked up a lot of steps!

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There were 2300 passengers on board for the 12-Day Mediterranean Romance Cruise on the Holland America Line Nieuw Amsterdam.

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Actually the liveliness of this shared community at sea added so much enjoyment to the journey.  Traveling with my friend Liz McDermott, we never felt that any space was crowded or had to wait for a drink! We even got to meet Captain Edward G. Van Zaane for a special tour of the bridge.

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Did you know there are no paper navigation maps anymore? But still a tradition of handsome Captains at sea.

Now, how about a recipe from Allen and Antonio, our favorite bartenders and the “professors” of the mixology class series on board? Bon voyage!

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Chocolate Martini

Garnish chilled glass with chocolate sauce in swirled pattern

Shake 1 oz Vodka with 1 oz Creme de Cacoa White in a cocktail shaker with some ice.

Strain and pour into the glass.

Enjoy and you’re on your way to earning your very own bartender certificate.

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Stay tuned as we set sail for more foodie destinations on shore in my next blog post.

A cruise is a great way to explore and discover the traditional foods, exemplary eateries and exciting markets in ports along the way.

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Liz and I stumbled upon one of the best lunches of our lives at the tucked away and affordable Dior restaurant in St. Tropez. More to come……

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Active Travel a Healthy Trend

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While there are still plenty of vacationers looking for ‘find me a hammock’ rest and relaxation time, the real action in vacation planning includes a lot of action. Paddle boarding, hiking, biking, kayaking, hot air ballooning to hot yoga.

“I call it the kale, quinoa and cardio trend in travel,” said Jack Ezon, president of New York based Ovation Vacations. “Fitness is a huge part of their daily life so they want it to be part of their vacation life. We hire guides to jog with clients in the morning to see the city,” said Ezon. You don’t even have to pack your fitness gear. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, for instance, provide guests with workout shoes and clothes through a partnership with Reebok.

On The Go

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Ezon joined a panel of travel advisors attending Virtuoso Travel Week held recently at the palatial Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas.

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Billed as ‘fashion week’ for the luxury travel industry nearly five thousand Virtuoso members including travel advisors, tour operators, tourism officials, hotel and cruise line executives met to talk shop, swap business cards and share top trends.

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Active travel is popular for all age groups. Look out; grandma wants to go zip lining now.

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“Even older clients are not looking for sedentary travel. They want adventure,” said travel advisor Tony Huffman, chairman of Huffman Travel. Cruising on big ships is still big business but ‘excursions cruises’ on small luxurious vessels that get closer to Mother Nature are becoming wildly popular.

Food and Travel

Gastronomic adventures are high on the high-end travel list too. “Food is the most important beyond anything.

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Does the Bellagio Resort have great food? You Bet! These are salads with romaine, avocado and bacon.

They want to experience local flavors with a cool vibe,” said Kelly Grumbach, travel advisor with Quintessentially Travel. “If they’re going to be stuck on an island for a week it’s not just about menu options. It’s the quality of the ingredients and being creative.” For health conscious baby boomers and older travelers Huffman says, “Sauce on the side is a food group.” But Grumbach who plans trips, often very last minute, for the millennial age group says, “It’s a high maintenance generation. They want gluten free, want or don’t want diet drinks in their room, demand no bread basket at their table and might add they’re allergic to feathers.”

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My idea of wellness. It was 102 degrees F in Vegas. You don’t walk!

Making it a bit harder for travel advisors ( yes, we used to call them travel agents) plan a wellness focused vacation is the fact that not everyone has the same vision for wellness. That’s why Anne Dimon of Travel to Wellness  created a questionnaire for travel planners to use, “Some people might want to meditate and eat vegetarian foods while others define wellness as walking tours by day and fabulous meals paired with wines at night.”

Seeing friends is good for your health. Hello John Romfo of The Resort at Paws Up in Montana. That explains his fashions.
Seeing friends is good for your health. Hello John Romfo of Resort at Paws Up in Montana. That explains his fashions.
Paws Up has been doing active travel since the letter A was invented. Giddy up!
Paws Up has been doing active travel since the letter A was invented. Giddy up!

With all of the on line resources to plan (or implode) your own vacation, it’s important to note that travel advisors (AKA travel agents) are busier than ever. Matthew Upchurch, chairman of Virtuoso said, “It’s the hottest new thing that never went away.”

 

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Fashion footnote: Vegas has the best worst souvenirs!

 

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Greek Yogurt’s Got Protein Power


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Greek style yogurts are taking over the dairy aisle…and apparently the airline aisles! Photo above is my snack on Delta Airlines flight to Syracuse, New York. You’ll learn in a minute why on earth I was flying there in July!

The rich and creamy texture of these strained Greek yogurts combined with the win-win of their high protein and low fat content are driving demand as consumers seek foods that meet taste and health expectations.

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“Greek yogurt has two times the protein as compared to regular yogurt,” says Rob Post, senior director of nutrition and regulatory affairs for Chobani.

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Here’s Rob at dinner seated next to my registered dietitian colleague and nutrition writer Bonnie Taub-Dix. Dr. Post is one of the great minds who built the MyPlate nutrition icon at the US Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. 

Ah ha! I flew to Syracuse because one of Chobani’s two processing plants ( the other one is in Idaho ) is in the tiny western New York town of New Berlin.

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I was invited by Chobani with a group of other registered dietitians and nutrition writers and food bloggers to meet, greet and eat our way to better knowledge about the nuances of making Greek yogurt. That, of course, started down on the farm.

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Look at this state of the art ( the girls love the milking merry-go-round ) Rotary Milking Parlor at Sunnyside Farms in Scipio Center, New York.  600 dairy darlings are milked per hour in a ten minute round trip per cow. No antibiotics are used, unless an animal becomes sick and is then removed from the milking crowd. So, it’s in the dairy men and women’s plan of best practices to keep the cows healthy with good food (grass, alfalfa, corn, citrus pulp, canola seeds and more), plenty of clean water and fresh air. The dairy barn was open on the sides allowing  fresh breezes from the rural hills beyond to flow through the area.

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Rotary Milking Parlor- take a spin!

We also visited the impressive processing plant where Chobani yogurt is made, flavored with fruit, packaged, and shipped.

IMG_2799There are many steps along the way and each of them included above and beyond safety and sanitation oversight by professionals especially trained in each and every position along the way. Each of us suited up in factory fashions to ensure we weren’t dragging in any dirt. Spotless processing equals safe dairy; very very important in a world where listeria monocytogenes can be hiding.  Chobani pasteurizes their milk to above regulation temperatures to ensure any lurking bacteria are killed.  Go get ’em!

Protein Power Points

Greek yogurt even beats eggs in protein power and with fewer calories. One cup of Chobani Greek yogurt contains 22 grams of protein and 130 calories. Two large eggs contain 12 grams of protein and 154 calories.

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Muscles are beautiful. Now you’ve got my attention!

What’s so important about protein? More than just a muscle builder this major nutrient is the focus of important emerging research on weight control.

Heather Leidy, professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri, leads studies measuring the impact of high protein diets (100-130 grams of protein per day) on weight management. “We see more weight loss and more fat loss”, says Leidy. “Protein improves appetite control and satiety. There can be a reduction in food intake of over 400 calories per day.”

Salad dressing with Greek yogurt dressing at The New York Pizzeria in New Berlin, NY. A Chobani staff favorite!
Salad dressing with Greek yogurt dressing at The New York Pizzeria in New Berlin, NY. A Chobani staff favorite!

Protein timing is critical too. Rather than consuming a huge steak for dinner, Leidy suggests eating about 30 grams of protein per eating occasion throughout the day. Snacks should provide protein too because they’re more satisfying for a longer period of time.
The kind of protein consumed impacts overall health, too. High quality protein foods containing all of the essential amino acids for building and repairing body cells are vitally important.

“Most people consume plenty of protein but we’re not really sure they’re getting high quality protein,” says registered dietitian and protein researcher Nancy Rodriguez of the University of Connecticut-Storrs.

“Animal foods such as dairy, eggs, meats, fish contain the twenty essential amino acids needed for numerous functions in the body.”

Savory Swaps
Yogurt is enjoyed mostly as a breakfast food with fruit or as a sweet snack but executive chef Tim Reardon of Chobani wants to help change that by popularizing savory yogurt recipes.

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“You can easily substitute half of the mayo in coleslaw or chicken salad or the oil in a salad dressing with Greek yogurt,” says Reardon.

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“As a marinade it tenderizes meats and adds moisture to baked goods,” says Reardon.

Hey look! A pizza recipe on a Chobani yogurt container!
Hey look! A pizza recipe on a Chobani yogurt container!

And by substituting Greek yogurt for mayo or oil or sour cream…..

you’re not only cutting calories in recipes, you’re adding good nutrition, too. 

You're welcome!
You’re welcome!
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Fitness Vacation a Deliciously Healthy Retreat

 

IMG_2500Summer vacations often mean a time to let loose and have fun with no particular goals except to drink cold beers at the beach or pool and read the latest popular page-turner.

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But I chose an escape from the ordinary that required hiking shoes, work out clothes, and swim suits actually designed for swimming.

The Activity Pool: did you know exercise in water takes 25% more effort?
The Activity Pool: did you know exercise in water takes 25% more effort?
Craig Stuart of HYDRO-FIT led the water classes.
Craig Stuart of HYDRO-FIT led the water classes.

IMG_2629As a gift to myself in advance of a really big number arriving on my birthday in July, I spent a week at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico.

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The menu is vegetarian, except for seafood choices at dinner, and there’s no alcohol served with meals. But this was not about deprivation.

Actually, wines from Baja region are available at the Ranch's new Sol Bazar. The rose is pretty good.
Actually, wines from Baja region are available at the Ranch’s new Sol Bazar. The rose is pretty good.

Dinner is a perfectly portioned four-course affair with soup, salad, entrée and dessert.

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One night the menu included spinach soup with toasted almonds and balsamic reduction, a roasted vegetable salad with walnuts, goat cheese and tomato oregano vinaigrette, Florentine lasagna with black lentil and yellow pepper sauce and lemon tiramisu with macerated berries.

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“Great flavors allow us to enjoy food more while actually eating less, “ says Executive Chef Denise Roa, who oversees the Dining Hall and La Cocina Que Canta cooking school. All of the meals feature a bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs fresh picked from the property’s organic farm. “I believe that many people have forgotten or never experienced what food can taste like in-season and at its peak of freshness,” says Roa.

Chef Virginia Willis and the happy cooking school class at Rancho La Puerta
Chef Virginia Willis and the happy cooking school class at Rancho La Puerta

The guest chef at the cooking school during my week’s stay was Atlanta based Virginia Willis, author of the Lighten Up Y’all! Cookbook.

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She led a group of eager guests through the garden to pluck cucumbers and edible flowers and then assigned us to re-create her recipes in the Mexican tiled kitchen.

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I was on the Makeover Broccoli Mac n Cheese team. The recipe called for a calorie cutting one-to-one ratio of broccoli florets to whole-wheat pasta. Willis’ lump crab and celery remoulade recipe lightens up the dressing. “It’s OK to keep some of the ingredients you crave. I like to substitute half of the mayonnaise with low fat Greek yogurt and add some mustard and horseradish so there’s plenty of flavor,” advised Willis.

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Dessert shines! Spa-ah Peach Cobbler
Dessert shines! Spa-ah Peach Cobbler

My fitness focused week at ‘the ranch’ is what I call a ‘slim-cation’ of satisfying, nutritious meals and busy days that began with an early morning mountain hike and included an entertaining mix of activities from Pilates and weight training to water aerobics and tennis lessons.

Ground hog day! Two mile minimum hikes each morning at 6:30. Already getting hot!
Ground hog day! Two mile minimum hikes each morning at 6:30. Already getting hot!
Work it!
Work it!
Tennis anyone?
Tennis anyone?

It helps to have a buddy at the Ranch. My good friend and registered dietitian colleague Janet Helm who blogs at Nutrition Unplugged was with me every step of the way as we hiked and tried new fitness finds including barre classes and pumped iron. Oh there was spa time too of course!

Fitness days and farm to table nights.
Fitness days and farm to table nights.

“Health is within everybody’s reach,” says petite and peppy 93-year-old Deborah Szekley, founder of Rancho La Puerta. “You just have to reach out.” During an inspiring evening lecture on aging, Szekley advised making a weekly schedule to plan and time for fitness and shopping for healthy foods. “I have maybe ten years left in my life and I’m excited about it. You have to value your time.”

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They say it takes at least one week to establish new habits. I made an effort to drink more water, which wasn’t difficult in the desert heat; especially since there were water sources everywhere on the property and stations with iced herbal teas.IMG_2483

Each afternoon there was a tasting of fresh fruit smoothies at the new juice bar by the activity pool.

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Did I lose weight? Maybe a little.  But I gained a renewed spirit to prioritize my health for many more birthdays ahead.

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Feast for the Eyes

toastingimagesBeautiful spring weather calls for beautiful meals under the canopy of nature.
They say we eat with our eyes, but looks like we should be eating for our eyes too. Nutrition researchers are gazing into our orbs to illuminate the link between nutrition and eye health. Important diet discoveries go beyond eating carrots to see well in the dark.

Carrots still rank high on the eyesight saving menu but other heroes, perhaps even more important, are emerging from the farm. Scientists have set their sights on green leafy and deep orange or yellow vegetables such as spinach, kale, zucchini, corn, tomatoes, pumpkin, squash, carrots, collard greens and turnip greens.

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The Lady of the Refrigerator dressed in a pumpkin. Fashionable and fabulous for eye health. Good looking and good for looking!
Pumpkin and the other foods listed above contain two natural carotenoid plant pigments called lutein and zeaxanthin. They are both potent antioxidants thought to protect the eyes against the damaging light waves that contribute to cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age related macular degeneration (AMD).

A study in the British Journal of Nutrition reports that lutein can reduce risk of cataracts by up to forty percent and a study in the Archives of Ophthalmology found that lutein may cut risk of AMD by thirty five percent. Lutein is also found in eggs, especially the yolk. So enjoy the whole egg for a whole lot of health benefits.

Peek a Boo! I see you!

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Lutein is important for the development of an infant’s eye sight (attention moms-to-be) and maintaining children’s vision health (eat your vegetables kids!).

Recipe note: since lutein and zeaxanthin are fat-soluble nutrients absorption is increased when consumed with a little oil. So it’s good to know that olive oil drizzled on the season’s fresh vegetables is good for your taste buds and your eyes. Yum! Here’s a delicious example from The Slim Down South Cookbook. The BLT Chicken Salad.

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Focus on Foods
Other powerful antioxidant nutrients associated with maintaining overall eye health are zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene.

Lutein/Zeaxanthin: kale, collard greens, spinach, turnip greens, broccoli, avocado, zucchini, peas, corn, Brussels sprouts, tangerines, dark leafy salad greens and eggs.

Beta-carotene: carrots, mangos, sweet potato, greens, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, cantaloupe, kale, and apricots.

Vitamin C: papaya, citrus fruit, strawberries, tomato, mango, green peppers, and berries.

Vitamin E: almonds, wheat germ, whole grain breads, avocado, and greens.

Zinc: oysters, lobster, beef, poultry, pork, lentils, and whole-grain bread.

Source: USDA nutrient database.

Happily, many of the foods rich in nutrients good for our eyes are delicious additions to any meal and are beautiful to look at too.

Here’s the video!!! of Beautiful Ways to Present Beautiful Foods FOR our Eyes.

It’s all about placement on the plate.

Add Color and MORE….

 

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Menu Labeling: It’s Complicated

girlwithmenu The countdown to provide calorie counts and other nutrition information for menu items is in full swing for more than 250,000 restaurant locations nationwide. Faced with a December deadline set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) restaurant chains with more than 20 outlets are busily crunching the numbers to provide nutrition facts on their menus, websites and in-store signage.

“Menu labeling is the biggest advance in providing nutrition information to consumers since the law that required Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods was implemented 20 years ago,” said Margo G. Wootan, nutrition policy director for The Center for Science in the Public Interest.

In addition to calories, written information on total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, sugar, fiber and protein must be available upon consumer request. The intent of the new law is to guide diners toward healthier choices on the menu.

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Joy Dubost, registered dietitian with the National Restaurant Association says, “Many restaurant patrons have stated that menu labeling is important to them when dining out, and we also know that based on trend data consumers are demanding more healthful options.”

Nutrition by the Numbers

Seeing the facts right up front can help diners avoid calorie bombs or at least be forewarned of the waistline busting cost of indulgent dishes and drinks.

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“What I like about the new legislation is that it holds restaurants accountable,” says registered dietitian Nicole King of the website Healthy Dining Finder.com.

How do restaurants come up with the nutrition numbers? The FDA allows several methods including the use of software programs based on nutrient data bases designed to calculate nutritional analysis for recipes, using nutritional information already calculated for recipes in published cookbooks or the more costly but most accurate laboratory analysis of individual items. King says, “And restaurants have to show their work when they provide documentation to the FDA so it’s clear what method was used.”

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It’s Complicated

Presenting the information to consumers is not always a simple task. Take a pizza restaurant for example. How do they list the nutrition numbers for all of the combinations of toppings and different kinds of crusts? King says, “It’s complex and cumbersome.”

Staff training is part of the new labeling law too to ensure that cooks follow the recipes. A liberal hand with the salt or mayonnaise in the kitchen will mean the numbers on the menu won’t match the dish being served.

“We have to remember this is hand crafted food not made to specs such as an Oreo where every cookie is exactly the same size. There are going to be slight variations,” says King.

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Other challenges behind the scenes are happening behind the bar. From pina coladas to cosmopolitans, alcoholic beverages are included in the menu labeling law even though they weren’t part of the packaged foods labeling laws. That’s why you don’t see calorie counts on a bottle of vodka. “The alcohol piece was not regulated at all. But now cocktail menus have to list nutrition information,” says King. So now when you say ‘make mine a double’ don’t forget to double the calories too.

 

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Super Foods with Super Promises

lemonDrink lemon water to detox your liver, battle depression and dissolve gallstones!

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Consume coconut oil for shiny hair, clear complexion and a healthy heart!

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Sip green tea to lose weight and boost your immune system!

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You may have heard these so-called ‘super food’ claims.

Yes, what we eat and drink certainly can help ‘cure what ails you’ and protect against ill health. But the temptation to promise a wee bit more than science supports is rampant in marketing messages and perhaps always has been.
Food fads and fallacies are widespread. Consider this sage advice.

“No subject lends itself more readily to misuse than diet. Fakers fatten and grow rich on gullibility of the public when it comes to selling ‘pointers’ to beauty and health. It is only through education conducted by individuals who possess a thorough knowledge of nutrition that such fakers can be denounced and their pernicious advice refuted.”

– Fairfax T. Proudfit, professor of nutrition at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine and author of Nutrition and Diet Therapy, first published in 1918.

Yup, 1918. I keep this old textbook on dietetics close to my desk. It’s been revised eight times and mine is the 1942 edition.

Proudfit

Nutrition science may have advanced by leaps and bounds since then, but truly the basics haven’t changed that much. Eat your vegetables, choose whole grains, seek out high quality protein, and eat a wide variety of foods to get a wide variety of nutrients. Limit sugar, fat and salt and remember to drink water to stay hydrated.

Way back when in Proudfit’s day, nutrition experts were concerned about under nutrition and vitamin deficiency diseases whereas today we’re focused on over nutrition and obesity related diseases including diabetes and cardio-vascular disease responsible for three out of five deaths worldwide.

Let’s get back to the lemon water.

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Every tall tale includes a kernel or two of the truth. Here’s why each of these ‘super foods’ can be healthy additions to your diet.

Lemon Water- The nutritional advantage of drinking water flavored with a little lemon juice is that it provides some vitamin C and the mineral potassium which are important for good health. Adding lemon, orange or a splash of any fruit juice can help make water taste a bit better so that you might drink a bit more to stay hydrated.
Research shows that offering water that is cooled and flavored increases fluid intake.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2756057
Proper hydration aids in digestion and supports all bodily functions including support of heart health and the brain. When you are dehydrated you can feel lethargic and even cranky. So, if drinking lemon water helps you stay hydrated that’s a good thing for the body and the brain. Other than that, I see no miraculous health advantages for adding citrus to drinking water. And actually you should make sure that the exterior of lemons and any other fresh fruit is cleaned before slicing to prevent bacterial contamination of the drinking water.

Coconut Oil-  wow that’s a lot of usefulness! Hmmm….too good to be true? 

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While coconut sure tastes good in a Pina-colada or a coconut cake, coconut oil isn’t all it’s cracked up to be as a ‘super food’ according to the US Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has issued warnings to marketers of coconut oil over misleading and unsubstantiated health and nutrition claims.
http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2005/ucm076069.htm

Coconut oil, like any fat, is a concentrated source of calories with 120 calories per tablespoon. And coconut oil is more than 90 percent saturated fat, the kind of fat associated with elevating blood cholesterol levels. By comparison, butter is 65 percent saturated fat. So using a bit of coconut oil to cook dishes such as Thai cuisine is delicious way to enjoy vegetables, but downing coconut oil by the spoonful won’t work miracles for your health.

Green Tea- Wow! you had me at “fights against aging.”

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As registered dietitian trained to advise folks on food and fitness to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, I do like to recommend drinking unsweetened hot and iced tea because it’s hydrating, provides a non-caloric beverage and provides a gentle lift without the jitters often associated with drinking too much coffee. Green tea and black tea both contain the amino acid L-theanine, which research shows can help you feel alert and calm at the same time. That’s tea-rific!
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296328

Note that green and black tea come from the same plant- camellia sinensis. Matcha green tea, enjoyed in tea ceremonies in Japan, is more concentrated than other green teas so will taste, some say, a bit ‘spinachy’ with a strong vegetal flavor. So it’s an acquired taste.

Some of the health claims for green tea include information on the high concentration of antioxidants, but there are lots of foods that are rich in disease fighting antioxidants including most fruits and vegetables, nuts and other kinds of tea, too.

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So, when you read about the ‘super’ effects of ‘super foods’ on your health, take a moment to digest the facts before you waste your money on empty promises.

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National Registered Dietitian Day

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Could it be anymore exciting?

It’s National Registered Dietitian Day.

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Eat right and take a bite of something indulgent.

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That’s what we RD’s do everyday.

Untitled I’ll have what she’s having!

SO what’s registered dietitian day all about?

Here’s some ‘food for thought’ from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“It’s no secret that the nutritional health of our nation is of peak concern,” said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Spokesperson Tamara Melton. “That’s why it’s important to take a moment to remind consumers where they can go to seek expert clarification in the muddy sea of nutrition advice – the registered dietitian nutritionist.”

Since 2007, the second Wednesday in March has marked Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, when the Academy acknowledges the significant work RDNs do as advocates for advancing the nutritional status of Americans and people around the world.

“Virtually anyone can call him or herself a ‘nutritionist,'” Melton said. “In these cases, consumers don’t know if the individual has five minutes or five years of experience – or any training at all. But when you consult a registered dietitian nutritionist, you can know you are receiving advice from an educated, trained and trusted expert.”

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Registered dietitian nutritionists meet stringent academic and professional requirements, including earning at least a bachelor’s degree, completing a supervised practice program and passing a registration examination. RDNs must also complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration. More than half of all RDNs have also earned master’s degrees or higher.

Exciting personal message:

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I have a Masters Degree in Nutrition with a specialization in Communication from Boston University! Go Terriers. But it all began with my Bachelors Degree in Nutrition from Florida State University. Go Noles! I completed my dietetic internship at the VA Hospital in San Diego where I loved working in the hospital almost as much as going to the beach. Oh, and ( see photo above ) I am the Lady of the Refrigerator nutrition expert on Alton Brown’s Good Eats series, which airs on the Food Network. 

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The majority of RDNs work in the treatment and prevention of disease (administering medical nutrition therapy, as part of medical teams), often in hospitals, HMOs, public health clinics, nursing homes or other health care facilities. Additionally, RDNs work throughout the community in schools, fitness centers, food management, food industry, universities, research and private practice.

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This sign was probably not written by a registered dietitian, but I like the guidance. 

 

 

“Consumers and health professionals alike can seek the expert guidance of an RDN virtually anywhere and anytime food plays a role,” Melton said. “From football fields to crop fields, school cafeterias to home kitchens, grocery store aisles to the halls of Congress, RDNs are working to help all Americans improve their health, prevent and manage disease and achieve and maintain a healthy weight, all through the power of food and nutrition.”

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If you need a pro to help you remember what you should be eating for good health and great taste – I suggest working with a registered dietitian.  You’ve got a hair dresser, right? Favorite nail place? Dental hygienist ? Maybe even a personal trainer?  How about adding an RD to your health and beauty team?

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 RD’s can even help you fit a few of these into your daily diet.

Now that’s a bubbly and beautiful lifestyle!

Learn more about what a registered dietitian nutritionist can do for you and find an RDN in your area at www.eatright.org.

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Happy Healthy Thanksgiving!

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Whether you’re doing the cooking at home, taking a dish to a gathering or making restaurant reservations for Thanksgiving dinner Atlanta area chefs offer some inventive ideas to add a deliciously healthy twist to menu traditions.
While Thanksgiving is not a day for dieting, it’s certainly smart to up the flavor appeal of holiday favorites with creative recipes that help keep the calories down. That way you have room for a bigger slice of pumpkin pie. Yes, you can indulge without the bulge.

Here’s the How to Indulge without the Bulge segment for #HealthyThanksgiving I did for WGN TV with Chicago food stylist Connie Pikulas.

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Enjoy Winter Salads

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Look at these beautiful Brussels sprouts!

The very first Thanksgiving’s mission was to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. Chefs turn to the season’s harvest for culinary inspiration. Salads are often overlooked in the parade of roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy.
At newly opened Paces & Vine, chef Ian Winslade’s Tuscan kale salad with mandarin orange dressing, crystalized ginger and local radishes, is a great winter produce idea. The Thanksgiving to-go menu at Murphy’s, also under Winslade’s direction, features a winter salad of mixed greens, pears and walnuts as well as butternut squash soup with the flavors of apple and ginger cream.
Sweet New Ideas
What Thanksgiving spread would be complete without sweet potatoes? Sweet potatoes are rich in healthy fiber, potassium and beta-carotene. Chef Carvel Gould suggests roasting sweet potato wedges and tossing them together with parsnips and rutabaga wedges cooked in a non stick pan with some garlic and shallots for about four minutes until their tender but still have some texture.

Chefs at Seasons 52 restaurants, who specialize in creating just-as-tasty but lighter, lower calorie dishes are serving maple-glazed roasted butternut squash with their Thanksgiving menu this year.

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Modern Family Menus
From the head of the table to the kids’ table, there are bound to be a few folks at Thanksgiving gatherings this year who have unique diet needs including a nut allergy, a gluten intolerance or are vegetarian or vegan. No doubt whoever’s cooking the meal will feel a bit challenged. Sous chef Cooper Miller of JCT Kitchen says, “We are used to special diet requests so we create a bunch of sides that anyone can enjoy without nuts, bacon or breadcrumbs. Then we throw in a few dishes loaded with all of those ingredients for those who want to splurge.” An easy idea for home entertaining: create a condiment platter of ingredients so each guest can customize their plates depending on allergies or food preferences.

Everybody’s happy on Thanksgiving.

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How Not to Get Over Stuffed on Thanksgiving

• Fill your plate with your personal holiday favorites first. Don’t waste your calories on foods you can eat all year long.
• Turkey and all the trimmings may be the draw, but remember the main event should be sharing time with family and friends.
• Start a new tradition by taking a walk with family and friends after the big meal and serving dessert after the stroll. You’ll feel better and dessert will taste even better.
• Give thanks that even dietitians believe Thanksgiving is not a day to diet. You may not lose any pounds over the holidays, but if you maintain your weight you’re doing great.

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Rooting for Root Vegetables

 


handsimagesCarrots may enjoy a starring role on restaurant menus year round, but other less commonly consumed root vegetables take center stage in the fall. The slightly sharp flavors of parsnips, rutabaga, beets and turnips are a great compliment to hearty braised meats featured on cold weather menus.

“The parsnip has that dynamic light licorice flavor that lifts your palate with heavier dishes such as duck,” says executive chef Mike Deihl of Atlanta, currently the Southeast Regional Vice President of the American Culinary Federation.

Demonstrating his enthusiasm for the autumn harvest, Deihl prepared a salad of roasted parsnips, carrots and golden beets at the Taste of Atlanta food festival recently. “I call it my culinary fall trinity,” he says. “They’re roasted first to concentrate the flavors kind of like reducing a sauce.”

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Roots on the Menu

A quick survey of online menus posted by Atlanta restaurants proves chefs are rooting for root vegetables this time of year. At Woodfire Grill braised pork shank is served with roasted parsnips and an apple cider glaze. An apple, walnut and rutabaga compote complements roasted duck at Babette’s. Creamy parsnip soup is on the menu at Canoe and braised baby beets with burnt honey vinaigrette is offered at South City Kitchen. An arugula salad at The Optimist is topped with pickled turnips and carrots.

“What I like about root vegetables is their flexibility. You can eat them hot, cold, room temperature, pureed, braised, stewed and grilled because they’re so strong and hearty,” says Deihl. “I’ve even made a golden beet sorbet!”

Grounded in Good Nutrition

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While root vegetables come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors they’re all really good sources of dietary fiber, which promotes digestive health and is associated with lower rates of heart disease and certain types of cancer. Turnips and rutabaga are high in vitamin C.   And as with most members in the produce aisle, root vegetables contain the mineral potassium, which helps support healthy blood pressure. Rutabagas and turnips are in the same cruciferous family as broccoli and cauliflower known for cancer-fighting antioxidant nutrients that help boost the immune system. So, while you’re enjoying the seasonal taste treat of root vegetables this fall know that you’re also adding some pretty powerful nutrition to boost your health to help ward off the winter chills ahead.

 

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Tiny Wild Blueberries Deliver Big Nutrition

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 Good things come in small packages.

The same can be said of the tiny wild Maine blueberry being harvested this time of year on otherwise barren rocky fields.

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In fact, the land in northern Maine where these short scruffy bushes grow is referred to as ‘the barrens.’

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About one third of the size of cultivated blueberries commonly sold in most supermarkets, Maine’s petite deep purple wild berries have been popping up on their own without human help for more than ten thousand years.

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Merrill Blueberry Farms is the first and only company to process organic wild blueberries for the frozen market.

“The plants are not fast growing but they’re long lasting,” says David Yarborough, wild blueberry specialist and professor of horticulture at the University of Maine. “I eat my way through the fields and have wild blueberries with oatmeal for breakfast every day.”

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David Yarborough also likes wild Maine blueberry ice cream.  So does Hannah Richards, mommy blogger and editor at Ethos Marketing.

To learn how wild blueberries are different from the tame (that’s what the US Department of Agriculture calls cultivated blueberries) I joined a group of food bloggers for an educational farm to table tour called “Blog the Barrens!”

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Regan Miller Jones RD of Healthy Aperture , Danielle Omar of Food Confidence and I visit Wyman’s of Maine.
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Liz Weiss, fellow dietitian and blogger at MealMakeoverMoms and I celebrate wearing blue in blueberry land! Blueberry fields forever.

We braved a little cold and rain but blessed the weather conditions as ‘good for the berries!’ and enjoyed wonderful meals together as we tasted and talked – it was all about the wild Maine blueberry.

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At Havana restaurant in Bar Harbor, wild blueberries find their way into blueberry butter, blueberry vinaigrette sauce for scallops, and blueberry compote for goat cheese cheesecake.  We were greeted with a wild Maine blueberry Mojito since Havana’s theme is a latin inspired menu.

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We also spotted a very famous and discriminating ‘foodie’ and fellow blogger…Martha dining right next to us at Havana.

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No we didn’t get a chance to chat but the Martha sighting had me craving more berries and appreciating the gorgeous views!

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The bartenders at the Bar Harbor Inn shakes up blueberry martinis and executive chef Louis Kiefer makes a variety of wild blueberry salsas.

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RECIPE: Wild Blueberry & Tomato Salsa 

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1 cup Wild Blueberries

1 cup quartered Cherry Tomatoes

1/4 cup diced Yellow Bell Pepper

Chiffonade of Fresh Basil Leaves

Pinch of Sea Salt & Cayenne

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons Walnut Oil (or olive oil)

1-2 tablespoons of Fruit Vinegar (Champagne vinegar, Blueberry vinegar! or Red Wine Vinegar for instance)

Mix well and serve- great with tortilla chips (duh) or on top of grilled fish ( as in photo above)

WILD ABOUT WILD BLUEBERRIES IN MAINE!

It’s easy to find blueberry pancakes and blueberry ice cream on just about every menu in Maine. (And as a design on table linens and other decor) Let’s get another look at that wild blueberry ice cream!

IMG_8074 If they’re not using the state’s wild berry, I’m pretty sure they’d be run out of town.

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Yarborough explains that while blueberries grow wild in Maine, farmers manage the fields where they grow to control competing weeds and insects to ensure a healthy crop. This year will be a banner year for wild blueberries because the weather was ‘honeybee friendly’ during the critical pollination phase.

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Speaking of the harvest….there are mechanical harvesters but much of the crop today is still gathered as it has been for years…by raking the berries into a toothy contraption in back and forth motions so the berries tumble into the catch. It’s back breaking work and I had enough of it in five minutes. Cheers to those humble heroes who harvest our sweet crops!

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Big Nutrition, Small Berry

Wild blueberries offer banner nutrition too. Because the berry is tiny there’s more skin to flesh ratio so the wild blueberry is twice as high in fiber and much higher levels of antioxidants as compared to bigger cultivated berries. Registered dietitian Kit Broihier, who works with the Wild Blueberry Association of North America says, “Tiny is huge when it comes to nutrition. The wild blueberry has concentrated levels of nutrients that support eye, heart and brain health.”

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While the savoring of fresh wild blueberries is an annual celebration during harvest in Maine, the majority of the state’s crop heads immediately to the freezer. “It’s nature’s pause button,” says Yarborough. Freezing maintains the color, shape, and flavor of the fruit and creates a food product that’s available year round and worldwide.

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And studies show that freezing not only protects but actually increases the availability of nutrients in blueberries. You can find wild Maine blueberries in most supermarkets in the frozen fruit section. Or….you can head to the state of Maine for the late summer harvest next year. Besides it’s the best time of year to visit Vacationland.

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Farmers Market Finds

Peachtree Road Farmers Market in Atlanta 

Shopping at your local farmers market is more popular than ever.


Farmers meet consumers one-on-one to sell their just-picked crops and suggest the best ways to cook them.

Friends and neighbors, often with their kids and dogs in tow, chat about the weekend and compare purchases.

Where are the fresh baked dog biscuits? 


Crazy colored heirloom tomatoes! Purple potatoes! 

Don’t know how to cook a Japanese eggplant? As the farmer!


Candy-striped beets! Sweet corn, peaches, okra and onions. Locally made goat cheese and honey! Asiago cheese bread!

The taste benefits drive shoppers to farmers’ markets but the health benefits of enjoying freshly picked fruits and vegetables are a big attraction, too. Add to that the good feeling of supporting local farmers and food producers with your purchases and farmers’ markets are a great place to shop.

Have lunch at the Famers Market too!

But, how do you choose the best peaches? The ripest tomatoes? And what do you do with that strange looking squash?

Farmers Market Secrets   Watch CBS Better Mornings Video Here! 


Farmers Market Shopping List of Tips:

-Try to get there early! Look on line for list of farmers and food producers who attend each Farmers’ Market to help plan ahead. I go to the Peachtree Road Farmers Market on Saturdays. 


I get everything from ears of corn to cute earrings from the artisans there. 



Chili Ristas and Turquoise Jewelry at Santa Fe Farmers Market



-Jump into the season: what’s seasonal now? If it is in season it will taste best and cost less

Chef Charles Dale power shops for tonight’s menu at the Santa Fe Farmers Market


-Talk to the farmers, if they grew it, they are happy to tell you how to cook it. Don’t be shy! Hey farmers are the new celebrities!!!


-Buy some ripe, and buy some not so ripe!!! That way the harder peaches or greener tomatoes will ripen up during the week so if you buy on Saturday, they’ll be just right on Wednesday. Actually, produce is so often so fresh at the market, it’ll stay fresh for a week. Then it’s time to go back!


-Imperfections can taste best, the “ugliest” tomato is likely to be an heirloom variety with more tomato flavor. Try varieties or vegetables you’ve never tasted before.

-Bring your own reusable bags to be earth friendly – but please folks – make sure they’re clean!!! Did you know that dirty bags can contaminate your perfect produce? 

Goodies for dining and decor at the Santa Fe Farmers Market, nice hat.


– Have small bills in cash. It will be easier and faster to make transactions with the farmers and producers. Credit cards are a pain and they cost the farmer money. Be a friend to the farmer! 


-Look for perishable foods such as cheeses, yogurts and sausages displayed on ICE!  Food safety is important.  And have a cooler with ice in the car to place perishable purchases.

Chef Demos teach kids ( uh, and all of us ) how great fresh foods taste!


-Create a Farmers’ Market Ready Pantry at home with staples such as whole-wheat flour, granola cereals, canola oil, olive oils, and spices to turn those fresh finds into fabulous dishes. 




I like to bake peaches and top with Sunbelt Bakery Granola to make a Peach Granola Crunch.      
   

Baked Peach Granola Crunch with Sunbelt Bakery Granola

Happy and Healthy Shopping at the Farmers Market of your choice, folks!

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Summer Slimmers: Watermelon

Thirsty for something sweet but trying to drink more water?  The summertime staple – a big slice of watermelon – can satisfy both desires. Watermelons contain 92 percent water so are true to their name. That’s why watermelon is one of the best foods to eat to keep you hydrated on a hot day.  
A sign of the season, watermelon salads are showing up on summer restaurant menus including watermelon with fresh mozzarella, almond mint pesto and green chilies at Two Urban Licks.  At Kyma it’s paired with feta cheese and fresh mint. 
The menu at Parish has featured grilled watermelon with heirloom tomatoes, mint and capers. Watermelon juice makes its way into refreshing cocktails, too.  
Frozen watermelon juice is refreshingly hydrating too. 
Seasons 52 has a recipe for a Watermelon Refresher made with light rum, fresh muddled watermelon and lime juice.

Hydration and Nutrition


Watermelon serves up way more than just water and natural sweetness.  With fewer than fifty calories per cup you can happily chow down on sweet, juicy watermelon during bathing suit season. Watermelon is a healthy choice for snacking too because its high water and fiber content help fill you up without filling you out.  
Summer camp, cookouts, catching fireflies, running in the sprinkler.
Childhood memories made even better when sharing watermelon.
It’s a lot of fun pick up a cold slice of watermelon and bite into summer’s sunny childhood memories so it fits in with modern nutrition advice to take your time while you eat and ‘be in the moment’ instead of mindlessly munching. 
Enjoying two cups of watermelon in chunks, sliced or cute little melon balls gets you a quarter of the way toward dietary advice to consume at least eight servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Seeing Red

Its red color is a clue it’s a leader in lycopene content, a pigment that’s a powerful antioxidant, which protects cells from disease causing damage.  Watermelon contains more lycopene than tomatoes. 
Heirloom tomatoes and watermelon- a delicious nutritious summer match! 
Watermelon’s also a good source of vitamin beta-carotene, which the body turns into vitamin A to boost eye health and the immune system.  Vitamin C, vitamin B6, and the minerals potassium and phosphorous are on the list of health benefits, too.  Registered dietitian, Elizabeth Somer, spokesperson for the National Watermelon Promotion Board  and author of “Eat Your Way to Sexy” says, “Where else can you get the wealth of nutrition, help keep your heart healthy, stay hydrated and satisfy a sweet tooth, all for so few calories?”

So, the next time you see a platter of bright red watermelon slices or watermelon chunks tossed into a salad you’ll know that this iconic symbol of summertime deserves more attention than a seed spitting contest.

Fruity Watermelon Facts 

o   The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt and is depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics on walls of their ancient buildings. Watermelons were often placed in the burial tombs of kings to nourish them in the afterlife.

o   Southern food historian, John Egerton, believes watermelon made its way to the United States with African slaves as he states in his book, “Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History.”

o   Watermelon’s official name is Citrullus Lanatus, the same botanical family as cucumbers

o   Wash watermelons. According to the FDA, all melons should be washed in clean running water before cutting into the rind.

 

Mind the Rind: Always wash melons carefully before cutting.

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All Fired Up for Memorial Day!

 

While charcoal and gas fed flames burn brightly year round in restaurant kitchens, Memorial Day weekend signals the official start of the summer grilling season. 

This year everything from wagyu beef to watermelon is hitting the grill….is that cabbage? 
Joys Dubost, Phd, RD is a joy and did you know she’s a competitive ice skater?
 “Grilling is one of the most popular preparation methods in restaurants,” says registered dietitian Joy Dubost of the National Restaurant Association, “ It’s partly because of its appeal to health-conscious consumers and its impact on enhancing the flavor of food items.”  Hey, we love a win-win for taste and health!

All Fired Up


At newly opened King + Duke restaurant in Buckhead, the dining room features a showcase of open hearth cooking where hickory wood fires are expertly tended by chefs grilling octopus, steaks and artichokes over high heat on one grill; while slow roasting chicken, rabbit and beets over calmer embers. 
See the steering wheel things? They rotate the grill up and down. 
Using what looks like a steering wheel, grates can be raised or lowered over the fires to control the heat applied to the food.  The menu describes the North Georgia Brook Trout as “boy scout style” which means sautéed in a cast iron pan over the fire. Carrots, kale, eggplant, scallions and the vegetables for ratatouille are roasted on the hearth.  King + Duke chef and restaurateur Ford Fry says, “Our executive chef Joe Schafer even makes his own charcoal. Just about everything is cooked over the fire here. It’s an art and a science but the flavors are worth it. ”  
King + Duke has really cool chairs, too.
Beverage director Lara Creasy even uses fresh grilled pineapple to make King + Duke’s Pisco Punch. 

Why Grilling’s Healthy

Grilling foods is considered a healthy cooking technique for a few reasons. Excess fats drip off of meats lowering the total fat and calorie content; the fire concentrates flavors and adds textural contrast so small portions are satisfying and the high heat caramelizes natural sugars in fruits and vegetables making them taste a bit sweeter.

Registered dietitian Katie Sullivan Morford, author of the blog Mom’s Kitchen Handbook, says there’s some concern about carcinogens in grilled meats and poultry, “The key is to avoid burning and charring. Some research has found that using marinades as well as serving meat with antioxidant-rich vegetables helps offset the damage.”
To over charr is to err when grilling. 
 Take these precautions and grilling can be one of the tastiest and healthiest ways to cook.

Bigger Can Be Better

This is a Porterhouse Steak. It’s a strip steak on one side of the bone and filet mignon on the other. 
While ordering a petit filet may seem like the smart menu choice for weight conscious diners, chef Dave Zino of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association suggests a new twist on portion control, “Why not order a larger steak for ‘planned overs’ in mind? Restaurant steaks are high quality beef and they’re fired at temps consumer grills can’t reach so are more flavorful.” 
Chef Dave Zino knows a lot about beef. 
Considering price per ounce on the menu, larger cuts are often more economical. Ask the server to box up the portion you want to take home, enjoy the portion you want for dinner and the next day you can make a sliced steak salad or sandwich for lunch.  Tasty tip from Dave: Enjoy leftover grilled meats cold because reheating can create an undesirable ‘warmed over flavor’ and make them less tender.

Carolyn O’Neil, MS RD is the co-author of Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous! You can email her at carolynoneil@aol.com

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Spring Sports & Nutrition Month!

The daffodils are beginning to bloom and trees about to bud here in Atlanta. 
Spring arrives mid-March, right after St. Patrick’s Day. 
Green is a good thing. Even if it’s not a four leaf clover. 

But the whole month is a celebration for eating right because March is  National Nutrition Month!!!

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics serves up heaping helpings of advice on food, nutrition and cuisine. This year’s theme is Eat Your Way, Every Day!

It’s all about you!

A personalized approach to nutrition advice is the most successful plan. Take snacking, for instance.
Snacking between meals, whether it’s mid-morining or mid-afternoon is a way of life in the USA. As dietitians we like to say, “Make your snack count!” Choose healthy snacks that serve up good taste and good nutrition.

A lot of families are ramping up their snack attack because Spring sports are starting!

He’s safe! Because his parents packed  healthy snacks in his sports bag. 

If your kids need to snack after school on their way to sports practice or after practice to tide them over  until dinner – then you might need a bit of coaching to help choose the healthiest snacks.

Snacks can help fill in nutrient gaps when you choose foods rich in calcium, fiber, potassium and vitamin A.
That’s easy if you like granola bars with a carton of milk. Or baby carrots in a plastic bag to go.

I’m thrilled to be working with Sunbelt Bakery to get the good word out on healthy snacking for families. The best news is that the right snack can not only be good for you – it tastes good and is ready to be on the go with your busy schedule. The granola bars in the photo below are one of my faves- chocolate chip! At only 140 calories each, they’re just the right portion size too. Their whole grain goodness comes from whole grain oats. Pair with a cup of low fat or fat free milk and you’ll add 8 grams of high quality protein to your snack break, too.

Meanwhile, back at Spring training…….kids are on the move and need fuel and fluids to keep them going.  Water is great of course but  fruits and vegetables provide good hydration, too.

Think of snacks as mini-meals with what I call a “Tasty Snack Trio” including:

Protein foods (cheese, milk, yogurt, hard boiled egg, slice of turkey or ham)
Whole Grain foods (whole wheat crackers, granola cereal on yogurt, granola bars )
Garden foods ( fruits, vegetables) TIP: always cut up fruit so it’s easier to eat. Apple slices will disappear while the whole apple may go uneaten. I love those pre-cut carrot chips in the supermarket produce section too!

Carrot chips and a 1/4 cup portion of hummus is perfect on the go sports snack for kids.
Tasty Snack Trio: protein in hummus, whole grain crackers and veggies.

So how much is enough for a snack? Well, it depends on the age of the child and how active they are. Generally, I like to recommend about 150 calories for snack occasion. That places granola bars right in the sweet spot! Add a handful of grapes or easy-to-peel clementine orange ( which are in season right now! ) and you’re good to go.  Game on!

Healthy snacks help kids win by fueling their bodies with good nutrition and energy they need.

Portable Nutrition 
Dietitians and Moms, Liz and Janice have lots of sporty ideas for good nutrition!

Meals on the Move is the name of the game for smart snacking for game or practice for the Meal Makeover Moms- registered dietitians Liz Weiss and Janice Bissex. 
They Say:
       Get kids hydrated before they head out the door by whipping up a naturally delicious fruit smoothie. Blend together 100% fruit juice, fresh and/or frozen fruit, and low-fat yogurt. For added protein, opt for Greek yogurt.

       On-the-go snacks can include:

     Homemade trail mix with granola cereal, nuts, whole grain pretzels, dried fruit, and  maybe a few dark chocolate chips tossed in!l
   
      Low-fat cheese sticks, squeeze yogurts (go for Greek squeeze yogurts for more protein), mini fruit cups packed in juice or applesauce, hummus with pretzels or baby carrots for dipping, popcorn (it’s a whole grain!)

       Pack along a homemade “sport” drink by combining your child’s favorite fruit juice with water and a few ice cubes.

Note on sports drinks: Make sure to read the nutrition facts label. They can contain just as many calories as a soft drink. They are not for guzzling. One cup ( 8 ounces ) is enough to replace electrolytes in young athletes who are practicing or competing rigorously. Still thirsty? Drink some more water.  Carolyn O’Neil 


The Home Team 
Make ahead to makeover easy sports night dinners!

Having meals at the ready when you get home from a practice or game is ideal when both parents are at the side line … and not minding the kitchen stove.  Fast ideas from Liz and Janice, The Meal Makeover Moms include …
       Omelet made with sauteed veggies and low-fat cheese. Eggs are rich in protein and cook up in minutes.
       Slow cooker: Load the slow cooker in the morning and dinner is ready when you get home!
       Keep a well stocked pantry to make quick-assembly meals possible. One of our favorite fast meals – Drain and rinse a can of black beans, thaw some frozen corn kernels, chop up some leftover roasted chicken, and you’ve got the makings of a quesadilla. Top a flour tortilla with beans, corn, leftover chicken, shredded low-fat cheese, and BBQ sauce, fold in half, heat some canola oil in a skillet, and sautee  about three minutes per side.

Liz Weiss, MS, RD and Janice Bissex, MS, RD are the dietitian duo behind the popular website,MealMakeoverMoms.com and authors of, No Whine with Dinner: 150 Healthy, Kid-Tested Recipes from The Meal Makeover Moms (M3 Press, 2011)

What about Dessert Mom?!

Crunchy Granola Fruit Bake is an EZ dessert for a busy school plus sports night. Place frozen blueberries ( you can use fresh but frozen are nutritious and ready when you are) in a baking dish, top with Sunbelt granola cereal and bake for 20 minutes. Top with frozen yogurt.  Yum!


Go Team!

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Splurge a Little

Want to know the best way to “cheat” on your diet?  The secret is realizing that cheating is OK because everyone needs a little splurge every once in a while.


Nobody’s perfect and that’s especially true when it comes to eating a healthy well balanced diet.

Nutrition experts say you have to plan for occasional splurges as part of the long-term plan. Atlanta personal fitness trainer, Beth Lewis, offers empowering psychological advice to her clients who need a boost, “Don’t mistake set backs with failure.”

Success in meeting your fitness and nutrition goals means allowing yourself to skip an exercise class or eat a few too many potato chips and then get back on track. Being a goody-toe-shoes all of the time is just so boring. 

So, since February is National Heart Health Month with Valentine’s Day chocolates still hanging around (and Lent for a lot of folks!) , I thought we should give ourselves a little love and understanding when it comes to setting and keeping goals to live a healthier lifestyle. 

Choose dessert first

Yes, that’s right. Life is uncertain so think of dessert first. I didn’t say eat dessert first! This strategy helps you plan the rest of your meal around the rich dessert you really crave.  
At a restaurant, the waiter may think you’re weird asking to see the dessert menu first, but you need information on your destination before you can map out the meal. You’ve got to have a destination in life; you’ve got to know where you’re going. 
Best shared with three friends.
So, if you know you’ve just got to have the chocolate cheese cake or coconut cake with pineapple ice cream then you will make sure not to start with the fried calamari appetizer or the creamy New England Clam chowder!

At home you may have your eye on a slice of  chocolate cake or bowl of caramel crunch ice cream, or both.  So plan for it and skip the cheese and crackers before dinner and forgo the extra ladle of gravy. Save yourself for your true love, dessert!

Maybe you crave the savory, not the sweet. You still have to plan for a splurge. 
Picture This

A food diary or journal can help you keep track of your intake, so you won’t be caught going over your daily calorie limit. Research shows the most successful dieters do it and do it daily. 
If you bite it, write it….down. 
Your journal notes don’t have to be super detailed, but do include the types of foods, estimate amounts and write down where you were and perhaps how you felt. This will give you an insightful snapshot of your relationship with the foods you love. No place or no time to write it down?

Text yourself a message or easier yet, take a photo of your meal with your phone’s camera. Registered Dietitian and nutrition researcher, Rebecca Reeves, of Baylor University’s Diet Modification Clinic says even the simplest notes scrawled on the back of an envelope are often enough to boost self awareness of diet habits and support successful weight loss.  Keeping track of what you’re eating will help prevent the mindless munching on chips while driving or gobbling candies while at your desk. Now you’ve got room for the treats you’re really craving.      

 

Accessorize Sensibly

As fashionistas know, accessories can make or break a look; too many baubles, bangles and beads can ruin an outfit. 
Less is more when it comes to adding rich accessories. Thank you Audrey and Lauren. 

The same goes for smartly dressing your dinner plate. For instance, think of blue cheese and bacon crumbles as accessories. They add flavor and flare to a dish, but too much just piles on unnecessary fat and calories. So, it’s not necessary to totally avoid the butter, gravy, cheese sauce and full fat salad dressings; just learn to accessorize sensibly. (Especially if you want to wear those skinny jeans.) For a sweet dessert or snack, add the nutty crunch of granola cereal as a topping for yogurt and fresh fruit.
Seek Thindulgences

If it’s a punch of flavor you’re looking for to liven up a salad or grilled chicken and fish; learn to identify very low calorie ingredients, sauces and sides that perk things up (such as salsas, hot sauce, steak sauce, citrus, vinegar, herbs, spices) while keeping calorie counts down

Accessorize a bowl of strawberries for dessert? Did you know chocolate syrup has only 15 calories per teaspoon? 

And why not seek out delicious foods that just happen to be nutritious? Chewy and crunchy granola bars are a great choice. Choose granola bars that are portion controlled and serve up healthy whole grains. Sunbelt Bakery’s tasty granola bars are made with whole grain oats and most varieties are less than 140 calories. They’re all made without preservatives or high fructose corn syrup so you can feel good about splurging on these sweet treats.  

My favorite flavors include Chocolate Chip (140 calories each)  and Oats & Honey (120 calories each)
Savor Flavors

If you’re going to splurge you should enjoy it! Choose really fine chocolates so you only need a few decadent bites. It’s quality, not quantity that counts. SunbeltBakery’s granola bars, granola cereals and fruit and grain bars are delivered to communities each week so you can savor their bakery-fresh taste.

A diet study conducted at the University of Rhode Island found that women consumed fewer calories and were more satisfied when they ate at a slower pace. Nutrition researchers theorize that it takes time for your body to process fullness signals so slower eating may allow time for fullness to register in the brain before you’ve eaten too much. Bottom line: By eating more slowly the women ate 70 calories less and said they enjoyed the meal more.  Whether your meal is a race or a ritual is just one facet of eating behavior that might impact food consumption.

So, slow down and let your body and soul appreciate small portions of big tastes.

Now go ahead and find your favorite splurge food and work it into your plan for a healthy lifestyle.

 

Disclosure for this post: I am thrilled to serve as the official Registered Dietitian for Sunbelt Bakery. Though I am compensated, all views and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own, and are based on my knowledge and experience as a Registered Dietitian. 


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Seeing Red for Happy Hearts

Seeing Red in Healthy Foods



Red is the color of the month with the hearts and roses of Valentine’s Day and the American Heart Association’s annual Go Red For Women campaign to coax us to be good to our hearts.  
Heart Smart Fashions for Go Red for Women National Heart, Lung and Blood Gala in NYC 
So as long as we’re seeing red in February here’s a taste of the reasons why choosing foods that are naturally red are a good choice for good nutrition.
Red Hot Healthy
From blue to green to red and orange pigments of foods are indications of the nutrients that lie within. (This does not include the many colors of M & M’s.)  The color map to good eating applies principally to plant foods. Individual pigments offer visual clues about various health promoting plant compounds called phyto-chemicals. Phyto is the Greek word for plant. That’s why you may have heard you’re supposed to eat a rainbow of colors.  
Red is easier to say than Anthocyanin and Lycopene

By eating a variety of fruits and vegetables from each color group, you have a better chance of getting a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other healthy compounds.

When you see red in fruits and vegetables it’s a sign that these foods contain the compounds lycopene and anthocyanin. These dietary good guys, classified as antioxidants, are associated with promoting heart health, protecting cells from damage, improving memory function, aiding blood sugar control and a lowering risk of certain cancers including prostate cancer.



More Than 50 Shades of Red

 Reddish orange tones in foods such as red peppers and tomatoes are an indication that beta-carotene, another potent antioxidant, is also in the healthy mix. Generally foods with darker pigmentation are richer in antioxidants. So, a ruby red grapefruit would be higher in antioxidants than a yellow colored grapefruit.   

All Citrus is Healthy but Red Color Means More Antioxidant Concentration 


Anthocyanins are also found in reddish blue foods such as grapes, red cabbage, radicchio, red onions, red skinned and purple potatoes. So enjoy all the shades of red.

The Produce for Better Health Foundation offers a lot of great information on the health benefits of enjoying fruits and vegetables. In fact, researchers estimate that there is up to 4,000 different phytochemicals in plant foods and only a small fraction have been studied closely. 
So much tastier than a vitamin pill

That’s why, for example, it’s better to bite into a strawberry, which is an excellent source of vitamin C (even a dark chocolate covered one on Valentine’s Day) than to swallow a vitamin C supplement. Strawberries contain so many more healthy nutrients, some not yet even identified.

While we think about eating raw fruits and vegetables as the ultimate healthy snack, the red hued phytochemical lycopene is actually better absorbed after it’s cooked. 
Cooking tomatoes ups the betacarotene bioavailability 
So marinara sauce, stewed tomatoes, tomato soup and even ketchup contribute to a heart healthy diet.


Red Hot Shopping List

Fruit:

Red apples
Blood oranges
Cherries
Cranberries
Red grapes
Pomegranates
Raspberries
Watermelon

Vegetables:

Beets
Red peppers
Radishes
Radicchio
Red potatoes
Rhubarb
Tomatoes

A Nutrition Note on Red Meat


Lean beef is redder in color than heavily marbled cuts with streaks of fat throughout. That means lean beef cuts such as filet mignon, sirloin and flank steaks are lower in saturated fats, total fat and calorie content and therefore a better choice for heart health.  There are 29 lean cuts of lean beef. 

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Eat the Whole Thing!

Whole Lot of Flavor: My recipe for Georgia Pecan Confetti Quinoa
with yellow squash, zucchini and carrots!
Recipe Below

Whether it’s snacking on a granola bar made with whole grain oats, ordering a whole-wheat hamburger bun or choosing the sushi made with brown rice, it’s getting easier to enjoy healthy whole grains in your favorite foods. Chefs and home cooks are giving side dishes a whole grain makeover too as mashed potatoes and egg noodles get pushed aside in favor of couscous, quinoa and whole-wheat pastas.
See the Grains section of My Plate? Make half your grains whole grains for good health.
That’s a good thing since U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that  all Americans eat at least half their grains as whole grains–that’s at least 3 to 5 sixteen-gram servings a day for most of us. Nutrition advice to eat the “whole” thing is based on evidence that diets that are rich in whole grains and low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol can help promote proper digestion and reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.  Whole grains may also play a role in insulin management and weight control when eaten as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. So, whole grains have a whole lot to offer!
Had Whole Grains Today?

So, have you had your whole grain breakfast granola cereal today? How about a slice of pizza on a whole-wheat crust? If your answer is “yes”, then you’re doing pretty well – since according to The Whole Grains Council most folks consume only one serving of whole grain per day and over 40 % of Americans never eat whole grains at all!

But, that may be changing as whole grain options move to center stage for delicious meals and satisfying snacks. For example, all of Sunbelt Bakery’s tasty granola and fruit & grain bars have at least 4 grams of whole grains. Some have as many as 9 grams.    

Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bar with whole grain oats
from Sunbelt Bakery with a glass of fat free milk.

 

Also, all Sunbelt Bakery products are made without any preservatives or high fructose corn syrup. Their fun flavor varieties include chocolate chip and banana, and their Family Pack bars are just the right size for portion control. And because they are delivered to communities each week, Sunbelt Bakery’s snacks and cereals have a bakery-fresh taste. It’s great to feel good about this win-win for taste and nutrition!

What’s a Whole Grain?

Whole grains, or foods made from them, contain all of the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed.  A whole grain is made up of three layers–the bran, the germ and the endosperm. If the grain has been cracked, crushed, rolled or milled into flour and the proportions of the three layers remain the same, then it contains the same balance of nutrients found in the original grain seed.

Add a sprinkling of crunchy whole grains for fitness, fiber and fun.
Greek yogurt “parfait” with berries and Sunbelt Bakery granola cereal
 What Counts as Whole Grain?

Some examples of whole-grain ingredients include buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, rolled oats, brown or wild rice, whole-grain barley, whole rye, and whole wheat. That’s a whole LOT of choices. And remember you can mix things up. Try half white rice and half brown rice or other rice and grain blends. 

All Sunbelt Bakery bars, for instance, are made with whole grain oats or whole grain wheat.  One my favorites is Sunbelt Bakery’s Golden Almond Chewy Granola Bar. They’re only 130 calories and contain 6 grams of whole grains per bar.

Disclosure for this post: I am thrilled to serve as the official Registered Dietitian for Sunbelt Bakery. Though I am compensated, all views and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own, and are based on my knowledge and experience as a Registered Dietitian. 


RECIPE: 
Georgia Pecan Confetti Quinoa

Quinoa is a delicious gluten-free grain that cooks up light and fluffy like rice but contains more protein. This super side dish recipe featuring confetti colored sprinklings of orange, green and yellow veggies is flavored with garlic and rosemary. Crunchy Georgia pecans add even more great taste and nutrition because pecans are a super source of heart healthy fats and antioxidants. 

By Carolyn O’Neil, MS RD co-author The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!

Yield: 6 half-cup servings 

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil

½ cup diced carrots

½ cup diced zucchini squash

½ cup diced yellow squash

1 garlic clove, minced

2 cups cooked quinoa (prepared to package directions)

¼ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves

¼ cup toasted pecan halves or pieces (reserve 2 Tablespoons for garnish) 

Preparation:

Heat oil in large skillet and add carrots, zucchini, yellow squash and garlic. Cook until crisp tender. Fold in the cooked quinoa, rosemary and pecans. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Present quinoa on a large platter and garnish with additional toasted pecans.




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Healthy & Tasty Air Travel Trends

Daughter Katie is a master travel ninja with great carry-on style and savvy.

 

Holiday air travel is notoriously challenging with throngs of passengers populating security lines, dealing with winter weather delays, jostling with fellow fliers to stow carry-ons, accepting an airline snack mix and eventually making it to their destinations.


Add hunger to the travel quotient and you’re really in for some unexpected turbulence. Happily there’s a renaissance in airport restaurant menus. I’ve been impressed with kiosks selling really good salads and sandwiches packaged to fly, sit down restaurants with freshly prepared foods and concourse newsstands with a nice selection of healthy snacks (even crudité of vegetables in the cooler with the bottled water.) And low and behold, if a sweet splurge is what it takes to make your travel day more bearable, A Piece of Cake has just landed on concourse A at Hartsfield –Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Now you can be the envy of the exit row while savoring a slice of red velvet cake with a carton of cold milk (fat free, there must be some digression). Atlanta based caterer Proof of the Pudding serves up on-the-go salads and sandwiches at two locations on concourse B and Wolfgang Puck’s (with locations in many US airports) kiosk is on concourse C.

The menus at E Bar on concourse E and A Bar on concourse A feature a terrific selection of cheeses and charcuterie with olives and whole grain crackers. Warning: fellow passengers will be impressed with your gourmet savvy so share a little.


Navigate Nutritiously

-Ask for OJ. The nutrients in orange juice help boost your immune system to give you a fighting chance to ward off cold and flu germs. Mix juice with sparkling water for a lower calorie thirst quencher.



– Snack Smart. Bag your own “sky trail mix” of nuts, dried fruit and granola. Sunbelt Bakery Granola is one of my favorites and is an excellent source of fiber. Healthy fats in nuts and stomach filling fiber in  dried fruit and cereals keep you keep going and if you make your own mixes they can be much lower in sodium than the airline’s salty snack mixes. Sodium plus sitting can lead to unwanted puffiness and ankle swelling.



-Easy Carry-on Cuisine. Granola bars and fruit & nut bars are easy to carry and even easier to eat when on the fly. Make sure to choose bars that just the right portion size; say under 150 calories. Sunbelt Bakery chocolate chip granola bars contain just 140 calories. 

– Concourse Cuisine. A salad is fine, but make sure it contains protein, such as chicken, turkey, ham, eggs or cheese to keep blood sugar on an even keel. Stress can drive blood sugar levels down way below normal.


Flight attendant! No, we are not dipping into our duty free vodka! 

– Alcohol at altitude. Your skin and your brain can get really dehydrated in a pressurized cabin. Alcohol accelerates dehydration. If it’s the end of long travel day and you want a drink to unwind, that’s fine. But make sure to double up on water with the wine.

Food on the Fly

Airport security rules prohibit liquids and “gel type substances” in carry-on luggage if over 3.4 ounces. (I always try to travel with a container of Greek yogurt but it usually ends up in the TSA trash.) Solid foods such as sandwiches, hard cheeses, crackers, fresh fruit and vegetables are allowed.

Holiday travelers take note that TSA rules state, “You can bring pies and cakes through the security checkpoint, but please be advised that they are subject to additional screening.” (Especially if it looks like a really good dessert.)

Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Healthy & Tasty Air Travel Trends

Daughter Katie is a master travel ninja with great carry-on style and savvy.

 

Holiday air travel is notoriously challenging with throngs of passengers populating security lines, dealing with winter weather delays, jostling with fellow fliers to stow carry-ons, accepting an airline snack mix and eventually making it to their destinations.


Add hunger to the travel quotient and you’re really in for some unexpected turbulence. Happily there’s a renaissance in airport restaurant menus. I’ve been impressed with kiosks selling really good salads and sandwiches packaged to fly, sit down restaurants with freshly prepared foods and concourse newsstands with a nice selection of healthy snacks (even crudité of vegetables in the cooler with the bottled water.) And low and behold, if a sweet splurge is what it takes to make your travel day more bearable, A Piece of Cake has just landed on concourse A at Hartsfield –Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Now you can be the envy of the exit row while savoring a slice of red velvet cake with a carton of cold milk (fat free, there must be some digression). Atlanta based caterer Proof of the Pudding serves up on-the-go salads and sandwiches at two locations on concourse B and Wolfgang Puck’s (with locations in many US airports) kiosk is on concourse C.

The menus at E Bar on concourse E and A Bar on concourse A feature a terrific selection of cheeses and charcuterie with olives and whole grain crackers. Warning: fellow passengers will be impressed with your gourmet savvy so share a little.


Navigate Nutritiously

-Ask for OJ. The nutrients in orange juice help boost your immune system to give you a fighting chance to ward off cold and flu germs. Mix juice with sparkling water for a lower calorie thirst quencher.



– Snack Smart. Bag your own “sky trail mix” of nuts, dried fruit and granola. Sunbelt Bakery Granola is one of my favorites and is an excellent source of fiber. Healthy fats in nuts and stomach filling fiber in  dried fruit and cereals keep you keep going and if you make your own mixes they can be much lower in sodium than the airline’s salty snack mixes. Sodium plus sitting can lead to unwanted puffiness and ankle swelling.



-Easy Carry-on Cuisine. Granola bars and fruit & nut bars are easy to carry and even easier to eat when on the fly. Make sure to choose bars that just the right portion size; say under 150 calories. Sunbelt Bakery chocolate chip granola bars contain just 140 calories. 

– Concourse Cuisine. A salad is fine, but make sure it contains protein, such as chicken, turkey, ham, eggs or cheese to keep blood sugar on an even keel. Stress can drive blood sugar levels down way below normal.


Flight attendant! No, we are not dipping into our duty free vodka! 

– Alcohol at altitude. Your skin and your brain can get really dehydrated in a pressurized cabin. Alcohol accelerates dehydration. If it’s the end of long travel day and you want a drink to unwind, that’s fine. But make sure to double up on water with the wine.

Food on the Fly

Airport security rules prohibit liquids and “gel type substances” in carry-on luggage if over 3.4 ounces. (I always try to travel with a container of Greek yogurt but it usually ends up in the TSA trash.) Solid foods such as sandwiches, hard cheeses, crackers, fresh fruit and vegetables are allowed.

Holiday travelers take note that TSA rules state, “You can bring pies and cakes through the security checkpoint, but please be advised that they are subject to additional screening.” (Especially if it looks like a really good dessert.)

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