Sunday, March 13, 2016

Savor the Flavor of Fresh Spring Rolls

This month has been a fun time for me and my family in our kitchen. Getting our children in the kitchen has been a valuable and exciting opportunity not only for family bonding but for teaching them how to make delicious and healthy recipes from scratch. This month I have been posting recipes  to celebrate National Nutrition Month: Savor the Flavor and sharing them with family and friends. The recipe below took some more time in the kitchen, but I really saved the most time by having all my ingredients prepared ahead of time, also known as Mise en place, a french culinary phrase which means "putting in place" as in set up. 

I am excited to bring over the spring rolls to our neighbors today for a grill out. I will never forget the time when me and my colleague chef had residents take turns laying out rice paper after wetting it, layering their ingredients and rolling up. It is a fun activity to do with your family or friends or in a work setting to encourage healthy, flavorful recipes. I used a variety of ingredients, including leaf lettuce, parsley, red bell pepper strips, shrimp and carrots- all pre-sliced. Once the rolls are put together, a dipping sauce adds a nice touch to enhance the flavor of all the ingredients. 

Spring roll rice papers
Veggies (you can use carrots, cucumbers, red bell pepper, cabbage, leaf lettuce)
Herbs (fresh parsley, basil or cilantro)
Fruit (avocado)
Medium cooked shrimp, peeled and sliced in half length-wise
Sesame seeds for garnish, if desired

Follow instructions for preparing the rice paper. You can emerge the rice paper in warm water for about 15 seconds, one paper at a time, until it is still soft yet firm and pliable. Place on a flat surface or cutting board and pat slightly dry. Place a few of each ingredient on top of the bottom 1/3 of the rice paper. Start with a little and add more, but do not over stuff to prevent tearing the rice paper.
Roll up tightly as you would a burrito, place on your favorite serving plate and cut in half for a nice presentation, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with your favorite Thai sauce. I made a peanut sauce. 

The nice thing about these rolls if they can be made in advanced but are best if consumed within 3 days, ideally served on day of prep. I like to have these at lunch during the work week or for an appetizer. Lastly, you can change this recipe up every time with the obvious necessary ingredients being the rice paper and assortment of vegetables. For a quick dipper (without recipe prep), Wholly Avocado minis are a great way to get in more healthy fats in your diet. Convenience can be a healthy solution too :-) Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Happy Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day!

Short and simple. I am proud to be a Registered Dietitian and want to say Happy Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day to the true nutrition experts out there. I took a little more time today glancing over the Daily News from the AND Knowledge Center and really enjoyed this quote. In the end, nutrition all goes back to fueling our body and mind, creating lasting memories with those we love. I will cherish today and raise my fork AND glass to celebrate RDN Day.
 "Food can look beautiful, taste exquisite, smell wonderful,  make people feel good, bring them together, inspire  romantic feelings....At its most basic, it is  fuel for a hungry machine "
– Rosamond Richardson, English cookery author

Friday, March 4, 2016

NNM 2016: Savor the Flavor

This month is National Nutrition Month and I am excited about the theme for 2016: Savor the Flavor. This month's focus is to celebrate your favorite food experience, whether it be with your family during the holidays, a special memory between you and your loved one, or your first homemade dish you were proud of. Do you remember the flavors or how your home smelled when it was ready to dish up?
For the month of March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is spreading the message to us to also celebrate different food cultures. Understanding how to use herbs and spices in cooking is advantageous as you can develop some memorable meals that are simple and pack a nutritional punch. Here are some noteworthy cuisines according to registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Spokesperson Libby Mills:
·         China: Low-sodium soy sauce, rice wine, ginger
·         France: Thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram, lavender, tomato
·         Greece: Olive oil, lemon, oregano
·         Hungary: Onion, paprika
·         India: Curry, cumin, ginger, garlic
·         Italy: Tomato, olive oil, garlic, basil, marjoram
·         Mexico: Tomato, chili, paprika
·         Middle East: Olive oil, lemon, parsley
·         Morocco/North Africa: Cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger
·         West Africa: Tomato, peanut, chili.

If you have a comfort level with just a few herbs, try introducing a new one, one at a time to expand your horizons with new flavor combinations. Food is truly designed to nourish your body and fuel yourself for disease prevention and longevity. A simple change could be serving a protein with a new sauce or dressing.  This can be done in just a couple minutes. One of my favorites includes plain yogurt (I prefer whole milk yogurt), add a squeeze of fresh lemon, dash of cumin or curry powder, drizzle of honey and 1/2 tsp. garlic powder. Stir together and drizzle over salmon or serve in a little ramekin dish for fun. The combination of the fatty ('good fat') fish and Indian flavors from the spices will heighten your taste buds even further.

For the children, a fun way to experiment with flavor could start at breakfast. Experiment with different flavors on top of your favorite English Muffin (whole-grain or multi-grain). If their favorite fruit is apples, this is a great way to increase their intake of fruit (soluble fiber!) with their 'always' food, but introducing a new spice, Cinnamon. 

Have an adventurous month in your kitchen!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A New Journey to Blogging

It feels great to be back in blogging..After some much needed time to focus on the transition to Minnesota with my family and beginning a new position, I am excited to continue on my 'journey' of spreading nutritional info that is credible, up-to-date and enjoyable. I will be focusing my message this month on super foods, beverages, and other supplements, that may improve overall health and well-being.
Premium teas are now virtually everywhere - restaurants, cafes, convenience stores, vending machines, cultural venues and retail shops, to name a few. According to the latest stats, the number of Americans who will drink tea daily is just about 158 million, or equivalent to ~50% of the U.S. population. This number, fortunately, will continue to grow over the next 5-10 years. From the roots of Chinese legend where tea consumption began over 4,000 years ago, tea is known to soothe, restore and refresh. We all need something to give us that feeling of restoration. 

Just a few more points on why tea should be considered a daily drink for yourself. A big selling point for tea is due to the fact is hosts ~700 nutrients in just 1 single cup of tea. Working as a Dietitian in Senior Living, the studies that show teas' potential benefits to reverse or slow decline in elderly with Alzheimer's Disease and other cognitive impairments is fascinating to say the least. Hydration stations have become a true favorite to staff and residents and their families, providing enticing beverages to improve hydration. Having tea packets at this station would be a simple way to improve QOL.

Heart Health
The strongest evidence regarding tea's numerous health benefits is its therapeutic effects on heart health, attributed to its ORAC value or antioxidant rating.

Studies suggest the polyphenolic compounds (catechin) may support cancer prevention. Research at this time recommends green tea over black tea for this particular health benefit.

Mental alertness
Rather than drinking numerous servings of caffeine from soda and other unnatural choices, tea provides 40mg in one cup, just enough to keep you alert.

Mental calmness
Tea can be part of your 'anti-anxiety' regimen. I like that part! The compound Theophylline can relax your blood vessels and lung muscles, allowing your body to feel in a more relaxed state. A great option to consider before bed time. 
Easier Digestion
Green tea helps release adequate essential oils and more with extended brewing time, which aids in healthy digestion and possibly improved IBS or other GI signs/symptoms.

1 cup per day has been associated with lessened risk for tooth loss, lowered pH on the tooth surface which suppresses growth of periodontal bacteria.  Another interesting fact is that the tea plant naturally accumulates fluoride from the soil, which provides an anticariogenic effect.

Weight Loss
As a Dietitian, drinking tea can be a suitable way to curb afternoon or early evening cravings, especially when we feel like we are hitting a wall after the 2 cups of coffee in the morning. A cup of tea can be a great way to hold off heading to the vending machine for a convenient snack or soda. Tea can give you a natural boost to provide you with its high nutrient content in addition to increasing your total water intake for the day. Win-win :-)  Secondly, some evidence supports the consumption of tea extracts including epigallocatechin gallate and other polyphenols and caffeine.  

This purpose of this blog is not to provide a diagnosis or specific medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Happy (Belated) Dietitian Day!

I found this image from Dietitians on Demand and just had to use this for my Happy Dietitian Day (belated) post. I want to say to all my fellow RDs (RDNs) out there, that I hope you've had a wonderful week and received recognition for all your hard work in bettering peoples' lives whether it be in a hospital, community, food service, freelance, retail, long-term or private practice setting, in addition to many more settings!! I am so proud to say that I am a RD because it gives me so many opportunities in many different areas of dietetics to share my knowledge with others. I look forward to what life brings my way and YOURS :-) Cheers!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Slow down now...Mastitis is no joke!

Have you reached a point (or already have..) in your life where you realized you needed to slow down and were forced to since you got sick or ill? I think many of us can relate with this where we have been go go go all week then suddenly you start feeling "off" then unable to complete daily tasks and can't get out of bed! Think about a time when this happened to you and how did you overcome it? How did this just change your life afterwards?

Just a few days ago, life was quite busy to say the least.....between jobs, freelance on the side, grad school, mom duties :-), two girls and the added stuff (cleaning, dinner, gym, etc etc), it's no wonder I started to feel off. Next thing I knew, I had the chills, aches and fever. Sure enough, mastitis had come in full force.....

Mastitis is an inflammation in the breast tissue which can be brought on by many factors, such as plugged ducts, not emptying breast completely, poor latch and many more. If your baby has had any yeast infections or oral thrush, this can also be passed to mom as well. Up to 33% of nursing moms have developed mastitis in a recent study, so it is quite common.

I won't dive too much into details but wanted to touch on what I did that helped me overcome this. It essentially mimics flu-like symptoms accompanied by weakness, feeling general malaise and redness, tenderness, pain and swelling of the breast. Everyone has their own experience and symptoms may vary.

Some natural preventive measures to help with prevention of plugged ducts (if you have recurrent mastitis or plugged ducts) is to drink more than 8 cups of water per day, especially when nursing. Secondly, take a daily omega-3 supplement or eat healthy fatty fish twice per week (salmon, tuna, halibut), and third, consider taking a Lecithin supplement daily or consume lecithin-rich foods, such as eggs, milk, or fish, to name a few. Eggs are a very rich source of choline (derivative of lecithin). Lecithin is a natural fat emulsifier and can help break up fat molecules that are transferred to breast milk which will aid in lessened risk for plugged ducts, thus less risk for mastitis...and a happier and healthier mommy. Lastly, another key to recovery is a hot shower and Epsom salt baths. This will help soften your breast tissue and relieve soreness and tenderness and drain the duct much more efficiently....just some tips that worked for me that I hope work for you.

With lent around the corner, this is a perfect time to eat more fish and eggs :-) This is a time of year to be thankful for quality of life and to take time to simply rest and reflect on the good things and good people around you. I certainly had time to reflect and understand that life does not have to be consumed by busyness all the time...we all need a "Slow down" lesson here and there, sometimes it can happen out of the blue and when we least expect it! But I feel it makes us stronger every day. What can you do from here on out to ensure you are slowing life down and taking care of you? Maybe it is a 15 minute walk without the cell phone or sitting with a cup of coffee in the morning without the news on..simple small changes may be the ticket..

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chocolate & Wine Lovers!

This Valentines Day I will certainly be enjoying chocolate and red wine, because the combination is simply amazing. It is the perfect pair, the real food of love. If you want to be more health conscious this Valentine's Day, pair red wine with dark chocolate as they have positive components that are truly good for your heart health. In a recent study, having one glass of wine provided same heart health benefits from 30 minutes of cardio exercise, but unfortunately, more wine is not better in that respect :-) Red wine and dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa content contain resveratrol which has been shown to help with blood sugar balance. Red wine also contains catechins that help to increase HDL or your good cholesterol, which acts like a vacuum cleaner to get rid of unhealthy levels of cholesterol. So which red wines are a good choice for providing these benefits? Many! Pinots, shirahs, merlots - all rich in resveratrol and catechins; Dark chocolate selection of 70 percent cocoa or higher and assorted dark chocolate Truffles or Souffl├ęs which contain phenols or flavonoids which promote anti-aging benefits. Here is a delicious and healthy truffle recipe for you to share with that special someone this weekend....

10 oz high quality dark chocolate (70% or greater cocoa)
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp unrefined Virgin Coconut oil
8 oz Coconut milk, original, unsweetened
To garnish: coconut flakes & 100% good cocoa powder

All you do:
Chop chocolate into small chunks, add to large bowl and add in coconut oil and salt.
Bring coconut milk to simmering boil then remove from heat immediately, pour over chocolate. Stir until melted and smooth, will resemble a ganache.
Pour into a bowl.
Cover with cling wrap and let set overnight or at least four hours in the fridge.
Next day, add cocoa powder into one separate bowl and shredded coconut into another.
Remove ganache from fridge and take a small cookie scooper and scoop ganache out of bowl and into palm of your hands.
Gently roll into a ball and add into either bowl of coconut or cocoa powder.
Place all completed truffles onto a decorative serving plate, cover with cling wrap and then place in fridge until firm.
May store well up for 4 days. Let's be honest, they will be gone beforehand :-) Enjoy!

Vegan Chocolate Truffles Recipe picture