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


Friday, January 30, 2015

Power of Oats Breakfast

Breakfast is the #1 meal that people likely skip due to lack of time or not feeling hungry. It sometimes takes a few days up to weeks for our bodies to start feeling hungry..but in order to get hungry, we need to train our body by eating something at breakfast. I am going to show you a delicious pancake recipe (Yes, Pancakes!) that you can whip up in no time and it is super healthy and filling....the main ingredient is oats. Oats is one of my favorite foods because it is inexpensive and packed with nutrition! It is very versatile too... 

A new study suggests that your breakfast cereal choice may affect how full you feel and how much you eat at lunchtime,especially if you're overweight. According to new research published in the most recent issue of the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, scientists found that having oatmeal (instant or original) for breakfast resulted in greater fullness, lower hunger ratings and less calories eaten at the next meal compared to a similar calorie breakfast of ready-to-eat traditional cereal that is refined (AAS, 2015). Refined cereal is highly processed and lower in fiber and B vitamins. 

Here is a tasty, and very quick recipe you can have ready in no time.... it is high in fiber and protein to get you through the morning.

1/2 c. oats
1/2 packet stevia or liquid stevia drops to sweeten, optional
1 tsp vanilla (I like pure vanilla, not imitation)
1-2 tsp flaxseed
1 egg
dash of cinnamon or nutmeg
1 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Simply whisk together and add to a hot skillet with melted butter or trans-fat free margarine. I used Smart Balance Omega-3.
Here it is! I topped it with natural peanut butter and a drizzle of maple syrup but you can certainly add fresh berries or bananas on top (I am in need of groceries!)

Leonardis, K. (2015). AAS: Oatmeal for breakfast results in greater fullness and lower calorie intake at lunch. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Throw out the diet...Eat whole food

You may be tempted to start a new diet for the New Year, to lose weight fast....but let's go back to reality. Will you likely follow this new diet for the rest of your life and feel satisfied? You will hear about the juicing diet, no carb diet, high fat keto diet, gluten-free and so on....but these diets have no balance and are lacking in different nutrients which are necessary to support long-term healthy habits. It is exciting to think about numbers lost quickly but more than likely, it does not represent "true" weight loss.....and at the same time, your mood and energy could suffer for it. 

MyPlate imageAlthough it is great to have the mindset to lose weight, think about what you "really" want for yourself. Now is a time to develop a wellness you want to feel less stress throughout the day? Do you want to feel more confident that you can have a healthier relationship with food and avoid temptations more often? Do you want long-lasting energy rather than relying on caffeine or other quick fixes? Then make a shift to adopt long-lasting healthy habits and simply focus on eating whole calorie counting, just balance. 

Prepare your meals by using 3 food groups to start from the image above and and choose 2 food groups at snack time to keep appetite under control and a healthy metabolism. On average, people need about 3 meals, 2 snacks daily. Focus on your hunger to guide you towards your total intake throughout the day. For a list of food choices for each group, visit I always encourage people to build their plate and start with veggies. Non-starchy veggies should take up half of your plate at lunch and dinner. Then it is smooth sailing from there.

Snack Ideas
Hard boiled egg with hummus
Celery and PB
Fruit and yogurt
Goat cheese spread on whole grain crackers
Kind Bar 

Quick Dinner Ideas
Roast a whole chicken and use for various meals:
Pizza - Add shredded chicken to whole grain pizza crust, add desired toppings and sauce
Quick chicken salad - add in plain yogurt, drizzle of lemon juice, cumin, 1/4 c dried fruit, 1/2 c walnuts, pepper      and salt to taste -- add into lettuce wrap or high fiber Flat out wrap

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Breakfast-to-go that Lasts

Many of my upcoming posts are going to be focused on New Year New You - Healthy Habits. One of the best healthy habits you can do this year is eating a satisfying breakfast that has color, lean protein and healthy fats. Per my previous post on eliminating sugar cravings, one of the steps to combating those is eating breakfast and following the plate method. For breakfast, choose a fruit high in fiber, a protein source that is lean and healthy fats to keep you full longer. Fats take a longer time to digest which helps keep your tummy happy until lunch :-)

Let's face it though...many mornings we don't have time to sit down, watch the news and eat breakfast - I am sure at one point or more (me!!) you eat on the road. Today, I am heading to Toledo to do my weekly consulting job at a nursing home and am gearing up for the cold weather with a breakfast-to-go and LOTS of blankets.

Have you heard of Black Bean Brownies or ever tried them? Sounds not so good, but you don't even know they are there. The same goes for this breakfast to go below...however, this recipe has chick peas!

Why am I emphasizing beans so much? Well, two things - they are rich in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is useful for filing you up, aiding in blood sugar and cholesterol health and supporting weight loss. Chick peas or Garbanzo beans are quite bland so they are versatile in many recipes.
One 1/2 cup serving gives you a hefty dose of protein (6 g- high amount) and fiber (6 g - high amount). Although there are 18 g of carbohydrates, there are less net carbs due to the fiber. All you do is take half of the fiber (if fiber exceeds 5 grams) and subtract it from the total carbs --> 18 - 3 = 15 grams. Therefore, the more fiber you take in, the less net carbs you take in - nice, right? :-)

Here is the finished recipe 
I used 3/4 c. frozen blueberries
1/2 c. garbanzo beans
1 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp dark chocolate chips  (optional) - healthy alternative - one serving of cacao powder - rich in antioxidants
1/2 c. Almond Breeze Unsweetened, vanilla or if you just exercised, use low fat chocolate milk
Easy add-ons: Chia Seeds or Flax Seeds, Prebiotic powder

Blend, enjoy! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year Sugar Detox - Are you addicted?

With a new year ahead of us, you are probably asking yourself, What is in store for me this year? What do I need to give up? What do I need to change? It is common for people to give up pop or start exercising, but maybe it is more than just pop. It is sugar..which lurks everywhere and hides in many foods we would not expect. I recently wrote a Sugar Detox book and the message really hit home about why it is so important to eat whole, clean un-processed foods... Here are some small pieces from my book and I hope you consider eating whole foods and trying a sugar detox to feel like a new person. 

Can you live without sugar? I mean the sugar that is added to foods, such as cakes, cookies, yogurts, sweet rolls, candy, and soda? If you have ever tried to diet and cut out everything with sugar, I am sure the diet was unpleasant to say the least, especially for your energy and mood.

When you see the ads for “Just Say No,” they have not hit the message home for a drug-free America. The same goes for giving up sugar. Eliminating added sugars is not an overnight fix. There are so many complex processes that occur when we eat sugar and after we eat sugar. I am sure many of us would love to end our sugar addiction and feel at our best. If you or someone else has said, “I am going to start eating clean tomorrow and cut everything out that is unnatural,” ask yourself, how long did it last? As easy as we think it can be to cut out all the bad stuff overnight, it is not that simple.

The main point I want to make known is that you are not alone...sugar can be hard to cut out right away due to its high palatability. Something is preventing us from eating healthy and pursuing healthy lifestyle behaviors. What is the culprit? The environment and highly processed foods. Added or processed sugar is not necessary for us to survive as it only provides “empty” calories, thus no nutritional value. However, many Americans are easily exceeding the limit of added sugar intake daily. Why? It is sweet, delicious and potentially addictive. Think about the ancestral times...they hunted for food and didn't know when their next meal would be so they would "stock" up. Same with today, we have that same type of zest for food; however, with all the unhealthy food around us, it is no wonder that it is more than tempting.

American is turning into (or already is) a sugarholic country, with sugar intake amounting to 22 tsp of added sugar per day, which is equivalent to an extra 350 calories day and over 8,000 teaspoons of sugar per year. Women are recommended to have no more than 6 tsp daily and men no more than 9 tsp daily. Therefore, we are taking in too much sugar, which is not benefiting our waistline or our health. Over 65 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese which means the majority of people are eating little nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean meats and healthy fats.

Is Sugar Truly Addictive and if so, How and Why?
Added sugar, not naturally occurring sugar, can become literally addictive. Sugar can make for a vicious cycle of events – the more you eat the more you want it. Sugar can elevate blood sugar levels, release insulin and lead to fat storage in our important vital organs. This type of fat stored is highly metabolically active, meaning that is can affect metabolism, hormones and organ function, such as the liver. It is not just willpower but ultimately you can become dependent on it like drugs. After you eat sugar, a message is sent to your brain and activates the rewards system. Your rewards system includes a series of electrical and chemical path systems that are located across various parts of your brain. The key chemical in your reward system is called dopamine, also known as the happy hormone.  Dopamine receptors can start to work overtime when you become dependent on sugar as they continually seek a “high” effect.  More and more sugar is needed to reach this effect, which makes sugar dependence turn into a true addiction. Interestingly, sugar causes a similar reaction in the brain just like drugs.

Where is surprisingly found? Look at grams of sugar on the back of labels...if you see hidden ingredients such as syrup, HFCS, corn syrup, brown sugar, fruit juice concentrates, etc., and towards the top of the list, chances are it is highly processed. Simply divide grams of sugar divided by 4 to get total tsp. Unfortunately, it will not disclose how much sugar is natural (lactose in milk and yogurt and fructose in fruit) and how much is unnatural so checking the ingredient list for added sugars is important.

Here are some steps to get rid of those cravings...ask me about a Sugar Detox program that is perfect for you!

1. Use the MyPlate System (Go to for personalized information)
2. Eat every three hours and no longer than 4-5 to keep your blood sugars balanced.
3. Try to avoid eating carbohydrates alone. Pair it with other food groups such as protein and healthy fats.
4. Consume less sugar and processed foods..
5. Have a bed time snack, such as veggies and hummus, bowl of oatmeal (original with fruits and nuts); plain Greek yogurt with berries
6. Consume prebiotic fiber which will improve your digestive health and support a strong immune system in addition to helping balance your blood sugar levels.