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.