Archive for February, 2012

DO YOU LIKE GREEN EGGS AND HAM?

This blog is not about green eggs and ham…….it’s about purple potatoes.

Has anyone seen purple potatoes in the supermarket? I recently did—I bought a bag of “Klondike Gourmet”, which are small potatoes not only with a brown/purplish skin but with purple flesh. I figured that anytime there is color in food, it means that there are pigments and pigments mean phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals are compounds found in plants that seem to have a beneficial effect on the body. It turns out that purple potatoes are rich in the flavonoid, anthocyanin. This gives the blue or red color to foods like blueberries and pomegranates and has been linked to boost immunity and prevent certain cancers.

So the next time you go food shopping—look for purple potatoes. And don’t yell at “Sam-I-Am” and refuse them. Give purple potatoes a try—they’re delicious!

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WHAT’S BETTER–ACTIVITY OR EXERCISE?

When assessing clients, I’m interested in both how much exercise they do regularly and how much activity they have going on in their lives. Activity and exercise are not the same. Being active simply means that you’re moving a lot: You take the stairs; you garden during the summer; you take public transportation and do a lot of walking back and forth to the train or bus; you clean the house with vim and vigor; you walk your dog every day. Exercise, on the other hand, is more intense, done for a shorter duration, and usually has a goal attached to it: to improve cardiovascular fitness, to increase flexibility, to gain muscular strength or to sculpt muscles.

Some people exercise regularly but live sedentary, inactive lives. Others don’t exercise at all but are very active. Which is better? To be honest, you need to do both. If you want to stay metabolic, you will need to do some weight training to build muscle and that will mean…….exercise. If you want to lose belly fat you will have to do aerobic activity………..exercise. If you’re trying to lose weight and you’ve hit a plateau with diet and exercise, then becoming more active could be the perfect way to break through it.

A great tool for increasing activity is to start using a pedometer. It’s a small device that clips onto pants/skirts and counts the number of steps you take per day. We should be taking 10,000 steps per day (about 5 miles). The pedometer keeps us honest.

Bottom line: Sorry, but we need both–we need to be active AND to exercise.

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BLACK BEAN BURRITOS

Black Bean Burritos (4 servings)

ingredients

2 t canola oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium jalapeño pepper, minced

1 T ground cumin

1 T chili powder

1 (15 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed

¾ cup of water

1/3 cup prepared salsa

1 T lime juice

4 (8 inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas

garnish:

½ cup shredded reduced-fat Pepper Jack cheese

½ cup shredded romaine lettuce

1 avocado, peeled and coarsely mashed

4 T cilantro or parsley leaves, torn

4 T nonfat Greek plain yogurt

directions

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook stirring often, until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add jalapeño, garlic, cumin and chili powder; cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add beans, water and salsa. Bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat until much of the liquid has evaporated, but the mixture is still a little saucy, about 5-10 minutes. Mash about ¼ of the beans. Stir whole and mashed beans together. Stir in the lime juice.

Heat the tortillas: In a microwave: Wrap individually in paper towels and microwave at high power for 10-15 seconds per tortilla. On stovetop: Heat tortillas, one at time, in a dry medium skillet (non-stick) over medium heat for about 20 seconds on eat side.

To serve: spoon ½ cup of bean mixture down the center of each warm tortilla. Garnish with 1-2 T of cheese, 2 T of lettuce, 1 T of avocado, 1 T cilantro of parsley and 1 T of yogurt. Fold and eat!

NOTE: As you can imagine, the garnishes can ruin this healthy burrito dish if you use full fat cheese and yogurt and don’t watch the portions!

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DO APPEARANCES COUNT THAT MUCH?

The other day I read an article that focused on overweight doctors. Apparently, overweight doctors discuss weight issues with their overweight patients LESS than doctors who are not overweight. I suppose that they fear the hypocrisy issue: Do what I say, not what I do.

I started thinking about appearances—do they really count that much? Would you take advice from a chubby nutritionist? Or from a personal training who needed to lose 30 lbs? Would you find comfort in the fact that he/she struggles with the same issues that you might grapple with or would there be a credibility issue simply because of the way he/she looked?

Ponder this: A very thin nutritionist with a hidden eating disorder. While her appearance is great, her emotional make-up is questionable. Or what about an overweight personal trainer, who passionately believes that all people, regardless of their size, need to be strong and fit. While her appearance isn’t ideal, her fundamental beliefs are stellar.

Clearly, this is not a cut and dry issue, which is why I would love to hear your thoughts!

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TENDER CHICKEN LEGS WITH SWEET TOMATOES

Tender Chicken Legs with Sweet Tomatoes

Ingredients

8 chicken legs, skin removed (you can also use chicken parts such as  thighs or chicken breasts)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

large bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved

2 ripe plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

½ of a whole bulb of garlic, broken up into cloves (skin on)

1 fresh red chili, finely chopped

1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven 350°F. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and put them into a snug-fitting pan in one layer. Throw the basil leaves the tomatoes. Add the cannellini beans and scatter the garlic cloves into the pan with the chopped chili and drizzle with olive oil. Mix around a bit, pushing the tomatoes underneath. Place in the oven for 1½ hours, turning the tomatoes halfway through, until the meat falls off the bone.

Squeeze the garlic out of the skins before serving.

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ARE YOU CURIOUS ABOUT OATMEAL?

I am a very curious person and love learning and understanding how things work. As I recently finished school studying nutrition, my fellow classmates can attest to the fact that I ask A LOT of questions. Is it just me or has anyone else ever wondered HOW oatmeal reduces cholesterol? (There MUST be someone else out there who is curious about this!)

Here’s how it works: Oatmeal contains soluble fiber. Fiber is a wondrous thing because it is not a nutrient (A nutrient is something that is absorbed and utilized by the body.) but it is a very important substance. When we digest food, bile acids are secreted to break down fat. Bile acids contain cholesterol. When you eat foods with soluble fiber, the soluble fiber binds to the bile acids (containing cholesterol) and are carried out of the body when you go to the bathroom. That’s how it works.

Other sources of soluble fiber include oatbran, berries, apples, oranges, carrots, barley, legumes and nuts.

So the next time you pass that big red heart on the Quaker Oats box that says “Oatmeal  Helps Remove Cholesterol”, you’ll now know how it works!

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ARE YOU WILLING TO SACRIFICE?

A while ago, my father-in-law, who I adore but who is awfully stubborn, asked me for some nutritional advice. Instead of asking him to give me a food journal, I thought it would be better for him to simply tell me what he usually ate for each meal. Perhaps I could come up with a healthier solution while focusing on his food preferences.

We didn’t get very far. For breakfast, he likes eating a hollowed out bagel with cream cheese. (By the way……..I found out that when he hollows out his bagel, instead of throwing the dough away, he actually eats the dough.) He likes a white bagel filled with regular cream cheese. My suggestion was not to eat oatmeal with blueberries but to switch to a rye or whole-wheat bagel, stop eating the dough, and to use low fat cream cheese. He didn’t like my recommendation. It was pretty much the same pattern for lunch and dinner. I heard things like, “But I like sour cream” or “But I don’t like low fat cheese.”

This experience got me thinking. The problem is that we don’t make the connection that advice will lead to some form of sacrifice. If someone asks me for nutritional or exercise advice, they have to be willing to sacrifice or change something. It might be changing a current exercise routine that feels comfortable to doing something new that does not. It also could be making compromises on how many glasses of wine you actually drink with dinner. Ouch. I know.

Change is not easy, which is probably why many of us hate hearing the advice that we ask for!

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