Archive for March, 2013

THE OPTICAL ILLUSION OF EATING

I’ve written numerous blogs about how the plates and cups we use really make a huge difference in how much we eat. If you fill up a small bowl with ½ cup of frozen yogurt, you will feel satisfied when you’re done. And yet that same ½-cup portion, in a much larger bowl, just doesn’t do the trick!

Companies in the food industry know this and they do their best to fool us.

Take a look at this: verticalhorizontalillusionWhile these 2 lines are the same length, most of us think that the vertical line is longer. Our brains somehow understand that taller is more.

Let’s apply this to food and use an example: movie popcorn. In most movie theaters, if you place a medium bucket of popcorn next to a large bucket you will notice that they’re roughly the same height. The large bucket might hold 50% more popcorn, but this increase is done by expanding the width of the bucket. This way, our brain can’t obviously see the extra volume.

If the large bucket were re-designed having the same width but 50% taller, we would immediately understand how much more the larger bucket would hold. And then maybe, we would think, “Gee, I’ll stick to the medium—that’s going to be too much.”

Here are some visual examples: This first picture shows 2 buckets of popcorn–1 medium, 1 large. Since they’re the same height, we can’t really see the extra volume in the large. imagesNow look at this picture—these 2 containers are vertically different and we can immediately see the size difference. images

So pay attention to this optical illusion when eating. Once you start focusing, you’ll notice that these “tricks” are everywhere!

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ROASTED SALMON WITH SOY-MARMALADE GLAZE

Roasted Salmon with Soy-Marmalade Glaze (serves 4) IMG_0798

ingredients

¼ cup orange marmalade

1 ½ t low-sodium soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, chopped

salt and pepper

4 (4-5-ounce) salmon fillets

cooking spray

2 T thinly sliced green onions

4 lemon wedges

directions

Preheat the oven to 4500 F.

Combine the marmalade, soy sauce, and garlic in a small bowl. Arrange the salmon fillets, skin side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Season the fish with salt and pepper and brush the fillets evenly with half of the marmalade mixture. Bake at 4500 F for about 4 minutes.

Leaving the fish in the oven, heat the broiler to high and broil the fish for 6 minutes. Spoon on the remaining marmalade mixture and broil for an additional 3 minutes or until the desired degree of doneness. Sprinkle the fish evenly with green onions and serve with the lemon wedges.

(Adapted from a recipe found in “Cooking Light”, April 2013)

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THE MAGIC IN THE RAINBOW

We all know that fruit and vegetables are good for us so there is no need to An edible rainbow of nummy fruits and vegetablesgo on and on about all the vitamins, minerals and fiber that they contain. Blah blah blah.

However, I do have to say one quick thing about them: fruits and vegetables contain a hint of magic: The magic is phytochemicals. It’s the phytochemicals that are responsible for adding color to fruits and vegetables–they make the rainbow.

Some quick facts about phytochemicals:

  • Phytochemicals are found in plant-based foods
  • There are thousands of phytochemicals but only a small number of them have been studied (examples: carotenoids, flavonoids, lycopene)
  • Phytochemicals have a hormone effect or an antioxidant effect
  • Studies have shown that phytochemicals have biological activity that lead to health benefits. This includes the prevention of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • Phytochemicals are also thought to block the action of carcinogens.

So eat those fruits and veggies not just for the vitamins, minerals and fiber…………eat them for the magic!

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CRISP GREEN BEANS WITH CHERRY TOMATOES

Crisp Green Beans with Cherry Tomatoes

ingredients

2 t olive oil

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

16 oz green beans

¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

juice of ½ lemon

small handful basil, thinly sliced

directions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shallot and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the green beans. Use tongs to turn them and coat with the shallots. Add the broth, cover and steam for about 4 minutes until the green beans turn bright green but are still crisp. Add the tomatoes, cover and steam for 1 minute. Uncover and continue to cook until the tomatoes are just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the lemon juice and basil and serve.

(Adapted from a recipe found in Diabetes Forecast, September, 2012)

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WHAT BRANCH ARE YOU?

Imagine that nutritional counseling is a giant tree. I’m seeing a trend of 3  13811597-branches-of-big-trees-in-the-gardenmajor “branches” off of this tree.

1. The first branch is the easiest to manage: IGNORANCE. People seek nutritional information simply because they don’t have the correct information. It could be learning about fiber sources, the best way to become a vegetarian, or managing a disease linked to nutrition. (i.e., diabetes or celiac disease). Once the person gets the necessary information, they’re good to go!

2. The second branch is a bit more complicated: PLANNING. Here, the client understands what needs to be done, but can’t seem to execute the plan. It’s impossible to “wing” good nutrition. You have to plan, be organized and stay on top of things—otherwise it all goes out the window. There are so many strategies to aid in planning from food shopping for specific items (as basic staples)  to meal planning. If someone can stay consistent with the planning (it takes a lot of work), then they’re good to go.

3. The third branch is very complicated: PSYCHOLOGICAL. This branch involves clients who have been chronic dieters and who have the “diet mentality”. (I was good today/I was bad today/I blew it so I might as well eat everything in sight and start tomorrow/ I can’t eat carbs–they’re bad, etc) It also involves people who have/had eating disorders, and people who consistently eat for other reasons other than hunger—boredom, stress, anxiety, etc. This involves “re-booting”  the way the client thinks about food and a lot of behavior modification. In extreme cases, the client might need a therapist, who works closely with the nutritionist.

Think about this if you’re contemplating seeing a nutritionist. Knowing what “branch” you are, can be extremely helpful in swiftly addressing the heart of your specific issue.

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SIZE MATTERS: COULD SMALLER BE BETTER?

Many people aren’t crazy about drinking water and find it challenging to drink a substantial amount. I have friends and clients who carry around a large, 2- liter bottle trying to drink at least one a day. Looking at all that liquid and knowing you have to get that all down is daunting. A better way might be to size down and choose a smaller bottle. fiji

I’m a water drinker but every now and then I, too, find it burdensome to drink water—especially in the colder months. When this happens, I grab a mini 8-oz bottle and keep filling it up. I find it easier to get one of these babies down then taking a larger bottle or cup. And surprise, surprise I will actually wind up drinking way more doing this. It’s setting a more realistic, attainable goal.

So if you’re having trouble getting that water down, size down and see what happens. Could be that smaller will work for you, too.

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DHAL (INDIAN LENTIL DISH)

Dhal (Indian Lentil Dish) lentils

Ingredients

1 clove garlic–crushed

1 small onion–chopped

8 oz lentils—rinsed

1 t butter

pinch of chili powder

1 t turmeric

¾ pint of water, vegetable or chicken broth

pinch of salt

Directions

Melt the  butter in a deep pan.  Add the  onions and garlic and cook until soft—about 5-8 minutes. Add the chili powder and turmeric to the onions and stir for 1 minute. Add the liquid, bring to a boil, and  stir frequently. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the lentils are soft. Add more liquid if necessary.  Remove the pan from the heat and season with salt to taste.

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