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Healthy Eating and Weight Gain. What Gives?

August 9, 2018
A client came to me last week and said, ”I’ve really changed my diet these past few months. I’ve incorporated more healthy foods and I’ve done really well at eliminating almost all of the “junk” foods. However, my weight has slowly continued to increase. What gives?

I encounter this situation far too often with clients, and while it can be quite frustrating and aggravating for one to experience weight gain, it does provide an excellent teaching opportunity about the importance of serving sizes and monitoring one’s overall calorie intake in achieving weight-related goals.

Foods such as avocados, nuts, seeds, olive and avocado oils, dark chocolate, fatty fish, and red wine are often encouraged and promoted as “ the best foods to consume for overall health”. I’m not disputing the health benefits of these foods, as I know there’s a myriad of benefits why one should include them in their diet. However, if your goal is weight loss, then calories surely do matter.

Avocados…I mean, I just adore those delicious green fruits. Avocados are highly nutritious, easily transportable, and oh-so enjoyable in almost any type of cuisine from salads, soups, and sandwiches. While I would love to eat my weight in guacamole, and life would be even more amazing if avocados were suddenly calorie free, the unfortunate reality is far from this. Because avocados are relatively high in fat, they are also high in calories. Just 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of avocado is roughly 160 calories. Because avocados are relatively high in calories, it can be easy to eat too much without even realizing it. If you’re trying to lose weight, I often recommend people consume ¼-1/2 of an avocado per serving. This is roughly 1-2 ounces and about 50-100 additional calories that can be added to a salad or sandwich.

How many times do you open the container of nuts/seeds and you tell yourself…”I’m just going to grab a handful?” What’s a handful? Is it ¼ cup, ½, cup, or half the container? Nuts/seeds are sort of like potato chips. They’re high in fat which enhances mouth feel, they’re crunchy and salty to taste, and they’re relatively small in size which makes consuming too many, that much easier. A serving size of nuts/seeds is 1 ounce, which is approximately 2 tablespoons. If you find yourself unable to stick to this portion size, or if you simply don’t trust yourself around a large container of nuts/seeds, than I encourage you to make or buy individual snack bags of nuts/seeds and store them in your pantry. When something you love is already portioned controlled for you, it’s much easier to avoid overeating.

Olive oil and avocado oil are high monounsaturated oils that are great for low to medium heat cooking. Make a homemade salad dressing, sauté some vegetables, or drizzle on top of some bread, make no mistake about it; these oils are delicious and nutritious. All oils consist of 100% fat, which means it’s also high in calories. One tablespoon of olive and avocado oil is roughly 119 and 124 calories. Feel free to include these foods in your weight loss plan, but just remember to use a tablespoon for measuring to help you better quantify your calorie intake.

Dark chocolate…friend or foe? Health food or torture device? Dark chocolate has a lot of great health benefits such as a powerful source of antioxidants and the potential to reduce heart disease and lower blood pressure. However, dark chocolate, while healthy and nutritious in smaller amounts, can often be hard for people to control the portion size because it tastes so decadent. Brands such as Ghirardelli have created 86% and 92% cacao dark chocolate squares, which means that each square is only 14% and 8% sugar, with the rest coming from cacao, or in more traditional terms, cocoa. How can this help you control portions? Chocolate that tastes less sweet, but still tastes decadent, can help one enjoy the taste and flavor of chocolate, without the added sugar cravings. These Ghirardelli chocolate squares have really helped this girl control her sugar cravings, while still getting to enjoy chocolate. I encourage you to give them a try!

Red wine is often a crowd pleaser and it has been known to contain antioxidants and help reduce heart disease. However, if you’re abstaining from drinking alcohol for weight loss, or if you’re simply not a drinker, don’t worry about losing out on these health benefits. Drinking alcohol is not, nor ever will be, a necessity for good health. You can get the same benefits from drinking red wine when consuming foods such as dark chocolate, grapes, grape juice, blueberries, and cranberries. A serving of red wine is 5 ounces and is approximately 125 calories. Alcohol also can slow fat burning so it’s best to consume in moderation if trying to move the number on the scale.

If you’ve recently changed your diet and you’re eating healthier than ever before, BRAVO! It’s not easy changing one’s habits and you should feel proud and empowered by your efforts to improve your health. However, weight loss isn’t as simple as just “ eating healthier” or avoiding “junk foods”. It’s a systematic and consistent dedication to not only choosing healthier foods, but also committing to consuming less calories overall, so that with time you become a person who weighs less.
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Mediterranean Frittata

March 24, 2018
Frittatas are super easy to assemble, and are a delicious and nutritious way to get your greens first thing in the morning. It's a versitale dish where the possibilities for flavor combinations are endless. Now you have another reason to enjoy Sunday mornings!

Mediterranean Frittata

Ingredients

• 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 Tablespoon salted butter or Ghee
• 10 large eggs
• 1 cup of purple onion, chopped
• 1 cup of baby portabella mushrooms, chopped
• 6 cups baby spinach
• ½ cup artichoke, chopped
• 1 cup of tomatoes, chopped
• ½ cup of crumbled feta cheese
• Fresh basil leaves for garnish


Instructions

1. Preheat the oven broiler to high heat

2. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk until all the yolks are
broken up. Set aside

3. Add olive oil and butter to a heated cast iron or stainless steel skillet. Sauté chopped onions and mushrooms until soft

4. Add spinach and artichoke and sauté until spinach has wilted. Should only take 1-2 minutes.

5. Spread the vegetable mixture evenly over the bottom of the skillet. Pour the egg mixture on top

6. Cook the frittata on the stove until the egg sides stiffen and the bottom is starting to brown.

7. Place the skillet in the oven for a few minutes until the frittata finishes cooking and starts to brown on top. You may need to add a cover or a sheet of foil on top to prevent it from browning too much

8. Remove from oven and top with chopped tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, and fresh basil

9. Serve immediately


Nutrition Facts/Serving
Recipe makes approximately 7 servings

Total calories: 230 calories
Fat: 13 grams
Carbohydrates: 10 grams
Dietary Fiber: 4 grams
Protein: 13 grams
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Baked Butternut Squash Chips

January 27, 2018
Ingredients

• 1-large butternut squash
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Fresh or ground sage
• Fresh or ground rosemary
• Fresh or ground basil
• Grated parmesan cheese
• Salt
• Pepper

Instructions

1. Cut off the top of the squash and remove the peel

2. Slice the squash into thin chip like pieces using a mandolin or a knife. They should be about 1/8 inch thick

3. Boil a small pot of water. Place the chips in the boiling water for about 5-10 minutes

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

5. Pat chips dry with paper towel

6. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

7. Spread the chips on the parchment paper

8. Coat the chips with extra virgin olive oil

9. Season with sage, rosemary, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper

10. Bake in the oven for 10-20 minutes depending on your oven

11. Remove from oven when crispy and add additional seasonings, as desired

12. Serve immediately and store leftovers in an sealed container






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Vegan Vegetable Soup

January 6, 2018
This delicious vegan vegetable soup is a excellent way to add volume and bulk to meals, without consuming a bunch of extra calories. Plus…it’s versatile and highly nutritious. Enjoy!


Ingredients:

• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• 1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 32oz. carton of vegetable broth. Buy an extra carton of broth in case you need extra.
• 1/2 of a red onion, diced
• 3 celery stalks, diced
• 3 medium carrots, diced
• 1 small head of broccoli, broken into florets
• 1 cup chopped tomatoes
• 2 cups spinach, de-stemmed and torn in pieces
• 6 stalks of asparagus
• 1 cup purple cabbage, chopped
• a handful of pea pods, any type, halved if large
• several mushrooms, sliced
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)
• fine-grain sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

1. Heat olive oil in pan. Gently sauté the shallot and garlic for a few minutes until softened.
2. Add the broth to the pan, along with the onion, celery, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, and asparagus. Sauté for several minutes until vegetables are soft. Add the pea pods, purple cabbage, and mushrooms. Sauté a few minutes longer.
3. Add turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.
4. Add any extra water or broth if too much evaporates.
5. Pour into bowls and serve.

Recipe produces 6-8 servings



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Quit Throwing Away Those Broccoli Stems

December 3, 2017
Broccoli… it’s often considered one of the world’s healthiest foods due to it’s abundance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that enhance health and fight disease. It’s enjoyed worldwide in a variety of dishes and cuisines, and it’s versatility and great taste makes this a cruciferous vegetable that shouldn’t be ignored. Broccoli florets or the broccoli crown are what’s most often used in recipes as they are more aesthetically pleasing, while the less desirable, but yet highly nutritious broccoli stems are almost always thrown in the trash. The broccoli stem is just as nutritious as the broccoli crown, and is simple and easy to prepare and cook. In fact, one broccoli stem contains more vitamin C than an orange, and each stem contains only 32 calories. And with food prices on the rise, eliminating any food waste is often an effective and necessary step in making your grocery dollar go further. To help expand your nutrition and culinary knowledge, I provided a few easy and nutritious ideas for eating and benefiting from broccoli stems, instead of just filling your trash can:

1) Spiralize Broccoli Stems Into Broccoli Noodles-I spiralize a lot of veggies, especially because I live the low carb life and spiralizing veggies allows me to enjoy a variety of pasta and casserole dishes without consuming excessive carbohydrates. All you need is a good spiralizer and within minutes you can have several cups of broccoli noodles that can be a great substitute for pasta in many traditional dishes.


2) Broccoli Chips-Use a mandolin or food processor to cut the broccoli stems into slices. Place broccoli slices into a bowl and drizzle with oil and desired spices. Mix throughout and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes at 400 degrees.

3) Broccoli Broth-Cooking broccoli stems on low heat creates a delicious and highly nutritious broth that enhances the flavor of soups, stews, and a variety of other dishes.

4) Broccoli Stem Fries-Peel and slice broccoli stems into long sticks resembling French fries. Place broccoli sticks on a greased baking sheet and coat sticks with olive oil and season with desired spices/herbs. Place baking sheet into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

5) Broccoli Stem Soup-Yes, its possible to make a delicious and nutritious soup where the main ingredient is a broccoli stem. Most recipes for broccoli stem soup is pretty easy and can serve as a great way to add volume to meals without a lot of added calories.

I hope these nutritious recipe ideas make you think twice about throwing away your broccoli stems. There are numerous ways to consuming broccoli stems that provide an added health benefit. For additional help on recipe modification or how Speaking of Nutrition, LLC can help you reach your health goals, contact Stephanie at stephanie@speakingofnutrition.com.

“A healthy lifestyle takes confidence, knowledge, and persistence to achieve, but never disappoints when it finally arrives”.
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Is This Multivitamin Worth My Time and Money?

October 7, 2017
Oh the multivitamin (dietary) supplement industry…you never fail to constantly bombard consumers with a plethora of new products containing miracle and must-have ingredients that promise health, vitality, and the elimination of chronic disease. You print fancy and enticing claims on your packages such as ‘supports your immune system’, ‘maintains health’, or ‘elevates mood’, without requiring any research or government regulation to do so. Now, I’m not putting down the multivitamin industry, far from it. As a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), I’ve seen plenty of situations where someone could really benefit from taking a multivitamin to meet daily nutrient needs. However, the important questions we all have to ask ourselves regarding multivitamins is this...”Who benefits the most from taking a multivitamin and which multivitamins are legit?”

I know money is tight for the majority of Americans, and I know that achieving and maintaining health, while a valuable and worthwhile endeavor, is expensive and overwhelming. Besides advocating for healthier eating, better lifestyles, and disease prevention, I’m equally passionate about looking out for the pocket books of my clients and fellow Americans. Dietary supplements and multivitamins can be expensive! The absolute last thing I want to see is someone spending their hard earned money on a multivitamin that uses artificial ingredients, proprietary blends, and/or cost significantly more, without providing any additional nutritional benefit beyond consuming an 89 cent apple or a 3oz. serving of lean protein.

A representative from Reviews.com reached out to me last week and presented me with their latest review of store-bought multivitamins for me to share. I really appreciate people taking the time to critically and fully review vitamins and supplements as this is a challenging area for RDN’s to keep abreast due to the accelerated pace of new products hitting the market. They analyzed 289 different multivitamin varieties from capsules, gummies, chewables, and liquids. They also closely examined each multivitamin for its use of proprietary blends, inactive or artificial ingredients, and those that didn’t have third-party verification. “The best multivitamins have independent certifications for label accuracy and purity, plus a well-rounded formula that hits the majority of FDA-recommended ingredients.” Based on their analysis, five multivitamins came out as “legit” and nutritionally worth your time and money, if you so desire to take them. However, is taking a multivitamin necessary?

If you’re someone who values good nutrition and makes a conscious effort to consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins, there probably isn’t any dire need for you to take a daily multivitamin. However, if you’re someone who regularly eats fast food, consumes lots of refined carbohydrates, added sugars, processed meats, and eats very little fruits and vegetables, then your biggest concern isn’t going to be the lack of essential vitamins and minerals in your diet, but more so in the significant increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. For the elderly, those in a catabolic state such as cancer patients, or other individuals that suffer from malabsorption problems, a daily multivitamin could provide an added benefit. The majority of Americans still have a very long way to go with improving their overall diet before we need to worry about whether or not a daily multivitamin is necessary.

As an RDN, I see nothing wrong with taking a daily multivitamin to boost a healthy diet. However, I want you to choose and spend wisely, so I’m encouraging you to read this thorough review by Reviews.com so you purchase the highest quality multivitamin that benefits your health and your pocket book.

I want to thank the people at Reviews.com for a wonderful job with the research and with compiling the information in an easy-to-read format for consumers. The important and valuable content presented in this review is appreciated by both consumers and health care professionals alike.

Click HERE for the article from Reviews.com

Please let me know if you have any questions/concerns about anything discussed in the article. Feel free to share any comments below.

“A healthy lifestyle takes confidence, knowledge, and persistence to achieve, but never disappoints when it finally arrives!”
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Prebiotics vs. Probiotics...Which One's Best For Me?

September 2, 2017
The terms prebiotics and probiotics are showing up more and more on news feeds supplements labels, and food packaging. But for a lot of people it leaves them questioning…what do these terms really mean?

In simple terms, probiotics contain live, active bacteria such as Lactobacillus or Bifidobacteria, that when consumed enhance gut motility and function. They have to be taken daily in order to have a continual supply of healthy bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics, are carbohydrate foods, such as inulin and fructose-oligosaccharides that when consumed, encourage the growth of “good” bacteria in the gut. Prebiotic foods do not contain live bacteria, but rather enhance the growth of bacteria during digestion. Some examples of prebiotic foods would be garlic, onions, asparagus, whole grains, etc., while some examples of probiotics are sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and kefir.

For the general, healthy population, consuming both prebiotics and probiotics can be beneficial and extremely healthy for your gut. A healthy gut or aka ‘a healthy gut microbiota’ has been shown to decrease one’s risk for many chronic diseases and conditions such as obesity, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. However, If you’re an IBS sufferer, you may want to stay away from prebiotics and strictly focus your attention on probiotics. Why might you ask? Well prebiotics contain FODMAPS (Fermentable, Oligosaccharide, Disaccharide, Monosaccharide and Polyols) that are carbohydrate foods (insoluble fiber) that are not digested and absorbed properly in people with IBS. When FODMAPS are consumed, it causes excessive bloating, gas, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I would be lying to you if I didn’t tell you that I have seen some people with IBS benefit from consuming both prebiotic and probiotic foods. However, these situations are generally people with very mild cases of IBS who haven’t had to completely change their lifestyle and follow the strict and often time’s difficult low-FODMAP diet.

The choice of what foods to consume is entirely up to you. For further help and education on prebiotic and probiotic foods, or help with following the low-FODMAP diet, book an appointment at Speaking of Nutrition, LLC. Remember to always listen to your body for any signs, signals, or warnings that something isn’t working and making you feel your absolute best!

“A healthy lifestyle takes confidence, knowledge, and persistence to achieve, but never disappoints when it finally arrives”.


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Nutritional Yeast...Where Have You Been All My Life?

July 7, 2017
Nutritional yeast is a magical substance found in the bulk or supplement section of health food stores. It’s an inactive yeast made from sugar cane and beet molasses and provides amazing flavor and variety to those who follow the vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free, and paleo diet. Nutritional yeast is wildly known for its delicious, cheesy flavor and replaces milk-based cheeses in most standard dishes; which is a welcomed alternative for those who avoid dairy.

On average, 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast provides 60 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrate (4 grams coming from dietary fiber). A serving also provides 9 grams of protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids the human body cannot produce. Since vitamin B12 can be of concern for those who are vegan, nutritional yeast does not contain a significant source of vitamin B12 unless it’s been fortified. It does contain 180%, 160%, and 140% the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin B6. Since it’s a dry product, it’s best to place it in a mason jar with the lid tightly sealed to keep moisture out. As long as nutritional yeast stays dry, it can last for 2 years.

Nutritional yeast is a vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly ingredient. You can find numerous recipes, cooking tips, and suggestions for using nutritional yeast when you explore websites, blogs, and cookbooks proving it’s possible to eliminate dairy from the diet, without sacrificing flavor and enjoyment. Below are some simple ways you can incorporate nutritional yeast into your diet:

1) Sprinkle it on popcorn or snack mixes for added flavor and zest

2) Add it to soups and stews for increased flavor, texture, and thickness

3) Stir into mashed potato or mashed cauliflower dishes

4) Add a teaspoon to bean dishes for enhanced flavor

5) If you enjoy eating pesto, adding nutritional yeast to your next batch will certainly not disappoint

6) Make decant macaroni and cheese, lasagna, and appetizers without missing the traditional flavor and taste of cheese

7) It’s a terrific salt alternative for those who are salt sensitive or following a salt-restricted diet

If you have any additional ideas or questions for using nutritional yeast, feel free to comment below. If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment, feel free to email me at stephanie@speakingofnutrition.com.

“ A healthy lifestyle takes confidence, knowledge, and persistence to achieve, but never disappoints when it finally arrives”.

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Are You A Mindful Eater?

June 24, 2017
When you first taste food, do you try and give it your full attention? Do you think about all the nourishment and joy food provides your body than simply eating because you’re hungry? Is food an emotional crutch, or the substance you need to live a happy, healthy, and productive life?

To me, eating mindfully is directing my attention to the aroma, flavor, and enjoyment I get from food while slowing down and savoring every bite, and stopping when I feel full and satisfied. Mindful eating can be an effective weight loss tool when followed consistently. Sometimes mindful eating can be described as intuitive eating where an individual follows their body’s natural hunger signals instead of tracking calories and macronutrients for weight loss. Below are some helpful ways for you to follow mindful eating in your life:

1). Slow down your eating pace. Allow your body and your brain to connect. When you eat fast, your brain isn’t able to catch up and recognize that your body’s is full and doesn’t need more food. Some studies have cited that it can take up to 20 minutes to establish a brain-body connection while eating.

2). Know the difference between hunger and emotional eating. Do you eat because your bored, tired, stressed, happy, etc.? Or do you eat because your stomach growls, you have a headache, your experiencing low blood sugar, or because your unable to focus, etc.? It’s important that you know your body signals so you can avoid consuming excess calories that negatively impact health.

3). Develop healthy eating environments. Avoid eating alone if possible. Many studies have cited that eating with others promotes a positive and healthy eating environment where people often consume less calories than eating alone.

4) Choose food for health, not emotion. Choose foods that boost your health, not cater to your emotions. Emotional eating is a powerful force that often causes people to choose unhealthy high fat, high sugar foods that promote weight gain, which further exacerbates negative emotions. Find other activities to soothe your emotions such as reading, taking a walk, meditation, calling a friend etc. Food is not the answer to emotional health!

For more tips and information on mindful eating, you can access the Center for Mindful Eating website at www.thecenterformindfuleating.org. Feel free to reach out to me at stephanie@speakingofnutrition.com for any additional information or to schedule an individual appointment.

“A healthy lifestyle takes confidence, knowledge, and persistence to achieve, but never disappoints when it finally arrives”.
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