"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" - Hippocrates

Saturday, November 20, 2010


The other day I received a promotional packet and a sample (getting food samples is the best part about being a dietitian!) from Quaker Oats promoting their new Hearty Medleys Instant Multigrain Cereal. Of course we have all heard it over and over, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
And apparently, Quaker has partnered with Biggest Loser fitness trainer Bob Harper in an effort to help Americans jump start their day and reset their mornings in a healthier, more positive way.I applaud their efforts to encourage people to eat breakfast; however, you might want to read the label on Quaker's latest creation a little closer.

Front of package- Loaded with Real Fruits & Nuts

Serving size: 1 pouch
130 calories, 2.5 g fat, 135 mg sodium, 27 g carbs, 11 g sugar, 3 g fiber, 3 g protein


So the nutriton doesn't look that bad (especially compared with a donut or other pastry) but it is not that great when compared with regular oats.

Regular Oats (per 1/2 cup dry): 150 calories, 2.5 g fat, 0 mg sodium, 27 g carbohydrate, less than 1 g sugar 4 g fiber, 5 g protein

Back to the Hearty Medleys, there is not a distinction between added sugar and natural sugar on the label, so you have to read the ingredients list more closely. Notice that the second ingredient is SUGAR. That means that most of the 11g of sugar on the label is indeed added sugar. Now this doesn't seem like alot and only equates to 44 calories, but it all adds up. Keep in mind that sugar is okay in moderation, but it really doesn't have any nutritional benefit. And just a comment about the sodium 135 mg is not alot (only 6% of the daily value) but again it all adds up. Finally, 130 calories isn't much. Not necessarily a hearty breakfast on its own. I would be starving by mid-morning!

So Quaker Hearty Medleys is not a bad choice as compared with other breakfast offerings (bagels, donuts, croissants, etc), but by spending a couple of minutes, you could make it better with your own version.
1/2 cup oats
2 tbsp dried cranberries
1 tbp sliced almonds
1/4 cup sliced apple
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
Add 1 cup of water to above ingredients. Microwave for 2-3 minutes until thickened.

Per serving: 252 calories, 5.6 g fat, 0 mg sodium, 46.4 g carbs, 13.4 g sugar (from fruits), 6.6 g fiber

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nutrition tips – Nutrition During the Off Season and Holidays

Yet another holiday season begins. Bring on the turkey and trimmings, pies and desserts. With training season on the low down, it is not difficult to pack on the off season pounds. The average gain over the winter holidays is slight, only a couple of pounds, but it may last a lifetime. Most people don’t ever lose the weight they put on during the holidays.

I work as a dietitian with the Polk County School Board Employee Wellness Program and this year we are challenging the employees to maintain their weight over the holidays. We sent out flyers with this picture of 5lbs of fat, encouraging them to not let this be their Christmas gift. I attached the photo to this article to perhaps motivate you to not gain weight during the holidays and the off-season.
But don’t worry. With a survival guide and a plan of action you don’t have to skip the traditions and feasts of this time in order to remain at a competing weight.

MAINTAIN CALORIC BALANCE: Eat more nutrient dense foods

Even if you are continuing a strength training regimen, cut out the use of sports nutrition energy bars, drinks and gels, which are formulated for endurance (such as Endurox, Accelerade, Gu, etc). Be aware of caloric dense foods versus nutrient dense foods. In place of the bars, opt for fruits, vegetables and whole grains which are more nutrient dense as opposed to calorie dense bars and gels. Dense carbs that were important for glycogen restoration, such as power bagels, can be replaced with lighter, lower calorie whole grain breads, such as whole wheat English muffins or bread.


Metabolism is raised when you eat every 2 to 3 hours. Keep up with this philosophy even through the season. Do not save calories for a big festive meal. Have a snack such as an apple or a light meal such as a salad or soup before facing a huge buffet.

Eating every few hours also means keeping portion size appropriate. You may have gotten used to eating larger portion sizes while training and old habits die hard. Remember, ½ cup cooked pasta, rice or potatoes is a realistic serving size for weight maintenance, whereas these portions may seem extremely tiny when you are faced with festive meals. Eat more fruits and vegetables (nutrient dense foods) to make up the difference.

MODERATION IS THE KEY: Balance your plate.
Moderation and consideration are the keys to enjoying any holiday dinner, and you shouldn't feel as though you have to deny yourself your favorite foods this year. Just watch what goes on your plate, and how it is cooked. Turkey, for example, is low in fat and high in protein. White meat eaten without the skin provides a healthy delicious base for a holiday meal. Add some steamed vegetables and a small of sweet potato with a dash of cinnamon, and you have quite the feast. Of course, don't deny yourself a sliver of pie, but be prepared to burn off those calories.

Monday, October 4, 2010


I must admit, pizza probably isn't the most healthy food, that is if you order it out. But you can make a healthy pizza at home if you include these tips: 
  • Use a whole grain crust. You can purchase a pre-made whole wheat pizza crust, or make your own by substituting whole wheat flour for part or all of the white flour in your bread-maker pizza crust recipe. Whole grains add fiber which will keep you feeling full longer and is crucial for a healthy digestive system.
  • Use lots of sauce. Tomato sauce is an excellent source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that may help to prevent some chronic disease.
  • Cut back on the cheese. Although cheese is an excellent source of calcium, a lot of the calories of a pizza come from the cheese. Use just a light sprinkling of cheese, or choose a lower-fat type of cheese to cut calories and saturated fat.
  • Don't use greasy processed meats. Pepperoni and sausage are high in fats, and processed meats are associated with stomach and colorectal cancer. Choose lean topping options, such as chicken or shrimp, or skip the meat altogether and make a delicious vegetarian pizza.
  • Load the pizza up with vegetables. Since they are nutritious and low in calories, use generous amounts of vegetables as toppings. Some delicious choices include sun-dried tomatoes, onions, broccoli, spinach, olives, spinach, peppers and mushrooms. Really, any of your favorite vegetables would make the perfect choice.
Saturday I was looking forward to watching the Oklahoma Sooners (my alma mater) play Texas. What better to go with the football game, homemade pizza! I made the pizza including the crust and sauce from scratch but you could substitute a whole wheat pre-made crust and jarred sauce.
This recipe for pizza dough is super easy. I used half the dough to make a personal size pizza and froze the other half to use later.

Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough

Makes one 12-inch pizza crust.
1/2 cup warm (105°F - 110°F) water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour


Put the warm water, oil and salt in a small bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let stand 5 minutes until foamy.
Combine both flours in a food processor. With the machine running, pour the yeast mixture through the feed tube. After the dough forms a ball, move it to a lightly floured counter. Knead briefly until smooth and elastic.
Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray; put the dough in the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Punch down dough and roll into a 12-inch circle. Spray a nonstick cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Place the dough on the tray and top as desired. Bake until light brown and crunchy, 12 to 15 minutes.

I love making a big batch of grilled or roasted veggies. I use them throughout the week in different recipes including pizza, pasta, omelets, wraps or sandwiches. Or they are delicious by themselves. And as you might have guessed, I used them on my pizza! Here is the recipe:
2 medium zucchini, diced
2 medium yellow squash, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
6-10 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper

Slice vegetables and place in a large bowl with olive oil, rosemary, thyme, salt, oregano and pepper. Toss to coat. Preheat pan (I used a grill pan but a saute pan would be fine) over medium heat. Add vegetables and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. I just had to take a picture to add to the blog. Isn't it colorful!

I also made homemade sauce. It is so easy and doesn't contain the added sugar and sodium of commercial varieties. Plus, again I can use it in other recipes including pasta and wraps. Take a can of unsalted diced or crushed tomatoes. Add a can of tomato paste and spices including basil, oregano, thyme and a little salt. You can even add a little balsamic vinegar or wine. This homemade sauce is packed with flavor, much better prepackaged sauce from a jar or a can.

Ok so now for the pizza. Preheat your oven to 400. Roll out dough and place in a pizza pan. I used a baking stone which is great for making pizza. It transfers the heat evenly for a crispier crust. Top the dough with sauce. Add veggies and your choice of protein. I had some leftover soy crumbles that I used. Then add cheese. I used finely shredded part-skim mozzarella. Another tip- add finely shredded cheese. You don't have to use as much. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Easy Go To Recipes

Wow it has been a long time since I have posted! I enjoy blogging, but sometimes after sitting at a computer all day, that is the last thing I want to do. Plus I have been a little busy training. But now that IM Augusta 70.3 is over, I will have more time. Since, I got back from Augusta on Monday, I didn't have a chance to plan my meals for the week like I normally do. So as I was thinking about what to make for dinner, I was trying to think of something quick and easy. It is always good to have a "Go-To Meal", food that requires minimal preparation and ingredients. One of my favorite "Go-To Meals" is stir-fry. Here is my version, I am going to outline the basics: Vegetables, Protein, Starch, and Sauce. But keep in mind that you could modify the recipe based on what you have on hand.

Stir Fry
Vegetables: carrots, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, bell peppers, and edamame. I used a mixture of fresh and frozen vegetables. If you were crunched for time, a frozen bag of stir fry vegetables would work perfectly.
Protein: 3 ounces frozen shrimp and  1tbsp unsalted peanuts. You could also use chicken, strip steak or tofu.
Starch: 2/3 cup whole wheat spaghetti. You could also use brown rice (Steamfresh makes rice in a frozen bag- with the frozen veggies- So easy!).
Sauce: 1 tbsp soy sauce; 2 tbsp rice vinegar (find it either in the Asian section or with the vinegars at the grocery store); 1 clove garlic, minced; thumb size piece of fresh ginger, diced. If you don't have fresh garlic or ginger, you could use ground instead. But the fresh really adds alot of flavor.

Put 1/4 tsp of peanut oil (you could also use canola oil, but peanut oil really gives your stir fry great flavor) in a saute pan or wok. Add vegetables and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add sauce, shrimp,peanuts and whole wheat spaghetti and finish cooking for 1-2 minutes. Serves 1.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Get out of a rut and get inspired!

We all tend to get in a rut after awhile, especially with our diet. It seems like I eat alot of the same foods, over and over again. I know that I need to include more variety in my diet, but sometimes it is easier to stick with the tried and true recipes.
Variety is an important part of healthy eating. Think about it, the more different types of foods you eat, the more different types of nutrients that you consume. According to Nancy Clark, sports dietitian, most Americans eat the same 10 to 15 foods each week. If you find yourself eating a repetitive menu, at least try to vary your meals. For instance, have different types of cereals topped with different fruits for breakfast. At lunch, try different types of breads and fillings for sandwiches. Have a salad for dinner. The possibilities are endless.
So the inspiration of this post is a recipe that I saw in the Publix weekly ad. Here is the recipe:

Scallops with Ginger Orzo Salad


1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup sugar snap peas, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
12 oz sea scallops
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 1/2 cups water
1 cup orzo pasta
3/4 cup Asian ginger vinaigrette
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Chop pepper, onions, peas, and cilantro.

Preheat large nonstick sauté pan on medium-high 2–3 minutes. Season scallops with salt and pepper. Place scallops in pan; cook (or sear) 1–2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan; cover to keep warm. Place water in same pan; bring to a boil.
Stir in pasta and reduce heat to medium; cook and stir 8–10 minutes or until tender and water has been absorbed.
Stir in peppers, onions, peas, cilantro, vinaigrette, and scallops; reduce heat to low and cook 1–2 minutes or just until scallops are opaque (veggies will be crisp-tender). Remove from heat; top with sesame seeds and serve.

Sounds delicious! I modified the recipe somewhat. Instead of scallops, I added shrimp. You could also add chicken, tofu or flank steak. I had orzo, but I also decided to add some quinoa and amaranth. You could also use brown rice or couscous. I added more vegetables. This is a great way to modify a recipe to add more variety. I added broccoli and edamame. Instead of using a ginger vinaigrette dressing, I made my own. This is a great tip to control the amount of sugar and sodium in a recipe. Look at the label of your salad dressings sometime. The first or second ingredient is usually sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Also, dressings are high in sodium. So here is my modified recipe:


1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 cup broccoli
1/3 cup edamame
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
12 oz shrimp
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup orzo
1/4 cup quinoa
1/4 cup amaranth
1 garlic clove, minced
thumb size piece of fresh ginger, diced

Asian dressing
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 lime, juiced and zested
1/4 orange, juiced and zested
thumb size piece of fresh ginger, diced
1/4 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds


Chop pepper, onions, peas, and cilantro. I used frozen broccoli and edamame so I just thawed them out. Dice ginger and garlic.

Preheat large nonstick sauté pan on medium-high 2–3 minutes. Spray with cooking spray.Place shrimp in pan; cook 1–2 minutes until they turn pink.  Remove from pan; cover to keep warm. Add orzo, quinoa, amaranth, garlic and ginger. Saute for a few minutes until the grains start to turn brown (this is a great way to add flavor!) Place water in same pan; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium; cook and stir 15-20 minutes or until tender and water has been absorbed. Stir in peppers, onions, peas, broccoli, edamame, cilantro, asian dressing, and shrimp; reduce heat to low and cook 1–2 minutes. (veggies will be crisp-tender). Remove from heat; top with sesame seeds and serve.

Makes 4 servings


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Smooth Moves

Always on the go, athletes need a quick effortless way to get in good nutrition. After a hard workout, it might seem faster and easier to stop at your local smoothie store than make your own, but becoming a regular can hinder the benefits of your exercise routine. Not all smoothies are created equal, with some containing your entire calorie needs for the day. Smoothie King's 32-ounce Hulk Strawberry contains 1,597 calories and 53 grams of fat! To make your next smoothie experience a healthy one, make these smart, on-the-go selections:

Keep it real: Juice concentrates, fruit purees, frozen yogurt, chocolate milk and syrups increase sugar and calories. Look for whole fruit or at least 100 percent fruit juice instead. The additional benefit of fresh fruit is extra fiber, which makes your smoothie more filling.

Keep it small: Calories in smoothies can range from 300 to 1,200, and they contain as high as 95 grams of carbohydrate, depending on size. Extra ounces mean unnecessary calories. Stick with smoothies that are no more than 16 to 20 ounces.

Keep it low fat: With ingredients like ice cream and whole milk, your strawberry smoothie could compete with a McDonald’s chocolate milkshake in terms of calories and fat. Choose shakes with lower fat ingredients like skim milk, soy, cottage cheese or low-fat yogurt. Add peanut butter for protein and healthy monounsaturated fat, but do so in moderation since one spoonful contains 100 calories.

Keep it simple: Smoothies are already high in vitamins and minerals anyway, so just say no to extras such as energy and immunity "boosts". Stick with the basics -- low-fat dairy and fresh fruit -- and you'll get all the nutrition you need.

Smoothies are a great way to get in your fruit and calcium intake. But beware; they can be high in calories depending on the ingredients. Be a wise consumer and chill out with a cool nutritious smoothie.

Smoothies from Smoothie King and Tropical Smoothie:
Smoothie King- go online for their nutritional information:
Most Trim Down varieties are good choices.
Make it with Splenda or no sugar instead of turbinado sugar.

Tropical Smoothie
Choose Splendid Smoothies: 200 calories or less
Make it with Splenda or no sugar instead of turbinado

Make your own smoothie at home.

Tips for a yummy smoothie
Use frozen fruit- your smoothie will stay colder and thicker
Add ice cubes to thicken up your smoothie
Add tofu for a protein packed smoothie- buy the silken tofu

Make it fast- put most of the ingredients in a plastic baggie in the freezer. Add milk or yogurt and blend. Also, you can make a big batch and freeze it in cups for later.

Basic smoothie recipe
Start with 8 oz of skim milk or low fat plain yogurt
Add 1 cup of fruit: banana, strawberries, blueberries, etc.
Add ¼ cup of juice: orange, etc
To boost your protein intake, add a scoop of protein powder. Other add-ins: flaxseed, wheat germ, honey or vanilla extract.
Blend until smooth

Check out these great recipes from EatingWell: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_smoothie_recipes

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Healthy Eating on a Budget for Athletes

We are all experiencing the budget crunch. Race entry fees are getting more expensive and food costs are soaring. Even though smart eating can seem difficult when you are counting your pennies, but it doesn’t have to be. With careful meal planning, shopping, and cooking you can trim both your waistline and your food budget. Frequent eating out can be disastrous to your pocketbook. (Spending $5 a day on a "value meal" for lunch adds up to more than $1,200 per year.) Even if you spend a little more on convenience items to make your lunches, you will probably save more in the long run. Here are some suggestions to help you get the most of your food budget.

Monthly Budgeting and Planning

• Plan meals and snacks for your family before you go shopping. Use the foods you have on hand first and use leftovers for meals during the week.

• Base your diet on the Food Guide Pyramid recommendations.

• Use coupons ONLY if they make items you usually buy cost even less. Always check newspaper ads or store flyers for weekly specials.

Shopping Strategies that Save Money

• Shop the perimeter of the store first where you’ll find the basics for a healthful diet (produce, meats and dairy) instead of stacking your cart with junk food fillers.

• Use the unit price to compare costs between brands and different sized packages. Divide the total price by the number of ounces to come up with the unit price per ounce. Choose the cheaper variety!

• Choose generic whenever possible. Check higher or lower shelves for cheaper items because more expensive items are kept at eye-level.

• Watch for mistakes at the checkout line and always double check your receipt and change.


• Buy apples, oranges, grapefruit, potatoes, onions, etc., by the bag, not by the piece—it’s cheaper and will fill more lunch bags and cover more meals.

• Always shop for produce that’s in season, for the best flavor and prices. Compare frozen and fresh produce; buy the cheaper variety; they are equally nutritious.

• When buying canned foods, choose those that are packed in juice and low sodium.


• Choose plain brown rice and whole wheat English muffins and tortillas.

• Check out the day old breads (a great value and still fresh).

• Buy cereals and other grains without fancy packaging (in bulk) to store in airtight containers. Oatmeal is nutritious, economical and can be dressed up with brown sugar, bananas, etc.

• Whole wheat pasta is healthier but more expensive than white, so use a little of each!

Meats/Meat Substitutes

• Ready-to-cook meats are more expensive (e.g. marinated boneless, skinless chicken). Buy plain and skin/season yourself.

• Even though it is more expensive, use 93% lean ground beef. You get more edible yield than higher fat varieties.

• Use canned fish and chicken for sandwiches, enchiladas, casseroles, and salads.

• Extend your protein dollars by eating two or more meatless meals weekly.

• Soups, stews, chili, and spaghetti with sauce stretch your food dollars further and make filling meals (more veggies and potatoes or rice, less meat).

Dairy Products

• Used dried milk powder for recipes, use fluid milk for drinking (choose skim or 1%).

• Buy block cheese and shred it yourself for recipes (versus pre-shredded).

• Use real foods instead of expensive supplements. Instead of gels, use hard candy, raisins, jelly beans or other sweet treats. Make your own energy bars rather than buying them. My friend Becca has a great recipe: http://selfconceptsrecipes.blogspot.com/2009/07/granola-bars.html
Instead of expensive protein shakes post workout, try real foods. You want to aim for a 4:1 ratio (carb to protein). Some great examples are chocolate milk, yogurt with low fat granola and fruit, string cheese and whole grain crackers, or cottage cheese and fruit.

• Buy gels and bars in bulk. Look for sales.

• Switch to generic vitamin/mineral supplements.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Train to eat: A plan for good nutrition

A good nutrition plan is important for fueling the body and investing in overall health. However, nutrition is the most commonly overlooked component in an endurance athlete’s training program. If you are like most Americans, you skip breakfast; work through lunch, and by late afternoon you are starving, so you buy a candy bar from the vending machine. You are so tired after work that you buzz through the nearest fast food drive thru. Many athletes become concerned about nutrition weeks or days prior to an event, but nutrition is an important part of their training year round. A good nutrition plan supports training so that you are able to train efficiently and effectively and improve your health and performance. Let’s get started. As you shape your diet, include these foods for optimal energy.

• Whole grains and starches such as brown rice, 100% whole wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn, and barley. Most athletes need 55-60% of their calories from carbohydrates to adequately fuel their muscles. This equates to 6-11 servings per day (1 slice of bread, ½ bagel, ½ cup cooked rice, pasta or cereal equals a serving).

• Fruits (think color) such as oranges, apples, bananas, and strawberries. Fruits improve healing and aid in recovery after exercise. Aim for at least 2 cups per day. A cup equals 1 cup of fruit or 100% fruit juice or ½ cup dried fruit.
• Choose dark, colorful vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, carrots. The recommended intake is at least 3 to 5 servings of vegetables per day. Most people rarely eat that much in a week! A serving of vegetables equals 1 cup raw or cooked, 1 cup vegetable juice, and 2 cups raw leafy greens.
• Protein for muscle building and recovery including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts. Aim for 0.5-0.75 grams of protein per pound. 1 oz (~7g protein) equals 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish, ¼ cup cooked dry beans, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds. Some top choices include: skinless white meat chicken or turkey, fish, lean beef (products with round or loin in the name), peanut butter, canned beans, tofu, and almonds.
• Dairy products for bone health. Try to get in 3 cups a day. 1 cup equals 1 cup of milk or yogurt, or 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese. Make low fat choices such as 1% or skim milk, low fat yogurt, low fat cheeses (part-skim mozzarella, string cheese, light cheddar cheese).

Not a big vegetable fan? Try preparing vegetables in different ways. We all love French fries, but have you tried sweet potato oven fries? Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamins B6, C and beta-carotene, as well as a good source of fiber.

Sweet Potato Oven Fries

3 large sweet potatoes, cleaned with skin on
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 375. Cut potatoes into 1" thick slices using a sharp knife. Place potatoes in large mixing bowl. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Gently stir allowing ingredients to be spread evenly over potatoes. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place potatoes on baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until tender and crisp. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Less is More

Thursday I had the pleasure of teaching classes for a diabetes program. I love teaching because it is a great opportunity to share my passion about nutrition with others. Diabetes is a big problem (no pun intended) in our county as well as across the nation. And it is mostly due to poor eating habits. I was explaining portion sizes to the class and someone in the class asked me if I measured out my foods. I told her that I did. Even though I am at my ideal body weight and exercise regularly, that is still not a license to eat whatever I want and as much as I want. I think that this is a myth that many athletes and even regular exercisers believe. If you want to be at or close to your ideal weight, you have to have an idea of how many calories you are taking in(at least for most people- there are a few that are very thin and have trouble keeping on weight). The problem is that our portion sizes have increased so much over the past 20 years, that we don't have an accurate idea of what a correct portion size looks like. There are a couple of great presentations by the National Heart Lung & Blood Institute called "Portion Distortion". You can view them here: http://hp2010.nhlbihin.net/portion/. Basically the presentation compares the portion size of a food item 20 years ago to today's portion. Then you see how long it would take to burn off those calories (based on a 130 lb person). You can see how easily a person could gain weight over time.
There are a couple of different tools that you can use to measure portion sizes. My favorite visual is to use your hand.
  • A fist represents a cup (for cereals, vegetables, casseroles, etc)
  • A cupped hand represents 1/2 cup (pasta, rice, beans, etc)
  • A palm represents 3 ounces of meat (beef, poultry, pork or fish)
  • A thumb represents a tablespoon (peanut butter, salad dressing, etc)
  • A tip of the thumb represents a teaspoon (butter, margarine, oil, etc)
Yes, hand sizes vary but if you are using your hand, that is a good start. I encourage people to cut back gradually. Make small changes so that it is not such a big adjustment. If you are used to going to Outback on the weekends and your steak looks like the size of two entire hands, please don't cut back to a palm's worth! You will be seriously undersatisfied. Cut back to 3/4 or 1/2 of that amount. Fill in the difference with low calorie, nutrient dense foods such as fruits and vegetables. Another visual that I like to use is called the Plate Method. Fill 1/2 of your plate with non-starchy vegetables (salads, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, etc); 1/4 starch (pasta, rice, potatoes or other starchy vegetables, and 1/4 protein (meat, chicken, fish, tofu, etc).
To measure portion sizes you can also use other visuals. Here are a few examples.
  • 3 ounces of meat is the size and thickness of a deck of cards
  • A potato is about the size of a computer mouse
  • A tortilla, pancake or waffle is about this size of a CD
  • 2 tbsp of peanut butter or salad dressing  is the size of a golf ball
  • A cup of cereal is the size of a baseball
  • 1/2 cup of rice or pasta is the size of 1/2 a baseball
  • 1 1/2 oz of cheese is the size of 4 stacked dice
If you are not measuring out your portion sizes, I would encourage you to start. You can also use measuring cups and spoons or even a food scale. Just remember, less is more.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

To Eat or Not to Eat- Before Exercise

Some of you might have seen the recent study about burning more fat by skipping breakfast. Article link: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-06-04-eating-exercise_N.html Hmm... most nutrition experts (myself included) recommend eating before exercise. Well, it depends on what your goals are. Unfortunately, it is difficult to make general nutrition recommendations because each person and their situation is unique.
Whereas the cyclists were able to burn more fat, their performance suffered greatly. So for competitive athletes, this is not a good idea. Especially after an overnight fast. In my opinion, you can find other ways to burn fat without sacrificing performance. Here are some tips:
Happy training and fat burning.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Post-Ride Pancakes!

This morning I decided to ride with the local Saturday group. It was a nice ride, challenging but not too hard. After the ride, as I was making my way home, I started thinking about what I would have for breakfast. Eating after a workout is so important, especially in that 30 minute window to replace glycogen levels. A combination of carbohydrates and protein in a ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 is recommended. There are commercial replacement drinks available such as Accelerade and Endurox but real foods and drinks such as chocolate milk, a turkey sandwich and pancakes work just as well.
Since my weekend schedule is more flexible, I look forward to making pancakes. And yes, you can make healthier pancakes- it is so easy. I use oatmeal for the base, but you could use whole wheat flour instead. I added 1 whole egg and 1 egg white to boost the protein content. Feel free to add in whatever you have on hand. Today I added raisins, walnuts, and carrots (like my friend Betsy says, get in your vegetables at breakfast!). I love adding canned pumpkin, but unfortunately it is impossible to find right now due to a bad harvest. This recipe makes 1 serving but you could easily adjust it for more.

Carrot, Raisin, Walnut Oatmeal Pancakes
1/2 cup oatmeal (use the instant kind- the texture is better for pancakes, cookies, etc.)
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 egg, 1 egg white
1/4 cup chopped carrot (I used a food processor.)
2 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp chopped walnuts
1 tbsp flaxseed
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin spice
thumb size piece of fresh ginger grated (if you don't have fresh on hand, then just use 1/4 tsp ground)
1/2 cup water

Mix oatmeal, whole wheat flour, flaxseed, carrots, raisins, walnuts and spices in a bowl. Mix water and eggs in a separate bowl. Whisk until foamy (this incorporates air which will result in a fluffier pancake). Add water and eggs to dry mixture. Let sit for 5 minutes to allow oats to soften. Heat pan on the stove to medium.
* A couple of tips and tricks that I have learned from my dad, the pancake master. First, get your pan to the right temperature. Second, be patient. Dad always told us that patience was a Godly virtue (we certainly reminded him about that:). Wait until several small bubbles form before turning over.
Top with syrup, honey, agave nectar or even vanilla yogurt. Today I decided to have syrup. Publix has an awesome sugar free syrup- it doesn't leave a funny aftertaste like some other brands. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Food Revolution- Lose your salt tooth

I recently heard about a health fair where someone brought a one year old Happy Meal to a health fair. It looked pretty similar to a fresh one. Visit the link to see a picture: http://consumerist.com/2010/03/this-1-year-old-happy-meal-has-aged-surprisingly-well.html. Granted this person was trying to sell Juice Plus, a supplement that claims to be the "next best thing to fruits and vegetables. So why not just eat fruits and vegetables! Well, anyway, I will save that rant for another post:). The 1-year old Happy Meal is high on the shock value, but if you think about it, it's no surprise. Even though Americans lead crazy, hectic lives, they better slow down and pay attention to their health.
Fast food is chock full of preservatives, including sodium. I was researching a presentation for a summer boot camp about fast food and was shocked at the sodium content. I knew it was bad, but when you really start looking, it is almost impossible to find something on the menu with less than half of the recommended daily intake. The American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines recommend less than 2400 mg per day. To put this in perspective, a teaspoon of salt (the size of the tip of my thumb) has 2000 mg of sodium. Why is too much sodium a bad thing? It can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. In addition, a diet high in salt content is often associated with weight gain. Moreover, recent research indicates that if Americans would moderately reduce their sodium intake, they would dramatically improve their health:
So what can you do to lose your salt tooth?
  • When I am counseling, I tell people that salt is an acquired taste. So they need to cut back gradually. Don't immediately go to salt-free products. Try reduced sodium products instead.
  • Try to consume more of your meals at home versus eating out. That grilled chicken sandwich from Chick-FilA might sound healthy, but it contains 1300 mg of sodium- more than half of your daily needs!
  • Learn to use other spices and seasonings to flavor your food. Acids like wine, vinegar, or citrus juices bring out the flavors in foods without using salt. Also fresh herbs, garlic, onions or shallots can help ease the transition to lower-salt cooking by waking up other flavors. Also, look for salt free seasonings such as Mrs. Dash.
  • Cut the salt in your pantry staples. It's no surprise that sodium is high in canned foods, but it is hiding in alot of other foods. Breakfast cereals, salad dressings, marinara sauce, and breads are some examples. Compare brands and make the better choice. Or you can also make your own. Check out this recipe for homemade marinara sauce. It's so easy and best of all, you can control the amount of sodium and sugar.
Homemade Marinara Sauce

1 tsp olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

4 fresh beefsteak tomatoes, chopped or 14 oz can of no salt added tomatoes

1 small can of tomato paste

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or red wine (optional)

Salt and ground black pepper to taste


In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion until softened, usually about 4-5 mins. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the remaining ingredients and cook uncovered for about 10 mins. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Let's start a revolution.... A food revolution that is

Obesity is a big problem, no pun intended. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon offering their solution to the problem. Recently ABC aired a mini series featuring Chef Jamie Oliver and his campaign to improve the health of the community in Huntington, West Virginia. This town has the highest obesity rate in the nation, although not much off the national average. If you didn't get the opportunity to watch this, you can view it online here: http://abc.go.com/watch/jamie-olivers-food-revolution/250784/254757/episode-101. I love it when he dresses up like a pea and the kids are chasing after him while he shouts "EAT YOUR VEGETABLES!" LOL.
Jamie's solution to the problem: get people to stop eating the processed crap and cook wholesome, fresh food from scratch. I agree with Jamie. There are so many additives including sodium and sugar in processed foods. You can make nutritious meals from scratch and they actually taste better!
I checked out Jamie's cookbook, Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals, from the library. The cookbook features recipes for all types of foods including seafood,  salads, curries, and desserts. There are lots of pictures to visually entice your appetite. Check out some of Jamie's recipes here: http://www.jamieoliver.com/.
The first recipe that I decided to try was for Chicken Tikka Masala. I love spicy Indian food. Here is the recipe: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1076321/Spice-life-Jamie-Olivers-hot-recipes-tasty-curries.html
Let's start a food revolution! Find some tasty recipes, make a list and go to the grocery store, and enjoy home cooked food. Your body will thank you for it:)

What's your favorite home cooked recipe?

Monday, May 31, 2010


I decided to grow tomato plants in a container garden. I chose Roma and cherry tomatoes. Last year, I couldn't get any to grow, but this year I have had a plentiful crop. This weekend I made several recipes including:

Roasted Tomato Salsa- this is super easy to make

2 jalapeno peppers
3 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup cilantro
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Chop tomatoes, jalapenos and onion. Place in a pan and roast in the oven at 300 for 20 minutes. Cool. Mix lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, and salt in a bowl. Add in vegetables. Enjoy with homemade tortilla chips. Cut corn tortillas into six wedges. Sprinkle with salt and cumin. Bake in the oven at 400 for 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Roasted Vegetables- this recipe has so many uses. I use the vegetables to make a pizza on a FlatOut Wrap. Or it would be delicious with pasta or in lasagna. You can add other veggies including eggplant, mushrooms, etc.

1 zuchini squash
1 summer squash
5 small Roma tomatoes
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Chop vegetables. Place in a bowl and add olive oil and spices. Roast in the oven at 300 for 30-35 minutes.


I love eggs. Scrambled, hard boiled, omelettes. I usually buy an 18 because I go through them so fast. I hard boil several to have on sandwiches or for snacks. I usually share the yolk with my dog Molly. Omelettes are a great easy meal for evenings when I get home late from a workout. Eggs are cheap and they pack alot of nutrition (http://www.incredibleegg.org/health-and-nutrition/egg-nutrients). One egg equals the amount of protein in one ounce of meat (3 ounces is the size of a deck of cards). The egg yolk in particular contains alot of nutrients including choline, folate, lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamin D. Half of the egg's high quality protein is also found in the yolk. For those of you that have high cholesterol, keep in mind that it is not the cholesterol in foods that raises blood cholesterol levels, but it is high intakes of saturated and trans fat. A 2007 study of 9,500 people reported in Medical Science Monitor showed that eating one or more eggs a day did not increase the risk of heart disease or stroke among healthy adults, and that eating eggs may be associated with a decrease in blood pressure. However, the American Heart Association still recommends that individuals with high cholesterol levels limit their intake to 200 mg per day. For healthy individuals the recommendation is 300 mg. A large egg contains 213 mg of cholesterol.
So anyway the impetus for this post was my lunch. I just got home from a bike ride with the Landsharks and I was starving. I was talking with my neighbor Jordan and she was telling me about an egg white wrap that she had at Starbucks. It sounded delicious so I decided to make one at home.

Egg Spinach Mushroom and Tomato Wrap
1 Flatout Multigrain Wrap (if you haven't tried these, they are awesome. Only 100 calories which is great for a wrap. Sometimes I make a flatbread pizza with them too.)
1 egg, 1 egg white (I am not worried about the cholesterol content but I do like to control my fat content)
1 medium mushroom chopped
small handful of basil
a couple of sprinkles of thyme
1 1/2 tbsp feta cheese
1 plum tomato
Handful of spinach
Spoonful of greek yogurt (I love this stuff!)

Chop mushroom and tomato. Add mushroom, basil and thyme to whisked egg. Cook omelette. Spread greek yogurt on wrap. Top with omelette, tomato slices and spinach. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Butternut Squash

I love butternut squash. I have a squash plant growing in my front yard and I am anxiously awaiting the harvest. 
Butternut squash is high in beta-carotene which has been shown to have very powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. For more nutrition facts visit, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=63.
I must admit, the first time I bought it, I wasn't sure how to cut or peel it? If you are planning to cut it in cubes to use in a dish, try this method: http://www.cookthink.com/reference/1040/How_to_peel_and_seed_a_butternut_squash?tag_type=&tag_id=

Try this recipe for a savory butternut squash risotto. This is based off a recipe from Cooking Light (http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1964004)

1/3 cup quinoa
1/3 cup amaranth
1/3 cup barley
(you could also substitute brown rice)
 1 onion, diced
8-10 mushrooms, sliced
2 cups chicken broth (I use Wyler's or HerbOx sodium free granules)
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt.
1/2 medium cooked butternut squash, cut in cubes

Saute onion and mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat. In a separate pan, toast grains over medium heat. Then add chicken broth, thyme and salt. Cook until grains are tender. Reduce heat to low and add onions, mushrooms and butternut squash. Portion onto plates. Add 1 tbsp feta cheese and 1 tbsp pine nuts. Enjoy!
Makes 3-4 servings.

Lunch: Greek Style Chicken Pita

I love Greek food, especially gyros with tzatziki sauce. I don't know of any Greek restaurants in the Lakeland area so I decided to find a recipe and make it at home. I found this recipe from Cooking Light and modified it a bit.

The recipe called for 4 but I modified it for 1.
1 whole wheat pita (I found Joseph's Flax, Oat Bran, & Whole Wheat pitas at Walmart- they are only 60 calories each!)
3 oz of leftover chicken breast (the size of a deck of cards)
2 small chopped plum tomatoes (from my garden)
6 cucumber slices
handful of spinach leaves

tzatziki sauce
1/4 cup of Greek yogurt, plain
1/8 cup feta cheese crumbles
1/8 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp lemon juice
sprig of mint leaves (from my garden)
1/4 tsp garlic, chopped
Mix together and spread on pita. Top with chicken, spinach, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Enjoy!

Breakfast Oatmeal

Breakfast. Most nutrition experts say that it is the most important meal of the day. I agree. It's like starting off the day on the right foot. I pretty much eat the same thing every day for breakfast- oatmeal. Yes, it sounds boring, but the potential add-ins are numerous. Make your own- not only is it cheaper, but you can control the amount of sugar, sodium, etc. Instead of adding sugar, try fruit and flavorings. Vanilla, maple flavoring, and almond extract are some of my favorites. Buy the old fashioned or quick cook oatmeal. They both contain the same amount of calories, fiber, etc.  
You can also change up your cooking method depending on your schedule.  During the week I usually make it in the microwave. But on the weekends I like it to cook it on the stove. Here are some of my favorites.

Today I had Vanilla Banana Raisin Almond:
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tbsp almond slices
1 tbsp golden raisins
1/2 banana
1 tbsp flaxseed

Directions: Turn on the stove setting to medium. Place oats and almond slices in pan. Toast until golden brown. Then add 2/3 cup water and 1/3 cup skim milk (add milk for creamier oatmeal). Add in raisins and 1 tsp vanilla. Add more liquid if desired. Cook until oats soften, 5 minutes or so. Spoon into bowl and add flaxseed and sliced bananas. Enjoy!

Maple Raisin Walnut
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 tbsp walnuts
2 tbsp raisins
splash of maple flavoring
1 tbsp flaxseed

Maple Raisin Walnut (with egg)
Some days I need a little extra so I add in an egg. Yes, the whole egg. Even though egg yolks are high in cholesterol, they are also high in nutrients (see website, http://www.incredibleegg.org/health-and-nutrition/egg-nutrients). Cook the oatmeal for 2 minutes in the microwave, then add in egg. Cook for an additional minute or so.

Vanilla Berry Almond
1/2 cup oats
1 tbsp almond slices
1 tbsp flaxseed
splash of vanilla
1/2 cup blueberries
3-4 strawberries, slices

Vanilla Cherry Almond
1/2 cup oats
1 tbsp almond slices
1 tbsp flaxseed
5 Prunes chopped (cherry essence flavored http://www.sunsweet.com/products/info.asp?product=cherry_essence)

What are your favorite add-ins?