Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Local Dairy

Last week I stopped by our local produce market Tommy MC's to see if they had any local fruits coming in now that spring has sprung.  I found some mini pink grapefruit and decided that since they were 3 for $1 I could not pass them up.  Understand, I don't actually like grapefruit all that much but figured Ryan would enjoy them.  I couldn't help but try one that night and to my surprise, they were Amazing!  Very very flavorful and full of juice; also not overly bitter or sour.  Since they are small I just peel them like and orange and eat it by the section. I went back and bought 4 more today.  According to nutritiondata.com 1 cup of pink grapefruit(about the size of a mini) contains 69kcals, 3g fiber,  and a whopping 142% DV for vitamin C.

As I was poking around in the refrigerated section I noticed these little bottles on the top rack.  They ended up being 8oz containers of low-fat drinkable yogurt.  Until this point I have avoided the drinkable yogurt smoothies especially those put out by Light & Fit.  I do this for a variety of reasons ranging from artificial sweeteners and colorings, to the fact that I don't like watery yogurt anyway, why would do I want to drink it?  The product is made by Sparkman's Cream Valley a locally owned dairy in Moultrie GA.  They do not use any artificial hormones on their Jersey Cows, and do their best to be stewards of the land by buying locally for the ingredients used in their yogurts and ice-cream.  The drinkable yogurt is the only product I have tried so far, but I definitely plan on buying their half & half for my morning coffee and trying some of their ice-cream.

I purchased the peach flavored yogurt and poured a small glass for Ryan and I yesterday morning before work.  It's thick and creamy like melted ice-cream but with that definitive yogurt tang.  The peach flavor was right on, probably due to the fact that they use real Georgia peaches not artificial flavorings.  It was not too sweet, however it does contain sugar and evaporated sugar cane juice.  Next I'd like to try the strawberry as well as the mango flavors.  Our only complaint was that it was quite frustrating trying to get the last sip our two out of the glass; it's that creamy.  For $1.48 plus tax here is what you get nutritionally in your 8oz container.  186kcals, 2g fat, 1g saturated fat, 36g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 22g sugar(I'm figured that approximately 13g is from the lactose the rest if from the peaches and sugar), 6g protein.  This comes to 0.008 cents/kcal.

While picking up some other groceries over at Publix I checked out the Stoney Field but did not purchase any.  A package of 4 6oz bottles costs $3.79.  Each bottle contains 140kcals, 2g fat, 23g Cho, and 23g sugar.  So fairly similar to Sparkman's.  This comes out to 0.0067 cents/kcal.  Just a smidge less expensive.

While not quite the perfect 4:1 ratio of carb to protein, these drinks could become a new standby for post workout recovery foods.  Most likely after a hard lifting session.  An intense run usually makes me avoid dairy for a good hour or so afterwards.  When it comes to traveling, this could be a good way to get some probiotics without having to pull over and stop to use a spoon.  I would also recommend them to people who say they are too busy for breakfast.  It's just as easy as cracking open a midmorning coke, but much much healthier.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Healthy Cook Off

 Yesterday at work I organized a Healthy Cook Off as part of NNM.  I thought people would be very enthusiastic about this activity, however I quickly realized that a lot of people 'do not have the time' or 'do not know how to cook.' It took a little convincing, but I did get several people to sign up after I printed off some simple, no cook recipes.

I entered banana nut muffins.  I took a recipe from my "Cook's Illustrated, The Best Light Recipe" cookbook.  I've been learning more about the use of honey in cooking and in health and decided to use that in place of the sugar.  I also used whole wheat flour instead of cake flour.  The end product was good, not great; but that's what you get when you take out 2/3 of the fat compared to traditionally prepared banana bread.

Not everyone remembered to bring their food, but in the end we had a great turn out of people wanting to taste our healthy recipes.

And the winners are... In third place we had a very close race between homemade turkey meatballs and fruit salad with coconut.  The fruit salad won by about 2 points.  Second and first place were also a very close race.  The pavlovas with fruit just barely beat out the low fat parmesan chicken soup for first place.  Both were very very good.  People were asking when we were going to do the next one!  Maybe for Thanksgiving we will have a healthy side dish cook off.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Growth, Revision, Evolution

My seeds are growing! In an effort to get more people using fresh herbs, we had a planting day at work where anyone could plant some seeds in little biodegradable containers and take them home for use in their gardens/kitchens.(part of several NNM activities) I planted purple basil and cilantro.  This weekend I was convinced they were not going to sprout. SURPRISE!!!! I came home from work yesterday and I believe the cilantro has sprung out of the dirt.  Now I just have to hope that I do not kill it.

I picked up an old Runner's Wold magazine this weekend (from September 2009) and found it entertaining how they had a new list of super foods/kitchen staples in an article titled 'Simply Good.'  Several years ago they ran a similar article that I cut out and kept.  It's moved with me from MN to IA to WV to GA and is currently stuck to the refrigerator.  The old list was titled "The Best Grocery List of All Time" and includes: Almonds, Canned Black Beans, Chicken, Dark Chocolate, Eggs, Frozen Mixed Berries, Frozen Stir-Fry Vegetables, Low-Fat Yogurt, Mixed Salad Greens, Oranges, Salmon, Sweet Potatoes, Whole-Grain Bread, Whole-Grain Cereal with Protein, and Whole-Grain Pasta.

The new "Runner's Pantry"as of 2009 should include: Whole Grains, Beans, Olive Oil, Long-Keeping Vegetables and Fruits, Fresh Herbs, Spices, Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Parmesan, Dried Fruit and Nuts, Eggs, Bacon, Canned Tomatoes, Sweeteners, Dried Mushrooms. Note that some of the items (bacon & mushrooms) are used more for their flavoring properties than their nutritional ones.

After flipping through several of Ryan's Men's Health from the past couple months; I didn't find any food lists, but many of the same foods were being used in recipes and in pictures: asparagus, green beans, broccoli, spinach, chicken, beef, fish & seafood, and garlic. It's refreshing to see this magazine evolving from their old 'Man a Can and a Plan' articles to teaching men how to cook real food.

I think it's interesting how many of the same foods continue to pop up on these super food lists no mater what publication it comes from.  It's probably safe to say that no matter how many times these types of lists are revised, whole grains, fruits/veggies, nuts, and beans will probably always be on them.  It's also interesting how dark chocolate has fallen off the bandwagon and so have fad fruits such as the acai berry and pomegranate.  Instead of picking specific foods, lists these days appear to be getting more broad and grouping foods together...much like a certain pyramid I know...

Mark Bittman, the author of the new Runner's World article gives several little tidbits on healthy eating. My three favorites are
+Think plants first
+Start shopping and cooking
+Don't confuse energy bars with real food

I'm particularly fond of the last one.  Of course, I have a feeling it encompasses all bar products including the SoyJoys and Kashi bars in my pantry.  This could also be said for supplements.  No pill or powder will ever replace the power of real fruits and vegetables.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Beany Burrito Bake

For super on Tuesday I made beany bean burrito bake.  The original recipe came from my Cooking Light cook book, however it has morphed into something mucho better.  Ryan actually gets really excited when I make it.  Here's the recipe, with pitures:

Finely chop 1 bell pepper, 1 medium onion.  (if you do not like the flavor of raw onion, take the time to sautee the onion and pepper in about 1Tbs canola oil.)   Finely mince a handful of fresh cilantro.
In a large mixing bowl combine 1/2 cup of sour cream (regular or low fat is fine, I used the real stuff), 1 can vegetarian refried beans, 1 can black beans drained and rinsed, 1 can diced tomatoes with chiles drained well, 1-2 ancho chiles canned in adobo sauce minced, the chopped veggies and cilantro.
For more depth of flavor I throw in a few dashes of chili powder, cumin, and paprika.

Preheat oven to 350*F and lightly spray a large rectangle casserole dish with cooking spray.
Depending upon the type of tortillas you use, they may need a quick blast in the microwave or warming in a skillet on the stove to make them pliable enough to roll.

Fill each tortilla with approximately 1/2 cup of the bean mixture. Roll the mixture up in the tortilla and place it seam side down in the baking dish.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas ( I fit 8 in my dish but had enough bean mixture to make 9)  Top with 1/2 to 1 jar of your favorite salsa, or you can even use just a can of diced tomatoes and 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar or jack cheese.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until heated through.

This recipe may take a little time to make; about an hour.  But if you have a friend, kids, or food processor it will cut down on the most time consuming part of chopping the veggies.  I have a feeling this would go over really well at a pot-luck or if you were having friends over to watch any number of sporting events. I made it during the afternoon, and baked it while cleaning up after Ryan and I's workout.  If you make it ahead of time, don't put the salsa on until just prior to baking.  It also tastes great as leftovers!  Top it with sour cream, more salsa, chopped cilantro and a lime squeeze, or homemade guacamole.

 1 Burrito: 308 Kcals, 8.6g Fat, 3.5g Saturated Fat, 4.2g Unsaturated Fat, 47g Carbs, 12.5g Fiber, 12g Protein, 1167mg sodium, 3.3mg Iron (16% DV)  Total cost for recipe $11, per burrito about $1.25 =0.0040cents/kcal

Compared to a Taco Bell Bean Burrito: 370 Kcals, 10g Fat, 3.5g Saturated Fat, 55g Carbs, 11g Fiber, 14g Protein, 1270mg Sodium.   Total cost: 99 cents plus tax= 0.0028 cents/kcal

Taco Bell may have beaten me by a few thousands of a cent, but I guarantee mine will fill you up and not leave you needing a large order of nachos or fiesta potatoes.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fast Food Nation

I finally finished reading 'Fast Food Nation.' I realize I'm a few years behind the craze, but we all move at our own pace.  Since there are plenty of reviews on this book already I'll just make a few general comments.
1) The beginning was good.  It really drew me in with the descriptions of Colorado.  The middle was dry with so much information I was overwhelmed and don't really remember much other than IBP stands for the Iowa Beef Processors now known as Tyson Fresh Meats.  The end picked back up and recaptured my attention.
2) It made me consider going vegetarian.  Not because of the conditions animals are slaughtered in, but the conditions the people who slaughter them work in and the treatment they receive when they are injured on the job.
3) I plan on buying more locally or organically when purchasing meat.  The practice of feeding animals other animals (cows to chickens and chickens to goats) disgusts me.  Other than the occasional bug, these animals are herbivores and should eat that way.
4) Maybe injected hormones and antibiotics infiltrate our milk and meat, maybe it doesn't...If we have to test products and worry about them causing problems in humans I'm not sure I want to risk it.  No one ever needed to test wild turkey or salmon for carcinogens and added hormones. (Until we started polluting, but that's another story.)

All in all it was good book even if it did get a little overwhelming in the middle.  I highly recommend it for people wanting to know just how big and powerful large companies such as Mc Donalds are when it comes to influencing where our meat comes from and how it is treated both alive and dead.  Other books  on my reading list:  Better Bones Better Body and Food Inc.

Lastly, when Mom was here the other weekend I introduced her to SheerBliss Ice Cream.  If you can get your hands on a can of it I HIGHLY recommend you do. Don't look at the nutrition label, just enjoy the amazing flavor.  The vanilla is so good it doesn't need anything to go with it.  If you think Ben & Jerry's or Haagen-Dazs is good, just wait until you try SheerBliss.  Because that's what it is.  Plus the cans are fun to collect.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ground Up

As mentioned in my previous post on Tuesday, March is National Nutrition Month.  I've been thinking about this years theme "From the Ground Up" and pondering what it means to me.  Originally I had visions of spring vegetables, farmers markets, and the herbs we will be planting at work tomorrow.  And then I thought specifically about the 'Ground Up' part and what came to mind first was my second favorite food, peanut butter.  I understand that there has been an insurgence of SUPER NUTS on the market; mainly almonds and walnuts.   But lets face it...a PB&J does not taste the same when made with almond butter.  From personal experience it also does not taste as good when mixed into oatmeal.  Instead of poo pooing the humble peanut lets focus on it's good qualities.  A serving (2 Tbs) contains: 188 kcals, 7g carbohydrate (3 of which come from fiber), 16g fat (4.5g polyunsaturated, 8g monounsaturated), 7g protein.  Don't forget it's vitamins and minerals it's a good source of folate, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium.  All very important for cell function and metabolism.

This years theme also makes me think of going back to our roots, or back to the basics.  So instead of buying peanut butter that has been adulterated such as Skippy, Jiff, or Peter Pan; try the all natural and organic kinds.  They have a much more 'nutty' flavor, with less salt and no added sugar.  Growing up Mom bought Real Peanut Butter.  Yes, Real was the brand name.  The ingredients were peanuts and salt.  It was the best PB ever, until the plant closed down.  Thankfully, Smucker's has jumped on the bandwagon and now I buy their natural brand PB.  Today however, I picked up a container of Publix natural PB, I believe they grind it in the store.  It tastes terrific, and since it comes in a flat, square container it will be much easier to mix up if it begins to separate.  I also keep a jar of Sun Butter in the fridge for those moments when I want something a little different.  It's just ground up sunflower seeds, a fellow dietetic intern introduced me to it.  It's delicious with orange marmalade.  I would keep almond butter around, however a jar of it around here will set me back a good $10.  So Ryan and I save that for our trips to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods in Atlanta.

So while almonds and walnuts may have more omega 3 fatty acids in them, I will forever be spreading PB on my sandwiches, waffles, pancakes, oatmeal, bananas, apples, and carrots.  No ants on a log for me though; I may be a dietitian, but I hate celery.

(I had a nice picture of our nut-butter collection, but my camera and computer are not communicating for some reason.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month, and March 10th is National Registered Dietitian Day.  This is the time of year when dietetic interns get lots and lots of projects assigned to them by their program directors.  Projects such as display boards, volunteering at soup kitchens, healthy cooking demos, and teaching girl scouts about trying new foods. (That's just a smattering of what we did last year at WVUH)  Seeing as how I am no longer an intern, I'm focusing my efforts on 2 different projects at the hospital.  This friday I've organized a 'planting day' where employees can plant herb seeds to grow and hopefully use in their home cooking.  This goes along with this years NNM theme of "From the Ground Up".  At the end of the month we are having a healthy cook off.  Recipes must include at least one fruit or vegetable and be low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium.  Unfortunately, I've only received two entries so far...

Besides hospitals you will find dietitians in WIC clinics, school lunch programs, college health clinics, working as personal nutrition consultants (example: me), weight loss and eating disorder clinics, lobbyists, doing research for health/medicine/new food products,  spas and resorts, sports teams, out-patient diabetes centers,  TV spokes persons, the list goes on and on.

My favorite part about being an RD is teaching people about food and how changing their diet will improve their health.  My least favorite part are the walls people put up and the massive resistance people have when it comes to actually taking our advice.  So for the next month, thank a dietitian for all the hard work they do.  I promise it will make their day!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Eating Local

My mom flew down to visit this past week/weekend.  I've had a great time showing her around town, discovering new places, cooking, and drinking lots of coffee.  The two places I wanted to highlight are The Bread House & Granary and Little Havana.

The Bread House & Granary is a small bakery run by Grace Way residents.  Grace Way is a non-profit, long term, faith based home for women recovering from alcohol and substance abuse.  The Bread House is Grace Way's for profit business which only employs women who have gone through the 12 step recovery program.  The bakery is another way to give these women structure and new skills for the future.  Their products use only whole wheat flour which they mill themselves, honey instead of refined sugar, and sea salt.  Mom and I sampled several different items including the pumpkin bread, Jalapeno Cheddar Loaf, and Chocolate Chip Sunflower Seed cookies.  I'm not exagerating when I say these are the best cookies I have ever tasted.  They are crunchy and gooey, perfectly sweetened, and completely addicting (.  I want to sit down with the whole bag, a big cup of coffee, and good book. After the Nun Run last month we got to sample the Cranberry and Blueberry walnut energy bars.  They were very tasty, Ryan liked them plain, I wanted a smidgen of butter on top.  Needless to say I will be going back and look forward to trying the cinnamon apple loaf.

Little Havana is a locally owned Cuban restaurant that just opened in the past two months.  Ryan and I had not been there yet, so it seemed like a good place to try with mom.  Mom ordered the shredded pork with onions while Ryan and I had the ropa vieja.  Dishes are served with cuban style black beans and white rice, and fried green plantains.  The meat was just delicious, well seasoned but not spicy.  Since it is a stew it stayed incredibly tender.  I enjoyed taking a fork full and placing it on my fried plantain and eating it that way.  Moms pork was also exceptionally flavorful and moist considering how simple the dish was.  For desert we tried the cheese & guava jelly pastry.  A fried turnover filled with what we believe to be cream cheese and sweet/tart guava jelly.  AMAZING!  Mom said the flavors reminded her of the food she ate in Brazil when she was 16.  The whole meal seemed like the perfect way to refuel after my 1/2 marathon; carbs and protein, yum.  Word has it they will soon be getting a special bread oven in order to make their own Cuban bread for sandwiches.  Sounds like a great reason to go back for more.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Banana Guard

I am the proud new owner of a Banana Guard.  What is it?  Its a hard plastic case that protects my banana while traveling.  My aunt from NZ sent it too me.  They are very popular in Australia and New Zealand with all the back packers, hikers, and outdoorsy types.  Apparently people all over the world do not like bruised and mushy bananas.    I took mine to work the other day, of course people see it and get the wrong idea... But once I opened it they thought it was a pretty good product.  I have no doubt that when the weather warms up and Ryan and I get to do some back packing and camping it will come in very handy.  Maybe they should invent one that holds several bananas, seeing as how 1 banana will only last through one snack and not a weekend vacation in the Appalachians.

Here are a few nutrition snippets about the very popular banana(based on a 7" to 8" fruit)
105 kcals, 0.4g fat,  27g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 1.3g protein

Besides potassium, they are high in: Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Manganese, and Magnesium.
Click here for a full nutritional breakdown.

While bananas may be mostly carbohydrate, they do not contain more "sugar" than other fruits as so many of my clients/patients seem to think.  All fruits are mostly carbohydrate, it really has to do more with how much a person eats at one time, and what they eat with it.  At around 100 kcals per fruit, they sure beat the peel off any 100 calorie snack pack.  Not only that, but their packaging is biodegradable!

Try bananas in oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, or on a grilled peanut-butter, banana, and chocolate chip sandwich for desert!