Friday, June 28, 2013

Link of the Week: Diet and Risk of Cancer

It is amazing how many diseases develop over time due to poor eating habits. It's so hard to control what we eat sometimes because there are barely any immediate consequences...besides feeling sluggish after those fries. But when it comes to diet, you have to think long term. Will what I am eating now negatively affect me in 10, 20, 30 or more years if I continue to eat this way? What if I continue to eat the same amount while my metabolism slows with age? Am I armed with the determination and willpower to exercise more and eat less to avoid gaining excess weight?

This is why so often we dietitians stress lifestyle changes. Ryan and I have this joke when we come to the choice of an escalator or stairs. One of us will say "It's a lifestyle" and then choose one route or the other. Because it truly is a lifestyle. Do we look for opportunities to put a little physical activity into our day and temporarily boost our metabolism? Park a little farther away perhaps instead of circling the lot for ten minutes to find the closest spot possible? In addition to having an active lifestyle, it's good to cultivate a lifestyle of healthy eating. Crash diets are not lifestyle changes. They are stressors on your body. When seeking to lose or maintain weight, you must make changes that you can sustain for the rest of your life.

There are many different types of cancer caused by many different things and they are treated in different ways. However, you can reduce your risk of many types of cancer by being active and properly nourishing your body.

The following link is to an article on the website of Central Baptist's Cancer Center. It provides some great tips about physical activity, food, and supplements. I suggest you read it and take it to heart! Not only will following these guidelines reduce your risk of cancer, but they will also make you healthier and less disease-susceptible overall.

Over Power Cancer

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Semi-quick Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Yesterday I was craving ice cream and a smoothie just wasn't going to cut it. We didn't have any in our freezer and I'm not about to hop in my car and drive to Kroger just for ice cream (not to mention the fact that most of the brands sitting on those frosted shelves have a book-long list of ingredients).

So not wanting to break the calorie bank, I decided to come up with something myself. I was inspired by this recipe for a low-calorie quick ice cream, but I wanted to make a single serving and I wanted to standardize the recipe a little more. I toyed around with some ingredients and put them in the freezer and tried not to think about it for an hour and a half. It was frozen around the edges when I got it out so I blended it with some ice cubes and it came out like this:

Not bad. Certainly looks yummylicious.

But after ten seconds it looked like this:

And by the time I finished...I would have had to call it soup if anyone had asked me what I was eating. The ice cubes made it too bland and there was way too much liquid. Plus when I calculated the nutrition information it was a little higher in calories than I wanted it.

So I tinkered around some more and gave the new mixture a little more time in the freezer. I waited to eat it until today, but if you start checking on it after 4-5 hours, it should be frozen enough. The goal is to get it frozen solid if possible.

I know you're thinking...that's not quick!! But here's what you could do. Make a bunch of single servings and freeze them so whenever you want one you can pull it out!

Here's my final recipe:

Semi-quick Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Makes 1 serving

1/4 banana
1/2 cup unsweetened plain or vanilla almond or soy milk
1/2 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 tbsp chocolate chips (mini if you have 'em)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp instant expresso (optional...but tasty!)
1/2 tsp maple syrup (you can use 1/2 packet stevia instead if you wish...)
1 teensy pinch of salt

Mash the quarter of a banana in a freezer-safe container. (I always keep frozen bananas cut up into fourths in my freezer for smoothies and occasions such as this.) Add the other ingredients and whisk. Freeze for at least 4 hours. Thaw for a few seconds in the microwave until you can get it to slide out in a few chunks. Blend. (I used my Big Boss individual size blender...which is awesome and I would recommend to anyone.) Enjoy!

You could easily multiply this recipe by how many servings you want to make.

And it turned out like this! And it stayed like that until I finished consuming it. It was also the perfect amount of sweetness and just peanut buttery and chocolatey enough.

Nutrition Facts
  1 Serving
Amount Per Serving

  Calories 140.8  
  Total Fat 7.4 g     
    Saturated Fat 1.9 g     
    Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g     
    Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g  
  Cholesterol 0.0 mg  
  Sodium 192.9 mg  
  Potassium 199.1 mg  
  Total Carbohydrate 15.7 g     
    Dietary Fiber 1.8 g     
    Sugars 10.0 g  
  Protein 2.8 g

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Loafing Around: An adventure in bread

When life hands you lemons...well you know the rest. But what about when life hands you a broken air conditioner? Make yeast bread! This is what I decided yesterday when I was sweating in my sauna (aka house) waiting for various heating and air companies to call me back.

So I leafed through one of my favorite bread cookbooks and found a recipe to play with. Despite my belief that 82 degrees would be the ultimate rising didn't double in size. I did go a little crazy with the whole wheat flour and wheat bran. But it still ended up pretty darn tasty...especially smothered in peanut butter for my breakfast this morning!

One warning. This recipe will use almost every one of your measuring cups. Don't ask me why I did that. It wasn't on purpose, I promise.

Whole Wheat Bread
Makes 1 loaf (about 10 servings)

1 1/4 cups white bread flour
1 3/4 cup whole wheat bread flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup wheat bran
2/3 cup lukewarm water (you may need more...depending on a lot of things)
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp molasses

These are the bread flours I prefer to use:
Weisenberger Mills Whole Wheat Bread Flour
White Lily White Bread Flour

And this is what I use for wheat bran. It's great to throw in baked goods.
Bob's Red Mill Wheat Bran

1. Mix the flours and salt in a bowl. 
2. Stir in the yeast and wheat bran. 
3. Make a well in the middle and add the water, yogurt, oil, and molasses. Stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together. Add more water 1 tbsp at a time, if needed.
4. Turn out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for about 10 minutes.
5. Spray a bowl with cooking spray. Shape the dough into a ball and put it in the bowl. Cover with a damp dish towel and leave in a warm place.

Now leave the floury mess on your counter because you'll need it again and do something for 1-2 hours. Like read my blog! :)

6. Brush a cookie sheet with oil.
7. Turn the dough out onto the floured counter (glad you didn't wipe it up now?), punch it for fun, and knead for about a minute.
8. Shape into a ball and put on the cookie sheet.
9. Cover with the damp dish towel and let rise for another 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees while you're waiting.

10. Slash the loaf how you want and bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown.
11. Transfer to wire rack to cool and don't cut into it for at least 10-15 minutes so it can finish cooking in the middle!

For some reason it reminds me of Jabba the Hutt.

Nutrition Facts
  10 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 166.8  
Total Fat 3.5 g     
  Saturated Fat 0.3 g     
  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0 g     
  Monounsaturated Fat 1.7 g  
Cholesterol 0.5 mg  
Sodium 238.7 mg  
Potassium 59.8 mg  
Total Carbohydrate 29.2 g     
  Dietary Fiber 3.6 g     
  Sugars 0.5 g  
Protein 6.2 g

You could easily make the servings smaller if you like. I just happened to slash the bread so it naturally fell into 10 servings. Enjoy!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Link of the Week: Calorie Calculator

Today I am linking to a site that uses the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation to estimate how many calories you need per day. I like this one because it shows you not only how many calories you need to maintain your weight, but also how many calories you need to consume in order to gain or lose 1-2 lb per week.

Now, keep in mind that everyone is different. This equation is generally accurate, but since you have to average your activity level and your metabolism may be slower or faster than normal it may not be exactly right for you. Be sure to take into consideration the amount of calories you are currently eating and how that is affecting your weight.

Calorie Calculator

If you are actually going to be tracking calories, I recommend getting a profile with a site like MyFitnessPal. This website is a wonderfully easy way to track how much you eat compared with how much you should eat and it also has an app!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Dietitian's Plate: At Home

I thought it would be fun to let you in on how I eat by every once in a while posting pictures of everything I ate in a day. This is to show you how I work with what I have to eat healthfully.  To start, I'm just showing you a day where I happened to eat everything at home. Eventually, I would like to blog about days on the road or days when I have to pack lunches and so on.

So when I'm deciding what to eat for a meal, the main things I consider are:
1) does it contain at least three of the five food groups (grains, dairy, protein, vegetables, and fruit)?
2) does it contain a decent amount of protein?

I don't normally count calories unless I notice that a few pounds have crept back on and I need to get back on track. It's good to count calories for a couple days every now and then to make sure that your intuition about how much you should eat is accurate!

When I'm deciding what to eat for a snack, the main thing I consider is whether or not it contains both a carb and a protein food.

Unfortunately, these photos seem to be a bit blurry. I'll try to use Ryan's camera next time instead of my ancient iPhone 4.

So here's breakfast:
Whole grain toast, scrambled eggs with spinach, a kiwi, and a tall glass of water.
Four food groups and about 20 g of protein.

Three hours later, I ate lunch (leftovers...yeah):
Skinless/boneless chicken thigh, salad, roasted potatoes, a homemade muffin, and a tall glass of water.
Three food groups and about 20 g protein.

Five hours later, I had a snack:
An apple and plain nonfat Greek yogurt with strawberry jam.
Carb (apple) and protein (yogurt)

Two hours later, I had dinner!
Tuna Salad Ni├žoise from Cooking Light and crackers with Brie cheese
Four food groups and about 30 g protein.

And dessert.
Vanilla ice cream (half the fat) and mini chocolate chips.

So now you know how I go about eating healthfully in my daily life! Hope it's given you a little inspiration for your own diet.

Monday, June 17, 2013

How to Read a Nutrition Label

Navigating the back of a package of food can be a bit troublesome for some folks. (And no, I'm not talking about those games on cereal boxes.) Nutrition facts labels have so many numbers and percentages that it's very easy to get confused. But it's essential to know how to read them so you can judge the product for yourself instead of blindly believing whatever health claims they make on the front of the package. That's why I am here to clue you in on how to interpret the dang thing!

We'll start at the top of the label.

Using this lovely label from a cracker box, you can see it first lists Serving Size and Servings Per Container. This part is very is the key to interpreting the rest of the label, in fact. All of the rest of the information on the label is for ONE serving size, not the entire package. Lots of food items will try to trick you here. Some packages that look as if they are meant to be eaten or drunk as one serving are actually 1.5 or 2 servings or more. If you don't believe me, google the nutrition label for a 20 oz bottle of pop! So 1 serving here is 5 crackers. And there are about 5 x 28 crackers in the box.

Next we look at the Calories. Notice this is right under the text "Amount Per Serving." In this case, 5 crackers have 80 calories. Next to it we find that 40 of these 80 calories come from fat.

Traveling on down we see that there are 4.5 g of Fat per serving. Then you see a bunch of indented lines. Because these are indented, it means that these values are included in the total above it. It is simply telling us what those 4.5 g of fat are. So we see that 1 g is Saturated fat (try to limit this). There are 0 g of Trans fat (try to never have any of this). There are 1.5 g of Polyunsaturated fat and 2 g of Monounsaturated fat (these fats are healthier than saturated fats). So voila...we have our 4.5 g of fat.

Next comes Cholesterol. It's best to try to limit your intake of this to about 300 mg per day, on average. If you have issues with your cholesterol, it's recommended to keep your intake below 200 mg.

Then there's Sodium. Even people who have not been told to watch their sodium should still try to keep their sodium intake to less than 2,400 mg per day. If the food item has 400 mg or more of sodium per serving, that's considered pretty high.

Then we find our friends the carbohydrates. This part of the label is like the part listing the fat types. The two indented lines underneath Total Carbohydrate are included in this total. So here we have 9 g of carbs total and one of these grams is Sugar and less than one of these grams is Fiber, leaving about 7.5 g of other assorted types of carbs. When you consume carbohydrate-containing foods, it's best to have a good amount of fiber...preferably at least 2-3 g per serving.

Finally, there's good ol' Protein. I try to get at least 15-20 g of protein per meal.

Next you see a bunch of vitamins and minerals! Every label displays a different number of these. It's best to eat foods that are high in vitamins and minerals...but this usually means they are whole foods that don't come with a nutrition label.

But what about all that stuff on the right side and at the bottom? The % Daily Value numbers are (as it says at the bottom of the label) based on a 2000 calorie-per-day diet. So for instance, if you need 2000 calories a day, then eating one serving of these crackers is about 7% of your daily allotment of fat. However, I rarely pay attention to these values because everyone's calorie needs are different. You likely need either more or less than 2000 calories. Check back here on Friday for a link to a website that will calculate your estimated calorie needs!

I'll leave you with this helpful image that summarizes everything quite nicely. Please comment if you have any questions!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Link of the Week: What Are Dietitians Anyway?

It's ok. Most people I talk to do not know what exactly a dietitian is. So today's link (the first of a series of links I plan to post once a week about topics regarding food and nutrition) is to an article in the Washington Post that explains what a dietitian is, how they are different from nutritionists, and how they can help you. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

New Food of the Month-Spinach Kiwi Smoothie

There's something about 90 degree days that makes you want to give up all hot foods with a Lent-like passion. In perspiring desperation, many people turn to smoothies. With the desire to start posting about one new food I try every month as my motivation and this recipe from Cooking Light as my inspiration, I developed this surprisingly tasty and refreshing concoction as my own way to beat the heat!

Now, believe me, even as a dietitian I was not among the first to jump on the veggie smoothie bandwagon...hence this being classified as a "new food" for me. However, it is an excellent way to pack an extra serving of vegetables into your day!

The primary ingredients of this recipe are spinach and if it helps, just tell yourself it's green because of the kiwi. At least that's what I did. I used some spinach I had purchased at the farmers' market and a probably not quite ripe kiwi. But it turned out for the best, because the tartness of the kiwi ended up as the most prominent flavor, masking any earthy greeniness (which I do like tasting in salads...but not in smoothies).

Spinach-Kiwi Smoothie
Serves 1

1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 rather large handful of spinach
1 kiwi, peeled and chopped haphazardly
1/4 cup milk of choice (I used plain nonfat soy...less calories than skim but more protein than almond)
3-4 ice cubes
1/4 banana (preferably frozen)
Sweetener of choice (I used a packet of Stevia to keep it if you use sugar, agave, or honey just remember to add those calories and carbs to the total I have below for accurate nutrition info)

Place in blender. Blend.
(Do I really need to give you instructions on how to blend a smoothie?)

Nutrition Facts

User Entered Recipe
  1 Serving
Amount Per Serving
  Total Fat1.0 g
     Saturated Fat0.1 g
     Polyunsaturated Fat0.5 g
     Monounsaturated Fat0.2 g
  Cholesterol2.5 mg
  Sodium94.7 mg
  Potassium734.0 mg
  Total Carbohydrate23.7 g
     Dietary Fiber4.6 g
     Sugars6.6 g
  Protein9.9 g
  Vitamin A90.0 %
  Vitamin B-1212.5 %
  Vitamin B-616.3 %
  Vitamin C149.7 %
  Vitamin D7.5 %
  Vitamin E8.9 %
  Calcium20.4 %

Check out that vitamin A and calcium! Some fiber even snuck in there. There's a decent amount of could add more yogurt to up that number a bit. But all in all, a wonderful snack that I will repeat soon!

P.S. Ryan even gave it the thumbs up! :) That's success in my book.