Friday, October 31, 2008

A Special Day

Me, mom, and Hil right before "step-off" at an LSU game

I originally sent this message as a TWL email on Mother's Day earlier this year when I was still living and working in Houston. Tonight marks 4 years since my mom suffered a brain aneurysm and passed away. Needless to say, Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays to celebrate (and on top of that, I am sick right now with a sore throat/ear infection and I always miss her more when I am not feeling well). However, tomorrow is All Saints Day...a day of celebrating those who have left us for the most perfect life in heaven...and she could not have passed on a more appropriate day. My mom was a Saint in more ways than one and I am so blessed to have had her in my life for 23 years. So in honor of my mom, here is the email I sent:


First I want to wish all of the moms reading this Happy Mother's Day! I hope someone fixes you breakfast in bed...that's what my brother, sister, and I always did for my mom on Mother's Day. I talk about my mom a lot in the TWL classes and most of you know that she had a big influence on my healthy eating habits. What a lot of you don't know is that my mom passed away 3 1/2 years ago. She was such a great person and I am so thankful that I had her in my life for 23 years...she had (and continues to have) such a huge influence on my character, personality, and values.

When I was younger I probably couldn't appreciate the fact that she didn't keep sugary cereal, Oreos, and candy in our house or that we could only have a Coke for a "special treat" (we actually used to ask her, "mom, could I have a coke tonight for a special treat?"). Now that I am older I can appreciate what she did for me!

However, sometime I think I see things about her and the way we ate "through rose colored glasses". If I really think back to it, we didn't always eat perfectly...we ate spaghetti with beef meatballs, pizza, hamburgers, and fried chicken tenders. She would occasionally bake a cake or make cookies for us...sometimes we would have a frozen store bought fruit pie after dinner (with ice cream). She would pick up Popeye's fried chicken and biscuits or order delivery pizza sometimes. And during the summer we would get snow balls (snow cones in Louisiana are called snow balls).

But, all of these things were occasional...and weren't readily available in our house. We didn't eat out a lot and my mom cooked on most nights...mostly things like baked chicken, pork tenderloin, or fish. We always had at least one vegetable with dinner and we didn't have dessert every night. This way, when we did have a "special treat" it was need to feel guilty.

That's how I eat now too...believe me I eat my share of dessert, beef, full-fat cheese, etc. (although I rarely eat fried food). Most of the time, however, I eat more nutritious foods...that way I can afford to have a treat.

So just remember, it's what you do MOST of the time that's important. Don't keep junk food in your's too tempting (so many parents tell me they have to keep it around for the kids, but the kids don't need it either!). Make it a family event and go out once or twice a month for ice cream, pizza, or another treat, instead. That way those "forbidden" foods go from being "bad" to "special".

Happy All Saints Day to everyone!

Me and mom on the beach in Atlantic City for the Miss America Pageant

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumpkin Butter

One of my favorite fall foods is pumpkin. Even though canned pumpkin puree is available all year, I rarely buy it except during this season. But once the weather changes and the leaves are falling, I can't get enough. Last fall when I was in Houston I made pumpkin biscotti, pumpkin oatmeal, and crustless pumpkin pie...all delicious and relatively healthy. This year I've already made pumpkin muffins and have several other pumpkin recipes saved in my "to make" folder: pumpkin dinner rolls, yeasted chocolate chip pumpkin bread, and pumpkin bread pudding...the muffins and rolls the healthy ones out of these.

Yesterday I made pumpkin butter...and guess what? There is no butter involved and it's fat-free. Just like apple butter (which is basically thickened apple sauce), pumpkin butter is sweetened and spiced pumpkin puree that has been simmered so that it gets thick and dark. It would be great on English muffins/toast/bagels or stirred into oatmeal for breakfast. For a snack, I stirred some into my Greek yogurt and loved it...very thick and creamy! I'm sure you could bake with it too...replace 1/2 of the fat in a recipe with the pumpkin butter (you can also do this with apple sauce and mashed bananas).

Pumpkin is fat-free and low-cal (1/2 cup = 40 calories). It's rich in beta-carotene, which can protect against heart disease and may reduce the risk of certain cancers. It is also a good source of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber (5 g per 1/2 cup).

Pumpkin Butter
adapted from and

Makes about 1 1/2 cups (24 tablespoons)

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree, approx. 1 3/4 cups
6 tablespoons apple juice
1/2 cup brown sugar (not packed)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Juice of half a lemon

Combine pumpkin, apple juice, sugar, and spices* in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently. Adjust spices to taste. Stir in lemon juice, or more to taste. Once cool, pumpkin butter can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

*1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice can be substituted for all of the spices.

Per tablespoon - 20 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 5 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 0 g protein

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What Does a Dietitian Eat? (Day 6 & 7)

I told you Saturday was game day...get ready for this:

Saturday October 25th
  • Breakfast - Oatmeal with pear, walnuts, cinnamon, and maple syrup; skim milk
  • Tailgating (10:00 am - 2:30 pm) - Roasted eggplant and red pepper dip with pita chips; Turkey finger sandwich; a few M&M's; Muffaletta wedge with Zapp's chips; Mini pulled pork sandwich; Cream cheese stuffed oatmeal cookie; water
  • At the game (2:30 - 6:00 pm) - 1/2 bag M&M's; water
  • Tailgating (6:30 - 8:00 pm) - Almond cookie bar; Blondie; BBQ pork sandwich; Mini pulled pork sandwich; Cream cheese stuffed oatmeal cookie; water

Are you scared/worried yet?

Sunday October 26th

  • Breakfast - Coffee with skim milk and sugar
  • Lunch - Cottage cheese; Iced latte with skim milk and fat-free condensed milk
  • Dinner - Apple; Huge salad from Whole Foods
  • Snack - Peanut butter toast

Comments: I'm human! I don't eat perfect all of the time! But eating like this doesn't make me feel guilty...I just know I can't do it very often if I want to stay healthy and in shape. It's about what you do MOST of the time...and I eat healthfully 95% of the time.

I'm not going to even try to calculate the nutrition info for the weekend...all I can say is too much sugar and fat, not enough fiber and calcium. It looks like a lot of food (and believe me it is...and there might have been more that I don't remember!), but most of the things were small bites or finger food.

The problem I have with game day is that I graze all day and never really get full or hungry...I stay somewhere between the two on the hunger scale all day. The food is all so tempting because there are lots of things that I rarely eat, but really like (cookies, M&M's, BBQ sandwiches). It would probably be a good idea if I actually fixed a plate instead of just picking things up and eating them. Grazing can be a bad thing at home too. It's always better to serve yourself a pre-determined amount and then put the rest away.

I always make sure that I eat a good breakfast (and lunch if it's a night game) so that I'm not starving once I get to campus. And I drink lots of water. I don't waste calories on the concessions sold at the game (except for the M&M's...its a superstition* - my dad, sister-in-law, and I have to split a bag after half-time at every game).

Not surprisingly, I wasn't very hungry the next morning. I had coffee before church and afterwards I still wasn't hungry. But I teach dance from 1:00 - 7:00 pm, so I needed to eat something. Cottage cheese it was (plus a iced latte...I needed the caffeine). I knew I was going to have a salad for dinner...its the best "get back on track" meal. Plus an apple!

I've gotten a lot of positive feedback since I've been writing about what I eat. I'll repeat this from time to takes a lot of work to calculate the nutrition info!

* Another superstition we have with LSU Football involves my cat. When I was a Golden Girl at LSU we wore capes over our uniforms when we weren't dancing. At least 5 years ago, my mom found a cape for an animal and since then, one of our cats wears the cape on game day (only for a little while, they hate having it on).

Me with Betsy


Sunday, October 26, 2008

What Does a Dietitian Eat? (Day 5)

Here is the fifth day of what I eat.

Friday October 24th
  • Breakfast - Muesli with pear
  • Lunch - Turkey sandwich on pumpernickel bagel with Havarti cheese, mustard, tomato, pickles, and lettuce (about 2/3 of the sandwich...Hil ate the other 1/3); bagel chips with light veggie cream cheese; water
  • Snack - Iced latte with skim milk and fat-free condensed milk
  • Dinner - Salad with chicken, butter lettuce, yellow bell pepper, feta, croutons, and oregano-Dijon-lemon vinaigrette; water
  • Snack - 2 cream cheese stuffed oatmeal cookies

Approximately: 1929 calories (33% fat, 20% protein, 47% carbs); 25 g saturated fat (12%), 163 mg cholesterol, 16 g fiber, 1165 mg calcium

My target numbers: 45 - 65% carbs, 20 - 35% fat, 10 - 35% protein (less than 10% saturated), at least 25 g fiber, less than 300 mg cholesterol, at least 1000 mg calcium

Comments: Fridays are my day off. I don't set foot in the dance studio and I get to run all of my errands. If there is a home LSU game on Saturday then I also bake...I always bring some sort of "treat" to the game for our tailgate party. This Friday was no exception. I woke up and went to the grocery store to get things I needed for the game and my weekend guests (my dad and Jessica, my dietitian sister-in-law) and then met my dad for lunch at New York Bagel. I love bagel sandwiches, but only eat them occasionally because it's a lot like eating a sandwich with 4 pieces of bread (plus they give you bagel chips...5 piece of bread!?!)

I didn't have 2 snacks like I usually do because I was planning on taste-testing the cookies for dessert. I'm also notorious for snacking on the batter as I make the cookies (I should chew gum while I bake!). Unlike on Thursday, I planned ahead.

The cookies were not healthy by any means, but I did make some healthier changes: 1) replaced some of the AP flour with whole wheat pastry flour, 2) eliminated 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup butter, 3) used 2 eggs and 2 whites instead of 3 eggs, and 4) used 1/3 less fat cream cheese. As a rule of thumb, I always remove a quarter of the sugar and fat when I bake (unless the recipe is from or another healthy source). I also replace a few of the yolks with whites and try to use part whole wheat pastry flour. Here are more healthy recipe substitutions. I didn't calculate the nutrition info for the cookies, so my daily nutrition totals are not very accurate (I used the nutrition info from Little Debbie Oatmeal creme pies...that's what the cookies remind me of!)

It was another high saturated fat day...Havarti, cream cheese, feta, and cookies made with butter. I need to try to pay more attention to my daily cheese intake and not let this get to be a habit...having cheese on both my sandwich and salad needs to stop.

Vinaigrette of the Week

About two years ago I printed out a recipe for a Chicken and Zucchini Salad. But then it got filed away in my recipe binder and I forgot about it. A couple of weeks ago I came across it again and decided to make it. Before I re-read the recipe, I thought it was going to be real chicken know the mayo-celery-chicken type thing, but it wasn't. I went ahead with my idea anyway, but replaced the typical mayo binder with the vinaigrette dressing. I swapped the mint for oregano because I have it growing in my garden. And to cut calories, I doubled the lemon juice and added more mustard. I made an extra large batch of the dressing (I think I doubled it) and as you already know I've been eating it like's that good!

Oregano-Dijon-Lemon Vinaigrette
adapted from

Makes about 1 1/4 cup (20 tablespoons)

1/2 cup lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh oregano (leaves stems) or 2 teaspoons dried
salt and pepper

In a blender, combine the lemon juice, garlic, and both mustards and puree until smooth. With the machine on, slowly pour in olive oil. Add the oregano and blend until smooth. Taste and then season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

Per tablespoon - 51 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 1 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein (exchanges: 1 fat)

So to make the salad, I seasoned 3 chicken breasts and 4 squash (a combo of zucchini and yellow squash cut lengthwise into quarters) with salt and pepper and grilled them. Once cooled, I chopped it all into bite sized pieces and combined it with chopped bell pepper, more oregano, and sliced green onions. I then mixed in the dressing, a few tablespoons at a time, until the salad was moist but not runny.

I've made this twice so far and the second time I used all yellow squash and also added chopped grilled green beans and diced tomatoes. This salad has lots of Greek flavors, so add what ever veggies you think will "fit" with a Greek meal. I serve it over a bed of lettuce and sometimes top with a little feta.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What Does a Dietitian Eat? (Day 4)

Here is the fourth day of what I eat.

Thursday October 23nd
  • Breakfast - Non-fat Greek yogurt with pomegranate seeds, almonds, and maple syrup; toast with peanut butter
  • Lunch - Half of a croissant sandwich with turkey, ham, mustard, lettuce, and tomato; 1/2 cup pasta salad with olives; 1/4 cup carrot and raisin salad; 1/3 piece lemon raspberry cake; coffee with sugar and half & half; water
  • Snack - Soyjoy bar (I don't recommend was a free sample)
  • Dinner - Omelet (3 whites and 1 1/2 yolks) with sauteed mushrooms, tomatoes, green onions, bell peppers, and reduced-fat cheese; salad with butter lettuce and oregano-Dijon-lemon vinaigrette; water
  • Snack - apple

Approximately: 1525 calories (40% fat, 18% protein, 42% carbs); 21 g saturated fat (12%), 423.5 mg cholesterol, 16 g fiber, 739.5 mg calcium

My target numbers: 45 - 65% carbs, 20 - 35% fat, 10 - 35% protein (less than 10% saturated), at least 25 g fiber, less than 300 mg cholesterol, at least 1000 mg calcium

Comments: This day is a perfect example of why it is so important to eat at home as often as possible. I was invited to attend the LSU Bengal Belle's luncheon yesterday at the Sheraton Hotel. It was a fun event - two of the football coaches and several of the players spoke, door prizes were given away (I didn't win anything), and vendors were selling all thing LSU. When we were seated, all of the food was already on the table: a turkey/bacon/ham/cheese croissant sandwich (lettuce and tomato on the side), pasta and olive salad (vinaigrette dressing), carrot and raisin salad (mayo dressing?), and a piece of lemon raspberry cake. Nothing looked particularly good, but I couldn't sit there and not eat. So I started with the sandwich and removed the bacon and cheese and only ate about 1/3 to 1/2. I had some of the pasta salad and a little of the carrot salad (the carrot salad was actually not bad...I'll have to do a make-over version at home...without the mayo). I made sure to save room for the cake, which looked really yummy. But it wasn't! I had a few bites and decided it wasn't worth it. The coffee was good but there was only half & half, and since I don't like my coffee black I had to use it (which made the coffee even better!)

So I did myself a favor by not eating very much at lunch. But, even though I only ate part of it, I still had over 500 calories worth of food (including 24 g fat and 9 g saturated fat). Just think if I would have eaten everything...1000 plus calories, more than 50 g fat, and over 20 g saturated fat.

The real problem, however, is that I didn't plan ahead for this meal or compensate for it afterwards. If I would have thought ahead that the meal I would be served would be so high in fat I wouldn't have had peanut butter with my breakfast. And I should have cut back on the fat at dinner time (dressing, egg yolks, and cheese). I wasn't over on calories for the day by any means, but I was over my limit of percent calories from saturated fat and total fat and also on cholesterol.

I was short on fiber and calcium. My breakfast usually provides the bulk of my fiber for the day (usually from oats and fruit) and a good amount of my calcium (from milk or a latte).

Remember a few days ago I said I don't eat a "low-carb", "fat-free", or "high-protein" diet...I try to eat a balance of all three because our bodies NEED fat, protein, and carbs, but healthy versions.

Healthy protein sources are those that don't have too much fat and saturated fat. This would include some animal sources:

  • chicken and turkey (breast meat, no skin)
  • pork (tenderloin, loin chop)
  • beef (top round or eye round, 95% fat-free ground, sirloin, tenderloin)
  • lunch meat (less than 3 g fat per serving)
  • fish (catfish, cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, salmon, tilapia, trout, tuna)
  • shellfish (crab, lobster, shrimp, oysters)
  • low fat dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese with less than 3 g fat per serving)
  • egg whites or egg substitute

And plant sources:

  • beans (all)
  • soy products (tofu, edamame, tempeh)

Nuts and seeds (including nut butter) also provide some protein, but are high in fat (the healthy kind) and should be eaten in moderation (1/4 cup nuts or 2 Tbsp nut butter).

Reduced fat cheese (3 - 5 g fat per serving) and full fat cheese (8+ g fat per serving) are also a good source of protein and calcium, and although the fat content might be high, its worth it to moderation (no more than 1 oz per day on most days). I'll trade fried food for cheese any day!

All of the fat in eggs are in the yolk, about 5 g in each. But not much of it is saturated (about 1.5 g) and its full of fat-soluble vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. So I don't mind eating the yolks on occasion. And P.S...if you buy omega-3 fortified eggs and throw the yolks out, you are pouring money down the drain!

And remember, its not that you can't EVER have high-fat protein sources...just not very often. Believe me, I can't live without a pot roast during the winter!

I Promised You Muesli

I adapted the muesli recipe so that it called for fewer ingredients (I omitted the flax seed and wheat germ). I also wanted to make single servings and not all 8 at once.

For the muesli mix, there may be a few ingredients that you don't already have in your pantry. I purchased small amounts from the bulk bins at Whole Foods, so that I wasn't stuck with a whole jar of wheat bran or bag of coconut/sunflower seeds. The muesli mix will keep in a sealed container for a while.

As for the second part of the recipe, the ingredients are more common. Any type of dried fruit and fruit juice can be substituted for the raisins and orange juice. Greek yogurt is the best choice here because of its thickness, but plain will be fine too (it may be slightly runny). Read this post on Greek yogurt and how to thicken regular yogurt. The honey could be swapped for any sweetener...I am on a huge maple syrup kick right now. And for the fresh fruit, use whatever you have and is in season.

adapted from Saveur

Makes 8 servings

1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup toasted*, unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
6 tablespoons wheat bran
1/8 teaspoon salt

whole rolled oats
skim milk
vanilla extract
orange juice
fat-free, plain yogurt (preferably Greek)
honey (or maple syrup)
other fresh fruit

To make the muesli mix: Put walnuts and almonds into a food processor and pulse to chop coarsely. Transfer nuts to a storage container along with toasted coconut, sunflower seeds, wheat bran, and salt. Mix well.

For an individual serving:
  • The night before - combine 1/4 cup oats, 1/4 cup milk, and a splash of vanilla in a small container. In another small container, combine 2 tablespoons of orange juice and 2 tablespoons of raisins. Cover both containers with a lid (or plastic wrap) and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight to let oats and raisins soften.
  • The morning of - Add the oat mixture along with the orange juice and raisins to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup muesli mix, 1/4 cup yogurt, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1/2 cup sliced fruit.
Per serving - 450 calories, 17 g fat (4.4 g saturated), 67 g carbohydrates, 9.4 g fiber, 16 g protein (exchanges: 3 fat, 1/2 protein, 1 starch, 1/2 dairy, 2 fruit)

Notes - Like I said, this is not a low cal breakfast, but it will fill you up the way breakfast should. I usually have around 400 calories at breakfast. Even so, I started thinking of how I could make make this a little lighter. The muesli mix is the first place to make some changes. Replacing 1/2 cup of nuts and 1/4 cup sunflower seeds with some type of wholegrain flake cereal (about a cups worth of something like Wheaties) would save 60 calories and 7 g of fat per serving. I would leave the coconut; it's a fat just like the nuts, but the flavor is worth it. I also think that using less sweetener would be a good idea...the orange juice, raisins, and fruit add their own sweetness. The honey may be completely unnecessary. Or you could omit the OJ and raisins, leaving only 1 fruit serving. I'm going to keep playing around with this one. By the way, did you notice the fiber content?

*If you've never toasted coconut, read about it here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What Does a Dietitian Eat? (Day 3)

Here is the third day of what I eat.

Wednesday October 22nd
  • Breakfast - Muesli with pear and strawberries
  • Snack - Iced coffee with skim milk and fat free condensed milk
  • Lunch - Cottage cheese
  • Snack - Apple
  • Snack - Wallaby strawberry yogurt
  • Dinner - Salad with chicken, roasted green beans, butter lettuce, yellow bell pepper, feta, and oregano-Dijon-lemon vinaigrette; water
  • Snack - Pumpkin frozen yogurt from TCBY!

Approximately: 1501 calories (25% fat, 22% protein, 53% carbs); 15.3g saturated fat (9%), 139 mg cholesterol, 18 g fiber, 1317 mg calcium

My target numbers: 45 - 65% carbs, 20 - 35% fat, 10 - 35% protein (less than 10% saturated), at least 25 g fiber, less than 300 mg cholesterol, at least 1000 mg calcium

Comments: I LOVE having muesli for breakfast...I'm going to post the recipe in the morning. I'm warning you, it's not exactly low-cal, but it is healthy! Here are 2 versions from and

The muesli really fills me up and with the iced coffee too, I wasn't very hungry for lunch. I knew I would be dancing from 2:30 - 6:30 pm and wouldn't be able to eat anything until after that, so I had a little cottage cheese to keep from getting hungry. When I got home at 9:30, there was a surprise waiting for me...Hilary brought me pumpkin frozen yogurt! I have been wanting to try it (I love everything pumpkin). It was delish!

My fiber intake was a little on the low side (for me). This is because I "skipped" lunch and just had cottage cheese (which has no fiber).

By now you have noticed that I eat late...I teach Monday through Thursday until 9pm. I can't follow that nutrition myth of "not eating after 6 pm". It doesn't work for me. However, I do stop eating 2 hours before I go to bed. I eat around 9:30 or 10 and usually don't go to bed until after midnight (I get to sleep in most mornings...the perk of being a dance teacher). The 2 hour rule, gives your body time to digest before you get in bed. By the way, nothing crazy happens to your body after 6 doesn't suddenly start storing fat like crazy. Having an eating cut-off point just helps limit the number of calories you eat during the day. So its not a bad idea to have a time when "the kitchen is closed"; but, if you have a schedule like me it might be a little later.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What Does a Dietitian Eat? (Day 2)

Here is day two of what I eat.

Tuesday October 21st
  • Breakfast - Muesli* with pears and strawberries
  • Snack - Iced coffee with skim milk and fat free condensed milk
  • Lunch - Chicken sandwich on an onion roll with Dijon mustard, bread and butter pickles, Havarti cheese, pear (yes on the sandwich!), and butter lettuce; water
  • Snack - Honest Foods Choco P'nut Butter Square
  • Snack - Apple
  • Dinner - Chicken salad (chicken, grilled green beans and yellow squash, red bell pepper, oregano-Dijon-lemon dressing) over butter lettuce with feta cheese; water
  • Snack - Cottage cheese with part of a frozen banana

Approximately: 1914 calories (29% fat, 22% protein, 49% carbs); 20.7 g saturated fat (9.7%), 181.7 mg cholesterol, 26 g fiber, 1317 mg calcium

My target numbers: 45 - 65% carbs, 20 - 35% fat, 10 - 35% protein (less than 10% saturated), at least 25 g fiber, less than 300 mg cholesterol, at least 1000 mg calcium

Comments: My schedule was a little off yesterday. I usually teach dance from 3:30 - 9:00 straight. However, I had an unexpected 1 1/2 hour break, so I decided to use the extra time for a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up a few thing I needed. I was looking at the energy bars (something I always do to see if there is anything new and interesting) and I noticed they had Honest Foods Choco P'nut Butter Squares...something I've been wanting to try. So my first afternoon snack was an impulse buy/eat...a little (250 calorie...maybe not so little) treat for the day, but definitely not something I will start eating on a regular basis (its basically junk food made with "healthier" ingredients...but with 4 grams of fiber and a whole grain as the first ingredient, I could have done worse). My planned snack was an apple (as some of you know, I always carry an apple with me), and I ended up eating it around 8:00 pm. Dinner was really good and filling and I'm going to post the recipe soon.

Because I had cheese twice, my saturated fat intake was higher than the day before, but still within the 10% range. It helped that the protein in my lunch and dinner were both lean (chicken has very little saturated fat - about o.3 g per 3 oz serving compared to 5.2 g per 3 oz serving of T-bone steak).

Notice that my macronutrient (fat, protein, and carbs) percentages were different from yesterday...a little more fat (29% vs 24%) and protein (22% vs 17%) and a little less carbs (49% vs 59%). Again, that's because I ate cheese twice which is mostly protein and fat; the muesli has a lot of nuts which are also mostly fat and protein.

I don't eat a "low-carb", "fat-free", or "high-protein" diet...I try to eat a balance of all three. Our bodies NEED fat, protein, and carbs, but healthy versions.

Healthy fats (unsaturated fats) are found in plants and fish: nuts, seeds, oils (especially canola, olive, flaxseed, sesame, peanut, walnut), avocados, olives, soybeans, tofu, salmon, tuna

I'll write about healthy protein and carbohydrates over the next few days.

And check back for the chicken salad recipe.

* The muesli I had for breakfast is loosely based on this recipe from Saveur magazine. Danielle, my Houston roommate, used to eat muesli for breakfast all of the time, but I never tried it. However, when I read about it the the Breakfast Issue of Saveur, I was intrigued. Danielle you must try this! I'll post my version of the recipe soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What Does a Dietitian Eat?

When working with clients, I get the question a lot..."what do YOU eat?" Whether the person asking is trying to lose (or gain) weight or just eat more healthfully, they are usually interested in what I eat on a daily basis. I admit, I'm sort of a health nut...I eat a salad at least once a day, start the day off with a whole grain, buy very little packaged/processed food, and rarely eat out during the week (that's mostly because I love to cook). There are, however, no foods that are off-limit to me. I will eat fried food, candy, cake, cookies, pizza, pasta, cheese, chips, movie theater popcorn (without butter of course), ice cream, steak, hamburgers...just not on a regular basis.

So this week I'm going to post everyday to let you know what I eat. Get ready for the Saturday post...its Game Day in Tiger Stadium and that means tailgate food and lots of it!

Monday October 20th
  • Breakfast - Oatmeal with pears, walnuts, maple syrup; skim milk
  • Snack - Iced coffee* with skim milk and fat free condensed milk
  • Lunch - Grilled peanut butter and banana/strawberry sandwich on white bread; water
  • Snack - Apple; hummus and whole wheat toast
  • Dinner - Salad with chicken, roasted green beans, butter lettuce, and oregano-Dijon-lemon vinaigrette; french onion soup with whole wheat croutons; water
  • Dessert - Fruit salad with a little strawberry yogurt

Approximately: 1651 calories (24% fat, 17% protein, 59% carbs); 9.8 g saturated fat (5%), 69 mg cholesterol, 22 g fiber, 1108 mg calcium

Comments: I try to stay around 1600 calories per day, but some days I may be a little lower and some days higher. I don't count calories, though. I try to think of food groups (click here to figure out the number of food group servings you need). For example my breakfast always has a whole grain, a fruit, a healthy fat, and a protein source... respectively for this day oats, pears, walnuts, and milk. If I'm going to snack, I try to only have fruit, dairy, and vegetables...iced coffee (dairy from the milk), apple, fruit salad with yogurt (broke the rule with the hummus...but its still healthy and a good source of protein and fiber). If I don't have a salad at lunch I try to have one at dinner...its the easiest way to get my veggies in.

The recommendations are based on the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) and are specific for age and gender. So I, a 27 year old girl, should aim for the following:

  • Percentage of total calories: 45 - 65% carbs, 20 - 35% fat, 10 - 35% protein (and less than 10% saturated fat according to the Dietary Guidelines)
  • at least 25 g fiber
  • less than 300 mg cholesterol
  • at least 1000 mg calcium

There are plenty of other recommendations for vitamins and minerals...these are just a few that I chose to mention. They are also all found on the nutrition facts label on all food products.

I encourage you to visit the Mayo Clinic's Healthy Weight Pyramid Tool (also linked above). Once you fill in your info, you can print out a copy of your complete pyramid and a serving size list. They also offer lots of weight management recipes.

* I found this recipe for iced coffee over the summer and I can't get enough of it! I use part coffee concentrate (the coffee your are left with once its strained) and part skim milk (instead of water) and sweeten just slightly with sugar or condensed milk (the fat free kind has about 60 calorie per tablespoon just like sugar). You could sweeten it with anything you like or leave it unsweetened. Because the the coffee is cold-brewed, it doesn't become bitter and tastes so much better. The recipe says it makes 2 servings, but I get more than that (I guess I don't like mine very strong). And the best part (besides the great taste) will save all of the money that you would normally spend at Starbucks or CC's (am I the only iced coffee fanatic that pays $3 plus for an iced latte or coffee?)

Until tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

If You Like Artichokes...

Every month when I receive my Bon Appetit magazine in the mail, I read through it and tear out any recipes that are interesting to me...whether or not they are healthy. Then when I make the recipe I decide if it needs any nutritional "tweaking". In September I found a recipe for Artichoke Soup with Pesto and knew I would have to make it once the weather got a little cooler.

Well, the cool weather has arrived and I made the soup...all I can say is its delicious and easy! (Unless you don't like artichokes...and in that case don't bother making it).

I made a few changes and used my own pesto (which I keep frozen in "pesto cubes"). You could also buy store-bought favorite brand is Alessi and I can find it in most stores near the marinara (some store-bought pesto is so the ingredients and watch out for those that shouldn't be there - you should find basil, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and salt). If you want to save calories, just leave the pesto out (my sister prefers it this way). One tablespoon of store-bought pesto has 50 - 75 calories and 5 or more grams of fat.

If you use canned artichokes, taste the soup before seasoning with salt...canned vegetables already have added salt (it might be a good idea to rinse them).

Make sure when you puree the hot soup, you don't seal the blender completely...leave the lid cracked to allow steam to escape, but cover it with a kitchen towel to prevent splattering.

I think the soup would be good topped with whole wheat croutons. Cube a few slices of whole wheat bread and toast on a baking sheet until golden brown. You could also follow this recipe and toast them in a skillet (I would cut back on the oil...maybe 1 1/2 tablespoons). Toasted almonds might be a good topping as well. I need a little crunch!

Artichoke Soup
adapted from Bon Appetit

Total Time: 25 minutes
Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 8-ounce packages frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped or 2 15-ounce cans, drained and chopped
2 1/2 cups (or more) low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
salt and pepper
pesto (good but optional)

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 6 minutes. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add artichokes and 2 1/2 cups broth. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until artichokes are soft, about 7 minutes. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth (see note above). Return to saucepan and thin with additional broth by 1/4 cupfuls if desired. Season soup with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls; drizzle with pesto if using.

Per serving (without the pesto) - 81 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated), 8 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 5 g protein (exchanges: ½ fat, 2 vegetable)


P.S. I'm hoping I get a good camera for Christmas so that I can take pics of what I cook and post them! Dad are you reading this?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Fall Weather Makes Me Want to Cook _______!

I hope you are all having a great weekend! The weather here has been so pretty...its finally starting to feel like fall! There are so many things I love about fall weather...good hair days (i.e. less humidity), enjoyable night football games, and warm comfort foods! I had chili last night for dinner and I made artichoke soup tonight. I've been cooking with butternut squash and sweet potatoes. I have pomegranates, persimmons, and pears in my kitchen right now. I also baked a fall ahead to find out what it was.

I passed my Adult Weight Management I'm officially certified. I didn't learn anything "ground breaking" new magic weight loss secrets to share! I did learn a lot of new counseling techniques and I will use them in the future. I have a new understanding of how and when bariatric surgery, weight loss medications, and meal replacements (bars and shakes) can be used in effort to lose weight. I also realized how FABULOUS San Francisco is and that I can't wait to go back!

The following recipes are going to help you with 3 suggestions I have:

1. Eat more veggies! They are low in calories and high in nutrients/fiber.

I am going to attempt to inspire you to eat more veggies...steamed broccoli and green beans can get old really fast. If you can find a way to make vegetables more appealing you will likely eat more of them and more often. At lunch and dinner, a good idea is to fill ½ of your plate with vegetables...this will displace other more calorie dense things (starches and protein) and help you consume fewer calories.

Here and here are some more veggie ideas.

2. Have a starch free lunch on some days.

Starch...meaning bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc. Salads at lunch are a good tip. If you have a starch free lunch (like a salad), you will have left-over starches when you get to dinner (that is if you count starches). And then you can enjoy whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, or a whole wheat dinner roll with the rest of your family. Another good "starch-free" meal is an omelet or frittata made with sautéed veggies, egg whites, and reduced-fat cheese (I love having omelets at non-breakfast meals).

The salad recipe for the week was emailed to me by a LifeTime Fitness TWL participant and looks really good. Its a spinach salad...I'm sure you don't need me to tell you how good spinach is for you, but if you want to read more about it and other greens, read this.

3. Have dairy (yogurt, cottage cheese, milk, or yogurt, soy milk, etc.) and fruit for snacks.

The recipe for "Very Berry Salad" looks really good. I make something similar to this every week; I make it ahead of time on the weekend and eat it all week. The fruit provides you with carbohydrates for energy and the dairy adds protein to keep you satisfied for longer!

Spinach Salad with Warm Maple Dressing -
  • Per serving - 164 calories, 12 g fat (2 g saturated), 12 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein (exchanges: 1 ½ fat, 2 vegetable)
  • Notes - I think this would be good with chopped red bell pepper and diced apple or pear…and add some lean protein to complete the meal (chicken, tuna, beans)

Very Berry Salad -

  • Per Serving - 83 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 20 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 2 g protein (exchanges: 1 ½ fruit)
  • Notes - Eat this as is, or for a satisfying snack, add some protein with low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese. This would be good with other types of fruit too…use what is in season (obviously berries aren't really in season right now, so maybe apples, pears, grapes, and pomegranate) and save money!

Asian Cucumber Salad -

  • Per Serving - 52 calories, 2.4 g fat (0.3 g saturated), 5.8 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 1.3 g protein (exchanges: ½ fat, 1 vegetable)
  • Notes - Keep the Asian theme, and serve with Soy Glazed Salmon (or tuna)

Baby Spinach with Pine Nuts -

  • Per Serving - 51 calories, 3.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 3.7 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 2.6 g protein (exchanges: ½ fat, 1 vegetable)
  • Notes - Serve with baked chicken or pork tenderloin

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower -

  • Per Serving - 67 calories, 4.2 g fat (0.8 g saturated), 6 g carbohydrate, 2.4 g fiber, 3 g protein (exchanges: 1 fat, 1 vegetable)
  • Notes - I've made this before and added a little whole grain mustard and lemon juice too...I was inspired by this recipe (but without all of the butter!)

Barley with Shiitakes and Spinach -

  • Per Serving - 172 calories, 3.3 g fat (0.9 g saturated), 26.7 g carbohydrate, 6.7 g fiber, 8.6 g protein (exchanges: ½ fat, ½ protein, 1 starch, 2 vegetable)
  • Notes - Barley is a whole grain...if you can't find quick cooking barley, just buy what you can find and cook it a little longer (pearl barley is easier to find and is usually on the rice isle or the cereal isle near the oats)

Broccoli With Dijon Vinaigrette -

  • Per Serving - 52 calories, 1.7 g fat (0.2 g saturated), 7.6 g carbohydrate, 4.1 g fiber, 4 g protein (exchanges: fat, 1 vegetable)

Brussels Sprouts with Pecans -

  • Per Serving - 82 calories, 3 g fat (0.8 g saturated), 12.6 g carbohydrate, 3.9 g fiber, 3.6 g protein (exchanges: ½ fat, 2 vegetable)
  • Notes - I love Brussels sprouts and get so excited when they are in season! If you've never had a shredded Brussels sprout dish, you should try this

Carrot Coins with Maple-Balsamic Browned Butter -

  • Per Serving - 86 calories, 3.1 g fat (1.8 g saturated), 14.5 g carbohydrate, 3.4 g fiber, 1.1 g protein (exchanges: ½ fat, 2 vegetable)
  • Notes - According to Cooking Light, this recipe tastes best when you start with whole carrots...the peeling and slicing should take you less than five minutes

Green Beans and Pan-Roasted Red Onions -

  • Per Serving - 66 calories, 2 g fat (0.4 g saturated), 10.8 g carbohydrate, 2.4 g fiber, 2.2 g protein (exchanges: ½ fat, 1 ½ vegetable)
  • Notes - The actual recipe says the serving size is 1/2 cup, but I think you should have at least 1 I doubled the nutrition info above

Quick Eggplant and Tomato Sauté -

  • Per Serving - 46 calories, 2.4 g fat (0.3 g saturated), 5.5 g carbohydrate, 2.1 g fiber, 1 g protein (exchanges: ½ fat, 1 vegetable)
  • Notes - This would be good over whole wheat pasta!


I love the fall because I love cooking with pumpkin. This weekend I made pumpkin walnut muffins (with whole wheat pastry flour) and they are delicious! This isn't the recipe I used, but Ellie's looks just as good! If you make them, freeze most of them (after they are baked) so you don't eat them all at once! You could omit the pumpkin seed topping or substitute walnuts or pecans. Make sure you buy canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling. Perfect for breakfast with a glass of milk!

Per serving - 205 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 32 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 5 g protein (exchanges: 2 starches, 1 fat)