Friday, February 20, 2009

Omega 3's...what you need to know

You've probably heard of them...Omega 3's...they are a hot item in the nutrition world and food industry these days. Lots of products are being fortified (milk, eggs, yogurt, mayonnaise, bread to name a few) and you may know someone taking fish oil supplements...all in the name of omega 3's. But how much do you really know about them??? Here is a summary to get you up to speed.

What are they: Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that we need in our diet. The three most nutritionally important omega 3's are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). We can not make ALA and must get it through food/supplements. However, our bodies can convert the ALA from our diet into the other 2 - EPA and DHA.

Why you need them: Omega 3's can help lower blood pressure, lower blood triglycerides, and prevent cardiovascular disease...heart attack and stroke (there are other possible benefits too, but more scientific evidence is needed to be sure).

Where you get them: ALA - flaxseed, walnuts (and walnut oil), soybeans, canola oil, and some dark green leafy vegetables; EPA and DHA - mostly from cold-water fish including salmon, tuna, halibut, and herring (and certain types of algae...yum!)

How do I get enough omega 3's? I eat walnuts and flaxseed (ground) in my oatmeal, sometimes use walnut oil when making salad dressing, put walnuts on my salad, cook with canola oil, and try to eat fish (salmon and tuna) often...I could probably do this more! (the American Heart Association recommends fish 2 times per week) I also eat lots of dark green leafy vegetables.

Here is an article on fish oil supplements, omega 3's in the supermarket, and omega 3's in general. For more info you can read this too.

All of the following recipes use salmon/flax/walnuts...enjoy! Dad, this is right up your alley...maybe for a date night??

Alaska Salmon and Three Bean Salad -
  • Per serving - 382 calories, 17 g fat (3 g saturated), 27 g carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 28 g protein (exchanges: 3 ½ fat, 3 ½ protein, 1 starch, 2 vegetable)
  • Notes - I would probably add more than 12 cherry tomatoes; you could use Dijon mustard too

Salmon Teriyaki Skewers with Pineapple -

  • Per serving - 273 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 29 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 26 g protein (exchanges: 1 fat, 4 protein, ½ starch, 1 fruit)
  • Notes - I only used 2 teaspoons (not tablespoons) of oil to save calories...and I used sesame, but canola would work too; I used rice wine vinegar (which I always have on hand) as opposed to the mirin; I would probably use ½ of a pineapple and add red bell peppers to the skewers instead; keep an eye on the salmon…you don’t want to overcook it!

Grilled Salmon with Mustard Sauce -

  • Per serving - 236 calories, 8.5 g fat (1 g saturated), 3 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 36 g protein (exchanges: 1 ½ fat, 5 protein)

Salmon with Sweet & Spicy Rub -

  • Per serving - 280 calories, 13 g fat (2 g saturated), 5 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 34 g protein (exchanges: 2 ½ fat, 5 protein)
  • Notes - You could serve this with Herbed Lentils with Spinach and Tomatoes; instead of grilling you could use the broiler

One-Pot Salmon with Snap Peas and Rice -

  • Per serving - 418 calories, 9 g fat (1 g saturated), 49 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 32 g protein (exchanges: 2 fat, 2 ½ starches, 4 protein, ½ vegetable )
  • Notes - If you make this recipe with brown rice instead of white (which would be a good idea), make sure you cook the rice according to the package will take more water and cooking time; don't use instant will turn mushy

Oatmeal with Apples, Hazelnuts, and Flaxseed -

  • Per serving - 258 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated), 36 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 10 g protein (exchanges: 1 ½ fat, 2 ½ starches, ½ milk, ½ fruit)
  • Notes - If you're like me and aren't a big fan of hazelnuts, just substitute with any other nut (maybe walnuts to boost the omega 3's!)

Morning Glory Muffins -

  • Per serving - 186 calories, 4 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 35 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 4 g protein (exchanges: 1 fat, 2 ½ starches, ½ fruit)
  • Notes - This would be a perfect breakfast if you added a glass of milk or 6 oz of yogurt (for a little protein!) and a piece of fruit…all for around 325 calories!; freeze leftover muffins so you have them on-hand for a quick breakfast; I bake with whole wheat pastry's a little "softer" than regular whole wheat flour; the wheat bran is optional


Happy Mardi Gras!!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas

I've been making these enchiladas for several years now, and every time I make them I do something a little ever evolving recipe. I've shared the recipe with several people including Hilary, my non-cooking sister, and Mel, who is a busy mother of 5 children (well 9 if you count me, my brother, my sister-in-law, and Hil).

Before I moved to Houston, Hilary and I lived together and I did all of the cooking. When I moved, I left her a packet of easy-to-make recipes and this was one of them. And believe it or not, she actually made the enchiladas several times.

So I knew these were easy to make, and I knew they were relatively healthy (I adapted the recipe from, but I wasn't sure what the nutritional content per enchilada was going to be.

About two weeks ago I prepared them with the help of a 14 year old...and she did most of the work. So if Hilary can make these, and a 14 year old can make these, anyone can!

For the enchiladas I take advantage of several convenience products...a store-bought rotisserie chicken, salsa, tortillas, and pre-shredded cheese. All you have to do is chop and saute a few veggies (you knew there were going to be veggies involved!), shred the chicken, blend the sauce, and assemble. Easy!

And an added bonus? They are delicious!

Chicken Enchiladas
created by me!

makes 10 servings (1 enchiladas each)

1 store bought rotisserie chicken, shredded (bones and skin discarded)
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (I used a red one)
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 24 oz jar salsa
½ cup skim milk
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped (the cilantro is optional but worth it!)
8 oz reduced-fat cheese (I used a Mexican blend, but cheddar or Jack would be good too)
10 8" whole wheat tortillas (the closer to 100 calories, the better)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until warmed. Set aside to cool slightly.

To prepare sauce, in a blender or food processor (I like using a blender) combine salsa, milk, and cilantro. Blend thoroughly.

To assemble, spread about 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of a 11 x 7 baking dish. Warm tortillas in the microwave for 30 second intervals until softened. Spoon ½ cup of chicken filling in center of tortilla and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of cheese. Roll tortilla tightly by hand and place in baking dish, seam-side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.

Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas; use back of spoon to spread sauce so it coats top of each tortilla. Sprinkle with remaining cheese (you should have about ¾ cup left). Cover baking dish with foil. Bake enchiladas until heated through and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.

Per serving (1 enchilada*) - 293 calories, 8 g fat (4 g saturated), 32 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 22 g protein (exchanges: 1 ½ starch, ½ vegetable, 2 ½ protein, 1 ½ fat)

Notes - If you can find tortillas that are lower in calories, use them...the ones I bought were whole wheat and 140 calories apiece; I wouldn't worry too much about finding whole wheat ones...they aren't that much healthier and ALL tortillas you find in the grocery store are SO processed (I mean does it really take over 30 ingredients to make a tortilla???) - I'm spoiled from living Houston where you can find fresh, homemade tortillas that actually taste good!; corn tortillas would be a good option too

*Honestly, I ate 2 (1 just wasn't enough!)...if you find tortillas that are around 100 calories apiece, then each enchilada will have 250 calories; so 2 would be about 500 calories, which I don't think is too much!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Newest Addition...

I finally got a camera! On Saturday after I had an incredible brunch at Another Broken Egg (which included COFFEE, a biscuit, veggie/egg white omelet, and hash browns) I went to Kadair's to purchase a camera. I ended up purchasing on Olympus Stylus 1020.

I've been playing with it to try and improve my photography skills (I have none!). Here's what I've come up with so far:

Chicken Enchiladas
(recipe coming soon)

Yogurt Parfait

Coconut Banana Oatmeal

What do you think??? New career? JK!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

What Does a Dietitian Eat? Part II (Day 4)

All I can say is that I'm goes:

Thursday February 5th
  • Breakfast - Tropical crunch cereal (about 2 cups) with skim milk; peanut butter (2 tbsp); water
  • Lunch - Salad: romaine lettuce, red bell pepper, shredded carrot, feta cheese (2 tbsp), homemade croutons (from 2 pieces of wheat bread), sun-dried tomato vinaigrette; ½ apple; water
  • Snack - Vanilla yogurt with stewed mixed berries
  • Dinner - Hamburger on a wheat bun with sauteed mushrooms/tomatoes/bell peppers, Swiss cheese (2 slices), mustard, ketchup, and lettuce; water
  • Dessert - Tropical crunch cereal, dry (½ cup); peanut butter (2 tbsp)

Approximately: 2163 calories (38% fat, 21% protein, 41% carbs); 28 g saturated fat (16%), 163.5 mg cholesterol, 36 g fiber, 1348 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: So I guess I was hungry?!? And apparently for peanut butter!

I try to plan out my meals ahead of time. Today was supposed to be cereal, a salad, and a hamburger with yogurt and an apple for snacks. No peanut butter anywhere in sight. But for some reason I was craving it all day!

Without the PB, my numbers look much better: 1779 calories (28% fat, 23% protein, and 49% carbs). My saturated fat was still high because of the burger and cheese at dinner.

I love hamburgers, but I only eat them when it is worth it. It has to be the most fabulous burger ever...NO FAST FOOD BURGERS FOR ME!!! A friend of mine, Mitch (aka dealmaker), ground these himself from beef tenderloin (which is a leaner cut of beef). I have a huge bag of them in my freezer. I probably won't have another one for a while though (and I don't remember the last time I had one, either). Its sort of a "special treat" for me.

While I wish the beef had been organic (or at least grass-fed), it does provide a good source of vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and protein. Lean, organic beef is rated as one of The World's Healthiest Foods. I still wouldn't eat it everyday!

As for the peanut butter, its not that it was a bad thing that I ate it, it was just too much in combination with the rest of my day. Peanut butter is very nutritious in moderation (especially the natural kind). I'll be honest with you, though...I only keep nut butters in the house occasionally. It's definitely a temptation for me, right up there with ice cream and cookies (both of which I don't keep in the house either). My spoon just can't stay out of it...especially coming home after a long night teaching dance when I'm hungry/tired/stressed.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

What Does a Dietitian Eat? Part II (Day 3)

Wednesday February 4th
  • Breakfast - Oatmeal with banana, almonds, brown sugar, flaxseed; skim milk; water
  • Lunch - Chicken salad over lettuce; water
  • Snack - Mango, coconut cereal* with soy milk (½ cup each); hot tea with honey (about 1 tbsp) and half and half (about 2 tbsp)
  • Dinner - Omelet with 2 eggs, red bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, green onions, feta (2 Tbsp), Parmesan (1 Tbsp); 2 pieces of toast with butter (1 tsp); water
  • Dessert - ½ apple

Approximately: 1574 calories (33% fat, 26% protein, 41% carbs); 16.8 g saturated fat (9.5%), 605.5 mg cholesterol, 28 g fiber, 1028 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: Same breakfast...that's pretty much what I do. Make a different batch of oatmeal for the week and then eat it every morning. I change up the type of oats (rolled or steel-cut), nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans), fruit (whatever is in season), sweetener (maple syrup, sugar, brown sugar, honey), and flavoring (extracts, cinnamon, nutmeg).

I make chicken salad with lots of veggies and love changing up the flavors...this week I made curried chicken salad. I used 3 chicken breasts, 4 celery stalks, 1 shredded carrot, and 1/4 cup toasted almonds (I wished that I had raisins). The dressing I mixed in was 2 tbsp full-fat mayo, 2 tbsp fat-free plain yogurt, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp curry powder, salt, and pepper.

I love making a big batch of chicken/tuna/pasta/grain salad that I can eat over lettuce for a quick lunch or dinner. The salad acts as the dressing for the lettuce.

Still no coffee, but I needed something warm to drink so I decided on hot tea. I usually add skim milk, but I was at Starbucks and the half & half was calling my name...I love how it makes my drink so creamy. FYI...
2 tbsp skim milk = 11 cals
2 tbsp 2% milk = 16 cals
2 tbsp whole milk = 19 cals
2 tbsp half & half = 40 cals
I only used 2 tbsp so it wasn't that big of a deal...I wouldn't order a latte with half & half though!

Omelets are a favorite dinner of mine. Its a good way to use up left over veggies. And because I didn't have any whole grains at lunch, I added the toast.

Notice how high my cholesterol was today... 605.5 mg (I was supposed to stay under 300 mg). I had lots of animal products today: skim milk, mayo, chicken, half & half, butter, eggs, cheese...the eggs contributed 211 mg each! All of the cholesterol is found in the yolk and usually when I make an omelet I replace one of the yolks with an extra white. But I only had 2 eggs left, so I went with it.

Cholesterol doesn't contribute calories, so its not going to make me gain weight. However, it is related to how "clean" my arteries are. And I eat for health not for weight loss/maintenance (however, eating healthfully can help you lose or maintain your weight). The good news is that my saturated fat intake was within my limits; saturated fat intake is thought to have more of an effect on blood cholesterol levels.

I didn't have enough fruit today, so dessert was an apple that I split with Hil (she NEVER eats enough fruit!).

* The cereal that I had for a snack was created by me! At, you can design your own I tried it out. I probably won't do it again (its expensive, I have to pay shipping, and I can get all of the ingredients at Whole Foods), but it was fun. I went with a tropical theme: dried mango, coconut, multigrain flakes, artisanal cereal, and chia seeds. I think its really good. (per 3/4 cup serving: 131 cals, 2.5 g fat (0.4 g saturated), 25.3 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 4.1 g sugar, 4.1 g protein)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

What Does a Dietitian Eat? Part II (Day 2)

Day two looked like the following:
  • Breakfast - Oatmeal with banana, almonds, brown sugar, flaxseed; ½ cup cottage cheese with pear syrup; skim milk; water
  • Lunch - Pressed ham and cheddar sandwich on a wheat bun with spicy mustard, lettuce, and thinly sliced apple; ½ of an apple; water
  • Snack - Vanilla yogurt with stewed mixed berries
  • Dinner - Salad with baked chicken, red bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrot, green onion, crushed pita chips and feta dressing; water
  • Dessert - ½ apple

Approximately: 1534 calories (23% fat, 27% protein, 50% carbs); 15 g saturated fat (8%), 185 mg cholesterol, 25 g fiber, 1417 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: Day two and still no coffee...I'm going to brunch Saturday morning so I may let myself have a cup then, but not until. I had a smaller bowl of oatmeal this morning and after eating it (and drinking a glass of milk), I still felt hungry. So that's when I decided on the cottage cheese. I sweetened it with a little juice from some canned pears that I reduced to a syrup.

Lunch was yummy and filling. Yes, I do put fruit on my sandwiches sometimes! I really like apple/pineapple/pear and ham together. I couldn't find 100% whole wheat buns at Whole Foods, just regular wheat. What's the difference? Well the first ingredient on the list is organic wheat flour, followed by filtered water, organic whole wheat flour, etc. So the first ingredient isn't whole wheat flour, but there is some...and some is better than none! Each bun still has about 2 g fiber, which is acceptable.

Dinner was very filling too. The dressing that I've been using on my salad is delish! If you like feta, please give it a try!

Creamy Feta-Red Wine Vinegar Dressing
adapted from (he wrote the ice cream book that I love)

Makes about 1 cup (or 8 2-tablespoon servings)

4 ounces feta cheese
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon finely-chopped fresh oregano (or a pinch or two of dried oregano...Italian seasoning would work too)
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons water
salt and black pepper

Mash the feta, vinegar, and oregano with a fork until fairly smooth. Mix in the olive oil and water, until smooth. Taste first (because the feta is already salty) and then season with salt and pepper. This dressing will keep for four days in the refrigerator. (After mashing the feta, I added all ingredients to a jar and shook it to combine everything else).

Per serving (2 tablespoons): 69 calories, 6 g fat (3 g saturated), 1 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 2 g protein (exchanges: 1 ½ fat)

Comments: The original recipe says it makes 3/4 of a cup, but I ended up with about 1 cup; David suggests serving it 1) over a Caesar-ish salad with romaine lettuce, red onions, and garlic croutons, 2) alongside tabbouleh, 3) mashed with canned tuna fish and chopped capers or green olives and scallions, 4) drizzled over a plate of seasonal tomatoes with fresh chopped oregano, 5) tossed with a mix of winter greens, slices of pear, and toasted pecans, 6) over grilled chicken breasts or tuna steaks, 7) with falafel, or 8) as a dip for toasted pita chips, radishes, or raw vegetables. Its pretty good on my salad too!

Monday, February 02, 2009

What Does a Dietitian Eat? Part II (Day 1)

So, I'm doing this again for two reasons: 1) its been a while since I've blogged about what I eat, and 2) lately I have been to so many weddings/parties/mardi gras balls (with lots of eating and drinking involved) that I need a "diet detox" week.

I don't really detox, though. I just mean that I eat lots of healthful, whole foods (and less sugary, processed, alcoholic things). This week you can expect lots of oatmeal, fruit, veggies, yogurt, milk, chicken, nuts...AND WATER! Boy do I need some water (and sleep...I'm going to work on that too).

I'm also going to make an effort to be caffeine free all week...Jess I'm giving up the coffee until further notice, hold me to it!

This morning I made a big pot of steel-cut oats (1 ½ cups oats) with bananas (2), brown sugar (¼ cup), toasted almonds (¼ cup), almond extract, and ground flaxseed (¼ cup)...cooked with 4 cups water and 1 cup skim milk and a pinch of salt. This makes about 7 servings and will last me all week. You could use 3 cups of regular oats instead of the steel-cut (you may have to add a little more liquid).

Per serving: 245 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 40 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 8 g protein (exchanges: ½ fruit, 2 starch, 1 ½ fat)

Monday February 2nd
  • Breakfast - Oatmeal with banana, almonds, brown sugar, flaxseed; skim milk; water
  • Lunch - Chicken salad over lettuce; water
  • Snack - Apple
  • Dinner - Salad with baked chicken, red bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrot, crushed pita chips and feta dressing; water
  • Dessert - Vanilla yogurt with stewed mixed berries

Approximately: 1382 calories (26% fat, 29% protein, 45% carbs); 9.1 g saturated fat (6%), 188 mg cholesterol, 27 g fiber, 961 mg calcium

Comments: As I said last time, I try to stay around 1600 calories per day, but some days I may be a little lower and some days higher. Unless I'm blogging about what I eat, I don't count calories. 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, bananas, almonds and flaxseed, and milk. If I'm going to snack, I try to only have fruit, dairy, and vegetables. 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 the ones found on the nutrition facts label on all food products.