Soba Sundown

I gotta say, I’ve probably made thousands of salads in my adult life, and this one is definitely up there in proudest culinary accomplishments. It is known that dietitians are rarely chefs, but every once in a while I get really excited about making something where I feel like I have the cred to put my veggies where my mouth is! One reason why I’m so fond of this dish is because of how beautifully balanced the nutrients are. On calories alone, the entire portion is a reasonable amount for one meal, but as you mix up the ingredients you’ll see that it’s a massive portion of noodles and veggies.

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Giant recipes with a long list of ingredients really intimidate me, so I’ve tried to simplify these directions as much as possible. I love when I can just chop up my veggies and toss in spices and flavors without measuring to shorten the time. However, the dressing in this dish is worth being more precise, as it’s a delicate balance of acid with spices, herbs, and fat. Also, I have to admit that the first time I made this it took quite some time to prep, but I’ve since cut that time in half. Now, I know what I need to do to speed up the process! Practice makes perfect and doubling up this recipe would be an excellent idea for meal prepping your week.

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Macronutrients are a bit tough to calculate when you’re adding very low calorie ingredients like cabbage, watercress, green onions, herbs, and bell peppers, so feel free to round up a little as you chop, as this will not significantly throw off carbohydrate grams. However, if you’re taking insulin, be as close as possible to the original recipe.

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Very Veggie Lasagna

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WOW, is this a good dish!

My philosophy in the kitchen is Keep It Simple but this had to be attempted. I almost turned away from making lasagna because I’m not a fan of how much fat and oil can go into vegan cheese but I realized that 1 cup of cashews can go a long way. I played with ingredients that typically go into a cheese-like flavor and the result is an oil free cashew cream sauce layered between sautéed veggies and semolina noodles. 

Semolina is flour from durum wheat and it’s not fancy or hard to find. I love it because it’s high in protein and contains fiber, therefore creating a balance of nutrients in a pasta dish. 

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Very Veggie Lasagna (dairy Free, oil free)

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To Cook

1. blender or food processor

2. 9 x 13 glass pan

3. Large fry pan

4. Measuring spoons

Cashew cream sauce

 ¼ cup water

¼ cup fresh lime juice or key lime juice 

½ cup nutritional yeast

Handful of basil leaves

Handful of cilantro 

1 cup soaked cashews in water for 60 minutes or more

1Tbs Dijon

1 garlic clove 

Pinch of salt

 

The Dish

3-4 garlic cloves

½ sweet onion, chopped

1 to 2 zucchinis, chopped

1 cup mushrooms

1 large bell pepper

1 jar of tomato pasta sauce (your choice! I recommend tomato basil)

1 tsp paprika 

1 tsp cumin

Pinch of sea salt

1 box of semolina or whole wheat lasagna noodles 

·     Check the label for some fiber and protein  

·     no boiling required

Vegan shredded cheese (So Delicious or Daiya)

  

Step-by-step INSTRUCTIONS

1.    Soak the cashews for at least 60 minutes 

2.    Preheat oven to 400 degrees

3.    Chop all your veggies for the dish and set aside

4.    Blend all ingredients in the cashew cream together (I like to blend half the ingredients at a time)  

5.    In a large pan, sauté onion and garlic with a splash of water or balsamic vinegar.

6.    Add the rest of the veggies and sauté for 10 minutes with paprika, cumin, and sea salt.

7.    Fill the pan with a light layer of tomato sauce (about ¼ jar)

8.    Place a single layer of noodles tightly together on top of the sauce 

9.    Spread ½ the cashew cream over the noodles 

10.  Spread ½ the veggies over the top of the cashew cream 

11.  Start the same layer again: ¼ jar of sauce - noodles - cashew cream - veggies

12.  Top with the rest of the tomato sauce

13.  Sprinkle on an even layer of vegan shredded cheese 

14.  Cover loosely with foil and slit to vent

15.  Bake for 40 minutes, remove the foil and set to broil on HI for 5 minutes.

16. Spread chopped cilantro on top of the cooked lasagna. Allow 10 minutes to cool.  

Eat slowly, enjoy thoroughly!

What's this Keto diet all about?!

If you aren't curious about the Ketogenic diet yourself, I'm sure you've heard a relative, co-worker, or someone at the gym spreading the news about how well it works. BUT HEY, not so fast! Do you know what this diet was created for or question how it could give results so fast? If there's one thing we've learned from fad-diets is that long-term isn't part of the plan. The word 'DIET' makes everyone cringe. It has such a negative connotation that even I hesitate to use it and choose 'healthy lifestyle' over 'healthy diet', as often as possible. We've got to start thinking about food choices as long-term sustainable commitments that we can be happy with. It's also very important to ask, "what will become of my body when I stop dieting?" 

I’ve done extensive literature review on the Ketogenic diet versus a balanced diet high in fiber in regards to chronic disease prevention and long-term brain health. Eating fiber-rich consistently wins by a long-shot based on evidence-based research, and common sense. 

The explanation:

The Ketogenic diet is actually a therapeutic diet for people who have epilepsy. I’ve seen this diet used to treat children who suffer from seizures and it’s been found to provide relief by decreasing seizure activity. It is an extreme diet high in fat, moderate protein, and very low in carbohydrates. There is a ratio determined for each patient that may be adjusted as seizure activity decreases. Patients on this diet are usually managed by a MD and dietitian because it’s miserable, very hard to stick to, and short-term so growth is not compromised. 

Unfortunately, this diet has gone mainstream without knowledge of how damaging it can be because, 1. carbs are necessary for growth (in kids), 2. Athletes risk inconsistent performance, poor recovery, and lean tissue loss from glucose depletion, and 3. it changes brain chemistry, which research to-date does not totally understand the mechanism.
My first reply to keto is usually: don’t mess with your brain function! 

This diet is appealing to people who want to lose weight because when the body is starved of glucose, which happens when we don’t eat enough carbohydrates, it is forced to find another energy source. So, we burn down our body fat. Fat produces a by-product called ketones which are toxic and eliminated through urine. So, the purpose of the keto diet is to produce ketones. Not something I would advise when trying to develop healthy habits and a balanced diet. It is particularly not appropriate for people at risk for heart disease and diabetes.

The reason ketosis does not work long term (and also why it’s dangerous) is that the body is literally eating itself alive. Weight gain is almost certain when transitioning back to a normal, healthy, balanced diet.

Please understand this: Carbs are not bad. Complexity is important. Carbs breakdown to glucose which is our #1 preferred energy source to store and burn. We just have to choose fiber-rich.

Side note: The DRI of carbohydrates begins when we are 12 months old at 130 grams per day minimum and that goes for our entire lifetime! Research has found that 130g per day is primarily to support the brain because it uses up the most energy especially when we are sleeping and repairing.

 

If you are more interested in brain health unrelated to the Ketogenic Diet, I would highly recommend reading: “The Alzheimer’s Solution” Sherzai MDs.

TATERS! Don’t be afraid. They actually ARE good for you!

As a Dietitian, I am constantly confronted with what I call “Carbophobia” towards all things starch. Last weekend a friend said to me with excitement, “I’m off the wheat and grains!” Instead of congratulating her I replied with a simple question, “why would you do a thing like that?”

The human gut is a wondrous contraption, and there is not a food-frontier that hasn’t been explored by an adventurous foodie looking for the thrill of tasting, swallowing, and digesting. In my opinion, just because we can eat anything we want on this planet doesn’t mean that we should. Hence, the reason I am perplexed as to the purposeful elimination of foods that are safely grown and extremely healthy, such as grains and potatoes. Certainly, there are bona fide reasons why a person should not consume specific food allergens. However, before assuming that your gut is better off without something that you may have once regularly consumed, we must first question overall diet quality. Also, keep in mind that most humans can digest wheat gluten, yeast, and grains. It would be a shame to eliminate foods based on assumption instead of consulting your doc and testing for absolute proof of allergy or intolerance.

Humans have depended on the nutritional value of the potato going way back in history. Numerous books are dedicated to the feast-or-famine of civilizations in regards to potato crops. In the 1500’s, taters got a bad rap. They were thought to be poisonous, a dangerous aphrodisiac, and the cause of leprosy. It took serious persuasion from chemists and the threat of starvation to convince Europeans to consider the potato a staple in their meager diet of the time. Even Marie Antoinette wore potato blossoms in her hair as an act to persuade the people to trust in the nutritional value of tubers (although this didn’t last for very long knowing how it ended for poor Marie). Maybe her famous quote was misinterpreted and “Let them eat potatoes” was more like it.

DON’T BE A TATER-HATER

Potatoes are incredibly versatile to cook with and highly nutritious. Get ready to be surprised by the nutritional information of the glorious potato! In general, potatoes are kings of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber, just leave the skin on for maximum nutritional value. Sweet potatoes are similar with an additional boost of vitamin A. Potatoes are a little tricky to quantify because of size variation, but this is rather accurate:  

1 cup of Yukon Gold (8 oz by weight) is approximately 166 calories, 40 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of fiber, and 4.5 grams of protein. YES, protein! Plants contribute to your daily intake of protein, as well. 1 cup of sweet potato is approximately 114 calories, 27 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein. Go easy on the added fats, toss your taters with just about any spice known to man, and you have a healthy carbohydrate on your plate. Add roasted beets and carrots plus a serving of protein and Voilà! A low-fat, beautifully balanced meal. 

Take a look at this website for further information: https://www.potatogoodness.com

Zoodles + sweet potatoes! 

Zoodles + sweet potatoes! 

Healthy. Affordable. Food.

Let’s be real- all the fancy pictures of food in blogs and feeds are awesome BUT probably took a lot more time to put together than most of us have. Convenience, budget, and practicality are priority for most households. Both parents work, students have jobs, and singles bust their buns trying to make ends meet. We aren’t often born knowing how to feed ourselves as we age and a lot of folks never learn! No wonder it’s so damn hard eating healthy.

Pictured is $25 well spent from Walmart. Recently I spent an hour helping my best gal pal put healthier meals together. She has 2 teenage daughters who eat very differently from each other, while she works 6 days per week. It's hard to know what's healthy let alone how to put it all together! The first task is simply to stock your kitchen. If the cupboards are full of items from the chip isle we have set ourselves up to make poor choices. Moderation works for some, while other folks need to keep it out of the house to begin with! Set your household up for success by excelling to expert status at the grocery store. 

Fiber is the priority! 

Fiber is the priority! 

Can't BEET the science behind this Root Veggie

Beets are truly a gift from Mother Earth. Gorgeous in color and strong in flavor this root vegetable is rich in nutrients absorbed right out of the soil like folate, potassium, fiber, and iron. Beets are like Clark Kent with a super hero hidden inside of a common exterior. Rich in antioxidant capacity and anti-inflammatory, root veggies have what it takes to fight off the bad guys.

What’s the big deal with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods? Well, antioxidants have protective properties that can alleviate damage to tissues. You’ve likely seen oxidation in action when leafy greens blacken or guacamole turns to an unfortunate shade of green. Vitamin C happens to be a reducing agent so a squeeze of lime juice can halt the reaction. Therefore, if we eat a diet rich in antioxidants we reduce the damaging effects of oxidation on our tissues. 

Inflammation is a protective reaction from injured tissues that we recognize by the feeling of pain, redness, and swelling. A poor diet low in nutritional value, excess body fat, and lack of physical activity can worsen symptoms. A 2016 study found that foods with a high antioxidant capacity reduces the risk of non-communicable chronic diseases. Such foods include beets, collard greens, beans, onions, lettuce, and coffee. Eat a variety of these foods in combination with resistance training for maximum cardio benefit. 

Beets are currently a popular topic when it comes to athletic ability and natural performance enhancement with dozens of studies finding cardiovascular benefit. Beets naturally contain nitrate (NO3) which protects against heart disease, increases blood flow, and may boost athletic performance, which has been studied with particular interest in endurance athletes. 

The body converts nitrate to nitric oxide, which is a compound that has the ability to widen blood vessels, allowing cells to use oxygen more efficiently. This would be an excellent reason for runners, cyclists, and other endurance athletes to take interest in concentrated beet juice! You don’t need to be a well-trained athlete or even consider yourself fit to give beets a chance as an energy enhancer and stamina booster, which are qualities that most people would happily embrace and another great reason to have a diet rich in veggies.  

 

1 cup of beets = 60 calories, 0g fat, 13g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 2g protein

This dish is quinoa, broccoli, beets, and mango dressing - seasonal from Trader Joe's. 

This dish is quinoa, broccoli, beets, and mango dressing - seasonal from Trader Joe's. 

Dietitian versus Nutritionist - What's the Difference?

REGISTERED DIETITIAN (RD) or REGISTERED DIETITIAN NUTRITIONIST (RDN)

Definition: A dietitian is a health professional who has university qualifications consisting of a 4-year Bachelor Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics or a 3-year Science Degree followed by a Master Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, including a certain period of practical training in different hospital and community settings (in the U.S. 1200 hours of supervised practice are required in different areas). Some dietitians also further their knowledge and skills by pursuing various Specialist Dietetic qualifications. Dietitian is an expert in prescribing therapeutic nutrition.

Regulation: All qualified Dietitians should have met national/international standards for professional legislation. The title “Dietitian” is protected by law in many countries such as Canada, USA, South Africa, Australia, and the UK.

Work: Dietitians can translate the science of nutrition into everyday information about food. They also have special skills in translating medical decisions related to food and health to inform the general public. Dietitians can work in both the hospital and community. They may work with people who have special dietary needs, inform the general public about nutrition, evaluate and improve treatments and educate clients, doctors, nurses, health professionals and community groups. They undertake the practical application of nutrition with both individuals and population groups to promote well – being and to prevent nutrition related problems. They are also involved in the diagnoses and dietary treatment of many diseases, such as food allergies, kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.

Your safety: Registered Dietitians are members of one or more professional bodies, and therefore they are held accountable for their conduct and the care they provide. Because of this, the reliability and safety of their professional advice and care are ensured.

NUTRITIONIST (no credentials) 

Definition and Regulation: A nutritionist is a non-accredited title that may apply to somebody who has done a short course in nutrition or who has given themselves this title. The term Nutritionist is not protected by law in almost all countries so people with different levels of knowledge can call themselves a “Nutritionist”.

Work: There are also qualified nutritionists, who are people who have completed University Degrees in Food Science, Human Nutrition, Food and Nutrition, or Food Technology. They are also called Food Scientists. University qualified Nutritionists and Food Scientists normally work for food manufacturers, retailed businesses, in research and public health promotion. Some may work as Dietitian Assistants or Food Journalists. Nutritionists do not have any professional practical training, and therefore they should not be involved in the diagnosis and dietary treatment of any diseases.

Your safety: Since the title ‘nutritionist’ has been used by many unqualified people to describe their involvement in food and nutrition related practice, you should be careful when choosing a qualified nutritional professional.

*NOTE* All dietitians are nutritionists, but nutritionists ARE NOT dietitians.