May 13, 2013
Just because you are cooking outside doesn't mean food safety goes by the wayside! The same rules apply whether cooking on your kitchen stovetop or backyard grill. Nobody wants to get sick or cause illness to others because proper food sanitation steps were not followed. Follow these important steps to ensure safe summer grilling:
Start with a clean slate!
Thaw and Marinate Meat Safely
Don't Share Utensils and Serving Dishes
Safe Minimal Internal Temperatures
Poultry: 165 degrees F
Pork: 155 degrees F for a minimum of 15 seconds in IL and 145 degrees F with a 3 minute rest per USDA recommendations.
Hamburgers: 155 degrees F for a minimum of 15 seconds in IL and 160 degrees F per USDA recommendations
Fish 145 degrees F
Beef steaks: 145 degrees F for a minimum of 15 seconds. USDA recommends letting meat rest for 3 minutes after cooking.
Watch the Time
Dealing with Leftovers
Resources: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics @ http://www.eatright.org/
For additional information on safe summer grilling visit USDA's website @
April 24, 2013
Do you feel like you could being doing a better job stretching your food dollar? If so, you are not alone! We don't have a lot of control over the price of groceries, but there are steps consumers can take before, during and after grocery shopping to make their food dollars go further. As suggested by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) we need to consider The 3 P's of eating on a budget. The 3 P's represent Plan, Purchase and Prepare as related to shopping cooking and eating.
Have you ever browsed a cookbook for a new recipe, made a grocery list of all the necessary ingredients, bought the ingredients, only to end up pushing them to the back of the pantry or worse yet, throwing unused perishable items in the trash? Despite your good intentions to prepare this new recipe, it never happened. Possibly the recipe was a bit too ambitious for a work-night or your children's schedules changed at the last minute. "Life" sometimes gets in the way of the best laid plans.
Before your next trip to the grocery store try using The 3 P's to get a better handle on your food dollars. You will likely find your life is less stressful, more economical and healthier.
Look in your pantry and refrigerator to determine what you have on hand that needs to be used, prior to making a grocery list. Make sure you check expiration dates and discard items that are expired.
Look at what goes in your trash and ask yourself why these items are ending up in the trash.
Think about food items on hand and use these items in planning next week's meals. Remember to take into consideration upcoming activities, appointments or commitments that will interrupt your time for cooking. Meals will need to be quick and easy to prepare, but still healthy, on days with a jam-packed schedule.
Make a grocery list around your upcoming week of planned meals, remembering what you already have on hand.
Think about stir-fried dishes, stews and casseroles that can help "stretch" the food dollar.
Look for coupons and sales in your local paper or online.
Inquire about a loyalty card at your local grocery store.
Shop when you are not too rushed or hungry. Most people end up buying items on impulse when rushed and/or
hungry, rather than sticking to a grocery list.
Stick to your list and avoid even strolling down aisles that don't contain items on your list.
Consider buying store brands if cheaper.
Look for the unit price of an item which is found on the shelf next to the item price. The unit price will tell you the price per pound, ounce or other unit of measure. It will help guide you in making the most economical purchase.
Purchase fresh fruits and vegetables in season; otherwise buying frozen vegetables without an additional sauce or canned vegetables without added salt can be a good option. Look for canned fruit packed in its own juice, rather than heavy syrup, when unable to purchase fresh fruit.
Bulk and family pack items usually cost less; however compare unit prices to be sure.
Shop the perimeter of the store and look up and down the grocery aisles. Eye level grocery items are often the most expensive.
Low-cost items available all year round:
Think about what can be prepared in advance on those busier days. Pre-cook and freeze on days when you have time. Get a jump-start on a meal buy washing, chopping or assembling ingredients ahead of time.
Make a double or triple batch of a family favorite and freeze meal-sized or individual containers for future lunches, dinners or snacks
Use leftovers wisely.
Consider meatless or no-cook meals such as salads, taking advantage of in season produce.
Frequent your local farmer's market and buy local foods whenever possible.
Try grilling as a fast and healthy option when the weather allows.
Money Smart Week ® is a public awareness campaign designed to help consumers better manage their personal finances. Check out their website @ http://www.moneysmartweek.org/
Choose MyPlate @ http://www.choosemyplate.gov/healthy-eating-on-budget.html
April 4, 2013
Dealing with the Food Police
I don't think any of us enjoy having our food choices scrutinized by others. It is easy to feel a little self- conscious when others are judging what's on our plate.
When I run into people I know while grocery shopping I either hear "so let me see what the dietitian is buying" or either avoid me altogether, or feel they have to explain themselves in some way for what is in their grocery cart. I am not the food police, although my family might sometimes disagree, not because I am a dietitian, but because I am a mom. What we choose to eat is personal and influenced by many things. Food preferences, health concerns, traditions, and our family, and environment are just a few influences that impact our food choices.
Sometimes when dealing with a chronic illness such as diabetes or even when attempting weight loss it is easier to keep mum than to constantly receive unsolicited advice. Even though advice and comments are generally well meaning, it often results in a feeling of self-consciousness, or guilt in the person on the receiving end. Particularly with diabetes, even well- meaning comments such as "I didn't know you could eat that when you have diabetes" or questioning some "forbidden" food, are often made from lack of knowledge about a diabetes meal plan. Hearing "do you really think you should eat that" for someone on a weight loss regimen will not provide motivation but cause guilt, embarrassment and hurt feelings. These are feelings that are often associated with emotional eating.
Most of us have good and bad days when it comes to our food choices. Friends, co-workers and family members need to be as supportive as possible, without coming across as judgmental.
The following considerations may be helpful when dealing with the food police in your life:
March 18, 2013
Every March the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Celebrates National Nutrition Month. This year's theme is "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day." So, what is "your way" of eating? Everyone has personal food preferences. Even the most finicky eaters can eat healthy. There is not any one food that must be included in everyone's diet for it to be healthy. We are individuals with individual preferences, nutritional needs, health concerns, lifestyles and cultures that affect our daily food choices. Our food choices can, and should be, as individual as we are.
Just because I am a registered dietitian it doesn't mean I am any less tempted by the chocolate birthday cake we all enjoyed in my office last week. The theme "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day" doesn't mean you can't enjoy chocolate cake on occasion if you keep the big picture in mind. Small indulgences now and then (not every day!) won't ruin an otherwise healthy lifestyle. From my own personal experience, and from years of working as a clinical dietitian listening to others discuss their food preferences, eating habits and challenges of eating healthy, I find we all look for rationales to explain our food choices. Does this sound familiar? "Well, I already blew it by eating that donut for breakfast, so I might as well eat whatever I want the rest of the day and start fresh tomorrow." The problem is that tomorrow never happens for many people, despite their best intentions. Have you taken the time to really determine if "your way" is a healthy way of eating?
Try some of these tips to get you started on the right path so you can "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day."
For healthy eating tips visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at www.eatright.org and use the tips you learned for National Nutrition Month for a life-time of healthy choices.
February 27, 2013
For years the traditional Mediterranean Diet has been recognized as a healthy way of eating. The food choices are common to those living in the region surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Ongoing research continues to support the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, such as lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, decreasing inflammation and as a healthy eating plan for those with diabetes. The Mediterranean diet is a fresh and delicious way of eating, far removed from the foods many associate with the word "diet." The mere thought of a "diet" conquers up feelings of deprivation, boring and tasteless foods.
The Mediterranean way of eating is more about inclusion of certain foods on a daily and weekly basis as part of a healthy lifestyle. Olive oil is a key component of the Mediterranean diet along with fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains and fish. Olive oil replaces more of the unhealthy fats found in the typical American diet. The Mediterranean diet is a plant based diet with infrequent, small intakes of meat and sweets. Wine in moderation is optional, particularly red wine, if not contraindicated for other health concerns, pregnancy, against doctor's advice or alcohol abuse issues. Eggs, dairy, and poultry are eaten, but less often.
Mediterranean diet tips:
Foods prevalent in the Mediterranean diet are rich in flavor, but portion sizes are still important. Olive oil, like other fats are calorie dense, and if consumed in excess, will promote unwanted weight gain. Remember to use olive oil in place of other fats, not in addition to other fats.
February 12, 2013
Could you be making better food choices to maintain heart health? Including certain foods into your diet on a regular basis can help keep cholesterol numbers in check. February is American Heart Health Month and a healthy diet is one of the important lifestyle measures that affect cholesterol numbers. Overall, a diet lower in total fat and particularly saturated fat and trans fat help promote heart health. Saturated fat is found in full fat dairy products, meat and some oil and solid fats, including butter and lard, or foods made from these added fats. Trans fats found in stick margarines and some commercially made cookies, cakes and crackers are especially bad for raising our "bad" cholesterol (LDL). Eating a heart healthy diet should go hand in hand with other healthy lifestyle measures such as avoiding tobacco products, maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular physical activity.
Think about adding these items to your grocery list to help boost your intake of heart healthy foods:
Visit the American Heart Association web site at http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/ to learn more about reducing the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association web site has great recipes available to help get you started eating healthy.
January 28, 2013
When so much emphasis is placed on calorie reduction and weight loss at any cost, it is easy to lose sight of choosing healthy, nutrient dense foods. Food manufacturers are skilled at advertising foods with tantalizing, eye-catching labels such as "only 90 calories per serving", "low fat" or "made with whole grains", however these statements do not guarantee a healthy or nutrient dense product.
Nutrient dense foods contain vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients. Nutrient dense foods tend to also be lower in calories than foods that contain fewer nutrients. As a rule, processed foods will be less nutrient dense than minimally processed foods. Nutrient dense foods contain little added fat, sugar or refined starch. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains such as wheat bread, brown rice, whole grain pasta and cereals, are nutrient dense foods.
As the mid-morning hunger pangs kick in, it is easy to grab whatever is within reach. Let's compare the difference in two snack choices. A chocolate chip cookie may be more tempting than an orange, or other fruit. The cookie may curb your sweet tooth for the moment, but will do little in the long run for satiety, and leave you craving more before lunch begins. The cookie is an "empty calorie" food, meaning the calories are providing no nutritional benefit, just added sugar and fat. The "empty calories" in the cookie provide 2 to 3 times the amount of calories from the orange, depending on the size of both. The orange is a nutrient dense, fiber containing snack with vitamins and essential nutrients. The water and fiber content of the orange will keep your stomach feeling full long after the instant gratification of the cookie has faded.
Nutrient density applies to beverages as well. Excess calories are consumed daily from empty calorie sweetened beverages. Choose water, non-fat or low-fat milk with meals, and drink water throughout the day. Try adding a slice of fresh fruit to a glass of water.
Filling up on nutrient dense foods are the best choices, whether your goal is weight loss, a healthier lifestyle, or both. Try some of these foods the next time you are tempted by the candy or cookie jar:
Apple or celery slices and natural peanut butter
Bite size fresh vegetables
Lite string cheese
Small whole wheat tortilla with turkey and sliced avocado
Handful of nuts or seeds
Whole wheat crackers
January 15, 2013
Since most of us spend a lot of our waking hours at work it is important to get the most nutrition out of our work day meals and munchies. Start the New Year off right by taking an inventory of your work time eating habits. It is easy to sabotage healthy habits with mindless and indiscriminate eating at the office.
Does your work place have a vending machine or candy dish that shouts your name every time you walk past? Most of us can relate! Is it always someone's birthday or some occasion that requires cake? Is Friday always do-nut day in the break room? Maybe this is a good time to get a wellness challenge started with your co-workers. Chances are you are not the only person interested in making some changes to the "food" environment at work. Why is it we tend to feel less guilty overeating or eating unhealthy when everyone else is doing it? Whether working toward individual changes or group changes during time spent at work, consider some of these tips to get started:
1. Take time to eat! Avoid hurriedly eating at your desk while checking e-mails. Meal time is not the time for multi-tasking. Slow down, sit down, and savor what you are eating.
2. Switch the candy dish to a fresh fruit bowl. This is a great way to help increase daily fruit intake!
3. Stock your desk drawers, office refrigerator with healthy choices so not to be tempted by the vending machine or other office goodies.
4. Get away from all of the sugar and fat in typical office treats by keeping trail mix, nuts, lite string cheese and yogurt handy.
5. Don't get caught depending on fast food restaurants for work day meals. Cook a little extra during the week and pack it for the next day's lunch or dinner. This is not only better for the waistline but also the wallet.
6. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the work day. You will think more clearly.
7. If you just can't avoid something sweet – keep bite size taste of your favorite treat to squash those cravings.
8. Take a little time to plan ahead for the work week so you are stocked and ready.
9. If you have an extra 10 minutes, take a walk instead of sitting around being tempted to eat more than you really want, or need.
January 2, 2013
As the New Year gets underway many of us will be evaluating our lifestyle and contemplating New Year's Resolutions. Often, these resolutions revolve around health issues, whether setting weight loss goals, starting a smoking cessation program, reducing alcohol intake or becoming more physically active. Setting goals for the New Year is much easier than reaching these goals. Most of us can relate to having fallen short of reaching New Year's resolutions from years past.
A goal is defined as an end toward which effort is directed. If you're making New Year's resolutions, a good first step is making your goals specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound (or SMART). Since weight loss is a common goal for many as the New Year begins it is used as an example in setting a SMART weight loss goal.
S = SPECIFIC – Goals need to be specific, rather than broad or vague. For example, listing or stating weight loss as a goal is not a specific goal. A specific weight loss goal would be stating or listing a specific weight loss such as a desire to lose two pounds per week over the next three months.
M = MEASURABLE- How do we know if we achieved our goals if they are not measurable? Again, a broad goal of losing weight with no specific amount or time frame is difficult to measure. Alternately, a goal of losing two pounds per week over the next three months is easy to measure. Being able to measure progress builds confidence and may help staying motivated long after the flurry and excitement of the New Year has subsided.
A= ATTAINABLE - Chances are, we will have difficulty attaining goals that are set with lofty expectations. A weight loss goal of losing five pounds per week is not attainable under normal circumstances and will likely result in a feeling of failure and frustration when not attained. A weight loss of two pounds per week over a three month period can be attainable for most individuals of good health and activity tolerance.
R= REALISTIC - Goals must be realistic! A weight loss goal of losing ten pounds by the upcoming weekend in order to fit into a certain outfit is totally unrealistic. Setting unrealistic goals is a way of sabotaging ourselves. Setting a goal of losing two pounds per week over a three month period is a realistic goal to work towards.
T = TIME-BOUND – If goals are not set within the context of a time frame they may fall by the way side when the demands of everyday life get in the way. Having a set time frame to reach a goal such as losing two pounds per week helps keep us on track and accountable for our actions. This is a target date for reaching the goal. An open ended time frame for meeting a goal is often put off until "tomorrow."
The SMART strategy will work with any goal you set,so take time to evaluate your present lifestyle and choose one health related habit that needs changing. This change needs to be a personal priority rather than someone else's priority for you.
December 6, 2012
Maintaining healthy eating habits can be difficult while traveling. This is even more difficult for individuals with chronic health problems such as diabetes or heart disease. It is easy to get off schedule during holiday traveling and lose some control over established eating habits. Grabbing a quick bite in the airport or on the interstate does not always provide the best options for healthy selections. Friends and family don't always have the same taste in food or concern for healthy eating, which adds to the challenge of eating healthy while traveling.
If traveling by air, ask for a list of healthy alternative foods that may be available upon request. This is especially important for those with special dietary needs. Pack some healthy snacks to take in the event any meals or transportation is delayed. It is easy to throw an apple or banana in your carry-on bag to have available if needed.
If it is necessary to sit for extended periods of time during a flight or train ride, get up out of your seat and walk up and down the aisle when allowed to do so. If traveling by car, stop, stretch and take a few minute walk at rest areas. When staying at a hotel take advantage of their fitness facilities or use the pool for a swim. Use the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator whenever possible.
General traveling tips for individuals with diabetes:
Plan ahead and don't hesitate to contact The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for information and help for those that may be traveling with medical conditions. TSA will provide information on screening procedures for those wearing medical devices such as insulin pumps or continuous glucose monitors. Prior to traveling passengers can call a toll free TSA helpline called TSA Cares at 1-855-787-2227 to get questions answered and be prepared for screening and security checkpoints.
Take a little time to plan ahead to assure your holiday travels are less stressful and you are able to maintain good health during the holiday season.
Happy Healthy Holidays to All!