Category Archives: ask the nutritionist

ask the nutritionist: breakfast on the go

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Breakfast is often times the first meal that we neglect, whether we are trying to skip meals or would prefer to spend the extra time sleeping. But as we’ve been told since we were young, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and there really is some truth to that. We’ve been “fasting” all night and we need some energy to focus and perform our best, whether it be at school, work, or play.

When I was in high school, eating breakfast, was like, totally not important to me. I was focused on the essentials: finding the perfect Abercrombie & Fitch outfit and making sure my bangs were curled just so.  My mother being oh-so-wise would make fresh waffles for my brother and I, which if we couldn’t eat whilst getting ready for school, we could take along in the car with us. Very Pleasantville of her, don’t you think?

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Abercrombie & Fitch is no longer cool (I don’t think?), my bangs no longer need curling and I’ve fully embraced breakfast. My day just wouldn’t be the same without it, nor would you want to be in my presence if it was missed.  Here are some of my breakfast staples – I often eat my meals in courses- an egg at home first thing and then something a little more substantial at work. I prefer splitting my meals up a bit, but obviously everyone will have different preferences!

Normal Breakfast:

  • First Course: Coffee and Coconut Creamer
  • Second Course: An Organic Egg (fried or hard boiled)
  • Third Course: Oatmeal & Peanut Butter, Hemp or Sprouted Bagel or Smoothie

Oddly enough, I rarely find the need to switch up my breakfasts, I love having a combination of proteins, fats and carbs. On weekends at home the taster will often make some omelets or something a little more exciting! (ie. bacon) But if you like some variety, here are some other ideas:

  • Cedarlane’s ready-to-go omelette
  • hard boiled egg and slice of sprouted bread
  • fruit, bread and peanut butter/almond butter
  • greek yogurt, cereal and peanut butter/almond butter
  • smoothie: almond/coconut milk, juice, spinach, fruit, amazing grass and/or protein powder, flax seeds, chia seeds, etc.

Do you eat the same things for breakfast or do you have to switch it up?

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Filed under ask the nutritionist, coffee, eating local, eggs, fats, protein, Uncategorized, whole foods, whole grains

what to do with 15 pounds of morels

Since all of my friends and family know I love food, I am the recipient of some interesting calls at times. I can handle, “what do I do with zucchini and onions” or “what should I do with truffle oil,” but the question I received last night stopped me dead in my tracks.

“What do I do with 15 pounds of morel mushrooms?” left me screaming expletives that I would never repeat in front of my mother. It just isn’t fair I wailed. I want to go out in the woods and forage for mushrooms but lets be real, even more than that, I want pounds and pounds of morels at my disposal that I don’t have to pay $50/pound for.

The call came from my brother who is currently 25 and single, a wild land firefighter, and living in Idaho. Don’t ask me to elaborate where in Idaho, all I know is that he lives 3 hours from the nearest grocery store, doesn’t have the internet and can’t get cell service to save his life. I’m not sure which of those situations is worst but I’m leaning towards the grocery store.

The upside of Idaho is that the shirt I bought him a few years back will finally come in handy for something.

But getting back to the mushrooms, when I asked him what he had already done with them I was reminded of the Forrest Gump Movie when Bubba is describing the many ways to eat shrimp.

Drew has already sautéed in butter, put them on pizza, deep-fried (yes, I was horrified too), breaded and sautéed and was simply running out of options. I requested that he overnight me a few pounds, but then I remembered that he would probably have to send them via horseback or something and that simply won’t cut it.

My immediate thoughts were to put them in a Quiche and include them in a pasta dish. But since I have access to things like the internet I told him I would see what I could find. As of no surprise, there are endless amounts of delicious-sounding morel mushroom recipes, so here is what I would make with a stash of morels.  Just in case you have a few pounds lying around 😉

Lasagna with Asparagus, Leeks and Morels

Fettuccine with Morel Mushrooms and Sage Cream

Scrambled Eggs with Ramps, Morels and Asparagus

Beef Tenderloin Steaks Stuffed with Morels

Creamy Mushrooms on Toasted Country Bread

Spring Vegetable Sauté

What would you do with a pound of morels?

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Filed under ask the nutritionist, cheese, eating local, eggs, farmers market, focus on, herbs, in season, Recipes, vegetables, website

ask the nutritionist: buying bread

Choosing a loaf of bread in the endless bread aisle can be confusing and down-right overwhelming!

It doesn’t have to be though, with a few quick tips and key things to look for you can leave the store with a wholesome loaf of bread, without spending a ton of time!

  • 100% Whole Grain – look for the whole-grain stamp and check the ingredients, the first few ingredients should at least be whole-grain
  • No sugar or high fructose corn syrup (If a sweetener is in the bread, it should not be in the first 5 ingredients)
  • Each slice should have at least 2-3 grams of fiber and 2-3 grams of protein – the combination of protein and fiber will help fill you up
  • All-Natural or Organic is always a bonus – long ingredient lists with tons of preservatives is never a good thing

I generally stick with sprouted bread and my beloved hemp bagels which are often found in the freezer, depending on the store. (And baguettes made with white flour on special occasions 🙂 )

What kind of bread do you buy?

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Filed under ask the nutritionist, protein, whole foods, whole grains

ask the nutritionist: eating for bone health

One of the things I love about “nutrition” is that you can change and improve your diet to protect your health and actually see the benefits making a difference.

One of the many health topics women need to be aware of is bone health. I will admit, it is a topic that I’ve kind of ignored in the past, but because osteoporosis runs in my family, it is a topic that I can no longer be ignorant of. We often think of just getting enough calcium to prevent osteoporosis and while that is certainly part of the prevention plan, having a glass of milk won’t cut it on its own.

Osteoporosis literally means “porus bones” and it causes bones to become very fragile and brittle.  Low bone density is also problematic and can lead to osteoporosis.

What can we do to protect ourselves against it?

“How likely you are to develop osteoporosis depends on how much bone mass you attained in your 20s and early 30s (peak bone mass) and how rapidly you lose it later. The higher your peak bone mass, the more bone you have “in the bank” and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age.” source

I have a few years left to build up my bone mass and then its all about the maintenance. This is one of the reasons it is so important to be aware of bone health now – later in life, you can only maintain it, not build it!

The three main ways to build up and maintain bone mass are:

  • calcium: the recommendations change throughout a lifetime, if unable to reach these levels through food – a calcium supplement is recommended

Up to 1 year old — 210 to 270 milligrams (mg)

Age 1 to 3 years — 500 mg

Age 4 to 8 years — 800 mg

Age 9 to 18 years — 1,300 mg

Age 19 to 50 years — 1,000 mg

Age 51 and older — 1,200 mg

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  • vitamin D: helps your body absorb calcium – your body can make on its own with sunlight, and it is also present in some foods but I also take a supplement because I don’t spend that much time in the sun. Optimal amounts are not yet known, aim for about 1,000 IU’s/day

  • exercise: helps build strong bones as well as slow bone loss – aim for weight bearing exercise and strength-training in addition to regular cardiovascular exercise

So what do we eat?

We all know that most dairy products are a good source of calcium, but many of us can not tolerate dairy or avoid it entirely.

  • Good sources of Calcium: dairy products, fish, tofu and tempeh processed with calcium, calcium-fortified foods, greens like kale, collards, mustard greens

Vitamin D as we know can be produced in our bodies with natural sunlight but there are also a few food sources that contain Vitamin D:

  • Good sources of Vitamin D: milk (most milk in the US is fortified with Vitamin D), eggs, fortified foods

Do you take precautions to ensure your bones are healthy?

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Filed under ask the nutritionist, cheese, eggs, salad, vegan, vegetables, whole foods

ask the nutritionist: at the salad bar

The salad bar can be a great place to build-you-own balanced meal or a place where you can feel like you are eating healthy when it really isn’t the case.

In college, the salad bar was my favorite aspect of dorm dining – when else do you have access to rows of clean and cut veggies? I frequented it on a daily basis and firmly believe that it helped prevent the dreaded freshman 15.

While I don’t get to the salad bar quite as often these days, it does make a great stand-in for those days that I don’t bring my own lunch. Here are my guidelines for building the perfect salad:

  • The lettuce base: the darker the better, think spinach and spring greens for the majority, and some romaine for added crunch if desired. Fill most of the container with lettuce.
  • Load up on veggies: add as many vegetables as you can, remembering the rainbow – think cucumber, broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, sprouts, etc.
  • Add a protein: tofu, beans, chicken or lean deli meats. This will add some staying power to your salad.
  • The Extras: I sometimes like to add some deli salads for a little something extra, sometimes a grain or pasta, sometimes a veggie salad like the marinated Italian veggies shown here. If choosing a grain or mayo-based salad, stick to less than 1/2 cup.
  • Fat & Flavor: Add 1 Tbsp of nuts (choose nuts over croutons) or flavorful cheese (feta, blue or parmesan) for some healthy fats and extra flavor.
  • Dressing: Instead of the typical ranch dressing, try using  a balsamic vinaigrette or a sprinkle of olive oil and vinegar over your salad.

What ingredients does your ideal salad bar have?


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Filed under antioxidants, ask the nutritionist, cheese, fats, great meals, grocery shopping, lose weight, nuts, protein, salad, tomatoes, Uncategorized, vegetables, whole foods

ask the nutritionist: low glycemic food

Low-glycemic foods. We see it all the time – in diet plans, on protein bars, breads, etc. but what does it mean?

The glycemic index describes how a carbohydrate affects your blood sugar.  A high glycemic food increases your blood sugar much faster than a low glycemic food.

The glycemic load describes the glycemic index and the quantity of carbohydrate – for example, the glycemic index of watermelon is: 72 (considered high) but the glycemic load for one serving of watermelon is: 1.5 (considered low) because it takes into account serving size.

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Why do we care?

People who have diabetes need to be aware of their blood sugar because their bodies aren’t able to regulate it on their own and so they have to take insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. But it is not just those with diabetes who should care. When we eat a high-glycemic meal, it increases our blood sugar, which then increases insulin to turn the sugars into energy. If there is too much “energy” (sugar) to use, it will be stored as fat. The spike in sugar and subsequent crash also makes us feel hungry faster. Doesn’t sound good, does it?

A low glycemic meal releases the sugar into our bodies at a steadier, slower rate, which means insulin is secreted at a slower rate and we are more likely to use it right away as energy. It also keeps us full longer because there isn’t such a spike/crash.

Benefits of Low-Glycemic Foods:

  • help regulate fluctuation of insulin and blood sugar
  • help keep you full longer
  • improve diabetes control
  • can reduce the risk of heart disease
  • can reduce cholesterol levels
  • can help to control weight

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Medium/Low-Glycemic Foods:

  • Whole Grains: brown rice, whole wheat pasta, rye bread
  • Fruit: oranges, pears, apples
  • Vegetables (except potatoes)
  • Dairy/milk
  • Beans: lentils, kidney beans, etc.
  • Nuts

These same foods keep showing up time and time again for a healthy diet, don’t they?

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Filed under ask the nutritionist, Uncategorized, whole foods, whole grains

ask the nutritionist: should I go gluten-free?

Gluten-Free. These two words are all around us yet so many of us have no idea what it means, where it is found and why we should or shouldn’t avoid it. Gluten-Free foods are showing up in grocery stores, restaurants and even ball-parks.

Gluten-Free Stand at Coors Field

Let’s start with the basics:

  • Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye and barley. (Oats do not have any gluten in them but are often cross contaminated with wheat so are not always safe unless they are certified gluten-free.)

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  • People who have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease  cannot digest gluten which causes many digestive ailments and can even dmage the villi of the intestines after time.
  • There is no “cure” or pill for Celiac Disease – a gluten-free diet for life is the only current course of healing. Unfortunately many people with Celiac Disease are undiagnosed although 1 out of 100 are affected.
  • How do you know if you have a gluten intolerance? You need to have your blood tested by your Doctor. Symptoms can be found here.
  • Is gluten bad for us? No, if you do not have an intolerance or Celiac Disease, gluten does not cause your body any harm.
  • Are gluten-free foods healthy? There are some great gluten-free products that utlize whole-grains like quinoa, teff, amaranth, millet, etc. – there are also a lot of products that are full of refined gluten-free flours and sugars – so gluten-free on the label doesn’t always equal healthy.
  • So I’ve been diagnosed with Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance, now what? The resources that are now available are abundant – my favorite is the “Gluten-Free Diet A Comprehensive Resource Guide” by Shelley Case. This book has great information on Celiac Disease, recipes and recommended gluten-free products – considered the Gluten-Free Bible!
  • There are also many online resources: Celiac Disease Foundation, Gluten Intolerance GroupCeliac Sprue Association that are very informative and a great starting point for more information.

I hope I’ve answered some of your questions about gluten and gluten intolerance’s – let me know if you have any others!

Have you tried or do you eat any gluten-free foods?

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Filed under ask the nutritionist, focus on, gluten-free, protein, Uncategorized