Tag Archives: health-diet-nutrition

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

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

organic shopping at a conventional store

Living in the Twin Cities, I have access to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and too many co-ops to count. At the Wedge, where I am a member, it is harder to find non-organic items than organic. I often forget that not everyone has access to stores and food like I do, and it is something I need to remember from time-to-time.

So I took the opportunity to do my weekly grocery shopping and a little research in Baraboo, WI ( in the heart of cow country) while I was there the other weekend. Maybe I don’t give that little town enough credit – they do have a health food store, The Grainery which has some of the hippest health foods around: Coconut Ice Cream, Chobani and a Gluten-Free section that can rival a Whole Foods. I bought a few fun, new items but saved the bulk of my shopping for the local Pierce’s Market. I have to say that I was very impressed. I was able to buy almost all organic veggies, with the exception of peppers and cucumbers. Organic english cucumbers, which I buy on a weekly basis are hard to find at even the best co-ops and Whole Foods, so I wasn’t surprised that I couldn’t find them.  The organic cauliflower didn’t look like it came off the truck yesterday (it was towards the end of its life) but not bad enough to not buy it. And it turned out delicious!

I also realized that it has its advantages. My stores have everything so when tapenade is on the list, I get some fresh tapenade in the deli section. This was not an option at the Pierce’s but I soon realized that I have green and kalamata olives at home, so why not just make my own?

Overall, if anyone is still reading at this point, 😉  I came away with everything that I had on my list, albiet was a basic one, and most of it was the same exact thing I would have picked up at the Whole Foods or co-op.  Now if they only had a few more restaurants…

Where do you shop? Is it out of choice or preference?

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Filed under grocery shopping, vegetables

a healthy dose of fats

I ♥ fat. I really do. I’m not a fan of the hydrogenated trans-fat kind but healthy fats? Yes please. The occasional bacon fat? Definitely yes. Fat can add so much to a meal – in terms of satiety, texture (crispy, smooth, etc), and because, well, it just tastes good.

Our body also needs fats (in moderation). Why do we need fats?

  • required for some vitamins to be absorbed (Vit D, E, K & A)
  • help to maintain cell membranes
  • needed for growth and development – throughout life
  • source of energy
  • omega-3 fatty acids can help control inflammation – which helps in disease prevention and over-all health

Ready to eat some good fats?

Crispy Salmon with Avocado & Grapefruit Salad adapted from Bon Appétit. Serves two.

  • 1 Tbsp grapefruit juice
  • 1 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 salmon filets
  • 1 head bibb lettuce
  • 1/2 english cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 grapefruit, segmented
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced

Mix together citrus juices, greek yogurt, garlic and salt & pepper. Set aside. Heat oil in pan until hot. Season salmon with salt & pepper. Sear salmon, skin side down for about 6 minutes, flip over and heat until cooked through, about 4 more minutes. Assemble lettuce, cucumber, grapefruit and avocado. Drizzle with dressing.


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Filed under fats, fruit, great meals, Recipes, salad, Uncategorized, vegetables