Anti-Inflammatory Diet

 

fruits and vegetablesOptimal health and well-being are becoming more and more of interest as our society learns more about longevity.  Whether passing through the magazine aisle or bookstore, reading newspaper articles or watching daytime talk shows, at some point you have probably seen or heard of similar captions: “Anti-Inflammatory Diet,”  “Stress and Inflammation,” or “How To Get Rid of Inflammation.” These captions may have caught your attention and you were interested in reading more.  Maybe you did not understand what this “Inflammation” was all about.  Here is some information to help you have a better understanding of what inflammation is, how you can prevent it and begin healing your body.

So let’s begin looking at what is inflammation? Inflammation is the body’s natural immune response to protect against and remove potentially harmful stimuli and begin a healing process. This inflammatory response is only beneficial in small doses.  If one is continually in an inflammatory state they will have pro-inflammatory makers and eventually there body will enter a chronic inflammation state- which is a negative health consequence.  This is negative because chronic inflammation can lead to pain, weight gain, skin and digestive problems, the list goes on and on. You might be familiar with some of the causes of inflammation such as too much stress, lack of sleep and injury but you might be unaware of diets impact on your body’s immune system.

This natural inflammatory response occurs within our bodies when we consume foreign invaders. These “foreign invaders” include foods such as processed items with their added sugars, salts, preservatives and partially hydrogenates oils and can all contribute to inflammation. They are full of inflammatory ingredients and are foreign to our immune system.

Good news is just as eating certain foods can elicit an inflammatory response in the body by avoiding certain foods you can alleviate and or reduce inflammation.

Here are some suggestions for you if you or someone you know suffers from inflammation and or want to learn more about an anti-inflammatory diet.

  • Choose foods from all food groups and focus on a colorful “rainbow – like” plate!
  • Avoid processed foods as these can contribute to inflammation. Processed foods include commercially baked goods, fast foods and sweetened breakfast cereals. They are high in sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white flour, corn starch/ syrup, trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils) and unhealthy oils.  Processed foods that are high in commercially added sugars cause spikes in our blood sugars because they are digested quickly into the blood stream. These refined carbs cause a “Rollercoaster” effect on the blood sugars because they are not a sustainable energy source as they are rapidly digested into the blood stream. High blood sugars and insulin have been linked to increases pro-inflammatory biomarkers called cytokines and inflammatory free radicals  reactive oxygen species (ROS). Which we do not want!

So you now know you should avoid processed foods, white sugar and white flour products. What should you choose in place of those? Instead consume whole grains, look for 100% whole wheat as the first ingredient.  Whole grains and complex carbohydratAnti inflammatory foods berries oats chiaes are slowly released into the blood stream, higher in fiber and digested at a slower rate therefore providing sustainable energy and satiety. What about if you have a sweet tooth? Well, if you know me, you know about my sweet tooth! Satisfy your sweet tooth with a piece of dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa.  If you want baked goods, make homemade baked items with whole ingredients like rolled oats, whole-grain flour, raisins, applesauce, flax seed and dark chocolate chips. Continue reading

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Homemade Salad Dressings

Homemade salad dressings are healthier options than buying packaged salad dressings, which you probably already knew.  So what if you are trying to eat more natural foods but the thought of making your own salad dressing intimates you? That is normal! But guess what? There are easy homemade salad dressing recipes which will be a great compliment to eating more natural. Now, I know there are times when you are pressed for time and in those cases if you do not have a homemade dressing in your refrigerator all ready to go, then a healthy store bought salad dressing is the easiest thing.

Below you will find a lot of different homemade salad dressings that are not complicated. In fact they only take a few minutes. And don’t worry they only make a couple of servings so you will not have a lot left over. On the other hand, you might want to double or even triple the recipe so that you can have some for the next day.

Please feel free to share your favorite homemade salad dressing recipes!

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Lemon Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

  • Yields 1 cup
  • Serves 8, serving size 2 tbsp
  • Ingredients
    • ¼ red wine vinegar
    • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
    • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • ½ cup lemon juice
    • 1 lemon zested
    • 1 tbsp honey
    • 1 tbsp fresh minced oregano or 2  tbsp dried oregano
  • Directions
    • Mix together all of the ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving

Italian Salad Dressing

  • Ingredients
    • 4 tsp red wine vinegar
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
    • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Directions:
    • Mix together all ingredients except for olive oil. Add olive oil last.

Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

  • Yields 1 cup
  • Serves 8, serving size 2 tbsp
  • Ingredients
    • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
    • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
    • 1 minced garlic clove or 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tbsp honey
    • Pinch pepper

Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • Ingredients
    • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar with muddled raspberries or raspberry balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • Directions:
    • Mix together all ingredients except for olive oil. Add olive oil last.

Tomato Basil Dressing

  • Serves 2
  • Ingredients
    • ½ cup fresh basil leaves
    • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 TBSP unsweetened almond milk
    • 1TBSP apple cider vinegar
    • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 6 cups finely chopped kale, center ribs removed
  • Directions:
    • In a blender, combine basil, olive oil, almond milk, apple cider vinegar, pepper and blend until smooth
    • In a large bowl, pour mixture over kale. Mix together for 3 minutes massaging greens.

Clementine-Thyme Dressing

  • Serves 2
  • Ingredients
    • 3 cups finely shredded curly kale, centers removed.
    • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
    • ½ c  pomegranate seeds
    • Juice from clementine’s
    • ½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar
    • ¼ tsp ground pepper
    • 5 sprigs of thyme

Black Pepper-Turmeric Vinaigrette

  • Ingredients
    • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 inches fresh turmeric root grated
    • 1 tbsp local honey
    • Juice from 3 lemons
    • 2 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar with Mother
    • 2 garlic cloves grated
    • 1 tsp ground pepper

Poppy Seed Salad Dressing

  • Ingredients
    • 2 tsp Poppy Seeds
    • ¼ cup of Fat Free Sour Cream
    • 1 ½ TBSP Honey
    • Juice from one lemon

Orange and Lemon Vinaigrette

  • Yields ¼ cup
  • Ingredients
    • Juice and zest from 1 Meyer lemon
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Katie’s Tangy Refreshing Vinaigrette

  • Ingredients
    • Lemon juice from 4 lemons
    • 1 tbsp honey
    • ¼  cup Red Wine Vinegar

Raspberry Salad Dressing

  • Yields: 1 ¼ cup salad dressing
  • Ingredients
    • ¼ cup natural raspberry jam
    • ½ cup lemon juice
    • ½ cup apple cider vinegar with Mother
  • Directions
    • Mix together all ingredients and store in a mason jar

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

  • Yields 1 cup; serves 8; serving size 2 tbsp
  • Ingredients
    • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
    • ¼ cup honey
    • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar with Mother
    • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
    • Pinch of pepper
  • Directions
    • Combine all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to let the flavors blend before serving

Another Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

  • Ingredients
    • ½  cup greek yogurt
    • ½ cup Dijon mustard
    • ½ cup honey
    • If you want to make a smaller amount then you can use:
      • 1/2 cup Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt
      • 2 TBSP dijon mustard
      • 2 tbsp honey
      • Lemon Juice from 1/2 of a small Lemon

Image credit: Image from http://www.theorganickitchen.org/blog-tutorials/my-five-favorite-summer-salad-dressings/

Heart Health Month… What About That Salt?

My latest blog was on healthy changes you can make to your daily routine for better health. So what if you started to eat less red meat, are avoiding trans fat and already increased your fiber intake by eating more fruits and vegetables? What about your sodium content?  Before we get into this sodium discussion, you might be unaware of the negative health impacts sodium has on your health. Consuming too much salt increases your risk for not only high blood pressure but also heart disease and stroke. So in honor of heart health month lets start talking about how to decrease our salt intake.

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 8.41.19 PM.png Did you know that in 1 tsp of salt there is 2,300 mg of sodium? This is scary as the Dietary Guidelines For Americans & The American Heart Association recommendation recommends adults consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day and  the ideal recommendation is less than or equal to 1,500 mg per day. How much sodium is the average American consuming? More than 3,400 – 3,800 mg per day!

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 8.38.20 PM.pngOver 50% of the salt you consume is hidden in your processed foods! Two slices of bread can have on average 200-400 mg of sodium or think about it this way, an average slice of bread can have between 80-250 mg of sodium in one slice of bread! Yikes! And just a 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce may have 300-600 mg and a cup of canned soup may have 400-800 mg of sodium! I will admit it is not easy to cut back on your salt due to the food industry.  But we can’t count on the food industry to reduce the amount of sodium in their foods so we would reach our 1,500 mg or 2,300 mg / day goals as food manufactures would have to reduce the sodium content by 50% in their products according to  an article entitled “Getting to Safe Sodium” in the Nutrition Action Health Newsletter June 2013.

So, instead we must make the change ourselves. What can you do? There is a lot, so start taking notes :)…

1. Read food labels: Including the nutrition food label and the health claims on the food package.  To “decode” food label claims, the following will guide you. When a packaged food item claims the following it means:

  • “Sodium Free” Contains less than 5 mg of sodium/serving
  • “Unsalted” or “No Salt Added” No salt has been added
  • “Low in Sodium”or ” Contains a small amount of sodium” Contains less than or =  140 mg of sodium
  • “Very Low in Sodium” Contains less than or =   35 mg/serving
  • “Reduced Sodium” or “Less Sodium” Contains at least 25% less sodium than the traditional product
  • If you are not familiar with a food label it looks like this below
  • When looking at the mg of sodium, for meals aim for less than 400 mg – 500 mg

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2. Choose fresh foods in their natural form, closest to how they are found in nature, by doing so, they will naturally be very low in sodium. In my last blog post I wrote about avoiding processed foods to start to eat healthier. This will also help reduce your daily sodium intake. Begin to eat more fresh, natural & unprocessed foods. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables are naturally low in sodium and are rich in potassium which is a mineral that helps to lower blood pressure! Be sure to check our your local farmers markets.

3. Replace the salt in the salt shaker with herbs, sodium free seasonings and spices! Your local grocery store has spices and herbs and so do speciality shops like Penzey’s Spices! Check out this link to find the closest Penzey’s near you! 

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 8.58.01 PM.pngI hope these tips help you reduce your sodium intake! Please share ways that you keep your salt intake down!

Picture / Photo Credits belong to the following websites/links: I did not take this pictures and want to give credit to their sources:

Let’s Get Healthy Today!

The perfect time to commit to your health is not just around the New Year, it is each day! Every morning you wake up with a fresh start to recommit to taking care of your health. In this post you will find some healthy eating tips, you can adopt one or all of them!

I really like this quote, “Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.” If you do not start today, tomorrow you will be right where you were the day before. Try one of these suggestions and see what happens! Eventually, you might be doing them all.

Avoid and limit processed foods. For optimal health you want to eat food generally in the form that is closest to how it is found in nature. Two guidelines that I like are 1) less packaging often = more nutrition and 2) fresh is best. Now, if you are in a time crunch, buying frozen berries (no sugar added) or frozen veggies (no salt added) can be convenient and is OK. But for the best source of nutrition fresh, whole foods in their natural form is the way to go. Also, for a time saver, start to batch cook, one day of the week cook several chicken breasts and use them throughout the week for a variety of dishes, chop up all your veggies, cook your quinoa, etc. By having healthy foods ready to go you can assemble your meals throughout the week and not have to prep! To begin to limit and avoid processed foods, start reading the foods labels and choose products that contain <5 ingredients and make sure you can pronounce all of the ingredients on the label.

Continue reading

Easy Ways to Add Fruits and Veggies to your day

Some people absolutely love fruits and vegetables while others do not. Here are some suggestions that you can try to increase your fruits and vegetables every day! This is adapted from Fruits and Veggies More Matters.org  which is a great resource! Check out the link at the bottom of this post.

  1. Make half of your plate consist of Fruits and Veggies at every meal and snack.
  2. Add more vegetables to dishes- even if they are already in the recipe- add double the amount
  3. Substitute veggies in at any meal. They are lower calories than other foods J
  4. Always stock your fresh or frozen veggies. If you choose to buy canned fruits and veggies, choose without added sugar, syrup, cream sauces, or salt. Always remember fresh is best.
  5. Grab and Go. You want to have fruits and vegetables to be readily available. Try to have fresh fruit and veggies in easy to go places, fruit bowl or sliced in the refrigerator.
  6. Breakfast ideas
    1. Substitute spinach, onions or mushrooms in place of Fat Free cheese in your morning egg white omelet (great protein source!!)
    2. Add fruit to your whole – grain cereal, top with Fat free milk or unsweetened almond milk
    3. Get up 10 minutes earlier or plan an on the go breakfast idea the night before. Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 10.35.29 AM.pngExample: Overnight oats topped with fruit.
    4. Make oatmeal that fits in a mug that fits in your cars console. Top with dried fruit or berries
    5. Make a whole wheat pancake the night before and add blueberries or banana & wheat germ in the batter. Pop it in the toaster when you leave in the AM.
  7. Lunch & dinner ideas
    1. Reduce the amount of cheese on your sandwich by ½ and replace with veggies
    2. Add veggies to soupScreen Shot 2017-02-21 at 10.37.19 AM.png
    3. Ask for vegetarian options when eating out
    4. Stir-fry veggies or grill veggies
    5. Make a portabella mushroom or black bean burgers instead of meat
  8. Snack ideas
    1. 1 cup berries
    2. 1 cup carrots with some FF dip
    3. Fruit kabobsScreen Shot 2017-02-21 at 10.38.55 AM.png
    4. Hummus with carrots, celery, cauliflower or bell peppers
    5. Apples with Almond butter

Adapted from:

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/easy-ways-to-add-fruits-veggies-to-your-day

images from: http://www.instructables.com/id/Delicious-Overnight-Oats/

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/pasta-with-fresh-vegetables

A Healthier Holiday

With the holiday season approaching many are wondering how they can make it through the holiday season without packing on a few pounds. Here are some healthier recipe ideas and options for you to try this holiday season! I have included links to other blogs where you can find other healthy recipes. Please share in the comments at the end of this post any healthy recipes you like! You can also check out my past blog posts on recipe substitutions and tips for a healthier Thanksgiving. 

Below you will find recipes for the following dishes:

  • Walnut Kale and Quinoa Stuffing
  • Healthier Green Bean Casserole
  • Gravy
  • Vegan mushroom and caramelized Onion Naan Pizzas Appetizer
  • Sweet Potato Soufflé
  • Mashed Cauliflower
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Blueberry Oatmeal Bars  Continue reading

Pumpkin, Autumn & Harvest Season

It is one of my favorite times of year with all of the leaves changing colors and with the Pumpkin flavored foods out on the shelves at the grocery store. Be sure to check out this blog post below in addition to my past posts on Pumpkin , Butternut Squash Soup, and my favorite Pumpkin Items at Trader Joes + tips on what to do with Pumpkin!

Here is a Fun Fall Flavored meal idea  🙂

Autumnal Harvest Pasta Sauce and Zucchette Pasta

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The Autumnal Harvest Pasta Sauce is a tomato-based sauce packed with seasonal spices and herbs like rosemary and sage. Which makes it delicious! The combinations of pumpkin, butternut squash and carrots add a sweetness to the sauce! You can use this to substitute any other tomato-based sauce for pasta dishes. Not only does Trader Joe’s sell this pasta sauce but you can also buy the Fall Zucchette Pasta there too! The two together make a delicious fall meal! Plus, you just can’t help but love the  cute pumpkin shaped pastas.

For a side you can make a side salad topped with some Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds and for dessert try these Pumpkin-Apple Harvest Muffins which only take 20 minutes to bake! Screen Shot 2016-10-10 at 3.33.16 PM.png Continue reading

Gluten Free Oats

There is a lot of debate, confusion, and misinformation regarding whether or not oats can be tolerated with those with gluten intolerance. Research has indicated that oats do not contain gluten or gliadin.

  • The issue is that oats can become contaminated as a result of handling as they are handled and stored in the same mills, processing equipment, train cars, and grain elevators that handle wheat, barley, and rye. Therefore, if you have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease it is advised to stay away from companies which do not guarantee their oat products are Gluten-Free.
  • There are dedicated gluten free mills which must have less than .05 % non oat grain levels. Companies that are gluten free are dedicated to keep all oats strictly separate from other grains at every point during harvesting, transportation, and storage or during processing: from cultivation to processing. Therefore, these companies are trusted and are tolerated by most with gluten intolerance and celiac disease. However, it is important to note that it is possible to have a reaction to oats regardless of whether or not you have gluten intolerance and celiac disease as each individual reacts to ingredients differently. Therefore, if you have a reaction to oats you may be intolerant to oats as well as gluten.
  • First time trying oats:
    • For your first time trying oats it has been recommended to try whole, steel-cut Irish oats like Lara’s not any quick cooking or processed domestic brands like Quaker, which have a high likelihood of being contaminated with wheat or other glutenous grains

Continue reading

Organic or Not?

Farmers Markets are among one of the hottest places to be on a Saturday Morning! The fresh fruits and vegetables in abundance displayed on all the local farmers tables is a colorful site.

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I am often asked if I buy only 100% organic. In an ideal world, yes I would but to answer their question and possibly yours, no I do not buy 100% organic all of the time. However, I do some of the time. I love the “Dirty Dozen” List and I use that as my guide/map for directing whether or not I purchase an Organic food. It is important to note that “Organic” does not necessarily mean “pesticide free.”  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic regulations provide a national list of allowed and prohibited substances—man-made and natural, available at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop. Continue reading

Brain Boosting Foods

I’ve been a little forgetful lately. Maybe you can relate, obligations from personal to professional to vacations.  Sometimes we hit a wall where there is just too much going on and we make To-Do Lists on our phones, sticky notes or in our calendars…As a  Registered Dietitian Nutritionist it is probably no surprise that I started to wonder “Is what I am eating influencing my memory?” And the answer is Yes, your diet influences not only your overall well-being but also your memory.

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Research shows that adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle and continuing to follow it throughout one’s lifetime can increase one’s life expectancy. Your memory can be impacted by a number of different things, including: sleep or lack of sleep, genetics, level of physical activity, and lifestyle and environmental factors and also one’s diet. Studies suggest eating a diet rich in Antioxidants (Betacarotene to name one), Phytochemicals, Vitamin B12, Folate, Vitamin D, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids may promote cognitive function in seniors. Furthermore, those who eat diets high in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, fish and legumes and consume a lower intake of high fat dairy and processed meats and sweets naturally obtain those health promoting nutrients. You can refer to my previous post on Plant-Based Diet for more information on a whole-food approach to eating.

Many are familiar with the Mediterranean diet which is high in fruits, veggies, whole grains, red wine and fish. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to boost brain health as studies have shown those following a Mediterranean diet have better cognitive function, alertness and memory! You might ask why a Mediterranean diet? Well, if you think about the foods included in the Mediterranean eating style you will notice it is high in nutritional components such as omega-3’s, antioxidants and phytochemicals (resveratrol).

So let’s get into the information you are probably looking for, as you might be wondering, “What am I supposed to eat to improve my diet and hopefully my memory?” Following a Mediterranean and mostly a plant based diet that is low in high fat processed meats and sweets will provide you with health promoting nutrients… Below are some “Brain Boosting Foods:”

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